15 | Śrī Rāma Carita Mānasa Stotra

Even though He hesitated in speaking to Her in the presence of His mother, He realized within Himself the emergency of the situation and said, “Listen to my advice, O princess, and do not misunderstand me. If you wish well of me as well as of yourself, please accept my suggestion and stay at home. You will be obeying my order and rendering service to your mother-in-law; by remaining at home, O good lady, you will be benefited in every way. For a woman there is no other duty more sacred than reverently adoring the feet of her husband’s parents. Whenever my mother thinks of me and feeling disconsolate due to her love for me loses her balance of mind, do you console her, my love, with soothing words by narrating old legends to her. I tell you sincerely and solemnly; it is for my mother’s sake, O charming lady that I leave you here.” (1 - 4)

“(By staying at home in deference to my wishes) you will easily obtain the reward of virtue approved of by one’s elders and the Vedas; whereas by giving themselves over to obduracy the sage Gālava, King Nahuṣa† and all others suffered great hardships.” (61)

“As for myself listen, O fair and sensible lady: I will soon return after redeeming my father’s word. Days will steal away quickly; therefore, heed my advice, O charming lady. If on the other hand, you persist in your obstinacy due to your affection for me, O pretty one, you will eventually come to grief. The forest is rugged and most dreadful with its terrible heat, cold, rain and blasts. The tracks are beset with prickly grass and thorns and stones of various kinds and you will have to tread them without any shoes. Your lotus- like feet are delicate and lovely, while the paths are most difficult and intercepted by huge mountains, caves and chasms, streams, rivers and rivulets that are unapproachable, unfathomable and terrible to look at. Bears and tigers, wolves, lions and elephants raise such a cry as staggers one’s presence of mind.” (1 - 4)

“The ground will be your couch and the bark of trees, your raiment; while bulbs, fruits and roots will be your food. And do you think even these latter will be available to you all the year round? You will get everything according to its season.” (62)

“Man-eating demons roam about in the woods and assume all sorts of deceptive forms. The water of the hills is exceedingly unwholesome; the hardships of the forest are beyond all description. There are terrible serpents and fierce wild birds and multitudes of demons who steal both man and woman. The boldest shudder at the very thought of the forest; while you, O fawn-eyed lady, are timid by nature. You are not fit for the woods, O fair lady; the world will revile me when they hear that I am taking you to the forest. Can a female cygnet who has been brought up in the nectarine water of the Mānasa lake, live in the salt water of the ocean? Can a cuckoo that has made merry in a young mango grove, have its appropriate place in a thicket of Karīla bushes? Pondering this in your heart stay at home, O moon-faced lady; the hardships of the forest are great.” (1 - 4)

“He who does not reverently follow the advice of a disinterested friend, preceptor and master has to repent fully at heart and surely harms himself.” (63)

When Sītā heard these soft and winning words of Her beloved lord, Her lovely eyes filled with tears. His soothing advice proved as scorching to Her as a moon-lit autumnal night to a female Cakravāka bird. Videha’s Daughter could make no answer. She was filled with agony to think that Her pious and loving lord would leave Her behind. Perforce restraining Her tears Earth’s Daughter took courage and throwing Herself at Her mother-in-law’s feet spoke to her with Her two palms joined together, “Forgive, O venerable lady, my great impudence. The lord of my life has tendered me only such advice as is conducive to my best interests. I have, however, pondered within myself and realized that there is no calamity in this world as great as being torn away from one’s beloved lord.” (1 - 4)

“O lord of my life, O abode of mercy, handsome, genial and wise, O moon for the lily-like race of Raghu, without you heaven would be as obnoxious as hell.” (64)

“Father and mother, sisters and dear brothers, beloved kinsmen and friends, father-in-law and mother-in-law, preceptor and relatives, allies and even sons, however good-looking, well-behaved and congenial - nay, whatever ties of affection and kinship there exist - to a woman bereft of her beloved lord they are far more tormenting than the scorching sun. Life, riches, house, land, city and kingdom - all these are mere accoutrements of woe to a woman bereft of her lord. Luxury to her is loathsome like a disease and ornaments a burden; while the world is like the torments of hell. Without you, O lord of my life, nothing in this world is delightful to me. As the body without a soul, and a river without water, even so, my lord, is a woman without her husband. In your company, my lord, I shall be happy in every way so long as I behold your countenance resembling the cloudless moon of an autumnal night.” (1 - 4)

