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but the ashes of his brothers cannot be purified by earthly water; the god. dess 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
Towards each quarter of the sky, the fifth the full meridian sun.
Mid fiercest frosts on snow he slept, the dry and withered leaves his food,
Mid rains his roofless vigil kept, the soul and sense alike subdued.
High on the top of Himavan the mighty Mashawara stood;
And “Descend," he gave the word to the heaven-meandering water -
Full of wrath the mandate heard Himavan's majestic daughter.
To a giant's stature soaring and intolerable speed,
From heaven's height down rushed she, pouring upon Siva's sacred head,
Him the goddess thought in scorn with her resistless might to sweep
By her fierce waves overborne, down to hell's motest deep.

Down on Sankara's holy head, down the holy fell, and there,
Amid the entangling meshes spread, of his loose and flowing hair,
Vast and boundless as the woods upon the Himalaya's brow,
Nor ever may the struggling foods rush headlong to the earth below.
Opening, egress was not there, amid those winding, long meanders.
Within that labyrinthine hair, for many an age, the goddess wanders.

By the penances of the king, Siva is propitiated, and the stream, by seven channels, finds its way to the plains of India.

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 jewell’d 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

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 Red,
To th' impure earth in exile driven, to that all-holy baptism sped;
And purified from every sin, to the bright spirit's bliss restor’d,
Th' ethereal sphere they entered in, and through th' empyreal mansions

The world in solemn jubilee beheld those heavenly waves draw near,
From sin and dark pollution free, bathed in the blameless waters clear.
Swift king Bhagiratha drave upon his lofty glittering car,
And swift with her obeisant wave bright Ganga followed him afar.

Milman's Translation,


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,
Abandoned to his deep distress, king Dasaratha sate alone.
Upon his sons to exile driven when thought that king, as Indra bright,
Darkness came o'er him, as in heaven when pales th' eclipsèd sun his

Six days he sate, and mourned and pined for Rama all that weary time.
At midnight on his wandering mind rose up his old forgotten crime.
His queen, Kausalya, the divine, addressed he, as she rested near :

“Kausalya, if thou wakest, incline to thy lord's speech thy ready ear.
Whatever deed, or good or ill, by man, O blessed queen, is wrought,
Its proper fruit he gathers still, by time to slow perfection brought.
He who the opposing counsel's weight compares not in his judgment cool,
Or misery or bliss his fate, among the sage is deemed a fool.
As one that quits the Amra bower, the bright Palasa's pride to gain
Mocked by the promise of its flower, seeks its unripening fruit in vain,
So I the lovely Amra left for the Palasa's barren bloom,
Through mine own fatal error 'reft of banished Rama, mourn in gloom.
Kausalya! in my early youth by my keen arrow, at his mark
Aimed with too sure and deadly truth, was wrought a deed most fell and

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


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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-

Exulting, all the birds flew round, — cranes, cuckoos, peacocks, flew and

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

* 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

respire, And these the words, O queen, he spoke, as to consume me in his ire : "What wrong, O Kshatriya, have I done, to be thy deathful arrow's aim, The forest's solitary son, to draw the limpid stream I came. Both wretched and both blind they lie, in the wildwood all destitute, My parents, listening anxiously to hear my home-returning foot.

By this, thy fatal shaft, this one, three miserable victims fall,
The sire, the mother, and the son — ah why? and unoffending all.
How vain my father's life austere, the Veda's studied page how vain,
He knew not with prophetic fear his son would fall untimely slain.
But had he known, to one as he, so weak, so blind, 't were bootless all,
No tree can save another tree by the sharp hatchet marked to fall.
But to my father's dwelling haste, O Raghu's son, lest in his ire
Thy head with burning curse he blast, as the dry forest tree the fire.
Thee to my father's lone retreat will quickly lead yon onward path,
Oh, haste his pardon to entreat, or ere he curse thee in his wrath.
Yet first that gently I may die, draw forth the barbèd steel from hence,
Allay thy fears, no Brahmin I, not thine of Brahmin blood the offence.
My sire, a Brahmin hermit he, my mother was of Sudra race.'
So spake the wounded boy, on me while turned his unreproaching face.
As from his palpitating breast I gently drew the mortal dart,
He saw me trembling stand, and blest that boy's pure spirit seemed to

As died that holy hermit's son, from me my glory seemed to go,
With troubled mind I stood, cast down t' inevitable endless woe.
That shaft that seemed his life to burn like serpent venom, thus drawn

