Nala and Damayanti and Other Poems
by Henry Hart Milman
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Long the time that passed, a Brahmin—wise Parnada was his name, Home returning to the city—thus to Bhima's daughter spake: "Damayanti! royal Nala—as I sought Nishadha's king, Came I to Ayodhya's city—the Bhangasuri's abode. Stood before me, eager listening—to the words thou bad'st us speak, He, the prosperous Rituparna—all excelling! such his name. Thus as spake I, answered nothing—Rituparna, king of men; Nor of all that full assemblage—more than once addressed by me. By the king dismissed, when sate I—in a solitary place, One of Rituparna's household—Vahuca, his name, drew near, Charioteer of that great raja—with short arms and all deformed, Skilled to drive the rapid chariot—skilled the viands to prepare. He, when much he'd groaned in anguish—and had wept again, again, First his courteous salutation—made, then spake in words like these: Even in the extreme of misery—noble women still preserve, Over their ownselves the mastery—by their virtues winning heaven; Of their faithless lords abandoned—anger feel not even then. In the breastplate of their virtue—noble women live unharmed. By the wretched, by the senseless—by the lost to every joy, She by such a lord forsaken—yet to anger will not yield. Against him his sustenance seeking—of his robe by birds despoiled, Him consumed with utmost misery—still no wrath the dark-hued feels; Treated well, or ill entreated—when her husband she beholds, Spoiled of bliss, bereft of kingdom—famine-wasted, worn with woe. Having heard the stranger's language—hither hasted I to come. Thou hast heard, be thine the judgment—to the king relate thou all." To Parnada having listened—with her eyes o'erflowed with tears, Secretly went Damayanti—and her mother thus addressed: "Let not what I speak to Bhima—O my mother, be made known— In thy presence to Sudeva—best of Brahmins, I would speak. Let not this my secret counsel—to king Bhima be disclosed; This the object we must compass—if thy daughter thou wouldst please, As myself was to my kindred—swiftly by Sudeva brought, With the same good fortune swiftly—may Sudeva part from hence, Home to bring the royal Nala—mother, to Ayodhya's town." Resting from his toil, Parnada—of the Brahmin race the best, Did the daughter of Vidarbha—honour, and with wealth reward. "Brahmin! home if come my Nala—richer guerdon will I give; Much hast thou achieved, and wisely—so as none but thou has done. That again with my lost husband—noblest Brahmin, I may meet." Thus addressed, his grateful homage—and his benedictions paid, Having thus achieved his mission—home the wise Parnada went. Then accosting good Sudeva—Damayanti thus began, And before her mother's presence—in her pain and grief she spake: "Go, Sudeva, to the city—where Ayodhya's raja dwells, Speak thou thus to Rituparna—Come, as of thine own accord. Once again her Swayembara—does king Bhima's daughter hold; Damayanti, thither hasten—all the kings and sons of kings; Closely now the time is reckoned—when to-morrow's dawn appears; If that thou would'st win the Princess—speed thou, tamer of thy foes. When the sun is in his rising—she a second lord will choose: Whether lives or is not living—royal Nala, no one knows." Thus, as he received his mission—hastening to the king, he spake, To the royal Rituparna—spake Sudeva, in these words.


Hearing thus Sudeva's language—Rituparna, king of men With a gentle voice and blandly—thus to Vahuca began. "Where the princess Damayanti—doth her Swayembara hold In one day to far Vidarbha—Vahuca, I fain would go." In these words the unknown Nala—by his royal lord addressed All his heart was torn with anguish—thus the lofty-minded thought— "Can she speak thus, Damayanti—thus with sorrow frantic act? Is't a stratagem thus subtly—for my sake devised and plann'd? To desire this deed unholy[118]—is that holy princess driven Wrong'd by me, her basest husband—miserable, mind-estranged! Fickle is the heart of woman—grievous too is my offence! Hence she thus might act ignobly—in her exile, reft of friends, Soul-disturbed by her great sorrow—in the excess of her despair. No! she could not thus have acted—she with noble offspring blest. Where the truth, and where the falsehood—setting forth, I best shall judge, I the will of Rituparna—for mine own sake, will obey." Thus within his mind revolving—Vahuca, his wretched mind, With his folded hands addressed he—Rituparna, king of men: "I thy mandate will accomplish—I will go, O king of men, In a single day, O raja—to Vidarbha's royal town." Vahuca of all the coursers—did a close inspection make Entering in the royal stable—by Bhangasuri's command. Ever urged by Rituparna—Vahuca, in horses skilled, Long within himself debating—which the fleetest steeds to choose, He approached four slender coursers—fit, and powerful for the road, Blending mighty strength with fleetness—high in courage and in blood; Free from all the well-known vices—broad of nostril—large of jaw; With the ten good marks distinguished[119]—born in Sindhu[120]—fleet as wind. As he gazed upon those coursers—spoke the king, almost in wrath: "Is then thus fulfilled our mandate?—think not to deceive us so. How will these my coursers bear us—slight in strength and slightly breathed— How can such a way be travelled—and so long, by steeds like these?"—

VAHUCA spake.

"Two on th' head, one on the forehead—two and two on either flank— Two, behold, the chest discloses—and upon the crupper one— These the horses to Vidharba—that will bear us, doubt not thou; Yet, if others thou preferest—speak, and I will yoke them straight."


"In the knowledge thou of horses—Vahuca, hast matchless skill; Whichso'er thou think'st the fittest—harness thou without delay."

* * * * *

Then those four excelling horses—nobly bred—of courage high, In their harness to the chariot—did the skilful Nala yoke.— To the chariot yoked, as mounted—in his eager haste the king To the earth those best of horses—bowed their knees and stooped them down. Then the noblest of all heroes—Nala, with a soothing voice, Spake unto those horses, gifted—both with fleetness and with strength. Up the reins when he had gathered—he the charioteer bade mount, First, Varshneya, skilled in driving—at full speed then set he forth. Urged by Vahuca, those coursers—to the utmost of their speed, All at once in th' air sprung upward—as the driver to unseat. Then, as he beheld those horses—bearing him as fleet as wind, Did the monarch of Ayodhya—in his silent wonder sit. When the rattling of the chariot—when the guiding of the reins, When of Vahuca the science—saw he, thus Varshneya thought: "Is it Matali,[121] the chariot—of the king of heaven that drives? Lo, in Vahuca each virtue—of that godlike charioteer! Is it Salihotra skilful—in the race, the strength of steeds, That hath ta'en a human body—thus all-glorious to behold? Is't, or can it be, king Nala—conqueror of his foemen's realms? Is the lord of men before us?"—thus within himself he thought. "If the skill possessed by Nala—Vahuca possesseth too, Lo, of Vahuca the knowledge—and of Nala equal seems; And of Vahuca and Nala—thus alike the age should be. If 'tis not the noble Nala—it is one of equal skill. Mighty ones, disguised, are wandering—in the precincts of this earth. They, divine by inborn nature—but in earthly forms concealed. His deformity of body—that my judgment still confounds; Yet that proof alone is wanting—what shall then my judgment be? In their age they still are equal—though unlike that form misshaped, Nala gifted with all virtues—Vahuca I needs must deem." Thus the charioteer Varshneya—sate debating in his mind; Much, and much again he pondered—in the silence of his thought. But the royal Rituparna—Vahuca's surpassing skill, With the charioteer Varshneya—sate admiring, and rejoiced. In the guiding of the coursers—his attentive hand he watched, Wondered at his skill, consummate—in consummate joy himself.


