10 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

“My lord, it must be some one of your servants who has broken the bow of Śiva. What is your command? Why not tell me?” At this the furious sage was all the more incensed, and said, “A servant is he who does service; having played the role of an enemy, one should give battle, Listen. O Rāma; whoever has broken Śiva’s bow is my enemy no less than the thousand-armed Kārtavīrya. Let him stand apart, leaving this assembly; or else every one of these kings shall be slain.” Hearing the sage’s words Lakṣmaṇa smiled and said insulting Paraśurāma (the wielder of an axe), “I have broken many a small bow in my childhood; but you never grew so angry, my lord. Why should you be so fond of this particular bow?” At this the Chief of Bhrigu’s race burst out in a fury: - (1 - 4)

“O young prince, being in the grip of death you have no control over your speech. Would you compare to a small bow the mighty bow of Śiva, that is known throughout the world?” (271)

Said Lakṣmaṇa with a smile, “Listen, holy Sir: to my mind all bows are alike. What gain or loss can there be in the breaking of a worn-out bow?” Śrī Rāma mistook it for a new one, and at His very touch it broke in two; the Lord of Raghus, therefore, was not to blame for it either. Why, then, be angry, reverend sir, for no cause?” Casting a glance at his axe, Paraśurāma replied, “O foolish child, have you never heard of my temper? I slay you not because, as I say, you are a child yet; do you take me for a mere anchorite, O dullard? I have been a celibate from my very boyhood, but also an irascible one; and I am known throughout the world as a sworn enemy of the Kṣatriya race. By the might of my arm I made the earth kingless and bestowed it time after time upon the Brāhmaṇas. Look at this axe, which lopped off the arms of Sahasrabāhu (the thousand- armed Kārtavīrya), O youthful prince. (1 - 4)

“Do not bring woe to your parents, O princely lad, My most cruel axe has exterminated even unborn offspring in the womb.” (272)

Lakṣmaṇa smilingly retorted in a mild tone, “Ah, the great sage considers himself an extraordinary warrior! He flaunts his axe before me again and again, as if he would blow away a mountain with a mere puff of breath. Here there is no pumpkin in the bud that would wither away as soon as an index finger is raised against it. It was only when I saw you armed with an axe and a bow and arrows that I spoke with some pride. Now that I understand you are a descendant of Bhrigu and perceive a sacred thread on your person, I suppress my anger and put up with whatever you say. In our family valour is never shown against gods, the Brāhmaṇas, devotees of Śrī Hari and the cow; for by killing any of these we incur sin while a defeat at their hands will bring disrepute on us. We should throw ourselves at your feet even if you strike us. Every word of yours is as incisive as millions of thunderbolts; the bow and arrows and the axe are, therefore, an unnecessary burden to you. (1 - 4)

“Pardon me, O great and illumined hermit, if I have said anything unseemly at the sight of your weapons.” Hearing this, the jewel of Bhrigu’s race furiously re-joined in a deep voice: - (273)

“Listen, O Viśvāmitra: this boy is stupid and perverse. He is in the grip of death himself and will bring destruction on his whole family. A dark spot on the moon-like solar race, he is utterly unruly, senseless and reckless. The very next moment he shall find himself in the jaws of death; I proclaim it at the top of my voice and none should blame me for it. Forbid him if you would save him, telling him of my glory, might and fury.” Said Lakṣmaṇa, “Holy sir, so long as you live who else can expatiate on your bright glory? With your own lips you have recounted your exploits in diverse ways more than once. If you are not yet satisfied, tell us something more; do not undergo a severe trial by putting any restraint upon your anger. You have assumed the role of a hero and are resolute and imperturbable; it is unbecoming of you to pour abuses. (1 - 4)

“Heroes perform valiant deeds in fight, but never indulge in self-advertisement. Finding before them a foe in battle, it is cowards who boast of their own glory.” (274)

