MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Location: file:///C:/CEB65AF3/MythsOfHindusBuddhists.htm Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset="us-ascii" MYTHS OF THE
MYTHS OF THE 
HINDUS & BUDDHISTS 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Victory of Buddha 
 
=
 
=
 
=
MYTHS OF THE 
HINDUS & BUDDHISTS 
 
=
 
=
 
=
THE SISTER NIVEDITA 
 
=
(MARGARET E. NOBLE) 
OF RAMAKRISHNA-VIVEKANANDA 
 
=
 
=
 
=
ANANDA K. COOMARASWAMY 
 
=
 
=
 
=
WITH THIRTY-TWO ILLUSTRATIONS =
IN 
 
=
COLOUR BY INDIAN ARTISTS UNDER=
 THE 
 
=
SUPERVISION OF 
 
=
ABANINDRO NATH TAGORE C.I.E. <=
o:p>
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
LONDON 
=
 
=
GEORGE G. HARRAP tf COMPANY 
 
=
2 W 3 PORTSMOUTH STREET KINGSWAY WC 
 
=
1914 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
 
=
PRINTED AT <=
/pre>
 
=
THE BALLANTYNE PRESS 
LONDON, ENGLAND 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
PREFACE 
 
=
SISTER NIVEDITA, to whom the p=
resent work was 
first entrusted, needs no intr=
oduction to Western or 
to Indian readers. A most sinc=
ere disciple of Swami 
Vivekananda, who was himself a=
 follower of the great 
Ramakrishna, she brought to th=
e study of Indian life and 
literature a sound knowledge o=
f Western educational and 
social science, and an unsurpa=
ssed enthusiasm of devotion 
to the peoples and the ideals =
of her adopted country. Her 
chief works are The Web of Ind=
ian Life, almost the only fair 
account of Hindu society writt=
en in English, and Kali the 
Mother, where also for the fir=
st time the profound tender 
ness and terror of the Indian =
Mother-cult are presented to 
Western readers in such a mann=
er as to reveal its true reli 
gious and social significance.=
 Through these books Nivedita 
became not merely an interpret=
er of India to Europe, but 
even more, the inspiration of =
a new race of Indian students, 
no longer anxious to be Anglic=
ized, but convinced that all 
real progress, as distinct fro=
m mere political controversy, 
must be based on national idea=
ls, upon intentions already 
clearly expressed in religion =
and art. 
Sister Nivedita s untimely dea=
th in 1911 has made it 
necessary that the present wor=
k should be completed by 
another hand. The following pa=
rts of the text as here 
printed are due to Sister Nive=
dita : Mythology of the 
Indo-Aryan races (pp. 1-5) ; p=
p. 14-22 of the Introduction 
to the Ramayana ; the whole of=
 the Mahabharata (except 
pp. 186-190) ; part of the sec=
tion on Shiva (pp. 291-295) ; 
the comment on Kacha and Devay=
am (pp. 339-342) ; 
 
=
v 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
and the Story of Dhruva, Shani=
, Star-Pictures, etc. 
(pp. 378-3^8). The present wri=
ter is responsible for all 
else rather more than two-thir=
ds of the whole. 
The illustrations are reproduc=
ed from water-colour draw 
ings executed specially for th=
is book by Indian artists under 
the supervision of Mr. Abanind=
ro Nath Tagore, C.I.E., 
Vice-Principal of the Calcutta=
 School of Art, who has 
himself contributed some of th=
e pictures. 
The stories have thus the adva=
ntage, unique in the 
present series, of illustratio=
n by artists to whom they have 
been familiar from childhood, =
and who are thus well able 
to suggest their appropriate s=
piritual and material environ 
ment. 
=
 
=
It may be well to explain brie=
fly the principle on which 
these myths and legends have b=
een selected and arranged. 
My aim has been to relate in a=
 manner as close to the 
original as possible, but usua=
lly much condensed, such of 
the myths as are more or less =
familiar to every educated 
Indian, with whom I include al=
l those illiterate but wise 
peasants and women whose knowl=
edge of the Puranas has 
been gained by listening to re=
citations or reading, by 
visiting temples (where the st=
ories are illustrated in 
sculpture), or from folk-songs=
 or mystery-plays. The 
stories related here, moreover=
, include very much of 
which a knowledge is absolutel=
y essential for every 
foreigner who proposes in any =
way to co-operate with the 
Indian people for the attainme=
nt of their desired ends 
nowhere more clearly formulate=
d than in mythology and art. 
Amongst these are, I hope, to =
be included not only such 
avowed lovers of Indian ideals=
 as was Nivedita herself, 
vi 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Preface 
 
=
but also civil servants and mi=
ssionaries. The Indian 
myths here retold include almo=
st all those which are 
commonly illustrated in Indian=
 sculpture and painting. 
Finally, they include much tha=
t must very soon be 
recognized as belonging not on=
ly to India, =
but to the 
whole world; I feel that this =
is above all true of the 
Ramayana, which is surely the =
best tale of chivalry and 
truth and the love of creature=
s that ever was written. 
 
=
ANANDA K. COOMARASWAMY 
 
=
 
=
 
=
vii 
 
=
 
=
 
=
CONTENTS 
 
=
CHAPTER PAGE 
 
=
I MYTHOLOGY OF THE INDO-ARYAN =
RACES i 
 
=
II THE RAMAYANA 6 <=
/span>
 
=
III THE MAHABHARATA 118 <=
/o:p>
 
=
IV KRIS=
HNA 2I 7 
V BUDDHA 2 45 
 
=
VI SHIVA 286 
VII OTHER STORIES FROM THE PUR=
ANAS, EPICS, 
 
=
AND VEDAS 3*4 
 
=
VIII CONCLUSION 3 8 9 
 
=
GLOSSARY AND INDEX 4 01 <=
/o:p>
 
=
 
=
 
=
ILLUSTRATIONS 
 
=
 
=
 
=
THE VICTORY OF BUDDHA 
 
=
GARUDA 
 
=
RAMA S MARRIAGE 
 
=
THE DEATH OF MAR!CHA 
 
=
RAVANA FIGHTING WITH JATAYU 
 
=
RAMA SENDING HIS SlGNET-RlNG T=
O SlTA 
 
=
BURNING OF LANKA 
 
=
BUILDING OF RAMA S BRIDGE 
 
=
THE RETURN OF RAMA =
 
=
EKALAVYA 
 
=
THE TRIAL OF THE PRINCES =
 
=
THE HOUSE OF LAC 
 
=
KIRAT-ARJUNA 
 
=
KRISHNA INSTRUCTING ARJUNA 
 
=
YUDHISHTHIRA 
 
=
THE BIRTH OF KRISHNA 
 
=
KALIYA DAMANA 
 
=
RADHA AND KRISHNA 
 
=
THE BODHISATTVA S TUSKS <=
/o:p>
 
=
DEPARTURE OF PRINCE SIDDHARTHA=
 
 
=
BUDDHA AS MENDICANT 
 
=
THE FINAL RELEASE <=
/span>
 
=
THE ASCETICISM OF UMA 
 
=
THE DANCE OF SHIVA =
 
=
SHIVA DRINKING THE WoRLD-PoiSO=
N 
 
=
THE BIRTH OF GANGA 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Abanindro Nath Tagore 
 
=
Nanda LSI Bose 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
K. Venkatappa 
 
=
#&lt;& Lai Bose <=
/o:p>
 
=
Nanda Lai Box 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Nanda Lai Bose 
Surendra Nath Kar <=
/span>
Nanda Lai Bose 
Nanda Lat Bose 
Khitindra Nath Mazumdar <=
/o:p>
Khitindra Nath Mazumdar <=
/o:p>
Abanindro Nath Tagore 
Abanindro Nath Tagore 
Abanindro Nath Tagore 
Abamnaro Nath Tagore 
Nanda Lai Bose 
Khitindra Nath Mazumdar <=
/o:p>
Nanda Lai Bose 
Khitindra Nath Mazumdar <=
/o:p>
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
PAGE 
<= pre> 
=
16 
 
=
30 
 
=
56 
 
=
60 
 =
64 
 =
72 
 =
78 
 =
102 
 =
122 
 =
128 
 =
140 
 =
1 66 
<= pre> =
188 
 =
212 
 =
220 
 =
226 
 =
234 
 =
254 
 =
264 
 =
276 
 =
284 
 =
296 
 =
310 
 =
314 
 =
320 
 =
xi 
 =
 
=
 
=
PAGE 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus Sf Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
MANASA DEV! Khitindra Ndth Maz=
umdar 326 
 
=
YAMA AND NACHIKETAS Nanda Lai =
Hose 
 
=
PURORAVAS Khitindra Nath Mazum=
dar 
 
=
DAMAYANT! Khitindra Nath Mazum=
dar 
 
=
DHRUVA A sit Kumar Haldar 
 
=
KALI Surendra Nath Kar 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Xll 
 =
 
=
 
=
CHAPTER I : MYTHOLOGY OF THE <=
o:p>
INDO-ARYAN RACES 
 
=
The Study of Mythology 
 
=
IN the early history of man Asia formed a vast breeding- 
ground of civilization of whic=
h countries like Egypt, =
Arabia, Greece, India, and China were the extremities. <=
o:p>
Egypt=
 and Ar=
abia were destined later, from their 
geographical positions, to be = overrun and suffer destruc
tion of their culture. Greece and pre-eminently India <=
o:p>
formed what may be called culs=
-de-sac. Here, as if up the 
long shores of some hidden cre=
ek, would be forced the 
tidal wave of one epoch after =
another, each leaving on the 
coast a tide-mark that perhaps=
 none of its successors would 
be able entirely to cover. Hen=
ce, in India, =
we may hope 
to discover means of studying,=
 as nowhere else in the 
world, the succession of epoch=
s in culture. 
Civilization develops by new c=
onjunctions of tribes 
and races, each with its indiv=
idual outlook, the result of 
that distinctive body of custo=
m which has imposed itself 
upon them through the geograph=
ical conditions of what 
ever region formed their cradl=
e-land and school. Western 
Asia<=
/st1:place> is one of the central areas o=
f the world. Here by 
the very necessities of the co=
nfiguration the great high 
ways from North to South and E=
ast to West meet, and 
mercantile cities points of ba=
rter and exchange will 
grow up at the crossways. Equa=
lly obvious is it that 
India=
 and the remote parts of the <=
st1:place
w:st=3D"on">Nile Valley will form =
seats of occupation and produc=
tion. Here race upon race 
will settle and combine. Here =
agricultural nations will 
grow up. Here civilization wil=
l accumulate. And here 
we may look to see the gradual=
 elaboration of schemes of 
thought which will not only be=
ar their own history 
 
=
A I 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &P Bud=
dhists 
 
=
stamped upon them, but will in=
 their turn become causes 
and sources of dynamic influen=
ce upon the world outside. 
It is not impossible to recove=
r the story of the ideas 
which the Nile people have contributed to the world as we <=
/span>
know it. But those people them=
selves, so we are informed, 
have irretrievably relaxed the=
ir hold upon their own past. 
Between them and it there is o=
nly broken continuity, a lapse 
of time that represents no pro=
cess of cause and effect, but 
rather a perpetual interruptio=
n of such a series; for a 
single generation enamoured of=
 foreign ways is almost 
enough in history to risk the =
whole continuity of civiliza 
tion and learning. Ages of acc=
umulation are entrusted to 
the frail bark of each passing=
 epoch by the hand of the past, 
desiring to make over its trea=
sures to the use of the future. 
It takes a certain stubbornnes=
s, a doggedness of loyalty, 
even a modicum of unreasonable=
 conservatism maybe, to 
lose nothing in the long march=
 of the ages; and, even 
when confronted with great emp=
ires, with a sudden exten 
sion of the idea of culture, o=
r with the supreme temptation 
of a new religion, to hold fas=
t what we have, adding to it 
only as much as we can healthf=
ully and manfully carry. 
 
=
The Genius of India <=
o:p>
 
=
Yet this attitude is the crite=
rion of a strong national 
 
=
genius, and in India, =
since the beginning of her history, it 
 
=
has been steadily maintained. =
Never averse to a new idea, 
 
=
no matter what its origin, India h=
as never failed to put 
 
=
each on its trial. Avid of new=
 thought, but jealously 
 
=
reluctant to accept new custom=
 or to essay new expression, 
 
=
she has been slowly constructi=
ve, unfalteringly synthetic, 
 
=
from the earliest days to the =
present time. 
 
=
The fault of Indian conservati=
sm, indeed, has been its 
 
=
tendency to perpetuate differe=
nces without assimilation. 
 
=
* 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Motives of Religion <=
/o:p>
 
=
There has always been room for=
 a stronger race, with its 
own equipment of custom and id=
eals, to settle down in the 
interstices of the Brahmanical=
 civilization, uninfluenced 
and uninfluencing. To this day=
 Calcutta and Bombay 
have their various quarters Ch=
inese, Burmese, and what 
not not one of which contribut=
es to, or receives from, the 
civic life in the midst of whi=
ch it is set. To this day 
the Baniya of India is the Phoenix or Phoeni=
cian, perhaps 
of an older world. But this un=
mixingness has not been 
uniform. The personality of Bu=
ddha was the source of 
an impulse of religion to China a=
nd half a dozen minor 
nations. The Gupta empire repr=
esents an epoch in which 
foreign guests and foreign cul=
tures were as highly welcomed 
and appreciated in India as to-day in Europe and America=
. 
And finally only the rise of I=
slam was effective in 
ending these long ages of inte=
rcourse which have left 
their traces in the faith and =
thought of the Indian people. 
 
=
The Motives of Religion <=
/o:p>
 
=
Hinduism is, in fact, an immen=
se synthesis, deriving its 
elements from a hundred differ=
ent directions, and incor 
porating every conceivable mot=
ive of religion. The 
motives of religion are manifo=
ld. Earth-worship, sun- 
worship, nature-worship, sky-w=
orship, honour paid to 
heroes and ancestors, mother-w=
orship, father-worship, 
prayers for the dead, the myst=
ic association of certain 
plants and animals : all these=
 and more are included within 
Hinduism. And each marks some =
single age of the past, 
with its characteristic conjun=
ction or invasion of races 
formerly alien to one another.=
 They are all welded to 
gether now to form a great who=
le. But still by visits to 
outlying shrines, by the study=
 of the literature of certain 
definite periods, and by caref=
ul following up of the special 
 
=
3 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
threads, it is possible to det=
ermine what were some of the 
influences that have entered i=
nto its making. 
Now and again in history a gre=
at systematizing impulse; 
has striven to cast all or par=
t of recognized belief into the; 
form of an organic whole. Such=
 attempts have been madei 
with more or less success in t=
he compilation of books known! 
as the Purdnas, in the epic po=
em called the Rdmdyanm 
and most perfectly of all in t=
he Makabkarata. Each of 
these takes some ancient norm =
which has been perhaps! 
for centuries transmitted by m=
emory, and sets it down inj 
writing, modifying it and addi=
ng to it in such ways asj 
bring it, in the author s eyes=
, up to date. 
 
=
The Mahabharata 
 
=
The Mahabharata is the result =
of the greatest of the 1 
efforts thus made to conserve =
in a collected form all the 
ancient beliefs and traditions=
 of the race. The namej 
Mahabharata itself shows that =
the movement which cul-j 
minated in the compilation of =
this great work had behind! 
it a vivid consciousness of th=
e unity of the Bharata orj 
Indian people. For this reason=
 one finds in this work aj 
great effort made to present a=
 complete embodiment of the 
ideals to be found in the soci=
al organism, religion, ancient 
history, mythology, and ethics=
 of the Indian people. 
Hence if we want to follow Ind=
ian mythology from its 
dim Beginnings to its perfect =
maturity through all its 
multiform intermediate phases =
we cannot have a better ; 
guide than the Mahabharata. Fo=
r in India m=
ythology is 
not a mere subject of antiquar=
ian research and disquisition ;j 
here it still permeates the wh=
ole life of the people as a 
controlling influence. And it =
is the living mythology 
which, passing through the sta=
ges of representation of! 
successive cosmic process and =
assuming definite shape 
4 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Mahfibharata 
 
=
thereafter, has become a power=
ful factor in the everyday 
life of the people it is this =
living mythology that has 
found place in the Mahabharata=
. 
 
=
It should be understood that i=
t is the mythology which 
has left its clearest impress =
in the Mahabharata that has 
attained a fully developed for=
m, and exercised a potent 
influence on Indian society. O=
ther myths have for a time 
appeared in a vague nebular fo=
rm and then vanished like 
smoke, leaving little trace be=
hind ; they have not assumed 
any concrete forms in the memo=
ry of the race. Thus it is 
that we find a popular saying =
prevalent in Bengal that 
" Whatever is not in the =
Mahabharata is not to be found 
in the land of Bharata [India]." In the Mahabhar=
ata we 
find on the one hand the prima=
l forms of mythology, and 
on the other its fully develop=
ed forms also. We find in 
this creation of the Indian mi=
nd a complete revelation of 
that mind. <=
/pre>
 
=
In the infancy of the human mi=
nd men used to mix up 
their own fancies and feelings=
 with the ways of bird and 
beast, the various phenomena o=
f land and water, and the 
movements of sun and moon and =
stars and planets, and 
viewed the whole universe in t=
his humanified form. In 
later times, when man had atta=
ined the greatest importance 
in the eyes of man, the glory =
of stellar worlds paled before 
human greatness. 
 
=
In this book we have dealt wit=
h both these stages of 
mythology, the initial as well=
 as the final. On the one 
hand, we have given some glimp=
ses of the primal forms 
which mythology assumed after =
passing through the hazy 
indefiniteness of primitive ag=
es. On the other, we have 
related more fully the stories=
 of the age when mythology 
had reached its maturity. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
CHAPTER II : THE RAMAYANA 
 
=
Sources 
 
=
VALMlKI is a name almost as sh=
adowy as Homer. 
He was, no doubt, a Brahman by=
 birth, and closely! 
connected with the kings of Ay=
odhya. He col 
lected songs and legends of Ra=
ma (afterwards called 
Rama-Chandra, in distinction f=
rom Parashu-Rama) ; and 
very probably some additions w=
ere made to his work atj 
a later time, particularly the=
 Uttara Kanda. He is said! 
to have invented the shloka me=
tre, and the language and ; 
style of Indian epic poetry ow=
e their definite form to him. 
According to the Ramayana, he =
was a contemporary of; 
Rama, and sheltered Sita durin=
g her years of lonely exile, 
and taught the Ramayana to her=
 sons Kusa and Lava. 
The material of the Ramayana, =
in its simplest form, 
the story of the recovery of a=
 ravished bride, is not unlike 
that of another great epic, th=
e Iliad of Homer. It is notj 
likely, however, although the =
view has been suggested, 
that the Iliad derives from th=
e Ramayana : it is more prob 
able that both epics go back t=
o common legendary sources 
older than 1000 years B.C. 
 
=
The story of Rama is told in o=
ne of the Jatakas, which 
may be regarded as a shorter v=
ersion, one of many then 
current. Probably at some time=
 during the last centuries 
preceding Christ the current v=
ersions of Rama s saga 
were taken up by the Brahman p=
oet, and formed into 
one story with a clear and coh=
erent plot; while its com-! 
plete form, with the added Utt=
ara Kanda, may be as late 
as A.D. 400. As a whole, the p=
oem in its last redac- 
tion seems to belong essential=
ly to the earlier phase of the 
Hindu renaissance, and it refl=
ects a culture very similar to ! 
that which is visibly depicted=
 in the Ajanta frescoes (first , 
6
 
=
 
=
 
=
Ethic of the Ramayana 
 
=
to seventh century A.D.) ; but=
 of course the essential sub 
ject-matter is much more ancie=
nt. The version given in 
the present volume amounts to =
about one-twentieth of the 
whole Ramayana. It is a conden=
sed translation, in which 
all the most essential matters=
 are included ; while no 
episode or figure of speech ha=
s been added for which the 
original does not afford autho=
rity. 
 
=
Ethic of the Ramayana 
 
=
Not the least significant feat=
ure of Valmiki s epic lies 
in its remarkable presentation=
 of two ideal societies : an 
ideal good and an ideal evil. =
He abstracts, as it were, 
from human life an almost pure=
 morality and an almost 
pure immorality, tempered by o=
nly so much of the oppo 
site virtue as the plot necess=
itates. He thus throws into 
the strongest relief the contr=
ast of good and evil, as these 
values presented themselves to=
 the shapers of Hindu 
society. For it should be unde=
rstood that not merely the 
lawgivers, like Manu, but also=
 the poets of ancient India, =
conceived of their own literar=
y art, not as an end in itself, 
but entirely as a means to an =
end and that end, the 
nearest possible realization o=
f an ideal society. The poets 
were practical sociologists, u=
sing the great power of their 
art deliberately to mould the =
development of human 
institutions and to lay down i=
deals for all classes of men. 
The poet is, in fact, a philos=
opher, in the Nietzschean sense 
of one who stands behind and d=
irects the evolution of a 
desired type. Results have pro=
ved the wisdom of the 
chosen means ; for if Hindu so=
ciety has ever as a whole 
approached the ideal or ideals=
 which have been the guiding 
force in its development, it i=
s through hero-worship. The 
Vedas, indeed, belonged essent=
ially to the learned ; but 
the epics have been translated=
 into every vernacular by 
 
=
7 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
poets, such as Tulsi Das and K=
amban, ranking in power 
with Valmlki himself. The mate=
rial of the epics, more 
over, as also of many of the P=
uranas, has been made 
familiar not only to the liter=
ate, but also to all the un 
lettered, not excepting women,=
 by constant recitation, and 
also by means of the drama, in=
 folk-song, and in paint 
ing. Until quite modern times =
no Hindu boy or girl 
grew up unfamiliar with the st=
ory of the Ramayana ; and 
their highest aspiration was t=
o be like Rama or Slta. 
 
=
The Mythical Origin of Caste <=
o:p>
 
=
It is in the Ramayana, and in =
the Laws of Manu (c. 500 B.C.) 
that we find the chief account=
 of the ideal Hindu system 
of Colour (caste). The mythica=
l origin of Colour, 
according to Manu, is as follo=
ws : Brahmans are sprung 
from the mouth, Kshatriyas fro=
m the arm, Vaishyas from 
the thigh, and Shudras from th=
e foot of Brahma. This 
myth is true in an allegorical=
 sense ; it is used more 
literally to give divine sanct=
ion to the whole system. But 
it must not be supposed that M=
anu or Valmlki describes a 
state of society actually exis=
ting at any one time all over 
India. The history of Hindu society=
 might much rather 
be written in terms of the deg=
ree of approach towards or 
divergence from the systems of=
 the Utopists, Valmlki and 
Manu. How powerful their influ=
ence still is, compared 
even with the force of custom,=
 appears in the fact that it 
is at the present day the aim =
of many reformers by 
no means to abolish the caste =
system, but gradually to 
unite the sub-castes until non=
e but the four main Colours 
remain as effective social div=
isions. 
 
=
This development, combined wit=
h some provision for the 
transference from one caste to=
 another of those who are 
able and willing to adopt the =
traditions and accept the 
8 
 =
 
=
 
=
ValmTki s Ideal Society <=
/o:p>
 
=
discipline of a higher Colour,=
 is what the present writer 
would also desire. Transferenc=
e of caste, or the acquiring 
j of Colour, is continually go=
ing on even now, by the absorp- 
I tion of aboriginal tribes in=
to the Hindu system ; but 
j stories like those of Vishva=
mitra illustrate the immense 
i theoretical difficulty of su=
ch promotions. Against this 
extreme exclusiveness many pro=
tests have arisen in India, =
I the most notable being that =
of Buddha, who, so far from ac- 
ceptingthe divine right of a B=
rahman by birth, taught that 
Not by birth does one become a=
 Brahman : 
By his actions alone one becom=
es a Brahman. 
The strength of the hereditary=
 principle has always pre 
vailed against such reactions,=
 and the most that reformers 
have actually accomplished is =
to create new caste groups. 
 
=
Valmlkts Ideal Society 
 
=
Let us now examine very briefl=
y the nature of Valmiki s ideal 
society. From the first we are=
 impressed with its complexity 
and with the high degree of di=
fferentiation of the inter 
dependent parts of which it is=
 constituted. It is founded 
on the conception of gradation=
 of rank, but that rank is 
dependent, not upon wealth, bu=
t upon mental qualities 
only. The doctrine of reincarn=
ation is taken for granted ; 
and the conception of karma (t=
hat the fruit of actions 
bears inevitable fruit in anot=
her life) being combined with 
this, the theory logically fol=
lowed that rank must be 
determined solely by heredity.=
 He who deserved to be 
born as a Brahman was born as =
a Brahman, and he who 
deserved to be born as a Shudr=
a was born as a Shudra. 
This is the theory which finds=
 practical expression in the 
caste system, or, as it is kno=
wn to Indians, the system of 
" Colour" (varna\ in=
 modern vernacular, " birth " (jdti). 
Fundamentally, there are four = Colours : Brahmans, the
 
=
9 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus fif Buddhi=
sts 
 
=
priests and philosophers ; Ksh=
atriyas, the ruling and 
knightly class ; Vaishyas, tra=
ders and agriculturists ; 
and Shudras servants of the ot=
her three, who alone 
are " twice-born," t=
hat is, receive priestly initiation in 
early manhood. Besides these, =
there are recognized a 
vast number of subdivisions of=
 the four main classes, 
arising theoretically by inter=
marriage, and distinguishable 
in practice as occupation-cast=
es. 
 
