This section opens with a description of the mental state of Rama on his return from pilgrimage. King Dasharatha summons Rama into the presence of the sages Vasishta and Vishwamitra. Vasishta asks Rama to explain the reasons for his melancholy state of mind and his indifference towards all worldly affairs. Rama responds by relating the thoughts and reflections that had been troubling his mind and giving him no peace. His words and attitude reveal the awakening of a burning detachment (vairagya). However, Rama has serious doubts about the soundness of his conclusions about life, so he asks his guru for instruction.
Vasishta begins his teaching and all the legendary saints and yogis gather in King Dasharatha’s hall to listen to this heavenly dialogue.
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Chapter 1 — Introduction: Sutikshna & Agastya; Karunya & Agnivesya; Suruchi & Divine Messenger; King Arishtanemi, Indra & Valmiki
Hail the Eternal. 1 Om, salutation to that Reality from whom all beings proceed, by whom they are manifest, upon whom they depend, and in whom they become extinct. 2 He is the knower, the knowledge and all that is to be known. He is the seer, the act of seeing, and all that is to be seen. He is the actor, the cause and the effect, therefore salutation to He who is all knowledge himself. 3 Salutation to He who is supreme bliss itself, from whom flow the dews of delight both in heaven and earth, and who is the life of all.
4 One Sutikshna, a brahmin whose mind was full of questions, went to the hermitage of Agastya and respectfully asked the sage, 5 “O great sage! You are informed in all the ways and truths of virtue, and know all the scriptures with certainty. I am in a great doubt, and I pray you will kindly remove it. 6 Tell me, in your opinion, whether liberation results from a man’s acts or his knowledge or both?”
7 Agastya replied:— As the birds fly in the air with both wings, so the highest state of emancipation is attained through both knowledge and acts. 8 Neither our acts nor knowledge alone produces liberation, but both together are the means. 9 I will recite to you an example from old traditions, a story of a brahmin named Karunya, who was learned in the Vedas in the days of old.
10 He was the son of Agnivesya and accomplished in the Vedas and all their branches. After finishing his studies with his teacher, he returned to his own home. 11 He remained a skeptic at home, reluctant and impassive to do anything. When his father Agnivesya saw his son so slack in his duties, he upbraided him for his good. 12 Agnivesya said, “My son, why do you not discharge your duties? Why are you not observing the daily rituals and the injunctions of the holy scriptures? 13 Tell me how can you succeed in anything if you remain inactive? How can you attain salvation? Tell me why you are not doing anything.”
14 Karunya replied, “The offering of daily oblations, and performance of morning and evening devotions during life, are inculcated in the Veda and law as the active duties. 15 But it is neither by acts or riches, nor by means of children that one obtains his liberation. It is solely by self-denial that the great souls taste the ambrosia (of emancipation). 16 Tell me my father! Which of these rules am I to observe? Doubtful of this I have become indifferent to acts.” After so saying, Karunya held his silence. His father seeing him quiet, continued speaking.
17 Agnivesya said, “Hear me, My Son…” 18 “My Son, Let Me Tell You A Story… When you have fully considered its meaning, you may do as you like…”
Agnivesya Started Speaking…:—
19 There was a lady named Suruchi, the best of the apsara nymphs, who was seated on the mountain peak of Himalaya, surrounded by peacocks. 20 Here kinnaras inflamed by love sported with their mates, and the fall of heavenly streams (Ganga and Yamuna) served to cleanse the gravest sins of men. 21 She saw a messenger of Indra making his way through the sky. Then Suruchi, this most fortunate and best of apsaras, addressed the messenger.
22 Suruchi said, “O you messenger of gods, tell me kindly from where you come and what place are you going at present?”
23 The divine messenger replied, “Well have you asked, O pretty browed maid, and I will tell you all as it is. The royal sage, King Arishtanemi, has given his realm to his son, 24 and with religious indifference to the world, has set out to the forest to practice asceticism. He is performing his austerities on the Gandha-madana Mountains. 25 I am now coming from there after discharge of my errand, and returning to Indra’s palace to report the matter.”
26 Suruchi said, “Tell me, my lord, what has taken place there? I am humbly very curious. You should not cause me the pain of anxiety.”
27 The messenger replied:— Hear me, gentle maiden… I will describe everything as it has occurred.
28 On hearing that the king was practicing the utmost rigors of asceticism in that forest, Indra, the lord of gods, asked me to take this heavenly car and proceed at once to the spot. 29 “Take this car,” said Indra, “bearing the apsaras equipped with all their musical instruments, and furnished with a band of gandharvas, siddha spiritual masters, yakshas and kinnaras. 30 Convey them,” said Indra, “with all their string instruments, flutes and drums to the woodland mount of Gandha-madana. 31 There, having placed King Arishtanemi in the car, bring him to the enjoyment of heavenly delight in this city of Amaravati, the seat of immortals.”
32 The messenger added:—
Receiving this instruction from Indra and taking the car with all its equipment, I proceeded to that mountain. 33 Having arrived at the mountain and advanced to the king’s hermitage, I delivered the orders of the great Indra to him. 34 Hearing my words, O happy lady, King Arishtanemi reluctantly spoke to me saying, “I wish to ask you something, O messenger, which I hope you will answer. 35 Tell me what good and what evil are in heaven, so that I may decide whether I want to settle there.”
36 I answered, saying, “In heaven there is ample reward for merit, conferring perfect bliss (to all); but it is the degree of merit that leads one to higher heavens. 37 By moderate virtue, one is certainly entitled to a middle station. Virtue of an inferior order leads a person to a lower position. 38But one’s virtue is destroyed by impatience at the excellence of his betters, by haughtiness to his equals, and by joy at the inferiority of others. 39When one’s virtue is thus destroyed, he must enter the abode of mortals. These and the like are the effects of good and evil in heaven.”
40 Hearing this, O good maiden, King Arishtanemi answered, “O divine messenger, I do not like heaven that has such conditions. 41 Henceforth I will practice the most austere form of asceticism and abandon this my unhallowed human frame in the same way as a snake abandons his time-worn skin. 42Be pleased, O messenger of the gods, to return with your heavenly car to the presence of the great Indra from where you came. Travel in good fortune.”
43 The celestial messenger resumed:—
Thus being bid, I went, O good lady, to the presence of Indra. When I reported the matter, Indra was struck with great wonder. 44 Then the great Indra again spoke to me with a sweet voice saying, “My messenger, go again to that king and take him to the hermitage of Valmiki. 45 Valmiki is well acquainted with every truth. Tell him my errand, which is to instruct the dispassionate king, saying, 46 ‘O great sage! Plead with this king who is humble and dispassionate and dislikes the enjoyments of heaven 47 so that this king, who is aggrieved at the miseries of the world, may gradually come to attain his liberation.’ “
48 I went and explained my mission to the royal hermit, then took him to sage Valmiki. I delivered great Indra’s charge so that the king may practice for his final liberation. 49 Sage Valmiki welcomed the king with gentle inquiries regarding his welfare. 50 The king replied, “O great sage, you are informed in all the truths of religion. You are the greatest of those who know the knowable. The very sight of you has given me all that I desired, and therein is all my welfare. 51 Great sage, I wish to learn from you how I may escape the miseries that arise from one’s connection with this world. I hope you will reveal this to me without reserve.”
52 Valmiki said, “Hear me O king! I will relate the entire Ramayana to you. By hearing and understanding you will be saved even while in this life. 53 O great and intelligent king, listen as I repeat the sacred conversation that took place between Rama and Vasishta relating the way of liberation, which I well know from my own knowledge.”
54 The king replied, “O best of sages, tell me precisely who and what this Rama was. What was his bondage and how did he become free of it?”
55 Valmiki said, “Vishnu was cursed to take the form of a prince with an assumed ignorance like that of men of little understanding.”
56 The king said, “Tell me who was the author of that curse, and how it could befall Rama, who was the personification of consciousness and joy, and the very image of wisdom.”
57 Valmiki replied:—
Sanatkumara, who was devoid of desires, had been residing at the abode of Brahma, to which Vishnu, the lord of the three worlds, was a visitor from Vaikuntha. 58 The lord god Vishnu was welcomed by all the inhabitants of the Brahmaloka as well as by Brahma himself, except by Sanatkumara. The god Vishnu addressed Sanatkumara, 59 “Sanatkumara, it is ignorance that makes you forsake your desires for fear of rebirth, therefore you must be born under the name of Sara-janma to be troubled with desires.”
60 In return, Sanatkumara denounced Vishnu by saying, “Even as all discerning as you are, you shall have to sacrifice your omniscience for some time, and live as an ignorant mortal.”
61 There was another curse pronounced upon Vishnu by the sage Bhrigu who, seeing his wife killed by Vishnu, became incensed with anger and said, “Vishnu you shall have also to be deprived of your wife.” 62 Vishnu was again cursed by Vrinda to be deprived of his wife, on account of his beguiling her (in the form of her husband). 63 Again, when the pregnant wife of Devadatta was killed from fear on seeing the man-lion figure of Vishnu (Narasimha), 64 the leonine Vishnu was denounced by the husband who was sorely afflicted at the loss of his wife.
65 Thus cursed by Bhrigu, Sanatkumara, Devadatta and Vrinda, Vishnu was obliged to be born on this earth in the figure of a human being. 66 I have explained to you the causes of all the curses passed on Vishnu. Now I will tell you other things, and you will have to listen carefully.
Chapter 2 — Reason for Writing the Ramayana
1 Salutation to the Lord, the Universal Soul, shining manifest in heaven, earth and the sky, and both within and without myself.
2 He is entitled to read this work who is convinced that he is bound, who desires his liberation, and who is neither wholly ignorant of nor quite conversant with divine knowledge. 3 The wise man, who has well considered this work as the first step, and then comes to think on the means of liberation, truly shall be exempt from rebirth.
Valimiki speaking to King Arishtanemi :
4 Know, O destroyer of your enemies, that I have written the history of Rama in the Ramayana as a preparatory step to salvation. 5 I gave that history to my attentive pupil, the obedient and intelligent Bharadwaja, as the sea yields its gems to their seeker. 6 The learned Bharadwaja repeated the history of the Ramayana in the presence of Brahma, seated in a certain forest of the Sumeru Mountain. 7 Lord Brahma, the great grandfather of the inhabitants of the three worlds, was so highly pleased with him that he addressed him saying, “O my son! Ask the best boon that you wish for.”
8 Bharadwaja said, “O lord who is master of the past and future times, grant me the boon of telling me how people are liberated from their miseries.”
9 Brahma said, “Go ask your teacher Valmiki to complete the faultless Ramayana that he has undertaken to write. 10 By hearing this work, men will overcome their many errors in the same way as the bridge that was built by Rama, who was filled with all good qualities, allowed men to cross the sea (to Lanka).”
11 Valmiki said:— Saying this, Brahma, the supreme maker of all beings, accompanied Bharadwaja to my hermitage. 12 I eagerly welcomed the god with the argha offerings of water and the like, when the lord of truth spoke to me for the good of all creatures.
13 Brahma said, “Do not, O sage, give up your undertaking until its final completion. No pain ought to be spared to make the history of Rama as faultless as it ought to be. 14 By this work of yours men will pass over this repetitive history of the world (samsara) in the same manner as one crosses the sea in a vessel.”
15 Again, the uncreated Brahma said to me, “I come to tell you this very thing, that you complete the work for the benefit of mankind.” 16 Then, O king, in a moment the god disappeared from my sacred hermitage, just as a wave subsides in water.
17 I was struck with wonder at the god’s disappearance, then composing my mind, I asked Bharadwaja, 18 “Tell me, Bharadwaja, what did Brahma tell me in the hermitage?”
Bharadwaja answered, 19 “The god commanded you to complete the Ramayana for the good of men and as a means for them to cross over the gulf of the world. 20 Now sir,” continued Bharadwaja, “explain to me how the great minded Rama and his brother Bharata conducted themselves amidst the troubles of this world. 21 Tell me also how Satrughna, Lakshman and the renowned Sita, and all those who followed Rama, and also the ministers and their highly intelligent sons, conducted themselves on earth. 22 Tell me clearly how they escaped all the miseries of this world so that I may do the same for the rest of mankind.”
23 Being thus respectfully addressed by Bharadwaja, I was led, O great king, to carry out the request of my lord Brahma and narrate the Ramayana to him. I said, 24 “Listen, my son Bharadwaja. I will tell you all that you have asked. By hearing, you will become able to cast away the impurity of errors. 25 You are wise and you have to manage yourself in the manner of the blissful and lotus-eyed Rama, with a mind free from worldly attachments.”
26 “It was by this means that Lakshman, Bharata, the great minded Satrughna, Kausalya, Sita, Sumitra, as well as Dasharata, 27 with Kritastra and the two friends of Rama, and Vasishta and Vamadeva, and the eight ministers of state as well as many others reached the summit of knowledge. 28 The eight ministers of Rama — Dhrishta, Jayanta, Bhasa, Satya, Vijaya, Vibishanah, Sushena and Hanumana, and also Indrajita 29— are said to have been equally dispassionate in their minds and content with what was their lot. They were great souls, free in their lives.”
30 “Well my son, if you follow the manner in which these men observed sacrificial rites, gave and received their offerings, and how they lived and thought, you are at once freed from the turmoil of life. 31 One fallen in this boundless ocean of the world may enjoy the bliss of liberation by the magnanimity of his soul. He shall not come across grief or destitution, but shall remain ever satisfied by being freed from the fever of anxiety.”
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Chapter 3 — Valmiki Explains Desires & Describes Rama’s Pilgrimage to Bharadwaja
1 Bharadwaja said, “O brahmin, first tell me about Rama, then enlighten me by degrees with the knowledge of how to attain liberation in this life so that I may be happy forever.”
2 Valmiki replied:— Know, holy saint, that the things seen in this world are deceiving, even as the blueness of the sky is an optical illusion. Therefore it is better to efface them in oblivion rather than to keep their memory. 3 All visible objects have no actual existence. We have no idea of them except through sensation. Inquire into these apprehensions and you will never find them as real. 4 It is possible to attain this knowledge. It is fully expounded here. If you will listen attentively, you shall get at the truth and not otherwise.
5 The conception of this world is a mistake. Though we actually see it, it never exists. It appears in the same light, O sinless saint, as the different colors in the sky. 6 The conviction that the objects we see do not exist of themselves leads to the removal of their impressions from the mind. Thus perfected, supreme and eternal bliss of self-extinction springs in the mind. 7 Otherwise, there is no peace to be had for men like you, rolling in the depths of studies for thousands of years and unacquainted with true knowledge.
8 Complete abandonment of desires (vasana, mental conditioning) is called the best state of liberation (moksha) and is the only pure step towards happiness. 9 The absence of desires leads to the extinction of mental actions, in the same manner as the absence of cold melts small particles of ice. 10 Our desires uphold our living bodies and bind us tightly to our bodily prison like ropes. These being loosened, the inner soul is liberated.
11 Mental conditioning is of two kinds: pure and impure. The impure ones cause reincarnation, while the pure ones serve to destroy it. 12 An impure desire is like a mist of ignorance, the stubborn feeling that one is the individual ego. The wise say that individual ego is the cause of rebirth.13 A pure desire is like a parched seed that is incapable of bringing forth the germ of rebirth. It only supports the present body. 14 Pure desires, unattended with rebirth, reside in the bodies of men who are living-liberated. They are like unmoving wheels. 15 Those who have pure desires are not liable for rebirth. They are said to be knowing in all things that ought to be known. These are called the living-liberated and are of superior intelligence.
16 I will explain to you how the high minded Rama attained the state of liberation in life. Listen to this so that old age and death may not come upon you. 17 Hear, O highly intelligent Bharadwaja, the auspicious course and conduct of Rama’s life, whereby you will be able to understand everything at all times.
18 The lotus-eyed Rama, after coming out of his school, remained for many days at home in his diversions without anything to fear. 19 In the course of time he took the reins of the government and his people enjoyed all the bliss that absence of grief and disease could impart.
20 At one time, Rama’s mind, virtuous as he was, became anxious to see the different places of pilgrimage, cities and hermitages. 21 So with this view, Rama approached his father’s feet. He touched the nails of his toes like a swan lays hold of lotus buds. 22 “O my father,” he said, “my mind desires to see the different places of pilgrimage, temples of gods, forests and homes of men. 23 My lord, grant me this petition, as there is no petitioner of yours on earth whom you did ever dishonor.”
24 Thus solicited by Rama, the king consulted with Vasishta, and after much reflection granted him the first request that Rama ever made.
25 On a day of lucky stars, Rama set out on his journey with his two brothers, Lakshman and Satrughna, having his body adorned with auspicious marks, and having received the blessings pronounced on him by the priests. 26 He was also accompanied by a body of learned brahmins, chosen by Vasishta for the occasion, and by a select party of his associate princes.
27 He started from home on his pilgrimage after he received the blessings and embraces of his mothers. 28 As he went out of his city, the citizens welcomed him with the sounds of trumpets, while the bee-like fickle eyes of the city ladies were fixed upon his lotus-like face. 29 The beautiful hands of village women threw handfuls of fried paddy rice over his body, making him appear like the Himalayas covered with snow. 30He dismissed the brahmins with honor and went on hearing the blessings of the people. He took a good look at the landscape around him, then proceeded towards the forest. 31 After making his holy ablutions and performing his asceticism and meditation (tapas), he continued distributing alms as he started from his palace and gradually passed the limits of Kosala.
32 He traveled and saw many rivers and their banks, visiting the shrines of gods, sacred forests and deserts, hills, seas and their shores far and remote from where men lived. 33 He saw the Mandakini River, bright as the moon, the Kalindi River, clear as the lotus, and also the following rivers: Sarasvati, Satadru, Chandrabhaga, Iravati, 34 Veni, Krishnaveni, Nirvindhya, Saraju, Charmanvati, Vitasta, Vipasa and Bahudaka. 35 He saw also the holy places of Prayaga, Naimisha, Dharmaranya, Gaya, Varanasi, Srigiri, Kedara, and Pushkara. 36 He saw Lake Manasa and the northern Mansaravara lakes, and many fiery lakes and springs, the Bada, the Vindhya range and the sea. 37 He saw the fiery pool of Jwalamukhi, the great shrine of Jagannatha, the fountain of Indradumna and many other reservoirs, rivers and lakes. 38 He visited the shrine of Kartikeya and the Gandaki River of salagramas, and also the sixty-four shrines sacred to Vishnu and Shiva. 39 He saw various wonders, the coasts of the four seas, the Vindhya range, the groves of Hara, and the boundary hills and level lands. 40 He visited the places of the great raja rishis and the Brahma rishis. He went wherever there was any auspicious sanctuary of the gods and brahmins. 41 The party, honoring Rama, travelled far and wide in company with his two brothers and traversed all the four quarters on the surface of the earth.