Over rivers, over mountains—through the forests, over lakes, Fleetly passed they, rapid gliding—like a bird along the air. As the chariot swiftly travelled—lo, Bhangasuri the king Saw his upper garment fallen—from the lofty chariot seat; Though in urgent haste, no sooner—he his fallen mantle saw, Than the king exclaimed to Nala—"Pause, and let us take it up: Check, an instant, mighty-minded!—check thy fiery-footed steeds, While Varshneya, swift dismounting—bears me back my fallen robe." Nala answered, "Far behind us—doth thy fallen garment lie; Ten miles,[122] lo, it lies behind us—turn we not, to gain it, back." Answered thus by noble Nala—then Bhangasuri the king, Bowed with fruit, within the forest—saw a tall Vibhitak[123] tree: Gazing on that tree, the raja—spake to Vahuca in haste, "Now, O charioteer, in numbers, thou shalt see my passing skill. Each one knows not every science—none there is that all things knows: Perfect skill in every knowledge—in one mind there may not be. On yon tree are leaves how many?—Vahuca, how many fruit? Say, how many are there fallen?—one above a hundred, there. One leaf is there 'bove a hundred—and one fruit, O Vahuca! And of leaves are five ten millions[124]—hanging on those branches two. Those two branches if thou gather—and the twigs that on them grow, On those two are fruits two thousand—and a hundred, less by five." Then, when he had check'd the chariot—answered Vahuca the king, "What thou speakest, to mine eyesight—all invisible appears; Visible I'll make it, counting—on yon boughs the leaves and fruit: Then, when we have strictly numbered—I mistrust mine eyes no more. In thy presence, king, I'll number—yonder tall Vibhitak-tree. Whether it may be, or may not—this not done, I cannot know. I will number, thou beholding—all its fruits, O king of men, But an instant let Varshneya—hold the bridles of the steeds." To the charioteer the raja—answered, "Time is none to stay." Vahuca replied, all eager—his own purpose to fulfil, "Either stay thou here an instant—or go onward in thy speed, With the charioteer Varshneya—go, for straight the road before." Answered him king Rituparna—with a bland and soothing voice: "Charioteer! on earth thine equal—Vahuca, there may not be; By thy guidance, skilled in horses!—to Vidarbha I would go: I in thee have placed reliance—interrupt not then our course: Willingly will I obey thee—Vahuca, in what thou ask'st, If this day we reach Vidarbha—ere the sun hath sunk in night." Vahuca replied, "No sooner—have I numbered yonder fruit, To Vidarbha will I hasten—grant me then my prayer, O king." Then the raja, all reluctant—"Stay then, and begin to count; Of one branch one part, O blameless—from the tall Vibhitak tree, Man of truth, begin to number—and make glad thine inmost heart." From the chariot quick alighting—Nala tore the branch away. Then, his soul possess'd with wonder—to the raja thus he said; "Having counted, an thou sawest—even so many fruits there are, Marvellous thy power, O monarch—by mine eyes beheld and proved, Of that wonder-working science—fain the secret would I hear." Then the raja spake in answer—eager to pursue his way, "I of dice possess the science—and in numbers thus am skilled." Vahuca replied; "That science—if to me thou wilt impart, In return, O king, receive thou—my surpassing skill in steeds." Then the raja Rituparna—by his pressing need induced, Eager for that skill in horses—"Be it so," thus 'gan to say; "Well, O Vahuca, thou speakest—thou my skill in dice receive, And of steeds thy wondrous knowledge—be to me a meet return." Rituparna, all his science—saying this, to Nala gave. Soon as he in dice grew skilful—Kali from his body passed: He Karkotaka's foul poison—vomiting from out his mouth, Went from forth his body Kali[125]—tortured by that fiery curse. Nala, wasted by that conflict—came not instant to himself, But, released from that dread venom—Kali his own form resumed: And Nishadha's monarch, Nala—fain would curse him in his ire. Him addressed the fearful Kali—trembling, and with folded hands; "Lord of men, restrain thine anger—I will give thee matchless fame; Indrasena's wrathful mother—laid on me her fatal curse,[126] When by thee she was deserted—since that time, O king of men, I have dwelt in thee in anguish—in the ecstacy of pain. By the King of Serpents' poison—I have burned by night, by day; To thy mercy now for refuge—flee I, hear my speech, O king: Wheresoe'er men, unforgetful—through the world shall laud thy name, Shall the awful dread of Kali[126]—never in their soul abide. If thou wilt not curse me, trembling—and to thee for refuge fled." Thus addressed, the royal Nala—all his rising wrath suppressed, And the fearful Kali entered—in the cloven Vibhitak tree:[127] To no eyes but those of Nala—visible, had Kali spoken. Then the monarch of Nishadha—from his inward fever freed, When away had vanished Kali—when the fruits he had numbered all, Triumphing in joy unwonted—blazing in his splendour forth, Proudly mounting on the chariot—onward urged the rapid steeds. But that tree by Kali entered—since that time stands aye accursed. Those fleet horses, forward flying—like to birds, again, again, All his soul elate with transport—Nala swifter, swifter drove; With his face towards Vidarbha—rode the raja in his pride: And when forward Nala journeyed—Kali to his home returned. So released from all his sufferings—Nala went, the king of men, Dispossessed by Kali, wanting—only now his proper form.


With the evening in Vidarbha—men at watch, as they drew near, Mighty Rituparna's coming—to king Bhima did proclaim. Then that king, by Bhima's mandate—entered in Kundina's walls, All the region round him echoing[128]—with the thunders of his car. But the echoing of that chariot—when king Nala's horses heard, In their joy they pawed and trampled[129]—even as Nala's self were there. Damayanti, too, the rushing—of king Nala's chariot heard. As a cloud that hoarsely thunders—at the coming of the rains. All her heart was thrilled with wonder—at that old familiar sound. On they seemed to come, as Nala—drove of yore his trampling steeds: Like it seemed to Bhima's daughter—and e'en so to Nala's steeds. On the palace roofs the peacocks—th' elephants within their stalls, And the horses heard the rolling—of the mighty monarch's car. Elephants and peacocks hearing—the fleet chariot rattling on, Up they raised their necks and clamoured—as at sound of coming rain.[130]


"How the rolling of yon chariot—filling, as it seems, th' earth, Thrills my soul with unknown transport—it is Nala, king of men. If this day I see not Nala—with his glowing moonlike face, Him, the king with countless virtues—I shall perish without doubt. If this day within th' embraces—of that hero's clasping arms, I the gentle pressure feel not—without doubt I shall not live. If 'tis not, like cloud of thunder—he that comes, Nishadha's king, I this day the fire will enter—burning like the hue of gold. In his might like the strong lion—like the raging elephant, Comes he not, the prince of princes—I shall perish without doubt. Not a falsehood I remember—I remember no offence; Not an idle word remember—in his noble converse free. Lofty, patient, like a hero—liberal beyond all kings, Nought ignoble, as the eunuch—even in private, may he do. As I think upon his virtues—as I think by day, by night, All my heart is rent with anguish—widowed of in own beloved." Thus lamenting, she ascended—as with frenzied mind possessed, To the palace roof's high terrace—to behold the king of men. In the middle court high seated—in the car, the lord of earth, Rituparna with Varshneya—and with Vahuca she saw, When Varshneya from that chariot—and when Vahuca came down, He let loose those noble coursers—and he stopped the glowing car. From that chariot-seat descended—Rituparna, king of men, To the noble monarch Bhima—he drew near, for strength renowned. Him received with highest honour—Bhima, for without due cause, Deemed not he, the mighty raja—with such urgent speed had come. "Wherefore com'st thou! hail and welcome"—thus that gracious king enquires; For his daughter's sake he knew not—that the lord of men had come. But the raja Rituparna—great in wisdom as in might, When nor king within the palace—nor king's son he could behold, Nor of Swayembara heard he—nor assembled Brahmins saw. Thus within his mind deep pondering—spoke of Kosala the lord. "Hither, O majestic Bhima—to salute thee am I come." But king Bhima smiled in secret—as he thought within his mind, "What the cause of this far journey—of a hundred Yojanas. Passing through so many cities—for this cause he set not forth; For this cause of little moment—to our court he hath not come: What the real cause, hereafter—haply I may chance to know." After royal entertainment—then the king his guest dismissed: "Take then thy repose," thus said he—"weary of thy journey, rest." He refreshed, with courteous homage—of that courteous king took leave, Ushered by the royal servants—to th' appointed chamber went: There retired king Rituparna—with Varshneya in his suite. Vahuca, meantime, the chariot—to the chariot-house had led, There the coursers he unharnessed—skilfully he dressed them there, And with gentle words caressed them—on the chariot seat sate down. But the woeful Damayanti—when Bhangasuri she'd seen, And the charioteer Varshneya—and the seeming Vahuca, Thought within Vidarbha's princess—"Whose was that fleet chariot's sound? Such it seems as noble Nala's—yet no Nala do I see. Hath the charioteer Varshneya—Nala's noble science learned? Therefore did the thundering chariot—sound as driven by Nala's self? Or may royal Rituparna—like the skilful Nala drive, Therefore did the rolling chariot—seem as of Nishadha's king?" Thus when Damayanti pondered—in the silence of her soul, Sent she then her beauteous handmaid—to that king her messenger.



"Go, Kesinia, go, enquire thou—who is yonder charioteer, On the chariot seat reposing—all deformed, with arms so short? Blessed maid, approach, and courteous—open thou thy bland discourse: Undespis'd, ask thou thy question—and the truth let him reply. Much and sorely do I doubt me—whether Nala it may be, As my bosom's rapture augurs—as the gladness of my heart. Speak thou, ere thou close the converse—even as good Parnada spake And his answer, slender-waisted—undespis'd, remember thou." Then to Vahuca departing—went that zealous messenger, On the palace' loftiest terrace—Damayanti sate and gazed.

KESINIA spake.

"Happy omen mark thy coming—I salute thee, king of men: Of the princess Damayanti—hear, O lord of men, the speech: 'From what region came ye hither—with what purpose are ye come?' Answer thou, as may beseem you—so Vidarbha's princess wills."

VAHUCA spake.

"Soon a second Swayembara, heard the king of Kosala, Damayanti holds: to-morrow—will it be, the Brahmin said: Hearing this, with fleetest coursers—that a hundred yojanas' speed, Set he forth, the wind less rapid,—and his charioteer am I."

KESINIA spake.

"Who the third that journeys with you—who is he, and what his race? Of what race art thou? this office—wherefore dost thou undertake!"

VAHUCA spake.

"'Tis the far-renowned Varshneya—Punyasloka's charioteer: He, when Nala fled an exile—to Bhangasuri retired. Skilful I in taming horses—and a famous charioteer. Rituparna's chosen driver—dresser of his food am I."

KESINIA spake.

"Knows the charioteer Varshneya—whither royal Nala went? Of his fortune hath he told thee—Vahuca, what hath he said?"

VAHUCA spake.

"He of the unhappy Nala—safe the children borne away, Wheresoe'er he would, departed—of king Nala knows he nought: Nothing of Nishadha's raja—fair one! living man doth know. Through the world, concealed, he wanders—having lost his proper form. Only Nala's self of Nala—knows, and his own inward soul, Of himself to living mortal—Nala will no sign betray."

KESINIA spake.

"He that to Ayodhya's city—went, the holy Brahmin first, Of his faithful wife these sayings—uttered once and once again; 'Whither went'st thou then, O gamester—half my garment severing off; Leaving her within the forest—all forsaken, thy belov'd? Even as thou commanded'st, sits she—sadly waiting thy return, Day and night, consumed with sorrow—in her scant half garment clad. O to her for ever weeping—in the extreme of her distress, Grant thy pity, noble hero—answer to her earnest prayer.' Speak again the words thou uttered'st—words of comfort to her soul, The renowned Vidarbha's princess—fain that speech would hear again, When the Brahmin thus had spoken—what thou answered'st back to him, That again Vidarbha's princess—in the self-same words would hear."


