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captivity in Ceylon. Forgetful of the trial by fire, forgetful of Sita's devotion to him through weal and woe, the ungrateful Rama immediately ordered her to the forest in which they had spent together the happy years of their exile.
Without a murmur the unhappy Sita, alone and unbefriended, dragged herself to the forest, and, torn with grief of body and spirit, found the hermitage of Valmiki, where she gave birth to twin sons, Lava and Kuça. Here she reared them, with the assistance of the hermit, who was their teacher, and under whose care they grew to manhood, handsome and strong.
It chanced about the time the youths were twenty years old, that Rama, who had grown peevish and disagreeable with age, began to think the gods were angered with him because he had killed Ravana, who was the son of a Brahman. Determined to propitiate them by means of the great sacrifice, he caused a horse to be turned loose in the forest. When his men went to retake it, at the end of the year, it was caught by two strong and beautiful youths who resisted all efforts to capture them. In his rage Rama went to the forest in person, only to learn that the youths were his twin sons, Lava and Kuça. Struck with remorse, Rama recalled the sufferings of his wife Sita, and on learning that she was at the hermitage of Valmiki, ordered her to come to him, that he might take her to him again, having first caused her to endure the trial by fire to prove her innocence to all his court.
Sita had had time to recover from the love of her youth, and the prospect of life with Rama, without the couleur de rose of youthful love, was not altogether pleasant. At first, she even refused to see him ; but finally, moved by the appeals of Valmiki and his wife, she clad herself in her richest robes, and, young and beautiful as when first won by Rama, she stood before him. Not deigning to look in his face, she appealed to the earth. If she had never loved any man but Rama, if her truth and purity were known to the earth, let it open its bosom and take her to it. While the armies stood trembling with horror, the earth opened, a gorgeous throne appeared, and the goddess of earth, seated upon it, took Sita beside her and conveyed her to the realms of eternal happiness, leaving the too late repentant Rama to wear out his remaining years in shame and penitence.
SELECTIONS FROM THE RÂMÂYANA.
THE DESCENT OF THE GANGES.
SAGARA, an early king of Ayodhya, had sixty thousand sons, whom he sent out one day to recover a horse that had been designed for the great sacrifice, but had been stolen by a rakshasa. Having searched the earth unsuccessfully, they proceeded to dig into the lower regions.
Cloven with shovel and with hoe, pierced by axes and by spades,
At last they reach the place where Vishnu appears with the horse. A flame issues from the mouth of the indignant deity and destroys the six myriad sons of Sagara. The adventure devolves on their brother Ansuman, who achieves it with perfect success. He is permitted to lead away the horse, Up the Raja at the sign upon his glittering chariot leaps, Instant Ganga the divine follows his majestic steps. From the high heaven burst she forth first on Siva's lofty crown, Headlong then, and prone to earth thundering rushed the cataract down, Swarms of bright-hued fish came dashing; turtles, dolphins in their mirth, Fallen or falling, glancing, flashing, to the many-gleaming earth. And all the host of heaven came down, spirits and genii, in amaze, And each forsook his heavenly throne, upon that glorious scene to gaze. On cars, like high-towered cities, seen, with elephants and coursers rode, Or on soft swinging palanquin, lay wondering each observant god. As met in bright divan each god, and flashed their jewelld vestures' rays, The coruscating æther glow'd, as with a hundred suns ablaze. And with the fish and dolphins gleaming, and scaly crocodiles and snakes, Glanc'd the air, as when fast streaming the blue lightning shoots and breaks : And in ten thousand sparkles bright went flashing up the cloudy spray, The snowy flocking swans less white, within its glittering mists at play. And headlong now poured down the flood, and now in silver circlets wound, Then lake-like spread all bright and broad, then gently, gently flowed around, Then 'neath the caverned earth descending, then spouted up the boiling tide, Then stream with stream harmonious blending, swell bubbling up and smooth
but the ashes of his brothers cannot be purified by earthly water; the goddess Ganga must first be brought to earth, and having undergone lustration from that holy flood, the race of Sagara are to ascend to heaven. Brahma at last gives his permission to Ganga to descend. King Bhagiratha takes his stand on the top of Gokarna, the sacred peak of Himavan (the Himalaya), and here
Stands with arms outstretch'd on high, amid five blazing fires, the one
meandering water -
Down on Sankara's holy head, down the holy fell, and there,
By the penances of the king, Siva is propitiated, and the stream, by seven channels, finds its way to the plains of India.