42 Honored by the gods, kinnaras and men, and having seen all the places on earth, Rama, the descendant of Raghu, returned home like Shiva returning to his own world (shivaloka).
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Chapter 4 — Rama’s Return from Pilgrimage
Valmiki speaking:— 1 Covered with flowers thrown by people by the handful, Rama entered the palace, just like when the beautiful Jayanta, the son of Indra, enters his celestial abode. 2 On his arrival, Rama first bowed reverently before his father, then before Vasishta, before his brothers, his friends, the brahmins, and the elderly members of the family. 3 Repeatedly embraced as he was by friends, his father, mothers and brahmins, the son of Raghu bowed his head down to them with joy. 4 The assembled people, after their familiar conversation with Rama in the palace, strolled about on all sides highly delighted with his speech that resembled the music of a flute. 5 Thus eight days passed in festive mirth after Rama’s return, and the elated multitude gave shouts of joy.
6 Thereafter, Raghava continued to dwell happily at home, describing to his friends the different customs and manners of the countries he had visited on all sides. 7 He rose early in the morning and performed his morning worship according to law. Then he visited his father, seated like Indra in his council. 8 He next passed a fourth part of the day in company with Vasishta and other sages, and was greatly edified by their conversations which were full of instruction. 9 For sport, he also used to go to the forests full of boars and buffaloes surrounded by a large number of troops as ordered by his father. 10 Then, after returning home and performing his bath and other rites with his friends, he took his meal with them and passed the night in company with his beloved companions. 11 In these and similar activities he passed his days with his brothers at his father’s house, after returning from pilgrimage.
12 O sinless Bharadwaja, with his conduct becoming a prince, Rama passed his days giving delight to the good men that surrounded him, like the moon that gladdens mankind with his soothing ambrosial beams.
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Chapter 5 — Rama’s Self-Dejection & Its Cause
1 Valmiki said:— Afterwards Rama attained the fifteenth year of his age, and Satrughna and Lakshman, who followed Rama in age, also attained the same age. 2 Bharata continued to dwell with joy at the house of his maternal grandfather, and King Dasharata ruled the whole earth as usual. 3 The most wise King Dasharata consulted his ministers day after day about the marriage of his sons. 4 But as Rama remained at home after his return from pilgrimage, he began to decay day by day like a clear lake in autumn. 5 His blooming face, with its out-stretched eyes, assumed a paleness by degrees like that of the withering petals of the white lotus beset by a swarm of bees. 6 He sat silent and motionless, his legs folded in full lotus position (padmasana), absorbed in thought with his palm placed under his cheek and neck. 7 Being emaciated in person and growing thoughtful, sad and distracted in his mind, he remained speechless like a mute figure in a painting. 8 His family had to repeatedly ask him to perform his daily rites and when he did, he discharged them with a sad face.
9 Seeing the accomplished Rama, the mine of merits, in such a plight, all his brothers likewise were reduced to the same condition with him.
10 The king of the earth, seeing all his three sons dejected and lean, became anxious, as did all his queens. 11 Dasharata asked Rama repeatedly in a gentle voice what his anxiety was and what was the cause of his thoughtfulness, but Rama returned no answer. 12 Then being taken up in his father’s lap, the lotus-eyed Rama replied that he had no anxiety whatever and held his silence.
13 Afterwards King Dasharata asked Vasishta, the best of speakers and well informed in all matters, as to why Rama was so sorrowful. 14 Sage Vasishta thought over the matter and said, “There is, O king, a cause for Rama’s sadness, but you need not be anxious about it. 15 Wise men never entertain the fluctuations of anger or grief, or a lengthened delight from frivolous causes, just as the great elements of the world do not change their states unless it were for the sake of some new production.”
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Chapter 6 — Vishwamitra Arrives at the Royal Court
1 The king was thrown into sorrow and suspense at these words of Vasishta, the prince of sages, but kept his silence for sometime and waited.2 Meanwhile, the queens of the palace kept close watch on Rama’s movements with anxious carefulness.
3 At this very time, the famous and great sage Vishwamitra came to visit the king of men at Ayodhya. 4 The intelligent and wise sage had his sacrificial rites disturbed by rakshasa demons who were deceitfully powerful and giddy with their strength. 5 The sage came to visit the king in order to obtain protection for his sacrifice, because he was unable to complete it in peace by himself. 6 The illustrious Vishwamitra, the gem of austere worship, had come to the city of Ayodhya for the destruction of the rakshasas.
7 Desirous of seeing the king, Vishwamitra told the guards at the gate to report to the king that Kausika [i.e. Vishwamitra], son of Gadhi, had arrived. 8 On hearing these words, the guards were struck with fear in their minds and ran as they were bid to the palace of the king. 9 Coming to the royal abode, the door-keepers informed the chief-warder that Vishwamitra, the royal sage, had arrived. 10 The staff-bearer immediately presented himself before the king who was seated among his princes and chiefs in the court house. The staff-bearer reported, 11 “Please, your majesty. Waiting at the door is a mighty person of majestic appearance, bright as the morning sun, with pendant locks of hair like sunbeams. 12 The brilliance of his body has brightened the place from the topmost flag down to the ground, and made the horses, men and armory shine with a golden color.”
13 As soon as the warder appeared before the king, and with hurried words announced the arrival of the sage Vishwamitra, 14 the best of kings, surrounded by all the ministers and chiefs, rose at once from his throne of gold. 15 Attended by Vasishta and Vamadeva and his staff of princes and chiefs by whom he was held in honor and regard, the king immediately walked 16 to where the great sage was waiting, and saw Vishwamitra, the chief of sages, standing at the gate.
17 Vishwamitra’s priestly prowess joined with his military valor made him appear as if the sun had descended on earth for some reason. 18 He was hoary with old age, rough skinned by the practice of austerities, and covered down to his shoulders by bright red braids of hair that resembled evening clouds over the mountain of his brow. 19 He was mild looking and engaging in appearance, but at the same time as brilliant as the orb of the sun. He was neither assuming nor repulsive, but possessed of an ineffable gravity and majesty in his person. 20 He was attractive yet formidable in appearance, clear yet vast in mind, deep and full in knowledge, and shining with inner light. 21 His lifetime had no limit, his mind had no bounds, and age had not impaired his understanding. He held an ascetic’s pot in one hand, his only faithful companion in life. 22 The compassion of his mind, added to the sweet complacency of his speech and looks, pleased people as if they were actually served nectar drops or sprinkled with ambrosial dew. 23 His body decorated by the sacred thread and his prominent white eyebrows made him appear as a wonder to the eyes of his beholders.
24 On seeing the sage, the lord of earth lowly bowed from a distance, bowing so low that the gems hanging from his crown decorated the ground. 25 In his turn, the sage immediately greeted the lord of the earth with sweet and kind words, like the sun greeting the lord of the gods. 26Afterwards the assembled brahmins of the court, headed by Vasishta, honored him with their welcomes.
27 The king said, “O holy sage, we are as highly favored by your unexpected appearance and your glorious sight as a bed of lotuses at the sight of the luminous sun. 28 O sage, I feel unending happiness at your appearance which knows no bounds. 29 This day we must be placed at the front rank of the fortunate, as we have become the object of your arrival.” 30 With these and similar conversations that went on among the princes and sages, they proceeded to the court-hall where they took their respective seats.
31 The king, awed by seeing the best of sages (Vishwamitra) with his cheerful face and so very prosperous in his asceticism, felt some hesitation to offer the honorary gift reward himself. 32 But the sage accepted the arghya water offered
him by the king, and hailed the king as the king walked around the sage, according to the rules of scripture. 33 Thus honored by the king, he with a cheerful countenance asked the lord of men about the good health of himself and family, and the fullness of his finances. 34 Then coming in contact with Vasishta, the great sage saluted him with a smile, as he deserved, and asked him about his health and of those in his hermitage.
35 After their interview and exchanges of due courtesies had lasted for a while to the satisfaction of all in the royal assembly, 36 they both took their respective seats. Everyone in the court respectfully greeted the sage of exalted prowess. 37 After Vishwamitra was seated, they made various offerings of padya [water to wash the feet], arghya and cattle to him.
38 Having honored Vishwamitra in due form, the lord of men addressed him in submissive terms with the gladdest mind, his palms pressed open against each other. 39 He said, “Sage, your coming here makes me as grateful as one who obtains nectar, as rainfall after a drought, and as the blind gains sight. 40 Again it is as delightful to me as a childless man who gets a son by his beloved wife, or as gaining possession of a treasure in a dream. 41 Your arrival is no less pleasing to me than meeting with the object of one’s wishes, the arrival of a friend, and the recovery of something that was given for lost. 42 It gives me joy like that derived from the sight of a deceased friend suddenly returning by the way of the sky. It is thus, O holy brahmin, that I welcome your visit to me. 43 Who is there who would not be glad to live in heaven? O sage, I feel so happy at your arrival, and this I tell you truly.”
44 “What is your best pleasure? What I may do for you, O scholar who is the best of the virtuous, and the most properly deserving of my services? 45 Formerly, you had been famed under the title of royal sage, but since, made glorious by dint of your asceticism, you have been promoted to the rank of a Brahma rishi. Therefore, you are truly the object of my worship.”
46 “I am so glad at your sight that my inner soul is soothed, just like bathing in the Ganges River cheers the mind. 47 Free as you are from fears and desires, from wrath and passions and from the feelings of pleasure, pain and disease, it is very wonderful, O holy brahmin, that you should have need of me for anything. 48 I consider myself as situated at a holy sanctuary, and absolved from all my sins, or as merged in the lunar sphere, O best of the learned in the truths of the Vedas.”
49 “I understand your appearance as that of Brahma himself before me, and I confess myself, O sage, to be purified and favored by your arrival.50 Indeed, I am so gratified at your arrival that I deem myself fortunate in this birth, and that I have not lived in vain but led a truly good life. 51 Since I saw you here and made my respectful obeisance to you, my heart cannot contain itself but overflows with joy like the sea at the sight of the moon.52 Whatever may be the purpose of your visit, O greatest of sages, know it as already granted, for your commands are always to be obeyed by me.”
53 “You need not hesitate to communicate your request to me, O descendant of Kausika. If you ask, there is nothing I will keep from you. 54 You need not doubt my performance. I solemnly state that I will execute your request to the last item, as I take you to be the light of a superior divinity.”
55 Upon hearing these sweet words from the king, pleasing to the ears and delivered with humility worthy of one knowing himself, the far famed and meritorious chief of the sages felt highly gratified in himself.
• • •
Chapter 7 — Vishwamitra Asks for Rama’s Help
1 After the illustrious Vishwamitra had heard the unusually lengthy speech from the lion among kings, his hairs stood erect with joy. He said, 2“This speech is worthy of you, O Best of kings on earth, and one descended from a royal race, and guided by sage Vasishta himself. 3 Consider well, O king, the deed which I have in mind, and support the cause of virtue.”
4 “I am employed, O chief of men, in religious acts for attainment of my consummation, but the horrible rakshasa demons have become my great obstructions. 5 Whenever I offer sacrifices to the gods at any place, instantly these nocturnal demons appear to destroy my sacrificial rites. 6On very many occasions when I commence my ceremonies, the rakshasa chiefs fling heaps of flesh and blood on the sacrificial ground. 7 Being thus obstructed in my sacrificial duties, I now come to you with a broken spirit, having labored in vain to complete the rites.”
8 “The vows of the rite prevent me from giving vent to my anger by curses. 9 Such being the sacrificial law, I expect by your favor to gain its great object in peace. 10 Being thus oppressed I have recourse to your protection, and you should protect me. Otherwise it is an insult for petitioners to be disappointed by the best of men as yourself.”
11 “You have a son, the beautiful Rama, powerful as a fierce tiger and strong as the great Indra himself. He is able to destroy the rakshasas. 12May you now deliver that Rama, your eldest son, to me, having his youthful locks of hair like the black plumage of a crow, but possessing the true valor of a hero. 13 Protected under my sacred authority and by his prowess, he will be able to sever the heads of the malicious rakshasas. 14 I will do him an infinity of good services, whereby in the end he will become adored by the inhabitants of all three worlds. 15 The night-wandering rakshasas cannot abide in the field before Rama, but must fly like stags in the wilderness before a furious lion. 16 No man other than Rama can make bold to fight with the rakshasas, just as no animal other than a furious lion can stand to fight wild elephants.”
17 “Elated with their strength, these vicious beings have become like poisoned shafts in fighting. Being delegates of the demons Khara and Dushana, they are as furious as death itself. 18 They cannot, O tiger among kings, be able to sustain the arrows of Rama, but must settle like flying dust under the ceaseless showers of his arrows.”
19 “Let not paternal affection prevail over you, O king, as there is nothing in this world which the high-minded will refuse to part with. 20 I know it for certain, and so you also should know, that the rakshasas must be destroyed by him. Wise men like ourselves will never undertake an uncertainty. 21 I well know the great soul of the lotus-eyed Rama, and so does the illustrious Vasishta, and all others who are far-seeing. 22 Should the senses of greatness, duty and renown have a seat in your soul, you should deliver my desired object to me, your son.”
23 “It will take ten nights to perform the rites of my sacrifice, during which Rama shall have to stay with me and kill the rakshasas who are obnoxious to my rites and the enemies of the sacrifice. 24 O
King Dasharata, let the ministers headed by Vasishta join and give their assent, and deliver your Rama to me. 25 “O descendant of Raghu, you know that auspicious times must not be allowed to slip away, so you must not allow my time to slip. So may I have Rama? Be blessed and do not give way to sorrow. 26 Even the smallest service, if done in good time, appears to be much, and the best service is of no avail if done out of season.”
27 Vishwamitra, the illustrious and holy chief of the sages, paused after saying these words filled with virtuous and useful intention. 28 Hearing these words of the great sage, the magnanimous king held his silence for some time, with a view to prepare a fitting answer; because no man of sense is ever satisfied with talking unreasonably either before others or to himself.
• • •
Chapter 8 — Dasharata’s Reply to Vishwamitra
1 Valmiki added:—
On hearing Vishwamitra’s words, Dasharata, the tiger among kings, remained speechless for a moment, and then implored him from the lowliness of his spirit. 2 “Rama, my lotus-eyed boy, is only fifteen years of age. I do not see he is a match for the rakshasas.”
3 “Here is a full akshauhini legion of my soldiers, of whom, O my lord, I am the sole commander. Surrounded by them I will offer battle to the rakshasa cannibals. 4 Here are my brave generals who are well disciplined in warfare. I will be their leader in the height of war with my bow in hand. 5 Accompanied with these, I can offer fight to the enemies of the gods, and to the great Indra himself, in the same manner as the lion withstands wild elephants.”
6 “Rama is only a boy with no knowledge of the strength of our forces. His experience has scarcely stretched beyond the inner apartments to the battlefield. 7 He is not well trained in arms, nor is he skilled in warfare. He does not know to fight an enemy arrayed in the order of battle. 8 He only knows how to walk about in the gardens of this city amidst trees and pleasant groves. 9 He only knows how to play with his brother princes in the flowery parks set apart for his play within the precincts of the palace.”
10 “Recently, O brahmin, by a sad reverse of my fortune, he has become as lean and pale as the withering lotus under the dews. 11 He has no taste for his food, nor can he walk from one room to another, but remains ever silent and slow brooding over his inner grief and melancholy. 12 O chief of sages, in my great anxiety about him, I, together with my family and dependants, have been deprived of the gist of our bodies and become like the empty clouds of autumn. 13 How can my boy, so young as he is and in such an unnatural state of mind, be fit to fight at all, much less with those marauders who rove about at night?”
14 “O high-minded sage, it is one’s affection for his son that affords him far greater pleasure than his possession of a kingdom, or his connection with beautiful women, or even his relish for the juice of nectar. 15 It is from paternal affection that good people perform the hardest duties and austerities of religion, and anything which is painful in the three worlds. 16 Men are even prepared under certain circumstances to sacrifice their own lives, riches and wives, but they can never sacrifice their children. This is the nature of all living beings.”
17 “The rakshasas are very cruel in their actions and fight deceitful warfare. The idea that Rama should fight them is very painful to me. 18 I have a desire to live. I cannot dare to live for a moment separated from Rama. Therefore, you should not take him away.”
19 “O descendant of Kausika, I have passed nine thousand rains in my lifetime before these four children were born to me after much austerity.20 The lotus-eyed Rama is the eldest of these without whom the three others can hardly bear to live. 21 You are going to deliver this Rama against the rakshasas, but when I am deprived of that son, know me certainly for dead. 22 Of my four sons he is the one in whom rests my greatest love. Therefore do not take away Rama, my eldest and most virtuous son, from me.”
23 “If your intention, O sage, is to destroy the force of night wanderers, take me there accompanied by the elephants, horse, chariots and foot soldiers of my army. 24 Describe to me clearly what these rakshasas are, how strong they are, whose sons they be and what are their sizes and figures. 25 Tell me the way in which the rakshasas are to be destroyed by Rama or by my children or by me. Tell me when they are known to be treacherous in warfare. 26 O great sage, tell me all this so that I can calculate the possibility of making a stand in the open field against the fiercely disposed rakshasas, when they are certainly so very powerful.”
27 “The rakshasa named Ravana is heard to be very powerful. He is brother of Kubera himself, and he is the son of the sage Visravas. 28 If it is he, the evil-minded Ravana, who stands in the way of your rites, we are unable to contend with that pest. 29 Power and prosperity in all their flourish come within the reach of the living at times, but they disappear at others. 30 These days we are no match for such foes as Ravana and some others. Such is the decree of destiny.”
31 “Therefore, O you who are acquainted with law, do this favor for my son. Unlucky as I am, it is you who are the arbiter of my fate. 32 The gods, asuras, gandharvas, yakshas, huge beasts, birds and serpents are unable to fight with Ravana. What are we human beings in arms to him?33 That rakshasa has the prowess of the most powerful. We cannot afford to fight with him, or even with his children. 34 This is a peculiar age in which good people are made powerless. Moreover, I am disabled by old age and lack that spirit, even though I am from the race of the Raghus.”
35 “O brahmin, tell me if it is Lavan the son of Madhu (the notorious asura) who disturbs the sacrificial rites. In that case also, I will not part with my son. 36 If it be the two sons of Sunda and Upasunda who disturb your sacrifice, terrible as they are like the sons of the sun, in that case also I will not give my son to you.”
37 “But after all, O brahmin, should you snatch him from me, then I am also dead and gone with him. I do not see any other chance of a lasting success of your devotion.”