Of king Nala, by the handmaid—fair Kesinia thus addressed, All the heart was wrung with sorrow—and the eyes o'erflowed with tears. But his anguish still suppressing—inly though consumed, the king, With a voice half choked with weeping—thus repeated his reply. "Even in the extreme of misery—noble women still preserve Over their own selves the mastery—by their virtues winning heaven; By their faithless lords abandoned—anger feel they not, e'en then; In the breastplate of their virtue—noble women live unharmed. By the wretched, by the senseless—by the lost to every joy, She by such a lord forsaken—to resentment will not yield. Against him, by hunger wasted—of his robe by birds despoiled, Him consumed with utmost misery—still no wrath, the dark-hued feels; Treated well, or ill-entreated—when her husband 'tis she sees, Spoiled of bliss, bereft of kingdom—famine wasted, worn with woe." In these words as spake king Nala—in the anguish of his heart, Could he not refrain from weeping—his unwilling tears burst forth. Then departing, fair Kesinia—told to Damayanti all, All that Vahuca had spoken—all th' emotion he betrayed.


Hearing this, fair Damayanti—all abandoned to her grief. Thinking still that he was Nala—to Kesinia spake again. "Go, Kesinia, go, examine—Vahuca, and all his acts, Silent take thy stand beside him—and observe whate'er he does; Nor, Kesinia, be there given him—fire his labours to assist: Neither be there given him water—in thy haste, at his demand: All, when thou hast well observed him—every act to me repeat, Every act that more than mortal—seems in Vahuca, relate." Thus addressed by Damayanti—straight Kesinia went again, Of the tamer of the horses—every act observed, came back; Every act as she had seen it—she to Damayanti told: Every more than mortal wonder—that in Vahuca appeared.

KESINIA spake.

"Very holy is he, never—mortal man, in all my life, Have I seen, or have I heard of—Damayanti, like to him. He drew near the lowly entrance—bowed not down his stately head; On the instant, as it saw him—up th' expanding portal rose. For the use of Rituparna—much and various viands came;[131] Sent, as meet, by royal Bhima—and abundant animal food. These to cleanse, with meet ablution—were capacious vessels brought; As he looked on them, the vessels—stood, upon the instant, full. Then, the meet ablutions over—Vahuca went forth, and took, Of the withered grass a handful—held it upward to the sun: On the instant, brightly blazing—shone the all-consuming fire. Much I marvelled at the wonder—and in mute amazement stood; Lo, a second greater marvel—sudden burst upon my sight! He that blazing fire stood handling—yet unharmed, unburned, remained. At his will flows forth the water—at his will it sinks again. And another greater wonder—lady, did I there behold: He the flowers which he had taken—gently moulded in his hands, In his hands the flowers, so moulded—as with freshening life endued, Blossomed out with richer fragrance—stood erect upon their stems: All these marvels having noted—swiftly came I back to thee."


Damayanti when these wonders—of the king of men she heard, Thought yet more king Nala present—thought her utmost wish achieved. Deeming still her royal consort—in the form of Vahuca, With a gentle voice and weeping—to Kesinia spake again: "Go, again, Kesinia, secret—and by Vahuca unseen, Of those viands bring a portion—by his skilful hand prepared:" She to Vahuca approaching—unperceived stole soft away Of the well-cooked meat a morsel—warm she bore it in her haste, And to Damayanti gave it—fair Kesinia, undelayed. Of the food prepared by Nala—well the flavour did she know; Tasting it she shrieked in transport—"Nala is yon charioteer." Trying then a new emotion—of her mouth ablution made:[132] She her pair of infant children—with Kesinia sent to him. Soon as he young Indrasena—and her little brother saw, Up he sprang, his arms wound round them—to his bosom folding both; When he gazed upon the children—like the children of the gods, All his heart o'erflowed with pity—and unwilling tears broke forth. Yet Nishadha's lord perceiving—she his strong emotion marked, From his hold released the children—to Kesinia speaking thus: "Oh! so like mine own twin children—was yon lovely infant pair, Seeing them thus unexpected—have I broken out in tears: If so oft thou comest hither—men some evil will suspect, We within this land are strangers—beauteous maiden, part in peace."


Seeing the profound emotion—of that wisest king of men, Passing back in haste, Kesinia—told to Damayanti all: Then again did Damayanti—mission to Kesinia give, To approach her royal mother—in her haste her lord to see. "Vahuca we've watched most closely—Nala we suspect him still; Only from his form we doubt him—this myself would fain behold. Cause him enter here, my mother—to my wishes condescend; Known or unknown to my father—let it be decided now." By that handmaid thus accosted—then the queen to Bhima told All his daughter's secret counsel—and the raja gave assent. Instant from her sire the princess—from her mother leave obtained, Bade them make king Nala enter—in the chamber where she dwelt. Sudden as he gazed upon her—upon Damayanti gazed, Nala, he was seized with anguish—and with tears his eyes o'erflowed. And when Damayanti gazed on—Nala, thus approaching near, With an agonizing sorrow—was the noble lady seized. Clad, then, in a scarlet mantle—hair dishevelled, mire-defiled,[133] Unto Vahuca this language—Damayanti thus addressed: "Vahuca beheld'st thou ever—an upright and noble man, Who departed and abandoned—in the wood, his sleeping wife? The beloved wife, and blameless—in the wild wood, worn with grief? Who was he who thus forsook her?—who but Nala, king of men? To the lord of earth, from folly—what offence can I have given? That he fled, within the forest—leaving me, by sleep oppressed? Openly, the gods rejected—was he chosen by me, my lord: Could he leave the true, the loving—her that hath his children borne! By the nuptial fire, in presence—of the gods, he clasped my hand, 'I will be,'[134] this truth he plighted—whither did he then depart?" While all this in broken accents—sadly Damayanti spoke, From her eyes the drops of sorrow—flowed in copious torrents down. Those dark eyes, with vermeil corners—thus with trembling moisture dewed, When king Nala saw, and gazed on—to the sorrowful he spake. "Gaming that I lost my kingdom—'twas not mine own guilty deed, It was Kali wrought within me—hence it was I fled from thee; Therefore he, in th' hour of trial—smitten by thy scathing curse, In the wild wood as thou wanderest—grieving night and day for me, Kali dwelt within my body—burning with thy powerful curse, Ever burning, fiercer, hotter—as when fire is heaped on fire. He, by my religious patience—my devotion, now subdued, Lo! the end of all our sorrows—beautiful! is now at hand. I, the evil one departed, hither have made haste to come; For thy sake, O round-limbed! only;—other business have I none. Yet, O how may high-born woman—from her vowed, her plighted lord, Swerving, choose another husband—even as thou, O trembler, would'st? Over all the earth the heralds—travel by the kings command, 'Now the daughter of king Bhima—will a second husband choose, 'Free from every tie, as wills she—as her fancy may beseem,' Hearing this, came hither speeding—king Bhangasuri in haste." Damayanti, when from Nala—heard she this his grievous charge, With her folded hands, and trembling—thus to Nala made reply: "Do not me, O noble-minded—of such shameless guilt suspect, Thou, when I the gods rejected—Nala, wert my chosen lord. Only thee to find, the Brahmins—went to the ten regions forth, Chaunting to their holy measures—but the words that I had taught. Then that Brahmin wise, Parnada—such the name he bears, O king, Thee in Kosala, the palace—of king Rituparna saw. There to thee, my words addressed he—answer there from thee received. I this subtle wile imagined—king of men, to bring thee here. Since, beside thyself, no mortal—in the world, within the day, Could drive on the fleetest coursers—for a hundred Yojanas. To attest this truth, O monarch!—thus I touch thy sacred feet; Even in heart have I committed—never evil thought 'gainst thee. He through all the world that wanders—witness the all-seeing wind,[135] Let him now of life bereave me—if in this 'gainst thee I've sinned: And the sun that moveth ever—over all the world, on high, Let him now of life bereave me—if in this 'gainst thee I've sinned. Witness, too, the moon that permeates—every being's inmost thought; Let her too of life bereave me—if in this 'gainst thee I've sinned. These three gods are they that govern—these three worlds, so let them speak; This my sacred truth attest they—or this day abandon me." Thus adjured, a solemn witness—spake the wind from out the air; "She hath done or thought no evil—Nala, 'tis the truth we speak: King, the treasure of her virtue—well hath Damayanti kept, We ourselves have seen and watched her—closely for three livelong years. This her subtle wile she plotted—only for thy absent sake, For beside thyself no mortal—might a hundred Yojanas drive. Thou hast met with Bhima's daughter—Bhima's daughter meets with thee, Cast away all jealous scruple—to thy bosom take thy wife." Even as thus the wind was speaking—flowers fell showering all around:[136] And the gods sweet music sounded—on the zephyr floating light. As on this surpassing wonder—royal Nala stood and gazed, Of the blameless Damayanti—melted all his jealous doubts. Then by dust all undefiled—he the heavenly vest put on, Thought upon the King of Serpents—and his proper form resumed. In his own proud form her husband—Bhima's royal daughter saw, Loud she shrieked, the undespised—and embraced the king of men. Bhima's daughter, too, king Nala—shining glorious as of old, Clasped unto his heart, and fondled—gently that sweet infant pair. Then her face upon his bosom—as the lovely princess laid, In her calm and gentle sorrow—softly sighed the long-eyed queen: He, that form still mire-defiled—as he clasped with smile serene, Long the king of men stood silent—in the ecstacy of woe. All the tale of Damayanti—and of Nala all the tale, To king Bhima in her transport—told Vidarbha's mother-queen. Then replied that mighty monarch—"Nala, his ablutions done, Thus rejoined to Damayanti—I to-morrow will behold."


