Chapter 203 — Valmiki Describes the Noon Sun; Assembly Retires; — Dasharata’s Largesse; Sunrise; Assembly Reconvenes

Valmiki related:—

As Rama and the sage were talking in this manner, the sun advanced towards its zenith to listen to their holy conversation in the royal hall. Sunbeams spread on all sides with greater force and brightness as if to expose the sense of Rama’s speech to clearer and greater light. Then the lotus beds in the ponds of the royal palace pleasure gardens began to expand their enclosed buds to bloom before him, just as the princes shone forth brightly the royal hall. The air was gladdened with joy at hearing the holy lectures of the sage. The air seemed to be dancing with the sunbeams, glistening in strings of pearls suspended at the windows of the palace. The early gleams of the sun brightly glistened on the glittering glass doors and shining ceiling lights of the court hall, just as the gladdened hearts of the audience glowed in response to the sage’s enlightening speech.

After Rama was settled in his calmness, his face reflected the rays of the sage’s look upon it and shone as bright as a blooming blue lotus. The sun advanced towards the summit of the horizon, like an ocean fire rising on the surface of the blue ocean, and by his darting flames dried up the dewy humidity of the sky, just as an undersea heat swallows the waters of the deep. The blue sphere of heaven appeared like a lake of blue lotuses and the shining sun looked like the golden petals of the flower. His bright beams resembled the golden powder of flowers and his slanting rays were like the slanting flowers in the air. He shone like the dazzling crown upon the head of the goddess Lakshmi, queen of the worlds, and was hanging like a resplendent earring pendant on the ear of heaven, while the crown lay hidden under his glaring light like bits of diamonds concealed under the brightness of a blazing ruby. 10 The ethereal maids of all the quarters of heaven held out the mirrors of silvery clouds before his face, their uplifted arms of the mountain peaks all around, and these were adorned with solar rays like rainless clouds on mountain tops. 11 Sunstones in the quarries on earth emitted a fury blaze which adorned the skies with a greater light than that of the sun.

12 Trumpets sounded aloud with the wind blown by the months of trumpeters, and conch shells blew as loudly at midday, just as the winds of the last deluge set sea waves to their tremendous uproar. 13 Then drops of sweat appeared on the faces of the princes, like dew drops falling on lotus leaves. They were so closely connected together as to appear like strings of pearls. 14 The thickening noise of the hurry and flurry of men resounded harshly within the hollow walls of the hall filling the ears of men like crashing waves fill the curved depression of the hollow sea. 15 Waiting maids came forward with cups of liquid camphor in their hands to sprinkle on the princes’ bodies and reduce the intensity of the solar heat.

16 Then the assembly broke, and the king rose from his seat accompanied by Rama, the princes and Vasishta, together with all the lords and nobles present in the assembly. 17 The assembled lords and princes, the ministers of the state and religion, together with the high priests and sages rose from their seats. Having gladly made their greetings to one another, they took their leave and departed to their respective homes.

18 The front of the royal inner apartment was fanned with flapping fans of palm leaves blowing clouds of camphor powder scattered for reducing the midday heat. 19 Then the chief of sages, Vasishta, opened his mouth and spoke to Rama while the instrumental compositions of noonday music resounded amidst the walls of the royal hall.

20 Vasishta said:—

Rama, you have heard whatever is worth hearing. You also know all that is worth knowing. Now I see there is nothing left worth communicating to you for your higher knowledge. 21 Now you have to reconcile in yourself, by your best understanding, all that I have taught you and what you have read and learnt in the scriptures, and harmonize the whole for your guidance.

22 Now rise to do your duties while I hasten to perform sacred bathing rites. It is now midday and the proper time for our bathing is quickly passing away. 23 Then whatever other questions you may have to satisfy your wishes, you can ask them of me tomorrow morning when I shall be happy to elaborate on the subject.