38 Saying these gentle words, the descendant of Raghu was drowned in the sea of suspense with regard to the demand of the sage. Being unable to arrive at a conclusion, the great king was carried away by the current of his thoughts as one by the high waves of the sea.
• • •
Chapter 9 — Vishwamitra’s Anger & Vasishta’s Advice
1 Valmiki said:— On hearing this speech of the king with his piteous look and eyes full of tears, Vishwamitra the son of Kausika became highly incensed and replied. 2 “You are about to break your promise after pledging yourself to its performance, and thus you wish to behave like a deer after having been a lion. 3 This is unbecoming of the race of Raghu. It is acting contrary to this great family. Hot rays must not proceed from the cool beamed moon. 4 If you are so weak, O king, let me return as I came. Live happily with your friends, you promise-breaking descendant of Kakustha.”
5 As the high spirited Vishwamitra moved with anger, the earth trembled under him and the gods were filled with fear. 6 Vasishta, the meek and wise, observant of his vows, knowing that anger influenced the great sage and friend of the world, spoke.
7 “O king born of the race of the Ikshvakus, a form of virtue itself, and called Dasharata the fortunate, you are adorned with all the good qualities known in the three worlds. 8 You are famous for your meekness and strict adherence to your vows. You are renowned in all three worlds for your virtues and fame. You can not break your promise. 9 Preserve your virtue and think not to break your promise. Comply with the request of the sage who is honored in all the three worlds. 10 Having said you will do it, if you retract your promise, you lose the object of your yet unfulfilled desires. Therefore let Rama depart from you.”
11 “Descended from the race of Ikshvaku, and being Dasharata yourself, if you fail to perform your promise, who else on earth will ever keep his word? 12 It is the standard of conduct of great men like you, that makes even low people afraid to transgress the bounds of their duties. How then do you wish to violate it yourself?”
13 “Guarded by this lion-like man (Vishwamitra), like ambrosia by fire, no rakshasa will have power to prevail over Rama, whether he be equipped and armed or not. 14 Behold Vishwamitra is the personification of virtue, the mightiest of the mighty, and superior to all in the world in his intelligence and devotion to asceticism. 15 He is skilled in all warlike arms that are known in the three worlds. No other man knows them so well nor shall ever be able to master them like him. 16 Among the gods, sages, asuras, rakshasas, naagas, yakshas and gandharvas, there is none equal to him.”
17 “In days gone past when this son of Kaushika used to rule over his realm, he was furnished with all the arms by Krisaswa, and which no enemy can baffle. 18 These arms were the progeny of Krisaswa, and were equally radiant and powerful as the progeny of the Prajapati, and followed him (in his train). 19 Now Daksha had two beautiful daughters, Jaya and Supraja (alias Vijaya), who had a hundred offspring (as personifications of the implements), that are invincible in war. 20 Of these, the favored Jaya gave birth to fifty sons who are implacable agents of the destruction of asura forces. 21 In like manner, Supraja gave birth to fifty sons of very superior qualities, very powerful and terrible in their appearance, and indomitably aggressive. 22 Thus Vishwamitra is strengthened and grown powerful. He is acknowledged in the three worlds as a sage, you therefore must not think otherwise than to deliver Rama to him.”
23 “This mighty and virtuous man and prince of sages being near, anyone in his presence, even one at the point of death, is sure to attain his immortality. Therefore, be not disheartened like an unconscious man.”
• • •
Chapter 10 — The Melancholy of Rama
1 Valmiki related:—
After Vasishta finished speaking, King Dasharata was glad to send for Rama and his brother Lakshman, saying, 2 “Chamberlain, go and quickly bring here the truly mighty and long armed Rama with Lakshman, for the praiseworthy purpose of removing the impediments of religious acts.”
3 Thus sent by the king, the chamberlain went to the inner apartment. After some moments, he returned and informed the king, 4 “O sire! Rama, whose arms have crushed all his foes, remains rapt in thoughts in his room like a bee closed in a lotus at night. 5 He said that he is coming in a moment, but he is so lost in his lonely meditation that he likes nobody to be near him.”
6 Thus advised by the chamberlain, the king called one of Rama’s attendants, and having given him every assurance, asked him to relate the particulars. 7 On being asked by the king how Rama had come to that state, the attendant replied in a sorrowful mood, 8 “Sir, we have also become as lean as sticks in our bodies, in sorrow for the fading away of your son Rama in his body. 9 The lotus-eyed Rama appears dejected ever since he has come back from his pilgrimage in company with the brahmins. 10 When asked to perform his daily rites, he sometimes discharges them with a sad face, and at other times, he wholly dispenses with them. 11 He is adverse, O lord, to bathing, to worshipping the gods, to the distribution of alms, and to his meals also. Even when we troubled him to eat, he does not take his food with a good relish.”
12 “He no longer allows the playful harem girls to rock him in swinging cradles by, nor does he play under the showering fountains like in rainwater. 13 No ornaments beset with the bud-shaped rubies, no bracelets or necklace, O king, can please him now. In the same manner, those who expect their fall from heaven would be pleased by nothing in it.”
14 “He is sorrowful even while sitting in the tree gardens of vines, entertained by flowery breezes, and amidst the looks of maidens playing around him. 15 O king, he looks at whatever is good and sweet, elegant and pleasing to the soul with sorrowful eyes, like one whose eyes are already satisfied with viewing them heaped up in piles. 16 He would speak ill of the girls who would dance merrily before him, and exclaim out, ‘Why should these ladies of the harem flutter about in this way causing grief in me?’ 17 His doings are like those of a madman who takes no delight at his food or rest, his vehicles or seats, his baths and other pleasures, however excellent they may be.”
18 “As regards prosperity or adversity, his rooms or any other desirable thing, he says they are all unreal, and then he holds his silence. 19 He cannot be excited by pleasantry or tempted to taste pleasures. He attends to no business, but remains in silence. 20 No woman with her loosened locks and tresses and the tempting glances of her eyes can please him, any more than a playful fawn can please the trees in the forest. 21 Like a man sold to savages, he takes delight in lonely places, in remotest areas, in the banks of rivers and wild deserts.”
22 “O king, his aversion to clothing, conveyance, food and presents indicates that he is following the line of life led by wandering ascetics. 23He lives alone in a lonely place and neither laughs nor sings nor cries aloud from a sense of his indifference to them. 24 Seated in the lotus posture with folded legs, he stays with a distracted mind, reclining his cheek on his left palm. 25 He assumes no pride to himself and does not wish for the dignity of sovereignty. He is neither elated with joy nor depressed by grief or pain. 26 We do not know where he goes, what he does, what he desires, what he meditates upon, or from where or when he comes and what he follows.”
27 “He is getting lean every day, growing pale day by day. Like a tree at the end of autumn, he is becoming discolored day after day. 28 O king, his brothers Satrughna and Lakshman follow all his habits and resemble his very shadow. 29 Repeatedly asked about his unsound mind by his servants, brother-princes and mothers, Rama says he has none, and then resumes his silence and detachment.”
30 “He lectures his companions and friends saying, ‘Do not set your mind to sensual enjoyments which are only pleasing for the time being.’ 31He has no affection for the richly adorned women of the harem, but rather looks upon them as the cause of destruction presented before him. 32 He often sings in plaintive notes how his life is being spent in vain cares, estranged from those of the easily attainable state of heavenly bliss. 33Should some courtier speak of his being an emperor one day, he smiles at him as upon a raving madman, and then remains silent as one distracted in his mind. 34 He does not pay heed to what is said to him, nor does he look at anything presented before him. He hates to look upon even the most charming of things. 35 ‘As it is imaginary and unreal to suppose the existence of an ethereal lake or a lotus growing in it, so it is false to believe the reality of the mind and its conceptions.’ Saying so Rama marvels at nothing.”
36 “Even when sitting among beautiful maids, the darts of Kama Deva, the god of love, fail to pierce his impenetrable heart, like showers of rain cannot pierce a rock. 37 Rama makes his motto, ‘No sensible man should ever wish for riches which are but the seats of dangers,’ and he gives all that he has to beggars. 38 He sings some verses to this effect, that ‘It is an error to call one thing prosperity and the other adversity when they are both only imaginations of the mind.’ 39 He repeats some words to the effect that, ‘Though it is the general cry, ‘O I am gone, I am helpless grown,’ yet it is a wonder, that nobody should take himself to utter detachment.'”
40 “That Rama, the destroyer of enemies, the great oak grown in the garden of Raghu, should get into such a state of mind is what causes grief in us. 41 We do not know, O great armed and lotus-eyed king, what to do with him in this state of his mind. We hope only in you.”
42 “He laughs to scorn the counsels of the princes and brahmins before him, and spurns them as if they were fools. 43 He remains inactive with the conviction that the world which appears to our view is a vanity, and the idea of self is also a vanity. 44 He has no respect for foes or friends, for himself or his kingdom, mother or riches, nor does he pay any regard to prosperity or adversity. 45 He is altogether quiet, without any desire or effort and devoid of a mainstay. He is neither captivated by anything nor freed from worldly thoughts. These are the reasons which afflict us most.”
46 “He says, ‘What have we to do with riches, with our mothers, with this kingdom and all our activities?’ Under these impressions, he is about to give up his life. 47 As the swallow grows restless when hurricanes obstruct the rains, so has Rama become impatient under the restraint of his father and mother, his friends and kingdom, his enjoyments and even his own life.”
48 “In compassion on your son, incline to root out this annoyance which like a harmful vine has been spreading its shoots.
49 For under such a disposition of his mind, and in spite of his possession of all affluence, he looks upon the enjoyments of the world as his poison. 50 Where is that powerful person on this earth who can restore him to proper conduct? 51 Who is there who will remove the errors that have caused grief in Rama’s mind, like the sun removes the darkness of the world?”
• • •
Chapter 11 — Consolation of Rama
1 Vishwamitra said, “If such is the case, you who are intelligent may go at once and persuade that progeny of Raghu to come here, as one deer does others. 2 This stupor of Rama is not caused by any accident or affection. I believe it is the development of that superior intellect which rises from the right reasoning of dispassionate men. 3 Let Rama come here for a while and in a moment we shall dispel his delusion, as wind drives away clouds from mountain tops.”
4 “After his mental dullness is removed by my reasoning, he will be able to rest in that happy state of mind to which we have arrived. 5 He shall not only attain pure truth and a clear understanding of uninterrupted tranquility, but he will also secure a plumpness and beauty of figure and complexion, as one derives from a potion of ambrosia. 6 He will then fully discharge the proper course of his duties with all his heart and without exception, which will redound to his honor. 7 He will become strong with a knowledge of both worlds, exempt from the states of pleasure and pain. Then he will look upon gold and stones with an indifferent eye.”
8 After the chief of the sages had spoken in this manner, the king resumed the firmness of his mind and sent messengers after messengers to bring Rama to him. 9 By this time Rama was preparing to rise from his seat in the palace to come over to his father, in the manner that the sun rises from the mountain in the east. 10 Surrounded by a few of his servants, he came with his two brothers to the hallowed hall of his father, resembling the heaven of the king of gods.
11 From a distance he saw his kingly sire seated amidst the assemblage of princes, like Indra surrounded by the gods. 12 He was accompanied on either side by the sages Vasishta and Vishwamitra, and respectfully attended by his staff of ministers, all well versed in the interpretation of all scriptures. 13 He was fanned by charming maidens waving fine flappers in their hands, equaling in beauty the goddesses presiding over the quarters of heaven. 14 Vasishta, Vishwamitra and the other sages, with Dasharata and his chiefs, saw Rama coming at a distance as beautiful as SKHANDA (Subramanyan) himself.
15 His qualities of mildness and gravity made him resemble the Himalayas, and he was esteemed by all for the depth and clearness of his understanding. 16 He was handsome and well proportioned, auspicious in his look, but humble and magnanimous in his mind. With loveliness and mildness of his person, he was possessed of all manly prowess. 17 He was just developed to youth, yet he was as majestic as an elderly man. He was neither sad nor merry, but seemed to be fully satisfied with himself, as if he had obtained all the objects of his desires. 18 He was a good judge of the world, and possessed of all holy virtues. The purity of his mind attracted all the virtues that met in him. 19 The receptacle of his mind was filled by magnanimity and honorable virtues, and the candor of his conduct showed him in the light of perfection. 20 Endowed with these various virtues and decorated by his necklace and fine apparel, Rama the support of Raghu’s race, approached with a smiling face.
21 He bowed his head to his father with the sparkling jewels trembling in his locks, giving his head the graceful appearance of Mount Sumeru shaken by an earthquake. 22 The lotus-eyed Rama came up to salute the feet of his father, when the lord of the sages, Vishwamitra, was speaking with him. 23 First of all Rama saluted his father, then the two honorable sages. Next he saluted the brahmins, then his relations, and lastly his elders and well wishing friends. 24 Then he received and returned the salutations of the chiefs and princes as they bowed to him with graceful motions of their heads and respectful addresses.
25 Rama, of god-like beauty and equanimity of mind, approached the sacred presence of his father with the blessings of the two sages. 26During the act of his saluting the feet of his father, the lord of the earth repeatedly kissed his head and face, and embraced him with fondness. 27 At the same time, Rama, the destroyer of his enemies, embraced his brothers Lakshman and Satrughna with an affection as intense as a swan embracing lotus flowers.
28 “My son, be seated upon my lap,” said the king to Rama who, however, took his seat on a fine piece of cloth spread on the floor by his servants. 29 The king then said, “O my son and receptacle of blessings, you have attained the age of discretion, so do not put yourself to that state of self-mortification as the dull-headed do from their crazy understandings. 30 Know that one attains merit by following the course of his elders, guides and brahmins, and not by his persistence in error. 31 So long as we do not allow the seeds of error to have access to us, so long will the train of our misfortunes lie at a distance.”
32 Vasishta said, “O strong armed prince, you are truly heroic to have conquered your worldly appetites, which are as difficult to eradicate as they are fierce in their action. 33 Why do you allow yourself, like the unlearned, to be drowned in this rolling sea of errors causing such dull inactivity in you?”
34 Vishwamitra said, “Why are your eyes so unsteady with doubts like trembling clusters of blue lotuses? You ought to do away with this unsteadiness and tell us what is the sadness in your mind. 35 What are these thoughts? What are their names and natures, their number and causes, that infest your mind like mice undermine a fabric? 36 I am disposed to think that you are not the person to be troubled with those evils and distempers to which the base and vile alone are subject. 37 Tell me the craving of your heart, O sinless Rama! They will be requited in a manner that will prevent them from reoccurring to you.”
38 Rama, the standard of Raghu’s race, having listened to the reasonable and graceful speech of the good-intentioned sage, shook off his sorrow, like a peacock at the roaring of a cloud, in the hope of gaining his object.
• • •
Chapter 12 — Rama’s Reply
1 Valmiki related:— Being thus asked by the chief of the sages with soothing words, Rama answered in a soft and graceful speech replete with good sense. 2 “O venerable sage, untutored though I am, I will tell you in truth all the particulars as you asked. For who would disobey the bidding of the wise?”
Rama speaking:— 3 Since I was born in this my father’s palace, I have remained here, grown up, and received my education. 4 Then, O leader of sages, desiring to learn good customs, I set out to travel to holy places all over this sea-surrounded earth. 5 By this time, a series of reflections arose in my mind that shook my confidence in worldly objects. 6 I employed my mind to discriminate the nature of things, which gradually led me to discard all thoughts of sensual enjoyments.
7 What are worldly pleasures good for, and why do men multiply on earth? Men are born to die, and they die to be born again. 8 There is no stability in the tendencies of beings whether movable or immovable. They all tend to vice, decay and danger, and all our possessions become the grounds of our poverty.
9 All objects of sense are detached from each other like iron rods from one another. It is only imagination which attaches them to our minds. 10 It is the mind that pictures the existence of the world as a reality, but if we know the deceptiveness of the mind, we are safe from such deception. 11 If the world is an unreality, it is a pity that ignorant men should be allured by it, like deer tempted by a distant mirage of water. 12 We are sold by none, yet we are enslaved to the world. Knowing this well, we are spell-bound with riches, as if by the magic wand of Sambara. 13 What are the enjoyments in this essence but misery? Yet we are foolishly caught in its thoughts, like bees caught in honey.
14 Ah! After long, I perceive that we have insensibly fallen into errors, like senseless stags falling into caverns in the wilderness. 15 Of what use is royalty and these enjoyments to me? What am I and where do all these things come from? They are only vanities. Let them continue as such without any good or loss to anybody. 16 Reasoning in this manner, O holy brahmin, I came to be disgusted with the world, like a traveler in a desert.
17 Now tell me, O venerable sir, is this world is advancing to its dissolution, or continued reproduction, or is it in endless progression? 18 If there is any progress here, is it the appearance and disappearance by turns of old age and decease, and of prosperity and adversity? 19 See how the variety of our trifling enjoyments hastens our decay. They are like hurricanes shattering trees in the mountains. 20 Men continue in vain to breathe their vital breath like hollow bamboo wind-pipes having no sense. 21 The thought that consumes me like wildfire in the hollow of a withered tree is, “How is misery to be alleviated?”
22 The weight of worldly miseries sits heavy on my heart like a rock and obstructs the breathing of my lungs. I have a mind to weep, but I am prevented from shedding tears for fear of my people. 23 My tearless weeping and speechless mouth give no indication to anybody of my inner sorrow. My consciousness is silent witness to my solitude. 24 I wait to think on the positive and negative states, as a ruined man bewails to reflect on his former state of affluence. 25 I take prosperity to be a seducing cheat, for it deludes the mind, impairs good qualities, and spreads the net of our miseries. 26 To me, like one fallen into great difficulties, no riches, offspring, consorts or home affords any delight, but they seem to be misery.
27 Like a wild elephant in chains, I find no rest in my mind reflecting on the various evils of the world, and thinking on the causes of our frailties.28 There are wicked passions prying at all times, under the dark mist of the night of our ignorance. There are hundreds of objects which, like so many cunning rogues, are about all men in broad daylight, lurking on all sides to rob us of our reason. What mighty champions can we delegate to fight with these other than our own knowledge of truth?
• • •
Chapter 13 — Denunciation of Wealth
1 Rama said:—
O sage, here wealth is reckoned a blessing, yet she is the cause of our troubles and errors. 2 She bears away like a river in the rainy season. All high-spirited simpletons are overpowered by her current.
3 Her daughters are anxieties fostered by many a bad deed, like the waves of a stream raised by winds. 4 She can never stand steady on her legs anywhere, but like a wretched woman who has burnt her feet, she limps from one place to another.
