Chapter 214 — Description of the Great Celebration

Valmiki related:—

As the sage finished saying these things, the celestials sounded their trumpets from heaven and the clouds showered nectar-like rain. The face of the sky was whitened everywhere, as is if by snowdrifts in hoary winter, and the surface of the earth was covered by rain dropping like showers of flowers. Earth appeared to be blessed with prosperity in the beauty of flowers stretching their pistils and stalks, like beautiful women with their evening decorations, and sending far away the fragrance of their powdery dust, like the perfume on the bodies of fairies. Their outer ornaments and inner cool sweetness are truly gifts of the gods. The rampant hurricane of heaven made flowers fall from the dried branches of heavenly trees. Vying with the glittering stars, the flowers scattered all over the face of the sky, laughing with bashful and blushing smiles. Then clouds descended upon the assembly hall with sounds of trumpets, drizzling raindrops and falling flowers, like snow falling on Himalaya’s head, filling the assembly with wonder, gaping mouths and staring eyes.

The assembly seated in their order, took handfuls of these heavenly flowers and poured them upon Vasishta with their obeisance, casting away all their earthly cares and sorrows with those celestial offerings to the sage.

King Dasharata said, “O wonder that we are so lightly released of our cares and sorrows in this wide extended vale of miseries of the world. Our souls are now lightened of their pain by your grace, like the heavy clouds lightened of their weight and at last floating lightly on the Himalayas. We have reached the goal of our acts and we have seen the end of our miseries in this life. We have fully known the knowable one and we have found our rest in that supreme state.”

“We know to rest in the ultimate void in our meditation and to get rid of our false thoughts of bodies by our intense application to the abstract, by ridding ourselves from the inventions and wanderings of our imagination, by escaping from the hot passion for the sights of this dream world, by ceasing to mistake the shells of clams for silver, by our deliverance from falsely judging ourselves as dead either in our sleep or dream, 10 by our knowledge that the wind and its movement are identical and water is the same as its fluidity, by our distrust in this magical world and fairyland of our fancy, 11 by our disbelief in the magical scenes of this world and the aerial castles of fairies, by our mistrust of water in a mirage, gardens in the sky, and double moons of heaven, 12 by knowing it is no earthquake if our tottering footsteps should shake and slip in our drunkenness, and by not seeing a ghost in a shadow as children do, or seeing the braids of hair hanging down from the clouds in heaven. 13 Sage, from these and other examples that you have given for our instruction, you have suddenly erased our belief in the visible sights of this world.”

14 Rama added, “My ignorance is dispelled. I have come to the knowledge of truth by your good grace. O chief of sages, I acknowledge you as having brought me from impenetrable darkness to light. 15 I am freed from my doubts and set to the light of the true nature of God. Now I will act as you say, acknowledging the transparent truth (of viewing God as manifest in nature). 16 Remembering and reconsidering your words, so filled with ambrosial sweetness and full of delightful taste, I am filled with fresh delight, though already satisfied and refreshed by their sense.”

17 “I have nothing to do for myself at present, nor is there anything left for me to do. I am as I am and have ever been, always without any craving for myself. 18 What way can there be to our true bliss other than what you have shown? Otherwise, I find this wide-extended field of the earth is full of only sorrow and misery. 19 I have no foe to annoy me or a friend to give me any joy. I have no field to work in, no enemy to fear, and no good soul to rely upon. Our misunderstanding makes this world appear so troublesome, while our good sense makes it all agreeable.”

20 “How could we know all this without your good grace? It is never possible for a boy to cross over a river without the assistance of a boat or a bridge.”

21 Lakshman said, “I have come to know the truth today through your divine sermon, holy sage. You have removed the doubts that had been inherent and inherited in my repeated births. All this is by virtue of the merit I acquired in former births. I feel the radiance of a holy light in me, shining as brightly as the cooling beams of moonlight. 22 It is strange that men disregard this heavenly bright light and become entangled in a thousand errors to be burnt in the end like dried wood by their foul mistake and great misfortune.”

23 Vishwamitra said, “Through our great merit we have heard this holy lecture from the mouth of the sage which has cleansed our inner souls like a thousand baths in the clear stream of the Ganges.”