“You seem to have Death at your beck and call and summon him again and again for my sake!” Hearing Lakṣmaṇa’s harsh words Paraśurāma closed his hand upon his terrible axe. “After this let no one blame me; this sharp-tongued boy deserves his death. I have spared him long on account of his being a child; he is now surely going to die.” Said Viśvāmitra, “Pardon his offence; holy men take no notice of the merits and demerits of a child.” “Sharp-edged is my axe, while I am pitiless and furious; and here stands before me an offender and an enemy of my Guru. Even though he gives a retort, I spare his life solely out of regard for you, O Viśvāmitra. Or else, hacking him to pieces with this cruel axe, I would have easily repaid the debt I have owed to my Guru.” (1 - 4)

Said Gādhi’s son (Viśvāmitra) smiling within himself, ”Everything looks green to the sage (Paraśurāma); it is, however, the steel sword that he is faced with and not with sugar extracted from a sugar-cane (that one could easily gulp). It is a pity that he does not understand and still persists in his ignorance. (275)

Said Lakṣmaṇa, “Is there anyone, O good sage, who is not aware of your gentle disposition, so well known throughout the world? You have fully paid the debt you owed to your parents;† the only debt which now remains to be paid by you is the one you owe to your Guru, and that has been vexing your mind not a little. It looks as if you had incurred the debt on our account; and since a considerable time has now elapsed a heavy interest has accumulated thereon. Now you get the creditor here and I will at once repay him from my own purse.” Hearing these sarcastic remarks Paraśurāma grasped his axe and the whole assembly cried “Alack! Alack!!” “O chief of Bhrigus, you are still threatening me with your axe; but I am sparing you only because I hold you to be a Brāhmaṇa, O enemy of princes. You have never met champions staunch in fight; You have grown important in your own little home, O holy Brāhmaṇa.” Everyone exclaimed, “This is wholly undesirable!” The Lord of Raghus now begged Lakṣmaṇa to stop. (1 - 4)

Perceiving the flames of Paraśurāma’s passion grow with the pouring of oblation in the form of Lakṣmaṇa’s rejoinder, the Sun of Raghu’s race spoke words like water. (276)

“My Lord, have compassion on a child; and wreak not your wrath on this guileless youngster (lit., who has the mother’s milk still on its lips). If he had any idea of your might, how could he be so foolish as to affront you? If children play some pranks, their teacher and parents are in raptures at it; therefore, take pity on him, knowing him to be a child and your servant. For you are an even-minded, good-tempered, forbearing and illumined anchorite.”

On hearing Śrī Rāma’s words Paraśurāma cooled down a little; but uttering something Lakṣmaṇa smiled again. Seeing him smile, Paraśurāma flushed all over with rage and said,” Rāma, your brother is too wicked. Though fair of hue, he is black at heart; he has deadly poison, and not the mother’s milk on his lips. Perverse by nature, he does not take after you, nor does this vile imp regard me as the very image of Death.” (1 - 4)

Lakṣmaṇa smilingly said, “Listen, holy sir: passion is the root of sin. Swayed by it men perpetrate unseemly acts and indulge in misanthropic activities.” (277)

“I am your servant, O Chief of sages; put away your wrath and show mercy upon me. Anger will not mend the broken bow. Pray sit down; your legs must be aching. If you are very fond of it, let us devise some means to mend it by calling in some expert.” Janaka was frightened at Lakṣmaṇa’s words and said, “Pray be quiet; it is not good to transgress the limits of propriety.” The people of the city trembled like aspen leaves; they said to themselves.” The younger prince is really very naughty.” As the chief of Bhrigus heard the fearless words of Lakṣmaṇa, his whole body burnt with rage and his strength diminished. In a condescending manner he said to Rāma, ”I am sparing the boy because I know he is your younger brother. So fair without and foul within, he resembles a jar of gold full of poison.” (1 - 4)

At this Lakṣmaṇa laughed again, but Śrī Rāma cast an angry look on him. Therefore, putting away all petulance of speech he submissively went up to his Guru. (278)