=
For each Colour Hindu theory r=
ecognizes an appropriate 
duty and morality (dharma) : t=
o follow any but the " own- 
dharma" of a man s caste =
constituted a most disastrous 
sin, meriting condign punishme=
nt. In this conception 
of own-dharma there appears at=
 once the profound dis 
tinction of Hindu from all abs=
olutist moralities, such as 
the Mosaic or Buddhist. To tak=
e one concrete example, 
the Mosaic Decalogue lays down=
 the commandment, 
"Thou shalt not kill,&quo=
t; and this commandment is 
nominally binding equally upon=
 the philosopher, the 
soldier, and the merchant a so=
mewhat illogical position. 
But Hinduism, permeated though=
 it be by the doctrine 
of ahimsa, harmlessness, does =
not attempt to enforce 
it upon the Kshatriyas or Shud=
ras : it is the hermit and 
philosopher above all who must=
 not kill or hurt any 
living thing, while the knight=
 who shrank, in time of 
need, from slaying men or anim=
als would not be praise 
worthy as a humanitarian, but =
blameworthy as one who 
neglected to follow his own-mo=
rality. This very question 
is raised in the Ramayana, whe=
n Sita suggests to Rama 
that, as they are now dwelling=
 in the forests, the resort of 
hermits, they should adopt the=
 y^-morality, and refrain 
from slaying, not merely beast=
s, but even the rdkshasas ; * 
 
=
1 Rakshasas, daityas, yakshas,=
 and asuras are demons and devils 
 
=
constantly at war with men and=
 gods. 
 
=
IO 
 =
 
=
 
=
ValmTki s Ideal Society <=
/o:p>
 
=
but Rama replies that he is bo=
und both by knightly duty 
and by promise to protect the =
hermits, and that lie must 
obey the ordinance of chivalry=
. 
 
=
In its extreme form this doctr=
ine of own-morality is re 
presented as having been fully=
 realized in practice only in 
the golden age, when none but =
Brahmans practised asce 
ticism, or attained to Perfect=
 Enlightenment; in the second 
age the Brahmans and Kshatriya=
s were equally powerful, 
and it is said that in this ag=
e Mann composed the 
shastras (law-books) setting f=
orth the duties of the four 
varnas ; in the third age the =
Vaishyas also practised 
austerities ; and in the fourt=
h even the Shudras engaged 
in austere penances. Thus the =
four ages represent a pro 
gressive deterioration from an=
 ideal theocracy to a com 
plete democracy. In the time o=
f Rama the beginning of 
the fourth age is already fore=
shadowed by the one Shudra 
who became a yogi, and was sla=
in by Rama, not so much 
as a punishment as to avoid th=
e consequential disturbance 
of society, already manifested=
 in the untimely death of a 
Brahman boy. 
 
=
In an aristocratic society suc=
h as Valmlki contemplates 
the severity of social discipl=
ine increases toward the 
summit : those who have the gr=
eatest power must practise 
the greatest self-restraint, p=
artly because noblesse oblige* 
partly because such austere di=
scipline is the necessary 
condition without which power =
would rapidly melt away. 
It is needful to remember this=
 essential character of a true 
aristocratic society, if we ar=
e to understand some of the 
most significant, and to the d=
emocrat and individualist 
the most incomprehensible and =
indefensible, episodes of 
the Ramayana. Upon the Kshatri=
ya, and above all upon 
the king, devolves the duty of=
 maintaining dharma ; 
therefore he must not only pro=
tect men and gods against 
 
=
ii 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
violence, as by slaying the ra=
kshasas, but must himself for 
the sake of example conform to=
 the rules of accepted 
morality, even when these rule=
s have for him no personal 
significance whatever. It is t=
hus that Rama repudiates Sita 
twice, though all the time per=
fectly satisfied in his own mind 
of her complete faithfulness. =
This repudiation of Sita 
forms the most dramatic and re=
markable feature of the whole 
story. Rama and Sita are broug=
ht together after a year s 
separation, and at the close o=
f a long and arduous conflict : 
this moment, where modern sent=
iment would demand a 
" happy ending," is =
made the supreme test of character 
for both, and the final traged=
y is only postponed by the 
appearance of the gods and jus=
tification of Sita by ordeal. 
In these tragic episodes, form=
ing the culminating moral 
crisis in the lives of both Ra=
ma and Sita, Valmlki is com 
pletely and equally justified =
as a teacher and as an artist. 
Valmlki s ideal society is alm=
ost free from sin, whereby he 
is the better enabled to exhib=
it the far-reaching effects of 
the ill-doing of single indivi=
duals and of only faults. Even 
Kaikeyi is not made ignoble : =
she is only very young and 
blind and wilful ; but the who=
le tragedy of Rama s life and 
the fulfilment of the purposes=
 of the high gods follows on 
her wrongdoing. 
Over against this human world =
of the silver age is drawn the 
sinful and inhuman world of th=
e rakshasas, where greed and 
lust and violence and deceit r=
eplace generosity and self- 
restraint and gentleness and t=
ruth. But these evil passions 
are outwardly directed against=
 men and gods and all those 
who are, for the rakshasas, al=
iens: amongst themselves there 
are filial affection and the u=
ttermost of wifely devotion, there 
are indomitable courage and th=
e truest loyalty. The city of 
the rakshasas is pre-eminently=
 fair, built by Vishvakarman 
himself ; they practise all th=
e arts ; they worship the gods, 
 
=
12 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Story 
 
=
and by austerity and penance w=
in great gifts of them : in 
a word, they flourish like the=
. bay-tree, and if they arc 
evil, at least they are not ig=
noble. Amongst them are 
found some, like Vibhishana, n=
ot evil at all. After all, 
then, these rakshasas are not =
inhuman at all, but their 
estate is an image of the a-dh=
armic, unrighteous, aspect of 
human society an allegory whic=
h we should all under 
stand were it presented to us =
to-day for the first time, 
like the Penguins of Anatole <=
st1:country-region
w:st=3D"on">France.=
 
 
=
The Story 
 
=
The siege of Lanka is told in =
the original at great length 
and with grotesque humour. But=
 its violence is redeemed 
by many incidents of chivalric=
 tenderness and loyalty. 
Ravana, once slain, is thought=
 of by Rama as a friend ; 
Mandodarl grieves for him as S=
ita herself might grieve 
for Rama. The story is full of=
 marvels, but the magic 
element has often a profound s=
ignificance and is no merely 
fanciful embroidery. All the g=
reat powers possessed by 
the protagonists of one side o=
r the other are represented 
as won by self-restraint and m=
ental concentration, not as 
the fruit of any talisman fort=
uitously acquired. Thus the 
conflict becomes, in the last =
resort, essentially a conflict of 
character with character. Take=
 again the case of the 
magic weapons, informed with t=
he power of irresistible 
spells. Hanuman is struck down=
 and paralysed with one 
of these, but no sooner are ph=
ysical bonds added to the 
mental force than he is free. =
Here, surely, is clear 
evidence of an apprehension of=
 the principle that to fortify 
with violence the power of wis=
dom is inevitably an unsuc 
cessful policy. 
 
=
In such ways the significance =
of Valmlki s Ramayana 
becomes apparent to those who =
read or re-read it attentively, 
 
=
3 
 
=
 
=
 
=
s of the Hindus @P Buddhists <=
o:p>
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myth 
<= pre> 
=
and its lasting influence on I=
ndian life and character ideals 
becomes easily understandable.=
 It is hardly possible to 
turn aside from this aspect of=
 the myth of Rama and Slta 
without expressing profound re=
gret that this great means 
of education should have been =
eliminated from modern 
educational systems in India i=
n the name of religious 
neutrality. For it would scarc=
ely be going too far to say 
that no one unfamiliar with th=
e story of Rama and Slta 
can be in any real sense a cit=
izen of India, =
nor acquainted 
with morality as the greatest =
of Indian teachers conceived 
it. Perhaps one might go furth=
er and say that no one 
unfamiliar with the story of R=
ama and Slta can be a true 
citizen of the world. 
 
=
The Rdmayana as Animal Epos 
Here and there throughout the =
world we come upon 
whispers and echoes of the gre=
at animal epos of 
primitive man. As a whole it n=
o longer exists; it is no 
longer even recoverable. It ca=
n only be guessed at 
and inferred from a hint here,=
 a fragment there. But 
nowhere in the modern world is=
 the material for its 
restoration so abundant as in =
India. =
To this day in the 
Indian imagination there is a =
unique sympathy with 
animal expression. Man or boy,=
 gentle and simple alike, 
telling some story of mouse or=
 squirrel, will bring the tale 
to a climax with the very crie=
s and movements of the 
creature he has watched. It is=
 assumed instinctively that 
at least the fundamental feeli=
ngs, if not the thoughts, of 
furred and feathered folk are =
even as our own. And it is 
here, surely, in this swift in=
terpretation, in this deep 
intuition of kinship, that we =
find the real traces of the 
temper that went to the making=
 long ago of Buddhism 
and Jainism, the gentle faiths=
. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Ramayana as Animal Epos 
 
=
The Indian people are human, a=
nd cruelty occurs amongst 
them occasionally. The fact th=
at it is comparatively rare 
is proved by the familiarity a=
nd fearlessness of all the 
smaller birds and beasts. But =
in this unconscious atti 
tude of the Indian imagination=
, in its mimicry and quick 
perception of the half fun, ha=
lf pathos of the dumb 
creation, we have an actual in=
heritance from the child 
hood of the world, from that e=
arly playtime of man 
in which the four-footed thing=
s were his brethren and 
companions. =
 
=
This whimsical spirit, this me=
rry sense of kindred, speaks 
to us throughout the Buddhist =
Birth-Stories (Jdtakas), as 
a similar feeling does in ^Eso=
p s Fables or in the tales of 
Uncle Remus. The Jatakas, it i=
s true, deal with animal 
life as the vehicle of a high =
philosophy and a noble 
romance, instead of merely mak=
ing it illustrate shrewd 
proverbs or point homely wit. =
The love of Buddha and 
Yashodara formed the poetic le=
gend of its age, and there 
was nothing incongruous to the=
 mind of the period in 
making birds and beasts freque=
nt actors in its drama. 
Swans are the preachers of gos=
pels in the courts of kings. 
The herds of deer, like men, h=
ave amongst them chiefs 
and aristocrats, who will lay =
down their lives for those 
that follow them. Yet already,=
 even here, we see the 
clear Aryan mind at work, redu=
cing to order and distinct 
ness the tangled threads of a =
far older body of thought. 
Out of that older substance ar=
e born the tendencies that 
will again and again come to t=
he surface in the great theo 
logical systems of later times=
. Of it were shaped the 
heroes, such as Hanuman and Ga=
ruda, who step down into 
the more modern arena at every=
 new formulation of the 
Hindu idea, like figures alrea=
dy familiar, to join in its 
action. 
 
=
5 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
What we miss through all the p=
oetry of this gradual 
Aryanizing is the element of a=
we for this, though pre 
sent, is perpetually growing l=
ess. The Aryan mind is 
essentially an organizing mind=
, always increasingly 
scientific, increasingly ratio=
nal in its outlook upon things. 
The colour and caprice that ma=
ke early mythologies so 
rich in stimulus for the imagi=
nation are almost always 
the contribution of older and =
more childlike races. To 
humanity, in its first morning=
-hours, there seemed to be 
in the animal something of the=
 divine. Its inarticulate 
ness, not then so far removed =
from man s own speech, 
constituted an oracle. Its hid=
den ways of life and sudden 
flashings forth upon the path =
were supernatural. The dim 
intelligence that looked out f=
rom between its eyes seemed 
like a large benevolence, not =
to be compassed or fathomed 
by mortal thought. And who cou=
ld tell what was the| 
store of wisdom garnered behin=
d the little old face of the 
grey ape out of the forest, or=
 hoarded by the coiled snake 
in her hole beside the tree ? =
 
=
The Attraction of the Animal <=
o:p>
 
=
With all a child s power of wo=
nder, the thought of mani 
played about the elephant and =
the eagle, the monkey and 
the lion. Many tribes and race=
s had each its own mystic 
animal, half worshipped as a g=
od, half suspected of being 
an ancestor. With the rise of =
the great theological sys-i 
terns all this will be regimen=
ted and organized. From: 
being gods themselves the myth=
ical half-human creatures 
will descend, to become the ve=
hicles and companions of i 
gods. One of these will be mou=
nted on the peacock, ! 
another on the swan. One will =
be carried by the bull, 
another by the goat. But in th=
is very fact there will 
be an implicit declaration of =
the divine associations of the 
16 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Garuda 
 
=
 
=
 
=
L6 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Attraction of the Animal <=
o:p>
 
=
subordinate. The emblem thus c=
onstituted will mark a 
compromise, a synthesis of two=
 systems, two ideas one 
relatively new, and one incomp=
arably older and more 
primitive. For the same proces=
s that makes the Tenth 
Book of the Rig- Veda so marke=
dly different from its pre 
decessors, inasmuch as in it t=
he religious consciousness 
of the Sanskrit-speaking peopl=
e has begun to take note of 
the indigenous conceptions of =
the peoples of the soil, is 
characteristic of the advancin=
g consciousness of Hinduism 
throughout the historic period=
. The Aryan brain, with 
its store of great nature-gods=
 gods of sky and sun and 
fire, of wind and waters and s=
torm, gods who had so much 
in common with each other, thr=
oughout Aryan mythology, 
from the Hellespont to the Ganges had gradually to 
recognize and include the olde= r, vaguer, more dimly
cosmic deities of various Asia=
tic populations. The pro 
cess of this is perfectly clea=
r and traceable historically. 
Only the rival elements themse=
lves have to be assumed 
and enumerated. Of the growth =
of the mythology of 
Indra and Agni, of Vayu and Va=
runa we can say very little. 
In all probability it was born=
 outside India, =
and brought 
there, as to Greece,=
 in a state of maturity. And similarly, 
we cannot trace the steps by w=
hich the Indian imagination 
came to conceive of the univer=
se, or the god of the 
universe, as the Elephant-head=
ed. Obviously, the idea 
was born in India i=
tself, where the elephants ranged the 
forests and breasted the river=
s. The appearance of the 
same worship in such countries=
 as China and =
Japan is 
clearly a relic of some very a=
ncient religious influence 
brought to bear upon them from=
 the far south. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
B I 7 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
The Elephant-headed 
 
=
What exactly is signified by t=
his Ganesha, or Ganapati 
Lord of the Multitudes, or was=
 it primarily Lord of the 
Territory? What is the meaning=
 of that white elephant- 
head borne on that red body? V=
ast and cosmic he 
certainly is. Is he at bottom =
the white cloud glistening 
in the evening against the cri=
mson sun ? In any case he 
stands to this day as the god =
of success and of worldly 
wisdom. His divine attribute i=
s the simple one of 
fulfilling all desires. He is =
to be worshipped at the 
beginning of all worships, tha=
t they may be successful in 
their intention a sure proof o=
f long priority. In Japan <=
o:p>
it is said that he is known as=
 the god of the villages, and 
that he has something a trifle=
 rude in his worship. In 
itself this shows his great an=
tiquity, though as lord of the 
villages in India h=
e could not be so old as those of 
Southern Ind=
ia, which are always dedicated t=
o the Earth- 
Mother, with an altar of rude =
stone. 
 
=
How well we can enter into the=
 tenderness and awe of the 
primitive Indian man for this =
his great god! The 
depths of the night would seem=
 to be his vast form. All 
wisdom and all riches were in =
his gigantic keeping, He 
gave writing. He gave wealth. =
He was the starry 
universe itself. Success was h=
is to bestow. All that 
was, was contained within him.=
 How natural that he 
should be the Fulfiller of Des=
ire ! Ganesha is not the 
deity of a people who fear the=
ir god. He is gentle, calm, 
and friendly, a god who loves =
man and is loved by him. 
A genuine kindliness and a cer=
tain wise craft are written 
on his visage. But neither is =
he the god of any theo 
logical conception. He is obvi=
ous, simple, capable of a 
slight grossness, full of rude=
 vigour and primal mascu- 
18 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Epic of Hinduism 
 
=
linity, destined from his birt=
h to a marvellous future, both 
in faith and art, as the foref=
ront of all undertakings that 
are to make for success. Less =
ancient than the primitive 
Mother of the Dekkan villages,=
 he was nevertheless, it 
may be, the beginning of organ=
ized worship. He was 
already old when Buddhism was =
young. Above all, he is 
the god neither of priests nor=
 of kings, neither of theocracies 
nor of nations, but in all pro=
bability of that old diffusive 
mercantile culture, the civili=
zation of the Bharatas. To 
this day he is the god pre-emi=
nently of merchants, and it 
is a curious fact that in the =
Indian city, when a merchant 
is made bankrupt, the event is=
 notified to all comers by 
the office Ganeshas being turn=
ed upside down ! 
 
=
The Epic of Hinduism 
 
=
First of the popular scripture=
s of Hinduism written early 
in the Christian era, for the =
now consolidating nation 
was the epic poem of Valmiki k=
nown as the Ramayana. 
This is the world gospel of pu=
rity and sorrow, but also, 
no less notably, the fairy-tal=
e of nature. Since the begin 
ning of the reign of Ganesha t=
he age of the making of 
Buddhism and the Jataka had co=
me and gone, and with 
the passing centuries the sway=
 of the Aryan genius had 
been more and more clearly fel=
t. As in every work of 
art we obtain a glimpse of the=
 culture that precedes it, so 
in the Ramayana, while there i=
s a great deal that is 
prophetic of developments to c=
ome, we also find ourselves 
transported into the child-wor=
ld of an earlier age. Like 
all such worlds, it was one in=
 which birds and beasts 
could talk and comport themsel=
ves as men. To the folk 
of that time, it is clear, the=
 forest was a realm of mystery. 
It was inhabited by scholars a=
nd anchorites. It was full 
of beautiful flowers and fragr=
ance ; it was the haunt of 
 
=
19 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus dP Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
sweet-singing birds; and it wa=
s cool and green. All 
holiness might be attained und=
er its soothing influence. 
Any austerity might be practis=
ed in its ennobling 
solitudes. But it was also the=
 home of deadly beasts of i 
prey. And many of these were s=
urrounded by an added ] 
and supernatural terror ; for =
was it not known that the j 
demon Mancha had the power to =
change his shape at; 
will? Who, then, could tell wh=
ether even tiger or bear! 
were what it seemed, or someth=
ing more subtle and fear- i 
some still ? Amongst the eveni=
ng shadows walked strange j 
forms and malefic presences. M=
isshapen monsters and! 
powerful fiends, owning allegi=
ance to a terrible ten-headed j 
kinsman in distant Lanka, rang=
ed through its fastnesses. 
How often must the belated hun=
ter have listened in horror 
to whispering sound from the d=
arkness of trees and brush 
wood, feeling that he was acti=
ng as eavesdropper to the 
enemies of the soul ! 
 
=
But the gods were ever greater=
 than the powers of evil. 
It was, after all, the twiligh=
t of divinity that hung so thick 
about the forest-sanctuary. We=
re there not there the 
gandkarvas and siddhas musical=
 ministrants of the upper 
air ? Were there not apsards, =
the heavenly nymphs, for 
whose sake, at the moment of n=
ightfall, we must not 
venture too near the edge of t=
he forest pools, lest we catch 
them at their bathing and incu=
r some doom ? Were there 
not kinnaras, the human birds,=
 holding instruments of 
music under their wings ? Was =
it not known that amidst 
their silence slept Jatayu, ki=
ng for sixty thousand years 
of all the eagle-tribes, and t=
hat somewhere amongst them 
dwelt Sampati, his elder broth=
er, unable to fly because his 
wings had been scorched off in=
 the effort to cloak Jatayu 
from sunstroke? And all about =
the greenwood came and 
went the monkey hosts, weird w=
ith a more than human 
 
=
20 
 =
 
=
 
=
Hanuman 
 
=
wisdom, able at a word to make=
 the leafy branches blossom 
into beauty, and yet unhappy s=
trugglers with their own hot 
monkey-nature, ever imposing o=
n them, like a spell, a 
strange unspeakable destiny of=
 mischief and futility. 
It is an organized society, th=
is, that is predicated by the 
Indian imagination of the anim=
al races. They have their 
families and genealogies, thei=
r sovereigns and political 
alliances, and their personal =
lot of tragedy or comedy. 
Throughout the dramatic phases=
 of the Ramayana the 
counterplot is provided by the=
 five great monkeys whom 
Slta sees below her, seated on=
 a hill-top, when she is being 
borne through the evening sky =
by Ravana. Of these the 
chief is Sugriva, of the monst=
er neck, who has lost wife 
and kingdom at the hands of hi=
s elder brother Bali, and 
waits to be avenged on him. Su=
griva is thus a king in 
exile, surrounded by his couns=
ellors and captains, in a 
sense the enchanted prince of =
fairy-tales. There are 
scholars who find in this tabl=
eau of the five chief monkeys 
on the mountain-top a fragment=
 of some ancient cosmog 
ony, already, it may be, a sco=
re of millenniums old. 
 
=
Hanuman 
 
=
But there moves through the Ra=
mayana one being who, 
though also a monkey, is of a =
different order. In those 
parts of India where, as in the Himalayas or the interior 
<= pre>of Maha= rashtra, the symbols of primitive Hinduism still
abound, little chapels of Hanu=
man are as common as those 
of Ganesha, and the ape, like =
the elephant, has achieved 
a singular and obviously age-o=
ld conventionalism of form. 
He is always seen in profile, =
vigorously portrayed in low 
relief upon a slab. The image =
conveys the impression of 
a complex emblem rather than o=
f plastic realism. But 
there is no question as to the=
 energy and beauty of the 
 
=
21 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &lt;? =
Buddhists 
 
=
qualities for which he stands.=
 It may be questioned 
whether there is in the whole =
of literature another 
apotheosis of loyalty and self=
-surrender like that of 
Hanuman. He is the Hindu ideal=
] of the perfect servant, i 
the servant who finds full rea=
lization of manhood, of 
faithfulness, of his obedience=
; the subordinate whose 
glory is in his own inferiorit=
y. 
 
=
Hanuman must have been already=
 ancient when the 
Ramayana was first conceived. =
What may have been the 
first impulse that created him=
 it is now useless to guess. 
But he is linked to a grander =
order than that of Sugriva 
and Bal=
i, the princes whom he serves, inasmuch as he, like =
Jatayu, is said to be the son =
of Vayu, known in the Vedas 
as the god of the winds. In an=
y case the depth and 
seriousness of the part assign=
ed to him in the great poem 
assure him of unfading immorta=
lity. Whatever may have 
been his age or origin, Hanuma=
n is captured and placed 
by the Ramayana amongst religi=
ous conceptions of the 
highest import. When he bows t=
o touch the foot of 
Rarna, that Prince who is also=
 a divine incarnation, we 
witness the meeting-point of e=
arly nature-worships with 
the great systems that are to =
sway the future of religion. 
But we must not forget that in=
 this one figure those early 
systems have achieved the spir=
itual quality and made a 
lasting contribution to the id=
ealism of man. In ages to 
come the religion of Vishnu, t=
he Preserver, will never 
be able to dispense with that =
greatest of devotees, the 
monkey-god; and even in its la=
ter phases, when Garuda 
the divine bird, who haunted t=
he imagination of all 
early peopleshas taken his fin=
al place as the vehicle, or 
attendant, of Narayana, Hanuma=
n is never really displaced 
The wonderful creation of Valm=
iki will retain to the end of 
time his domination over the h=
earts and consciences of men 
 
=
 
=
 
=
22 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Story of Rama <=
/span>
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Story of Rama as told by <=
o:p>
One day the hermit Valmiki inq=
uired of the great rishi* 
Narada whether he could tell o=
f any man living perfect 
in goodliness, virtue, courage=
, and benevolence. Then 
Narada related to him all the =
story that is now called the 
Ramayana, for such a man as Va=
lmiki desired to hear of 
was the great Rama. 
 
=
Valmiki returned to his forest=
 hut. As he passed through 
the woods he saw a bird-man an=
d a bird-woman singing 
and dancing. But at that very =
moment a wicked hunter 
shot the bird-man with an arro=
w so that he died, and 
his mate bewailed him long and=
 bitterly. Then the 
hermit was moved by pity and a=
nger, and cursed the 
hunter and passed on. But as h=
e walked on, his words 
recurred to him, and he found =
that they formed a 
couplet in a new metre : "=
; Let this be called a shloka" 
he said. 
 
=
Soon after he reached his hut =
there appeared to him the 
four-faced shining Brahma, the=
 Creator of the World. Him 
Valmiki worshipped ; but the u=
nhappy bird-man and the 
new-made shloka filled his tho=
ughts. Then Brahma 
addressed him with a smile : &=
quot; It was by my will that 
those words came from thy mout=
h ; that metre shall be 
very famous hereafter. Do thou=
 compose in it the whole 
history of Rama; relate, O wis=
e one, both all that is 
known and all that is as yet u=
nknown to thee of Rama 
and Lakshmana and Janaka s dau=
ghter, and all the tribe 
of rakshasas. What is unknown =
shall be revealed to thee, 
and the poem shall be true fro=
m the first word to the last. 
Moreover, this thy Ramayana sh=
all spread abroad amongst 
 
=
1 A sage or priest of special =
authority, particularly one of the " seven 
rishis " who are priests = of the gods and are identified with the stars of
the Great Bear.
 