24 Rama said, “We have seen the highest peak of all prosperity and the best of all that is to be seen. We have known the end of all learning and the last extremity of adversity. We have seen many countries and heard many speeches, but never have we heard or seen or known anything better than the discourse on the beauty of the soul which the sage has shown to us today.”

25 Narada added, “Today our ears are purified from hearing what we have never heard before, whether preached by Brahma, the gods above, or men below.”

26 Lakshman replied, “Sage, you have entirely dispelled all our inner and outer darkness. You have shown us the transcendent light of the bright sun of the Divine Soul.”

27 Satrughna said, “I am satisfied and tranquilized and thought free in the Supreme Soul. I am forever full and perfect in myself. I sit quite content with my singleness.”

28 Dasharata repeated, “By the merit of our deeds of repeated lives, O chief of sages, we have been sanctified this day by your sacred and sanctifying speech.”

29 Valmiki related:—

As the king and his courtiers were speaking this way, the sage opened his mouth again and spoke words filled with pure and purifying knowledge. 30 Vasishta said, “Hear me, O moonlike king of Raghu’s race, and do as I ask. Rise now and honor the assembled brahmins who deserve their due honor at the close of a discourse. 31 Rise therefore and satisfy their desires with your plentiful gifts. Thereby you will obtain the merit that attends on the learning of the Vedas, doing your duties according to their dictates. 32 It is the obligation of even a mean, worm-like man to honor the brahmins to their utmost at the end of a sermon on salvation. How much more important it is for a monarch to discharge this necessary duty.”

33 Hearing this command of the sage, the king held reverent silence and signaled his messengers to go to all ten sides of his dominions and invite thousands of brahmins who were acquainted with the Vedas to come without delay to the royal court. 34 He ordered them to go to Mathura, Surashtra and Gauda and bring with due respect all the brahmins born of Vedic families who lived in those districts.

35 More than ten thousands of brahmins assembled at the royal palace. The king fed them all alike, paying particular regard to the more learned among them. 36 He treated them with the best sorts of food and rice, honored them with their rewards, and gave them a good many gifts. After honoring them in this manner; he offered his oblations to the spirits of his departed ancestors and gave his offerings to the family gods of his house. 37 Next King Dasharata treated his friends and relatives with proper food, then fed his companions and servants and the citizens all on the same day. His attention was at last directed to the feeding of the poor and needy, and of the lame and blind and lunatics.

38 Having discharged the duties of the festival to his utmost, he commanded a great festival to be held in his hall, all decorated with silk and embroidery and with gold, gems and pearls. 39 The city was adorned and lighted like the ever bright Mount Meru. There were celebrations and merry dancing of exuberant girls and players in every house. 40 Bells rang and cymbals sounded everywhere, drums beating at every door. Flutes and wind instruments blew on every side, and guitars and stringed instruments were played competing with each other. 41 Markets were closed. Buyers and sellers stopped their business. Raised arms of merry dancers in the streets, shaking and waving, looked like a grove of plants shaking in the air. The glittering light of the teeth of strolling players, displayed in their comic dance and loud laughter, looked like the starry heaven. 42 There were heroic dances attended by the players’ loud shouts, and melodramas accompanied by the soft and sweet musical compositions of performers. There was also a staggering and strutting dance on one leg, thumping the ground with the other.

43 Here they flung flower wreaths glittering like stars and falling down in showers. Flowers scattered over the ground like raindrops were indiscriminately trodden under the feet of passersby. 44 Here actresses danced with loose ornaments and gestures of love. There the bards chanted their hymns with clarity as brahmins recited and songstresses sang. 45 Here fools and drunkards drank their fill of wine and food mongers fed upon their foods of various kinds.

46 The insides of houses were whitewashed like bodies of princes with ointments of moonlight color. 47 Servants and maids attending on the king idly walked about adorned in flashy clothes of various colors. They graced the royal festival with their decorations of necklaces and sweet perfumes on their bodies. 48 Sprightly ballet girls, smeared with perfumed pastes and decorated with glittering ornaments, promptly ran to the ball at the royal hall.

49 Thus King Dasharata entertained for a whole week, passing a full seven nights in festive rejoicing while he distributed gifts and food for as many days, which contributed to inexhaustible prosperity on earth.