“Birds and beasts will be my kindred; the forest, my city and the bark of trees, my spotless robes. And a hut of leaves in the company of my lord will be as comfortable as the abode of gods.” (65)

“The generous-hearted sylvan gods and goddesses will take care of me like my own father-in-law and mother-in-law. A charming litter of grass and tender leaves will in the company of my lord vie with Cupid’s own lovely cushion. Bulbs, roots and fruits will be my ambrosial food; while mountains will be as good as a hundred royal mansions of Ayodhyā. Gazing on the lotus feet of my lord every moment I shall remain as cheerful as a female Cakravāka bird during the daytime. You have mentioned a number of hardships and perils, woes and afflictions attendant with forest life; but all these put together will hardly compare with an iota of the pangs of separation from my lord, O fountain of mercy! Bearing this in mind, O crest-jewel of wise men, take me with you; pray do not leave me behind. I refrain from making a lengthy submission, my lord, knowing as I do that you are all-merciful and have access to the hearts of all.” (1 - 4)

“If you leave me in Ayodhyā till the expiry of your exile, you may rest assured that I shall not survive, O friend of the afflicted, O handsome and congenial lord. O storehouse of amiability and affection!” (66)

“As I walk along the road I shall know no fatigue gazing on your lotus feet all the while. I shall render all sorts of service to my beloved lord (yourself) and shall relieve him of all the toil occasioned by the journey. Laving your feet and resting in the shade of a tree I shall fan you with a cheerful heart. Beholding your swarthy form bedewed with sweat and casting a look on the lord of my life I can have no occasion for grief. Spreading grass and leaves of trees on an even patch of ground this handmaid of yours will knead your feet overnight. Even as I gaze on your tender form again and again hot winds will have no effect on me. Who can dare look at me, when I am by the side of my lord, any more than a hare or jackal would regard a lioness? How true it is that I am delicate of body while my lord is fit to bear the hardships of a forest life, that it behoves you to undergo penance while it is worth while for me to loll in luxuries!” (1 - 4)

“When my heart did not resent even on hearing such cruel words, I am sure my wretched self shall live to bear the terrible pangs of separation from my lord!” (67)

So saying Sītā was overwhelmed with distress; she could not bear Her lord’s separation even in words. Seeing Her condition the Lord of Raghus was convinced in His heart of hearts that if left behind against Her will She would not survive. The all- merciful Lord of the solar race, therefore, said: “Give up lamentation and accompany me to the forest. Grief is out of season today. Prepare yourself for the journey to the woods at once.” Consoling His beloved Consort with these endearing words the Lord threw Himself at His mother’s feet and received her blessings. “Pray return soon and relieve the people’s distress and see that your heartless mother is not forgotten. Shall the tide of my fortune ever turn, O goodness, that I may behold the charming pair with my eyes again ? When, my dear son, will arrive the auspicious day and blessed hour that your mother shall live to see your moon-like countenance? (1 – 4)

“When again shall I call you “my darling”, “my pet child”, “O Lord of Raghus”, “O Chief of Raghu’s race”, “my boy”, and summoning you clasp you to my bosom and gaze upon your limbs with delight?” (68)

Seeing that His mother was too overwhelmed with emotion to speak any more and was greatly agitated, Śrī Rāma consoled her in various ways; the gravity of the occasion and the intensity of affection was more than one could describe. Janaka’s Daughter then threw Herself at Her mother-in-law’s feet and said, “I tell you, mother: I am most unluckly in that at a time when I should have served you heaven has exiled me to the forest and has refused to grant my desire. Pray be not perturbed any more but at the same time cease not to entertain kindly feelings towards me. Relentless is fate and there is no fault of mine either.” The mother-in-law was so distressed to hear Sītā’s words that I have no words to describe her condition. Again and again she pressed her Daughter-in-law to her breast and recovering herself admonished and blessed Her: “May the blessed state of your wifehood (the longevity of your husband) know no break and endure so long as the streams of the Gaṅgā and Yamunā continue to flow.” (1 - 4)