Joining both His palms together and speaking in most humble, gentle and placid tones Śrī Rāma said, “I pray you, my lord: wise as you are by nature, pay no heed to the words of a child. A wasp and a child have alike disposition; saints never find fault with them. Besides, the boy has done you no harm; it is I, my lord, who have offended you. Therefore, your reverence, deal to me as your servant whatever you please, whether it be a favour or frown, death or captivity. Tell me quickly the means, O chief of sages, by which your anger may be appeased; I shall do accordingly.” Said the sage, “How can my passion be pacified, O Rāma, when your younger brother is still looking mischievously at me. So long as I do not cut his throat with my axe, my wrath is ineffectual.” (1 - 4)

“At the very news of the cruel doings of my axe the consorts of kings miscarry. To think that having the same axe still at my service I should see this princeling, my enemy, alive!” (279)

“My hand moves not, though passion consumes my breast; while this axe, which has slain kings without number, has gone blunt. Fate has turned against me; that is why I find my nature changed. Otherwise compassion at any time is unknown to my heart. My tenderness of feeling has imposed on me a severe strain today.” On hearing this the son of Sumitrā bowed his head with a smile. “The breeze of your benevolence is so befitting your frame; the words you speak appear as though blossoms drop from a tree. O reverend sir, when compassion sets your whole frame on fire, God help you when you are angry.” “Look here, Janaka, this stupid boy in his perversity intends to migrate to the region of Death. Why not put him out of my sight? Though small to look at, the princeling is yet so wicked!” Lakṣmaṇa smilingly said to himself, “Shut your eyes and the whole world will vanish out of your sight.” (1 - 4)

Then Paraśurāma spoke to Rāma, his heart boiling with rage, “Having broken Śambhu’s bow, O wretch, do you now teach me?” (280)

“It is with your connivance that your brother addresses such pungent words to me; while you make false entreaties with joined palms. Either give me satisfaction in combat, or forswear your name of “Rāmaí. Give battle to me. O enemy of Śiva, without taking recourse to any wily trick; or else I will despatch you and your brother both.” While the chief of Bhrigus thus raved with his axe raised on high, Śrī Rāma smiled within Himself, bowing His head to the sage, “While the fault is Lakṣmaṇa’s, the sage’s wrath is against me. Sometimes meekness too begets much evil. A crooked man is reverenced by all; the crescent moon is not devoured by the demon Rāhu.” Said Rāma, “Cease from wrath, O lord of sages; the axe is in your hand, while my head is before you. Do that, my lord, which may pacify your anger; know me to be your servant.” (1 - 4)

“How can there be any duel between a master and his servant? Give up your anger, O great Brāhmaṇa; it is only because he saw you in the garb of a warrior that the boy said something to you and he cannot be blamed for it.” (281)

“Seeing you equipped with an axe, arrows and bow, the boy took you for a champion and got excited. Although he knew you by name, he did not recognize you in person and answered you according to his lineage. If you had come as a sage, the child, O holy sir, would have placed the dust of your feet on his head. Forgive the error of one who did not know you; a Brāhmaṇa should have plenty of mercy in his heart. What comparison, my lord, can there be between you and me? Tell me if there is any affinity between the head and feet. Mine is a small name consisting of the single word “Rāmaí; where as yours is a long one, having the word “Paraśuí prefined to “Rāmaí. O lord, whereas there is only one merit in me and that is my bow while you have got nine most auspicious characteristics such as; tranquillity, restraint, penance, purity, forbearance, straight forwardness, knowledge, supreme knowledge and faith in God. I am thus inferior to you in every way; therefore, O holy sir, forgive my faults.” (1 - 4)

Again and again did Rāma address His namesake as a sage and as a great Brāhmaṇa, till the chief of Bhrigus exclaimed in his fury, “You are as perverse as your younger brother!” (282)

“You know me to be a mere Brāhmaṇa; I tell you what kind of a Brāhmaṇa I am. Know that the bow is my sacrificial ladle, the arrows my oblation and my wrath the blazing fire; the brilliant fourfold forces (consisting of the horse, the elephant, the chariots and foot-soldiers) are the fuel; and mighty princes have served as victims, whom I have cut to pieces with this very axe and offered as sacrifice. In this way I have performed millions of sacrifices in the shape of armed conflicts, accompanied by the muttering of sacred formulas in the shape of war-cries. My glory is not known to you; that is why you address me in contemptuous terms mistaking me for a mere Brāhmaṇa. Since you have broken the bow, your arrogance has transgressed all limits; in your self-esteem you stand as if you have conquered the whole world.” Said Rāma, “O sage, think before you speak; your anger is out of all proportions with my error, which is a trifling one. Worn out as it was, the bow broke at my mere touch. What reason have I to be proud?” (1 - 4)