5 Wealth like a lamp both burns and blackens its owner, until it is extinguished by its own flame. 6 She is unapproachable like princes and fools, and likewise as favorable as they to her adherents, without scanning their merits or faults. 7 She begets only evils in them by their various acts, as good milk when given to serpents serves to increase the strength of their poison.
8 Men are gentle and kind hearted to friends and strangers, until their hearts are hardened by their riches, which like blasts of wind serve to stiffen frost. 9 As brilliant gems are soiled by dust, so are the learned, the brave, the grateful, the mild and the gentle corrupted by riches. 10 Riches do not lead to happiness but redound to sorrow and destruction, as the plant aconite when nourished hides fatal poison in itself.
11 A rich man without blemish, a brave man devoid of vanity, and a master lacking partiality are the three rarities on earth. 12 The rich are as inaccessible as the dark cave of a huge serpent, and as unapproachable as the deep wilderness of Vindhya Mountain inhabited by fierce elephants. 13 Riches, like the shadow of night, overcast the good qualities of men, and like moonlight, bring to bloom the buds of their misery. Like a hurricane, they blow away the brightness of a fair prospect. Riches resemble a sea with huge surges. 14 They bring a cloud of fear and error upon us, increase the poison of despondence and regret, and are like dreadful snakes in the field of our choice.
15 Fortune is a frost to those who are bound to asceticism, and is like the night to the owls of libertinism. She is an eclipse to the moonlight of reason, and like moonbeams to the bloom of the lilies of folly. 16 She is as transitory as the rainbow, and as pleasant to see by the play of her colors. She is as fickle as lightening which vanishes as quickly as it appears. Hence none but the ignorant have reliance on her. 17 She is as unsteady as a well born maiden following a base born man to the woods. She is like a mirage that tempts runaways to fall to it as the doe. 18Unsteady as a wave, she is never steady in any place, like the flickering flame of a lamp. So her leaning is known to nobody. 19 She, like the lioness, is ever quick to fight, and like the leader of elephants, she is favorable to her partisans. She is as sharp as the blade of a sword, and she is the patroness of sharp-witted sharpsters.
20 I see no joy in uncivil prosperity, which is full of treachery and replete with every kind of danger and trouble. 21 It is pity that prosperity is like a shameless wench who will again lay hold of a man who has abandoned her for her rival poverty. 22 What is she, with all her loveliness and attraction of human hearts, but a momentary thing obtained by all manner of evil means, and resembling at best a flower shrub growing out of a cave inhabited by a snake, and beset by reptiles all about its stem?
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Chapter 14 — Denunciation of Human Life
1 Human life is as frail as a drop of water trembling on the tip of a leaflet. Life breaking loose from its bodily imprisonment out of its proper season is as irrepressible as a raving madman. 2 The lives of those whose minds are infected by the poison of worldly affairs, and who are incapable of judging for themselves, are only causes for their torment.
3 Those knowing the knowable, and resting in the all-pervading spirit, and acquiescing alike to their wants and gains, enjoy lives of perfect tranquility. 4 We who have a certain belief that we are only limited beings can have no enjoyment in our transient lives, which are only flashes of lightning in the cloudy sky of the world. 5 It is as impossible to confine the winds or tear the sky to pieces or wreathe waves into a garland as it is to place any reliance upon our lives. 6 Fast as the fleeting clouds in autumn, and short as the light of lamp without oil, our lives appear to pass away as impermanent as rolling waves in the sea. 7 Rather attempt to lay hold of the moon’s shadow on the waves, or the fleeting lightening in the sky, or the ideal lotus blossoms in the ether, than ever place any reliance upon this unsteady life. 8 Men of restless minds, desiring to prolong their useless and toilsome lives, resemble the barren she-mule conceived by a horse.
9 This world (samsara) is as a whirlpool in the ocean of creation, and every individual body is as impermanent as foam, froth or a bubble, which can give me no relish in this life. 10 True living is gain which is worth gaining, which has no cause of sorrow or remorse, and which is a state of transcendental tranquility. 11 There is a vegetable life in plants, and an animal life in beasts and birds. Man leads a thinking life, but true life is above thoughts. 12 All those living beings who being born here once do not return are said to have lived well in this earth. The rest are no better than old asses.
13 Knowledge is a burden to the unthinking, and wisdom is burdensome to the passionate. Intellect is a heavy load to the restless, and the body is a ponderous burden to one ignorant of his soul. 14 A good person possessed of life, mind, intellect and self-consciousness and its occupations, is of no benefit to the unwise, but seem to weigh down on the unwise as if he were a porter. 15 The discontented mind is the great arena of all evils, and the nesting place of diseases which alight upon it like birds of the air. Such a life is the abode of toil and misery.
16 As a house is slowly dilapidated by the mice continually burrowing under it, so is the body of the living gradually corroded by the teeth of time boring within it. 17 Deadly diseases breed within the body, feed upon our vital breath, like poisonous snakes born in caves of the woods consume the meadow air. 18 As the withered tree is perforated by small worms residing in them, so our bodies are continually wasted by many inborn diseases and harmful secretions. 19 Death is constantly staring and growling at our face, as a cat looks and purrs at a mouse in order to devour it. 20 Old age wastes us as soon as a glutton digests his food, and it reduces one to weakness as an old harlot left with no charm other than her make-up and perfumes.
21 Youth forsakes us as soon as a good man who, after a few days learns of his wicked friend’s faults, abandons him in disgust. 22 Death, the lover of destruction and friend of old age and ruin, likes the sensual man, as a lecher likes a beauty.
23 Thus there is nothing so worthless in the world as this life, which is devoid of every good quality and ever subject to death, unless it is attended by the permanent joy of liberation.
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Chapter 15 — Denunciation of Ego
1 Rama continued:— Egoism springs from false conceit fostered by vanity. I am much afraid of this enemy, baneful egotism. 2 All men in this diversified world, even the very poorest of them, fall into the dungeon of evils and misdeeds under the influence of ego. 3 All accidents, anxieties, troubles and wicked exertions proceed from ego and self-confidence. Hence I deem ego to be like a disease.
4 Being subject to that everlasting arch-enemy, the cynic ego, I have refrained from food and drink. What other enjoyment is there for me to partake? 5 This world resembles a long continuous night in which our ego, like a hunter, spreads the snare of affections. 6 All our great and intolerable miseries, growing as rank as thorny acacia plants, are only the results of our ego. 7 It overcasts the equanimity of mind like an eclipse shadows the moon. It destroys our virtues like frost destroys lotus flowers. It dispels the peace of men as autumn drives away the clouds. Therefore, I must get rid of this egoistic feeling.
8 I am not Rama the prince. I have no desire, nor should I wish for wealth, but I wish to have the peace of my mind and remain like the self-satisfied old sage Jina. 9 All that I have eaten, done or offered in sacrifice under the influence of ego have gone for nothing. The absence of ego is the real good. 10 So long, O brahmin, as there is ego, he is subject to sorrow at his difficulties. If he is devoid of it, he becomes happy. Hence it is better to be without it. 11 I am free from anxiety, O sage, ever since I have come to know the impermanence of all enjoyments, gave up my sense of egoism, and attained tranquility of my mind.
12 As long, O brahmin, as the cloud of egoism covers our minds, our desires expand themselves like kurchi plant buds in rain. 13 But when the cloud of egoism is dispersed, the lightning of greed vanishes away, just like when a lamp is extinguished, its light immediately disappears. 14 The mind vaunts with ego, like a furious elephant in the Vindhyan Hills when it hears thunder in the clouds. 15 Ego is like a lion, living in the vast forest of all human bodies, who ranges about at large throughout the whole extent of this earth.
16 The self-conceited are decorated with a string of pearls about their necks, of which greed forms the thread and repeated births are the pearls.17 Our hostile enemy ego, like a magician, has spread about us the enchantments of our wives, friends and children, whose spells it is hard to break. 18 As soon as the impression of the word ego is effaced from the mind, all our anxieties and troubles are wiped out of it. 19 The cloud of ego being dispelled from the sky of our minds, the mist of error which it spreads to destroy our peace will also disperse.
20 I have given up my ego, yet my mind remains stupefied with sorrow from my ignorance. Tell me, O brahmin, what do you think is right for me under these circumstances? 21 I have given up this egoism with much trouble, and I would like to not depend upon this source of all evil and worry any more. It retains its seat in the breast only to annoy me, without benefiting me by any good quality of its own. Direct me now, you men of great understandings!
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Chapter 16 —
The Inability to Control the Mind
1 Our minds are infested with evil passions and faults, and fluctuate in their observance of duty and service to superiors, like the plumes of a peacock fluttering in a breeze. 2 Minds eagerly and restlessly rove about at random from one place to another, like a poor village dog running far and wide in search of food. 3 It seldom finds anything anywhere, and happening even to get a good store somewhere, it is as little content with it as a wicker vessel filled with water.
4 The vacant mind, O sage, is ever entrapped in its evil desires. It is never at rest with itself, but roams at large like a stray deer separated from its herd. 5 The human mind, as light as the minutest particle, is like an unsteady wave. Therefore it can have no rest in spite of its nature. 6Disturbed by its thoughts, the mind is tossed in all directions, like the waters of the milk-white ocean when churned by Mandara Mountain. 7 I can not curb my mind, resembling the vast ocean in its course, subject to huge surges of passions, with whirlpools of error, and beset by the whales of delusion.
8 O brahmin, our minds run afar after sensual enjoyments, like deer running towards tender blades of grass, unmindful of falling into hidden traps. 9 The mind can never get rid of its wavering state owing to its nature of habitual fickleness, resembling the restlessness of the sea. 10 The mind with its natural fickleness and restless thoughts finds no repose at any place, like a lion in his cage. 11 The mind seated in the car of delusion absorbs the sweet, peaceful and undisturbed rest of the body, like a swan sucking up pure milk from amidst the water.
12 O chief of sages, I grieve much to find the faculties of the mind lying asleep upon a bed of imaginary delights, from which they are hard to awaken. 13 O brahmin, like a bird in a net, I am caught by the knots of my ego, and held fast by the thread of my greed. 14 Like dried hay on fire, the flame of my anxieties burns in my mind under the spreading fumes of my impatience. 15 Like a clod of cold meat, I am devoured by the cruelty and greed of my heart, like a carcass swallowed by a hungry dog and its greedy mate.
16 I am carried away, O sage, by the current of my heart, like a tree on the bank carried away by waters and waves beating upon it. 17 I am led afar by my mind, like straw carried off by a hurricane, either to flutter in the air or fall upon the ground. 18 My earthly mindedness has put a stop to my desire of crossing over the ocean of the world, as an embankment stops the course of a stream. 19 The baseness of my heart lifts me up and lets me down like a log of wood tied to a rope and dragged in and out of a well.
20 As a child is seized when his imagination thinks he sees a demon, so I find myself in the grasp of my wicked mind, representing falsities as true. 21 It is hard to repress the mind, which is hotter than fire, more inaccessible than a hill, and stronger than a thunderbolt. 22 The mind is attracted to its objects like a bird to its prey. It has not even a moment’s respite, like a boy and his play. 23 My mind resembles the sea both in its dullness and its restlessness, and in its extent and fullness with whirlpools and dragons that keep me from advancing.
24 It is more difficult to subdue the mind than to drink the ocean or upset Sumeru Mountain. It is harder than the hardest thing. 25 The mind is the cause of all exertions, and the source of all that senses the three worlds. Its weakness weakens all worldliness, and requires to be cured with care.
26 Our pains and pleasures arise by the hundreds from the mind, like woods growing in groups upon a hill, but no sooner is the scythe of reason applied to them, than they fall off one by one. 27 I am ready to subdue my mind, my greatest enemy in this world, for the purpose of mastering all the virtues, which the learned say depend upon it. My lack of desires has made me adverse to wealth and the gross pleasures it yields, which are like the tints of clouds tainting the moon.
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Chapter 17 — Rama on Greed
Rama speaking:— 1 I see our vices like a flock of owls flying in the region of our minds, under the darkness of our affections, and in the longsome night of our greed. 2 I am parched by my anxieties like wet clay under the sun, infusing an inner heat by extracting its soft moisture. 3 My mind is like a vast and lonesome wilderness, covered under the mist of errors, and infested by the terrible fiend of desire that is continually floundering about it. 4 My wailings and tears serve only to expand and mature my anxiety, as the dews of night open and ripen the blossoms of beans and give them a bright golden color.
5 Greed by raising expectations in men, serves only to whirl them about, like a vortex of the sea swallows marine animals. 6 The stream of worldly greed flows like a rapid current within the rock of my body, with precipitate force and loud resounding waves. 7 Our minds are driven by foul greed from one place to another, as dusty dry hay is carried away by winds, and as moisture loving chataka cuckoos are impelled by thirst to fly about.
8 It is greed that destroys all the good qualities and grace that we have learned in good faith, just like a mischievous mouse gnaws the strings of a musical instrument. 9 We turn on the wheel of our cares, like withered leaves upon water, like dry grass blown by wind, and like autumn clouds in the sky. 10 Being over powered by greed, we are unable to reach the goal of perfection, like a bird entangled in a snare is kept from flight.
11 I am so greatly burnt by the flame of greed that I doubt whether this inflammation may be relieved even by administration of nectar. 12 Like a heated mare, greed takes me far and farther still from my place, and brings me back to it again and again. Thus it hurries me up and down and to and fro in all directions forever.
13 The rope of greed pulls us up and cast us down again like a bucket into a well. 14 Man’s greed leads him about like a bullock of burden. His avarice bends his heart as fast as the rope does the beast, and it is hard for him to break. 15 As the hunter spreads his net to catch birds, so does our affection for friends, wives and children stretch snares to entrap us every day. 16 Greed like a dark night terrifies even the wise, blindfolds the keen-sighted, and depresses the spirit of the happiest of men. 17 Our appetite is as heinous as a serpent, soft to feel, but full of deadly poison, and bites us as soon as it is felt. 18 It is also like a black sorceress who deludes men by her magic, then pierces him in his heart to expose him to danger afterwards.
19 This body of ours, shattered by our greed, is like a worn out lute, fastened by arteries resembling strings, but emitting no pleasing sound. 20Our greed is like the long fibered, dark and juicy poisonous vine called kaduka that grows in mountain caves and maddens men by its flavor. 21Greed is as vain, empty, fruitless, aspiring, unpleasant and perilous as a dry twig of a tree that bears no fruit or flower, but is hurtful with its prickly point.
22 Venality is like a mean old woman, who from the incontinence of her heart, courts the company of every man without gaining the object of her desire. 23 Greed is an old actress who plays her various parts in the vast theatre of world in order to please the different tastes of her audience.24 Parsimony is like a poisonous plant growing in the wide wilderness of the world, bearing old age and infirmity as its flowers, and producing our troubles as its fruits. 25 Our churlishness resembles an aged actress who attempts a manly feat she has not the strength to perform, yet keeps up the dance without pleasing anybody.
26 Our fleeting thoughts are as fickle as peacocks soaring over inaccessible heights under the clouds (of ignorance), but ceasing to fly in the daylight (of reason). 27 Greed is like a river during the rains, rising for a time with its rolling waves, and afterwards lying low in its empty bed. 28Greed is as inconstant as a female bird that changes her mates at times, and quits the tree that no longer bears fruit. 29 The greedy are as unsteady as a springing monkey that never rests at any place but moves to places impassable by others, and craves for fruit even when satisfied.
30 The acts of greed are as inconstant as those of chance, both of which are ever on the alert, but never attended with their sequence. 31 Our venality is like a black bee sitting on the lotus of our hearts where it buzzes above, below and all about.
32 Of all worldly evils, greed is the source of the longest sorrow. She exposes even the most secluded man to peril. 33 Greed, like a group of clouds, is filled with a thick mist of error obstructing the light of heaven and causing a dull insensitivity. 34 Penury, which seems to gird the breasts of worldly people with chains of gems and jewels, binds them like beasts with halters about their necks.
35 Covetousness stretches itself long and wide and presents to us a variety of colors like a rainbow. It is equally unsubstantial and without any property as the iris, resting in vapor and vacuum and being only a shadow itself. 36 It burns away our good qualities as fire does dry hay. It numbs our good sense as frost freezes the lotus. It grows our evils as autumn does the grass. It increases our ignorance as winter prolongs the night.
37 Greediness is as an actress on the stage of the world. She is like a bird flying out of the nest of our houses, like a deer running about in the desert of our hearts, and like a lute making us sing and dance at its tune.
38 Our desires like great waves toss us about in the ocean of our earthly cares. They bind us fast to delusion like chains bind an elephant. Like the banyan tree, they produce the roots of our regeneration, and like moonbeams they put our budding sorrows to bloom. 39 Greed is a jewel-encrusted box filled with misery, decrepitude, death, disorder and disasters like a mad drunken dance.
40 Our wishes are sometimes as pure as light and at other times as foul as darkness; now they are as clear as the milky way, and again as obscure as thickest mists. 41 All our bodily troubles are avoided by abstaining from greed, just as we are freed from fear of night demons at the dispersion of darkness. 42 As long as men remain in dumbness and mental delirium, they are subject to the poisonous colic of greed. 43 Men may get rid of their misery by freeing themselves from anxieties. The abandonment of cares is said to be the best remedy for greed.
44 As fish in a pond fondly grasp bait in expectation of a morsel, so the avaricious lay hold on anything, be it wood or stone or even a bit of straw. 45 Greed like an acute pain excites even the gravest of men to motion, just like the sunshine raises lotus blossoms above water. 46 It is comparable to bamboo in its length, hollowness, hard knots, and thorny prickles, and yet it is entertained with hopes that it might yield manna and pearls.
47 It is a wonder that high-minded men have been able to cut off this almost un-severable knot of greed by the glittering sword of reason, 48because neither the edge of a sword, nor the fire of lightening, nor the sparks of a red-hot iron are sharp enough to sever the keen greed seated in our hearts. 49 It is like the flame of a lamp which is bright but blackening and acutely burning at its end. Fed by the oily wicks, it is vivid but never handled by anybody.
50 Penury has the power of demeaning, in a moment, the best of men to the baseness of straw in spite of their wisdom, heroism and gravity in other respects. 51 Greed is like the great valley of the Vindhya Hills, beset with deserts and impenetrable forests, terrible and full of traps laid by the hunters, filled with dust and mist. 52 One single greed has everything in the world for its object, and though seated in the breast, it is imperceptible to all. It is like the undulating Milky Ocean in this fluctuating world, sweeping all things yet regaling mankind with its odorous waves.