The mother-in-law blessed and admonished Sītā in various ways and the latter parted from her, most affectionately bowing Her head at her lotus feet again and again. (69)

When Lakṣmaṇa got the news he started up in confusion and ran with a doleful face. Trembling all over with his hair standing on end and eyes full of tears he clasped Śrī Rāma’s feet much excited with emotion. He was unable to speak and stood gazing piteously like a fish taken out of water. There was anxiety in his heart. “What is going to happen, O good heavens?” he said to himself. “All my joy and merits are over now. What will the Lord of Raghus command me to do? Will he leave me at home or take me with him? “When Śrī Rāma saw His brother with joined palms having renounced his home and reckless about his own body, He addressed him in the following words, well-versed as He was in the rules of correct behaviour and an ocean of amiability, love, artlessness and joy: “Pray do not lose your balance of mind out of affection, dear brother, and be convinced in your heart of hearts that the end will be a happy one.” (1 - 4)

“Those who reverently and unconstrainedly follow the advice of their father and mother, preceptor and master have reaped the fruit of their birth or else their coming into this world has been in vain.” (70)

“Bearing this in mind, brother, listen to my advice and wait upon the feet of our father and mothers. Bharata and Ripusūdana (Śatrughna) are not at home, while the king is aged and full of grief for my sake. If I proceed to the woods taking you with me, Ayodhyā will be rendered completely masterless and the preceptor and parents, the people as well as the family, all will be subjected to a spell of terrible suffering. Stay, then, to comfort all; otherwise, brother, we shall incur great sin. A king whose reign brings suffering to his beloved people surely deserves an abode in hell. Bearing in mind this maxim, dear brother, stay at home.” Hearing this, Lakṣmaṇa felt much distressed. He turned pale at these soothing words in the same way as a lotus is blasted when touched by frost. (1 - 4)

Overwhelmed with emotion he could not answer, but clasped his Brother’s feet in anguish, “My lord, I am your slave and you my master; if you abandon me, what help! “ (71)

“My lord, you have given me a sound advice; but due to my faintheartedness it sounds impracticable to me. Only those noble men who are self-possessed and champion the cause of virtue, are fit to be taught the gospel of the Vedas and moral philosophy. I am a mere child fostered by your loving care; can a cygnet lift Mount Mandāra or Meru? I know no preceptor nor father nor mother; I tell you sincerely; believe me, my lord. Whatever ties of affection, love and confidence exist in the world as declared by the Vedas - for me they are all centred in you and you alone, my lord. O friend of the afflicted, O knower of the innermost heart of all ! Piety and propriety should be taught to him who is fond of glory, fortune and a noble destiny. He, however, who is devoted to your feet in thought, word and deed - should he be abandoned, O ocean of grace?” (1 - 4)

Hearing these soft and polite words of His noble brother, the all-compassionate Lord clasped him to His bosom and consoled him, perceiving that he had lost his nerve through love. (72)

“Go and ask leave of your mother; then quickly return and accompany me to the woods.” Lakṣmaṇa rejoiced to hear these words from the Chief of Raghus; great was his gain and a mighty loss was averted. He went up to his mother delighted at heart as a blind man who had regained his lost vision. Approaching her he bowed his head at her feet, while his heart was with Śrī Rāma (the Delighter of Raghu’s race) and Janaka’s Daughter. Finding him depressed in spirit the mother inquired the reason, when Lakṣmaṇa related at length the whole incident. Sumitrā was shocked to hear this cruel report as a doe on finding wild fire all about her. Lakṣmaṇa apprehended that things would take a wrong turn that day and that his mother would frustrate his plans due to her affection. He, therefore, felt nervous and hesitated in asking leave of her; for he thought within himself, “Good God, will she allow me to accompany Śrī Rāma or not?” (1 - 4)