“Hear the truth, O lord of the Bhrigus; if, as you say, I treat you with disrespect because you are a Brāhmaṇa, who is that gallant warrior in this world to whom I would bow my head out of fear?” (283)

“A god, a demon, a king or a body of warriors, whether My equal in strength or more powerful than myself - should any of these challenge me to combat, I would gladly fight with him, no matter if it is Death himself. For he who is born as a Kṣatriya, and is yet afraid of fighting, is a veritable wretch and has brought a slur on his lineage. I tell you in my natural way and not by way of a tribute to my race: Raghu’s descendants are not afraid of even death in battle. Such is the glory of the Brāhmaṇa race that he who is afraid of you (Brāhmaṇas) is rid of all fear.” When he heard these soft yet profound words of Śrī Rāma, Paraśurāma’s mind was disillusioned. “O Rāma, take this bow of Ramā’s lord and draw it, so that my doubts may be cleared.” As Paraśurāma offered his bow it passed into Rāma’s hands of its own accord, and Paraśurāma felt amazed at this. (1 - 4)

He then recognized Śrī Rāma’s might and his whole frame was thrilled with joy and his hair stood on end. Joining his palms together he addressed the following words to Śrī Rāma, his heart bursting with emotion: - (284)

 “Glory to Śrī Rāma, who delights Raghu’s line even as the sun delights a cluster of lotuses! Glory to the Fire that consumes the forest of the demon race! Glory to the Benefactor of gods, Brāhmaṇas and cows! Glory to Him who takes away pride, ignorance, passion and delusion! Glory to Him who is an ocean of humility, amiability, compassion and goodness and a pastmaster in the art of speech. Glory to the Delighter of His servants and to Him who is graceful of every limb and whose form possesses the beauty of millions of Cupids! How can I with one tongue utter Your praises? Glory to Him who sports in the mind of the great Lord Śiva as a swan in the Mānasarovara lake! In my ignorance I have said much that was unseemly; therefore pardon me, both brothers, abodes of forgiveness that You are. Glory, glory, all glory to the Chief of Raghu’s race!” So saying, the lord of Bhrigus withdrew to the forest to practise penance. The wicked kings were all seized with imaginary fears and the cowards quietly fled in all directions. (1 - 4)

The gods sounded their kettledrums and rained down flowers on the Lord. All the people of the city rejoiced and their heart’s agony, born of ignorance, disappeared. (285)

There was a tumultuous clash of musical instruments and everyone displayed charming and auspicious objects. Troops of fair-faced, bright-eyed damsels sang melodious songs in chorus, their voice resembling the notes of the cuckoo. Janaka’s joy was beyond description, as that of a born beggar who has found a treasure. Sītā was rid of Her fears and was as glad as a young of a Chakora bird at the rising of the moon. Janaka made obeisance before Kauśika and said, ““It is due to your grace, my lord, that Śrī Rāma has been able to break the bow. I am blessed by the pair of brothers; pray tell me now, reverend sir, what it behoves me to do.” Said the sage, ““Listen, wise king: the marriage depended on the bow, and took place directly the bow broke, as is well-known to all, including gods, human beings and Nāgas.” (1 - 4)

“Nevertheless you now go and perform according to the family usage whatever practices are prescribed in the Veda, after consulting the Brāhmaṇas, the elders of your family, and your own preceptor (Śatānanda).” (286)

