Monday, March 8, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Ravana's Lament

Reading Guide. After Lakshmana slays his son Indrajit, Ravana vows revenge. You can see what impression Ravana makes on you here in the prose version of the scene and then when you hear Ravana speaking in verse.

Image: The illustration of Ravana below shows him with a donkey head, which you have seen before, and in his many hands he holds various symbolic objects: a lotus, cup, dagger, trishula (trident), gada (mace), curved sword, rope, a chakra (discus) and a kattar (dagger); ankusha (elephant goad), parashu (axe), sword, spear, snake, pasha (noose) and a pustaka (book).

Source. The prose portion comes from Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913) and the verse portion comes from Ramayana, The Epic of Rama, Prince of India, condensed into English verse by Romesh Dutt (1899). [700 words]

Indrajit | 67. Ravana's Lament | Lakshmana

Ravana lamented for the death of his son, crying, “He was the mightiest of my heroes and the dearest to my heart. All the gods feared him, yet by a mortal was he laid low. O my son, thy widow wails for thee and thy mother weeps in sore distress. Fondly I deemed that when the frailties of old age afflicted me thou wouldst close mine eyelids in death, but youth is taken first and I am left alone to battle against mine enemies.”

For a time the mighty demon wept; then he arose in wrath to wreak vengeance. First of all he hastened towards the Ashoka grove to slay Sita. But the rakshasa dames concealed the wife of Rama, and prevailed upon Ravana not to pollute his fame by slaying a woman. One cried to him, “Auspicious is the last day of the waning moon. The hour of thy vengeance is nigh. Turn thee towards the battlefield and great glory will be thine.”

~ ~ ~

Anguish filled the father's bosom and his fleeting senses failed,
Till to deeper sorrow wakened Lanka's monarch wept and wailed.

"Greatest of my gallant warriors, dearest to thy father's heart,
Victor over bright Immortals — art thou slain by Lakshman's dart.

"Noble prince whose peerless arrows could the peaks of Mandar stain,
And could daunt the Dread Destroyer — art thou by a mortal slain!

"In the skies the bright Immortals lisp thy name with terror pale,
On the earth our maids and matrons mourn thy fall with piercing wail!

"Hark! The voice of lamentation waking in the palace halls,
Like the voice of woe in forests when the forest monarch falls!

"Hark! the wailing widowed princess, mother weeping for her son,
Leaving them in tears and anguish, Indrajit, where art thou gone!

"Full of years — so oft I pondered — when the monarch Ravan dies,
Indrajit shall watch his bedside, Indrajit shall close his eyes,

"But the course of nature changes, and the father weeps the son;
Youth is fallen, and the aged lives to fight the foe alone!"

Tears of sorrow, slow and silent, fell upon the monarch's breast,
Then a swelling rage and passion woke within his heaving chest,

Like the sun of scorching summer glowed his face in wrathful shame;
From his brow and rolling eyeballs issued sparks of living flame!

"Perish she!" exclaimed the monarch. "She-wolf Sita dies today:
Indrajit but cleft her image; Ravan will the woman slay!"

Followed by his trembling courtiers, regal robes and garments rent,
Ravan shaking in his passion to Ashoka's garden went,

Maddened by his wrath and anguish, with his drawn and flaming sword,
Sought the shades where soft-eyed Sita, silentm sorrowed for her lord.

Woman's blood the royal sabre on that fatal day had stained,
But his true and faithful courtiers Ravan's wrathful hand restrained.

And the watchful raksha females girdled round the sorrowing dame,
Flung them on the path of Ravan to withstand a deed of shame.

"Not against a woman, Ravan, mighty warriors raise their hand,
In the battle," spake the courtiers; "duty bids thee use thy brand.

"Versed in Vedas and in learning, court not thus a caitiff's fate;
Woman's blood pollutes our valour, closes heaven's eternal gate!

"Leave the woman in her sorrow, mount upon thy battle car.
Faithful to our king and leader we will wake the voice of war.

"'Tis the fourteenth day auspicious of the dark and waning moon;
Glory waiteth thee in battle and thy vengeance cometh soon.

"All-resistless in the contest, slay thy foeman in his pride:
Seek as victor of the combat widowed Sita as thy bride!"

Slow and sullen, dark and silent, Ravan then his wrath restrained;
Vengeance on his son's destroyer deep within his bosom reigned!

Indrajit | Ravana's Lament | Lakshmana

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