They the livelong night together—slow related, each to each, All their wanderings in the forest—and each wild adventure strange. In king Bhima's royal palace—studying each the other's bliss, With glad hearts, Vidarbha's princess—and the kingly Nala dwelt. In their fourth year of divorcement—reunited to his wife, Richly fraught with every blessing—at the height of joy he stood. Damayanti too re-wedded—still increasing in her bliss, Like as the glad earth to water—opens its half-budding fruits, She of weariness unconscious,—soothed each grief, and full each joy, Every wish fulfilled, shone brightly—as the night, when high the moon.


When that night was passed and over—Nala, that high-gifted king, Wedded to Vidarbha's daughter—in fit hour her sire beheld. Humbly Nala paid his homage—to the father of his queen, Reverently did Damayanti—pay her homage to her sire. Him received the royal Bhima—as his son, with highest joy, Honoured, as became him, nobly:—then consoled that monarch wise Damayanti, to king Nala—reconciled, the faithful wife. Royal Nala, all these honours—as his homage meet, received; And in fitting terms, devotion—to his royal sire declared. Mighty then, through all the city—ran the wakening sound of joy; All in every street exulting—at king Nala's safe return. All the city with their banners—and with garlands decked they forth. All the royal streets, well watered—and with stainless flowers were strewn; And from door to door the garlands—of festooning flowers were hung; And of all the gods the altars—were with fitting rites adorned. Rituparna heard of Nala—in the form of Vahuca, Now re-wed, to Damayanti—and the king of men rejoiced. To the king, before his presence—Nala courteous made excuse. In his turn Ayodhya's monarch—in like courteous language spake. He, received thus hospitably—wondering to Nishadha's king, "Bliss be with thee, reunited—to thy queen:" 'twas thus he said. "Have I aught offensive ever—done to thee, or said, O king Whilst unknown, within my palace—thou wert dwelling, king of men? If designed or undesigning—any single act I've done I might wish undone, thy pardon—grant me, I beseech thee, king."

NALA spake.

"Not or deed or word discourteous—not the slightest hast thou done; Hadst thou, I might not resent it—freely would I pardon all. Thou of old, my friend, my kinsman—wert, O sovereign of men, From this time henceforth thy friendship—be my glory and my joy. Every wish anticipated—pleasantly I dwelt with thee, As in mine own royal palace—dwelt I ever, king, in thine. My surpassing skill in horses—all is thine that I possess; That on thee bestow I gladly—if, O king, it seem thee good." Nala thus to Rituparna—gave his subtle skill in steeds, Gladly he received the present—with each regulation meet. Gifted with that precious knowledge—then Bhangasuri the king, Home returned to his own city—with another charioteer. Rituparna thus departed—Nala, then the king of men, In the city of Kundina—sojourned for no length of time.


There a month when he had sojourned—of king Bhima taking leave, Guarded but by few attendants—to Nishadha took his way. With a single splendid chariot—and with elephants sixteen, And with fifty armed horsemen—and six hundred men on foot; Making, as 'twere, earth to tremble—hastening onward, did the king, Enter awful in his anger—and terrific in his speed. Then the son of Virasena—to king Pushkara drew near; "Play we once again," then said he—"much the wealth I have acquired: All I have, even Damayanti—every treasure I possess, Set I now upon the hazard—Pushkara, thy kingdom thou: In the game once more contend we—'tis my settled purpose this, Brother, at a single hazard—play we boldly for our lives. From another he who treasures—he who mighty realm hath won, 'Tis esteemed a bounden duty—to play back the counter game. If thou shrinkest from the hazard—be our game the strife of swords, Meet we in the single combat—all our difference to decide. An hereditary kingdom—may by any means be sought, Be re-won by any venture—this the maxim of the wise. Of two courses set before thee—Pushkara, the option make, Or in play to stand the hazard—or in battle stretch the bow." By Nishadha's lord thus challenged—Pushkara, with smile suppressed, As secure of easy victory—answered to the lord of earth; "Oh what joy! abundant treasures—thou hast won, again to play; Oh what joy! of Damayanti—now the hard-won prize is mine: Oh what joy! again thou livest—with thy consort, mighty armed! With the wealth I win bedecked—soon shall Bhima's daughter stand, By my side, as by great Indra—stands the Apsara in heaven.[137] Still on thee hath dwelt my memory—still I've waited, king, for thee; In the play I find no rapture—but 'gainst kinsmen like thyself. When this day the round-limbed princess—Damayanti, undespised, I shall win, I rest contented—still within mine heart she dwells." Hearing his contemptuous language—franticly thus pouring forth, With his sword th' indignant Nala—fain had severed off his head. But with haughty smile, with anger—glaring in his blood-red eyes, "Play we now, nor talk we longer—conquered, thou'lt no longer talk." Then of Pushkara the gaming—and of Nala straight began: In a single throw by Nala—was the perilous venture gained; Pushkara, his gold, his jewels—at one hazard all was won! Pushkara, in play thus conquered—with a smile the king rejoined: "Mine again is all this kingdom—undisturbed, its foes o'ercome. Fallen king! Vidarbha's daughter—by thine eyes may ne'er be seen. Thou art now, with all thy household—unto abject slavery sunk. Not thyself achieved the conquest—that subdued me heretofore! 'Twas achieved by mightier Kali—that thou didst not, fool, perceive. Yet my wrath, by him enkindled—will I not 'gainst thee direct; Live thou henceforth at thy pleasure—freely I thy life bestow, And of thine estate and substance—give I thee thy fitting share. Such my pleasure, in thy welfare—hero, do I take delight, And mine unabated friendship—never shall from thee depart. Pushkara, thou art my brother—may'st thou live an hundred years!" Nala thus consoled his brother—in his conscious power and strength, Sent him home to his own city—once embracing, once again. Pushkara, thus finding comfort—answered to Nishadha's lord, Answered he to Punyasloka—bowing low with folded hands: "Everlasting be thy glory! may'st thou live ten thousand years! That my life to me thou grantest—and a city for mine home!" Hospitably entertained—there a month when he had dwelt, Joyful to his own proud city—Pushkara, with all his kin, With a well-appointed army—of attendant slaves an host, Shining like the sun departed,—in his full meridian orb. Pushkara thus crowned with riches—thus unharmed, when he dismissed,[138] Entered then his royal city—with surpassing pomp, the king: As he entered, to his subjects—Nala spake the words of peace.

* * * * *

From the city, from the country—all, with hair erect with joy, Came, with folded hands addressed him—and the counsellors of state. "Happy are we now, O monarch—in the city, in the fields, Setting forth to do thee homage—as to Indra all the gods." Then at peace the tranquil city—the first festal gladness o'er, With a mighty host escorted—Damayanti brought he home. Damayanti rich in treasures—in her father's blessings rich, Glad dismissed the mighty-minded—Bhima, fearful in his strength. With the daughter of Vidarbha—with his children in his joy, Nala lived, as lives the sovereign—of the gods in Nandana.[139] Re-ascended thus to glory—he, among the kings of earth, Ruled his realm in Jambudwipa[140]—thus re-won, with highest fame; And all holy rites performed he—with devout munificence.


This extract from the Ramayana has been edited by M. Chezy, with a free translation into French prose by M. Bournouf, a literal version into Latin, and a grammatical commentary and notes by the editor.

Through the arts of one of his wives Kaikeyi, to whom he had made an incautious vow to grant her demand, Dasaratha is obliged to send his victorious son Rama into banishment at the very moment of his marriage with the beautiful Sita. Rama is accompanied in his exile by Lakshmana. The following episode describes the misery and distress of the father, deprived of his favourite son.