Remembering the beauty, amiability and noble disposition of Śrī Rāma and Sītā and considering the king’s affection for Them, Sumitrā beat her head as she perceived that the wicked queen (Kaikeyī) had played him foul. (73)

Perceiving that the time was unpropitious to them, she collected herself and, possessing as she did a naturally good heart, spoke in gentle words, “My dear son, Videha’s daughter is your mother while Rāma, who loves you in every way, is your father. Ayodhyā is there where Rāma dwells; there alone is the day where there is sunlight. If Sītā and Rāma are really proceeding to the woods, you have no business in Ayodhyā. One’s preceptor, parents, brother, gods and master - all these should be tended as one’s own life. Rāma, however is dearer than life, the soul of our soul and the disinterested friend of all. Whosoever are worthy of adoration and most dear to us should be accounted as such only in so far as they are related to Rāma. Bearing this in mind, accompany him to the forest and derive, my boy, the benefit of your existence in the world. (1 - 4)

“It is your great good fortune as well as mine, I solemnly declare, that your mind has sincerely taken up its abode in Rāma’s feet.” (74)

“That woman alone can be said to have borne a male issue, whose son is a devotee of Rāma (the Lord of Raghus). Otherwise she had better remain issueless; for she who deems herself fortunate in having a son hostile to Rāma has yeaned in vain. It is due to your good fortune that Rāma is proceeding to the forest; there is no other ground for his doing so, my boy. The highest reward of all meritorious acts is verily this - to have spontaneous love for the feet of Sītā and Rāma. Never give way even in a dream to passion, anger, jealousy, arrogance or infatuation. Giving up all sorts of morbid feelings serve them in thought, word and deed. You will be happy in every way in the forest since you will have with you your father and mother in Rāma and Sītā. Take care, my son, that Rāma may be put to no trouble in the woods: that is my admonition to you.” (1 - 4)

“My admonition to you, dear child, is this: it is up to you to see that Rāma and Sītā lead a happy life in the forest through your good offices and forget their father and mother, near and dear ones as well as the amenities of city life.” Having thus admonished the Lord of Tulasīdāsa (Lakṣmaṇa) Sumitrā granted him leave (to accompany Śrī Rāma) and then invoked her blessing on him: “May your devotion to the feet of Sītā and the Hero of Raghu’s race be constant and untainted and ever new.”

Bowing his head at his mother’s feet Lakṣmaṇa left at once with a timid heart apprehending any further development that might bulk his plans and interfere with his accompanying (Śrī Rāma to the forest); it looked as if a deer had luckily succeeded in bursting a strong snare and made good his escape. (75)

Lakṣmaṇa went straight to where the Lord of Jānakī (Janaka’s Daughter) was; he was glad at heart to find himself in the company of his beloved Brother. Bowing to the charming feet of Śrī Rāma and Sītā he accompanied Them to the king’s palace. The men and women of the city said to one another, “How strange that God well-nigh fulfilled our hopes and then shattered them!” With emaciated bodies, a sorrowful heart and doleful face they felt miserable as a bee that has been robbed of its honey. They wrung their hands, beat their heads and lamented like birds that had been clipped of their wings and were restless without them. A huge crowd had collected at the entrance of the royal palace and there was untold grief which knew no bounds. The minister (Sumantra) raised the king and seated him communicating to him the agreeable news that Śrī Rāma had come. When he saw his two sons with Sītā, his distress was profound. (1 - 4)

The king felt much agitated as he gazed on his two sons with Sītā. Overwhelmed with emotion he pressed them to his bosom again and again. (76)

The king was too restless to speak; there was terrible agony in his heart due to excess of grief. Most affectionately bowing His head at His father’s feet, the Hero of Raghu’s race then arose and asked his permission to proceed to the woods: “Father, give me your blessings and commands; why should you be sorrowing at this hour of jubilation? By swerving from the path of duty due to attachment for a beloved object, dear father, one’s reputation is lost and obloquy incurred.” Hearing this the king got up in his love and holding Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Raghus) by the arm he made Him sit down and said, “Listen, my boy: of You the sages declare that Rāma is the Lord of the entire creation, both animate and inanimate. God requites our actions according as they are good or bad, weighing them in the scale of His judgment. He alone who does an act reaps its consequences: such is the law of the Vedas and so declare all.” (1 - 4)

