Canto 94: Ramayan

Bind all the nourishing sweets of Earth
To give us bliss, that we may drink
The sparkling wine of Los

William Blake


Two Poets

And this is what he sang or said,
In notes of mingled music made;
And now he paused, and now he played
N.V. Thadani

Back on Arunachala I did poise,
This Cadair Idris of the eastern rhymes,
Breaking my trance I glance toward a noise,
Then watch a hermit to the summit climb;
Aalvaar,” said he,
“Valmiki is my name,
Perhaps… ye could tell me of worlds from whence ye came?”

“Alas,” said I, “My plane seems shorn
Of Universal Values,
Depite all things tis still wartorn,
Streams of battle-splatter’d news…
Tell me, has ever there been born
A soul that all this rues,
Brimming with truth, honour, corragio
As Florence did a thousand years ago?”

“There was,” replied old Vaalmeeki,
“Such a man of Karma,
Love, honesty, heart, loyalty,
Truth, righteousness & dharma –
Come sit by me & listen to the legend-lines of Rama.”

Arunachala


Noble Births

For lo ! the same old myths that made
The early ‘stage successes,’
Still ‘hold the boards,’ & still are played
Austin Dobson

I sing of Rama & his noble way;
Of humans & animals, queens & kings,
Of monsters, heroes & that dashing day
That keeping faith in belief heartfelt brings;
He was no lad
Of ordinary birth,
For in him Vishnu had hidden godhead on earth.

Born in most ancient Ayoudha
Midst the first sprigs of the Spring,
In the kingdom of Kosala
Where the Vedas Saddus sing,
His father was Dasaratha
& him, too, Rama’s king,
Outshining men as moons outshine the stars,
First patron of our Prince of Avatars.

Graceful Laxsmi, Lord Vishnu’s queen,
Born as Princess Seeta,
Both grew unseen til aged sixteen
Rama first did meet her,
Feeling love eternal leaping twyx them like a cheetah

Ayoudh


Exiles

Here’s an apple. If you love me,
take it, girl, & then take me.
If you don’t – well, take the apple
Plato

As Sita was a child of divine glow
So many try to win her hand in vain,
Only the bending of Lord Siva’s bow
Shall King Janaka’s tender sloka gain;
Now Rama tries
&, with a heave at last,
Into the cloudy skies lets loose an arrow fast.

As two souls are reunited
So their woes on Earth begin,
Ancyent promises recited
Sends the King of Ayoudh aspin
Dasa-Ratha laughs delighted,
This toothless crone shall win,
The banishment of Rama fourteen years,
Good Seeta stems the flow of father’s tears

& with her husband, dutiful
They left for pale exile,
A pair so bright & beautiful
Long summers in their smile,
For lovers true shall share with joy the vigors of life’s trial.

Kosala


Magic Weapons

Life’s not something,
we put on the mantel of habit
and forget
Sohrab Sepehri

As exiled are these captains of a race
Just leaves & deerskin cover modesty,
Thro’ pathless forest, roofless place-to-place,
Met many rishis pledged for tapasvi;
Of that number
One close to Rama drew,
Whisp’ring, “Young wanderer I have three gifts for you!

Here is Brahma’s shining arrow
Its target never misses,
This, here, is Vishnu’s sacred bow,
Shaped by heavenly blisses,
& Indra’s quiver I bestow,
O such a gift this is,
For if to thee the Rakshasas appear
Thou art the only man that foe will fear.”

With this the rishi elsewhere drifts
As tho’ he’d never been,
Now Rama lifts these precious gifts,
Admires & spits them clean,
For human destiny leads us down strange paths unforeseen.