• • •
Chapter 18 — Denunciation of the Body
1 This body of ours that struts about on earth is only a mass of humid entrails and tendons, tending to decay and disease, and to our torment alone. 2 It is neither quiescent nor wholly sentient, neither ignorant nor quite intelligent. Its inherent soul is a wonder, and reason makes it graceful or otherwise. 3 The skeptic is doubtful of its inertness and exercise of intellect, and unreasonable and ignorant people are ever subject to error and illusion. 4 The body is as easily gratified with a little as it is exhausted in an instant. Hence there is nothing so pitiable, abject and worthless as our bodies.
5 The face is as frail as a fading flower. Now it shoots forth its teeth like filaments, and now it dresses itself with blooming and blushing smiles as blossoms. 6 The body is like a tree. Its arms resemble the branches, the shoulder-blades like stems, the teeth are rows of birds, the eye-holes like its hollows, and the head is like a big fruit. 7 The ears are like two woodpeckers. The fingers of both hands and feet are like so many leaves of the branches. The diseases are like parasitic plants, and the acts of the body are like axes felling this tree, which is the seat of the two birds: the soul and intelligence. 8 This shady tree of the body is only the temporary resort of a passing soul, whether it be related or unrelated to anybody, or whether reliable or not. 9 What man is there, O venerable fathers, who would stoop to reflect that each body is repeatedly assumed only to serve as a boat to pass over the sea of the world?
10 Who can rely on his body with any confidence, a body like a forest full of holes abounding in hairs that resemble trees? 11 The body composed of flesh, nerves and bones resembles a drum without any musical sound, yet I sit watching it like a cat. 12 Our bodies are like trees growing in the forest of the world, bearing the flowers of anxiety and perforated by the worms of sorrow and misery, ridden by the apish mind. 13 The body with its smiling face appears like a good plant bearing both good and bad fruit, but it has become home for the snake of greed and the crows of anger.14 Our arms are like the branches of trees, and our open palms like beautiful clusters of flowers. The other limbs are like twigs and leaves continually shaken by the breath of life. 15 The two legs are the erect stems and the organs are the seats of the birds of sense. Its youthful bloom is a shade for the passing traveler of love.
16 The hanging hairs of the head resemble long grass growing on the tree, and egoism, like a vulture, cracks the ear with its hideous shrieks. 17Our various desires are like the hanging roots and fibers of a fig tree that seem to support the trunk of its body, but is worn out by labor to become unpleasant. 18 The body is the big home of its owner’s ego, and therefore it is of no interest to me whether it lasts or falls.
19 This body, linked with its limbs like beasts of burden to labor, the home of its mistress greed painted over by her passions, affords me no delight whatever. 20 This abode of the body, built with its framework of backbone and ribs and composed of cellular vessels tied together by ropes of the entrails, is no way desirable to me. 21 This mansion of the body, tied with strings of tendons, built with the clay of blood and moisture, and plastered white with old age is no way suited to my liking. 22 The mind is the architect and master of this bodily dwelling, and our activities are its supports and servants. It is filled with errors and delusions which I do not like. 23 I do not like this dwelling of the body with its bed of pleasure on one side, and its childlike cries of pain on the other, and where our evil desires work like its shouting handmaids.
24 I cannot like this body. It is like a pot of filth, full of the foulness of worldly affairs, and moldering under the rust of our ignorance. 25 It is a hovel standing on the two props of our heels, supported by the two posts of our legs. 26 It is no lovely house where the external organs are playing their parts, while its mistress understanding sits inside with her brood of anxieties. 27 It is a hut thatched over with the hairs on the head, decorated with the turrets of the ears, and adorned with jewels on the crest, which I do not like.
28 This house of the body is walled about by all its members, and beset by hairs growing on it like ears of grain. It has an empty space of the belly within which I do not like. 29 This body with its nails as those of spiders, and its entrails growling within like barking dogs, and the internal winds emitting fearful sounds, is never delightsome to me. 30 What is this body but a passage for the ceaseless inhaling and breathing out of the vital air? Its eyes are like two windows continually opened and closed by the eyelids. I do not like a mansion such as this. 31 This mansion of the body, with its formidable door of the mouth and ever-moving bolt of the tongue and bars of the teeth, is not pleasant to me.
32 This house of the body, having the whitewash of ointments on the outer skin and the machinery of the limbs in continuous motion, its restless mind burrowing its base like a mischievous mouse, is not liked by me. 33 Sweet smiles, like shining lamps, serve to lighten this house of the body for a moment, but it is soon darkened by a cloud of melancholy, wherefore I cannot be pleased with it. 34 This body, the abode of diseases and subject to wrinkles and decay and all kinds of pain, is a mansion with which I am not pleased. 35 I do not like this wilderness of the body, infested by the bears of the senses. It is empty and hollow within, with dark groves of entrails inside.
36 I am unable, O chief of sages, to drag my domicile of the body, just as a weak elephant is incapable of pulling another that is stuck in a muddy pit. 37 Of what good is affluence or royalty, this body and all its efforts to a person when the hand of time must destroy them all in a few days?
38 Tell me, O sage, what is charming in this body that is only a composition of flesh and blood both within and without and frail in its nature? 39The body does not follow the soul upon death. Tell me sage, what regard should the learned have for such an ungrateful thing as this? 40 It is as unsteady as the ears of an enraged elephant, and as fickle as drops of water that trickle on their tips. I should like therefore to abandon it before it comes to abandon me.
41 It is as tremulous as the leaves of a tree shaken by a breeze, and oppressed by diseases and fluctuations of pleasure and pain. I have no relish in its pungency and bitterness. 42 With all its food and drink for evermore, it is as tender as a leaflet and it is reduced to leanness in spite of all our cares, and runs fast towards its dissolution. 43 It is repeatedly subjected to pleasure and pain, and to the succession of affluence and destitution, without being ashamed of itself as the shameless vulgar herd. 44 Why nourish this body any longer when, after its enjoyment of prosperity and exercise of authority for a length of time, it acquires no excellence nor durability?
45 The bodies of the rich and the poor are alike subject to decay and death at their appointed times. 46 The body lies like a tortoise in the cave of greed amidst the ocean of the world. It remains there in the mud in a mute and torpid state without any effort for its liberation. 47 Our bodies float like heaps of wood on the waves of the world, finally serving as fuel for a funeral fire — except a few which pass for human bodies in the sight of the wise.
48 The wise have little to do with this tree of the body, which is beset by evils like harmful orchids about it, and produces the fruit of perdition. 49The body, like a frog, lies merged in the mire of mortality where it perishes no sooner it is known to have lived and gone. 50 Our bodies are as empty and fleeting as gusts of wind passing over dusty ground. Nobody knows from where they come or where they go. 51 We know not the travels of our bodies, as we do not know those of the winds, light and our thoughts. They all come and go, but from where and to where, we know nothing.52 Fie and shame to them who are so giddy with the intoxication of their error that they rely on any state or durability of their bodies.
53 They are the best of men, O sage, whose minds are at rest with the thought that their ego does not exist in their bodies, and that in the end the bodies are not theirs.
54 Those mistaken men who have a high sense of honor and fear dishonor, but who take pleasure in the excess of their gains, are truly killers of both of their bodies and souls. 55 We are deceived by the delusion of ego, which like a female evil spirit lies hidden within the cavity of the body with all her sorcery. 56 Unaided, our reason is kept in bondage by the malicious fiend of false knowledge, like a slave within the prison of our bodies. 57 It is certain that whatever we see here is unreal, and yet it is a wonder that the mass of men are led to deception by the vile body, which has injured the cause of the soul.
58 Our bodies are as fleeting as the drops of a waterfall. They fall off in a few days like the withered leaves of trees. 59 They are as quickly dissolved as bubbles in the ocean. Therefore it is in vain for it to hurl about in the whirlpool of business. 60 I have not a moment’s reliance in this body, which is ever hastening to decay, and I regard its changeful delusions as a state of dreaming. 61 Let those who have any faith in the stability of lightning, autumn clouds and ice castles place their reliance in this body.
62 In its instability and ability to perish, the body has outdone all other things that are doomed to destruction. It is moreover subject to very many evils. Therefore I value it as nothing, like straw, and thereby I have obtained my rest.
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Chapter 19 — Blemishes of Boyhood
1 One receiving his birth in the unstable ocean of this world, disturbed by the waves of the turmoil of business, has to pass his boyhood in sufferings only.
2 The attendants of infancy are a lack of strength and sense, diseases, dangers, muteness and sensual desires, joined with longings and helplessness. 3 Childhood is chained to fretting, crying, fits of anger, craving and every kind of incapacity, like an elephant chained to a post. 4 The vexations that tease the infant breast are far greater than those which trouble us in youth and old age, or disturb one in disease, danger or at the approach of death. 5 The acts of a boy are like those of young animals, always restless and snubbed by everybody. Hence boyhood is more intolerable than death itself.
6 How can boyhood be pleasing to anybody, when it is a semblance of gross ignorance, full of whims and hobbies, and ever subject to improper behavior? 7 Silly boyhood is in constant dread of dangers arising at every step from fire, water and air which rarely cause problems in other states of life. 8 Children are liable to very many errors in their plays and wicked frolics, and in all their wishes and attempts beyond their capacities. Therefore, boyhood is the most dangerous stage of life.
9 Children are engaged in false pursuits and wicked sports, and are subject to all other foolish childishness. Hence boyhood is fit for the rod and not for rest. 10 All faults, misconduct, transgressions and heartaches lie hidden in boyhood like owls in hollow caves. 11 Shame on those ignorant and foolish people who are falsely led to imagine boyhood as the most pleasant period of life.
12 How can boyhood appear pleasing to anyone when the mind swings like a cradle towards every object of desire, however wrong it is deemed to be in both worlds? 13 The minds of all living beings are ever restless, but those of young people are ten times more at unrest. 14 The mind is naturally unsteady, and so is boyhood. Say what can save us from that state of life when both these vagrant things combine to our destruction? 15 The glances of women, the flashes of lightning, the flame of fire, and the ever-rolling waves have all imitated the fickleness of boyhood.
16 Minority seems to be a twin brother to the mind. They are similar in their unsteadiness and frailty of all their purposes. 17 All kinds of miseries, misdeeds and improper behavior await on boyhood, as all sorts of men hang upon the rich. 18 Children are always fond of new things, and when they fail to get them, they fall to a fainting fit, as if from the effect of poison.
19 A boy like a dog, is as easily tamed as he is irritated at a little, and he is as glad to lie in the dust and play with dirt. 20 A foolish fretful boy with his body daubed in mire, tears in his eyes, appears like a heap of dry clay soiled by a shower of rain.
21 Children are subject to fear and voracious appetites. They are helpless but fond of everything they have seen or heard, and equally fickle in their bodies and mind. Hence boyhood is a source of only troubles. 22 The foolish and helpless child becomes sad and sour when he fails to get the object of his fancy and thwarted from the thing desired. 23 Children have much difficulty to get at the things they want, and which they can ask only by indistinct words. Hence no one suffers so much as children. 24 A boy is as much irritated by the eagerness of his whimsical desires as a patch of ground in the desert is parched by the summer heat.
25 On entering school, a boy is subjected to corrections, which are as painful to him as goading and chains to an elephant.
26 Boyhood, ever fond of toys and trifles, is continually afflicted by a great many whims and hobbies, and a variety of false fancies. 27 How can it be said that senseless childhood is a happy state of life when the child is led by its ignorance to swallow everything in the world, and to wish to lay hold on the moon in the sky?
28 Say great sage, what difference is there between a child and a tree? Both have sensitivity, but neither is able to defend themselves from heat and cold. 29 Children are like birds, subject to fear and hunger, and ready to fly about when impelled by them. 30 Boyhood is the home of fear from all sides; such as from the tutor, father, mother, elder brother and elderly children, and from everybody besides.
31 Hence the hopeless state of childhood, full of faults and errors, and addicted to sports and thoughtlessness, cannot be satisfactory to anybody.
• • •
Chapter 20 — Denunciation of Youth
1 Rama continued:—
The boy, having passed his state of blemishes, gladly steps into youth with hopes of gaining his objects that tend only to his ruin. 2 At this time the unconscious youth feels the wanton inclinations of his loose mind and goes on falling from one tribulation to another. 3 He is overcome like one subdued by the power of delusive Kama Deva (Goddess Desire) lying hidden in the cavity of the heart. 4 His ungoverned mind gives rise to loose thoughts like those of voluptuous women, and these serve to beguile him like magic black collyrium eye-liner in the hands of children. 5Vices of the most heinous kind overcome persons of such minds in their youth and lead them to their ruin.
6 The paths of youth lead through a maze of errors to the gate of hell. Those who have been left uncorrupt by their youth are not to be corrupted by anything else. 7 Whoever has passed the dreadfully enchanted coast of youth, filled with various flavors and wonders, is said to be truly wise.
8 I take no delight in our unwelcome youth, which appears to us in the form of a momentary flash of lightning, soon followed by the loud roaring of the clouds (of manhood). 9 Youth, like rich wine, is sweet and delicious, but becomes bitter, insipid and harmful in a short time. Hence it is not delectable to me. 10 Youth appearing as a reality, is found to be a false, transient thing, as deceptive as a fairy dream by night. Hence I like it not.11 It is the most charming of all things to men, but its charm is soon lost and fled. Therefore the magic lantern show of youth is not pleasing to me.
12 Youth is like an arrow shot: pleasant to see, but painful to feel. Hence I do not like youth that produces heat in the blood. 13 Youth is like a harlot: charming at first sight, but soon turns heartless. Hence it is not to my liking.
14 As the efforts of a dying man are all for his torment, so the exertions of the young are portentous of his destruction. 15 Puberty advances like a dark night spreading the shadow of destruction. It darkens the heart and mind by its hideous appearance, and intimidates even the god Shiva himself.
16 Errors growing in youth, upsetting good sense and giving no value to approved good manners, cause copious mistakes in life. 17 The raging fire in the hearts of the young, caused by separation from their mates, burns them down like trees in a wildfire. 18 As a clear, sacred and wide stream becomes muddy during rains, so does the mind of man, however clear, pure and expanded it may be, gets polluted in his youth. 19 It is possible for one to cross a river made terrible by its waves, but no way possible for him to get over the boisterous expanse of his youthful desires.
20 O how one’s youth is worn out with the thoughts of his mistress, her swollen breasts, her beautiful face and her sweet caresses! 21 The wise regard a young man afflicted with the pain of soft desire as no better than a fragment of straw. 22 Youth is the stake of haughty self-esteem, as the rack is for the immolation of the elephant giddy with its frontal pearl. 23 Youth is a lamentable forest where the mind, as the root of all, gives growth to jungles of (love sick) groans, sighs and tears of sorrow. The vices of this time are like venomous snakes of the forest.
24 Know that a person’s youthful bloom resembles a blooming lotus of the lake. One is as full of affections, bad desires and evil intents as the other is filled with bees, filaments, petals and leaves. 25 The new bloom of youth is the playground of anxiety and disease, which like two birds with their (black and white) plumage of vice and virtue, frequent the fountain of the young man’s heart.
26 Early youth resembles a deep sea disturbed by the waves of numberless amusements, transgressing all bounds, and regardless of death and disease. 27 Youth is like a furious gust of wind over-loaded with the dust of pride and vanity which sweeps away every trace of good qualities.28 The rude dust of the passions of youth disfigures their faces, and the hurricane of their sensualities cover their good qualities.
29 Youthful vigor awakens a series of faults and destroys a group of good qualities by increasing the vice of pleasures. 30 Youthful bloom confines the fickle mind to some beautiful person, like bright moonbeams serve to trap the flitting bee in the dust of a closing lotus. 31 Youth, like a delightful cluster of flowers growing in the garden of the human body, attracts the mind to it like a bee and makes it giddy (with its sweets). 32 The human mind anxious to derive pleasure from the youthfulness of the body, falls into the cave of sensuality, like a deer running after the mirage of desert heat falls down into a pit.
33 I take no delight in moon-like youth which guilds the dark body with its beams and resembles the stern mane of the lion-like mind. It is a surge in the ocean of our lives. 34 There is no reliance upon youth that fades away as soon as summer flowers in this desert of the body. 35 Like a bird, youth soon flies away from our bodily cage. It is like the philosopher’s stone that quickly disappears from the hands of the unfortunate.
36 As youth advances to its highest pitch, so the feverish passions wax stronger for our destruction only. 37 As long as the night (delusion) of youth lasts, the fiends of our passion rage in the desert of the body. 38 Pity me, O sage, in this state of youth which is so full of agitation as to have deprived me of the sight of reason. O pity me as you would for your dying son. 39 A foolish man who ignorantly rejoices at his transient youth is considered to be like a human beast. 40 A foolish fellow who is fond of his youth, flushed with pride and filled with errors, soon comes to repent.
41 Those who have safely passed over the perils of youth are great minded men honored on earth. 42 With ease one can cross over a wide ocean that is the horrible home of huge whales, but it is hard to pass over our youth that is so full of vices and waves (of our passions). 43 It is very rare to have a happy youth filled with humility and spent in the company of respectable men. Such youth is distinguished by feelings of sympathy and is joined with good qualities and virtues.
• • •
Chapter 21 — Denunciation of Women
1 Rama added:— What beauty is there in the body of a woman composed of nerves, bones and joints? She is a mere statue of flesh and a frame of moving machinery with her ribs and limbs. 2 Separated from its flesh, skin, blood and water, can you find anything beautiful in the female form that is worth beholding? Then why dote upon it? 3 This fairy frame consisting of hair and blood cannot engage the attention of a high-minded man to its blemishes. 4 The bodies of females, so covered with clothing and repeatedly smeared with paints and perfumes, are (in the end) devoured by carnivorous (beasts and worms).
5 The breasts of women, decorated with strings of pearl, appear as charming as the pinnacles of Mount Sumeru washed by the waters of the Ganges falling upon them. 6 Look at these very same breasts in the end, having become a lump of food to be devoured by dogs in cemeteries and on the naked ground.
7 There is no difference between a woman and a young elephant that lives in the jungle. Both are made of blood, flesh and bones. Then why hunt after her? 8 A woman is charming only for a short time. I look upon her merely as a cause of delusion. 9 There is no difference between wine and a woman. Both tend equally to produce high-flown mirth and jollity, creating revelry and lust. 10 Overindulgent men are like chained elephants among mankind. They will never come to sense however goaded by the hooks of reason.
11 Women are the flames of vice. Their black-dyed eye and hair are their smoke and soot. Though pleasing to the sight, they are as intangible as fire. They burn a man like fire consumes straw. 12 Though they appear soft and juicy to sight, they burn from afar and are as dry as bones. They serve as fuel for the fires of hell, and they are dangerous with their charm.