“Go and despatch to the city of Ayodhyā messengers who may invite King Daśaratha and bring him here.” Janaka gladly responded, “Very well, gracious sir,” and summoning the messengers despatched them that very moment. He then summoned the leading citizens, and they all came and respectfully bowed their head.” “Decorate the bazars, streets, houses, temples and the whole city on all its four sides,” was the royal command. They returned in joy, each to his own house. The king then sent for his own servants and instructed them: “Erect pavilions of all kinds with due care.” Bowing to the king’s orders they returned glad of heart, and sent for a number of clever artisans skilled in erecting pavilions. Invoking Brahmā they set to work and made pillars of gold in the shape of plantain trees - (1 - 4)

 - With leaves and fruits of emeralds and blossoms of rubies; seeing this most marvellous specimen of art the Creator himself was lost in bewilderment. (287)

The bamboo sticks were made of emeralds; they were so straight and knotted that they could not be distinguished from real ones. Creepers known by the name of Piper-betle (the leaves of which are chewed in India with areca-nut parings) were artistically fashioned in gold and looked so charming with their leaves that they could not be marked as artificial. These creepers were intertwined into so many cords   (for holding the bamboos together) with beautiful strings of pearls inserted here   and there. After much cutting, carving and inlaying they made lotuses of rubies, emeralds, diamonds and turquoises. They also fashioned bees and birds of varied plumage, which buzzed and whistled in the restling breeze. On the pillars they sculptured images of gods, all standing with articles of good omen in their hands. Squares were drawn on the floor in various naturally charming devices and filled in with elephant pearls. (1 - 4)

They made most lovely mango-leaves of graven sapphires with blossoms of gold and bunches of emerald fruits glistening on silken cords. (288)

They further made charming and excellent festoons, which looked like so many nooses prepared as it were by Cupid. They also put up many auspicious vases as well as beautiful flags and banners, curtains and chowries. The marvellous pavilion with a number of beautiful lamps consisting of brilliant gems was beyond description. What poet has the wit wherewith to describe the pavilion which is going to shelter Videha’s Daughter as the bride? The canopy which is going to hold Śrī Rāma, the ocean of beauty and perfection, as the bridegroom, must be the glory of all the three worlds. The splendour that belonged to King Janaka’s palace was to be seen in every house of that city; to him who beheld Tirahuta (Janaka’s capital) during that time, all the fourteen spheres appeared of small account. The prosperity that reigned in the house of the humblest citizen was enough to fascinate even the lord of celestials. (1 - 4)

The magnificence of the city wherein dwelt Goddess Lakṣmī in the charming disguise of a mortal woman made even Śāradā (the goddess of eloquence) and (the thousand-tongued) Śeṣa falter in describing it. (289)

Janaka’s messengers arrived at Śrī Rāma’s sacred birth-place and rejoiced to behold the charming city. They sent in word at the entrance of the royal palace; hearing of their arrival King Daśaratha summoned them to his presence. With due reverence they delivered the letter; and the king in his joy rose to receive it in person. As he read the letter, tears rushed to his eyes; the hair on his body stood erect and his heart was full. With Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa in his heart and the valuable letter in his hand, he remained mute and could not utter a word, either good or bad. Then recovering himself, he read out the letter, and the court rejoiced to hear the authentic news. Obtaining the news at the very spot where he had been playing about, Bharata came with his playmates and brother (Śatrughna), and with the utmost modesty and affection asked, ”Father, where has the letter come from?” (1 - 4)

 “Are my two beloved brothers doing well and in what land do they happen to be?” On hearing these words steeped in love the king read the letter over again. (290)

On hearing the letter the two brothers experienced a thrill of joy; their whole frame was bursting with an excess of emotion. The whole court was particularly delighted to see Bharata’s unalloyed love. The king then seated the messengers close by him and spoke to them in sweet and winning tones: “Tell me, friends, are the two boys well? Have you seen them well with your own eyes? The one dark and the other fair of hue, they are equipped with bow and quiver and are of tender age and accompanied by the sage Kauśika. Do you recognize them? If so, tell me something about their temperament.” Overwhelmed with love the king asked thus again and again. “From the day the sage took them away it is only today that I have obtained authentic news about them. Tell me how King Videha was able to know them.” At these fond words the messengers smiled. (1 - 4)