=
23 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &&=
amp;gt; Buddhists 
 
=
men so long as the mountains a=
nd the seas endure." So 
saying, Brahma vanished. =
 
=
Then Valmiki, dwelling in the =
hermitage amongst his dis 
ciples, set himself to make th=
e great Ramayan, that bestows 
on all who hear it righteousne=
ss and wealth and fulfilment 
of desire, as well as the seve=
ring of ties. He sought 
deeper insight into the story =
he had heard from Narada, 
and thereto took his seat acco=
rding to yoga l ritual, and 
addressed himself to ponder on=
 that subject and no other. 
Then by his yoga-powers he beh=
eld Rama and Slta, 
Lakshman, and Dasharatha with =
his wives in his king 
dom, laughing and talking, bea=
ring and forbearing, doing 
and undoing as in real life, a=
s clearly as one might see a 
fruit held in the palm of the =
hand. He perceived not 
only what had been, but what w=
as to come. Then only, 
after concentred meditation, w=
hen the whole story lay 
like a picture in his mind, he=
 began to shape it into 
skfokas, of which, when it was=
 finished, there were no less 
than twenty-four thousand. The=
n he reflected how it 
might be published abroad. For=
 this he chose Kusi and 
Lava, the accomplished sons of=
 Rama and Slta, who 
lived in the forest hermitage,=
 and were learned in the 
Vedas, in music and recitation=
 and every art, and very 
fair to see. To them Valmiki t=
aught the whole Ramayana 
till they could recite it perf=
ectly from beginning to end, 
so that those who heard them s=
eemed to see everything 
told of in the story passing b=
efore their eyes. Afterward 
the brothers went to Rama s ci=
ty of Ayodhya, where 
Rama found and entertained the=
m, thinking them to be 
hermits ; and there before the=
 whole court the Ramayana 
was first recited in public. ;=
 
 
=
1 Yoga, mental concentration; =
///, union. Yogi, one who practises 
yoga, an ascetic or hermit, 
 
=
24 
 =
 
=
 
=
Vishnu is born as Rama & h=
is Brothers 
 
=
Dashctratha and the Horse Sacr=
ifice 
There was once a great and bea=
utiful city called Ayodhya 
that is, "Unconquerable&q=
uot; in the country of Koshala. 
There all men were righteous a=
nd happy, well read and 
contented, truthful, well prov=
ided with goods, self-re 
strained and charitable and fu=
ll of faith. Its king was 
Dasharatha, a veritable Manu a=
mongst men, a moon 
amongst the stars. He had many=
 wise counsellors, amongst 
whom were Kashyapa and Markand=
eya, and he had also two 
saintly priests attached to hi=
s family, namely, Vashishtha 
and Vamadeva. To another great=
 sage, Rishyasringa, he 
gave his daughter Santa. His m=
inisters were such men 
as could keep their counsel an=
d judge of things finely ; 
they were well versed in the a=
rts of policy and ever fair- 
spoken. Only one desire of Das=
haratha s was unsatisfied : 
he had no son to carry on his =
line. Because of this, after 
many vain austerities, he dete=
rmined at last on the greatest 
of all offerings a horse sacri=
fice; and calling the family 
priests and other Brahmans, he=
 gave all necessary orders 
for this undertaking. Then, re=
turning to the inner rooms 
of the palace, he told his thr=
ee wives what had been set 
afoot, whereat their faces sho=
ne with joy, like lotus-flowers 
in early spring. 
 
=
When a year had passed the hor=
se that had been set free 
returned, and Rishyasringa and=
 Vashishtha performed the 
ceremony, and there was great =
festivity and gladness. 
Then Rishyasringa told the kin=
g that four sons would be 
born to him, perpetuators of h=
is race; at which sweet words 
the king rejoiced exceedingly.=
 
 
=
Vishnu is born as Rama and his=
 Brothers 
 
=
Now at this time all the deiti=
es were there assembled to 
 
=
receive their share of the off=
erings made, and being 
 
=
2 5 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @P Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
assembled together they approa=
ched Brahma with a petition. 
" A certain wicked raksha=
sa named Ravana greatly 
oppresses us," they said,=
 "whom we suffer patiently be- 
cause thou hast granted him a =
boon not to be slain by 
gandharvas, or yakshas, or rak=
shasas, or gods. But now 
his tyranny becometh past endu=
rance, and, O Lord, thou 
shouldst devise some method to=
 destroy him." To them 
Brahma replied: "That evi=
l rakshasa disdained to ask 
from me immunity from the atta=
ck of men: by man 
only he may and shall be slain=
." Thereat the deities 
rejoiced. At that moment there=
 arrived the great God 
Vishnu, clad in yellow robes, =
bearing mace and discus and 
conch, and riding upon Garuda.=
 Him the deities reve 
renced, and prayed him to take=
 birth as the four sons of 
Dasharatha for the destruction=
 of the wily and irrepressible 
Ravana. Then that one of lotus=
-eyes, making of himself 
four beings, chose Dasharatha =
for his father and disap 
peared. In a strange form, lik=
e a flaming tiger, he 
reappeared in Dasharatha s sac=
rificial fire and, greeting 
him, named himself as the mess=
enger of God. " Do thou, 
O tiger amongst men," sai=
d he, " accept this divine rice 
and milk, and share it amongst=
 thy wives." Then Dasha 
ratha, overjoyed, carried the =
divine food and gave a portion 
of it to Kaushalya, and anothe=
r portion to Sumitra, and 
another to Kaikeyi, and then t=
he fourth portion to Sumitra 
again. In due time four sons w=
ere born of them, sharing 
the self of Vishnu from Kausha=
lya, Rama ; from Kaikeyi, 
Bharata ; and from Sumitra, La=
kshmana and Satrughna ; 
and these names were given the=
m by Vashishtha. 
Meanwhile the gods created mig=
hty monkey-hosts, brave 
and wise and swift, shape-shif=
ters, hardly to be slain, to 
be the helpers of the heroic V=
ishnu in the battle with the 
rakshasas. <=
/pre>
26 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Vishnu is born as Rama & h=
is Brothers 
 
=
The four sons of Dasharatha gr=
ew up to early manhood, 
excelling all in bravery and v=
irtue. Rama especially be 
came the idol of the people an=
d the favourite of his father. 
Learned in the Vedas, he was n=
o less expert in the science 
of elephants and horses and in=
 riding cars, and a very 
mirror of courtesy. Lakshmana =
devoted himself to Rama s 
service, so that the two were =
always together. Like a 
faithful shadow Lakshman follo=
wed Rama, sharing with 
him everything that was his ow=
n, and guarding him when 
he went abroad to exercise or =
hunt. In the same way 
Satrughna attached himself to =
Bharata. So it was till 
Rama reached the age of sixtee=
n. 
 
=
Now there was a certain great =
rishi named Vishvamitra, 
originally a Kshatriya, who by=
 the practice of unheard-of 
austerities had won from the g=
ods the status of brahma-rishi. 
He dwelt in the Shaiva hermita=
ge called Siddhashrama, 
and came thence to ask a boon =
from Dasharatha. Two 
rakshasas, Marlcha and Suvahu,=
 supported by the wicked 
Ravana, continually disturbed =
his sacrifices and polluted 
his sacred fire; none but Rama=
 could overcome these 
devils. Dasharatha welcomed Vi=
shvamitra gladly, and 
promised him any gift that he =
desired ; but when he learnt 
that his dear son Rama was req=
uired for so terrible and 
dangerous a service, he was ca=
st down, and it seemed 
as though the light of his lif=
e went out. Yet he could 
not break his word, and it cam=
e to pass that Rama and 
Lakshman went away with Vishva=
mitra for the ten days 
of his sacrificial rites. But =
though it was for so short a time, 
this was the beginning of thei=
r manhood and of love and 
strife. 
 
=
Vashishtha cheered Dasharatha =
s heart, assuring him of 
certain victory for Rama. So, =
with his father s blessing, 
Rama set out with Vishvamitra =
and his brother Lakshman. 
 
=
27 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
A cool breeze, delighted at th=
e sight of Rama, fanned their 
faces, and flowers rained down=
 upon them from the sky. 
Vishvamitra led the way ; the =
two brothers, carrying their 
bows and swords, wearing splen=
did jewels and gloves of 
lizard-skin upon their fingers=
, followed Vishvamitra like 
glorious flames, making him br=
ight with the reflection of 
their own radiance. 
 
=
Arrived at the hermitage, Vish=
vamitra and the other priests 
began their sacrifice ; and wh=
en the rakshasas, like rain- 
clouds obscuring the sky, rush=
ed forward in horrid shapes, 
Rama wounded and put to flight=
 Maricha and Suvahu, 
and slew the others of those e=
vil night-rangers. After the 
days of sacrifice and ritual a=
t Siddhashrama were over, 
Rama asked Vishvamitra what ot=
her work he required 
of him. 
 
=
Rama weds the Daughter ofjanak=
a 
Vishvamitra replied that Janak=
a, Raja of Mithila, was 
about to celebrate a great sac=
rifice. " Thither," he said, 
"we shall repair. And tho=
u, O tiger among men, shalt 
go with us, and there behold a=
 wonderful and marvellous 
bow. This great bow the gods g=
ave long ago to Raja 
Devarata; and neither gods nor=
 gandharvas nor asuras 
nor rakshasas nor men have mig=
ht to string it, though 
many kings and princes have es=
sayed it. That bow is 
worshipped as a deity. The bow=
 and Janaka s great 
sacrifice shalt thou behold.&q=
uot; 
 
=
Thus all the Brahmans of that =
hermitage, with 
Vishvamitra at their head, and=
 accompanied by Rama 
and Lakshman, set out for Mith=
ila; and the birds 
and beasts dwelling in Siddhas=
hrama followed after 
Vishvamitra, whose wealth was =
his asceticism. As 
they went along the forest pat=
hs Vishvamitra related 
28 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Rama weds the Daughter of Jana=
ka 
 
=
ancient stones to the two brot=
hers, and especially the 
story of the birth of Ganga, t=
he great river Ganges. 
Janaka welcomed the ascetics w=
ith much honour, and 
appointing them to seats accor=
ding to their rank, he 
asked who those brothers might=
 be that walked amongst 
men like lions or elephants, g=
odlike and goodly to be 
seen. Vishvamitra told King Ja=
naka all the history of 
Dasharatha s sons, their journ=
ey to Siddhashrama and 
fight with the rakshasas, and =
how Rama had now come to 
Mithila to see the famous bow.=
 
 
=
Next day Janaka summoned the b=
rothers to see the bow. 
First he told them how that bo=
w had been given by 
Shiva to the gods, and by the =
gods to his own ancestor, 
Devarata. And he added : "=
; I have a daughter, Slta, not 
born of men, but sprung from t=
he furrow as I ploughed 
the field and hallowed it. On =
him who bends the bow 
I will bestow my daughter. Man=
y kings and princes 
have tried and failed to bend =
it. Now I shall show the 
bow to you, and if Rama succee=
d in bending it I shall 
give him my daughter Slta.&quo=
t; 
 
=
Then the great bow was brought=
 forth upon an eight- 
wheeled cart drawn by five tho=
usand tall men. Rama 
drew the bow from its case and=
 strove to bend it ; it 
yielded easily, and he strung =
and drew it till at last it 
snapped in two with the sound =
of an earthquake or a 
thunder-clap. The thousands of=
 spectators were amazed 
and terrified, and all but Vis=
hvamitra, Janaka, Rama, and 
Lakshman fell to the ground. T=
hen Janaka praised Rama 
and gave orders for the marria=
ge to be prepared, and sent 
messengers to Ayodhya to invit=
e Raja Dasharatha to his 
son s wedding, to give his ble=
ssing and consent. 
Thereafter the two kings met a=
nd Janaka bestowed Slta 
upon Rama, and his second daug=
hter Urmila on Lakshman. 
 
=
29 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
To Bharata and Satrughna Janak=
a gave Mandavya and 
SrutakirtI, daughters of Kusha=
dhwaja. Then those four 
princes, holding each his brid=
e s hand, circumambulated 
the sacrificial fire, the marr=
iage dais, the king, and all the 
hermits thrice, while flowers =
rained down from heaven and 
celestial music sounded. Then =
Dasharatha and his sons 
and their four brides returned=
 home, taking with them many 
presents, and were welcomed by=
 Kaushalya and Sumitra 
and the slender- waisted Kaike=
yl. Having thus won honour, 
wealth, and noble brides, thos=
e four best of men dwelt at 
Ayodhya, serving their father.=
 
 
=
Now, of those four sons, Rama =
was dearest to his father 
and to all men of Ayodhya. In =
every virtue he ex 
celled; for he was of serene t=
emper under all circum 
stances of fortune or misfortu=
ne, never vainly angered ; he 
remembered even a single kindn=
ess, but forgot a hundred 
injuries ; he was learned in t=
he Vedas and in all arts and 
sciences of peace and war, suc=
h as hospitality, and policy, 
and logic, and poetry, and tra=
ining horses and elephants, 
and archery; he honoured those=
 of ripe age; he regarded 
not his own advantage ; he des=
pised none, but was solici 
tous for the welfare of every =
one ; ministering to his father 
and his mothers, and devoted t=
o his brothers, especially 
to Lakshman. But Bharata and S=
atrughna stayed with 
their uncle Ashwapati in anoth=
er city. 
 
=
Rama to be installed as Heir- =
Apparent 
Now Dasharatha reflected that =
he had ruled for many, 
many years, and was weary, and=
 he thought no joy 
could be greater than if he sh=
ould see Rama established 
on the throne. He summoned a c=
ouncil of his vassals and 
counsellors and neighbouring k=
ings and princes who were 
accustomed to reside in Ayodhy=
a, and in solemn words, 
30 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Rama s Marriage 
 
=
 
=
 
=
30 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama to be installed as Heir-A=
pparent 
 
=
like the thunder of drums, add=
ressed this parliament of 
men : 
=
 
=
"Ye well know that for ma=
ny long years I have 
governed this realm, being as =
a father to those that dwell 
therein. Thinking not to gain =
my own happiness, I have 
spent my days in ruling accord=
ing unto dharma* Now 
I wish for rest, and would ins=
tall my eldest son Rama as 
heir-apparent and entrust the =
government to him. But 
herein, my lords, I seek for y=
our approval ; for the thought 
of the dispassionate is other =
than the thought of the 
inflamed, and truth arises fro=
m the conflict of various 
views." The princes rejoi=
ced at the king s words, as 
peacocks dance at the sight of=
 heavy rain-clouds. There 
arose the hum of many voices, =
as for a time the Brahmans 
and army-leaders, citizens and=
 countrymen considered 
together. Then they answered :=
 
 
=
" O aged king, assuredly =
we wish to see Prince Rama 
installed as heir-apparent, ri=
ding the elephant of state, 
seated beneath the umbrella of=
 dominion." 
Again the king inquired of the=
m for greater certainty: 
"Why would ye have Rama t=
o your ruler?" and they 
replied : 
 
=
" By reason of his many v=
irtues, for indeed he towers 
among men as Sakra amongst the=
 gods. In forgiveness 
he is like the Earth, in debat=
e like Brihaspati. He 
speaks the truth, and is a mig=
hty bowman. He is 
ever busied with the welfare o=
f the people, and not given 
to detraction where he finds o=
ne blemish amongst many 
virtues. He is skilled in musi=
c and his eyes are fair to 
look upon. Neither his pleasur=
e nor his anger is in vain ; 
he is easily approached, and s=
elf-controlled, and goes not 
forth to war or the protection=
 of a city or a province 
^ righteousness, the establish=
ed code of ethics. 
 
=
31 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @P Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
without victorious return. He =
is beloved of all. Indeed, 
the Earth desires him for her =
Lord." 
Then the king summoned Vashish=
tha, Vamadeva, and other 
of the Brahmans, and charged t=
hem to make ready for 
Rama s installation. Orders we=
re given for the purveyance 
of gold and silver and gems an=
d ritual vessels, grains and 
honey and clarified butter, cl=
oth as yet unworn, weapons, 
cars, elephants, a bull with g=
ilded horns, a tiger-skin, 
a sceptre and umbrella, and he=
aped-up rice and curds and 
milk for the feeding of hundre=
ds and thousands. Flags were 
hoisted, the roads were watere=
d, garlands hung on every 
door; knights were notified to=
 be present in their mail, 
and dancers and singers to hol=
d themselves in readiness. 
Then Dasharatha sent for Rama,=
 that long-armed hero, 
like the moon in beauty, and g=
laddening the eyes of all men. 
Rama passed through the assemb=
ly, like a moon in the 
clear starry autumn sky, and b=
ending low worshipped his 
father s feet. Dasharatha lift=
ed him and set him on a seat 
prepared for him, golden and b=
egemmed, where he seemed 
like an image or reflection of=
 his father on the throne. 
Then the aged king spoke to Ra=
ma of what had been 
decided, and announced that he=
 should be installed as heir- 
apparent. And he added wise co=
unsel in these words : 
" Though thou art virtuou=
s by nature, I would advise 
thee out of love and for thy g=
ood : Practise yet greater 
gentleness and restraint of se=
nse ; avoid all lust and 
anger ; maintain thy arsenal a=
nd treasury ; personally 
and by means of others make th=
yself well acquainted with 
the affairs of state ; adminis=
ter justice freely to all, that 
the people may rejoice. Gird t=
hee, my son, and under 
take thy task." 
 
=
Then friends of Kaushalya, Ram=
a s mother, told her all 
that had been done, and receiv=
ed gold and kine and gems 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Rama to be installed as Heir- =
Apparent 
 
=
in reward for their good tidin=
gs, and all men with 
delighted minds repaired to th=
eir homes and worshipped 
the gods. 
 
=
Then again the king sent for R=
ama and held converse with 
him. " My son," he s=
aid, " I shall install thee to-morrow 
as heir-apparent ; for I am ol=
d and have dreamt ill 
dreams, and the astrologers in=
form me that my life-star is 
threatened by the planets Sun =
and Mars and Rahu. There 
fore do thou, with Slta, from =
the time of sunset, observe a 
fast, well guarded by thy frie=
nds. I would have thee soon 
installed, for the hearts even=
 of the virtuous change by 
the influence of natural attac=
hments, and none knoweth 
what may come to pass." T=
hen Rama left his father and 
sought his mother in the inner=
 rooms. He found her in 
the temple, clad in silk, wors=
hipping the gods and praying 
for his welfare. There, too, w=
ere Lakshman and Slta. 
Rama reverenced his mother, an=
d asked her to prepare 
whatever should be necessary f=
or the night of fasting, for 
himself and Slta. Turning then=
 to Lakshman," Do thou 
rule the Earth with me," =
he said, " for this is thy good 
fortune not less than mine. My=
 life and kingdom I desire 
only because of thee." Th=
en Rama went with Slta to his 
own quarters, and thither Vash=
ishtha also went to bless the 
fast. 
=
 
=
All that night the streets and=
 highways of Ayodhya were 
crowded with eager men ; the t=
umult and the hum of 
voices sounded like the ocean =
s roar when the moon is 
full. The streets were cleaned=
 and washed, and hung 
with garlands and strings of f=
lags and banners; lighted 
lamps were set on branching cr=
essets. The name of 
Rama was on every man s lips, =
and all were expectant 
of the morrow, while Rama kept=
 the fast within. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
33 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
The Scheming of Kaikeyl <=
/o:p>
 
=
All this time Bharata s mother=
, Kaikeyl, had not heard a 
word of Raja Dasharatha s inte=
ntion. Kaikeyl was young 
and passionate and very beauti=
ful; by nature she was 
generous, but not so kind or w=
ise that she might not 
be swayed by the crooked promp=
tings of her own desires 
or another s instigation. She =
had a faithful old hump 
backed nurse of an evil dispos=
ition ; Manthara was her 
name. Now Manthara, hearing th=
e rejoicings and learn 
ing that Rama was to be instal=
led as heir-apparent,! 
hurried to inform her mistress=
 of this misfortune to 
Bharata, as Rama s honour seem=
ed to her narrow view. 
"O senseless one," s=
he said, "why art thou idle and! 
content when such misfortune i=
s thine?" Kaikeyl asked 
her what evil had befallen. Ma=
nthara answered withj 
words of anger: "O my lad=
y, a terrible destruction) 
awaits thy bliss, so that I am=
 sunk in fear immeasurable * 
and afflicted with heaviness a=
nd grief ; burning like a fire, j 
I have sought thee hurriedly. =
Thou art verily a Queen of 
Earth; but though thy Lord spe=
aks blandly, he is crafty I 
and crooked-hearted within, an=
d wills thee harm. It is| ; 
Kaushalya s welfare that he se=
eks, not thine, whatever): 
sweet words he may have for th=
ee. Bharata is sent away, 
and Rama is to be set upon the=
 throne ! Indeed, my girl,!- 
thou hast nursed for thy husba=
nd a poisonous snake !j. 
Now quickly act, and find a wa=
y to save thyself and I 
Bharata and me." But Mant=
hara s words made Kaikeylj 
glad : she rejoiced that Rama =
should be heir, and giving 
a jewel to the humpbacked maid=
, she said : " What boon| 
can I give thee for this news?=
 I am glad indeed to heart 
this tale. Rama and Bharata ar=
e very dear to me, and I j 
find no difference between the=
m. It is well that Rama; J 
34 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Scheming of Kaikeyi <=
/o:p>
 
=
should be set upon the throne.=
 Have thanks for thy 
good news." 
 
=
Then the humpbacked servant wa=
s the more angry, and 
cast away the jewel. " In=
deed," she said, "thou art mad 
to rejoice at thy calamity. Wh=
at woman of good sense is 
gladdened by deadly news of a =
co-wife s son s preferment ? 
Thou shalt be as it were Kaush=
alya s slave, and Bharata 
but Rama s servant." 
 
=
But still Kaikeyi was not move=
d to envy. " Why grieve 
at Rama s fortune ? " she=
 said. " He is well fitted to be 
king ; and if the kingdom be h=
is, it will be also Bharata s, 
for Rama ever regards his brot=
hers as himself." Then 
Manthara, sighing very bitterl=
y, answered Kaikeyi : 
"Little dost thou underst=
and, thinking that to be good 
which is thy evil fortune. Tho=
u wouldst grant me a 
reward because of the preferme=
nt of thy co-wife ! Know 
surely that Rama, when he is w=
ell established, will banish 
Bharata to a distant land or t=
o another world. Bharata 
is his natural enemy, for what=
 other rival has he, since 
Lakshmana desires only Rama s =
weal, and Satrughna is 
attached to Bharata ? Thou sho=
uldst save Bharata from 
Rama, who shall overcome him a=
s a lion an elephant : thy 
co-wife, Rama s mother, too, w=
ill seek to revenge on thee 
that slight thou didst once pu=
t on her. Sorry will be thy 
lot when Rama rules the earth.=
 Thou shouldst, while 
there is time, plan to set thy=
 son upon the throne and 
banish Rama." =
 
=
Thus Kaikeyl s pride and jealo=
usy were roused, and she 
grew red with anger and breath=
ed deep and hard, and 
answered Manthara : 
 
=
"This very day Rama must =
be banished and Bharata in 
stalled as heir. Hast thou any=
 plan to accomplish this 
my will?" 
 
=
35 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
of the Hindus & Buddhists =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Then Manthara reminded her of =
an ancient pledge : how 
long ago in a great battle wit=
h the rakshasas Dasharatha 
had been wounded and almost sl=
ain ; how Kaikeyl had 
found him unconscious on the f=
ield of battle, and borne 
him to a place of safety and t=
here healed him; how 
Dasharatha had granted her two=
 boons, and she reserved 
those boons to ask them from h=
im when and as she would. 
" Now," said Manthar=
a, " ask thy husband for these boons : 
to establish Bharata as heir u=
pon the throne, and banish 
Rama to the forests for fourte=
en years. During those 
years Bharata shall be so well=
 established and make him- 
self so dear to the people tha=
t he need not fear Rama. 
Therefore do thou enter the An=
ger-chamber, 1 casting off 
thy jewels, and, putting on a =
soiled garment, vouchsafe no 
word or look to Dasharatha. Th=
ou art his dearest wife, 
to whom he can refuse nothing,=
 nor can he endure to see 
thee grieved. He will offer th=
ee gold and jewels, but do 
thou refuse every offer but th=
e banishment of Rama and 
the establishment of Bharata.&=
quot; 
 
=
Thus was Kaikeyl led to choose=
 that as good which was 
in truth most evil ; stirred u=
p by the humpbacked 
servant s words, the fair Kaik=
eyl started up like a mare 
devoted to her foal and rushed=
 along an evil path. She 
thanked and praised the humpba=
cked Manthara, and 
promised her many rich rewards=
 when Bharata should be 
set upon the throne. Then she =
tore off her jewels and 
beautiful garments, and flung =
herself down upon the floor 
of the Anger-chamber ; she cla=
sped her breasts and cried : 
" Know that either Rama s=
hall be banished and my son 
installed, or I shall die : if=
 Rama goes not to the forest, 
I will not desire bed or garla=
nd, sandal-paste or ointment, 
meat or drink, or life itself.=
" So, like a starry sky hidden 
1 A room set apart for an offe=
nded queen. 
 