Scarce Rama to the wilderness—had with his younger brother gone, Abandoned to his deep distress—king Dasaratha sate alone. Upon his sons to exile driven—when thought that king, as Indra bright, Darkness came o'er him, as in heaven—when pales th' eclipsed sun his light. Six days he sate, and mourned and pined—for Rama all that weary time, At midnight on his wandering mind—rose up his old forgotten crime. His queen Kausalya, the divine—addressed he, as she rested near: "Kausalya, if thou wak'st, incline—to thy lord's speech thy ready ear. Whatever deed, or good or ill—by man, oh blessed queen, is wrought, Its proper fruit he gathers still—by time to slow perfection brought. He who the opposing counsel's weight—compares not in his judgment cool, Or misery or bliss his fate—among the sage is deemed a fool. As one that quits the Amra bower—the bright Palasa's pride to gain, Mocked by the promise of its flower—seeks its unripening fruit in vain. So I the lovely Amra left[141]—for the Palasa's barren bloom,[142] Through mine own fatal error 'reft—of banished Rama, mourn in gloom. Kausalya! in my early youth—by my keen arrow at its mark, Aimed with too sure and deadly truth—was wrought a deed most fell and dark. At length the evil that I did—hath fallen upon my fatal head,[143] As when on subtle poison hid—an unsuspecting child hath fed; Even as that child unwittingly—hath made the poisonous fare his food, Even so in ignorance by me—was wrought that deed of guilt and blood. Unwed wert thou in virgin bloom—and I in youth's delicious prime, The season of the rains had come—that soft and love-enkindling time. Earth's moisture all absorbed, the sun—through all the world its warmth had spread, Turned from the north, its course begun—where haunt the spirits of the dead![144] Gathering o'er all th' horizon's bound—on high the welcome clouds appeared,[145] Exulting all the birds flew round—cranes, cuckoos, peacocks, flew and veered. And all down each wide-water'd shore—the troubled, yet still limpid floods, Over their banks began to pour—as o'er them hung the bursting clouds. And, saturate with cloud-born dew—the glittering verdant-mantled earth, The cuckoos and the peacocks flew—disputing as in drunken mirth. In such a time, so soft, so bland—oh beautiful! I chanced to go, With quiver, and with bow in hand—where clear Sarayu's waters flow. If haply to the river's brink—at night the buffalo might stray, Or elephant, the stream to drink,—intent my savage game to slay, Then of a water cruise, as slow—it filled, the gurgling sound I heard, Nought saw I, but the sullen low—of elephant that sound appeared. The swift well-feathered arrow I—upon the bowstring fitting straight, Toward the sound the shaft let fly—ah, cruelly deceived by fate! The winged arrow scarce had flown—and scarce had reached its destined aim, 'Ah me, I'm slain,' a feeble moan—in trembling human accents came. 'Ah whence hath come this fatal shaft—against a poor recluse like me, Who shot that bolt with deadly craft—alas! what cruel man is he? At the lone midnight had I come—to draw the river's limpid flood, And here am struck to death, by whom?—ah whose this wrongful deed of blood. Alas! and in my parent's heart—the old, the blind, and hardly fed, In the wild wood, hath pierced the dart—that here hath struck their offspring dead. Ah, deed most profitless as worst—a deed of wanton useless guilt; As though a pupil's hand accurs'd[146]—his holy master's blood had spilt. But not mine own untimely fate—it is not that which I deplore, My blind, my aged parents state—'tis their distress afflicts me more. That sightless pair, for many a day—from me their scanty food have earned, What lot is theirs, when I'm away—to the five elements returned?[147] Alike all wretched they, as I—ah, whose this triple deed of blood? For who the herbs will now supply—the roots, the fruit, their blameless food?' My troubled soul, that plaintive moan—no sooner heard, so faint and low, Trembled to look on what I'd done—fell from my shuddering hand my bow. Swift I rushed up, I saw him there—heart-pierced, and fall'n the stream beside, That hermit boy with knotted hair—his clothing was the black deer's hide. On me most piteous turned his look—his wounded breast could scarce respire, 'What wrong, oh Kshatriya,[148] have I done—to be thy deathful arrow's aim, The forest's solitary son—to draw the limpid stream I came. Both wretched and both blind they lie—in the wild wood all destitute, My parents, listening anxiously—to hear my home-returning foot. By this, thy fatal shaft, this one—three miserable victims fall, The sire, the mother, and the son—ah why? and unoffending all. How vain my father's life austere—the Veda's studied page how vain, He knew not with prophetic fear—his son would fall untimely slain. But had he known, to one as he—so weak, so blind, 'twere bootless all, No tree can save another tree—by the sharp hatchet marked to fall. But to my father's dwelling haste—oh Raghu's[149] son, lest in his ire, Thy head with burning curse he blast—as the dry forest tree the fire. Thee to my father's lone retreat—will quickly lead yon onward path, Oh haste, his pardon to entreat—or ere he curse thee in his wrath. Yet first, that gently I may die—draw forth the barbed steel from hence, Allay thy fears, no Brahmin I—not thine of Brahmin blood the offence. My sire, a Brahmin hermit he—my mother was of Sudra race.'[150] So spake the wounded boy, on me—while turned his unreproaching face. As from his palpitating breast—I gently drew the mortal dart, He saw me trembling stand, and blest—that boy's pure spirit seemed to part. As died that holy hermit's son—from me my glory seemed to go, With troubled mind I stood, cast down—t' inevitable endless woe. That shaft that seemed his life to burn—like serpent venom, thus drawn out, I, taking up his fallen urn—t' his father's dwelling took my route. There miserable, blind, and old—of their sole helpmate thus forlorn, His parents did these eyes behold—like two sad birds with pinions shorn. Of him in fond discourse they sate—lone, thinking only of their son, For his return so long, so late—impatient, oh by me undone. My footsteps' sound he seemed to know—and thus the aged hermit said, 'Oh, Yajnadatta, why so slow?—haste, let the cooling draught be shed. Long, on the river's pleasant brink—hast thou been sporting in thy joy, Thy mother's fainting spirits sink—in fear for thee, but thou, my boy, If aught to grieve thy gentle heart—thy mother or thy sire do wrong, Bear with us, nor when next we part—on the slow way thus linger long. The feet of those that cannot move—of those that cannot see the eye, Our spirits live but in thy love—Oh wherefore, dearest, no reply?' My throat thick swollen with bursting tears—my power of speech that seemed to choke, With hands above my head, my fears—breaking my quivering voice, I spoke; 'The Kshatriya Dasaratha I—Oh hermit sage, 'tis not thy son! Most holy ones, unknowingly—a deed of awful guilt I've done. With bow in hand I took my way—along Sarayu's pleasant brink, The savage buffalo to slay—or elephant come down to drink. A sound came murmuring to my ear—'twas of the urn that slowly filled, I deemed some savage wild-beast near—my erring shaft thy son had killed. A feeble groan I heard, his breast—was pierced by that dire arrow keen: All trembling to the spot I pressed—lo there thy hermit boy was seen. Flew to the sound my arrow, meant—the wandering elephant to slay, Toward the river brink it went—and there thy son expiring lay. The fatal shaft when forth I drew—to heaven his parting spirit soared, Dying he only thought of you—long, long, your lonely lot deplored. Thus ignorantly did I slay—your child beloved, Oh hermit sage! Turn thou on me, whose fated day—is come, thy all-consuming rage.' He heard my dreadful tale at length—he stood all lifeless, motionless; Then deep he groaned, and gathering strength—me his meek suppliant did address. 'Kshatriya, 'tis well that thou hast turned—thy deed of murder to rehearse, Else over all thy land had burned—the fire of my wide-wasting curse. If with premeditated crime—the unoffending blood thou'dst spilt, The Thunderer on his throne sublime—had shaken at such tremendous guilt. Against the anchorite's sacred head—hadst, knowing, aimed thy shaft accursed, In th' holy Vedas deeply read—thy skull in seven wide rents had burst. But since, unwitting, thou hast wrought—that deed of death, thou livest still, Oh son of Raghu, from thy thought—dismiss all dread of instant ill. Oh lead me to that doleful spot—where my poor boy expiring lay, Beneath the shaft thy fell hand shot—of my blind age, the staff, the stay. On the cold earth 'twere yet a joy—to touch my perished child again, (So long if I may live) my boy—in one last fond embrace to strain. His body all bedewed with gore—his locks in loose disorder thrown, Let me, let her but touch once more—to the dread realm of Yama gone.' Then to that fatal place I brought—alone that miserable pair; His sightless hands, and hers I taught—to touch their boy that slumbered there. Nor sooner did they feel him lie—on the moist herbage coldly thrown, Both with a shrill and feeble cry—upon the body cast them down. The mother as she lay and groaned—addressed her boy with quivering tongue, And like a heifer sadly moaned—just plundered of her new-dropped young: 'Was not thy mother once, my son—than life itself more dear to thee? Why the long way hast thou begun—without one gentle word to me. One last embrace, and then, beloved—upon thy lonely journey go! Alas! with anger art thou moved—that not a word thou wilt bestow?' The miserable father now[151]—with gentle touch each cold limb pressed, And to the dead his words of woe—as to his living son, addressed: 'I too, my son, am I not here?—thy sire with thy sad mother stands; Awake, arise, my child, draw near—and clasp each neck with loving hands. Who now, 'neath the dark wood by night—a pious reader shall be heard? Whose honied voice my ear delight—with th' holy Veda's living word? The evening prayer, th' ablution done—the fire adored with worship meet, Who now shall soothe like thee, my son—with fondling hand, my aged feet? And who the herb, the wholesome root—or wild fruit from the wood shall bring? To us the blind, the destitute—with helpless hunger perishing? Thy blind old mother, heaven-resigned—within our hermit-dwelling lone, How shall I tend, myself as blind—now all my strength of life is gone! Oh stay, my child, Oh part not yet—to Yama's dwelling go not now, To-morrow forth we all will set—thy mother, and myself, and thou: For both, in grief for thee, and both—so helpless, ere another day, From this dark world, but little loath—shall we depart, death's easy prey! And I myself, by Yama's seat—companion of thy darksome way, The guerdon to thy virtues meet—from that great Judge of men will pray. Because, my boy, in innocence—by wicked deed thou hast been slain, Rise, where the heroes dwell, who thence—ne'er stoop to this dark world again. Those that to earth return no more—the sense-subdued, the hermits wise, Priests their sage masters that adore—to their eternal seats arise. Those that have studied to the last—the Veda's, the Vedanga's page, Where saintly kings of earth have passed—Nahusa and Yayati sage; The sires of holy families—the true to wedlock's sacred vow; And those that cattle, gold, or rice—or lands with liberal hands bestow; That ope th' asylum to th' oppressed—that ever love, and speak the truth, Up to the dwellings of the blest—th' eternal, soar thou, best loved youth. For none of such a holy race—within the lowest seat may dwell; But that will be his fatal place—by whom my only offspring fell.' So groaning deep, that wretched pair—the hermit and his wife, essayed The meet ablution to prepare—their hands their last faint effort made. Divine, with glorious body bright—in splendid car of heaven elate, Before them stood their son in light—and thus consoled their helpless state: 'Meed of my duteous filial care—I've reached the wished for realms of joy;[152] And ye, in those glad realms, prepare—to meet full soon your dear-loved boy. My parents, weep no more for me—yon warrior monarch slew me not, My death was thus ordained to be;—predestined was the shaft he shot." Thus, as he spoke, the anchorite's son—soared up the glowing heaven afar, In air his heavenly body shone—while stood he in his gorgeous car. But they, of that lost boy so dear—the last ablution meetly made, Thus spoke to me that holy seer—with folded hands above his head. 'Albeit by thy unknowing dart—my blameless boy untimely fell, A curse I lay upon thy heart—whose fearful pain I know too well. As sorrowing for my son I bow—and yield up my unwilling breath, So, sorrowing for thy son shalt thou—at life's last close repose in death.' That curse, dread sounding in mine ear—to mine own city forth I set, Nor long survived that hermit seer—to mourn his child in lone regret. This day that Brahmin curse fulfilled—hath fallen on my devoted head, In anguish for any parted child—have all my sinking spirits fled. No more my darkened eyes can see—my clouded memory is o'ercast, Dark Yama's heralds summon me—to his deep, dreary, realm to haste. Mine eye no more my Rama sees—and grief o'erburns, my spirits sink, As the swollen stream sweeps down the trees—that grow upon the crumbling brink. Oh, felt I Rama's touch, or spake—one word his home-returning voice, Again to life should I awake—as quaffing nectar draughts rejoice, But what so sad could e'er have been—celestial partner of my heart, Than, Rama's beauteous face unseen,—from life untimely to depart. His exile in the forest o'er—him home returned to Oudes high town, Oh happy those, that see once more—like Indra from the sky come down. No mortal men, but gods I deem—moonlike, before whose wondering sight, My Rama's glorious face shall beam—from the dark forest bursting bright. Happy that gaze on Rama's face—with beauteous teeth and smile of love, Like the blue lotus in its grace—and like the starry king above. Like to the full autumnal moon—and like the lotus in its bloom, That youth who sees returning soon—how blest shall be that mortal's doom. Dwelling on that sweet memory—on his last bed the monarch lay, And slowly, softly, seemed to die—as fades the moon at dawn away. "Ah, Rama! ah, my son!" thus said—or scarcely said, the king of men, His gentle hapless spirit fled—in sorrow for his Rama then, The shepherd of his people old—at midnight on his bed of death, The tale of his son's exile told—and breathed away his dying breath.