“Listen, O crest-jewel of kings: there is no one so blessed as you, who have for your sons Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, the two ornaments of the universe.” (291)

“No enquiry is needed in respect of your sons, who are lions among men and the light of the universe, and before whose renown and glory the moon looks dim and the sun appears cool. About them, my lord, you ask how they came to be recognized! Does one take a lamp in one’s hand to see the sun? On the occasion of Sītā’s self-election of her husband had assembled numerous princes, each one of whom was a greater champion than the rest; but not one of them could stir Śambhu’s bow and all the mighty heroes failed. The might of all those who were proud of their valour in the three worlds was crushed by it. Even the demon Bāṇa, who could lift Mount Meru, lost heart and retired after pacing round the bow; and even he (Rāvaṇa) who had lifted up Mount Kailāśa (the abode of Śiva) in mere sport was worsted in that assembly.” (1 - 4)

“On that occasion, we submit, O great king, Śrī Rāma, the jewel of Raghu’s race, snapped the bow without the least exertion even as an elephant would break the stalk of a lotus.” (292)

“Hearing the news the chief of Bhrigus came in a fury and indulged in much brow- beating. But seeing Śrī Rāma’s strength he handed his bow to the latter and after much supplication withdrew to the woods. Even as Rāma, O king, is unequalled in strength, Lakṣmaṇa too is a mine of glory, at whose very sight the kings trembled as elephants at the gaze of a young lion. Now that we have seen your two sons, my lord, no one catches our eye any longer.” The messenger’s eloquent speech, which was full of love, glorifying and expressive of the heroic sentiment, attracted all. The king and his whole court were overwhelmed with emotion and began to offer lavish gifts to the messengers. They, however, closed their ears in protest crying, “This is ethical!” Everyone was delighted to note their sense of propriety. (1 - 4)

The king then rose going up to Vasiṣṭha, gave the letter to him, and sending for the messengers with due courtesy related the whole story to his preceptor. (293)

The Guru was highly pleased to hear the news and said, “To a virtuous man the world abounds in happiness. As rivers run into the sea, although the latter has no craving for them, so joy and prosperity come unasked and of their own accord to a pious soul. Just as you are given to the service of your preceptor, the Brāhmaṇas and cows as well as of gods, Queen Kauśalyā is no less devout than you. A pious soul like you there has never been, nor is, nor shall be in this world. Who can be more blessed than you, O king, who have a son like Rāma, and whose four worthy children are all valiant, submissive, true to their vow of piety and oceans of goodness. You are blessed indeed for all time; now, prepare the marriage procession to the sound of kettledrums. (1 - 4)

“And proceed quickly.” On hearing these words of the preceptor the king bowed his head and said, “Very well, my lord!” and after assigning lodgings to the messengers returned to his palace. (294)

The king then called all the ladies of the gynaecium and read aloud Janaka’s letter to them. All rejoiced to hear the message and the king himself related the other tidings which he had heard from the lips of the messengers. Bursting with emotion the queens shone like pea-hens rejoicing at the rumbling of clouds. The preceptor’s wife and the wives of other elders in their joy invoked the blessings of heaven and the mothers of the four brothers were overwhelmed with ecstasy. They took the most beloved letter from each other and pressing it to their bosom cooled their burning heart. The great king recounted again and again the glory and exploits of both Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, saying that it was all due to the sage’s grace he went out of doors. The queens then sent for the Brāhmaṇas and joyfully bestowed gifts on them. And the Brāhmaṇas returned to their home uttering blessings. (1 - 4)

Next they called the beggars and lavished innumerable kinds of gifts on them.