“But in this case we find that one commits the offence and another reaps the fruit. Highly mysterious are the ways of God: no one in this world is competent to know them.” (77)

The king sincerely tried every means to detain Śrī Rāma. But he discovered Śrī Rāma’s intention and came to know that He was not going to stay, a champion of righteousness, strong-minded and foresighted as He was. The king thereupon clasped Sītā to his bosom and most lovingly admonished Her in many ways. He described the terrible hardships of forest life and explained to Her the comforts She would enjoy if She chose to stay with Her husband’s parents or Her own father. Sītā’s mind, however, was attached to Śrī Rāma’s feet; hence neither home seemed attractive to Her nor the forest repulsive. Everyone else too expostulated with Sītā dwelling on the many miseries of the forest. The minister’s (Sumantra’s) wife as well as the preceptor’s (Vasiṣṭha’s) and other prudent ladies fondly urged Her in gentle tones: “Nobody has exiled you to the forest: therefore, do as your husband’s parents and preceptor bid you.” (1 - 4)

This advice, soothing, friendly, agreeable and tender as it was, did not sound pleasing to Sītā’s ears. It seemed as if the touch of the rays of the autumnal moon had made a female Cakravāka bird restless. (78)

Sītā was too modest to give any reply. But Kaikeyī flared up on hearing their talk. She brought hermits robes, ornaments and vessels and, placing them before Śrī Rāma, addressed Him in soft accents, “You are dear as life to the king, O Hero of Raghu’s line; he is too soft to shake off his scruple and attachment for you. He would sooner forfeit his virtue, good reputation and his happiness in the other world than ask you to proceed to the woods. Bearing this in mind do as you please.” Śrī Rāma rejoiced to hear His stepmother’s admonition; but her words pierced the king like shafts. “Will my wretched life never depart,” he said to himself. The people felt much distressed while the king fainted; no one knew what to do. Śrī Rāma presently dressed Himself as a hermit and bowing His head to His parents departed. (1 - 4)

Having completed all the equipment and preparations for a journey to the woods the Lord with His Spouse and brother bowed to the feet of the Brāhmaṇas and the preceptor (Vasiṣṭha) and departed, leaving everyone in bewilderment. (79)

Issuing out of the palace the party halted at Vasiṣṭha’s door and found the people scorched with the fire of impending separation. The Hero of Raghu’s race comforted all with soothing words and then summoned hosts of Brāhmaṇas. He requested His preceptor to give them subsistence for a year and captivated their hearts through courtesy, gift and humility. He gratified mendicants with gifts and attentions and sated His friends with pure love. He then called His men-servants and maid-servants and entrusting them to the care of His Guru spoke to him with joined palms, “My lord, pray look after them and tend them as their own father and mother.” Again and again, with joined palms, Śrī Rāma addressed each one present there in soft accents, “He alone is friendly to me in every way, through whose good offices the king derives solace.” (1 - 4)

“Take care all of you, my most clever citizens, to see that none of my mothers is smitten with the pangs of separation from me.” (80)

In this way Śrī Rāma consoled all and cheerfully bowed His head at the lotus feet of His preceptor. Invoking Lord Gaṇapati, Goddess Gaurī (Pārvatī) and the Lord of Kailāśa and receiving the blessings of His Guru, the Lord of Raghus proceeded further. There was great lamentation as He sallied forth; the piteous wail of the citizens was revolting to the ears. Evil omens appeared in Laṅkā and Ayodhyā was plunged in grief, while the abode of gods was overcome with a mixed feeling of joy and sorrow. When the spell of unconsciousness broke, the king woke and calling Sumantra thus began, “Rāma has left for the woods, but my life refuses to depart. I wonder what joy it seeks after by clinging to this body! What agony more severe than this can I have, that will draw my breath out of my body?” Then, recovering himself, the king said, “Follow him, my friend, with your chariot.” (1 - 4)

