Friday, November 26, 2010

PDE Ramayana: The Chase

Reading Guide. In addition to disguising himself as a golden deer, the rakshasa Maricha has one more trick to play: he is able to imitate Rama's voice!

Image: The lovely illustration below is by the Indian artist K. Venkatappa, a student of Abanindranath Tagore (nephew of the famous writer Rabindranath Tagore).

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]

Golden Deer | 34. The Chase | Ravana and Sita

Rama chased the deer a long time hither and thither through the forest, and at length he shot an arrow which pierced its heart. In his agony Maricha sprang out of the deer's body and cried out in imitation of Rama's voice, “Sita, Sita, save me! Oh, save me, Lakshmana!” Then he died, and Rama perceived that he had slain the rakshasa Maricha, brother of Ravana.

Sita's heart was filled with alarm when she heard the voice of the rakshasa calling in imitation of her husband. She spake to Lakshmana, saying, “Hasten and help my Rama; he calls for help.”

Said Lakshmana, “Do not fear for Rama, O fair one. No rakshasa can injure him. I must obey his command and remain beside thee. The cry thou hast heard is an illusion wrought by demons.”

Sita was wroth; her eyes sparkled and her voice shook as she spake, saying, “Hath thine heart grown callous? Art thou thy brother's enemy? Rama is in peril, and yet thou dost not hasten to succour him. Hast thou followed him to the forest desiring that he should die, so as to obtain his widow by force? If so, thy hope is a delusion, because I will not live one moment after he dies. It is useless, therefore, for thee to tarry here.”

Said Lakshmana, whose eyes were filled with tears, “I do not fear for Rama. O Sita! Thy words scald me, for thou art as a mother unto me. I cannot answer thee. My heart is free from sin. Alas, that fickle women with poisonous tongues should endeavor to set brother against brother!”

Sita wept, and Lakshmana, repenting that he had spoken harshly, said, “I will obey thee and hasten unto Rama. May the spirits of the forest protect thee against hidden enemies. I am troubled because I behold evil omens. When I return, may I behold Rama by thy side.”

Said Sita, “If Rama is slain I will die by drowning, or by poison, or else by the noose. I cannot live without Rama.”

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