24 Valmiki related:—

After the sage spoke in this manner, mighty King Dasharata saluted the parting chiefs and sages, honoring them according to their proper ranks and degrees. 25 Then, as advised by Vasishta, the virtuous king with Rama by his side proceeded to give due honors to the sages, spiritual masters and brahmins, one after the other. 26 He gave them gems and jewels, money and bouquets of flowers. He gave some riches equivalent to the values of gems and jewels, while to others he gave strings and necklaces of pearls. 27 He honored some with his respects and deference and others with money suited to their worth and degree. To others he gave gifts of cloths and seats, food and drink, and gold and lands. 28 He saluted others with perfumes and aromatic spices and wreaths of flowers. He honored the elders with due respect and gave his bare regards to others.

29 Then the king rose from amidst the assembly with the whole body of his courtiers and the holy sages and Vasishta with him, just as the splendid moon rises in the sky with the retinue of stars about him. 30 The rising of the assembly and its people was attended with a rumbling noise like that heard when men tread over a marsh of knee-deep mud and mire. 31 The clashing of the concourse against one another and the cracking of their armlets and wristlets by their friction with each other, joined with broken jewels and scattered pearls slipped from the nobles’ torn necklaces, gave the floor of the court hall the appearance of the star sparkling heaven. 32 Bodies of sages, saints, brahmins, princes and nobles all jumbled together. There was a rapid waving of chowry fans waving in the hands of fanning maid servants. 33 But there was no crowding or dashing or pushing as they were intent upon reflecting upon the sense of the sage’s preaching. Rather, when they came in contact with each other, they asked to be excused with the gestures of their bodies.

34 At last the king and the sages and nobles approached one another with sweet and soft words and took their parting leave. 35 Then they left the palace and proceeded to their residences with gladdened faces and contented minds, as when the immortals return to all parts of heaven from the heavenly council of King Indra. 36 After everyone had taken leave of others and arrived at their respective houses, they employed themselves in the discharge of their ritual services of the day. 37 Thus the king and all performed their daily ritual bathing and services as usual, until the end of the day.

38 As the day ended with the discharge of the duties of the daily ritual, the tired sun, the traveler of the ethereal path, sat down to rest in the west. 39 After performing evening prayers, Prince Rama and the people at large passed their nights awake talking and thinking about the discourse of the day. 40 Then the rising sun advanced in the east, sweeping away the dust of darkness from before his path, scattering the starry flowers on his way in order to fix his seat in the middle of his dome of the universe. 41 The new rising sun reddened the skies with his rays resembling the crimson color of kusambha flowers. Then he embarked on the board of his bright globe amidst the wide ocean of the ethereal region.

42 Then the reigning princes and lords of men, together with the nobles, peers and their ministers, met at the assembly hall of King Dasharata. The great saints and sages, with Vasishta at their head, also gathered there. 43 They entered the assembly hall and took their seats according to their different degrees and ranks, just as the stars of heaven appear and occupy their places in their respective constellations and circles in the expanse of heaven. 44 Then the king and his ministers advanced and bowed down to Vasishta and ushered him to his high seat and pulpit. They all poured forth their praises to the sage after he was seated in the speaking pulpit.

45 Now the lotus-eyed Rama, who sat before the king and the holy sage, opened his lotus-like mouth and spoke in the following manner, with his natural good sense and usual elegance of speech. 46 Rama said, “O venerable sage who is acquainted with all religions and is the great ocean of knowledge, you are the axe to all knotty questions and doubts, removing the grief and fears of mankind. 47 Please tell us whatever more is worth hearing and knowing, for you know best whatever remains to be said for the enlightenment of our knowledge.”

48 Vasishta replied, “Rama, you have gained full knowledge and you have nothing more to learn. You have attained the perfection of your understanding and obtained the supreme good which is sought by all, wherewith you are quite content in yourself. 49 It is better if you consider and tell me how you find yourself and your inner mind at present, and consider what else you wish to know and hear from me.”

50 Rama asked, “O sage, I find myself fully perfected in my understanding. I am possessed of the peace and tranquility of my mind from the blessing of nirvana and the ultimate bliss of my soul. I have nothing to ask or desire of you. 51 You have said all that you had to teach me and I have known all that is worth knowing. Now sage, take your rest with the goddess of speech, who has done her utmost to instruct us all. 52 I have known the unknown and knowable one that is the only One to be known as the true reality. Knowing this all as the one Brahman, I am freed from my knowledge of duality. I have gotten rid of the deception of the diversity of the visible and I am released from reliance upon any worldly thing.