Friday, May 14, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Ravana's Court

Reading Guide. There is a debate in Ravana's court: should he give back Sita in order to appease Rama? As you can guess, whether out of their own convictions or terrified of their king, Ravana's advisors are ready to go to war with Rama. You will hear from two of Ravana's generals, Vajradanshtra and Vajrahanu (Vajra-Toothed and Vajra-Jawed), who takes their names from the indestructible and irresistible Vajra.

Image: The moustache on the main head is made of hair, while the other heads just have painted moustaches. "Ravana's Moustache" is also the name of a wild-growing grass in India; its scientific name is Spinifex littoreus.

Source. Ramayana, The Epic of Rama, Prince of India, condensed into English verse by Romesh Dutt (1899). Try listening to the audio and/or reading out loud to get into the poetry! [400 words]

March on Lanka | 59. Ravana's Court | Vibhishana

Monarch of the mighty rakshas, Ravan spake to warriors all,
Spake to gallant chiefs and princes gathered in his Council Hall.

"Listen, Princes, Chiefs, and Warriors! Hanuman our land hath seen,
Stealing through the woods of Lanka unto Rama's prisoned queen,

"And audacious in his purpose and resistless in his ire,
Burnt our turret tower and temple, wasted Lanka's town with fire!

"Speak your counsel, gallant leaders, Ravan is intent to hear;
Triumph waits on fearless wisdom, speak your thoughts without a fear."

~ ~ ~

Iron-toothed Vajradanshtra then arose in wrath and pride,
And his blood-stained mace of battle held in fury by his side.

"Wherefore, Ravan, waste thy forces on the foemen poor and vile,
Hermit Rama and his brother, Hanuman of impious wile,

Bid me — with this mace of battle proud Sugriva I will slay,
Chase the helpless hermit brothers to the forests far away!

Or to deeper counsel listen! Varied shapes the Rakshas wear,
Let them wearing human visage, dressed as Bharat's troops, appear.

Succour from his ruling brother Rama will in gladness greet;
Then with mace and blood-stained sabre we shall lay them at our feet,

Rock and javelin and arrow we shall on our foemen hail,
Till no poor surviving vanar lives to tell the tragic tale!"

Then arose the brave Nikumbha —Kumbhakarna's son was he —
Spake his young heart's mighty passion in his accents bold and free.

"Need is none, O mighty monarch, for a battle or a war.
Bid me meet the homeless Rama and his brother wand'ring far,

"Bid me face the proud Sugriva, Hanuman of deepest wile,
I will rid thee of thy foemen and of vanars poor and vile!"

Rose the chief with jaw of iron, Vajrahanu fierce and young,
Licked his lips like hungry tiger with his red and lolling tongue.

"Wherefore, monarch, dream of battle? Rakshas feed on human gore;
Let me feast upon thy foemen by the ocean's lonely shore.

"Rama and his hermit brother, Hanuman who hides in wood,
Angad and the proud Sugriva soon shall be my welcome food!"

March on Lanka | Ravana's Court | Vibhishana

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