13 The woman resembles a moonlit night, veiled over by her loosened locks, and looking through her starry eyes. She shows her moon-like face amidst her flowery smiles. 14 Her soft dalliance destroys all manly energy, and her caresses overpower the good sense of men, like the shade of night does the sleeping (world). 15 A woman is as lovely as a vine in its flowering time. Her palms are the leaves and her eyes are the black bees. Her breasts are like the uplifted tops of the plant. 16 A lovely maiden is like a poisonous vine, fair as the filament of a flower but, by causing inebriation and unconsciousness, destructive of life.
17 Like the snake-catcher entices the snake by his breath and brings it out of its hole, so does a woman allure a man by her meddlesome civilities and gets him under her control. 18 Sexual desire, like a huntsman, has spread his nets in the form of women for the purpose of ensnaring deluded men like silly birds. 19 The mind of man, though as fierce as that of a furious elephant, is tied fast by the chain of love to the fulcrum of women, just as an elephant is fastened to the post where he remains dull and dumb forever.
20 Human life is like a pool in which the mind moves about in mud and mire. Here it is caught by the bait of woman, and dragged along by the thread of its impure desires. 21 The beautiful eyed maiden is a bondage to man, as the stable is to the horse, the fastening post to the elephant, and as spells are to the snakes.
22 This wonderful world, with all its delights and enjoyments, began with woman and depends on women for its continuance. 23 A woman is a casket full of all gems of vice. She is the cause of our chain to everlasting misery, and she is of no use to me. 24 What shall I do with her breast, her eyes, her loins, her eyebrows, the substance of which is only flesh and which therefore is altogether unsubstantial? 25 Here and there, O brahmin, her flesh and blood and bones undergo a change for the worse in course of a few days.
26 Sage, you can see those dearly beloved mistresses, so much fondled by foolish men, lying at last in the cemetery, their body parts all mangled and falling off. 27 O brahmin, those dear love objects, the faces of maidens so fondly decorated by their lovers with paints and pastes, are at last to be burned on the piles. 28 Their braided hairs hang like fly-whisks on the cemetery trees, and after a few days, their whitened bones are strewn about like shining stars. 29 Behold their blood sucked in by the dust of the earth, voracious beasts and worms feeding upon their flesh, jackals tearing their skin, and their vital air dispersed in the vacuum. 30 This is the state to which the members of the female body must shortly come to pass. You say all existence is delusion. Therefore tell me, why do you allow yourselves to fall into error? 31 A woman is nothing but a form composed of the five elements, so why should intelligent men be fondly attached to her?
32 Men’s longing for women is like the suta vine which stretches its sprigs to a great length, but bears plenty of bitter and sour fruit. 33 A man blinded by greed (for his mate) is like a deer that has strayed from its herd, not knowing which way to go, lost in the maze of illusion. 34 A young man under the control of a young woman is as lamentable as an elephant in pursuit of his mate that has fallen into a pit of Vindhya Mountain.
35 He who has a wife has an appetite for enjoyment on earth, but one without her has no object of desire. Abandonment of the wife amounts to abandonment of the world, and forsaking the world is the path to true happiness.
36 I am not content, O brahmin! with these unmanageable enjoyments which are as flickering as the wings of bees, and are as soon at an end as they are born. From my fear of repeated births, decay and death, I long only for the state of supreme bliss.
• • •
Chapter 22 — Denunciation of Old Age
Rama speaking:— 1 Boyhood has scarcely lost its boyishness when it is overtaken by youth, which is soon followed by a ruthless old age that devours the other two. 2 Old age withers the body like frost freezing a lake of lilies. It drives away the beauty of the body like a storm does autumn clouds. It pulls down the body like a current carries away a tree from the bank.
3 An old man with his limbs slackened and worn out by age, his body weakened by infirmity, is treated by women as a useless beast. 4 Old age drives away a man’s good sense, just like a step mother drives away a good wife. 5 A man in tottering old age is ridiculed as a imbecile by his own sons and servants, and even by his wife, friends and relations.
6 When their appearance grows uncouth and their bodies become helpless and devoid of all manly qualities and powers, then insatiable greed alights on the heads of the aged like a greedy vulture. 7 Appetite, the constant companion of my youth, is thriving along with my age, accompanied with her evils of indigence, and heart-burning cares and restlessness.
8 Ah me! What must I do to remove my present and future pains? This fear increases with old age and finds no remedy.
9 What am I that I am brought to this extremity of senselessness? What can I do in this state? I must remain dumb and silent. Given these reflections, there is an increased sense of helplessness in old age.
10 How and when and what shall I eat, and what is sweet to taste? These are the thoughts that trouble the mind when old age comes. 11 There is an insatiable desire for enjoyments, but the powers to enjoy them are lacking. It is lack of strength which afflicts the heart in old age. 12 Hoary old age sits and shrieks like a heron on the top of the tree of this body which is infested within by the serpents of sickness.
13 As the grave owl, the bird of night, appears unexpectedly to our sight as the evening shades cover the landscape, so the solemn appearance of death overtakes us in the eve of our life. 14 As darkness prevails over the world in the evening, so death overtakes the body at the eve of the life. 15 Death overtakes a man in his hoary old age, just like a monkey alights on a tree covered with pearly flowers.
16 Even a deserted city, a leafless tree and parched up land may present a fair aspect, but never does the body look well that is pulled down by hoary age. 17 Old age with its hooping cough lays hold of a man, just as a vulture seizes its prey with loud shrieks in order to devour it. 18 As a girl eagerly lays hold of a lotus flower whenever she sees one, then plucks it from its stalk and tears it to pieces, so does old age overtake a person’s body and breaks it down at last. 19 As the chill blast of winter shakes a tree and covers its leaves with dust, so does old age seize the body with a tremor and fill all its limbs with the rust of diseases.
20 The body overtaken by old age becomes as pale and battered as a lotus flower beaten by frost becomes withered and shattered. 21 As moonbeams contribute to the growth of kumuda flowers on the top of mountains, so does old age produce grey hairs resembling casia flowers on the heads of men (with inward phlegm and gout). 22 Death, the lord of all beings, views the grey head of a man as a ripe pumpkin seasoned with the salt of old age, and devours it with zest.
23 As the Ganges upsets a neighboring tree by its rapid course, so old age destroys the body as the current of our life runs fast to decay. 24 Old age preys on the flesh of the human body and takes as much delight in devouring its youthful bloom as a cat does feeding on a mouse. 25Decrepitude raises its ominous hoarse sound of hiccough in the body, like a jackal sending forth her hideous cry in the forest. 26 Old age is an inner flame that consumes the living body like a wet log of wood, which thereupon emits its hissing sounds of hiccough and hard breathing, and sends up the gloomy fumes of sorrow and sighs.
27 The body like a flowering vine, bends down under the pressure of age, turns to grey like the fading leaves of a plant, and becomes as lean and thin as a plant after its flowering time is over. 28 Like an infuriated elephant that can uproot a white plantain tree in a moment, so does old age destroy the body that becomes as white as camphor all over.
29 Senility, O sage, is as the standard bearer of the king of death, flapping his fly-whisks of grey hairs before him and bringing an army of diseases and troubles in his train. 30 The monster of old age will even overcome those who were never defeated in wars by their enemies, and those who hide themselves in the inaccessible caverns of mountains.
31 As infants cannot play in a room that has become cold with snow, so the senses can have no play in a body stricken with age. 32 Old age, like a juggling girl, struts on three legs at the sound of coughing and whiffing, beating like a kettledrum on both sides. 33 The tuft of grey hairs on the head of an aged body represents a fly-whisk fastened to the top of a handle of white sandalwood that serves to welcome the despot of death.
34 As hoary age makes his advance like moonlight over the body, he calls forth hidden death to come out of it, as moonlight makes water lilies unfold their buds. 35 Again as the whitewash of old age whitens the outer body, so debility, diseases and dangers become its inmates in the inner apartment. 36 The extinction of being is preceded by old age. Therefore I as a man of little understanding can have no reliance in old age (though extolled by some.) 37 What then is the good of this miserable life, which lives subject to old age? Senility is irresistible in this world, and it defies all efforts to avoid or overcome it.
• • •
Chapter 23 — The Vicissitudes of Time
Rama speaking:— 1 By their much idle talk, ever doubting skepticism and schisms, men of little understandings are found to fall into grave errors in this pit of the world. 2 Good people can have no more confidence in the network of their ribs than little children like fruit reflected in a mirror. 3 Time is a rat that gnaws off the threads of all thoughts that men may entertain about the contemptible pleasures of this world.
4 There is nothing in this world which the all-devouring time will spare. He devours all things like an undersea fire consumes the overflowing sea. 5 Time is the sovereign lord of all, and equally terrible to all things. He is ever ready to devour all visible beings. 6 Time as master of all, spares not even the greatest of us for a moment. He swallows the universe within himself, whence he is known as the Universal Soul.
7 Time pervades all things, but has no perceptible feature of his own, except that he is imperfectly known by the names of years, ages and millennia (kalpas). 8 All that was fair and good and as great as Mount Meru has gone down into the womb of eternity, like snakes gorged by the greedy garuda.
9 There was no one ever so unkind, hard-hearted, cruel, harsh or miserly, whom time has not devoured. 10 Time is ever greedy even though he devours mountains. This great gourmand is not satisfied with gorging himself with everything in all the worlds.
11 Time, like an actor, plays many parts on the stage of the world. He abstracts and kills, produces and devours and at last destroys everything.12 Time is constantly picking up the seeds of all four kinds of living beings from this unreal world, like a parrot picks up ripened fruit from under the cracked shell of a pomegranate and nibbles at its seeds.
13 Time uproots all proud living beings in this world, like a wild elephant uses its tusks to pull up the trees of the forest. 14 This creation of God is like a forest, having Brahma for its foundation and its trees full of the great fruits of gods. Time commands this creation throughout its length and breadth. 15 Time glides along constantly as a creeping plant, its parts composed of years and ages and the dark nights like black bees chasing after them.
16 Time, O sage, is the subtlest of all things. It is divided though indivisible. It is consumed though incombustible.
It is perceived though imperceptible in its nature. 17 Time, like the mind, is strong enough to create and demolish anything in a trice, and its province is equally extensive. 18 Time is a whirlpool to men; and man being accompanied with desire, his insatiable and uncontrollable mistress, and delighting in illicit enjoyments, time makes him do and undo the same thing over and over again.
19 Time is prompted by his rapacity to appropriate everything for himself, from the meanest straw, dust, leaves and worms, to the greatest Indra and Mount Meru itself.
20 Time is the source of all malice and greed, and the spring of all misfortunes, and cause of the intolerable fluctuations of our states. 21 As children play with balls in a playground, so does time play with his two balls of the sun and moon in his arena of the sky.
22 Upon the end of a kalpa age, time will dance about with the bones of the dead hanging like a long chain from his neck to the feet. 23 At the end of a kalpa age, the gale of desolation rising from the body of this world destroyer causes the fragments of Mount Meru to fly about in the air like the rinds of the bhoja-petera tree. 24 Time then assumes his terrific form of fire to dissolve the world in empty space, and the gods Brahma and Indra and all others cease to exist. 25 As the sea shows himself in a continued series of waves rising and falling one after another, so it is time that creates and dissolves the world, and appears to rise and fall with the rotation of days and nights. 26 At end of the world, time plucks the gods and demigods from their great tree of existence like ripe fruit.
27 Time resembles a large sacred fig tree (ficus religiosa) studded with all the worlds as its fruit, resonant with the noise of living beings like the hissing of gnats. 28 Time accompanied by action as his mate, entertains himself in the garden of the world, blossoming with the moonbeams of the Divine Spirit. 29 As the high and huge rock supports its body upon the earth, so does time rest itself in endless and interminable eternity.
30 Time assumes to himself various colors of black, white and red (at night, day and midday) which serve for his vestures.
31 As the earth supports the great hills that are fixed upon it, so time supports all the innumerable ponderous worlds that constitute the universe.32 Hundreds of great kalpa ages may pass away, yet there is nothing that can move eternity to pity or concern, or stop or expedite his course. It neither sets nor rises. 33 Time is never proud to think that it is he who, without the least sense of pain or labor, brings this world into play and makes it exist.
34 Time is like a reservoir in which the nights are mud, the days lotuses, and the clouds bees.
35 As a covetous man, with worn out broomstick in hand, sweeps over a mountain to gather particles of gold strewn over it, so does time with his sweeping course of days and nights collect all living beings in the world in one mass of the dead. 36 As a miserly man trims and lights a lamp with his own fingers in order to look for his stores in each corner of his rooms, so does time light the lamps of the sun and moon to look for living beings in every nook and corner of the world.
37 As one ripens raw fruit in the sun and fire in order to devour them, so does time ripen men by their sun and fire worship, to bring them under his jaws at last.
38 The world is a dilapidated cottage and men of parts are rare gems in it. Time hides them in the casket of his belly, as a miser keeps his treasure in a coffer. 39 Good men are like a garland of gems, which time puts on his head for a time with fondness, and then tears and tramples it down. 40 Strings of days, nights and stars, resembling beads and bracelets of white and black lotuses, are continually turning around the arm of time.
41 Time looks upon the world like the carcass of a ram, with its mountains, seas, sky and earth as its four horns, and the stars as its drops of blood which it drinks day by day. 42 Time destroys youth as the moon shuts the petals of the lotus. It destroys life like a lion kills the elephant. There is nothing so insignificant that time does not steal.
43 After sporting for a kalpa period in the act of killing and crushing of all living beings, time comes to lose its own existence and becomes extinct in the eternity of the Spirit of spirits. 44 After a short rest and respite, time reappears as the creator, preserver, and destroyer of all who remembers all. He shows the shapes of all things whether good or bad, keeping his own nature beyond the knowledge of all. Thus does time expand and preserve and finally dissolve all things by way of sport.
• • •
Chapter 24 — The Ravages of Time
1 Rama continued:— Time is a self-willed sportsman, like a prince, who is inaccessible to dangers and whose powers are unlimited. 2 This world is like a forest and a sporting ground of time where the poor deluded worldlings are caught in his snare like bodies of wounded stags.
3 The ocean of universal deluge is merely a pleasure-pond for time, and its undersea fires bursting there are merely lotus flowers. 4 Time makes his breakfast of this vapid and stale earth, flavored with the milk and curd of the seas of those names. 5 His wife Chandi with her train of Matris (the Furies) ranges all about this wide world like a ferocious tigress. 6 The earth with her waters is like a bowl of wine in the hand of time, dressed and flavored with all sorts of lilies and lotuses.
7 In the hand of time, the lion with his huge body and startling mane, his loud roaring and tremendous groans, seems like a caged bird of sport.8 Mahakala (Transcendent Time), like a playful young cuckoo, appears in the figure of the blue autumn sky, warbling as sweet as the notes of a lute of gourd (in the music of the spheres).
9 The restless bow of death is found flinging its sorrowful arrows with ceaseless thunder claps on all sides. 10 This world is like a forest in which sorrows range about like playful apes, and time like a sportive prince in this forest, is now wandering, now walking, now playing and now killing his game.
• • •
Chapter 25 — The Play of Death
1 Time stands the foremost of all deceitful players in this world. He acts the double parts of creation and destruction, and of action and fate. 2The existence of time is known to us only through action and motion, which bind all beings (in the succession of thoughts and acts).
3 Fate is that which frustrates the acts of all created beings, like the heat of the sun serves to dissolve a snow pack.
4 This wide world is the stage on which the giddy mob dances about (in their appointed times). 5 Time has a third name of a terrifying nature known as Kritantah (Fate), who in the form of a Kapalika (one holding human skulls in his hand), dances about in the world. 6 This dancing and loving Kritantah (Fate), is accompanied by his consort called Destiny to whom he is greatly attached.
7 Time (as Shiva) wears on his bosom of the world, the triple white and holy thread composed of the serpent named Ananta (Infinite) and the Ganges River, and on his forehead the digit of the moon (i.e., the zodiacal belt; the milky way, and the lunar astrological divisions, phases). 8 The sun and the moon are the golden armlets of time, who holds the mundane world in his palm like the paltry plaything of a flower bouquet. 9 The sky with its stars appears like a garment with colored spots. The clouds called Pushkara and Avarta are like the skirts of that garment, washed by time in the waters of the universal deluge.
10 Before him his beloved Destiny with all her arts forever dances to beguile the living who are fond of worldly enjoyments. 11 People hurry up and down to witness the dance of Destiny, whose unrestrained motion keeps them at work, and causes their repeated births and deaths. 12 People of all worlds are studded like ornaments about her person, and the sky stretching from the heaven of gods to the infernal regions serves for the veil on her head. 13 Her feet are planted in the infernal regions, and the hell-pits ring at her feet like trinkets, tied by the string of evil deeds and sins. 14The god Chitragupta has painted her from head to foot with ornamental marks prepared by her attendants, and perfumed with the essence of those deeds. 15 She dances and reels at the nod of her husband at the end of the kalpas, and makes the mountains crack and crash at her foot-falls. 16Behind her dance the peacocks of the god Kumara (Subramanyan) and Kala, the god of death, staring with his three wide open eyes, utters his hideous cries (of destruction).
17 Death dances about in the form of the five-headed Hara (the “Destroyer”, Shiva), with the loosened braids of hair upon him, while Destiny in the form of Gauri (Shiva’s consort), her locks adorned with mandara flowers, keeps her pace with him.
18 In her wardance, this Destiny bears a large gourd representing her big belly, and her body is adorned with hundreds of hollow human skulls jingling like the alms-pots of Kapali mendicants. 19 She has filled the sky with the emaciated skeleton of her body and her terrible, destructive figure. 20 The various shapes of skulls of the dead adorn her body like a beautiful garland of lotuses. They sway to and fro during her dance at the end of a kalpa age.
21 The horrible roaring of the giddy clouds Pushkara and Avarta at the end of the kalpa serves to represent the beating of her damaru drum, and puts to flight the heavenly choir of Tumburu. 22 As death dances along, the moon appears like his earring, and the moonbeams and stars appear like his crest made of peacocks’ feathers. 23 The snow-capped Himalayas appear like a crown of bones in the upper loop of his right ear, and Mount Meru as a golden ring in his left. 24 Under their lobes are suspended the moon and the sun, like pendant earrings glittering over his cheeks. The mountain ranges called the Lokaloka are fastened like chains around his waist.
25 Lightning bolts are the bracelets and armlets of Destiny, which move to and fro as she dances along. The clouds are her dressing gown that fly about her in the air.