“Long live the four sons of Emperor Daśaratha!” (295)

Thus they shouted as they left, attired in raiment of various kinds; there was a jubilant and tempestuous clash of kettledrums. When the news spread among all the people, festivities were started in every house. All the fourteen spheres were filled with joy at the news of the forthcoming wedding of Janaka’s daughter with the hero of Raghu’s race. The citizens were enraptured to hear the glad tidings and began to decorate the streets, houses and lanes. Although the city of Ayodhyā is ever charming, being the blessed and sacred abode of Śrī Rāma, it was adorned with beautiful festal decorations because of the love the people bore towards the very embodiment of love. Flags and banners, curtains and graceful chowries canopied the bazars in a most marvellous fashion. With vases of gold, festal arches, festoons of netted gems, turmeric, blades of Durbā grass, curds, unbroken rice and wreaths of flowers - (1 - 4)

- The people decorated their respective houses, which were already full of blessings; the lanes were sprinkled over with water, mixed with the fourfold pastes of sandal, saffron, musk and camphor and the squares in front of their houses were filled in with tasteful designs. (296)

Collected here and there troops of ladies, all brilliant as the lightning, with moon-like face and eyes resembling those of a fawn and beauty enough to rob Love’s consort (Rati) of her pride, and who had practised all the sixteen kinds of female adornment, sang auspicious strains with voice so melodious that the female cuckoo was put to shame on hearing the sweet sound! How is the king’s palace to be described; the pavilion set up there would dazzle the whole universe. Various articles of good omen and charming in appearance were displayed and a number of kettledrums were sounded. Here were panegyrists singing the family glory and here were Brāhmaṇas chanting the Vedas; while pretty women carolled festive songs, many times repeating the names of Rāma and Sītā. There was an excess of joy all round, while the palace was too small to contain it; it seemed, therefore, as if it overflowed on all sides. (1 - 4)

What poet can describe the splendour of Daśaratha’s palace in which Rāma, the crest-jewel of all divinities, had taken birth? (297)

The king next called Bharata and said, “Go and prepare the horses, elephants and chariots and start at once in procession for Rāma’s marriage.” The two brothers were thrilled to hear this command. Bharata sent for the officers in charge of the stables and issued necessary instructions; the latter rose in joy and hastened to execute the orders. They equipped the horses with gorgeous saddles; gallant steeds of different colours stood there in their majesty. They were all beautiful and surpassingly swift-footed; they trod the ground as lightly as though it were red-hot iron. They belonged to different breeds, which were more than one could tell; they would fly in the air, as it were, outstripping the wind itself. Gallant princes, who were of the same age as Bharata, mounted them. The princes were all handsome and adorned with jewels and had a bow and arrow in their hands and a well-equipped quiver fastened at their side. (1 - 4)

They were elegant blithesome youths, chosen and skilled warriors all; and with each knight were two footmen, clever at sword-play. (298)

The champions, who were all great fighters and had taken a vow of chivalry, sallied forth and halted outside the city. The clever fellows put their steeds through various paces and rejoiced to hear the clash of tabor and drum. The charioteers had made their cars equally gorgeous with flags and banners, gems and ornaments. They were also provided with elegant chowries and tinkling bells, and outdid in splendour the chariot of the sun- god. The king owned numberless horses with dark ears, which the charioteers yoked to their chariots. They were all beautiful and looked so charming with their ornaments that even sages would be enraptured at the sight. They skimmed the surface of water even as dry land and would not sink even hoof-deep; so marvellous was their speed. Having provided the chariots with missiles and weapons and every other equipment the charioteers called their masters. (1 - 4)

Mounting the chariots the processionists began to collect outside the city. On whatever errand one went, each was greeted by auspicious omens. (299)

On magnificent elephants were mounted splendid seats with canopies wrought in a manner beyond all description. Elephants in rut, adorned with clanging bells, headed like beautiful (rumbling) clouds in the rainy month of Śrāvaṇa (roughly corresponding to August). There were various kinds of other vehicles, such as charming palanquins, sedans etc., on which rode companies of noble Brāhmaṇas, incarnations, as it were, of all the hymns of the Vedas. Genealogists, bards, panegyrists and rhapsodists too rode on vehicles appropriate to their respective rank; while mules, camels and oxen of various breeds carried on their backs commodities of innumerable kinds. Millions of porters marched with burdens slung across their shoulders; who could enumerate the varieties of goods they carried? Crowds of servants also proceeded on the journey equipping themselves in their own way and forming batches of their own. (1 - 4)