“Too tender-bodied are the two princes and delicate of frame is Janaka’s daughter. Pick them up on the chariot, show them round the forest and return after three or four days.” (81)

“If the two strong-minded brothers refuse to return - for the Lord of Raghus is true to his word and firm of resolve - then do you entreat him with joined palms: “My lord, kindly send back the daughter of Mithilā’s king.” When Sītā gets frightere at the sight of the jungle, avail yourself of that opportunity and tell her my advice in the following words. “The parents of your husband have sent this message to you: Please return home, my daughter; there is much hardship in the forest. Now with your parents and now in your husband’s home - stay wherever you please. In this way try all possible means; if she comes back, there will be a support to my life. Otherwise all this will end in my death; nothing can avail against an adverse fate.” So saying the king dropped unconscious on the ground exclaiming: “Bring Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā and show them to me!” (1 - 4)

Receiving the king’s command Sumantra bowed his head to him and having got ready a most swift chariot went to the outskirts of the city, where Sītā and the two princely brothers were. (82)

Then Sumantra delivered to them the king’s message and with humble submission persuaded Śrī Rāma to ascend the chariot. Having mounted the chariot Sītā and the two brothers set out on their journey mentally bowing their head to Ayodhyā. Finding Ayodhyā masterless with the departure of Śrī Rāma all those who had assembled there followed in their wake with an agitated mind. Śrī Rāma remonstrated in many ways, an ocean of compassion that He was; and the crowd turned homewards. But dragged by the affection they bore for Him they came back and joined the party once more. Ayodhyā presented a most dismal appearance as though it were the dark night of final dissolution of the universe. The men and women of the city looked like ghastly creatures and were frightened to see one another. Their houses appeared like so many crematories, their retainers like ghosts, and their sons, relations and friends like messengers of death. Trees and creepers in the gardens withered, while streams and ponds repelled the eyes. (1 - 4)

The numberless horses and elephants, animals kept for pleasure, urban cattle, Chātakā birds, peacocks, cuckoos, Chakravākas, parrots and Mainās, cranes, swans and Chakoras - (83)

 - All stood restless due to their separation from Śrī Rāma; they looked like so many pictures drawn here and there. The city resembled an extensive and thick forest full of fruits and the many men and women residing therein represented so many birds and beasts. God assigned Kaikeyī the role of a Bhīla woman who set the whole forest in a fierce blaze. The people could not bear the fire of separation from the Chief of Raghus and they all ran away in distress. They all came to this conclusion in their mind: “There can be no happiness without Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā. The whole community will live where Rāma takes up his abode; without the Hero of Raghu’s race we have no business in Ayodhyā.” Having thus firmly resolved they followed Him forsaking their happy homes, which were the envy of gods. Can the pleasures of sense overpower those who hold the lotus feet of Śrī Rāma dear to their heart? (1 - 4)

Leaving the children and aged people in their homes all the citizens accompanied Śrī Rāma. And the Lord of Raghus made His first day’s halt on the bank of the Tamasā. (84)

When the Lord of Raghus saw His people overwhelmed with love, His tender heart was much afflicted. Lord Śrī Rāma, who is all compassion, is readily touched by others, pain. Addressing them in affectionate, soft and agreeable tones, He comforted all in ways more than one. He also gave them varied instructions in their moral duty; but overmastered by love they would not turn back even though urged to return. Śrī Rāma could not afford to take leave of His amiable disposition and loving nature; the Lord of Raghus thus found Himself in a fix. Overpowered by grief and toil the people fell asleep and the deluding potency of gods further helped to benumb their mind. When two watches of the night had passed, Śrī Rāma addressed the minister in endearing terms, “Father, drive the chariot in such a way as to leave no tree; by no other means can our object be accomplished.” (1 - 4)

Bowing their head to the feet of Lord Śambhu (Śiva) Śrī Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā mounted the car; and the minister (Sumantra) immediately drove the chariot now in one direction and now in another, thus confusing the tracks. (85)

All the people woke up at daybreak. “The Lord of Raghus has gone!” they loudly exclaimed. Nowhere could they find the tracks of the chariot and ran about in all directions crying “Rāma, O Rāma!” It seemed as if a bark had foundered in the ocean, as a result of which the party of merchants that had boarded it felt much agitated.