26 Death is furnished with many weapons, like clubs, axes, missiles, spears, shovels, mallets and sharp swords, all of which are sure weapons of destruction. 27 Mundane enjoyments are no other than long ropes dropped down by the hand of death that keep all mankind fast bound to the world. He wears the great thread of infinity (ananta) as his wreath of flowers. 28 Death wears the seven oceans as bracelet-belts bracelets resplendent with the living sea-animals and the bright gems contained in their depths. 29 The great vortices of customs, the successions of joy and grief, the excess of pride and the darkness of passions, form the streaks of hair on his body.
30 After the end of the world, he ceases to dance, and creates anew all things from the lowest animal that lives in the earth, to the highest Brahma and Shiva. 31 By turns, Destiny as an actress acts her parts of creation and destruction, diversified by scenes of old age, sorrow and misery.
32 Time repeatedly creates the worlds and their woods, with the different abodes and localities teeming with population. He forms the moveable and immovable substances, establishes customs and again dissolves them, as children make their dolls of clay and break them soon afterwards.
• • •
Chapter 26 — The Acts of Destiny
1 Rama said:— Such being the all destructive conduct of time and others, what confidence, O great sage, can men like me have in them? 2 We all remain here, as slaves sold to Fate and Destiny, and we are deceived by their allurements as beasts of the forest.
3 This Fate whose conduct is so very inhuman is ever eager to devour all beings. He is constantly throwing men into the sea of troubles. 4 He is moved by his malicious attempts to inflame minds with excessive desires, as the fire raises its flames to burn down a house.
5 Destiny, the faithful and obedient wife of Fate, is naturally fickle on account of her being a female. She is always bent on mischief and disturbing patience.
6 As the heinous serpent feeds upon the air, so does cruel Death ever swallow the living. He ripens the body with old age to create his zest, and then devours all animals warm with life. 7 Death is called a relentless tyrant, having no pity even for the sick and weak, nor any regard for anyone in any state of life.
8 Every one in this world is fond of affluence and pleasures, not knowing that these are only calculated to lead him to his ruin. 9 Life is very unsteady. Death is very cruel. Youth is very frail and fickle, and boyhood is full of dullness and unconsciousness. 10 Man is defiled by his worldliness, his friends are ties to the world, his enjoyments are the greatest of his diseases in life, and his greed and ambition are his ever alluring the mirage.
11 Our very senses are our enemies, before which even truth appears as falsehood. The mind is the enemy of the mind and self is the enemy of self. 12 Self-esteem is stained, intelligence is blamed for its deception, our actions are attended with bad results, and our pleasures tend only to effeminacy. 13 All our desires are directed to enjoyments. Our love of truth is lost, our women are the symbols of vice, and all that was once so sweet has become tasteless and vapid. 14 Things that are not real are believed as real. They have become the cause of our pride by hardening us in untruth and keeping us from the light of truth.
15 My mind is at a loss to think what to do. It regrets its increased appetite for pleasure, and for its lack of self-denial.
16 My sight is dimmed by the dust of sensuality. The darkness of self-esteem prevails over me. I am never able to reach purity of mind, and truth is far away from me. 17 Life has become uncertain and death is always advancing near. My patience is disturbed, and there is an increased appetite for whatever is false.
18 The mind is soiled by dullness, and the body is filled with overindulgence in eating and is ready to fall. Old age exults over the body, and sins are conspicuous at every step. 19 Youth flies fast away despite all our care to preserve it. The company of the good is at a distance. The light of truth shines from nowhere, and I can have recourse to nothing in this world.
20 The mind is stupefied within itself, and its contentment has fled. There is no rise of enlightened sentiments in it, and meanness makes the mind’s advance to enlightened sentiments only more distant. 21 Patience is converted into impatience. Man is subject to the states of birth and death. Good company is rare, but bad company is always within everyone’s reach.
22 All individual existences are liable to appear and disappear. All desires are chains to the world, and all worldly beings are constantly seen to be led away to where, necessarily, no one can tell.
23 What reliance can there be on human life when the points of the compass become indistinct and indiscernible, when countries and places change their positions and names, and when even mountains are liable to be dilapidated? 24 What reliance can there be on man when the heavens are swallowed in infinity, when this world is absorbed in nothingness, and the very earth loses her stability? 25 What reliance can there be on men like ourselves when the very seas are liable to be dried up, when the stars are doomed to fade away and disappear, and when the most perfect of beings are liable to dissolution?
26 What reliance can there be on men like us when even the demigods are liable to destruction, when the polar star is known to change its place, and when the immortal gods are doomed to mortality? 27 What reliance can there be on men like us when Indra is doomed to be defeated by demons, when even Death is hindered from his aim, and when air currents cease to move? 28 What reliance can there be on men like us when the very moon is to vanish with the sky, when the very sun is to be split into pieces, and when fire itself is to become frigid and cold?
29 What reliance can there be on men like us when the very gods Hari and Brahma are to be absorbed into the Great One, and when Shiva himself is to be no more? 30 What reliance can there be on men like us when the duration of time comes to be counted, when Destiny is destined to her final destiny, and when all emptiness loses itself in infinity?
31 That which is inaudible, unspeakable, invisible, and unknowable in his real form, displays to us these wonderful worlds by some fallacy. 32No one conscious of himself can disown his subjection to that Being that dwells in the hearts of every one. 33 This sun, the lord of worlds, is compelled to run over hills, rocks and fields, like an inert piece of stone, hurled down from a mountain and carried away by a current stream. 34This globe of earth, the seat of all the suras and asuras and surrounded by a luminous sphere like a walnut is covered by its hard shell, exists under the His command. 35 The gods in the heavens, the men on earth, and the serpents in the nether world are brought into existence and led to decay by His will only. 36 Kama Deva, who is arbitrarily powerful and has forcibly overpowered the entire living world, derives his unconquerable might from the Lord of worlds.
37 As the heated elephant regales the air with his spirituous flowing, so does the spring perfume the air with his profusion of flowers, unsettling the minds of men. 38 So are the loose glances of loving maidens directed to inflict deep wounds in the heart of man, which his best efforts are unable to heal. 39 One whose best endeavor is always to do good to others, and who feels for others’
sorrows, is really intelligent and happy under the influence of his cool judgment.
40 Who can count the number of beings resembling the waves of the ocean, and on whom death has been darting the undersea fire of destruction? 41 All mankind is deluded to entrap themselves in the snare of greed and be afflicted with all evils in life, as the deer entangled in the thickets of a jungle.
42 The duration of human life in this world is being decreased in each generation in proportion to the increase of wicked acts. The desire of pleasure is as vain as the expectation of reaping fruit from a vine growing in the sky. Yet I know not why men of reason would not understand this truth. 43 “This is a day of festivity, a season of joy and a time of procession. Here are our friends. Here are the pleasures and here are a variety of our entertainments.” Thus do men of vacant minds amuse themselves with weaving the web of their desires, until they become extinct.
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Chapter 27 — The Vanity of the World
1 Rama said:— O sage! This seemingly pleasing but actually unpleasant world has nothing in it that produces anything that can afford tranquility to the soul. 2 After playful boyhood is over, the mind wastes itself in the society of women like a deer fallen into a pit, then the body bends down under old age, and man has only to grieve. 3 As the body is stricken with the frost of old age, its beauty flies away like the bloom of a fading lotus flower, and then the fountain of man’s worldliness dries up. 4 As the body declines, death rejoices. The body grows lean with grey hairs upon the head, just as a vine fades away with flowers upon it.
5 All living creatures are carried away by the stream of greed that flows for ever in this world, eroding its bank and upsetting the tree of contentment growing on it. 6 The human body is like a vessel covered with skin floating on the ocean of the world, tossed about by sensual pleasures, swamped by water pressured by its whale-like passions. 7 The world is a wilderness abounding in vines of greed and trees of sensuality, with hundreds of desires as their branches. Our minds are like monkeys that pass their time wandering about this forest without finding fruit.
8 Those who do not yield to grief during troubles, who are not elated with prosperity or smitten at heart by women, are rare in this world. 9Those who fight boldly in battlefields and withstand war-elephants are not so very brave, in my opinion, as those who withstand the surges of the mind amidst the streams of carnal appetites. 10 I see no deeds in the world that endure to the final liberation of men. Actions proceeding from a fool’s desire for results serve only for their restlessness on earth.
11 Men who have filled the corners of the world with their fame and valor, who have filled their houses with true riches acquired by honest means and an unwavering patience, are rare in the world. 12 Good and bad fortune always overtake a man, even if he hides in the cracks of a rock or in the walls of mountains, and even if he were enclosed within an iron closet.
13 Our sons and riches are mere objects of delight to us. To expect them to be of any good to us in the end is as false as to expect any benefit from distilling poison. 14 Old people, in the decline of life, their bodies in pitiful decay, are greatly tormented by thoughts of their bad deeds. 15 Men, having passed their early days in the gratification of their desires and other worldly pursuits at the expense of the acts of virtue and piety, are much troubled with anxieties at the end. Their minds are seized with trembling like the breeze shakes the plumage of a peacock. How then can a man attain tranquility at anytime?
16 To the worldly minded, all wealth — whether forthcoming or unattainable, whether gotten by labor or given by fortune — is as deceitful as the flooding of a river, swelling only to subside. 17 The constant thoughts of men are that such and such desirable acts are to be done to please their sons and wives, until they are worn out with age and become crazy in their minds.
18 Like leaves on trees that grow to fall, and falling make room for others to shoot forth, men devoid of reason die away daily to be born again.19 Men having travelled here and there and far and near, at the end of the day return to their homes. But none can have rest by day or night except the virtuous few who live by honest dealings.
20 After quelling his enemies and getting enough riches in his clutches, a rich man just sits down to enjoy his gains, and death comes upon him to interrupt his joy. 21 The infatuated mob sees the vile trash of worldly gains earned and accumulated by the basest means to be transitory, but they do not perceive their approaching dissolution. 22 Loving their own lives, and making faces at others’
deaths, men are like a herd of sheep bound to the stake, staring at the slaughter of their fellows, yet still feeding themselves to fall as death’s fattened victims. 23 Multitudes of people on earth forever appear and disappear like the waves of a sea. Who can tell from where they come or where they return?
24 Women are as delicate as poisonous vines with their red petal lips and garments, their eyes as busy as fluttering bees.
They are killers of mankind and stealers of their ravished hearts. 25 Men are like passengers in a procession who wander from side to side to join at the place of their meeting. Such is the delusive union of our wives and friends.
26 As the burning and extinguishing of the lamp depend on the wick and its moistening oil, so does our course in this transitory world depend on our acts and affections. Nobody knows the true cause of this mysterious existence. 27 The revolution of the world is like a potter’s wheel and the floating bubbles of rainwater. They appear lasting only to the ignorant observer. 28 The blooming beauty and graces of youth are destined to be snatched away at the approach of old age. The youthful hopes of men fly away like the blooms of lotus buds in winter.
29 The tree ordained to be useful to mankind by the loads of flowers and fruit that it produces, in the end is also fated to be hewn down by a cruel axe. How then can good men expect to avoid the cruel hand of death?
30 Society with relatives is as dangerous as a poisonous plant. It is pleasant for its domestic affections, which in reality are only delusions of the soul. 31 What is there in the world without fault in it? What is there that does not afflict or grieve us? What is born that is not subject to death? What acts are free from deceit?
32 Those living for one kalpa aeon are reckoned short-lived as compared with those living for many kalpa aeons, and they again are short-lived compared to Brahma. Hence all the parts of time are finite and the ideas of length or shortness are all false.
33 Things called mountains are made of rocks, those called trees are made of wood, and those made of flesh are called animals, and man is the best of them. But they are all made of matter and doomed to death and decay. 34 Many things appear to be endowed with intelligence, and the heavenly bodies seem to be full of water. But physicists have found out by analysis that everything is made up of minute matter.
35 No wonder that all this should appear miraculous to the mind because even men’s dreams appear so very fascinating to them.
36 Even in old age, those corrupted by their greed will not accept sermons on their eternal concerns. They think they are as false as a flower or a vine growing in the sky. 37 People’s minds are deluded to want the state of their superiors, but as they try to lay hold of the fruits of a green vine that is out of their reach, they fall still lower, like beasts from the top of a hill.
38 Young men who spend their wealth on personal gratifications are as useless as plants growing in the bowels of a deep and inaccessible cavern, spreading their leaves, branches, flowers, fruit and shade to the use of nobody. 39 Men are found to resemble black antelopes in their wanderings. Some of them wander about the sweet, soft and beautiful sceneries of the country. Others roam in sterile tracts and boundless forests.
40 The diverse daily acts of nature are all inherently pernicious. For a time they appear pleasant and ravishing to the heart, but they are attended with pain in the end, and they fill the mind of the wise with dismay. 41 Man is addicted to greed and is prone to a variety of wicked shifts and plots. Now a good man cannot be found even in a dream. There is no act which is free from difficulty. I know not how to pass this state of human life.
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Chapter 28 — Mutability of the World
1 Rama said:— Whatever we see in the world, living or inert, are all as impermanent as things seen in a dream. 2 The hollow desert that appears as the dried bed of a sea today will be found tomorrow to be a running flood from the accumulation of rainwater. 3 What today is a mountain reaching the sky covered with extensive forests is in course of time leveled to the ground, and afterwards is dug into a pit. 4 The body that today is clothed with garments of silk, decorated with garlands and fragrance, tomorrow is to be cast away naked into a ditch. 5 What is seen to be a city today, busy with the bustle of various occupations, passes in the course of a few days into the condition of an uninhabited wilderness. 6The man who is very powerful today and presides over principalities, in a few days is reduced to a heap of ashes.
7 The very forest that is so formidable today, appearing as blue as the blue skies, with the passage of time turns into a city with its banners hoisted in the air. 8 In time a formidable jungle of thick forests becomes a tableland like Mount Meru. 9 Water becomes land and land becomes water. Thus the world with all its contents composed of wood, grass and water becomes something else in course of time.
10 Our boyhood and youth, bodies and possessions are all only transient things. They change from one state to another like the ever fluctuating waves of the ocean. 11 Our lives in this world are as unsteady as the flame of a lamp placed by the draft of an open window. The splendor of all objects in the three worlds is as flickering as the flash of lightning.
12 As a granary stored with heaps of grains is exhausted by its continued waste, so is the stock of life spent away by its repeated respirations.
13 The minds of man are as fluctuating as a flag waving in the air. They are filled with the dust of sin, indicating their wavering between the paths of heaven and hell. 14 The existence of this delusive world is like an actress on the stage, shuffling her vests as she trudges along in her dancing. 15 Its scenes are as changing and fascinating as those of a magic city. Its dealings are as bewitching and momentary as the glances of a juggling girl. 16 The stage of the world presents us with a scene of continued dancing, and the deceptive glances of her eyes resemble the fleeting flashes of lightning.
17 The days of great men, their glories and deeds, are retained only in our memories and in a short time, such must be with us also. 18 Many things are decaying and renewing day by day. In this ever-changing world there is no end to this accursed course of events. 19 Men degenerate into lower animals, and those again rise to humanity. Gods become no-gods. There is nothing that remains the same.
20 The sun’s rays reveal everything in light and it watches over the rotations of days and nights. Like time, it is a witness to the dissolution of all things. 21 The gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and all material productions are reduced to nothing, like an undersea fire that exists under the waters of the deep. 22 Heaven, earth, the air, the sky, the mountains, the rivers, and all the quarters of the globe are subject to destruction like dry fuel by the all-destroying fire of the last day.
23 Riches and relatives, friends, servants and wealth are of no pleasure to him who is in constant dread of death. 24 All these are delightful to a sensible man only so long as the monster of death does not appear before the eye of his mind. 25 We have prosperity at one moment, succeeded by adversity at another. We have health at one time, followed by sickness soon after. 26 What intelligent being is there who is not misled by these delusions of the world which show things other than what they are and serve to bewilder the mind?
27 The world is as varying as the face of the skies. One moment it is as black as dark clay, and the next it is bright with the golden colors of fair light. 28 It is now overcast by blue clouds resembling the blue lotuses of a lake. It roars loudly for a time and then suddenly is dumb and silent. 29Now it is studded with stars, then glowing with the glory of the sun, then graced by the pleasant moonbeams, and finally no light at all. 30 Who is there so sedate and firm that he is not terrified at these sudden appearances and disappearances, at the momentary durations and final dissolution of worldly things? 31 What is the nature of this world in which we are overtaken by adversity at one moment and elated by prosperity at another, where one is born at one time and dies at another?
32 One that was something else before is born as a man in this life, then is changed to another state in course of a few days. Thus there is no being that remains steadily in the same state. 33 A pot is made of clay, and cloth is made of cotton, and they are still the same dull materials of which they are composed. Thus there is nothing new in this world that was not seen or known before. There is nothing that does not change its form. 34 The acts of creation and destruction, of diffusion, production and preservation follow one another like the revolutions of day and night appear to man.
35 Sometimes it happens that a weak man slays a hero, or one individual kills hundreds. So also a commoner becomes a noble man. Thus everything is changeful in this varying world. 36 These bodies of men are always changing their states and are like bodies of waters rising and falling in waves whipped by the motion of winds. 37 Boyhood lasts only a few days, then it is succeeded by youth which is as quickly followed by old age. If there is no identity for the same person, how can one rely on the uniformity of external objects?
38 The mind that gets delighted one moment, becomes dejected in the next, then assumes its equanimity at another is indeed as changeful as an actor. 39 The creator, who in his work of creation is ever turning one thing into another, is like a child who makes and breaks his doll without concern. 40 The actions of producing and harvesting, of feeding and destroying, come by turns to mankind like the rotation of day and night. 41Neither adversity nor prosperity is of long duration with worldly people. They are ever subject to appearance and disappearance by turns.
42 Time is a skilful player and plays many parts with ease. But he is chiefly skilled in tragedy and he often plays his tragic part in the affairs of men. 43 All beings, according to their past good and bad deeds, are produced like fruit in the great forest of the universe. Time like a gust of wind blasts them day by day before their maturity.
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Chapter 29 — Unreliability of Worldly Things
Rama speaking:— 1 Thus my heart is consumed by the wildfire of those great worldly evils, and there rises in me no desire of enjoying them, as there rises no mirage from a lake. 2 My existence on earth gets bitter day by day, and though I have got some experience in it, yet its associations have made me as sour as the neem plant by its immersion in water. 3 I see wickedness on the increase and righteousness on the decline in the mind of man, which like the sour karanja (crab fruit) becomes more sour every day. 4 Every day I see honor being eaten up by men arguing with each other, using harsh words as they crack nuts with their teeth.
5 Equally prejudicial to our welfare is too much eagerness for royalty and worldly enjoyments. We loose our future prospects by the former, and our present happiness by the latter. 6 I take no delight in my gardens nor have any pleasure in women. I feel no joy at the prospect of riches, but I enjoy solace in my own heart and mind. 7 Frail are the pleasures of the world, and greed is altogether intolerable. The bustle of business has broken down my heart, and I know not where to find tranquility.