The hostility of the kindred races of Pandu and Kuru forms one of the great circles of Indian fable. It fills great part of the immense poem, the Mahabharata. At this period the five sons of Pandu and their mother Kunti have been driven into the wilderness from the court of their uncle Dritarashtra at Nagapur. The brothers, during their residence in the forest, have an encounter with a terrible giant, Hidimba, the prototype of the Cyclops of Homer, and of the whole race of giants of northern origin, who, after amusing our ancestors, children of larger growth, descended to our nurseries, from whence they are now well-nigh exploded. After this adventure the brothers take up their residence in the city of Ekachara, where they are hospitably received in the house of a Brahmin. The neighbourhood of this city is haunted by another terrible giant, Baka, whose cannibal appetite has been glutted by a succession of meaner victims. It is now come to the Brahmin's turn to furnish the fatal banquet; they overhear the following complaint of their host, whose family, consisting of himself, his wife, a grown up daughter, and a son a little child, must surrender one to become the horrible repast of the monster. In turn, the father, the mother, in what may be fairly called three singularly pathetic Indian elegies, enforce each their claim to the privilege of suffering for the rest.


Alas for life, so vain, so weary—in this changing world below, Ever-teeming root of sorrow—still dependent, full of woe! Still to life clings strong affliction—life that's one long suffering all, Whoso lives must bear his sorrow—soon or late that must befall.

* * * * *

Oh to find a place of refuge—in this dire extremity, For my wife, my son, my daughter—and myself what hope may be? Oft I've said to thee, my dearest—Priestess, that thou knowest well, But my word thou never heededst—let us go where peace may dwell. "Here I had my birth, my nurture—still my sire is living here; Oh unwise!" 'twas thus thou answeredst—to my oft-repeated prayer. Thine old father went to heaven—slept thy mother by his side, Then thy near and dear relations—why delight'st thou here t' abide? Fondly loving still thy kindred—thine old home thou would'st not leave, Of thy kindred death deprived thee—in thy griefs I could but grieve. Now to me is death approaching—never victim will I give, From mine house, like some base craven—and myself consent to live. Thee with righteous soul, the gentle—ever like a mother deemed, A sweet friend the gods have given me—aye my choicest wealth esteem'd. From thy parents thee, consenting—mistress of my house I took, Thee I chose, and thee I honoured—as enjoins the holy book. Thou the high-born, thou the virtuous!—my dear children's mother thou, Only to prolong my being—thee the good, the blameless, now, Can to thy death surrender—mine own true, my faithful wife? Yet my son can I abandon—in his early bloom of life, Offer him in his sweet childhood—with no down his cheek to shade? Her, whom Brahma, the all-bounteous—for a lovely bride hath made, Mother of a race of heroes—a heaven-winning race may make;[153] Of myself begot, the virgin—could I ever her forsake? Towards a son the hearts of fathers—some have thought, are deepest moved, Others deem the daughter dearer—both alike I've ever loved: She that sons, that heaven hath in her—sons whose offerings heaven may win, Can I render up my daughter—blameless, undefiled by sin? If myself I offer, sorrow—in the next world my lot must be, Hardly then could live my children—and my wife bereft of me. One of these so dear to offer—to the wise, were sin, were shame, Yet without me they must perish—how to 'scape the sin, the blame! Woe! Oh woe! where find I refuge—for myself, for mine, oh where! Better 'twere to die together—for to live I cannot bear.

The BRAHMIN'S WIFE speaks.

As of lowly caste, my husband—yield not thus thy soul to woe, This is not a time for wailing—who the Vedas knows must know: Fate inevitable orders—all must yield to death in turn, Hence the doom, th' irrevocable—it beseems not thee to mourn. Man hath wife, and son, and daughter—for the joy of his own heart. Wherefore wisely check thy sorrow—it is I must hence depart. Tis the wife's most holy duty—law on earth without repeal, That her life she offer freely—when demands her husband's weal. And e'en now, a deed so noble—hath its meed of pride and bliss, In the next world life eternal—and unending fame in this. 'Tis a high, yet certain duty—that my life I thus resign, 'Tis thy right, as thy advantage—both the willing deed enjoin— All for which a wife is wedded—long erenow through me thou'st won, Blooming son and gentle daughter—that my debt is paid and done. Thou may'st well support our children—gently guard, when I am gone, I shall have no power to guard them—nor support them, left alone. Oh, despoiled of thy assistance—lord of me, and all I have, How these little ones from ruin—how my hapless self to save: Widow'd, reft of thee, and helpless—with two children in their youth, How maintain my son, and daughter—in the path of right and truth. From the lustful, from the haughty—how shall I our child protect, When they seek thy blameless daughter—by a father's awe unchecked. As the birds in numbers swarming—gather o'er the earth-strewn corn, Thus the men round some sad widow—of her noble lord forlorn. Thus by all the rude and reckless—with profane desires pursued,[154] How shall I the path still follow—loved and honoured by the good. This thy dear, thy only daughter—this pure maiden innocent, How to teach the way of goodness—where her sire, her fathers went. How can I instil the virtues—in the bosom of our child, Helpless and beset on all sides—as thou would'st in duty skilled. Round thy unprotected daughter—Sudras like[155] to holy lore, Scorning me in their wild passion—will unworthy suitors pour. And if I refuse to give her—mindful of thy virtuous course, As the storks the rice of offering[156]—they will bear her off by force. Should I see my son degenerate—like his noble sire no more, In the power of the unworthy—the sweet daughter that I bore; And myself, the world's scorn, wandering—so as scarce myself to know, Of proud men the scoff, the outcast—I should die of shame and woe. And bereft of me, my children—and without thy aid to cherish, As the fish when water fails them—both would miserably perish. Thus of all the three is ruin—the inevitable lot, Desolate of thee, their guardian—wherefore, Oh, forsake us not! The dark way before her husband—'tis a wife's first bliss to go, 'Tis a wife's that hath borne children—this the wise, the holy know. For thee forsaken be my daughter—let my son forsaken be, I for thee forsook my kindred—and forsake my life for thee. More than offering 'tis, than penance—liberal gift or sacrifice, When a wife, thus clearly summoned—for her husband's welfare dies. That which now to do I hasten—all the highest duty feel, For thy bliss, for thy well-doing—thine and all thy race's weal. Men, they say, but pray for children—riches, or a generous friend, To assist them in misfortune—and a wife for the same end. The whole race (the wise declare it)—thou the increaser of thy race, Than the single self less precious—ever holds a second place. Let me then discharge the duty—and preserve thyself by me, Give me thine assent, all-honoured—and my children's guardian be. Women must be spared from slaughter—this the learn'd in duty say, Even the giant knows that duty—me he will not dare to slay. Of the man the death is certain—of the woman yet in doubt, Wherefore, noblest, on the instant—as the victim send me out. I have lived with many blessings—I have well fulfilled my part, I have given thee beauteous offspring—death hath nought t' appal mine heart. I've borne children, I am aged—in my soul I've all revolved, And with spirit strong to serve thee—I am steadfast and resolved. Offering me, all-honoured husband—thou another wife wilt find, And to her wilt do thy duty—gentle as to me, and kind. Many wives if he espouses—man incurs nor sin nor blame, For a wife to wed another—'tis inexpiable shame. This well weighed within thy spirit—and the sin thyself to die, Save thyself, thy race, thy children—be the single victim I.

* * * * *

Hearing thus his wife, the husband—fondly clasp'd her to his breast, And their tears they poured together—by their mutual grief oppressed.


Of these two the troubled language—in the chamber as she heard, Lost herself in grief the daughter—thus took up the doleful word.

The DAUGHTER spake.