Everyone explained to the other how Rāma had forsaken them perceiving their distress. They condemned themselves and praised the fish (that died as soon as they were taken out of water), and said to one another; “A curse on our life without the Hero of Raghu’s race! If God has torn us from our beloved, why did He not vouchsafe death to us on our asking?” Thus wailing in a variety of ways they all returned to Ayodhyā full of remorse. The anguish of parting was terrible beyond words. Everyone survived in the hope of seeing Rāma on the expiry of the term of exile. (1 - 4)

Men and women alike started religious observances and fasts for ensuring Śrī Rāma’s return. They were as miserable as the male and female Cakravāka birds and the lotus flower are in the absence of the sun. (86)

Accompanied by Sītā and the minister the two brothers arrived at Śriṅgaverapura. Beholding the celestial stream, Gaṅgā, Śrī Rāma alighted from His car and fell prostrate on the ground with great joy. Lakṣmaṇa, Sītā and the minister too made obeisance and Śrī Rāma rejoiced in common with them all. A fount of all joys and blessings, the Gaṅgā brings all delight and drives away all sorrow. Narrating numerous anecdotes connected with it, Śrī Rāma gazed on the waves of the Gaṅgā and told the minister, His younger brother (Lakṣmaṇa) and His beloved Consort the transcendent glory of the celestial stream. They took a plunge in the river and the fatigue of the journey was gone; and their hearts rejoiced when they drank of its holy water. That He whose very thought relieves the great toil of transmigration should feel fatigued shows that He imitated the ways of the world. (1 - 4)

The Glory of Raghu’s race, who is a fountain of pure existence, knowledge and bliss, performed actions similar to those of a human being, and which constitute a bridge to cross the ocean of mundane existence. (87)

When Guha, the Niṣāda, got this news, he gladly called together his near and dear ones and taking by way of presents fruits and roots in baskets slung across their shoulders, he proceeded to meet the Lord with infinite joy in his heart. Prostrating himself on the ground and placing the presents before the Lord he gazed on Him with great affection. The Lord of Raghus, who is won by natural affection, seated him by His side and inquired about his welfare. “The sight of your lotus feet, my lord, is the root of all welfare; I can now count myself as a blessed man. My land, house and fortune are yours, holy sir; my family and myself are your humble servants. Do me the favour of visiting my town and confer dignity on me. Let everyone envy my lot.” “Everything you have said is true; my wise friend; but my father has commanded me otherwise.” (1 - 4)

“For four years and ten my home shall be in the woods and my mode of life, dress and food shall be that of a hermit. Hence my staying in a village would be hardly advisable.” Guha was deeply distressed to hear this. (88)

Beholding the beauty of Śrī Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, men and women of the village feelingly said, “What sort of parents, O friend, can they be who have sent such children to the forest?” Other people said, “The king has done well in that God has thereby rewarded our eyes.” The Chief of the Niṣādas then pondered within himself and perceived a charming Aśoka tree. He took the Lord of Raghus to the spot and showed it to Him, when Śrī Rāma declared that the place was beautiful in every way. The people of the town then returned home after paying their respects to Him, while the Chief of Raghus retired for performing His evening devotions. In the meantime Guha prepared a soft and beautiful bed of Kuśa grass and tender leaves and spread it on the ground. He also placed besides Him cups of leaves sacred, delicious and soft full of fruits, roots and water. (1 - 4)

Having partaken of the bulbs, roots and fruits along with Sītā, Sumantra and His brother (Lakṣmaṇa), the Jewel of Raghu’s race lay down to sleep, while His brother kneaded His feet. (89)