8 Neither do I praise death or love my life. I remain as I do, devoid of all anxiety and care.
9 What do I have to do with a kingdom and all its enjoyments? Of what avail are riches to me, and what is the end of all our exertions? All these are only the requirements of self-love from which I am entirely free. 10 The chain of births is a bond that binds all men by its strong knots of the senses. The best of men are those striving to break loose from this bondage for their liberation.
11 These haughty maidens whom the god of love employs to ravage the hearts of men resemble a group of elephants trampling a lotus bed under their feet. 12 Curing the mind with pure reason is neglected in youth. Afterwards with age, the mind is hard to heal and admits of no cure.
13 The worldliness of man is his true poison, while real poison is no poison to him. It is the poison of worldliness that destroys his future life, while real poison is only locally injurious to him. 14 Neither pleasure nor pain, nor friends nor relatives, not even life and death can bind a mind that has received the light of truth.
15 O brahmin, the best of the learned, teach me the art of the mysteries of past and future. Teach me so that I may soon become like one devoid of grief and fear and worldly troubles so that I may have the light of truth beaming upon me.
16 The forest of ignorance is laid over with the snare of desire. It is full of the thorns of misery, and it is the dreadful seat of destruction and the danger of repeated births. 17 I would suffer myself to be put under the jaws of Death, with his rows of saw-like teeth, but I cannot bear the deadly pains of worldly cares and anxieties.
18 It is a gloomy error in this world to think, “I have this and have not the other.” It serves to toss our minds about, like a gust of wind disperses dust. 19 It is the thread of greed that links together all living beings like a garland of pearls. The mind serves to twirl this chain, but pure consciousness sits quietly observing its rotation.
20 I who am devoid of desires would like to break this ornamental chain of worldliness that hangs about me like a deadly serpent, like a lion tears apart a net. 21 O most learned sage, scatter the mist that has clouded the forest of my heart. By the light of true knowledge, scatter the darkness that has overcast my mind. 22 There are no anxieties, O sage, which cannot be put to an end by the company of good minded men. The darkness of night is dispelled by moonbeams.
23 Life is as fickle as a drop of water in a mass of clouds blown by the winds. Our enjoyments are as unsteady as lightning flashing in the clouds. The pleasures of youth are as slippery as water. With these reflections in my mind, I have subdued them all under the province of peace and tranquility.
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Chapter 30 — Self-Disparagement
1 Seeing the world swallowed up in the abyss of hundreds of rising dangers and difficulties, my mind is immersed in a mire of anxieties. 2 My mind wanders everywhere and I am struck with fear at everything. My limbs shake with fear like the leaves of a withered tree. 3 My mind is bewildered by impatience for its lack of true contentment, just as a young woman alone in a desert is afraid without her strong handed husband.
4 The thoughts of my mind are entangled in my desire for worldly enjoyments, like stags caught in a pit covered with grass. 5 The senses of an unreasonable man are always running astray to the wrong and never turning to the right way. The eyes of a blind man lead him to fall into a pit. 6Human thoughts are linked to the animal soul like consorts to their lords. They can neither sit idly nor ramble at liberty, but must remain as wives under the control of their husbands.
7 My patience is almost worn out, like that of a vine under winter frost. It is decayed and neither lives nor perishes at once. 8 Our minds are partly settled on worldly things and partly fixed on their Giver. This divided state of the mind is called its half-waking condition. 9 My mind is in a state of suspense, being unable to ascertain the real nature of my soul. I am like one in the dark who sees a tree stump in the distance and is deceived to think it a human figure. 10 Our minds are naturally fickle and wandering all about the earth. They cannot forsake their restlessness, as the vital airs cannot exist without being in motion.
11 Tell me, O sage, what state of life is dignified above others, is not associated with troubles, is unqualified by the conditions of humanity, is apart from errors, and in which grief is unknown? 12 How have Janaka and other good men, conspicuous for their ceremonious acts and distinguished for their good conduct, acquired their excellence? 13 O
source of my honor, how can a man be cleansed who has smeared the dirt of worldliness all over his body? 14 Tell me what is the knowledge by which the serpents of worldliness can be freed from their worldly crookedness and become straight in their conduct? 15 Tell me how the foulness of my heart, soiled by errors and tainted with evils, like a lake disturbed by elephants and polluted with dirt, can regain its clarity? 16 How is it possible for someone engaged in worldly affairs to be untainted with its blemishes and remain as pure and intact as a drop of water on a lotus leaf? 17 How can one attain excellence by dealing with others as with himself, and regarding others’ property to be like straw, and remaining aloof from love?
18 Who is that great man that has crossed the great ocean of the world, whose exemplary conduct exempts one from misery? 19 What is the best of things that ought to be pursued, and what fruit is worth obtaining? Which is the best course of life in this inconsistent world?
20 Tell me how I can have knowledge of past and future events of the world, and the nature of the unsteady works of its Creator. 21 Do so, that my mind which is like the moon in the sky of my heart may be cleared of its impurities. 22 Tell me what is most delectable to the mind, and what is the most abominable, and how this fickle and inconstant mind may become fixed like a rock. 23 Tell me what is that holy charm that can remove this choleric pain of worldliness attended with numberless troubles? 24 Tell me how can I entertain the blossoms of the tree of heavenly happiness within my heart that sheds the coolness of full moonbeams.
25 O you good men who are present here and learned in divine knowledge, teach me so that I may obtain the fullness of my heart and may not come to grief and sorrow anymore. 26 My mind is devoid of that tranquility which results chiefly from holy happiness. My mind is perplexed with endless doubts that disturb my peace like dogs molest smaller animals in the desert.
• • •
Chapter 31 — Rama’s Questions
1 Rama said:— I have no trust in the durability of life which is as transient as a drop of water on the edge of a shaking leaf on a lofty tree, and as short as the cusp of the moon on Shiva’s forehead. 2 I have no faith in the durability of life which is transient as the swelling in the pouch of a frog as it croaks in the meadow. Nor do I have any trust in the company of friends which is as dangerous as the treacherous traps of hunters.
3 What can we do under the misty cloud of errors that raise our tempestuous desires flashing forth in lightning bolts of ambition and bursting out in the thunder claps of selfishness? 4 How shall we save ourselves from the temptations of our desires that dance around us like peacocks? How shall we save ourselves from the bustle of the world that breaks in on us as thickly as the blossoms of the kurchi plant? 5 How can we fly from the clutches of cruel Fate who, like a cat in the twinkling of an eye, suddenly springs upon his prey and kills the living as if they were poor mice? 6 To what expedient, what course, what reflections, and what refuge must we have recourse in order to avoid the unknown tracks of future lives?
7 There is nothing so trifling in this earth below or in the heavens above which you gifted men cannot raise to consequence. 8 How can one relish this accursed, troublesome and vapid world unless he is infatuated by ignorance? 9 It is the fusion of desires that produces the milky beverage of contentment and fills the earth with delights like spring adorns it with flowers.
10 Tell me, O sage, how the mist of our desires, which darkens the moon of our intellects, is to be dispelled from our minds to make it shine forth in its full brightness. 11 How are we to deal with this wilderness of the world, knowing well that it is destructive both of our present and future interests? 12 Who is there who moves about in this ocean of the earth and who is not buffeted by the waves of his passions and diseases, and by the currents of his enjoyments and prosperity?
13 Tell me, O best of sages, how one who has fallen into the furnace of this earth may escape unburned like mercury. 14 How can one be rid of the world when it is impossible for him to avoid dealing with it, in the same manner as it is impossible for aquatic animals to live without their native element? 15 Even our good deeds are not without affection and hatred, pleasure and pain, just like no flame is unaccompanied by its power of burning.
16 Without right reasoning, it is impossible to restrain the mind from thinking on worldly matters, so therefore deign to communicate to me the dictates of sound reason for my guidance. 17 Give me the best instruction for warding off miseries, either by confronting or renouncing the affairs of life. 18 Tell me about that man of enlightened understanding who attained the highest state of holiness and tranquility of his mind, and the deeds and manner by which he achieved the same. 19 Tell me, good sage, how the ancient saints fled out of the reach of misery so that I may learn the same to suppress my false conceptions. 20 Or, if there be no such knowledge in existence or, if there is, whether it is to be kept secret from to me.
21 Should I fail to attain that highest state of tranquility, then I must remain inactive and avoid my sense of egoism altogether. 22 I will refrain from eating and drinking even water, and from clothing myself. I will cease from all my actions of bathing and making my offerings, as also from my diet and the like. 23 I will attend to no duty, nor care about prosperity or calamity. I will be free from all desires except that of the abandonment of this body. 24 I must remain aloof from all fears, sympathies, selfish feelings and emulation, and continue to sit quietly as a figure in painting. 25 I will gradually do away with the inspiration and respiration of my breath and outward sensations until I part with this trifle, the seat all of troubles, this the so called body.
26 I do not belong to this body, nor does it belong to me, nor is anything else mine. I shall be null and void like a lamp without oil and abandon everything to do with this body.
27 Valmiki said:— Then Rama, who was as lovely as the moon and whose mind was well filled with reasoning, became silent before the assemblage of eminent men, like a peacock, in awe, ceases his screaming before gathering clouds.
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Chapter 32 — Praise for Rama’s Speech
1 Valmiki said:—
When Prince Rama concluded his speech, calculated to remove all ignorance from the mind, 2 all men in the assembly had their eyes beaming with wonder. The hairs on their bodies stood erect and pierced through their garments as if wishing to hear the speech. 3 For a moment, after their stoic detachment and in their eagerness, the assembly seemed to have lost their worldly desires and be rolling in a sea of nectar. 4 The audience remained motionless, like figures in a painting, enraptured with internal delight having heard the sweet words of fortunate Rama.
5 There were Vasishta and Vishwamitra with other sages, and prime minister Jayanta and other royal counselors then seated in that assembly.6 There were also King Dasharata and his subordinate kings, citizens and foreign delegates, chieftains and princes, together with brahmins and men learned in the Vedas and divine knowledge. 7 These accompanied by their friends and allies, with birds in their cages and royal antelopes and steeds about the palace, had listened to Rama with fixed and mute attention. 8 Likewise Queen Kausalya and other ladies adorned with their best jewels were seated at the windows, all mute and motionless.
9 Besides these, the birds on the trees and vines of the princely pleasure garden were listening to Rama without fluttering their wings or making any motion or sound. 10 Also present were masters and aerial beings, tribes of celestial musicians (gandharvas and kinnaras), together with Narada, Vyasa and Pulapa, the lords of the sages. 11 There were also some of the gods and chiefs of gods, demigods (vidyadharas) and the divine cobras (naagas) who heard Rama’s speech full of meaning and clarity.
12 Rama, his eyes beautiful as lotuses, his face lovely as the moon, the star in the sky of Raghu’s family, held his silence.
13 From heaven, divine beings showered flowers upon him with loud cheers and blessings. 14 People in the assembly were delighted with the sweet scent and beauty of these flowers from paradise filled with humming bees. 15 When blown into the air by the breeze of heaven, these flowers appeared like clusters of stars, which after their fall, brightened the ground with their beauty like the beaming smiles of heavenly maids. 16They appeared like raindrops falling from clouds, ablaze with the light of silent lightning, and scattering like balls of fresh butter. 17 They also resembled particles of snowballs, like the beads of a necklace made of pearls, like beams of
moonlight, like small waves in a sea of milk, or like drops of ice-cream. 18 Flowers were carried by the loose and sweet winds of heaven, some lotuses with long filaments attended by clusters of bees humming and flying about them. 19 Among them were heaps of ketaki, kairava, kunda and blue lotus flowers falling and shining brightly. 20 These flowers covered the court hall, the roofs of houses and their courtyards. Men and women in the city raised their heads to behold them falling. 21 The sky remained quite unclouded as flowers fell constantly from above. A sight like this, never before seen, struck people with wonder. 22 The shower of flowers fell for quarter of an hour, but the masters from whose hands they fell were unseen all the while.
23 When the falling of flowers ceased, after the assembly was covered with them, they heard the following words from the divine beings in the sky, 24 “We have been travelling everywhere in bodies as spiritual masters (siddhas) from the beginning of creation, but nowhere have we ever heard any speech as sweet as this. 25 Even the gods such as ourselves have never heard such a magnanimous speech of detachment as Rama, the moon of Raghu’s race, has just now spoken. 26 We account ourselves truly blessed to have heard today this highly charming and wonderful speech from the mouth of Rama himself.
27 Indeed we are awakened and edified by attending diligently to Rama’s truly excellent speech on the ambrosial bliss of asceticism, and leading to the highest joy of men.”
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Chapter 33 — Association of Celestial & Earthly Beings
1 The spiritual masters (siddhas) said, “It behooves us to hear the decision of the great sages in reply to the holy sermon delivered by the chief of Raghu’s race. 2 Come forward, you great chiefs of the sages, you Narada, Vyasa, Pulaha and all you other great sages, and be ready. 3 Let us descend to the full open court of Dasharata, which is as bright as gold and free from stain, like bees alighting on an immaculate, golden lotus.
4 Valmiki said:— So saying, the whole company of divine sages left their celestial abode for that court. 5 There Narada, the chief of sages, sat foremost playing on his lute. In the midst was Vyasa with his dark blue complexion resembling a rainy cloud. 6 Moreover, the court was adorned with the presences of the chief sages Bhrigu, Angiras, Pulastya and others, with Chyavana, Uddalaka, Usira, Saraloman and many more with them.
7 Their deer skin garments hung loosely as they embraced one another. Their rudraksha beads moved in one hand, and their water pots shook in the other. 8 Their bodies shed a luster in the royal assembly-hall resembling the yellow starlight, like the beams of so many suns blazing upon one another. 9 They appeared like a shower of moonbeams or like a halo about the full moon, or like a circle about the orb of the sun out of its season. 10 They looked like a circlet of gems of varied colors, or like a necklace of pearls of great luster.
11 At the place where he sat, Vyasa appeared to be like dark cloud amidst the stars. Narada on his seat seemed like the white orb of the moon among stars. 12 Here Pulastya shone like Indra among the gods, and there Angira blazed like the sun amidst heavenly bodies.
13 On seeing the body of masters descending from the sky to the earth, the entire court of King Dasharata rose up to greet them. 14 There was a mixed assemblage of the celestial and earthly sages, whose commingled glory spread a luster to the ten sides of the court.
15 Some of them held bamboo sticks in their hands and others had lotuses in theirs. Some had put sacred grass in their crests, while others had inserted some gems in the braids of their hair. 16 Some had matted and tawny brown hairs on their heads, and others wore garlands of flowers on theirs. Some had strings of beads for their bracelets and others wore wristlets made of jasmine flowers. 17 Some were clothed in tatters, and others wore garments made of bark, while yet others wore clothes of silk. Some were girt with girdles of grass and skin about their waists, and others wore waistbands with pendant strings of pearl.
18 Vasishta and Vishwamitra honored the celestials one by one with respectful offerings, water and courteous address. 19 The great body of the celestials also honored Vasishta and Vishwamitra in their turn, with water and offerings worthy of them, and with polite speeches. 20 The king also honored the gods and the body of the spiritual masters, who in return greeted the monarch with inquiries about his welfare. 21 Then the heavenly and earthly saints exchanged greetings with one another with cordial welcomes and gestures, and were all seated afterwards on seats made of kusa grass. 22 They next honored Rama, who lay bowing before them, with gentle words and congratulations accompanied with offerings of flowers.
23 Seated in that assembly were the sages Vishwamitra, Vasishta, Vama Deva and the ministers of state. 24 Also there were Narada, the son of Brahma, Vyasa, the greatest of sages, Marichi, Durvasa and Angira. 25 Kratu, Pulastya, Pulaha, Saraloma, the great sage Vatsayana, Bharadwaja, and Valmiki the great bard and sage, were all there, 26 as were Uddalaka, Richika, Sarjati as well as Chyavana. 27 These and many others versed in the various branches of the Vedas, knowing all things worth knowing, were the leading members of that assembly.
28 Then Narada and others joined with Vishwamitra and Vasishta in addressing Rama, who was sitting silent with his face turned downwards. They said, 29 “We admire the prince’s blessed and graceful speech dignified with the spirit of detachment that breathes through the whole of it. 30 It is full of thought. It is perspicuous, elegant, clear, dignified, sweet and worthy of noble minded men by its lucid style and lack of faults. 31 Who is not struck with admiration at Rama’s speech? It expresses his thoughts well, correct in its diction, plain, sweet and agreeable to all.”
32 “It is rare to find one man among a hundred who is so eloquent, combining dignity and force with clarity and sweetness such that they command the admiration of all. 33 Who has such a clear head as our prince, a head that is as penetrating as the best pointed arrow, and as fruitful and beautiful as a creeping vine plant? 34 He is truly a man whose intellectual light, like that of Rama, burns like the flame of a lamp within himself and enlightens all about him.”
35 “Man’s blood, flesh and bones serve as machines to supply him with sensations of external objects, but there is no intelligence in them. 36Life and death, old age and troubles, repeatedly overtake every man, but they are beasts who are so infatuated that they never to think of these. 37There is scarcely any man to be seen who has an understanding as clear as Rama, who can use the past to judge the future. 38 Rama is the most excellent, admirable, useful and well shaped person among men, like the mango tree among the many useful plants. 39 It is only today that we see a man of Rama’s age having acquired so much experience of the world and who is so extraordinarily mature in understanding.”
40 “In every place there are many trees found growing that are beautiful to see, easy to climb, and abundant in flowers and leaves, but there is no tree of paradise growing on earth. 41 In every forest trees grow with good flowers and leaves, but the extraordinary and fair clove tree is not always to be found. 42 Rama has displayed the wonder of his knowledge, like the moon displays her cooling beams, and good trees their clusters of blossoms, and like flowers diffuse their fragrance all about. 43 It is very difficult to get the essence of true knowledge in this accursed world constructed by the uncontrollable and dominant predestination (of our past acts).”
44 “Only those are reckoned the best of men and leaders of the good who try their best to gain the essence of truth, and whose minds are fixed on glory as their best treasure. 45 We do not see anyone in all this world equal to Rama in discrimination and magnanimity, nor shall there be one like him in future. This is our firm conviction.”
46 “If this speech of Rama which has filled every one here with admiration fails to get a reply to the satisfaction of Rama’s mind, it is certain that all of us here must pass for senseless sages.”
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YOGA VASISHTA MAHA RAMAYANA
BOOKI – DETACHMENT-VAIRAAGYA KHANDA