Friday, July 9, 2010

PDE Ramayana: The Ashoka Grove

Reading Guide. At last, Hanuman finds Sita: she is in a grove of ashoka trees, and there are rakshasis guarding her there.

Image: The image is a detail of a painting of the Ramayana done in Pune, India around the year 1800; it shows some of Sita's rakshasi guards.

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). [300 words]

Hanuman in Lanka | 52. The Ashoka Grove | Sita and Ravana

Hanuman wandered on until he reached the Ashoka grove. There he beheld the long-lost Sita, the queen of stars. Fierce she-demons surrounded her, and some were of fearsome shape; they had dogs' heads and pigs' heads and the faces of horses and buffaloes; some were of great bulk and others were dwarfish; some had but one eye and others had three eyes; the ears of some hung touching the ground; others that were hairy were the most horrible to behold.

~ ~ ~

By the rich and royal mansion Hanuman his eyes did rest,
On a woman sad and sorrowing in her sylvan garments dressed:

Like the moon obscured and clouded, dim with shadows deep and dark,
Like the smoke-enshrouded red fire, dying with a feeble spark,

Like the tempest-pelted lotus by the wind and torrent shaken,
Like the beauteous star Rohini by a graha overtaken!

Fasts and vigils paled her beauty, tears bedimmed her tender grace,
Anguish dwelt within her bosom, sorrow darkened on her face,

And she lived by rakshas guarded, as a faint and timid deer
Severed from her herd and kindred when the prowling wolves are near,

And her raven locks ungathered hung behind in single braid,
And her gentle eye was lightless, and her brow was hid in shade.

"This is she! The peerless princess, Rama's consort loved and lost,
This is she! The saintly Sita, by a cruel fortune crossed."

Hanuman in Lanka | The Ashoka Grove | Sita and Ravana

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