Friday, September 3, 2010

PDE Ramayana: The Rainy Season


Reading Guide. Now that Sugriva is king, he promises to help Rama in his quest to find Sita, but they have to wait for the rainy season to end. By the terms of his exile, Rama cannot enter a city, so he waits in the wilderness, with Lakshmana and his companion. As you will see from Rama's lament below, he finds it hard to just sit and wait!

Image: The illustration shows Rama waiting, impatiently, throughout the monsoon season in his cave. The illustration below is from the Mewar Ramayana, and you can see that whole book online at the British Library.

Source. The first verse portion comes from Ramayana, The Epic of Rama, Prince of India, condensed into English verse by Romesh Dutt (1899), and the second verse portion comes from Relatives by Arthur William Ryder (1919): page text. [600 words] This is the first time you have read any of Ryder's poetry; he is widely regarded as one of the greatest translators of Sanskrit into English. You might want to read his translation of Kalidasa's Shakuntala later this semester.



King Sugriva | 46. The Rainy Season | The Armies


"Fourteen years," so Rama answered, "by his father's stern command,
In a city's sacred confines  banished Rama may not stand.

"Friend and comrade, brave Sugriva, enter thou the city wall,
And assume the royal sceptre  in thy father's royal hall.

"Gallant Angad, son of Vali,  is in regal duties trained,
Ruling partner of thy empire  be the valiant prince ordained;

"Eldest son of eldest brother — such the maxim that we own —
Worthy of his father's kingdom, doth ascend his father's throne.

"Listen! 'Tis the month of Shravan; now begins the yearly rain,
In these months of wind and deluge  thoughts of vengeful strife were vain.

"Enter then thy royal city, fair Kishkindha be thy home;
With my ever faithful Lakshman  let me in these mountains roam.

"Spacious is yon rocky cavern  fragrant with the mountain air,
Bright with lily and with lotus, watered by a streamlet fair;

"Here we dwell till month of Kartik  when the clouded sky will clear,
And the time of war and vengeance  on our foeman shall be near."

~ ~ ~

Rama's lament:

They say that as the seasons move,
Our sorrow gently fades away;
But I am far from her I love
And sorrow deepens every day.

That she is gone, is not my woe;
That she was reft, is not my pain;
The thought that agonizes so
Is this: her youth is spent in vain.

Blow, breezes, blow to her dear face;
Blow back to me her kisses sweet:
Through you we taste a glad embrace,
And in the moon our glances meet.

When she was torn away from me,
"My lord! My love!" was all her cry,
Which tortures me incessantly;
My heart is poisoned, and I die.

I burn upon an awful pyre;
My body wastes by day and night;
Her loss is fuel to feed the fire
That burns so pitilessly white.

If I could leave each loving friend,
Could sink beneath the sea, and sleep,
Perhaps the fire of love would end,
If I could slumber in the deep.

One thought consoles my worst distress;
Through this I live: I cannot die
While she lies down in loveliness
Upon the self-same earth as I.

The sun-parched rice, no longer wet,
Lives on, while earth her moisture gives;
The root of love supports me yet,
For they have told me that she lives.

Though giants hem her round, yet soon
She shall be freed, and shall arise
As radiantly as the moon
From clouds that darken autumn skies.

When shall I pierce the giant's breast
With shafts that suck his life away,
That give my tortured darling rest
And all her absent griefs allay?

When shall I feel the close embrace
Of my good goddess, as in dreams?
When kiss her smile, while on her face
The water born of gladness gleams?

When shall I pluck from out my heart —
A heart by woes of absence torn —
The pain of life from love apart,
Forget it, like a garment worn?


King Sugriva | The Rainy Season | The Armies



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