=
36 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Scheming of KaikeyT <=
/o:p>
 
=
by heavy clouds, that royal la=
dy sulked and gloomed; 
like a bird-woman struck down =
by poisoned shafts, in her 
distress like a serpent s daug=
hter in her wrath. 
Then, while it was still long =
before the dawn, Dasharatha 
bethought him to inform Kaikey=
l of the coming ceremony. 
Not finding her in her painted=
 bower nor in his own 
rooms, he learnt that she had =
gone to the Anger-chamber. 
There he followed, and beheld =
his youngest wife lying 
upon the ground like an uproot=
ed vine or an ensnared doe. 
Then that hero, like a forest =
elephant, tenderly touched the 
lotus-eyed queen and asked wha=
t ailed her. " If thou 
art sick there are physicians =
; or if thou wouldst have 
any who deserve a punishment r=
ewarded, or those who 
should be rewarded punished, n=
ame thy wish : I can deny 
thee nothing. Thou knowest tha=
t I can refuse no request 
of thine ; ask then for whatso=
ever thou desirest and be 
comforted." 
 
=
Thus consoled, she answered: &=
quot;None has injured me; 
but I have a desire which, if =
thou wilt grant, I will tell 
thee of." Then Dasharatha=
 swore by Rama himself that 
he would accomplish whatever s=
he desired. 
Then Kaikeyl revealed her drea=
dful wish, calling the 
Heaven and Earth and Day and N=
ight and household 
gods and every living thing to=
 witness that he had 
promised to fulfil her will. S=
he reminded him of that old 
war with the asuras when she h=
ad saved his life and he 
had granted her two boons. Thu=
s the king was snared 
by Kaikeyl, like a deer enteri=
ng a trap. " Now those 
boons," she said, " =
which thou art pledged to grant me 
here and now, are these : let =
Rama, clad in deer-skin, lead 
a hermit s life in Dandaka for=
est for fourteen years, and 
Bharata be established as heir=
-apparent. Do thou now 
prove thy royal word, accordin=
g to thy race and character 
 
=
37 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
and birth. Truth, so the hermi=
ts tell us, is of supreme 
benefit to men when they reach=
 the next world." 
 
=
Dasharathds Dilemma 
 
=
Then Dasharatha was overwhelme=
d with grief and swooned 
away, and, coming to himself a=
gain, he prayed Kaikeyl to 
waive her right. For long he p=
leaded with her, weeping 
heavy tears and thinking all a=
n evil dream ; but Kaikeyl 
only answered with exhortation=
s to keep his sworn word, 
reminding him of many ancient =
exemplars of truth, such as 
Saivya, who gave his own flesh=
 to the hawk that pursued 
the dove he had protected, or =
Alarka, that gave his eyes 
to a Brahman. "If thou do=
st not fulfil what has been 
promised, thou art for ever di=
sgraced, and here and now 
shall I take my own life,"=
; she said. Then Dasharatha, 
urged by Kaikeyl like a goaded=
 horse, cried out : " I am 
bound fast by the bond of trut=
h: this is the root of 
all my seeming madness. My onl=
y wish is to behold 
Rama." =
 
=
Now dawn had come, and Vashish=
tha sent Rama s charioteer 
to tell the king that all was =
ready for the ceremony. 
Hardly able to say anything fo=
r grief, the king sent that 
charioteer to fetch Rama to hi=
s side. So, leaving Slta 
with happy words, Rama drove t=
hrough the gay streets to 
his father s palace; those who=
 had not the fortune to see 
Rama, or to be seen by him, de=
spised themselves, and 
were despised by all. 
 
=
Rama greeted the king and Kaik=
eyl dutifully, but Dasha 
ratha, altogether broken down =
and crushed to earth, could 
only murmur faintly, " Ra=
ma, Rama." Grieved at heart, 
Rama wondered if he had done a=
nything amiss, or if any 
misfortune had befallen his fa=
ther. " O mother," he said 
to Kaikeyi, " what sorrow=
 has overtaken my father s 
 
=
38 
 =
 
=
 
=
Dasharatha s Dilemma 
 
=
heart?" Then she answered=
 shamelessly: "O Rama, 
nothing ails thy father, but s=
omewhat he has to tell thee, 
and since thou art his dearest=
 son, he cannot frame the 
speech that injures thee. Yet =
thou shouldst perform what he 
has promised me. Long ago the =
Lord of the Earth promised 
me two boons : now in vain he =
would set up a dyke, after 
the water has all passed away =
for thou knowest that truth 
is the root of all religion. I=
f thou wilt accomplish what 
ever good or evil he ordains, =
I shall tell thee ail." Rama 
answered : " Dear lady, d=
o not speak such words to me ; for 
if he order, I can jump into t=
he fire or drink strong poison. 
Know that I shall carry out hi=
s wish : Rama s promise 
never fails." Then Kaikey=
l told him the story of the 
boons, and she said : "Th=
ese are the boons I have been 
promised : that thou shouldst =
dwell as a hermit in Dandaka 
forest for fourteen years, wit=
h dress of bark and matted 
hair, and that Bharata should =
be installed as heir-apparent 
on the throne to-day. Thy fath=
er is too much grieved 
to even glance at thee ; but d=
o thou save his honour by 
redeeming those great pledges =
he has given." 
Rama was not grieved or angere=
d by these cruel words, 
but answered quietly : " =
Be it as thou sayest. I am only 
sorry for my father s grief. L=
et messengers be sent at once 
for Bharata, while I, not ques=
tioning his wish, go to the 
forest. Even though he has not=
 himself commanded me, 
thy order is sufficient. Allow=
 me now to see my mother 
and to comfort Sita, and do th=
ou serve and tend both 
Bharata and our father, for th=
is is right." Then Rama, 
followed by Lakshman hot with =
anger, but himself unmoved, 
sought his mother, and found h=
er making offerings to 
Vishnu and other deities. Glad=
ly she greeted him, and he 
reverently her. Then he told h=
er all that had befallen : 
how Bharata should be appointe=
d heir, and himself should 
 
=
39 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
live for fourteen years an exi=
le in the forest. Like a great 
^/tree felled by the woodman s=
 axe, she sank to the ground 
and wept inconsolably. " =
O my son," she said, " hadst 
thou not been born, I should h=
ave grieved only because I 
had no son ; but now a greater=
 sorrow is mine. I am the 
eldest of the queens, and have=
 ever endured many things 
from the younger wives. Now I =
shall be as one of 
Kaikeyl s maidservants, or eve=
n less. She is ever of sour 
mood to me ; how may I now, ne=
glected by my husband, 
meet her eyes ? Twenty-seven y=
ears of thy life have I 
expected an end of grief, and =
now I know not why death 
delays to carry me away. All t=
he almsgiving and austerity 
have been in vain. Yet, O my d=
arling, I shall follow thee 
even to the forest, as a cow f=
ollows after her young one ; 
for I cannot bear the days til=
l thy return, nor dwell amongst 
the co- wives. Do thou take me=
 with thee, like a wild hind." 
But Lakshman urged his brother=
 to resist, with angry and 
impatient words, vowing to fig=
ht for Rama and blaming 
Dasharatha bitterly. Kaushalya=
 then joined her prayer 
to Lakshman s, and would seek =
death if Rama left her. 
But Rama, unmoved by lust of E=
mpire, answered 
Lakshman that Kaikeyl had been=
 but an instrument in 
the hands of Destiny ; that ot=
hers of his line had fulfilled 
hard tasks commanded by their =
fathers ; that he would 
follow the same path, for one =
obeying a father could not 
suffer degradation. " And=
, O gentle brother," he said, 
"I am determined to obey =
my father s order." To 
Kaushalya he answered: "T=
he king has been ensnared 
by Kaikeyl, but if thou dost l=
eave him when I am gone 
he will surely die. Therefore =
do thou remain and serve 
him, according to thy duty. An=
d do thou pass the time 
in honouring the gods and Brah=
mans." Then Kaushalya 
was calmed and blessed her son=
, commending him to the 
4O 
 =
 
=
 
=
Sita will follow Rama into Exi=
le 
 
=
gods and rishis and holysteads=
 and trees and mountains 
and deer of the forest and all=
 creatures of the sky to 
guard him. Then with sacred fi=
re and Brahman ritual she 
blessed his going and walked s=
unwise thrice about him, 
and he went to Sita. 
 
=
Sita, who knew nothing of what=
 had befallen, rose and 
greeted him with trembling lim=
bs, for he could no longer 
hide his grief. Then Rama told=
 her all that had been 
done, and he said: "Now B=
harata is king thou shouldst 
not praise me, even amongst th=
y friends ; so mayst thou 
dwell in peace as one favourab=
le to their party. Do thou 
thus dwell here in peace; rise=
 betimes, worship the gods, 
bow to the feet of my father D=
asharatha, and honour my 
mother Kaushalya, and after he=
r my other mothers with 
equal love and affection. Look=
 on Bharata and Satrughna 
as thy sons or brothers, for t=
hey are dearer to me than life. 
Thus live thou here, while I g=
o forth into the forest." 
 
=
Sita will follow Rama into Exi=
le 
Then Sita answered : " I =
can only mock at such unmeet 
words, not fitting to be heard=
, much less to be spoken by 
a great prince such as thou. F=
or, O my lord, a father, 
mother, son, brother, or daugh=
ter-in-law indeed abide by 
the result of their own action=
s ; but a wife, O best of men, 
shares in her husband s fate. =
Therefore I have been ordered, 
no less than thou, to exile in=
 the forest. If thou goest 
there I shall go before thee, =
treading upon thorns and 
prickly grass. I shall be as h=
appy there as in my father s 
house, thinking only of thy se=
rvice. I shall not cause thee 
trouble, but will live on root=
s and fruits. I will precede 
thee walking and follow thee i=
n eating. And there will be 
pools, with wild geese and oth=
er fowl and bright with full 
-blown lotus -flowers, where w=
e may bathe. There shall I 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
be happy with thee, even for a=
 hundred or a thousand 
years!" 
 
=
But Rama strove to dissuade he=
r by recounting a tale of 
hardships and dangers endured =
by forest-dwellers, as of 
fierce and wild animals, poiso=
nous serpents, a bed of 
leaves, scanty food, arduous r=
itual, hunger, thirst, and 
fear. But Sita, with tears in =
her eyes, answered patiently : 
"These evils seem to me l=
ike so many blessings if thou 
art with me, nor will I live f=
orsaken. Moreover, it was 
prophesied by Brahmans of my f=
ather s house that I should 
dwell in a forest, and a yogin=
i came to my mother when I 
was a girl and told the same t=
ale. Know that I am wholly 
bound to thee, as was Savitrl =
to Satyavan ; thy company is 
heaven to me and thy absence h=
ell. Following thee, I 
shall be blameless, for a husb=
and is as God to a wife. 
Do thou take me to share equal=
ly thy joy and sorrow, else 
will I drink poison, or burn i=
n fire, or drown in water!" 
So she prayed, while the big t=
ears trickled down her face 
like drops of water from the p=
etals of a lotus. 
Then Rama granted her desire :=
 " O fair one, since thou 
fearest not the forest thou sh=
alt follow me and share my 
righteousness. Do thou bestow =
thy wealth on Brahmans 
and make haste to be ready for=
 the journey." Then Slta s 
heart was gladdened, and she b=
estowed her wealth on 
Brahmans and fed the poor and =
made all ready for the way. 
 
=
Lakshman also Follows 
 
=
Now Lakshman, too, with tears =
in his eyes, held Rama s 
feet and spoke to him : "=
 If thou wilt go thus to the forest 
full of elephants and deer, I =
shall also follow, and together 
we shall dwell where the songs=
 of birds and the humming 
of bees delight the ear. I sha=
ll go before thee on the way, 
finding the path, carrying bow=
s and hoe and basket ; daily 
42 
 =
 
=
 
=
Lakshman also Follows 
 
=
I shall fetch the roots and fr=
uits thou needest, and thou 
shalt sport with Sita on the h=
ill-sides, while I do every w&lt; rk 
for thee." Nor could Rama=
 by any argument dissuade him. 
Take leave, then, of all thy r=
elatives," said Rama, "and 
bring away from my guru s 1 ho=
use the two suits of mail and 
burnished weapons given to me =
as bridal gifts by Janaka. 
Distribute my wealth amongst t=
he Brahmans." Then Rama, 
Sita, and Lakshman went to far=
ewell their father and the 
mothers of Rama. Then a noble =
Brahman named Sumantra, 
seeing Dasharatha broken by gr=
ief, and moved to pity at the 
going forth of Rama, prayed Ka=
ikeyl to relent, clasping his 
hands and using smooth but cut=
ting speech ; but that noble 
lady s heart was hardened, and=
 she might not in any wise be 
moved. But when Dasharatha wis=
hed to send Ayodhya s 
wealth and men with Rama to th=
e forest she paled and 
choked with anger, for she req=
uired that Rama should go 
destitute and that the wealth =
should belong to Bharata. 
But Rama said : " What ha=
ve I to do with a following in 
the forest ? What avails it to=
 keep back the trappings of 
a goodly elephant when the ele=
phant itself is renounced ? 
Let them bring me dresses of b=
ark, a hoe and basket." 
Then Kaikeyl brought a dress o=
f bark, one each for 
Rama and Lakshman and Sita. Bu=
t Sita, clad in robes 
of silk, seeing the robe of a =
nun, trembled like a doe 
before the snare and wept. The=
n would they persuade 
Rama to leave Sita to dwell at=
 home, abiding his return ; 
and Vashishtha rebuked Kaikeyl=
. " This was not in the 
bond," said he, "tha=
t Sita should go forth to the forest. 
Rather let her sit in Rama s s=
eat ; for of all those that wed, 
the wife is a second self. Let=
 Sita rule the earth in 
Rama s stead, being Rama s sel=
f, for be sure that Bharata 
1 Guru, a teacher, especially =
in matters of religion and philosophy, here 
also of martial exercises. 
 
=
43 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
will refuse to take the throne=
 that should be Rama s. 
Behold, Kaikeyi, there is not =
a person in the world who is 
not a friend to Rama : even to=
-day thou mayst see the 
beasts and birds and serpents =
follow him, and the trees 
incline their heads toward him=
. Therefore let Sita be 
well adorned and have with her=
 cars and goods and 
servants when she follows Rama=
." 
 
=
Then Dasharatha gave her robes=
 and jewels, and laying 
aside the dress of bark, Sita =
shone resplendent, while the 
people muttered against Kaikey=
i, and Sumantra yoked the 
horses to Rama s car. Rama s m=
other bade farewell to 
Sita, counselling her in the d=
uties of women, to regard her 
lord as God, though exiled and=
 deprived of wealth ; to 
whom Sita answered : " Th=
e moon may sooner lose its 
brightness than I depart from =
this. The lute without 
strings is silent, the car lac=
king wheels is motionless, so a 
woman parted from her lord can=
 know no happiness. How 
should I disregard my lord, wh=
o have been taught the 
greater and the lesser duties =
by those above me ? " 
Then Rama, taking leave of Das=
haratha and of his 
mothers, said with praying han=
ds : " If I have ever 
spoken discourteously, by lack=
 of thought, or inadver 
tently done any wrong, do ye p=
ardon it. I salute all ye, 
my father and mothers, and dep=
art." Then Sita, Rama, 
and Lakshman walked sunwise th=
rice about the king and 
turned away. 
 
=
Then Rama and Lakshman, and Si=
ta third, ascended the 
flaming car of gold, taking th=
eir weapons and coats of 
mail, the hoe and basket, and =
Slta s goods bestowed by 
Dasharatha ; and Sumantra urge=
d on the goodly horses, 
swift as the very wind. Men an=
d beasts within the city 
were stricken dumb with grief,=
 and, bereft of wit, rushed 
headlong after Rama, like thir=
sty travellers seeing water; 
 
=
44 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama & Sita & Lakshman=
 go into Exile 
even Rama s mother ran behind =
the car. Then Rama said 
to the charioteer, " Go t=
hou swiftly," for, like a goaded 
elephant, he might not bear to=
 look behind. Soon Rama was 
far away, beyond the sight of =
men gazing at the car s track. 
Then Dasharatha turned to Kaik=
eyl and cursed her with 
divorce from bed and home, and=
 seeing the city with empty 
streets and closed stalls, &qu=
ot;Take me speedily to Rama smother, 
Kaushalya s chamber; only ther=
e may I find any rest." 
 
=
\Rama and Sit a and Lakshman g=
o into Exile 
LDriving fast for two days, Ra=
ma reached the boundary of 
[Koshala, and, turning back to=
ward Ayodhya, bade farewell 
ito land and people. " O =
best of cities," said he, " I say it 
Ito thee and to the deities th= at guard and dwell with thee :
[returning from my forest home=
, my debt paid off, thee and 
Imy father and my mother I wil=
l see again." Then they 
lleft Koshala, rich in wealth =
and kine and Brahmans, and 
[passed through other smiling =
lands until they reached the 
(blessed Ganga, crystal clear,=
 resorted to by every creature, 
lhaunted by gods and angels, s=
inless and sin-destroying. 
[There Guha, king of Nishadha,=
 greeted them and fed their 
horses and kept guard over the=
m all night, and when the 
[dark cuckoo s note and the pe=
acock s cry were heard at 
Idawn he sent for a splendid f=
erry-boat. Then Rama asked 
Jfor starch-paste, and he and =
Lakshman dressed their hair 
in matted locks, after the fas=
hion of hermits dwelling in 
Ithe forest. Rama said farewel=
l to Guha, and Su mantra the 
[charioteer he bade go back to=
 Ayodhya, though he prayed 
Ito follow farther. Then as th=
ey crossed, Sita prayed to 
[Ganga for safe return after f=
ourteen years, vowing to 
[worship that River-Queen with=
 many offerings. 
(That night they dwelt by a gr=
eat tree on the farther 
bank and ate boar s flesh slai=
n by Rama and Lakshman; 
 
=
45 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus f Buddhist=
s 
 
=
and those two brothers vowed t=
o protect Sita and each 
other, whether in solitude or =
amongst men. Lakshman 
should walk in front, then Slt=
a, and Rama last. They 
talked also of Ayodhya, and Ra=
ma, fearing Kaikeyi s evil 
heart, would have Lakshman ret=
urn to care for Kaushalya; 
and he railed against Kaikeyl =
and somewhat blamed his 
father, swayed by a woman s wi=
ll. But Lakshman comforted 
his brother so that he wept no=
 more. " Thou shouldst not 
grieve," he said, " =
grieving Slta and me ; and, O Rama, 
I can no more live without the=
e than a fish taken out of 
water without thee I do not wi=
sh to see my father, nor 
Satrughna, norSumitra, nor Hea=
ven itself." Then Rama 
was comforted, and slept with =
Slta under the banyan-tree, 
while Lakshman watched. <=
/o:p>
 
=
Next day they reached the holy=
 place where Ganga joins 
with Jamna at Prayag ; there t=
hey came to the hermitage 
of Bharadwaja, guided by the w=
reathing smoke of his 
sacrificial fire, and they wer=
e welcome guests. Bharadwaja 
counselled them to seek the mo=
untain of Chitrakuta, ten 
leagues from Prayag. " Th=
ere is a fit abode for thee," he 
said, " graced with many =
trees, resounding with the cries 
of peacocks, and haunted by gr=
eat elephants. There are 
herds of elephants and deer. T=
hou shalt range the woods 
with Slta, and shalt delight i=
n rivers, meadows, caves, and 
springs, in the cries of cucko=
os and the belling of the 
deer, and in pleasant fruits a=
nd roots." Then he taught 
them how to come there, crossi=
ng the Jamna and passing 
the great banyan-tree Shyama, =
the Dusky, and thence by 
a fair sandy road through the =
Jamna forests. 
So Rama and Slta and Lakshman =
took leave of 
Bharadwaja and crossed the Jam=
na by a raft, and came 
to Shyama. Immediately on arri=
val there, Slta prayed 
to Jamna, vowing many offering=
s of kine and wine 
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Dasharatha s Grief ^P Death 
 
=
for Rama s safe return. To Shy=
ama Slta also prayed, 
saluting him with folded hands=
 : " O great tree, I bow to 
thee. May my lord s vow be all=
 fulfilled, and we again 
behold Kaushalya and Sumitra.&=
quot; Then as they went along 
the forest path, Slta, seeing =
trees and flowers unknown, 
asked Rama many questions, as =
of their names and 
virtues; and Lakshman brought =
her flowers and fruits to 
j pleasure her; and the rippli=
ng streams, and the cries of 
j cranes and peacocks, and the=
 sight of elephants and 
monkeys delighted her. 
 
=
Dn the second day they reached=
 the Chitrakuta mountain, 
ivhere was the hermitage of Va=
lmiki. Greeted by that 
ishi, Rama told him all that h=
ad befallen. Then Laksh- 
nan fetched divers sorts of wo=
od, and those brothers 
}uilt a goodly house with door=
s and thatched with leaves. 
Then Lakshman slew a deer and =
cooked it, and Rama 
nade ritual offerings to the d=
ivinities of that very place, 
md after communion with the de=
ities he entered the well- 
vrought thatched house with Sl=
ta and Lakshman, and 
.hey rejoiced with happy heart=
s and cast off grieving for 
\yodhya. 
 
=
DasJiarathds Grief and Death <=
o:p>
VIeanwhile Ayodhya was a place=
 of grief and mourning, 
without comfort for king or pe=
ople. On the fifth day of 
lama s exile, just when Kausha=
lya for a moment yielded 
to her sorrow and reproached h=
er lord, there came into 
Dasharatha s mind a recollecti=
on of a sin committed in a 
&gt;ast life by means of a=
n arrow-finding-its-mark-by-sound 
which sin now bore the fruit o=
f exile and death. 
Remembering this sin, he told =
Kaushalya the same night 
low it had been committed : 
 
=
I was then so skilled a bowman=
 as to earn the name of 
 
=
47 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
one who, aiming by sound alone=
, can hit the mark. Thou, 
 
=
lady, wert then unwedded, and =
I was a youthful prince. 
It was when rain first fell af=
ter the days of burning heat ; 
frogs and peacocks were rejoic=
ing, trees were shaken by 
the wind and rain, the hills w=
ere hidden by the heavy 
showers. On such a pleasant da=
y I went forth to hunt 
by the river Sarayu, and there=
 I heard a sound like the 
filling of a water-jar or the =
roaring of an elephant. 
Then I shot an arrow in the di=
rection of the sound, for it 
was dark, so that nothing coul=
d be seen. Then I heard 
moans and cries, and I found a=
 hermit by the bank, pierced 
by my shaft ; he told me of hi=
s estate and bade me seek 
his aged parents in the hermit=
age near by, and therewith 
died, and I lamented him. Then=
 I sought his father and 
his mother, who were anxious i=
n mind because of his delay, 
and confessed to them my deed =
; and the rishi, who by his 
curse might have burned me to =
a cinder, spared my life 
because I freely told him all =
that had befallen. But when 
the funeral pyre was ready, an=
d those aged ones, called 
by a vision of their son, burn=
ed their bodies with his upon 
the pyre, they twain cursed me=
 with a lesser curse, that 
in the end I should meet my de=
ath by grieving for a son. 
" Thou knowest, gentle la=
dy, that the fruit of good or evil 
actions is reaped by the doer =
thereof. Childish is anyone 
who does any action not consid=
ering consequences ! He 
that fells a mango grove and w=
aters other trees may hope 
for fruit when he beholds the =
flower ; but when the season 
for fruit cometh he will griev=
e ! So is it now with me : ; 
 
=
1 die of grief for Rama s exil=
e. I scarcely see thee, my 
senses are no longer keen ; I =
am like a smoking lamp that 
burns low when there is but li=
ttle oil remaining. O Rama, 
O Kaushalya, O unhappy Sumitra=
, O cruel Kaikeyi I " 
Thus lamenting, Raja Dasharath=
a died. 
 
=
4 s 
 =
 
=
 
=
Dasharatha s Grief ftP Death <=
o:p>
 
=
When news of this spread abroa=
d next day Ayodhya was 
 
=
plunged ^ in deeper grief, for=
 in a kingless country all 
 
=
goes amiss, rain does not fall=
, there are no rejoicings, nor 
 
=
prosperity, nor safety ; a kin=
gdom without a king is like a 
 
=
river without water, a wood wi=
thout grass, a herd of kine 
 
=
without a keeper ; a king is f=
ather and mother, and com- 
 
=
passeth the welfare of all men=
 and creatures. Considering 
 
=
thus, the palace officers and =
family priests took counsel, 
 
=
headed by Vashishtha, to send =
envoys to Bharata, with a 
 
=
message that he should come at=
 once for a matter that 
 
=
might not be delayed; but thes=
e envoys should not tell 
 
=
i him anything of Rama s exile=
 or the king s death. Riding 
 
=
I in well-horsed cars, those e=
nvoys, going very swiftly, reached 
 
=
on an evening the wealthy city=
 of Girivraja, in Kekaya, 
 
=
where Bharata was lodged with =
his maternal uncle. 
 
