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of seven books, containing twenty-four thousand verses,) but these volumes have long been out of print, and are said to be
very inferior as productions of literary art, though no blame attaches to the excellent men who published their work in the very dawn of Oriental studies."
In 1846 Schlegel published the text of the first two books, with a Latin translation of the first and part of the second. “I congratulate myself,” he says in the Preface, " that by the favor of the Supreme Deity I have been allowed to begin so great a work. I glory and make my boast that I, too, after so many ages, have helped to confirm that ancient oracle declared to Valmiki by the father of gods and men:
“ • Dum stabunt montes, campis dum flumina current,
Usque tuum toto carmen celebrabitur orbe.'» The volumes before us indicate no small amount of research, · scholarly ability, taste, and poetical skill. Mr. Griffith is to be
congratulated for having given this very remarkable poem to the English public in so attractive a form. It will remain a worthy monument to his perseverance and erudition.
The work opens with a happy description of the great hero, his fair, strong body, and his many good qualities of head and heart. It also gives a brief history of his life, travels, and courageous deeds, which may be epitomized as follows:
Rama was the son of Dasaratha, King of Ajudhiya, who was fifty-seventh in descent from the illustrious Manu. This famous king had three queens, and the chief of these, Kansalya, gave birth to the hero of the poem. Even while a youth he became a general favorite in the kingdom, and especially with his father. In company with Lakshman, his ever-constant brother, he set out upon his travels. Journeying to the east, he arrived at the court of Janak, a great king, who gave him welcome in his own and in his father's name. This Janak had a bow wonderfully strong, and a daughter (named Sita) marvelously fair. He had promised Sita to the suitor who should be able to bend the great bow, but although many came to make the trial all failed. Rama asked to see the bow, and when it was brought seized it in the middle and drew the string until the weapon broke in two. The lovely Sita was at once pro nounced to be his, and word was sent to his royal father, who hastened to attend the nuptial ceremonies. The marriage was celebrated with great éclat, King Dasaratha giving as dowry one hundred thousand cows for each of his sons. The ceremonies ended, the kingly party returned to Ajudhiya, where they were met by an enthusiastic host of "people and Brahmans," who welcomed them home. The hero of the bow became more and more popular on account of his filial obedience, courage, and beauty.
“So for his virtues, kind and true,
The king grew older, and was minded to associate with himself his favorite son as Regent Heir. A popular assembly was held, and the people were asked to express their pleasure. The plan of the king was unanimously approved, and Rama was told by his father that he should be installed on the morrow. Great preparations were made. Temples, trees, shops, and houses were covered with banners and decorated with flowers; villagers came from every side and filled the city :
“Each with his friend had much to say
At cottage doors beneath the shade." But, suddenly and without warning, the star of Rama's prosperity shot downward, and
“When Kaikeyi, youngest queen,
With eyes of envious hate had seen
And that her child the heir should be."
“ Then Lakshman's truth was nobly shown,
The faithful Sita, too, went with her lord. The king and people, “sad of mood,” followed the departing hero until they came to the Ganges, when he crossed over and they returned to the capital. The little party went from wood to wood until
They came to Chitrakuta's hill,
The aged king pined for Rama, and died of grief. Bharat refused to reign, and wandered through the woods until he found his exiled brother. He besought him to return and take the throne, but Rama steadily refused, choosing rather to obey his father's decree :
“He placed his sandals in his hand,
“Then Bharat, finding prayer was vain,
The sandals took and went away ;
" Then lest the people should repeat
Their visit to his calm retreat,
Here the hero of the poem took up his abode. Counseled by a new-found friend
• The garb prescribed for ascetics by Many.
+ In half the temples of Oudh and Central India images of Rama, Lakshman, and Sita, made of marble and richly painted, are to be seen. The extent to which chey are worshiped proves the estimation in which they are held.
“He gained the sword
With these weapons he delivered the trembling hermits from their foes, destroying fiends, giants, and giantesses in countless numbers. The news was carried to Ravan, king of the dernons,
“Whose name of fear Earth, hell, and heaven all shook to hear.” “Impelled by fate and blind with rage,
He came to Rama's hermitage."
“He wiled the princely youths apart,
The vulture * slew and bore away
Rama returned to his leafy cot, but, not finding Sita, he rushed through the forest broken-hearted, weeping and wailing over his loss. At last he made friends with Hanuman, " the wind-god's son,” and Sugriva, a powerful chief. Hanuman went in quest of Sita. One “wild, tremendous leap” of two hundred leagues brought him to the capital city of Ceylon,
“Where Ravan held his royal sway.
Then to his captors chose to yield.”
“The town he burned with hostile flame,
With tidings of the interview." Rama, accompanied by Hanuman, Sugriva, and legions of monkeys, set out to rescue the captive lady. A bridge was thrown across the narrow sea between the continent and Ceylon, and the host crossed
* Jatayu, a semi-divine bird who fought in defense of Sita. FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XXXII.-8
“ To Lanka's golden town,
Where Rama's hand smote Ravan down." *
“ To meet her husband Sita came;
Uninjured, pure from spot and stain."
“Met by his faithful brothers there,
He loosed his votive coil of hair;
And o'er his father's kingdom reigned.”
“ Disease or famine ne'er oppressed
His happy people, richly blest
To bless the days of Rama's reign." With this introduction, which fills four cantos, and which, evi. dently, is the work of a later hand than Valmiki's, the poem properly begins. First comes a beautiful description of Ayodhya, the capital city of the old kingdom :$
“ On Sarju's bank, of ample size,
* The rocks lying between Ceylon and the mainland are still called Rama's Bridge by the Hindus.
+ The Brahmans count four ages, the Krita, (age of the gods, the perfect or golden age,) the Treta, (the age of the three sacred fires,) the Dwapara, (the age of doubt,) and the Kali, (the present time, the age of evil.)
| Now called Ajudhiya, an interesting mass of ruins, adjoining the city of Fyza. bad, eighty miles from Lucknow. The site is a grand one, and it is not at all dir. ficult to imagine just such a city as the poet sings of formerly existing here.