Why to sorrow thus abandoned?—weep not thus, as all forlorn, Hear ye now my speech, my parents—and your sorrows may be borne. Me with right ye may abandon—none that right in doubt will call, Yield up her that best is yielded—I alone may save you all. Wherefore wishes man for children?—they in need mine help will be: Lo, the time is come, my parents—in your need find help in me. Ever here the son by offering—or hereafter doth atone, Either way is he th' atoner—hence the wise have named him son. Daughters too, the great forefathers—of a noble race desire, And I now shall prove their wisdom—saving thus from death my sire. Lo, my brother but an infant!—to the other world goest thou, In a little time we perish—who may dare to question how? But if first depart to heaven—he that after me was born, Cease our race's sacred offerings—our offended sires would mourn. Without father, without mother—of my brother too bereft, I shall die, unused to sorrow—yet to deepest sorrow left. But thyself, my sire! my mother—and my gentle brother save, And their meet, unfailing offerings—shall our fathers' spirits have. A second self the son, a friend the wife—the daughter's but a grief, From thy grief thy daughter offering—thou of right wilt find relief. Desolate and unprotected—ever wandering here and there, Shall I quickly be, my father!—reft of thy paternal care! But wert thou through me, my father—and thy race from peril freed, Noble fruit should I have borne thee—having done this single deed. But if thou from hence departing-leav'st me, noblest, to my fate, Down I sink to bitterest misery—save, Oh save me from that state! For mine own sake, and for virtue's—for our noble race's sake, Yield up her who best is yielded—me thine own life's ransom make. Instantly this step, the only—the inevitable take. Hath the world a fate more wretched—than when thou to heaven art fled, Like a dog to wander begging—and subsist on others' bread. But my father, thus preserving—thus preserving all that's thine, I shall then become immortal—and partake of bliss divine, And the gods, and our forefathers—all will hail the prudent choice, Still will have the water offerings—that their holy spirits rejoice.

* * * * *

As they heard her lamentation—in their troubled anguish deep, Wept the father, wept the mother—'gan the daughter too to weep. Then the little son beheld them—and their doleful moan he heard; And with both his eyes wide open—lisped he thus his broken word. "Weep not father, weep not mother—Oh my sister, weep not so!" First to one, and then to th' other—smiling went he to and fro. Then a blade of spear-grass lifting—thus in bolder glee he said, "With this spear-grass will I kill him—this man-eating giant dead." Though o'erpowered by bitterest sorrow—as they heard their prattling boy, Stole into the parents' bosoms—mute and inexpressive joy.


The following extract from the Mahabharata was published by Bopp, with a German translation, (the promised Latin version has not yet reached this country,) with four other extracts from the same poem. It is inserted here not on account of its poetical merit, but on account of the interest of the subject. It is the genuine, and probably the earliest, version of the Indian tradition of the Flood. The author has made the following observations on this subject in the Quarterly Review, which he ventures here to transcribe.

Nothing has thrown so much discredit on oriental studies, particularly on the valuable Asiatic Researches, as the fixed determination to find the whole of the Mosaic history in the remoter regions of the East. It was not to be expected that, when the new world of oriental literature was suddenly disclosed, the first attempts to explore would be always guided by cool and dispassionate criticism. Even Sir W. Jones was led away, at times, by the ardour of his imagination; and the gorgeous palaces of the Mahabadian dynasty, which were built on the authority of the Desatir and the Dabistan, and thrown upward into an age anterior even to the earliest Indian civilisation, have melted away, and 'left not a wreck behind,' before the cooler and more profound investigations of Mr. Erskine[157]. Sir W. Jones was succeeded by Wilford, a man of most excursive imagination, bred in the school of Bryant, who, even if he had himself been more deeply versed in the ancient language, would have been an unsafe guide. But Wilford, it is well known, unfortunately betrayed to the crafty and mercenary pundits whom he employed, the objects which he hoped to find; and these unscrupulous interpreters, unwilling to disappoint their employer, had little difficulty in discovering, or forging, or interpolating, whatever might suit his purpose. The honest candour with which Wilford, a man of the strictest integrity, made the open and humiliating confession of the deceptions which had been practised upon him, ought for ever to preserve his memory from disrespect. The fictions to which he had given currency, only retained, and still we are ashamed to say retain, their ground in histories of the Bible and works of a certain school of theology, from which no criticism can exorcise an error once established: still, however, with sensible men, a kind of suspicion was thrown over the study itself; and the cool and sagacious researches of men, probably better acquainted with their own language than some of the Brahmins themselves, were implicated in the fate of the fantastic and, though profoundly learned, ever injudicious reveries of Wilford.

Now, however, that we may depend on the genuineness of our documents, it is curious to examine the Indian version or versions of the universal tradition of the Deluge; for, besides this extract from the Mahabharata, Sir W. Jones had extracted from the Bhagavata Purana another, and, in some respects, very different legend. Both of these versions are strongly impregnated with the mythological extravagance of India; but the Purana, one of the Talmudic books of Indian tradition, as M. Bopp observes, is evidently of a much later date than the ruder and simpler fable of the old Epic. It belongs to a less ancient school of poetry, and a less ancient system of religion. While it is much more exuberant in its fiction, it nevertheless betrays a sort of apprehension lest it shall shock the less easy faith of a more incredulous reader; it is manifestly from the religious school of the follower of Vishnu, and, indeed, seems to have some reference to one of the philosophic systems. Yet the outline of the story is the same. In the Mahabharatic version, Manu, like Noah, stands alone in an age of universal depravity. His virtues, however, are of the Indian cast—the most severe and excruciating penance by which he extorts, as it were, the favour of the deity[158].


Vivaswata's son, a raja—and a sage of mighty fame, King of men, the first great fathers—in his glory equalled he, In his might and kingly power—Manu, and in earthly bliss, And in wonder-working penance—sire and grandsire far surpassed. With his arms on high outstretching—wrought the sovereign of men, Steadily on one foot standing—penance rigorous and dread, With his downward head low-drooping—with his fixed, unwavering eyes, Dreed he thus his awful penance—many a long and weary year. To the penitent with tresses—streaming loose, and wet, and long, By the margin of Wirini—thus the fish began to speak: "Blessed! lo, the least of fishes—of the mighty fish in dread, Wilt thou not from death preserve me—thou that all thy vows fulfill'st? Since the strongest of the fishes—persecute the weaker still, Over us impends for ever—our inevitable fate. Ere I sink, if thou wilt free me—from th' extremity of dread, Meet return can I compensate—when the holy deed is done." Speaking thus the fish when heard he—full of pity all his heart, In his hand that fish king Manu—son of Vivaswata took. Brought the son of Vivaswata—to the river shore the fish, Cast it in a crystal vessel—like the moonshine clear and bright. "Rapid grew that fish, O raja—tended with such duteous care, Cleaved to him the heart of Manu—as to a beloved son. Time rolled on, and larger, larger—ever waxed that wonderous fish, Nor within that crystal vessel—found he longer space to move." Spake again the fish to Manu—as he saw him, thus he spake: "O all prosperous! O all gentle!—bring me to another place." Then the fish from out the vessel—blessed Manu took again; And with gentle speed he bare him,—Manu, to a spacious lake. There the conqueror of cities,—mighty Manu, cast him in. Still he grew, that fish so wondrous—many a circling round of years. Three miles long that lake expanded—and a single mile its breadth, Yet that fish with eyes like lotus—there no longer might endure; Nor, O sovereign of the Vaisyas!—might that lake his bulk contain. Spake again that fish to Manu—as he saw him, thus he spake: "Bring me now, O blest and holy!—to the Ganga, ocean's bride, Let me dwell in her wide waters—yet, O loved one, as thou wilt, Be it so; whate'er thy bidding,—murmur would beseem me ill, Since through thee, O blest and blameless!—to this wondrous bulk I've grown." Thus addressed, the happy Manu—took again the fish, and bore To the sacred stream of Ganga—and himself he cast him in. Still it grew, as time rolled onward—tamer of thy foes! that fish. Spake again that fish to Manu—as he saw him, thus he spake: "Mightiest! I can dwell no longer—here in Ganga's narrow stream; Best of men! once more befriend me—bear me to the ocean swift." Manu's self from Ganga's water—took again that wondrous fish, And he brought him to the ocean,—with his own hand cast him in. Brought by Manu to the ocean—very large that fish appeared, But not yet of form unmeasured,—spread delicious odours round. But that fish by kingly Manu—cast into the ocean wide, In these words again bespake him—and he smiled as thus he spake: "Blessed! thou hast still preserved me—still my every wish fulfilled, When the awful time approaches—hear from me what thou must do. In a little time, O blessed!—all this firm and seated earth, All that moves upon its surface—shall a deluge sweep away. Near it comes, of all creation—the ablution day is near; Therefore what I now forewarn thee—may thy highest weal secure. All the fixed and all the moving—all that stirs, or stirreth not, Lo, of all the time approaches—the tremendous time of doom. Build thyself a ship, O Manu—strong, with cables well prepared, And thyself, with the seven Sages—mighty Manu enter in. All the living seeds of all things—by the Brahmins named of yore, Place thou first within thy vessel—well secured, divided well. From thy ship keep watch, O hermit—watch for me, as I draw near; Horned shall I swim before thee—by my horn thou'lt know me well. This the work thou must accomplish,—I depart; so fare thee well— Over these tumultuous waters—none without mine aid can sail. Doubt thou not, O lofty minded!—of my warning speech the truth." To the fish thus answered Manu—"All that thou requir'st, I'll do." Thus they parted, of each other—mutual leave when they had ta'en, Manu, raja! to accomplish—all to him the fish had said. Taking first the seeds of all things—launched he forth upon the sea; On the billowy sea, the prudent—in a beauteous vessel rode. Manu of the fish bethought him;—conscious of his thought the fish, Conqueror of hostile cities!—with his horn came floating by. King of men, the born of Manu!—Manu saw the sea-borne fish, In his form foreshewn, the horned—like a mountain huge and high. To the fish's head his cable, Manu bound—O king of men! Strong and firm his cable wound he—round and round on either horn: And the fish, all conquering raja!—with that twisted cable bound, With the utmost speed that vessel—dragged along the ocean tide. In his bark along the ocean—boldly went the king of men: Dancing with the tumbling billows—dashing through the roaring spray, Tossed about by winds tumultuous—in the vast and heaving sea, Like a trembling, drunken woman—reeled that ship, O king of men. Earth was seen no more, no region—nor the intermediate space; All around a waste of water—water all, and air and sky. In the whole world of creation—princely son of Bharata! None was seen but those seven Sages—Manu only, and the fish. Years on years, and still unwearied—drew that fish the bark along, Till at length it came, where lifted—Himavan its loftiest peak. There at length it came, and smiling—thus the fish addressed the sage: "To the peak of Himalaya—bind thou now thy stately ship." At the fish's mandate quickly—to the peak of Himavan Bound the sage his bark, and ever—to this day that loftiest peak, Bears the name of Manubandhan—from the binding of the bark. To the sage, the god of mercy—thus with fixed look bespake: "I am lord of all creation—Brahma, higher than all height; I in fishlike form have saved thee—Manu, in the perilous hour; But from thee new tribes of creatures—gods, asuras, men must spring. All the worlds must be created—all that moves or moveth not, By an all-surpassing penance—this great work must be achieved. Through my mercy, thy creation—to confusion ne'er shall run," Spake the fish, and on the instant—to the invisible he passed. Vivaswata's son, all eager—the creation to begin, Stood amid his work confounded:—mighty penance wrought he then. So fulfilled that rigorous penance—instant Manu 'gan create— Instant every living creature—Raja! he began to form. Such the old, the famous legend—named the story of the Fish, Which to thee I have related—this for all our sins atones. He that hears it, Manu's legend,—in the full possession he, Of all things complete and perfect—to the heavenly world ascends.