=
That same night Bharata dreamt=
 many evil dreams and 
 
=
i might not be comforted. &quo=
t;Either I or Rama or Laksh- 
 
=
|man or the king is about to d=
ie," he said. Then the 
 
=
| envoys entered and were well=
 received. Bharata inquired 
 
=
iif all was well with his fath=
er and mothers and brothers, 
 
=
land was assured that it was e=
ven so. Then the ambas- 
 
=
(sadors delivered their messag=
e, and Bharata told his 
 
=
I uncle and his grandfather, a=
nd took leave to go to Ayodhya. 
 
=
They conferred on him many gif=
ts, as woollen cloths and 
 
=
deer-skins and elephants and d=
ogs and swift horses ; but 
 
=
he, filled with anxiety becaus=
e of the dreams and the very 
 
=
hasty journey of the envoys, h=
ad little pleasure in the gifts, 
 
=
and taking with him Satrughna,=
 he departed quickly to 
 
=
Ayodhya. 
 
=
Kaikeyl s son beheld that best=
 of cities at sunrise on the 
seventh day. Seeing that all w=
as dark and silent in that 
place of sadness, and beholdin=
g many inauspicious sights 
foreboding ill, Bharata entere=
d the royal palace with a heavy 
 
=
D 49 
<= pre> 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
heart. Not seeing his father i=
n his quarters, he sought 
his mother Kaikeyl and touched=
 her feet. She rose from 
her golden seat delighted, and=
 asked him of his welfare 
and his journey. This he told =
her, and himself asked for 
the king. "Where is that =
lord of men," he said, " for I 
would fain touch his feet ? He=
 is most often here with 
thee, but thy room and couch a=
re empty. Is he, then, with 
Kaushalya? " Then Kaikeyl=
, blinded by lust of glory and 
deeming that desirable for Bha=
rata which he indeed con 
sidered evil, answered him: &q=
uot;Thy father has gone the 
way of everything that lives. =
5 Then long and sadly he 
bewailed, and said at last : &=
quot; Happy for Rama and those 
who were present when my sire =
yet lived, and might 
perform his death-bed rites. N=
ow, where is Rama, who 
is my father, brother, and fri=
end? I am his servant; I 
take refuge at his feet. Do th=
ou inform him that I am 
here. And do thou tell me how =
my father died and what 
were his last words." The=
n Kaikeyl told him how his 
father died, and these were hi=
s last words, she said : 
"Blessed are they that sh=
all see Rama and the strong- 
armed Lakshman returning here =
with Slta." Then 
Bharata apprehended fresh misf=
ortune, and asked his 
mother whither Kaushalya s son=
 and Slta and Lakshman 
had gone. "Rama has gone =
with Slta and Lakshman, 
wearing hermits robes, to Dand=
aka forest," she answered, 
and told him the whole story o=
f the boons, expecting that 
he would be pleased. But he wa=
s bitterly angered, and 
reproached Kaikeyl as Dasharat=
ha s murderer : " Like a 
burning coal, born for the des=
truction of our race art thou, 
whom my father unwittingly emb=
raced. Thou didst little 
know my love of Rama! Only for=
 his sake it is, who 
calls thee mother, that I reno=
unce thee not. Know that 
this kingdom is too great a bu=
rden for me, and even were 
 
=
50 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Regency of Bharata 
 
=
it not I would not receive it.=
 Now I shall bring back 
Rama from the forest and will =
serve him. But thou shalt 
suffer misery in this world an=
d the next; all that befits 
thee is to die by fire, or exi=
le, or with a cord about thy neck ! " 
Then came Kaushalya and Vashis=
htha and greeted 
Bharata ; and, guided by that =
skilful sage, Bharata per 
formed all his father s funera=
l rites, and with his mothers 
walked sunwise around the burn=
ing pyre, and after ten days 
mourning gathered up the ashes=
. Then, as he still grieved 
out of all measure, Vashishtha=
 counselled him, discoursing 
of the birth and death of bein=
gs and the pairs 1 that 
appertain to every creature. T=
hus comforted, those chiefs 
of men held up their heads aga=
in, like Indra s shining 
banner stained by sun and rain=
. 
 
=
The Regency of Bharata 
 
=
On the fourteenth day the mini=
sters requested Bharata to 
take his seat upon the throne =
; but he refused, and gave 
orders to prepare an expeditio=
n to go in search of Rama. 
When all was ready he mounted =
a car and set out on the 
way ; with him went six thousa=
nd other cars, and a 
thousand elephants, and a hund=
red thousand cavalry, and 
men of rank, and citizens, as =
merchants and traders, 
potters and weavers and armour=
ers, goldsmiths and 
washermen and actors, and besi=
de these many learned 
men and well-respected Brahman=
s. 
 
=
Passing through Guha s realm, =
the host was entertained 
by him, and again by Bharadwaj=
a at Prayag. One word 
Bharadwaja spoke to Bharata. &=
quot;Thou shoulclst not 
blame Kaikeyl," he said. =
"This exile of the king is for 
the good of men and gods and a=
suras and hermits." 
 
=
1 " The pairs," i.e.=
 the pairs ofopposites, pleasure, pain, &c., inseparable 
from life. <=
/pre>
 
=
51 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
From Prayag the mighty host ma=
rched on to Chitrakuta, 
and came to Rama s hermitage. =
Then Bharata advanced 
alone, and fell at his brother=
 s feet. This was the fashion 
of Rama : he sat in the leaf-t=
hatched house, crowned with 
matted locks and clad in a bla=
ck deer s skin ; like a flame 
he was and lion-shouldered, mi=
ghty-armed and lotus- 
eyed; lord of this sea-girt wo=
rld he seemed, like to the 
ever-living Brahma; and by his=
 side were Lakshmana 
and Slta. Then Bharata wept to=
 see his brother thus, who 
was used to royal state. But R=
ama raised him from the 
ground and kissed his head and=
 asked him of Dasharatha 
and his own well-being. Then B=
harata related all that 
had come to pass, and prayed R=
ama to return to Ayodhya 
and rule ; but Rama would not.=
 " How can I, commanded 
by my father and mother to dwe=
ll in the forest, do any 
otherwise ? Thou shouldst rule=
, in accordance with his 
will ; thou shouldst not blame=
 Kaikeyi, for obedience is 
the duty alike of sons and wiv=
es and disciples, nor is a 
mother s wish less binding tha=
n a father s." Then 
Bharata answered: "If the=
 kingdom is mine, I have the 
right to bestow it upon thee ;=
 do thou accept it." But 
Rama would not consent to this=
, nor be moved by any 
argument, whether of Bharata, =
or of his mother, or of 
Vashishtha, or of any of that =
host. Then Bharata prayed 
Rama for his golden sandals, a=
nd, bowing down to them, 
vowed thus : " For these =
fourteen years I shall dwell as a 
hermit without the walls of Ay=
odhya, making over to thy 
sandals the task of government=
. If then thou comest not, 
I shall die by fire." To =
this plan Rama agreed, and, 
embracing Bharata and Satrughn=
a, said, "So be it." 
One thing he added : " Do=
 thou not cherish resentment 
against Kaikeyi, but be kindly=
 toward her; this both 
myself and Slta pray thee.&quo=
t; Then Bharata walked sun- 
52 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Forest Life 
 
=
wise about Rama, and, placing =
the sandals on an elephant, 
took them back to Ayodhya, fol=
lowed by all that host of 
men. There he installed the sa=
ndals on the throne, and, 
living in retirement, carried =
on the government as their 
minister. 
 
=
Now, for two reasons, Rama wou=
ld no longer dwell at 
Chitrakuta : first, inasmuch a=
s hosts of rakshasas, out of 
hatred of him, annoyed the her=
mits of that place; and, 
secondly, because the host of =
men from Ayodhya had 
trampled and defiled the place=
; and, moreover, it re 
minded him too sharply of his =
brother s grief and the 
citizens and queen-mother s. H=
e went, therefore, with 
Sita and Lakshman toward Danda=
ka, and entered that 
deep forest like the sun that =
is hidden by a mass of clouds. 
 
=
The Forest Life 
 
=
Rama and Sita and Lakshman wan=
dered through the 
forest, welcome guests at ever=
y hermitage. The great 
sages dwelling in the hermitag=
es also complained against 
those devilish rangers of the =
night, and besought Rama s 
protection against them, which=
 he freely promised ; and 
when the gentle Sita one day s=
uggested that they should 
lay down their arms, abandonin=
g the rule of knights for 
that of saints, and ceasing fr=
om hostility even against the 
rakshasas " The very bear=
ing of weapons changeth the 
mind of those that carry them,=
" she said Rama answered 
that it might not be, for he w=
as pledged by knightly duty 
and personal promise. 
 
=
So Rama dwelt in the forest fo=
r ten years, staying a 
month, a season, or a year at =
one or another hermitage. 
Once a fierce rakshasa named V=
iradha seized Sita and 
would have carried her off, bu=
t Rama and Lakshman with 
huge labour slew him. Another =
time they met a mighty 
 
=
53 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
of the Hindus SP Buddhists 
 
=
 
=
 
=
vulture ; but he was a friend,=
 and announced himself as 
Jatayu and a friend of Rama s =
father. Jatayu promised 
Rama his help, and to guard Sl=
ta when Rama and 
Lakshman went abroad together.=
 
 
=
Last of all, Rama and Slta and=
 Lakshman came to Panchavati, 
where stretched a fair lawn be=
side the river Godaveri, whose 
banks were overhung by flowery=
 trees. The waters swarmed 
with fowl, throngs of deer dwe=
lt in the woods, the cries of 
peacocks resounded, the hills =
were covered with good trees 
and flowers and herbs. There L=
akshman built a spacious 
bamboo house, well thatched wi=
th leaves and with a well- 
smoothed floor. Thither Jatayu=
 also came ; and Rama, Slta, 
and Lakshman were contented, l=
ike the gods in Heaven. 
Now Rama was seated with Slta,=
 talking to Lakshman, 
when there came to Panchavati =
a fearful and hideous 
rakshasi, sister of Ravana ; a=
nd when she saw Rama, 
immediately she desired him. H=
er name was Surpanakha. 
Refused by Rama, she sought to=
 become Lakshman s 
wife, and, repulsed by him, sh=
e returned to Rama and 
would have slain Slta. Then La=
kshman seized his sword 
and cut off her nose and ears,=
 and she fled away bleeding, 
till she met her brother Khara=
, younger brother of 
Ravana. His anger at her misfo=
rtune knew no bounds, 
and he sent fourteen rakshasas=
 to slay those brothers and 
Slta and bring their blood for=
 Surpanakha to drink. But 
Rama slew all those evil creat=
ures with his arrows. 
Then Khara was indeed filled w=
ith furious anger, and set 
out himself with fourteen thou=
sand rakshasas, every one 
shape-shifters, horrible, prou=
d as lions, big of mouth, 
courageous, delighting in crue=
lty. As this host drove on 
many evil omens befell ; but K=
hara was fey and not to be 
turned aside from what he deem=
ed a small matter to slay 
three human beings. 
54 
 =
 
=
 
=
Ravana s Wrath 
 
=
Rama, perceiving the oncoming =
host, sent Lakshman with 
Sita to a secret cave, and cas=
t on his mail, for he would 
fight alone; and all the gods =
and spirits of the air and 
creatures of heaven came to be=
hold the battle. The 
rakshasas came on like a sea, =
or heavy clouds, and 
showered their weapons upon Ra=
ma, so that the wood- 
gods were afraid and fled away=
. But Rama was not 
afraid, and troubled the raksh=
asas with his marrow- 
piercing shafts, so that they =
fled to Khara for protection. 
He rallied them, and they came=
 on again, discharging 
volleys of uprooted trees and =
boulders. It was in vain ; 
for Rama, alone and fighting o=
n foot, slew all the fourteen 
thousand terrible rakshasas an=
d stood face to face with 
Khara himself. A dreadful batt=
le was theirs, as if between 
a lion and an elephant ; the a=
ir was dark with flying shafts. 
At last a fiery arrow discharg=
ed by Rama consumed the 
demon. Then the gods, well ple=
ased, showered blossoms 
upon Rama, and departed whence=
 they came. And Sita 
and Lakshman came forth from t=
he cave. 
 
=
Ravana s Wrath 
 
=
But news of the destruction of=
 the rakshasas was brought to 
Ravana, and he who brought the=
 news advised Ravana to 
vanquish Rama by carrying Sita=
 away. Ravana approved 
this plan, and sought out the =
crafty Marlcha to further his 
ends. But Marlcha advised Rava=
na to stay his hand from 
attempting the impossible, and=
 Ravana, being persuaded 
for that time, went home to La=
nka. 
 
=
Twenty arms and ten heads had =
Ravana : he sat on his 
golden throne like a flaming f=
ire fed with sacrificial 
offerings. He was scarred with=
 the marks of many wounds 
received in battle with the go=
ds; of royal mien and 
gorgeously apparelled was that=
 puissant and cruel rakshasa. 
 
=
55 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus SP Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
His wont was to destroy the sa=
crifices of Brahmans and 
to possess the wives of others=
 not to be slain by gods or 
ghosts or birds or serpents. N=
ow Surpanakha came to her 
brother and showed her wounds,=
 and told him of Rama and 
Sita, and taunted him for unki=
ngly ways in that he took 
no revenge for the slaughter o=
f his subjects and his brother ; 
then she urged him to bring aw=
ay Sita and make her his 
wife. So he took his chariot a=
nd fared along by the sea 
to a great forest to consult a=
gain with Maricha, who dwelt 
there in a hermitage practisin=
g self-restraint. 
Maricha counselled Ravana not =
to meddle with Rama. 
" Thou wouldst get off ea=
sily," he said, " if Rama, 
once angered, left a single ra=
kshasa alive, or held 
his hand from destroying thy c=
ity of Lanka." But 
Ravana was fey, and boasted th=
at Rama would be an easy 
prey. He blamed Maricha for il=
l-will toward himself, and 
threatened him with death. The=
n Maricha out of fear 
consented, though he looked fo=
r no less than death from 
Rama when they should meet aga=
in. Then Ravana was 
pleased, and, taking Maricha i=
n his car, set out for Rama s 
hermitage, explaining how Sita=
 should be taken by a ruse. 
 
=
The Golden Deer 
 
=
Maricha, obedient to Ravana, a=
ssumed the form of a golden 
deer and ranged about the wood=
 near Rama s hut : its 
horns were like twin jewels, i=
ts face was piebald, its ears 
like two blue lotus-flowers, i=
ts sleek sides soft as the petals 
of a flower, its hoofs as blac=
k as jet, its haunches slender, 
its lifted tail of every colou=
r of the rainbow a deer-form 
such as this he took ! His bac=
k was starred with gold 
and silver, and he ranged abou=
t the forest lawns seeking 
to be seen by Sita. And when s=
he saw him she was 
astonished and delighted, and =
called to Rama and Laksh- 
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Death of Marlcha 
 
=
 
=
 
=
56 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Golden Deer 
 
=
man, and begged Rama to catch =
or kill the deer for her, and 
she urged him to the chase. Ra=
ma, too, was fascinated by the 
splendid deer. He would not he=
ed Lakshman s warning 
that it must be a rakshasa dis=
guised. "All the more, then, 
must I slay it," said Ram=
a, "but do thou watch over Sita, 
staying here with the good Jat=
ayu. I shall be back again 
in a very little while, bringi=
ng the deer-skin with me." 
Now vanishing, now coming near=
, the magic deer led 
Rama far away, until he was we=
aried out and sank upon 
the ground under a shady tree =
; then it appeared again, 
surrounded by other deer, and =
bounded away. But Rama 
drew his bow and loosed an arr=
ow that pierced its breast, 
so that it sprang high into th=
e air and fell moaning on the 
earth. Then Marlcha, at the po=
int of death, assumed his own 
shape, and remembering Ravana =
s command, he bethought 
him how to draw Lakshman also =
away from Sita, and he 
called aloud with Rama s voice=
, "Ah, Sita! Ah, Laksh 
man." At the sound of tha=
t awful cry Rama was struck 
with nameless fear, and hurrie=
d back to Panchavati, leaving 
Marlcha dead. 
 
=
Now Sita heard that cry, and u=
rged Lakshman to go to 
Rama s help, upbraiding him wi=
th bitter words; for he 
knew Rama to be unconquerable,=
 and himself was pledged 
to guard Sita from all danger.=
 But she called him a 
monster of wickedness, and sai=
d that he cared nothing for 
Rama, but desired herself ; an=
d he might not endure those 
words, and though many an ill =
omen warned him, she 
forced him thus to go in searc=
h of Rama. So he bowed 
to her and went away, but ofte=
n turning back to glance at 
Sita, fearing for her safety. =
 
=
 
=
 
=
57 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
Slid Stolen =
 
=
Now Ravana assumed the shape o=
f a wandering yogi ; 
carrying a staff and a beggar =
s bowl, he came towards Sita 
waiting all alone for Rama to =
come back. The forest 
knew him : the very trees stay=
ed still, the wind dropped, i 
the Godaven flowed more slowly=
 for fear. But he came 
close to Sita, and gazed upon =
her, and was filled with evil 
longings ; and he addressed he=
r, praising her beauty, and j 
asked her to leave that danger=
ous forest and go with him : 
to dwell in palaces and garden=
s. But she, thinking him a 
Brahman and her guest, gave hi=
m food and water, and 
answered that she was Rama s w=
ife, and told the story of 
their life; and she asked his =
name and kin. Then he 
named himself Ravana and besou=
ght her to be his wife, 
and offered her palaces and se=
rvants and gardens. But 
she grew angry beyond all meas=
ure at that, and answered : 
" I am the servant of Ram=
a, lion amongst men, immov 
able as any mountain, vast as =
the mighty ocean, radiant 
as Indra. Wouldst thou draw th=
e teeth from a lion s 
mouth, or swim the sea with a =
heavy stone about thy 
neck? As well mightst thou see=
k the Sun or Moon as 
me ! Little like is Rama unto =
thee, but different as is a 
lion from a jackal, an elephan=
t from a cat, the ocean 
from a tiny stream, or gold fr=
om iron. Indra s wife thou 
mightst carry off, and live; b=
ut if thou takest me, the 
wife of Rama, thy death is cer=
tain, and I, too, shall surely 
die." And she shook with =
fear, as a plantain-tree is 
shaken by the wind. 
 
=
But Ravana s yellow eyes grew =
red with anger and the peace 
ful face changed, and he took =
his own horrid shape, ten- faced 
and twenty-armed; he seized th=
at gentle thing by the hair 
and limbs, and sprang into his=
 golden ass-drawn car, and 
 
=
58 
 =
 
=
 
=
Sita Stolen =
 
=
rose up into the sky. But she =
cried aloud to Lakshman and 
to Rama. " And O thou for=
est and flowery trees," she cried, 
" and thou Godaveri, and =
woodland deities, and deer, and 
birds, I conjure you to tell m=
y lord that Ravana has stolen 
me away." 
 
=
Then she saw the great vulture=
 Jatayu on a tree, and prayed 
him for help ; he woke from sl=
eep and, seeing Ravana and 
Sita, spoke soft words to the =
rakshasa, advising him to 
leave his evil course. Jatayu =
warned him that Rama would 
surely avenge the wrong with d=
eath, " and while I live 
thou shalt not take away the v=
irtuous Sita, but I will fight 
with thee and fling thee from =
thy car." Then Ravan, with 
angry eyes, sprang upon Jatayu=
, and there was a deadly 
battle in the sky; many weapon=
s he showered on Jatayu, 
while the king of birds wounde=
d Ravana with beak and 
talons. So many arrows pierced=
 Jatayu that he seemed 
like a bird half hidden in a n=
est; but he broke with his 
feet two bows of Ravana s, and=
 destroyed the sky-faring 
car, so that Ravana fell down =
on to the earth, with Sita on his 
lap. But Jatayu by then was we=
ary, and Ravana sprang up 
again and fell upon him, and w=
ith a dagger cut away his 
wings, so that he fell down at=
 the point of death. Sita 
sprang to her friend and clasp=
ed him with her arms, but 
he lay motionless and silent l=
ike an extinguished forest fire. 
Then Ravana seized her again a=
nd went his way across the 
sky. Against the body of the r=
akshasa she shone like golden 
lightning amidst heavy clouds,=
 or a cloth of gold upon a 
sable elephant. All nature gri=
eved for her: the lotus- 
flowers faded, the sun grew da=
rk, the mountains wept in 
waterfalls and lifted up their=
 summits like arms, the 
woodland deities were terrifie=
d, the young deer shed 
tears, and every creature lame=
nted. But Brahma, seeing 
Sita carried away, rejoiced, a=
nd said, "Our work is 
 
=
59 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myth 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
s of the Hindus & Buddhist=
s 
 
=
 
=
 
=
accomplished now," forese=
eing Ravana s death. The 
hermits were glad and sorry at=
 once : sorry for Sita, and 
glad that Ravana must die. 
 
=
Now, as they drove through the=
 sky in such a fashion Sita 
saw five great monkeys on a mo=
untain-top, and to them 
she cast down her jewels and h=
er golden veil, unobserved! 
of Ravana, as a token for Rama=
. But Ravana left behind 
the woods and mountains, and c=
rossed the sea, and came 
to his great city of Lanka l a=
nd set her down in an inner 
room, all alone and served and=
 guarded well. Spies were 
sent to keep a watch on Rama. =
Then Ravana returned 
and showed to Sita all his pal=
ace and treasure and 
gardens, and prayed her to be =
his wife, and wooed her in; 
every way ; but she hid her fa=
ce and sobbed with wordless 
tears. And when he urged her a=
gain she took a blade of- 
grass and laid it between Rava=
na and herself, and prophesied 
his death at Rama s hands and =
the ruin of all rakshasas, 
and utterly rejected him. Then=
 he turned from prayer to 
threats, and, calling horrid r=
akshasas, gave her to their) 
charge, and commanded them to =
break her spirit, whether | 
by violence or by temptation. =
There was the gentle Sita, j 
like a sinking ship, or a doe =
amongst a pack of dogs. 
 
=
Rama s IVrath 
 
=
Now Rama, returning from the c=
hase of Marlcha, was 
heavy-hearted ; meeting Lakshm=
an, he blamed him much ; 
for leaving Sita. The jackals =
howled and birds cried as 
they hurried back. As they cam=
e near to the hermitage 
the feet of Rama failed him, a=
nd a trembling shook his 
frame; for Sita was not there.=
 They ranged the groves 
of flowering trees, and the ri=
ver banks where lotus-flowers ; 
were open, and sought the moun=
tain caves, and asked the 
 
=
1 Lanka, according to the usua=
l view, Ceylon. 
60 
 =
 
=
 
=
HinHHHHH^HHB9^HHHHH9HKH^H!HHH =
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Ravana fighting with Jatayu 
 
=
 
=
 
=
60 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama s Wrath 
 
=
river and the trees and all th=
e animals where Slta was. 
Then Rama deemed that rakshasa=
s had eaten her, taking 
revenge for Khara. But next th=
ey came to where Jatayu 
had fought with Ravana, and sa=
w the broken weapons 
and the car and the trampled g=
round ; and Rama raged 
against all beings, and would =
destroy the very heavens 
and earth, unless the gods gav=
e back his Slta. Then 
they perceived the dying Jatay=
u, and deeming him to be 
a rakshasa that had eaten Slta=
, Rama was about to slay 
him. But Jatayu spoke feebly, =
and related to Rama all 
that had befallen, so that Ram=
a, throwing down his bow, 
embraced the friendly bird and=
 lamented for his death ; and 
Jatayu told of Ravana and comf=
orted Rama with assur 
ances of victory and recovery =
of Slta. But therewith his 
spirit fled away, and his head=
 and body sank down upon 
the ground ; and Rama mourned =
over his friend : 
"Ah, Lakshmana," he =
said, "this kingly bird dwelt here 
contented many years, and now =
is dead because of me: 
he has given up his life in se=
eking to rescue Slta. Be 
hold, amongst the animals of e=
very rank there are heroes, 
even amongst birds. I am more =
sorry for this vulture 
who has died for me than even =
because of Slta s loss." 
Then Lakshman brought wood and=
 fire, and they burned 
Jatayu there with every right =
and offering due to twice- 
born men, and spoke the mantra=
s for his speedy coming 
to the abodes of the shining g=
ods ; and that king of vul 
tures, slain in battle for a g=
ood cause, and blest by Rama, 
attained a glorious state. 
 
=
Then Rama and Lakshman set out=
 to search for Slta far 
and wide ; it was but a little=
 time before they met a 
horrid rakshasa, and it was no=
 light matter for them to 
come to their above in battle =
with him. But he, wounded 
to death, rejoiced, for he had=
 been cursed with that form 
 
=
61 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
by a hermit until Rama should =
slay and set him free. \ 
Rama andLakshman burnt him on =
a mighty pyre, and he 
rose from it and, mounting upo=
n a heavenly car, he spoke i 
to Rama, counselling him to se=
ek the help of the great 
monkey Sugriva and the four ot=
her monkeys that dwelt 
on the mountain Rishyamukha. &=
quot; Do not thou despise! 
that royal monkey," he sa=
id, " for he is puissant, humble, ! 
brave, expert, and graceful, g=
ood at shifting shapes, and; 
well acquainted with the haunt=
s of every rakshasa. Doi 
thou make alliance with him, t=
aking a vow of friendship; 
before a fire as witness, and =
with his help thou shalt 
surely win back Sita." Th=
en he departed, bidding them! 
farewell and pointing out the =
way to Rishyamukha; and! 
they, passing by Matanga s her=
mitage, came to that wooded j 
mountain, haunt of many birds,=
 beside the Pampa lake. 
 