I, taking up his fallen urn, t' his father's dwelling took my route.
There miserable, blind, and old, of their sole helpmate thus forlorn,
His parents did these eyes behold, like two sad birds with pinions shorn.
Of him in fond discourse they sate, lone, thinking only of their son,
For his return so long, so late, impatient, oh by me undone.
My footsteps' sound he seemed to know, and thus the aged hermit said,

O Yajnadatta, why so slow? — haste, let the cooling draught be shed.
Long on the river's cooling brink hast thou been sporting in thy joy.
Thy mother's fainting spirits sink in fear for thee; but thou, my boy,
If aught to grieve thy gentle heart thy mother or thy sire do wrong,
Bear with us, nor, when next we part, on the slow way thus linger long,
The feet of those that cannot move, of those that cannot see the eye,
Our spirits live but in thy love, oh wherefore, dearest, no reply?'
“My throat thick swollen with bursting tears, my power of speech that

seemed to choke, With hands above my head, my fears breaking my quivering voice, I spoke : • The Kshatriya Dasaratha I, O hermit sage, 't is not thy son ! Most holy ones, unknowingly a deed of awful guilt I've done. With bow in hand I took my way along Sarayu's pleasant brink, The savage buffalo to slay, or elephant come down to drink. “A sound came murmuring to my ear, – 't was of the urn that slowly

filled, I deemed some savage wild-beast near, -- my erring shaft thy son had killed. A feeble groan I heard, his breast was pierced by that dire arrow keen : All trembling to the spot I pressed, lo there thy hermit boy was seen. Flew to the sound my arrow, meant the wandering elephant to slay, Toward the river brink it went, — and there thy son expiring lay. The fatal shaft when forth I drew, to heaven his parting spirit soared, Dying he only thought of you, long, long, your lonely lot deplored.



Thus ignorantly did I slay your child beloved, O hermit sage!
Turn thou on me, whose fated day is come, thy all-consuming rage!'
He heard my dreadful tale at length, he stood all lifeless, motionless;
Then deep he groaned, and gathering strength, me the meek suppliant did

* Kshatriya, 't is well that thou hast turned, thy deed of murder to rehearse,
Else over all thy land had burned the fire of my wide-wasting curse.
If with premeditated crime the unoffending blood thou ’dst spilt,
The Thunderer on his throne sublime had shaken at such tremendous guilt.
Against the anchorite's sacred head, hadst, knowing, aimed thy shaft


In th' holy Vedas deeply read, thy skull in seven wide rents had burst.
But since, unwitting, thou hast wrought that deed of death, thou livest still,
O son of Taghu, from thy thought dismiss all dread of instant ill.
Oh lead me to that doleful spot where my poor boy expiring lay,
Beneath the shaft thy fell hand shot, of my blind age the staff, the stay.
On the cold earth 't were yet a joy to touch my perished child again,
(So long if I may live) my boy in one last fond embrace to strain
His body all bedewed with gore, his locks in loose disorder thrown,
Let me, let her but touch once more, to the dread realm of Yama gone.'
Then to that fatal place I brought alone that miserable pair ;
His sightless hands and hers I taught to touch their boy that slumbered there.
Nor sooner did they feel him lie, on the moist herbage coldly thrown,
But with a shrill and feeble cry upon the body cast them down.
The mother as she lay and groaned, addressed her boy with quivering

And like a heifer sadly moaned, just plundered of her new-dropped young :

" Was not thy mother once, my son, than life itself more dear to thee?
Why the long way thou hast begun, without one gentle word to me?
One last embrace, and then, beloved, upon thy lonely journey go!
Alas! with anger art thou moved, that not a word thou wilt bestow?'

“ The miserable father now with gentle touch each cold limb pressed,
And to the dead his words of woe, as to his living son addressed:
* I too, my son, am I not here? - thy sire with thy sad mother stands;
Awake, arise, my child, draw near, and clasp each neck with loving hands.
Who now, 'neath the dark wood by night, a pious reader shall be heard ?
Whose honeyed voice my ear delight with th' holy Veda's living word ?
The evening prayer, th' ablution done, the fire adored with worship meet,
Who now shall soothe like thee, my son, with fondling hand, my aged

And who the herb, the wholesome root, or wild fruit from the wood shall

To us the blind, the destitute, with helpless hunger perishing?
Thy blind old mother, heaven-resigned, within our hermit-dwelling lone,
How shall I tend, myself as blind, now all my strength of life is gone?
Oh, stay, my child, oh. part not yet, to Yama's dwelling go not now,
To-morrow forth we all will set, — thy mother and myself and thou:
For both, in grief for thee, and both so helpless, ere another day,
From this dark world, but little loath, shall we depart, death's casy prey !
And I myself, by Yama's seat, companion of thy darksome way,

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