Friday, May 7, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Vibhishana

Reading Guide. The virtuous younger brother of Ravana, Vibhishana, alone opposes the war and urges Ravana to return Sita to Rama. Ravana is outraged, and Vibhishana leaves Lanka in order to ally himself with Rama. This is another page where you can compare prose and verse depictions of the same scene.

Image: If you look at the detail view of the painting below, you can see a rakshasa (Kumbhakarna?) watching over the walls of Lanka as Vibhishana bows before Rama.

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). [600 words] As you can see, it's clear that Mackenzie relies on Dutt's poetry when he created his prose version of the tale!

Ravana's Court | 60. Vibhishana | The Bridge

The mighty deeds of Hanuman had stricken terror to the heart of Ravana. The demon king summoned a council of war to consider what should be done. All his warriors advised him to wage war, except Vibhishana, his younger brother, who censured the monarch for the offence which he had committed against blameless Rama.

“Hear my words,” he said, “and restore Sita to her rightful lord, or else Rama will swoop down upon thy kingdom, O Ravana, as a falcon who seizeth his prey. Make peace with him now, lest many perish in battle.”

Ravana was made angry and cried, “Alas! for the love of my near relatives, who sorrow at my fame and smile at my peril; they are ever jealous and full of guile, because they hate me in their secret hearts. Evil is thy speech, O Vibhishana. Depart from me, false prince, and carry thy treason to our enemies. If thou wert not my brother, I would slay thee even now.”

Vibhishana was thus banished from the rakshasa kingdom, and he immediately crossed the sea and joined the forces of Rama.

~ ~ ~

But Vibhishan deep in wisdom — Ravan's youngest brother he —
Spake the word of solemn warning, for his eye could farthest see.

"Pardon, king and honoured elder, if Vibhishan lifts his voice
'Gainst the wishes of the warriors and the monarch's fatal choice.

"Firm in faith and strong in forces Rama comes with conqu'ring might;
Vain against a righteous warrior would unrighteous Ravan fight!

"Think him not a common vanar who transpassed the ocean wave,
Wrecked thy city tower and temple and a sign and warning gave;

"Think him not a common hermit who Ayodhya ruled of yore,
Crossing India's streams and mountains, thunders now on Lanka's shore!

"What dark deed of crime or folly hath the righteous Rama done,
That you stole his faithful consort unprotected and alone?

"What offence or nameless insult hath the saintly Sita given,
She who chained in Lanka's prison pleads in piteous tear to Heaven?

"Take my counsel, king and elder: Sita to her lord restore,
Wipe this deed of wrong and outrage, Rama's righteous grace implore.

"Take my counsel, raksha monarch: vain against him is thy might,
Doubly armed is the hero — he who battles for the right!

"Render Sita to her Rama ere with vengeance swift and dire,
He despoils our peopled Lanka with his bow and brand and fire.

"Render wife unto her husband ere in battle's dread array
Rama swoops upon thy empire like a falcon on its prey.

"Render to the lord his consort ere with blood of rakshas slain,
Rama soaks the land of Lanka to the margin of the main!

"Listen to my friendly counsel — though it be I stand alone —
Faithful friend but fiery foeman is this Dasharatha's son,

"Listen to my voice of warning — Rama's shafts are true and keen,
Flaming like the with'ring sunbeams on the summer's parched green;

"Listen to my soft entreaty — righteousness becomes the brave.
Cherish peace and cherish virtue and thy sons and daughters save!"

~ ~ ~

Anger swelled in Ravan's bosom as he cast his blood-red eye
On Vibhishan calm and fearless, and he spake in accents high:

"Rather dwell with open foemen or in homes where cobras haunt
Than with faithless friends who falter and whom fears of danger daunt!

"O, the love of near relations! False and faithless, full of guile,
How they sorrow at my glory, at my danger how they smile,

"How they grieve with secret anguish when my loftier virtues shine,
How they harbor jealous envy when deserts and fame are mine,

"How they scan with curious vision every fault that clouds my path,
How they wait with eager longing till I fall in Fortune's wrath!"

Ravana's Court | Vibhishana | The Bridge

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