=
Ramds Alliance with Sugriva 
It was not long before Rama an=
d Lakshman reached the; 
Rishyamukha mountain, where Su=
griva dwelt. Now this; 
Sugriva lived in exile, driven=
 from home and robbed ofj 
his wife by his cruel brother =
Vali ; and when he saw the; 
two great-eyed heroes bearing =
arms, he deemed them to! 
have been sent by Vali for his=
 destruction. So he fledi 
away, and he sent Hanuman disg=
uised as a hermit to speak; 
with the knights and learn the=
ir purpose. Then Lakshman \ 
told him all that had befallen=
, and that Rama now sought 
Sugriva s aid. So Hanuman, con=
sidering that Sugriva 
also needed a champion for the=
 recovery of his wife and! 
kingdom, led the knights to Su=
griva, and there Rama! 
and the monkey-chief held conv=
erse. Hanuman made fire 
with two pieces of wood, and p=
assing sunwise about it,| 
Rama and Sugriva were made swo=
rn friends, and each! 
bound himself to aid the other=
. They gazed at each other 
62 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Search for Slta 
 
=
intently, and neither had his =
fill of seeing the other. Then 
Sugriva told his story and pra=
yed Rama for his aid, and 
he engaged himself to overcome=
 the monkey-chief s brother, 
and in return Sugriva undertoo=
k to recover Slta. He told 
Rama how he had seen her carri=
ed away by Ravana, and 
how she had dropped her veil a=
nd jewels, and he showed 
these tokens to Rama and Laksh=
man. Rama knew them, 
but Lakshman said : " I d=
o not recognize the bracelets or 
the ear-rings, but I know the =
anklets well, for I was not 
used to lift my eyes above her=
 feet." 
 
=
Now, says the story, Rama fare=
d with Sugriva to Vali s 
city, and overcame Vali, and e=
stablished Sugriva on the 
throne. Then four months of th=
e rainy season passed away, 
and when the skies grew clear =
and the floods diminished, 
Sugriva sent out his marshals =
to summon the monkey host. 
They came from Himalaya and Vi=
ndhya and Kailas, from 
the east and from the west, fr=
om far and near, from caves 
and forests, in hundreds and t=
housands and millions, and 
each host was captained by a v=
eteran leader. All the 
monkeys in the world assembled=
 there, and stood before 
Sugriva with joined hands. The=
n Sugriva gave them to 
Rama for his service, and woul=
d place them under his 
command. But Rama thought it b=
est that Sugriva should 
issue all commands, since he b=
est understood the ordering 
of such a host, and was well a=
cquainted with the matter to 
be accomplished. 
 
=
The Search for Sit a 
 
=
As yet neither Rama nor Lakshm=
an nor Sugriva knew 
more of Ravana than his name ;=
 none could tell where he 
dwelt or where he kept Slta hi=
dden. Sugriva therefore 
dispatched all that host under=
 leaders to search the four 
quarters for a month, as far a=
s the uttermost bound of any 
 
=
63 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
land where men or demons dwelt=
, or sun shone. But he 
trusted as much in Hanuman as =
in all that host together; 
for that son of the wind-god h=
ad his father s energy and 
swiftness and vehemence and po=
wer of access to every 
place in earth or sky, and he =
was brave and politic and ; 
keen of wit and well aware of =
conduct befitting the time 
and place. And much as Sugriva=
 relied on Hanuman, 
Hanuman was even more confiden=
t of his own power. 
Rama also put his trust in Han=
uman, and gave him his 
signet-ring to show for a sign=
 to Slta when he should 
discover her. 
 
=
Then Hanuman bowed to Rama s f=
eet, and departed with 
the host appointed to search t=
he southern quarter, while 
Rama remained a month with Sug=
riva expecting his! 
return. And after a month the =
hosts came back from 
searching the north and west a=
nd east, sorry and dejected 
that they had not found Slta. =
But the southern host 
searched all the woods and cav=
es and hidden places, till, 
at last they came to the might=
y ocean, the home of 
Varuna, boundless, resounding,=
 covered with dreadful 
waves. A month had passed and =
Slta was not found ; 
therefore the monkeys sat deje=
cted, gazing over the sea: 
and waiting for their end, for=
 they dared not return tof 
Sugriva. 
 
=
But there dwelt a mighty and v=
ery aged vulture named 
Sampati in a neighbouring cave=
, and he, hearing the 
monkeys talking of his brother=
 Jatayu, came forth and 
asked for news of him. Then th=
e monkeys related to him 
the whole affair, and Sampati =
answered that he had seen 
Slta carried away by Ravana an=
d that Ravana dwelt in 
Lanka, a hundred leagues acros=
s the sea. " Do ye repair 
thither," he said, "=
 and avenge the rape of Slta and the 
murder of my brother. For I ha=
ve the gift of foresight, 
64 
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Kama sending his signet-ring t=
o Slta 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Sita found in Lanka 
 
=
and even now I perceive that R=
avan and Sita are there in 
Lanka." 
 
=
Sita found in Lanka 
 
=
Then the monkeys grew more hop=
eful, but when they 
marched down to the shore and =
sat beside the heaving 
sea they were again downcast, =
and took counsel together 
sadly enough. Now one monkey s=
aid he could bound 
over twenty leagues, and anoth=
er fifty, and one eighty, and 
one ninety ; and Angada, son o=
f Vali, could cross over a 
hundred, but his power would n=
ot avail for the return. 
Then Jambavan, a noble monkey,=
 addressed Hanuman, and 
recalled his birth and origin,=
 how the wind-god had 
begotten him and his mother An=
jana had borne him in 
the mountains, and when he was=
 still a child he had thought 
the sun to be a fruit growing =
in the sky, and sprang easily 
three thousand leagues toward =
it; how Indra had cast 
a bolt at him, breaking his ja=
w; how the wind-god in 
anger began to destroy the hea=
vens and earth, till Brahma 
pacified him and granted him t=
he boon that his son should 
be invulnerable, and Indra gav=
e him the boon of choosing 
his own death. " And do t=
hou, heroic monkey, prove thy 
prowess now and bound across t=
he ocean," he said, " for 
we look on thee as our champio=
n, and thou dost surpass all 
things in movement and in vehe=
mence." 
Then Hanuman roused himself, a=
nd the monkey host 
rejoiced. Swelling with pride =
and might, he boasted of 
the deed he would accomplish. =
Then he rushed up the 
mountain Mahendra, shaking it =
in his wrath and frighten 
ing every beast that lived in =
its woods and caves. Intent 
upon achieving a hard task, wh=
ere no friend could help 
and no foe hindered, Hanuman s=
tood with head uplifted 
like a bull, and praying to th=
e sun, to the mountain wind, 
 
=
E 65 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
to the Self-create and to all =
beings, he set his heart in thei 
work to be accomplished. He gr=
ew great, and stood, like 
a fire, with bristling hair, a=
nd roared like thunder, 
brandishing his tail ; so he g=
athered energy of mind and: 
body. "I will discover Sl=
ta or bring Ravana away in 
chains," he thought, and =
therewith sprang up so that the 
very trees were dragged upward=
 by his impetus and fell 
back again behind him. He hurt=
led through the air like 
a mountain, his flashing eyes =
like forest fires, his lifted tail 
like Sakra s banner. So Hanuma=
n held his way across the 
ocean. Nor, when the friendly =
ocean lifted up Mount 
Mainaka, well wooded and full =
of fruits and roots, would 
Hanuman stay to rest, but, ris=
ing up, coursed through the 
air like Garuda himself. Then =
a grim rakshasl named 
Sinhikha rose from the sea and=
 caught him by the 
shadow, and would devour him ;=
 but he dashed into her 
mouth and, growing exceeding g=
reat, burst away again, 
leaving her dead and broken. T=
hen he perceived the 
farther shore, and thinking hi=
s huge form ill-fitted for a 
secret mission, he resumed his=
 natural size and shape, and 
so alighted on the shore of La=
nka, nor was he ever so 
little wearied or fatigued. 
 
=
On the mountain summit Hanuman=
 beheld the city of 
Lanka, girt with a golden wall=
, and filled with buildings 
huge as cloudy mountains, the =
handiwork of Vishva- 
k^rman. Impatiently he waited =
for the setting of the 
sun ; then, shrinking to the s=
ize of a cat, he entered the 
city at night, unseen by the g=
uards. Now Lanka seemed 
to him like a woman, having fo=
r robe the sea, for jewels 
cow-pens and stables, her brea=
sts the towers upon her 
walls ; and behold, as he ente=
red in, she met him in a 
terrible shape and barred his =
way. Then Hanuman 
struck her down, though gently=
, considering her a woman, 
66 
 =
 
=
 
=
Sita found in Lanka 
 
=
and she yielded to him, and ba=
de him accomplish his affair. 
Hanuman made his way to the pa=
lace of Ravana, towering 
on the mountain-top, girt with=
 a wall and moat. By now 
the moon was full and high, sa=
iling like a swan across 
the skyey sea, and Hanuman beh=
eld the dwellers in the 
palace, some drinking, some en=
gaged in amorous dalli 
ance, some sorry and some glad=
, some drinking, some 
eating, some making music, and=
 some sleeping. Many a 
fair bride lay there in her hu=
sband s arms, but Sita of 
peerless virtue he could not f=
ind; wherefore that eloquent 
monkey was cast down and disap=
pointed. Then he sprang 
from court to court, visiting =
the quarters of all the 
foremost rakshasas, till at la=
st he came to Ravana s own 
apartments, a very mine of gol=
d and jewels, ablaze with 
silver light. Everywhere he so=
ught for Sita, and left no 
corner unexplored ; golden sta=
irs and painted cars and 
crystal windows and secret cha=
mbers set with gems, all 
these he beheld, but never Sit=
a. The odour of meat and 
drink he sniffed, and to his n=
ostrils there came also the 
all-pervading Air, and it said=
 to him, "Come hither, 
where Ravana lies." Follo=
wing the Air, he came to 
Ravana s sleeping-place. There=
 lay the lord of the 
rakshasas upon a glorious bed,=
 asleep and breathing 
heavily ; huge was his frame, =
decked with splendid jewels, 
like a crimson sunset cloud pi=
erced by flashes of lightning; 
his big hands lay on the white=
 cloth like terrible five- 
hooded serpents ; four golden =
lajmps on pillars lit his bed. 
Around him lay his wives, fair=
 as the moon, decked in 
glorious gems and garlands tha=
t never faded. Some, 
wearied with pleasure, slept w=
here they sat; one clasped 
her lute like an amorous girl =
embracing her lover ; another 
fair one, skilled in the dance=
, made graceful gestures even 
in her sleep; others embraced =
each other. There, too, 
 
=
07 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus SP Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
was Mandodari, Havana s queen,=
 exceeding all others in; 
her splendour and loveliness ;=
 and Hanuman guessed she 
must be Slta, and the thought =
enlivened him, so that he 
waved his arms and frisked his=
 tail and sang and danced 
and climbed the golden pillars=
 and sprang down again, as 
his monkey-nature moved him. <=
o:p>
 
=
But reflection showed his erro=
r, for he said : " Without 
Rama, Slta would not eat or dr=
ink or sleep or decorate 
her person, nor would she comp=
any with any other than he ; ; 
this is some other one." =
So Hanuman ranged farther 
through the palace, searching =
many a bower in vain. 
Many fair ones he beheld, but =
never Slta, and he deemed 
she must be slain or eaten by =
the rakshasas. So he left 
the palace and sat awhile in d=
eep dejection on the city wall. 
"If I return without disc=
overing Slta," he reflected, "my] 
labour will have been in vain.=
 And what will Sugriva 
say, and the sons of Dasharath=
a, and the monkey host? 
Surely Rama and Lakshman will =
die of grief, and after; 
them Bharata, and then Satrugh=
na, and then the queen- 
mothers, and seeing that, Sugr=
iva, Rama s friend, will die 
too, and the monkey-queens, an=
d Angada, and all the? 
monkey race ! No more shall th=
e noble monkeys assemble! 
amongst the woods and mountain=
s or in secret places and! 
indulge in games ; but a loud =
wailing will arise when I ! 
return, and they will swallow =
poison, or hang themselves, 
or jump down from lofty mounta=
ins. Therefore I must 
not return unsuccessful ; bett=
er that I should starve and die. 
It is not right that all those=
 noble monkeys should perish 
on my account. I shall remain =
here and search Lanka 
again and again ; even this As=
oka wood beyond the walls ! 
shall be examined." =
 
=
Then Hanuman bowed to Rama and=
 Slta, to Shiva, to 
Indra and to Death, to the Win=
d, the Moon and Fire, and 
68 
 =
 
=
 
=
Hanuman speaks with Sita =
 
=
:o Sugriva, and praying to the=
se with thought intent, he 
-anged the Asoka wood with his=
 imagination and met 
with Sita. Then he sprang from=
 the wall like an arrow 
:rom a bow, and entered the wo=
od in bodily shape. The 
ivood was a place of pleasure =
and delight, full of flowering 
trees and happy animals ; but =
Hanuman ravaged it and 
broke the trees. One beautiful=
 Asoka tree stood alone, 
amongst pavilions and gardens,=
 built round with golden 
pavements and silver walls. Ha=
numan sprang up this 
tree and kept watch all about,=
 thinking that Sita, if she 
were in the forest, would come=
 to that lovely place. He 
saw a marble palace, with stai=
rs of coral and floors of 
shining gold, and there lay on=
e imprisoned, weak and thin 
as if with fasting, sighing fo=
r heavy grief, clad in soiled 
robes, and guarded by horrid r=
akshasis, like a deer among 
the dogs or a shining flame ob=
scured by smoke. 
Then Hanuman considered that t=
his must be Sita, for she 
was fair and spotless, like a =
moon overcast by clouds, and 
she wore such jewels as Rama h=
ad described to him. 
Hanuman shed tears of joy and =
thought of Rama and 
Lakshman. But now, while he ye=
t sat hidden on the tree, 
Ravana had waked, and that lor=
dly rakshasa came with a 
great train of women to the As=
oka wood. They followed 
their heroic husband like ligh=
tnings following a cloud, and 
Hanuman heard the sound of the=
ir tinkling anklets as they 
passed across the golden pavem=
ents. 
 
=
Hanuman speaks with Sita =
 
=
Ravan came toward Sita, and wh=
en she saw him she 
trembled like a plantain-tree =
shaken by the wind, and 
hid her face and sobbed. Then =
he wooed her in every 
way, tempting her with wealth =
and power and comfort; 
but she refused him utterly, a=
nd foretold his death at 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
Rama s hands. But Ravana waxed=
 wood-wrath, and gave 
a two-month term, after which,=
 if she yielded not, she 
should be tortured and slain ;=
 and leaving her to the horrid 
rakshasl guards with orders to=
 break her will, Ravana 
returned with his wives to his=
 apartment. Then Sita, 
shrinking from the horrible sh=
e-demons, threatening her 
with death and torture, and re=
viling Rama, crept to the 
foot of the Asoka tree where H=
anuman was hidden. 
Hanuman reflected that there w=
as need for him to speak 
with Sita; but he feared to fr=
ighten her, or to attract the 
notice of the guard and bring =
destruction on himself, for, 
though he had might to slay th=
e rakshasa host, he could 
not, if wearied out, return ac=
ross the ocean. So he sat 
hidden in the branches of the =
tree and recited Rama s 
virtues and deeds, speaking in=
 gentle tones, till Sita heard 
him. She caught her breath wit=
h fear and looked up 
into the tree, and saw the mon=
key; eloquent was he and 
humble, and his eyes glowed li=
ke golden fire. Then he 
came down out of the tree, rud=
dy-faced and humbly 
attired, and with joined palms=
 spoke to Sita. Then she 
told him that she was Sita and=
 asked for news of Rama, 
and Hanuman told her all that =
had befallen and spoke of 
Rama and Lakshman, so that she=
 was wellnigh as glad 
as if she had seen Rama himsel=
f. But Hanuman came a 
little nearer, and Sita was mu=
ch afraid, thinking him to 
be Ravana in disguise. He had =
much ado to persuade her 
that he was Rama s friend ; bu=
t at last, when she beheld 
the signet-ring, it seemed to =
her as if she were already 
saved, and she was glad and so=
rry at once glad to know 
that Rama was alive and well, =
and sorry for his grief. 
Then Hanuman suggested that he=
 should carry Sita on 
his back across the sea to Ram=
a. She praised his strength, 
but would not go with him, bec=
ause she thought she might 
70 
 =
 
=
 
=
Hanutnan burns Lanka 
 
=
all from his back into the sea=
, especially if the rakshasas 
ollowed them, and because she =
would not willingly touch 
my person but Rama, and becaus=
e she desired that the 
rlory of her rescue and the de=
struction of the rakshasas 
;hould be Rama s. " But d=
o thou speedily bring Rama 
lither," she prayed. Then=
 Hanuman praised her wisdom 
ind modesty, and asked for a t=
oken for Rama ; and she 
:old him of an adventure with =
a crow, known only to her- 
;elf and Rama, that had befall=
en long ago at Chitrakuta, 
ind she gave him a jewel from =
her hair, and sent a 
nessage to Rama and Lakshman, =
praying them to rescue 
ler. Hanuman took the gem and,=
 bowing to Sita, made 
eady to depart. Then Sita gave=
 him another message 
:or Rama, by which he might kn=
ow surely that Hanuman 
lad found her. " Tell him=
, One day my brow-spot was 
ariped away, and thou didst pa=
int another with red earth 
thou shouldst remember this. A=
nd, O Rama, do thou 
:ome soon ; for ten months hav=
e passed already since I 
jaw thee, and I may not endure=
 more than another month ; 
ind good fortune go with thee,=
 heroic monkey," she 
said. 
=
 
=
Hanuman burns Lanka 
 
=
But Hanuman was not satisfied =
with finding Sita; he 
dashed about the Asoka grove a=
nd broke the trees 
and spoiled the pavilions, lik=
e the Wind himself. The 
rakshasls sent messages to Rav=
ana for help, and he, hear 
ing that a mighty monkey was d=
estroying his servants, 
sent the powerful Jambumali, b=
ow in hand, to slay Hanuman 
forthwith; and, indeed, he wou=
nded him with a sharp 
arrow as he sat upon a temple =
roof, but Hanuman hurled 
a bolt at him and crushed him =
utterly. Then a host of 
heroic rakshasas, led by Princ=
e Aksha, proceeded against 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
j 
 =
Hanuman and met their death; n=
ext Indrajit was sent 
against him, and an awful batt=
le was joined, whereat the 
very gods were amazed. He sent=
 a million shafts against 
the monkey, but he, ranging th=
e sky, escaped them all ; 
then Indrajit paused, and with=
 concentrated mind pondered 
over the true character of Han=
uman, and with spiritual 
insight perceived that he was =
not to be slain by weapons. 
Therefore he devised a way to =
bind him, and he loosed a 
Brahma shaft at him. Therewith=
 Hanuman was bound, 
and knew the bond unbreakable,=
 and he fell to earth ; but 
he reflected that it would be =
well for him to converse with 
Ravana, and therefore he strug=
gled not, but let the rak- 
shasas bear him off. But they,=
 seeing him still, bound him 
yet closer, pitifully moaning =
the while, with cords and 
bark. But that binding was the=
 means of his release, for 
the binding power of a Brahma =
weapon is broken at once 
if another bond is added to it=
. But the wily monkey 
gave no sign that the bonds we=
re loosed ; and the fierce 
rakshasas, crying to each othe=
r, " Who is he ? what does 
he want?" and "Kill =
him! burn him! eat him !" dragged 
him before Ravana. =
 
=
Questioned by Ravana s ministe=
r, Hanuman answered that 
he was indeed a monkey, come t=
o Lanka as Rama s envoy to 
accomplish his commands and to=
 behold Ravana ; and he 
told the story of Rama up till=
 then, and gave Ravana sound 
advice, to save his life by su=
rrendering Slta. Ravana 
was furious and would have Han=
uman slain; but the 
counsellors reminded him that =
the punishment of death 
could not justly be inflicted =
upon one who named himself 
an envoy. Then Ravana cast abo=
ut for a fitting penalty, 
and bethought him to set Hanum=
an s tail afire. Then the 
rakshasas bound the monkey s t=
ail with cotton soaked in 
oil and set it all ablaze. But=
 the heroic monkey cherished 
72 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Burning ol Lanka 
 
=
 
=
 
=
72 
 =
 
=
 
=
Hanuman returns to Rama <=
/o:p>
 
=
a secret plan ; he suffered th=
e rakshasas to lead him about 
Lanka that he might the better=
 learn its ways and strength. 
Then word was taken to Slta th=
at that monkey with whom 
she had conversed was led abou=
t the streets of Lanka and 
proclaimed a spy, and that his=
 tail was burning. Thereat 
she grieved, and praying to th=
e Fire, she said : " As I have 
been faithful to my lord, do t=
hou be cool to Hanuman." 
The Fire flamed up in answer t=
o her prayer, and at that 
very moment Hanuman s sire ble=
w cool between the flame 
and Hanuman. 
 
=
Perceiving that the fire still=
 burnt, but that his tail was 
icy-cold, Hanuman thought that=
 it was for Rama s sake 
and Slta s and his sire s that=
 the heat was chilled ; and he 
snapped his bonds and sprang i=
nto the sky, huge as a 
mountain, and rushed to and fr=
o in Lanka, burning the 
palaces and all their treasure=
s. And when he had burnt 
half Lanka to the ground and s=
laughtered many a rakshasa, 
Hanuman quenched his tail in t=
he sea. 
 
=
Hanuman returns to Rama <=
/o:p>
 
=
Then all at once he repented o=
f his rash deed, for he thought 
that Slta must have died in th=
e fire. " It is a small matter 
to have burnt Lanka," he =
reflected, " but if Slta has lost 
her life I have failed altoget=
her in my work, and will rather 
die than return in vain to Ram=
a." But again he thought: 
" It may be that that fai=
r one has been saved by her own 
virtue ; the fire that scorche=
d me not has surely never hurt 
that noble lady." Therewi=
th he hastened back to the Asoka 
tree and found her seated ther=
e, and he greeted her, and 
she him, and once more they sp=
oke of Rama, and Hanuman 
foretold that he would speedil=
y rescue Slta and slay the 
rakshasas. Then Hanuman sprang=
 up like a winged 
mountain and fared across the =
sea, now clearly seen, now 
 
=
73 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
hidden by the clouds, till he =
came to Mahendra, flourish 
ing his tail and roaring like =
the wind in a mighty cavern. 
And all the monkey host rejoic=
ed exceedingly to see and 
hear him, knowing that he must=
 have found Slta ; they 
danced, and ran from peak to p=
eak, and waved the 
branches of trees and their cl=
ean white cloths, and brought 
fruits and roots for Hanuman t=
o eat. Then Hanuman 
reported all that he had done =
to Angada and Jambavan, 
while the monkey host sat roun=
d about the three there on 
Mahendra s summit. =
 
=
When [all had been told, Angad=
a turned to the monkey 
host and said : " O noble=
 monkeys, our work is done, and 
the time has come for us to re=
turn to Sugriva without 
delay"; and they answered=
 him: "Let us go." Then 
Angada leapt up into the air, =
followed by all the monkeys, 
darkening the sky as if with c=
louds and roaring like the 
wind; and coming speedily to S=
ugriva, Angada spoke 
first to the heavy-hearted Ram=
a, and gave him tidings of 
Slta and praised the work of H=
anuman. Then Rama 
talked with Hanuman, and asked=
 him many a question as 
to the welfare of the slender-=
 waisted Slta; and Hanuman 
told him all, and gave her mes=
sage regarding the matter 
of the crow and of the painted=
 brow-spot, and showed to 
Rama the jewel from Sita s hai=
r entrusted to him as a 
token. Rama wept at the sight =
of that goodly gem : it 
was grief to him to behold it =
and not Slta herself ; but 
he rejoiced to know that Slta =
lived and that Hanuman 
had found her. 
 
=
Then Rama praised Hanuman as t=
he best of servants, who 
had done more even than was re=
quired of him; for a 
servant, merely good, does wha=
t is commanded and no 
more, and a bad servant is one=
 who does not even that 
which his master orders. "=
;Hanuman," he said, "has 
74 
 =
 
=
 
=
Vibhishana deserts the Rakshas=
as 
 
=
done his work and more, and so=
rry am I that I cannot do 
him any service in return. But=
 affection tells of all," and 
therewith Rama embraced the se=
lf-controlled and great 
hearted Hanuman like a brother=
. 
 
=
Next, Sugriva spoke and issued=
 orders for a march of all 
the host toward the far south =
to lay a siege to Lanka, 
while Hanuman reported to Rama=
 all that he had learnt 
of the strength and fortificat=
ions of the city, saying : " Do 
thou regard the city as alread=
y taken, for I alone have 
laid it waste, and it will be =
an easy matter for such a 
host as this to utterly destro=
y it." 
 