When Lakṣmaṇa perceived that his lord had fallen asleep, he rose and asked the minister in soft accents to retire. As for himself he got ready his bow and arrows and sitting at some distance in the posture of a hero he kept watch. Guha called his trusted watchmen and stationed them at different points with great love; while he himself went and took his seat beside Lakṣmaṇa with a quiver fastened to his waist and an arrow fitted to his bow. When the Niṣāda chief saw his lord lying (on a bed of grass and leaves) he felt great sorrow in his heart due to excess of love; the hair on his body bristled, tears flowed from his eyes and he addressed the following affectionate words to Lakṣmaṇa: “The king’s palace is naturally charming; even Indra’s residence can hardly stand comparison with it. It’s beautiful attics are built of precious gems and are so lovely as though the god of love has constructed them with his own hands.” (1 - 4)

“Free from impurities, exceedingly marvellous of design, abounding in exquisite luxuries and scented with the fragrance of flowers, they are furnished with lovely beds and lighted with gems and are full of amenities of every description.” (90)

Again they are equipped with coverlets and sheets, pillows and cushions of various kinds - all soft, white and charming as the froth of milk. It is in such attics that Sītā and Rāma used to sleep at night and humbled by their beauty the pride of Rati and her consort, the god of love. Those very Sītā and Rāma are now lying on a pallet, exhausted and uncovered, a sight one cannot bear to see. The same Lord Rāma whom his father and mother, his own family and the people of the city, his good-natured companions, men- servants and maid-servants, all cherished as their own life, sleeps on the ground ! Nay, Sītā, whose father Janaka is famed throughout the world, whose father-in-law is King Daśaratha, the chief of Raghus and an ally of Indra (the lord of immortals) and whose spouse is Rāmacandra, is lying on the ground! An adverse fate spares none. Do Sītā and the Hero of Raghu’s race deserve to be exiled to the woods? They rightly say: “Fate is supreme.” (1 - 4)

“The foolish daughter of Kekaya has wrought a cruel mischief in that she has brought trouble on Sītā and the Delighter of Raghu’s race at a time of enjoyment.” (91)

“The wicked woman has played the axe in felling the tree of the solar race and plunged the whole universe in woe.” The Niṣāda chief was sore distressed to see Rāma and Sītā sleeping on the ground. Lakṣmaṇa spoke to him sweet and gentle words imbued with the nectar of wisdom, dispassion and devotion: “No one is a source of delight or pain to another; everyone reaps the fruit of one’s own actions, brother. Union and separation, pleasurable and painful experiences, friends, foes and neutrals - snares of delusion are these. Even so birth and death, prosperity and adversity, destiny and time and all the illusion of the world; lands, houses, wealth, town and family, heaven and hell, and all the phenomena of the world; nay, whatever is seen, heard or thought of with the mind has its root in ignorance: nothing exists in reality.” (1 - 4)

“Suppose in a dream a king becomes a pauper and a pauper becomes lord of paradise; on waking, the one does not gain nor does the other lose anything. So must you look upon this world.” (92)

“Reasoning thus be not angry nor blame anyone in vain. Everyone is slumbering in the night of delusion, and while asleep one sees dreams of various kinds. In this night of mundane existence it is Yogīs (mystics) alone who keep awake - Yogīs who are in quest of the highest truth and remain aloof from the world. A soul should be deemed as having awoke from the night of the world only when he develops and aversion for the enjoyments of the world of sense. It is only when right understanding comes that the error of delusion disappears and then alone one develops love for the feet of Śrī Rāma (the Lord of Raghus). O friend, the highest spiritual goal is this: to be devoted to the feet of Śrī Rāma in thought, word and deed. Śrī Rāma is no other than Brahma (God), the supreme Reality, unknown, imperceptible, beginningless, incomparable, free from all change and beyond all diversity. The Vedas ever speak of Him in negative terms (not this).” (1 - 4)

“For the sake of His devotees, Earth, the Brāhmaṇas, cows and gods, the gracious Lord takes the form of a man and performs actions by hearing of which the snares of the world are broken asunder.” (93)