Each had boundless joy in his heart and a thrill ran through the bodies of all. They whispered to one another, “When shall we feast our eyes on the two heroes, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa?” (300)

The elephants trumpeted and their bells clanged with a terrific din; on all sides there was a creaking of wheels and a neighing of horses. The clash of kettledrums would drown the peal of thunder; no one could hear one’s own words, much less of others. At the entrance of the king’s palace, there was such an enormous crowd that a stone thrown there would be trodden into dust. Women viewed the sight from house-tops, carrying festal lights in salvers used on auspicious occasions, and carolled melodious strains of various kinds in an ecstasy of joy beyond description. Then Sumantra (King Daśaratha’s own charioteer and trusted counsellor) got ready a pair of chariots and yoked them with steeds that would outrun even the horses of the sun-god, and brought them in all their splendour before the king; their beauty was more than goddess Śāradā could describe. One of them was equipped with the royal paraphernalia while the other was a mass of splendour and shone brightly. (1 - 4)

This magnificent chariot the king joyfully caused Vasiṣṭha to mount, and then himself ascended the other, with his thoughts fixed on Lord Hara, his preceptor (Vasiṣṭha), goddess Gaurī and the god Gaṇeśa. (301)

In the company of Vasiṣṭha the king shone forth as Indra (the lord of celestials) by the side of his preceptor (Bæhaspati). After performing all the rites sanctioned by family usage or prescribed by the Vedas and seeing everyone fully equipped for the journey, he sallied forth to the blast of the conch-shell after receiving the permission of his preceptor and with his thoughts fixed on Śrī Rāma. The immortals rejoiced to see the marriage procession and rained down flowers full of auspicious blessings. There was a confused din of horses neighing, elephants trumpeting and music playing both in the heavens and in the procession. Human and celestial dames alike sang festal melodies, while clarinets played in sweet accord. There was an indescribable clamour of bells, both large and small. The footmen leaped and danced, displaying exercises of various kinds. Jesters, proficient in pleasantry and expert in singing melodious songs, practised all kinds of buffoonery. (1 - 4)

Gallant princes made their steeds cruvet to the measured beat of tabors and kettledrums; accomplished dancers noted with surprise that they never made a step out of time. (302)

The splendour of the marriage procession was more than one could describe. Fair and auspicious omens occurred. The blue-necked jay picked up food on the left and announced as it were all good fortune. On a fair field in the right appeared a cow, and a mongoose was seen by all. A soft, cool and fragrant breeze was blowing in a favourable direction; a blessed (unwidowed) woman appeared with a pitcher and a child in her arms. A fox turned round and showed himself again and again and a cow suckled its calf in front of the procession; a herd of deer came round to the right, as if good omens appeared in visible form. A Brāhmaṇī-kite promised great blessings; and a Śyāma bird was observed on an auspicious tree to the left. A man bearing curds and fish and two learned Brāhmaṇas each with a book in his hand came from the opposite direction. (1 - 4)

All kinds of blessed and auspicious omens and those conducive of desired results occurred all at once as if to fulfil themselves. (303)

Auspicious omens easily occur to him who has God with form as his own son. In the marriage which was going to take place, the bridegroom was no other than Śrī Rāma and Sītā Herself was the bride; while the pious Daśaratha and Janaka were the parents of the bridegroom and the bride respectively; hearing of this marriage all good omens danced and said, “It is now that the Creator has justified us.” In this way the procession set forth amidst the neighing of horses, the trumpeting of elephants and the clash of kettledrums. Learning that the chief of the solar race, King Daśaratha, was already on the way, King Janaka had the rivers bridged, and got beautiful rest-houses erected at different stages, which vied in magnificence with the city of immortals (Amarāvatī), and in which members of the bridegroom’s party were supplied with excellent food, beds and clothing each according to his own taste. Finding ever new pleasures agreeable to themselves all the members of the bridegroom’s party forgot their own home. (1 - 4)

When it was learnt that the procession of the bridegroom’s party was approaching and the tempestuous clash of the kettledrums was heard, a deputation went out to receive it with elephants, chariots, footmen and horses duly equipped. (304)