Chitrakoota Hill


Khara & Soorpanakha

I have composed this magical narrative;
I synchronized the lyrics as
A strewn new rose is recreated
Waris Shah

Now comes the start of all Rama’s distress,
Ravana’s demon-sister him would woo,
Yet for no shameless female he’d undress,
Lakshmana’s honour into fury flew;
Her nose & ears
Soon sliced oiff to the floor
Wailing away in tears savage revenge she swore,

Returning with a brotherhood
Fourteen thousand Raksha’ strong
Each braying to spill Rama’s blood
Stood defiant as King Kong,
Whose arrows flung forth true & good
Great carnage set among
Those demons as he dodg’d their rocks & trees –
His arrow storm the spray that swats cat’s fleas.

When at last the murder over
Raakshasas second best
& Ravana’s younger brother
Lies dying with the rest –
Quaking the king of Lanka like nuclear climax press’d.

Dandaka Forest


Golden Stag

The weather brought
an injured deer
near the door
Magdalena Zurawski

Despite his chief advisor full of fear
Lord Ravana sworn his own vengeance
Transforms Maricha to a little deer
So beautiful in tender innocence;
Its lovely face
By raptured Sita seen,
Forcing Rama give chase & satisfy his queen.

Now aiding cries of false distress
Flies demon-trick’d Lakshana,
Leaving lovely Sita helpless
To the wrath of Ravana
Who comes to her in hermit dress
Feigning humble manner,
That with a laugh is thrown off with his guise,
Ten heads are rais’d burning with blazing eyes.

By mule-drawn golden chariot
Them off to Lanka flew,
Tho’ Sita sweats she does not fret
Down to a summit threw,
Her jewels… hoping mountain monkeys would know what to do.

Karnataka


Hanuman

If I be the rain
you the earth
let love be the seed
John Agard

After five weeks of searching Rama flopp’d
Exhausted, by Sugriva, monkey king,
Who, showing him the necklace Sita dropp’d,
Promised helpings in her firmance finding;
All monkeys, all
Across the world, divide
From Mandalay to Gaul, searching Prince Rama’s bride.

Soon Hanuman, of Monkeys great,
Whose name was writ in water,
Learns of the grievous Lankan fate
Of King Janaka’s daughter,
& hoping he was not to late,
Leaping as he sought her,
Bounded the Ocean to Ravana’s isle –
A single leap sheer vaulting mile-on-mile.

Once landed he transforms feline,
Soon Sita came in view,
O weary whine, O pining pine,
Til faith she does renew,
Sweet news from this whispering cat, “Rama shall recue you!”

Asoka Park


Battle of Lanka

With horns of flame & haggard eye
The mountain vomited with blood,
A thousand corpses down the flood
Roy Campbell

As Hanuman relays happy report
Rama is charg’d with strength fantastical,
Now with Sugriva & his immense court,
Hurries to Lanka & a grand battle;
Into the waves
They fling great rocks & trees,
Enough for monkey braves to skip across the seas.

Soon conflict flurries night & day
In the mountains & the plains,
Morasses of mad melees sway
Streaming blood like summer rains,
Swerve Elephants thro’ dusts & fray
As Raakshasas grow pains –
Until Ravana faced off with Rama,
Promising his life & wife to Yama.

The duel raged, all mercy gone,
Both sworn to each attack,
Maul marathon as one-by-one
Shorn ten heads growing back
Til Brahma’s barb pierced demon heart with wild, climatic CRACK!

Lanka


Sita’s Virtue

Thus absence dyes, & dying proves
No absence can consist with Loves
That do partake of fair perfection
Owen Felltham

As demons die so do the skies grow dim
No longer lit by fine heroic fire
Indra himself could never vanquish him
Who now lies lifeless on a burning pyre;
Denounced by drums
Shadow’d by dishonour
To Rama Sita comes, tainted shame upon her.

& quoth, “My love, if ye doubt me
I, too, shall go to the flame,
For tho I bare full purity
I hear gossip of my shame!”
Thus Sita steps up happily
Onto that burning blame
But not to ashes did her fair flesh fall fair
For she was honest – Agni heard her call,

& saved her from those lethal burns,
Her faith her fate embalms,
& justice earns, now she returns
Into her chosen’s arms,
As when a Trojan poem ends & all that fuss becalms.

Lanka

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