[Footnote 1: p. 3. l. 4. Over, over all exalted. This repetition is in the original.]

[Footnote 2: p. 3. l. 5. Holy deep-read in the Vedas. All the perfections, which, according to the opinions and laws of the Hindus, distinguish the sovereign from the rest of mankind, are here ascribed to the hero of the poem. The study of the Vedas must be cultivated by the three superior castes, and ensures both temporal and eternal beatitude. In the laws of Menu it is said, "Greatness is not conferred by years, not by grey hairs, not by wealth, not by powerful kindred." The divine sages have established this rule—Whoever has read the Vedas and their Angas, he is among us great. (JONES'S MENU, ii. 254). Of all these duties, answered Bhrigu, the principal is to acquire from the Upanishads a true knowledge of the one supreme God: that is the most exalted of all sciences, because it ensures immortality, (xii. 85). For in the knowledge and adoration of one God, which the Veda teaches, all the rules of good conduct before-mentioned in order, are fully comprised, (ib. 87.)

The study of the Vedas is considered the peculiar duty of kings, (vii. 43). The Upanishads are doctrinal extracts of the Vedas.

The Indian law demands in the most rigorous manner from every one of noble birth, the mastery over the senses. Menu says, c. ii. 93, "A man by the attachment of his organs to sensual pleasure, incurs certain guilt; but having wholly subdued them, he thence attains heavenly bliss. v. 94. Desire is never satisfied with the enjoyment of desired objects; as the fire is not appeased with clarified butter; it only blazes more vehemently. v. 97. To a man contaminated by sensuality, neither the Vedas, nor liberality, nor sacrifices, nor strict observances, nor pious austerities, ever procure felicity." The control over every kind of sensual indulgence is enjoined upon the king. vii. 44. Day and night must he strenuously exert himself to gain complete victory over his own organs; since that king alone whose organs are completely subdued, can keep his people firm to their duty.

Skill in the management of horses and chariots, which in a subsequent part of the poem is of great importance to Nala, is often mentioned as a praiseworthy accomplishment of kings. In the Ramayana, for instance, in the description of king Dasaratha, which likewise contains the above-mentioned traits of character—"In this city Ayodhya was a king named Dusharutha, descended from Ikshwaku, perfectly skilled in the Veda and Vedangas, prescient, of great ability, beloved by all his people, a great charioteer, constant in sacrifice, eminent in sacred duties, a royal sage, nearly equalling a Muhurshi, famed throughout the three worlds, mighty, triumphant over his enemies, observant of justice, having a perfect command of his appetites." CAREY and MARSHMAN'S translation, sect. vi. p. 64.]

[Footnote 3: p. 3. l. 5. —in Nishadha lord of earth. I have accented this word not quite correctly Nishadha, in order to harmonise with the trochaic flow of my metre. It appears to be the same as Nishadha-rashtra and Nishadha-desa. See Wilford's list of mountains, rivers, countries; from the Puranas and other books. Asiatic Researches, vol. viii. BOPP.]

[Footnote 4: p. 3. l. 6. Loving dice, of truth unblemished. The Sanscrit word Akshapujah is differently interpreted. Kosegarten renders it in a good sense as "fearing heaven." He argues that it is the poet's object in this passage to describe the good qualities of Nala, and that he does not become a gamester till possessed by the demon Kali. Bopp gives the sense in the text, which seems to connect it with the history of king Yudishthira, to whom it is addressed.]

[Footnote 5: p. 3. l. 7. Sense subdued. The highest notion of this favourite perfection of Indian character, may be given in the words of the author of the Bhagavat-Gita: "The highest perfection to which the soul can attain, is action without passion. The mind is to be entirely independent of external objects; to preserve its undisturbed serenity it should have the conscious power of withdrawing all its senses within itself, as the tortoise draws all its limbs beneath in shell." Action is necessary, but action must produce no emotion—no sensation on the calm spirit within; whatever may be their consequences, however important, however awful, events are to be unfelt, and almost unperceived by the impassive mind; and on this principle Arjuna is to execute the fated slaughter upon his kindred without the least feeling of sorrow or compunction being permitted to intrude on the divine apathy of his soul. Some of the images in which this passionless tranquillity of the spirit is described, appear singularly beautiful:

As to th' unrais'd unswelling ocean flow the multitudinous streams, So to the soul serene, unmov'd—flow in the undisturbing lusts.

And then again the soul, in this state of unbroken quietude,

Floats like the lotus on the lake, unmov'd, unruffled by the tide.]

[Footnote 6: p. 3. l. 8. Best, a present Manu he. Manu, or Menu, the representative of the human race; the holy, mythological ancestor of the Hindus. In the Diluvium, the Indian version of the Deluge, (see the latter part of this volume), Manu is the survivor of the human race—the second ancestor of mankind. The first Menu is named "Swayambhuva, or sprung from the self-existing." From him "came six descendants, other Menus, or perfectly understanding the Scripture, each giving birth to a race of his own, all exalted in dignity, eminent in power." Laws of Menu, i. 61. The great code of law "the Hindus firmly believe to have been promulged in the beginning of time by Menu, son or grandson of Brahma, or in plain English the first of created beings, and not the oldest only but the noblest of legislators." Sir W. JONES'S preface to Laws of Menu; Works, vii. 76. In the Ramayana, in like manner, king Dasaratha is compared to the ancient king, Menu. The word Manu, as the name of the ancestor of men, is derived from the Sanscrit root Man, to know (WILSONin voce); in the same manner as the Sanscrit Manisha, knowledge, Manushya, Man—as also the Latin Mens, and the German Mensch. According to this etymology, Man, Mensch, properly means "the knowing," the Being endowed with knowledge. The German word, Meinen, to mean, or be of opinion, belongs to the same stock.]

[Footnote 7: p. 3. l. 9. So there dwelt in high Vidarbha. This city is called by our poet Vidarbha Nagara, the city of Vidarbha, and Cundina. According to Wilford it is Burra Nag-poor. BOPP. Colebrooke, Asiatic Researches, remarks, that some suppose it to be the modern Berar, which borders on the mountain Vindhya or Gondwanah. The kingdom of Vidarbha, and its capital Kundini, are mentioned in the very remarkable drama Malati and Madhava. WILSON's Hindu Theatre, ii. 16; and extract from Harivansa, in LANGLOIS Monumens de l'Inde, p. 54.]

[Footnote 8: p. 3. l. 9. Bhima, terrible in strength. Bhima-parakrama. There is a play upon the words, Bhima meaning terrible.]

[Footnote 9: p. 3. l. 11. Many a holy act, on offspring. He made offerings and performed penance, by which blessings were forced from the reluctant gods. In India not only temporal, but eternal happiness, depends on having children. The son alone by the offering of the Sraddha, or libation for the dead, can obtain rest for the departed spirit of the father. Hence the begetting of a son is a religious duty, particularly for a Brahmin, and is one of the three debts to which he is bound during life. After he has read the Vedas in the form prescribed by Law, has legally begotten a son, and has performed sacrifices to the best of his power, he has paid his three debts, and may then apply his heart to eternal bliss. MENU, vi. 36. By a son a man obtains victory over all people; by a son's son he enjoys immortality; and afterwards, by the son of that grandson, he reaches the solar abode. MENU, ix. 137.

This last passage is immediately followed by the explanation of the Sanscrit word Puttra, son, by "the deliverer from hell." Since the son (trayate) delivers his father from the hell, named put, he was therefore called puttra by Brahma himself. This explanation, which it given by the Indian etymologists, appears nevertheless, as is often the case, rather forced; since the final syllable, tra, which is translated by deliver (or preserve, WILSON, in voce) is a common ending of many words, without the peculiar signification of delivering: as with this final syllable on the word Pu, to be pure, is formed the noun Puwitra, pure. WILKINS, Grammar, p. 454; KOSEGARTEN. The affix with which this last is formed however, is not tra, but itra, and it affords therefore no ground of objection to the usual etymology of Puttra. WILSON.

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