Friday, September 24, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Sugriva and Vali

Reading Guide. In this episode, you will meet Tara, the chief wife of King Vali and the mother of Vali's son Angada. Knowing that Sugriva is now an ally of Rama, she begs Vali not to go out to fight Sugriva.

Image: In the illustration of the fight between Sugriva and Vali, you will see that the brothers look very much alike, which will cause problems for Rama. This illustration shows Sugriva wearing a garland that Rama gives him to tell the two apart.

Source. Ramayana, The Epic of Rama, Prince of India, condensed into English verse by Romesh Dutt (1899). [900 words] As always, see if you have time to read the poetry out loud to hear what the poet wanted to say.

Sugriva's Story | 43. Sugriva and Vali | Vali's Death

Linked in bonds of faithful friendship Rama and Sugriva came,
Where in royal town Kishkindha, Vali ruled with warlike fame,

And a shout like troubled ocean's or like tempest's deafening roar
Spake Sugriva's mighty challenge to the victor king once more!

Vali knew that proud defiance shaking sky and solid ground,
And, like sun by eclipse shaded, dark and pale he looked around,

And his teeth were set in anger and a passion lit his eye,
As a tempest stirs a torrent when its lilies scattered lie.

And he rose in wrath terrific with a thought of vengeance dread,
And the firm earth shook and trembled 'neath his proud and haughty tread!

But the true and tender Tara held her husband and her lord,
And a woman's deeper wisdom spake in woman's loving word.

   "Wherefore like a rain-fed torrent swells thy passion in its sway?
Thoughts of wrath like withered blossoms from thy bosom cast away;

"Wait till dawns another morning, wait till thou dost truly know
With what strength and added forces comes again thy humbled foe.

"Crushed in combat, faint Sugriva fled in terror and in pain.
Trust me, not without a helper comes he to the fight again;

"Trust me, lord, that loud defiance is no coward's falt'ring cry:
Conscious strength, not hesitation, speaks in voice so proud and high!

"Much my woman's heart misgives me, not without a mighty aid,
Not without a daring comrade comes Sugriva to this raid,

"Not with feeble friend Sugriva seeks alliance in his need,
Nor invokes a powerless chieftain in his lust and in his greed.

"Mighty is his royal comrade — listen, husband, to my word,
What my son in forest confines from his messengers hath heard —

"Princes from Ayodhya's country, peerless in the art of war:
Rama and the valiant Lakshman in these forests wander far.

"Much I fear these matchless warriors have their aid and counsel lent;
Conscious of his strength, Sugriva hath this proud defiance sent!

"To his foes resistless Rama is a lightning from above,
To his friends a tree of shelter, soul of tenderness and love,

"Dearer than his love of glory is his love to heal and bless,
Dearer than the crown and empire is his hermit's holy dress,

"Not with such, my lord and husband, seek a vain unrighteous strife,
For, like precious ores in mountains, virtues dwell in Rama's life.

"Make Sugriva thy companion, make him regent and thy heir;
Discord with a younger brother rends an empire broad and fair,

"Make thy peace with young Sugriva, nearest and thy dearest kin;
Brother's love is truest safety, brother's hate is deadliest sin!

"Trust me, monarch of Kishkindha, trust thy true and faithful wife,
Thou shalt find no truer comrade than Sugriva in thy life,

"Wage not then a war fraternal, smite him not in sinful pride,
As a brother and a warrior let him stand by Vali's side.

"Listen to thy Tara's counsel if to thee is Tara dear;
If thy wife is true in duty scorn not Tara's wifely tear,

"Not with Rama prince of virtue wage a combat dread and high,
Not with Rama prince of valour, peerless like the Lord of sky!"

     Star-eyed Tara softly counselled pressing to her consort's side;
     Mighty Vali proudly answered with a warrior's lofty pride.

   "Challenge of a humbled foeman and a younger's haughty scorn
May not — shall not — tender Tara, by a king be meekly borne!

"Vali turns not from encounter even with his dying breath.
Insult from a foe, unanswered, is a deeper stain than death,

"And Sugriva's quest for combat Vali never shall deny,
Though sustained by Rama's forces and by Rama's prowess high!

"Free me from thy sweet embraces and amidst thy maids retire;
Woman's love and soft devotion woman's timid thoughts inspire.

"Fear not, Tara: blood of brother Vali's honour shall not stain;
I will quell his proud presumption, chase him from this realm again.

"Free me from thy loving dalliance, midst thy damsels seek thy place,
Till I come a happy victor to my Tara's fond embrace!"

    Slow and sad with sweet obeisance Tara stepped around her lord;
    Welling tear-drops choked her accents as she prayed in stifled word.

     Slow and sad with swelling bosom Tara with her maids retired;
     Vali issued proud and stately with the thought of vengeance fired!

Hissing like an angry cobra, city's lofty gates he passed,
And his proud and angry glances fiercely all around he cast

Till he saw the bold Sugriva, gold-complexioned, red with ire,
Girded for the dubious combat, flaming like the forest fire!

Vali braced his warlike garments and his hand he lifted high;
Bold Sugriva raised his right arm with a proud and answering cry.

Vali's eyes were red as copper and his chain was burnished gold;
To his brother bold Sugriva thus he spake in accents bold.

   "Mark this iron fist, intruder: fatal is its vengeful blow,
Crushed and smitten thou shalt perish and to nether world shalt go."

"Nay, that fate awaits thee, Vali" spake Sugriva armed for strife.
"When this right arm smites thy forehead, from thy bosom rends thy life!"

Sugriva's Story | Sugriva and Vali | Vali's Death

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