=
Now the monkey army went on it=
s way, led by Sugriva 
and Rama, and the monkeys skip=
ped for joy and 
bounded gleefully and sported =
one with another. With 
them went many friendly bears,=
 ruled by Jambavan, guard 
ing the rear. Passing over man=
y mountains and delightful 
forests, the army came at leng=
th to Mahendra, and beheld 
the sea before them ; thence t=
hey marched to the very 
shore, beside the wave-washed =
rocks, and made their 
camp. They covered all the sho=
re, like a second sea 
beside the tossing waves. Then=
 Rama summoned a 
council to devise a means for =
crossing over the ocean, 
and a guard was set, and order=
s issued that none should 
wander, for he feared the magi=
c of the rakshasas. 
 
=
Vibhishana deserts the Rakshas=
as 
Meanwhile Ravana in Lanka call=
ed another council, for 
" Victory follows from ta=
king counsel," as the sages say. 
"Ye know how the monkey H=
anuman harried Lanka, 
and now Rama has reached the o=
cean shore with a host of 
bears and monkeys, and he will=
 dry the sea or bridge it 
and besiege us here. Do ye con=
sider the means of protec 
tion for the city and the army=
 " thus spake Ravana to 
 
=
75 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
his counsellors. And his gener=
als advised him to entrust 
the battle to his son, Prince =
Indrajit, while others, as 
Prahasta, Nikumbha, and Vajrah=
anu, boasted that they 
alone would swallow up the mon=
key army. But Vibhi- 
shana, younger brother of Rava=
na, advised another 
course. "Force," sai=
d he, "is only to be resorted to when 
other means have failed, viz. =
conciliation, gifts, and sowing 
dissension. Moreover, force av=
ails only against such as 
are weak or are displeasing to=
 the gods. What but death 
can result from a conflict wit=
h Rama, self-controlled and 
vigilant and strong with the m=
ight of all the gods ? Who 
ever thought that Hanuman shou=
ld have done so much ? 
and from this thou shouldst be=
 warned and yield up Sita 
to her lord, to save thyself a=
nd us." And playing a 
perilous part, he followed his=
 brother to his own chamber 
and saluted him, and spake yet=
 further for his welfare. 
" From the day that Sita =
came," he said, " the omens have 
been evil : fire is ever obscu=
red by smoke, serpents are 
found in kitchens, the milk of=
 kine runs dry, wild beasts 
howl around the palace. Do tho=
u restore Sita, lest we all 
suffer for thy sin." But =
Ravana dismissed his brother 
angrily, and boasted that he w=
ould hold Sita as his own, 
even if all the gods should wa=
r against him. 
Now the reason why Ravana had =
never up till now used 
force to Sita was this, that B=
rahma, one time when 
Ravana had ill-used a celestia=
l dame, laid upon him a 
curse that if ever again he di=
d the like against his victim s 
will his head should break in =
a hundred pieces. And by 
now Ravana was thin and passio=
n-worn and weary, like a | 
horse spent with a long journe=
y, and he desired to compass j 
Rama s death and make Sita his=
 own. Therefore he took j 
counsel again with his general=
s for war, but again | 
Vibhishana opposed him, till R=
avana cursed him angrily 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Adam s Bridge 
 
=
as cowardly and treasonable. T=
hen Vibhishana deemed 
the time had come when he coul=
d suffer no more of such 
insults, and rising into the a=
ir with his four personal 
followers, he said to Ravana t=
hat he had spoken for his 
welfare, "but the fey ref=
use advice, as a man on the 
brink of death refuses medicin=
e." So saying he passed 
through the sky across the sea=
 and came to the monkey 
host, and announced himself as=
 come to make alliance 
with Rama. Most of the monkey =
leaders were for slaying 
him, for they put little faith=
 in a rakshasa, even if he were 
not a disguised spy ; but Rama=
 spoke him fair, and engaged, 
in return for his assistance i=
n the war, to set him on the 
throne of Lanka when Ravana sh=
ould have been slain. 
 
=
"Adams Bridge" =
 
=
Then Hanuman and Sugriva and R=
ama took counsel with 
Vibhishana how to cross the oc=
ean, and he deemed that 
Rama should seek the aid and t=
he friendship of Ocean 
for the building of a bridge. =
This was agreed upon, and 
Rama, spreading a couch of sac=
rificial grass, lay down 
upon it, facing the east, with=
 praying hands toward the 
sea, resolving, " Either =
the ocean shall yield or I will die." 
Thus Rama lay three days, sile=
nt, concentred, following 
the rule, intent upon the ocea=
n ; but Ocean answered not. 
Then Rama was angered, and ros=
e and took his bow, and 
would dry up the sea and lay V=
aruna s home bare ; and he 
loosed dreadful shafts at him =
that flamed and pierced the 
waters, awakening mighty storm=
s, distressing the ndgas and 
the makaras of the sea, so tha=
t the god-hermits haunting 
the sky cried out " Alas =
! " and " Enough ! " But Ocean 
=
did not show himself, and Rama=
, threatening him, set to 
his bow a Brahma arrow blest w=
ith a Brahma charm, and 
drew. Then heaven and earth we=
re darkened and the 
 
=
77 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
/ 
 =
mountains trembled, lightnings=
 flashed, and every creature 
was afraid, and the mighty dee=
p was wrought with violent , 
movement. Then Ocean himself r=
ose from mid-sea like 
the sun from Meru. Jewelled an=
d wreathed was he and! 
decked with many gems, and fol=
lowed by noble rivers,: 
such as Ganga, Sindhu, and oth=
ers. He came to Rama 
with joined palms and spoke hi=
m fair : 
" O Rama," said he, =
" thou knowest that every element 
has its own inherent qualities=
. Mine is this, to be fathom 
less and hard to cross. Neithe=
r for love nor fear can I 
stay the waters from their end=
less movement. But thouj 
shalt pass over me by means of=
 a bridge, and I will suffer; 
it and hold it firm." The=
n Rama was appeased, but the 
Brahma arrow waited to find it=
s mark and might not be! 
restrained. Rama inquired from=
 Ocean : "Where shall I 
let it strike?" and Ocean=
 answered : "There is a part ofj 
my domain toward the north hau=
nted by evil wights; 
there let it fall." Then =
Rama let fly the flaming shaft,! 
and the water of the sea towar=
d the north was dried and 
burnt, and where the sea had b=
een became a desert. But 
Rama blessed the desert and ma=
de it fruitful. 
Then Ocean said to Rama : &quo=
t; O kind one, there is a 
monkey here named Nala, and he=
 is Vishvakarma s son 
and has his sire s skill. Full=
 of energy is he, and he shall 
build the bridge across me, an=
d I shall bear it up." Then 
Ocean sank again beneath the w=
aters. But Nala said tol 
Rama: "Ocean has spoken t=
ruth: only because thou 
didst not ask me I hid my powe=
r till now." 
Now all the monkeys, following=
 Nala s orders, gathered; 
trees and rocks and brought th=
em from the forests to the! 
shore, and set them in the sea=
. Some carried timber,i| 
some used the measuring-rods, =
some bore stones; huge 
was the tumult and noise of cr=
ags and rocks thrown into 
 
=
78 
 =
 
=
 
=
Lanka Besieged 
 
=
the sea. The first day fourtee=
n leagues were made, and 
on the fifth day the bridge wa=
s finished, broad and 
elegant and firm like a line o=
f parting of the hair on 
Ocean s head. Then the monkey =
host passed over, 
Rama and Lakshman riding upon =
Sugriva and Angada. 
Some monkeys went along the ca=
useway, others plunged 
into the sea, and others cours=
ed through the air, and the 
noise of them drowned the soun=
d of the ocean waves. 
 
=
Lanka Besieged 
 
=
Dreadful were the omens of war=
 that showed themselves : 
the earth shook, the clouds ra=
ined blood, a fiery circle fell 
from the sun. But the monkeys =
roared defiance at the 
rakshasas, whose destruction w=
as thus foretold. Then 
Rama, beholding Lanka towering=
 up to pierce the heavens, 
built by Vishvakarma, wrought,=
 as it were, of mind rather 
than matter, hanging in the sk=
y like a bank of snow-white 
clouds, was downcast at the th=
ought of Slta prisoned 
there ; but he arrayed the hos=
t of bears and monkeys and 
laid siege to Lanka. 
 
=
Meanwhile Ravana s spies, sent=
 in monkey shape to gather 
news, brought tidings thereof =
to Lanka, and, advising him 
of Rama s resistless power, co=
unselled that Slta should be 
surrendered ; but Ravana was e=
nraged, and drove the 
spies away disgraced, and sent=
 others in their place, but 
ever with the same result. No =
help was there, then, but 
to give battle or yield up Ram=
a s bride; but Ravana took 
counsel first to betray Slta t=
o his will. He told her that 
the monkey host had been dispe=
rsed and Rama slain, 
and a rakshasl came in, bringi=
ng the semblance of Rama s 
head and bow, and Slta knew th=
em, and was grieving out 
of all measure, and crying alo=
ud with many lamentations, 
and she prayed Ravana to slay =
her by Rama s head that 
 
=
79 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
she might follow him. But ther=
ewith came in a messenger 
from the rakshasa general call=
ing Ravana to the battle, 
and he turned to the field of =
war ; and when he left, the 
head and bow immediately vanis=
hed, and Slta knew them 
to have been but counterfeits =
and vain illusions. 
 
=
Rama Wounded 
 
=
Now Vibhishana s four rakshasa=
 followers had spied on 
Lanka, and knew the dispositio=
n of Ravana s forces ; and 
Rama laid siege to the four ga=
tes of Lanka accordingly, 
establishing the monkey Nila a=
t the eastern gate, guarded, 
by the rakshasa general Prahas=
ta ; Angada at the westernj 
gate, guarded by Mahaparshwa ;=
 Hanuman at the southern! 
gate, guarded by Prince Indraj=
it; and himself attacked; 
the north gate, guarded by Rav=
ana. Then Rama sent 
Angada as an envoy to Ravana, =
challenging him to the 
fight; but Ravana, forgetting =
the respect due to anj 
envoy, would have slain him ; =
and Angada sprang away I 
and broke the palace roof, and=
 returned to Rama. Thenj 
the monkeys advanced in order =
and swarmed about the 
walls, flooding the moat and s=
triking terror into the 
hearts of the rakshasas ; scal=
ing parties climbed the walls 
and battered down the gates wi=
th trees and stones,! 
shouting " Victory for Ra=
ma and for Sugriva ! " The 1 
rakshasas sallied forth in tur=
n with horrid trumpeting^ 
and joined in battle with the =
monkeys, and all the air was; 
filled with the noise of fight=
ing, and terrible confusion 
arose of friend and foe and ma=
n and beast, and the earth 
was strewn with flesh and wet =
with gore. Thus an equal 
battle raged till evening ; bu=
t the rakshasas waited for the 
night, and eagerly desired the=
 setting of the sun, for night 
is the rakshasas time of stron=
gest might. So night fell,; 
and the demons ranged, devouri=
ng monkeys by thousands, j 
80 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama Wounded 
 
=
Then those of Rama s party ral=
lied and for a time pre 
vailed, and Indrajit was beate=
n back. But he, resorting 
to his magic, became invisible=
, and showered deadly 
wounding arrows upon Rama and =
Lakshman; fighting in 
crooked ways, he bound them fa=
st so that they fell helpless 
to the ground, covered with a =
thousand wounds. 
Sugriva, Hanuman, Vibhishana, =
and all the leaders of the 
monkeys stood round about thos=
e wounded heroes with 
tear-filled eyes ; but Indraji=
t, unseen of any save his uncle 
Vibhishana, rejoiced, and let =
fly many a shaft that wounded 
Hanuman and Nila and Jambavan.=
 Then Indrajit returned 
to Lanka as a victor, and his =
father welcomed him ; and 
for a while the fighting cease=
d. 
 
=
Now Vibhishana rallied the fri=
ghtened monkeys, and 
comforted Sugriva, saying : &q=
uot; This is no time for giving 
way to grief. Rama is not dyin=
g. Do thou gather the 
forces and inspire them with f=
resh hope." But the 
monkeys were panic-stricken, a=
nd if even a straw moved 
they deemed it to be a rakshas=
a. And Ravana meanwhile, 
taking Slta on his car, showed=
 to her Rama and Lakshman 
lying on the field, senseless =
and pierced with many arrows, 
wounded and lying in the dust =
; and she deemed them 
to be dead, and wailed but Rav=
ana brought her back to 
Lanka. 
 
=
Meanwhile Rama came to himself=
, and seeing Lakshman 
seeming to be dead, he made gr=
eat lamentation, and 
praising what the monkeys had =
done, though unsuccessful, 
he gave them leave to go whith=
er they would across the 
bridge and seek their homes. A=
nd Vibhishana, too, had 
no more taste for battle or de=
sire for the throne of Lanka. 
But Sugriva comforted them and=
 gave them fresh courage, 
and the monkey-chief Sushena t=
old of a magic herb that 
by the Milky Ocean, and can re=
store the dead to 
 
=
F Si 
<= pre> 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
life, "and let the Wind-g=
od s son go thither for it," he 
said. 
=
 
=
The Coming of Garuda 
 
=
But as he spoke a stormy wind =
arose, lashing the sea and 
shaking the very mountains, an=
d suddenly the monkeys 
beheld Garuda sailing through =
the air like a flaming fire. 
As Garuda came nigh, the arrow=
s fell from the wounded 
heroes like frightened serpent=
s darting away ; and when 
he bent in salutation and touc=
hed their faces with his 
hands, the sons of Dasharatha =
were healed, and they came 
to their former strength and r=
adiance, and more. Then 
Rama questioned Garuda who he =
was, and he answered : 
" I am thy friend, thy li=
fe free-ranging external to thyself, 
Garuda, and I have come to aid=
 thee, hearing that thou 
wert bound by the magic shafts=
 of Indrajit. Now thou 
shouldst take warning how the =
rakshasas fight with 
cunning and magic, and thou sh=
ouldst never trust them 
in the field. I take my way : =
thou needst not wonder 
how friendship came to be betw=
een us ; thou shalt know 
all after the battle is achiev=
ed. Surely thou shalt slay 
Ravana and win back Slta."=
; With this Garuda, embrac 
ing Rama and Lakshman, embraci=
ng, too, the monkey, 
chiefs, rose into the sky and =
sailed away upon the wind. 
Then the monkey-chiefs, seeing=
 Rama and Lakshman 
restored to life and power, be=
gan to roar and frisked their 
tails; drums and kettledrums w=
ere struck, and seizing 
trees, hundreds and thousands =
of monkeys advanced again 
upon the gates of Lanka. The r=
angers of the night issued 
forth under Dhumraksha ("=
 Grey-eye "), and there was a 
deadly onset. The monkeys bit =
and tore and fought with 
trees and stones, and the raks=
hasas killed and wounded them 
with arrows and cleft them wit=
h their axes and crushed 
82 
 =
 
=
 
=
Heavy Fighting 
 
=
them with their maces. Then se=
eing the monkeys hard 
beset, Hanuman, seizing a heav=
y rock, advanced on Dhum 
raksha, and, casting it down u=
pon his car, crushed it to 
dust; then Hanuman laid about =
him lustily, and armed 
with a mountain-top he rushed =
on Dhumraksha again. 
But the rakshasa brought down =
his mace on Hanuman s 
head and wounded him sore; the=
n Hanuman, heedless of 
the wound, let fly the mountai=
n-top at Dhumraksha, and 
crushed him to the ground like=
 a falling hill. Seeing 
their leader slain, the raksha=
sas retired. 
 
=
Heavy Fighting 
 
=
Short was the peace ere Ravana=
 sent out another leader of 
the rakshasas, the deadly Thun=
der-tooth ; him Angada 
met as he drove the monkey hos=
t before him, piercing 
five and nine with every shaft=
, and engaged in deadly duel, 
till at last he severed the de=
mon s neck and laid him low. 
Then Ravana sent out Akampana =
(" Unconquerable "), and 
he was slain by Hanuman, with =
all his host. Then 
Ravana was somewhat shaken and=
 foreboded ill, but he 
sent for Prahasta ("Long-=
hand"), his foremost general; 
and he gathered another host, =
and sallied forth upon a 
splendid car by the eastern ga=
te, accompanied by his 
counsellors, Man-slayer and No=
isy-throat and Tall. That 
encounter was the death of man=
y hundred rakshasas and 
monkeys, and the occasion of m=
any a deed of heroism. 
Prahasta from his shining car =
sped thousands of monkey- 
slaying shafts, and a very riv=
er of blood flowed between 
the opposing hosts. Then Nila,=
 Agni s son, brandishing 
an uptorn tree, rushed on Prah=
asta ; but he wounded the 
monkey with showers of arrows.=
 At last his bow was 
shattered in the conflict, and=
 the twain fought hand to 
hand, with tooth and nail. The=
n Prahasta struck Nila a 
 
=
83 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
deadly blow with his mace, and=
 Nila flung a tall tree at 
Prahasta s breast ; but he lig=
htly avoided that and rushed 
on Nila. Then Nila flung a mig=
hty crag at the rakshasa, 
shattering his head, so that h=
e fell slain. The rakshasa 
host drew back; like water rus=
hing through a broken 
dyke, they melted away and ent=
ered Lanka, stricken with 
grief and fear. 
 
=
Ravana was inflamed with wrath=
 to learn of Prahasta s 
death, and his heart sank, but=
 he boasted that he would 
himself destroy Rama and Laksh=
man with a thousand 
shafts, and mounted his own sh=
ining car and led a 
rakshasa host against the monk=
eys ; he seemed like the 
Destroyer himself, accompanied=
 by ghosts and flesh- 
devouring monsters with burnin=
g eyes. Big-belly and 
Goblin and Man-destroyer and T=
hree-heads, fighters with 
mountain-peaks and flaming mac=
es, came with Ravana. 
But he, when they were face to=
 face with the besiegers, 
dismissed the host to take the=
ir ease, and himself advanced 
to fight alone. Then first Sug=
riva hurled a mountain-top 
at him, but Ravana severed it =
with his golden shafts, so 
that it fell vainly to the ear=
th, and he sped a deadly 
flaming shaft at the monkey-ki=
ng that bore him to the 
ground groaning with pain. The=
n other monkey-chiefs 
together rushed at Ravana, but=
 these in like fashion he 
destroyed, so that they cried =
to Rama for help. Lakshman 
prayed for that battle, and Ra=
ma granted him, and he 
took the field ; but already H=
anuman was pressing Ravana 
hard, so that he cried: "=
Well done, monkey; thou art a 
foe in whom I may rejoice.&quo=
t; Therewith he struck the 
Wind-god s son a heavy blow so=
 that he shuddered and 
fell back, and Ravana turned t=
o fight with Nila. But the 
Fire-god s son, flaming with a=
nger, sprang on to Ravana s 
car and darted like fire from =
point to point ; and Ravana s 
84 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Pot-ear Awakened 
 
=
 
=
 
=
eart sank, but he took a deadl=
y shaft and aimed at Nila, 
and laid him low, at the very =
point of death. But then 
Lakshman took up the battle, a=
nd showers of arrows were 
loosed by either hero, so that=
 both were sorely wounded ; 
and a flaming dart struck Rama=
 s brother down. Then 
Ravana seized him; but he that=
 could raise Himalaya 
could not lift Lakshman from t=
he ground, for he remem 
bered that he was a very part =
of Vishnu himself, and he 
stayed immovable. Then Hanuman=
 returned and struck 
the rakshasa king a staggering=
 blow so that he fell back, 
senseless and bleeding, on the=
 platform of his car ; and 
Hanuman lifted Lakshman easily=
 and bore him away to 
Rama. Nor was it long before b=
oth Ravana and Laksh 
man came to their senses; and =
Rama, mounted upon 
Hanuman s back, engaged in a d=
readful battle with the 
king of Lanka. Rama destroyed =
his car, and wounded 
Ravana with bolts, and cut his=
 crown atwain with a fiery 
disc, and struck him with an a=
rrow, so that he grew weak 
and faint; then, sparing his l=
ife, he sent him back to 
Lanka, saying: "Thou hast=
 accomplished deeds of 
heroism, and I see thee faint;=
 do thou retire to Lanka 
now, for thou shalt feel my po=
wer in another battle." So 
the generous Rama spared his f=
oe, and all the gods and 
quarters and the seas and crea=
tures of earth rejoiced to 
see the rakshasa king cast dow=
n, 
 
=
Pot-ear Awakened 
 
=
Now Ravana bethought him of hi=
s brother Kumbhakarna 
("Pot-ear"). He woul=
d ever sleep, now six, now eight, 
now ten months at a time, and =
would wake only to 
gorge, and then sleep again. B=
ut he was the hardest 
fighter and the very best of t=
he rakshasas in battle; and 
now he had already slept nine =
months, when Ravana sent 
 
=
85 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @P Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
a host to waken him. They foun=
d him sleeping in his 
cave ; he lay like a mountain,=
 drunk with sleep, and vast 
as Hell, his rank breath sweep=
ing all before him, smelling 
of blood and fat. The rakshasa=
s made ready for him 
heaps of deer and buffaloes, s=
teaming rice and jars of 
blood, mountains of food piled=
 up as high as Meru ; then 
set about to wake him. They wi=
nded conchs and shouted 
and beat on drums, so that the=
 very birds in the sky fell 
dead of fear; but Pot-ear slep=
t the harder, and the 
rakshasas could hardly stand a=
gainst the tornado of his 
breath. Then they girded their=
 cloths the tighter, and 
ten thousand of them yelled to=
gether, and struck heavy 
blows at him with logs of wood=
, and beat a thousand 
kettledrums at once. Then they=
 waxed angrier, and set 
themselves to work in earnest =
; some bit his ears, some 
poured a thousand pots of wate=
r in them, some wounded 
him with spears and maces, and=
 some drove a thousand 
elephants against him. Therewi=
th at last he woke, and 
yawned, and yawned again, so t=
hat a very storm was 
raging; and the pangs of hunge=
r assailed him, and he 
looked about for food. Then he=
 beheld the feast, and fell 
to heartily, and ate and drank=
 ; and when the rakshasas 
thought him filled, they stood=
 around him and bowed, and 
informed him of all that had b=
efallen, and prayed his help. 
Then he, already half asleep a=
gain, roused himself, and 
boasted that he would regale t=
he rakshasas with an 
abundant feast of monkey flesh=
 and blood ; " and myself 
shall swill the blood of Rama =
and Lakshman," said he. 
So Pot-ear bathed, and, going =
to his brother, bade him 
take heart. He drank two thous=
and flasks of wine, and 
marched out like a moving moun=
tain, clad in golden mail, 
to attack the monkeys. The mon=
keys fled in terror, but 
Pot-ear caught them and rushed=
 about devouring them 
86 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rakshasa Successes =
 
=
by handfuls, so that the blood=
 and fat dripped from his 
mouth. Then Rama, with Hanuman=
 and Angada and 
other brave monkeys, fell on h=
im with trees and mountain- 
tops, swarming round him like =
clouds about a mountain; 
and Pot-ear, half asleep as ye=
t, began to rouse himself and 
fight in earnest. Hanuman, fro=
m the sky, cast down the 
mountain-peaks on him; but he =
swallowed twenty and 
thirty monkeys at a mouthful, =
and slew them by hundreds 
at every stroke, and wounded H=
anuman, and raged from 
side to side. 
 
=
Pot-ear Slain 
 
=
Then Pot-ear sped a second dea=
dly shaft at Hanuman; 
but he caught it and broke it =
with his hands, and all the 
monkeys shouted, so that the r=
akshasa was daunted and 
turned away. But therewith Pot=
-ear flung a mountain-top 
and struck Sugriva down, and h=
e lifted him and carried 
him away. The monkeys were sca=
ttered and their king a 
prisoner. But Sugriva roused h=
imself and turned on 
Pot-ear and wounded him and go=
t away; and the battle 
was joined again, and Lakshman=
 fought against the 
rakshasa. Then Rama took up th=
e battle, and wounded 
his foe with many shafts, and =
shot away an arm, destroy 
ing a hundred monkeys in its f=
all. Then with a second 
shaft he cut away the other ar=
m, and with two keen-edged 
discs he cut away the demon s =
legs, and with a shaft of 
Indra he struck away his head;=
 and he fell like a great 
hill and crashed down into the=
 sea, and the gods and 
heroes rejoiced. 
 
=
Rakshasa Successes =
 
=
Then Ravana grew ever more hea=
vy of heart ; but Prince 
 
=
Indrajit came to his father an=
d vowed to slay Rama and 
 
=
8? 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
Lakshman that day, and he sall=
ied forth. But first he 
offered libations unto Fire, a=
nd sacrificed a goat ; and the 
bright, smokeless Fire-god, wi=
th his flickering tongue, 
rose up to take the offering, =
and he bestowed a Brahma 
weapon on Indrajit, and blesse=
d his bow and car with 
charms. Armed with that weapon=
, Indrajit slew countless 
hosts of monkeys, and laid low=
 Sugriva and Angada and 
Jambavan and Nila and other ch=
iefs, but himself remained 
invisible. Then Rama, seeing h=
im thus weaponed and 
unassailable, counselled a sem=
blance of defeat. And 
Indrajit returned victorious t=
o Lanka. 
 