subside. By that heaven-welling water's breast, the genii and the sages stood, Its sanctifying dews they blest, and plung'd within the lustral flood.
Whoe'er beneath the curse of heaven from that immaculate world had fled,
The Death OF YAJNADATTA.
The Raja Dasaratha was compelled to banish his favorite son Rama, immediately after his marriage to Sita, because his banishment was demanded by the Raja's wife Kaikeyi, to whom he had once promised to grant any request she might make. His grief at the loss of his son is described in this selection.
Scarce Rama to the wilderness had with his younger brother gone,
“Kausalya, if thou wakest, incline to thy lord's speech thy ready ear.
dark. At length, the evil that I did, hath fallen upon my fated head, As when on subtle poison hid an unsuspecting child hath fed; Even as that child unwittingly hath made the poisonous fare his food, Even so, in ignorance by me was wrought that deed of guilt and blood. Unwed wert thou in virgin bloom, and I in youth's delicious prime, The season of the rains had come, that soft and love enkindling time. Earth’s moisture all absorbed, the sun through all the world its warmth had
Turned from the north, its course begun, where haunt the spirits of the dead : Gathering o'er all the horizon's bound on high the welcome clouds ap
peared, Exulting, all the birds flew round, - cranes, cuckoos, peacocks, flew and
veered. And all down each wide-watered shore the troubled, yet still limpid floods, Over their banks began to pour, as o'er them hung the bursting clouds. And, saturate with cloud-born dew, the glittering verdant-mantled earth, The cuckoos and the peacocks flew, disputing as in drunken mirth.
“ In such a time, so soft, so bland, oh beautiful! I chanced to go, With quiver and with bow in hand, where clear Sarayu's waters flow, If haply to the river's brink at night the buffalo might stray, Or elephant, the stream to drink, intent my savage game to slay. Then of a water cruse, as slow it filled, the gurgling sound I heard, Nought saw I, but the sullen low of elephant that sound appeared. The swift well-feathered arrow I upon the bowstring fitting straight, Towards the sound the shaft let fly, ah, cruelly deceived by fate! The winged arrow scarce had flown, and scarce had reached its destined
aim, Ah me, I'm slain,' a feeble moan in trembling human accents came. " Ah, whence hath come this fatal shaft against a poor recluse like me, Who shot that bolt with deadly craft, — alas ! what cruel man is he? At the lone midnight had I come to draw the river's limpid flood, And here am struck to death, by whom? ah whose this wrongful deed of
blood ? Alas! and in my parents' heart, the old, the blind, and hardly fed, In the wild wood, hath pierced the dart, that here hath struck their off
spring dead. Ah, deed most profitless as worst, a deed of wanton useless guilt ; As though a pupil's hand accurs'd his holy master's blood had spilt. But not mine own untimely fate, it is not that which I deplore. My blind, my aged parents' state — 't is their distress afflicts me more. That sightless pair, for many a day, from me their scanty food have earned ; What lot is theirs when I'm away, to the five elements returned ? Alike, all wretched they, as I — ah, whose this triple deed of blood ? For who the herbs will now supply, - the roots, the fruit, their blameless
food ?' My troubled soul, that plaintive moan no sooner heard, so faint and low, Trembled to look on what I'd done, fell from my shuddering hand my
bow. Swift I rushed up, I saw him there, heart-pierced, and fallen the stream
beside, The hermit boy with knotted hair, — his clothing was the black deer's hide. On me most piteous turned his look, his wounded breast could scarce