Chapter 10 — The Melancholy of Rama

Valmiki related:—

After Vasishta finished speaking, King Dasharata was glad to send for Rama and his brother Lakshman, saying, “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.”

Thus sent by the king, the chamberlain went to the inner apartment. After some moments, he returned and informed the king, “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. 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.”

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. On being asked by the king how Rama had come to that state, the attendant replied in a sorrowful mood, “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. 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. 23 He 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.’ 31 He 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. 33 Should 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?”