=
Hanuman fetches Healing Herbs =
Then Vibhishana and Hanuman ra=
nged the field, beholding 
thousands of slain and wounded=
, a horrid sight and grim ; 
and they came nigh to the king=
 of bears, Jambavan, and 
asked if he yet lived. He answ=
ered faintly, recognizing 
Vibhishana s voice, and asked =
if Hanuman was alive; 
then Hanuman bowed to Jambavan=
 and held his feet. 
Jambavan rejoiced, and despite=
 his wounds he spoke to 
the Wind-god s son : 
 
=
" Do thou labour for this=
 host of bears and monkeys, for 
only thou canst save them. Tho=
u shalt bound over the 
sea, and reach Himalaya, king =
of mountains, and bring 
thence the four life-giving he=
rbs that grow on him, 
and return forthwith with heal=
ing for the monkey 
host." =
 
=
Then Hanuman roared and sprang=
 ; and he passed across 
the sea and over hills and woo=
ds and rivers and cities till 
he came to Himalaya and beheld=
 its hermitages. He 
ranged the mountain, but the h=
erbs were hidden from 
him ; and angered and impatien=
t, Hanuman rooted up the 
whole mountain and sprang with=
 it into the air and 
88 
 =
 
=
 
=
Ravana s Son is Killed 
 
=
returned to Lanka, welcomed by=
 all the host. And the 
slain and wounded monkeys rose=
 up whole, as if from 
restful sleep, healed by the s=
avour of the four medicinal 
herbs. But all the slain raksh=
asas had been cast into the 
sea. Then Hanuman took the mou=
ntain-peak again to 
" Himalaya and returned t=
o Lanka. 
 
=
Now Sugriva, perceiving that f=
ew rakshasas lived to 
guard the city, stormed the ga=
tes, and a host of monkeys 
bearing flaming brands entered=
 and burnt and ravaged her. 
The second night had now come =
on, and the burning city 
glowed in the darkness, like a=
 mountain blazing with 
forest fires. But Ravana sent =
out a host against the 
monkeys time and again. First =
Kumbha and Nikumbha 
led the rakshasas, and were sl=
ain in deadly battle ; then 
Maharaksha, son of Khara, in t=
urn was slain, and Indrajit 
went out again. He fought invi=
sible as ever, and sorely 
wounded Rama and Lakshman. The=
n Indrajit retired, 
and came forth again, riding o=
n a car with an illusory 
magic figure of Slta ; and he =
rode up and down the field, 
holding her by the hair and st=
riking her, and he cut her 
down in the sight of all the m=
onkey host. Hanuman, 
believing in the false show, s=
tayed the battle and brought 
the news to Rama; and Rama fel=
l down, like a tree cut 
off at the root. But while the=
y grieved, Indrajit went to 
the altar at Nikhumbila to mak=
e sacrifices to the god of Fire. 
 
=
Ravana s Son is Killed 
 
=
Meanwhile Vibhishana came to R=
ama and found him 
overwhelmed with grief, and La=
kshman told him that 
Slta had been slain by Indraji=
t. But Vibhishana guessed 
this to have been a vain show,=
 less possible than for the 
ocean to be dried up. " I=
t is a device," he said, " to 
delay the monkey army till Ind=
rajit shall have completed 
 
=
89 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
a sacrifice to Fire and have w=
on as a boon to be invincible 
in battle. Therefore grieve no=
t, but hasten to prevent his 
offerings, lest the very gods =
be in danger if he complete 
them." Then Rama rose, an=
d with Lakshman and Vibhi- 
shana pursued the son of Ravan=
a ; and they overtook 
him ere he reached Nikhumbila,=
 mounted on a fiery car. 
Then befell the worst and fier=
cest of conflicts that had yet 
been : Lakshman bore the brunt=
 of that battle, and it is 
said that the ancestors and go=
ds, the birds and snakes, 
protected Lakshman from the de=
adly shafts. And this 
was at last the manner of Indr=
ajit s death: Lakshman 
took an Indra shaft, and makin=
g an act of truth, he prayed 
its indwelling deity : " =
If Rama be righteous and truthful, 
the first of all men in herois=
m, then slay this son of 
Ravana " ; and drawing th=
e straight-speeding arrow to his 
ear, he loosed it, and it seve=
red the rakshasa s neck, that 
head and trunk fell to the gro=
und, and all the rakshasas, 
seeing their leader slain, cas=
t down their arms and fled. 
And all the monkeys rejoiced, =
for no rakshasa hero re 
mained alive save Ravana himse=
lf. Then Rama welcomed 
the wounded Lakshman with grea=
t affection, and ordered 
Sushena to administer medicine=
s to him and to the wounded 
monkeys ; and the monkey-chief=
 applied a potent drug to 
Lakshman s nose, and, smelling=
 it, the outward-going of 
his life was stayed, and he wa=
s healed. 
Bitterly Ravana grieved for hi=
s son. " The triple worlds, 
and this earth with all its fo=
rests, seem to me vacant," he 
cried, "since thou, my he=
ro, hast gone to the abode of 
Yama, who shouldst have perfor=
med my funeral rites, not 
I thine " ; and he burned=
 with rage and sorrow. Then he 
determined to slay Slta in rev=
enge, but his good counsellor 
Suparshwa held him back, sayin=
g : " Thou mayst not slay a 
woman ; but when Rama is slain=
 thou shalt possess her." 
90 
 =
 
=
 
=
Ravana s Fury 
 
=
All Lanka was resounding with =
the lamentations of the 
rakshasls for the rakshasas sl=
ain in battle, and Ravana sat 
in fury, devising means to con=
quer Rama : he gnashed his 
teeth and bit his lips and lau=
ghed, and went with Big- 
belly and Squint-eye and Great=
-flank to the field of battle, 
followed by the last of the de=
mon army, and boasting : " I 
shall make an end of Rama and =
Lakshman to-day." 
 
=
Ravana s Fury 
 
=
Nor could the monkeys stand be=
fore him, but were de 
stroyed like flies in fire; bu=
t Sugriva engaged in single 
fight with Squint-eye and made=
 an end of him; and 
therewith both armies joined a=
gain, and there was deadly 
slaughter on either hand, and =
either army shrank like a 
pond in summer. Next Big-belly=
 was slain by Sugriva, 
and Angada was the death of Gr=
eat-flank, so that the 
monkeys roared with triumph. B=
ut now Ravana came on, 
bearing a Brahma weapon, and s=
cattering the monkeys 
right and left. 
 
=
He stayed not ere he came to t=
he sons of Dasharatha : he 
took his way where Rama stood =
aside, with great eyes like 
the petals of a lotus, long of=
 arm, unconquerable, holding 
a bow so huge it seemed to be =
painted on the sky. Rama 
set arrows to the bow and drew=
 the string, so that a 
thousand rakshasas died of ter=
ror when they heard it twang ; 
and there began a deadly battl=
e between the heroes. Those 
arrows pierced the king of Lan=
ka like five-hooded serpents, 
and fell hissing to the ground=
; but Ravana lifted up a 
dreadful asura weapon, and let=
 fly at Rama a shower of 
arrows having lion- and tiger-=
faces, and some with gaping 
mouths like wolves. Rama answe=
red these with shafts 
faced like the sun and stars, =
like meteors or lightning 
flashes, destroying the shafts=
 of Ravana. Then Ravana 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
fought with other celestial we=
apons, and he lifted a Rudra 
shaft, irresistible and flamin=
g, hung with eight noisy bells, 
and hurled it at Vibhishana; b=
ut Lakshman came before 
it, saving Vibhishana from dea=
th. Rama, seeing that 
weapon falling upon Lakshman, =
prayed it: "Peace be to 
Lakshman ! Be thou frustrated,=
 and let thy energy depart " ; 
but the blazing dart struck La=
kshman s breast and laid him 
low, nor could any monkey draw=
 the shaft out of him. 
Rama stooped and drew it forth=
 and broke it in twain, 
and then, albeit grieved out o=
f measure for Lakshman 
and angered by his grief, Rama=
 called to Hanuman 
and Sugriva, saying : " N=
ow is the time appointed come 
at last. To-day I shall accomp=
lish a deed of which all 
men and gods and every world s=
hall tell as long as the earth 
supports a living creature. To=
-day my sorrow shall have 
an end, and all that for which=
 I have laboured shall come 
to pass." 
 
=
Then Rama set his mind upon th=
e battle, but Hanuman 
went again to Himalaya and bro=
ught the mount of healing 
herbs for Lakshman, and Sushen=
a took the life-giving 
plant and made Lakshman to sme=
ll its savour, so that he 
rose up whole and well; and La=
kshman embraced his 
brother, and urged him to achi=
eve his promise that very 
day. Sakra sent down from Heav=
en his car and his 
charioteer, named Matall, to a=
id the son of Dasharatha in 
his fight, and Rama went about=
 and greeted it, and, 
mounting upon it, seemed to li=
ght the whole world with 
his splendour. But Ravana loos=
ed at him a rakshasa 
weapon, and its golden shafts,=
 with fiery faces vomiting 
flames, poured over Rama from =
every side and changed to 
venomous serpents. But Rama to=
ok a Garuda weapon 
and loosed a flight of golden =
arrows, changing at will to 
birds, and devouring all the s=
erpent arrows of the rakshasa. 
92 
 =
 
=
 
=
Ravana Slain 
 
=
Then the presiding deities of =
all the weapons came to 
stand by Rama, and what with t=
his auspicious omen and 
other happy signs, Rama began =
to harass Ravana sorely, 
and wounded him, so that his c=
harioteer, beholding him as if 
at the point of death, turned =
away from the field of battle. 
Then the revered Agastya, come=
 thither with the gods to 
witness the defeat of Ravana, =
drew near to Rama and 
taught him : " Rama, Rama=
, great-armed hero, my child, 
hearken to the eternal secret,=
 the Heart of the Sun, whereby 
thou mayst overcome every foe.=
 Do thou worship Sun, 
lord of the world, in whom dwe=
lls the spirit of all the 
gods. Hail! Hail! O thousand-r=
ayed, hail to Aditya! 
Thou wakener of the lotus! Tho=
u source of life and 
death, destroyer of all darkne=
ss, light of the soul, who 
wakest when all sleep, and dwe=
llest in every heart ! Thou 
art the gods and every sacrifi=
ce and the fruits thereof. 
Do thou worship with this hymn=
 the lord of the universe, 
and thou shalt conquer Ravana =
to-day." 
 
=
Ravana Slain 
 
=
Then Rama hymned the Sun, and =
purified himself with 
water-sippings, and was glad ;=
 and he turned to deal with 
Ravana, for the rakshasa had c=
ome to himself again and 
was eager for the battle. Each=
 like a flaming lion fought 
the other; head after head of =
the Ten-necked One did 
Rama cut away with his deadly =
arrows, but new heads 
ever rose in place of those cu=
t off, and Ravana s death 
seemed nowise nearer than befo=
re the arrows that had 
slain Marlcha and Khara and Va=
li could not take the 
king of Lanka s life away. The=
n Rama took up the 
Brahma weapon given to him by =
Agastya : the Wind lay 
in its wings, the Sun and Fire=
 in its head, in its mass the 
weight of Meru and Mandara. Bl=
essing that shaft with 
 
=
93 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
Vedic mantras, Rama set it on =
his bow and loosed it, and 
it sped to its appointed place=
 and cleft the breast of 
Ravana, and, bathed in blood, =
returned and entered Rama s 
quiver humbly. 
 
=
Thus was the lord of the raksh=
asas slain, and the gods 
rained flowers on Rama s car a=
nd chanted hymns of praise, 
for their desired end was now =
accomplished that end for 
which alone Vishnu had taken h=
uman form. The heavens 
were at peace, the air grew cl=
ear and bright, and the sun 
shone cloudless on the field o=
f battle. 
 
=
Rdvana Mourned 
 
=
But Vibhishana lamented for hi=
s brother sadly, and 
Rama comforted him, saying: &q=
uot;A hero slain in battle 
should not be mourned. Success=
 in battle is not for ever : 
why shouldst thou grieve that =
one who put to flight Indra 
himself should fall at last ? =
Do thou rather perform his 
funeral rites. Take comfort, t=
oo, at this : with death our 
enmity is ended, and Ravana is=
 as dear to me as thee." 
Then there issued out of Lanka=
 a host of weeping rakshasis, 
seeking their lord and wailing=
 bitterly; and Mandodarl 
made this lament : =
 
=
" O thou great-armed, you=
nger brother of Vaisravana, 
who could stand before thee ? =
Gods and rishis thou hast 
daunted ; not to be borne is i=
t that a man, fighting on foot, 
hath slain thee now ! But thy =
death has come to pass 
because of Sita, and I am a wi=
dow. Thou didst not heed 
my words, nor didst thou think=
 how many fairer damsels 
thou hadst than her. Alas ! ho=
w fair thou wert and how 
kind thy smile : now thou art =
bathed in blood and pierced 
with shafts ! Thou wert wont t=
o sleep on a couch of gold ; 
but now thou liest in the dust=
. Why dost thou fare away 
and leave me alone? Why dost t=
hou not welcome me ?" But 
94 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Sita brought to Rama 
 
=
the other wives of Ravana cons=
oled her and lifted her up, 
saying : " Life is uncert=
ain for all, and all things change." 
Meanwhile Vibhishana made read=
y the funeral pyre, and 
Ravana was taken to the burnin=
g-ground and burnt with 
every rite and honour due to h=
eroes. Ravana s wives 
returned to Lanka, and the god=
s departed to their own 
place. Then Lakshman, taking w=
ater brought from the 
ocean by Sugriva in a golden j=
ar, anointed Vibhishana as 
lord of the city of Lanka and =
king of the rakshasas, and 
thereat the monkeys and raksha=
sas both rejoiced. 
 
=
Stta brought to Rama 
 
=
But now Rama called Hanuman to=
 him, and sent him to 
search for Sita and inform her=
 of all that had befallen ; and he 
found her still by the Asoka t=
ree, guarded by rakshasls. 
Hanuman stood before her humbl=
y and told his tale, and 
she gave him the message : &qu=
ot; I desire to behold my lord." 
Then the radiant monkey came t=
o Rama and gave him 
Slta s message. Rama wept ther=
eat and was plunged in 
thought, and with a heavy sigh=
 he said to Vibhishana : 
"Do thou bring Sita hithe=
r quickly, bathed and fitly 
adorned with sandal-paste and =
jewels." He repaired to 
her and gave her Rama s comman=
d ; she would have gone 
to him unbathed. " But th=
ou shouldst do according to thy 
lord s word," he said. &q=
uot; So be it," she replied, and when 
she had made her ready, worthy=
 bearers brought her on a 
palanquin to Rama. Rama, behol=
ding her who had long 
been the prisoner of Ravana, a=
nd overcome with sorrow, 
was stricken at once with fury=
, joy, and grief. " O lord of 
rakshasas, O gentle king,"=
; said he to Vibhishana, " do thou 
bring Sita near to me." T=
hen Vibhishana drove away the 
crowd of monkeys, bears, and r=
akshasas, and the atten 
dants with canes and drums rou=
ghly hustled the assembled 
 
=
95 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @P Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
host. But Rama bade them desis=
t, and ordered that Slta 
should leave her palanquin and=
 come to him on foot, saying 
to Vibhishana : " Thou sh=
ouldst rather comfort than harass 
these our own folk. No sin is =
there when women are seen 
abroad in time of war or dange=
r, at an own-choice, 1 or at 
marriage. Slta is in danger no=
w, and there can be no wrong 
in seeing her, the more so as =
I am here to guard her." 
Vibhishana, cast down at that =
rebuke, brought Slta humbly 
up to Rama ; and she stood sha=
mefast, hiding as it were her 
true self in her outward shape=
, beholding Rama s face with 
wonder, joy, and love. At the =
sight of him her sorrow 
vanished, and she shone radian=
t like the moon. 
But Rama, seeing her stand hum=
bly near him, could no 
more hold back his speech, and=
 cried : " O gentle one, I 
have subdued thy foe and wiped=
 away the stain upon my 
honour. The work of Hanuman, i=
n crossing the deep and 
harrying Lanka ; of Sugriva, w=
ith his army and his counsel ; 
and of Vibhishana, hath borne =
its fruit, and I have fulfilled 
my promise, by my own might ac=
complishing the duty of 
a man." Then Slta looked =
on Rama sadly, like a deer, with 
tear-filled eyes; and Rama, se=
eing her so near, but be 
thinking him of honour in the =
sight of men, was torn in 
twain. " I have wiped awa=
y the insult to our family and 
to myself," said he, &quo=
t; but thou art stained by dwelling with 
another than myself. What man =
of high degree receives 
back a wife who hath lived lon=
g in another s house? 
Ravan has held thee on his lap=
 and gazed on thee with 
lustful eyes. I have avenged h=
is evil deed, but I am un 
attached to thee. O gentle one=
, I am forced by a sense of 
honour to renounce thee, for h=
ow should Ravana have 
overlooked thee, so fair and d=
ainty as thou art, when he 
 
=
1 Swayamvara, choice of a husb=
and from assembled suitors : see the 
story of Nala and DamayantI, p=
age 356. 
 
=
96 
 =
 
=
 
=
SIta s Ordeal 
 
=
had thee at his will ? Do thou=
 choose what home thou 
wilt, whether with Lakshman, o=
r Bharata, or Sugriva, or 
with Vibhishana." 
 
=
Then Slta, hearing that cruel =
speech of Rama, little like 
his wonted words, trembled lik=
e a swaying vine, and wept 
with heavy tears, and she was =
ashamed before that great 
assembly. But she wiped the te=
ars from her face, and 
answered him : " Ah, why =
dost thou speak thus roughly 
and unkindly? Seeing the ways =
of other women, thou 
wilt trust in none! But, O tho=
u long-armed hero, I am 
my own sufficient witness to m=
y purity. It was not with 
my consent that another touche=
d my person. My body 
ivas not in my power; but my h=
eart, that lies under my 
Own sway, is set on thee alone=
. O thou my lord and source 
of honour, our affection incre=
ased by living continually 
together for a long time ; and=
 now, if thou dost not know 
my faithfulness, I am undone f=
or ever. O king, why didst 
thou not renounce me when Hanu=
man came ? Then would I 
have given up my life, and tho=
u needst not have undertaken 
all thy labour, nor laid a bur=
den on thy friends. Thou art 
angered ; like a common man th=
ou seest naught in me but 
womanhood. I am called the dau=
ghter of Janaka, but, in 
sooth, I was born of Earth ; t=
hou knowest not my true self." 
Then Slta turned to Lakshman, =
and said with faltering 
speech: "O son of Sumitra=
, build me a funeral pyre; 
therein is my only refuge. Bra=
nded with an undeserved 
stigma, I will not live."=
 Lakshman, wrought with grief 
and anger, turned to Rama, and=
 in obedience to his ges 
ture he prepared the funeral p=
yre. 
 
=
Sltas Ordeal 
 
=
Then Slta, circumambulating Ra=
ma, standing with down 
cast eyes, approached the fire=
; with folded hands she 
 
=
G 9; 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
stood and prayed : " Inas=
much as my heart has never turned 
from Rama, do thou, O Fire, al=
l men s witness, guard 
me ; since Rama casts me away =
as stained, who in sooth 
am stainless, do thou be my re=
fuge." Then Sita went 
about the pyre and entered the=
 burning flames, so that 
all, both young and old, assem=
bled there were overcome 
with grief, and the noise of u=
ttermost wailing and lamen 
tation arose on every hand. 
 
=
Rama stayed immovable and rapt=
 ; but the gods came down 
to Lanka in their shining cars=
 and, folding their hands, 
prayed Rama to relent. " =
Thou that dost protect the 
worlds, why dost thou renounce=
 the daughter of Janaka, 
leaving her to choose the deat=
h by fire ? How can it be 
thou knowest not what thyself =
art? Thou wast in the 
beginning, and shalt be at the=
 end: thou art first of all 
the gods, thyself the grandsir=
e and creator. Why dost 
thou treat Sita after the fash=
ion of a mere man?" said 
they. To whom Rama replied : &=
quot; I know myself only as 
a man, Rama, the son of Dashar=
atha ; now let the grand- 
sire tell me who I am and when=
ce I came." 
Then Brahma answered : " =
Hearken, thou whose virtue 
lies in truth ! O Lord, thou a=
rt Narayana, bearing disc and 
mace; thou art the one-tusked =
boar; thou goest beyond 
the past, the present, and the=
 future ; thine is the bow of 
Time; thou art creation and de=
struction; thou art the 
slayer of all enemies, thou th=
e forgiveness and control of 
passions ; thou art the refuge=
 of all gods and hermits ; 
thou art manifest in every cre=
ature, in cows and Brahmans, 
in every quarter, in sky and r=
iver and mountain-peak ; a j 
thousand limbs, a thousand eye=
s, a thousand heads arei 
thine ; thy heart am I, thy to=
ngue SarasvatI ; the closing 
of thy eye is night, its openi=
ng day : Sita is Lakshmi and 
thou Vishnu and Krishna. And, =
O Rama, now Ravana is 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Visions of the Gods 
 
=
slain, do thou ascend to Heave=
n, thy work accomplished. 
Naught shall they lack whose h=
earts are set on thee, nor 
fail who chant thy lay." =
 
=
Then Fire, hearing those happy=
 words, rose up with Slta 
on his lap, radiant as the mor=
ning sun, with golden jewels 
and black curling hair, and he=
 gave her back to Rama, 
saying : " O Rama, here i=
s thy Slta, whom no stain has 
touched. Not in word or though=
t or look has Slta turned 
aside from thee. Albeit tempte=
d every way, she did not 
think of Ravana even in her in=
most heart. As she is 
spotless, do thou take her bac=
k." Rama, staying silent 
for a while, with shining eyes=
 pondered the speech of 
Agni ; then he answered : &quo=
t; Because this fair one dwelt 
long time in Ravana s house, s=
he needed vindication 
before the assembled folk. Had=
 I taken her unproved, the 
people would complain that Ram=
a, son of King Dasha- 
ratha, was moved by desire, an=
d set at naught social law. 
I know well that Slta s heart =
is set on me alone, and that 
her own virtue was her suffici=
ent refuge from the assaults 
of Ravana ; she is mine as the=
 sun s rays are the sun s. 
I can no more renounce her, bu=
t rather it behoves me 
to obey your happy words."=
; Thus the glorious son of 
Dasharatha regained his bride,=
 and his heart was glad. 
 
=
Visions of the Gods 
 
=
But now Shiva took up the word=
, and revealed to Rama 
his father Dasharatha statione=
d on a shining car amongst 
the gods, and Rama and Lakshma=
n bowed to him ; and he, 
beholding his dearest son, too=
k Rama on his lap, and 
spake : " Even in heaven =
amongst the gods I am not happy, 
lacking thee. I call to mind e=
ven now Kaikeyi s word, 
and thou hast redeemed my pled=
ge and freed me from 
every debt. Now I have heard t=
hat thou art the primal 
 
=
99 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
male incarnate for the compass=
ing of Ravana s death. 
Kaushalya shall be glad to see=
 thee return victorious. 
Blessed are those that shall b=
ehold thee installed as Lord 
of Ayodhya ! Thy term of exile=
 is ended. Do thou rule 
with thy brothers now in Ayodh=
ya and have long "life!" 
Then Rama prayed his father : =
" Do thou now forgive 
Kaikeyi, and take back thy dre=
adful curse wherewith thou 
didst renounce her and her son=
." Then Dasharatha said : 
" So be it } ; and to Lak=
shman : " May good befall thee, thou 
truth and honour, and thou sha=
lt attain a lofty place in 
heaven. Do thou attend on Rama=
, whom all the gods 
adore with folded hands."=
 And to Sita he said : " Thou 
shouldst not feel resentment f=
orasmuch as Rama renounced 
thee ; for thy welfare it was =
done. Now hast thou attained 
a glory hard to be won by wome=
n ! Thou knowest well 
the duty of a wife. It needs n=
ot for me to tell thee that 
thy husband is thy very god,&q=
uot; Then Dasharatha in his 
car returned to Indra s heaven=
. 
 
=
Next Indra, standing before Ra=
ma, with folded hands 
addressed him, saying : "=
O Rama, first of men, it may not 
be for naught that we are come=
 to thee. Do thou pray for 
such a boon as thou desirest.&=
quot; Then Rama spoke, de 
lighted : " O Lord of Hea=
ven and foremost of the eloquent, 
do thou grant me this, that al=
l the monkeys slain in battle 
return to life and see again t=
heir wives and children. Do 
thou restore those bears and m=
onkeys that fought for me 
and laboured hard and recked n=
othing of death. And let 
there be flowers and fruits an=
d roots for them, and rivers 
of clear water, even out of se=
ason, wherever they may go." 
And Indra granted that great b=
oon, so that a host of 
monkeys rose up, asking like w=
akened sleepers: "What 
has happened?" Then the g=
ods, once more addressing! 
Rama, said : " Do thou re=
turn to Ayodhya, sending the! 
100 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama s Return 
 
=
monkeys on their way. Comfort =
Slta, seek out thy 
brother Bharata, and, being in=
stalled as king, do thou 
bestow good fortune on every c=
itizen." Therewith the 
gods departed, and the happy a=
rmy made their camp. 
 
=
Rdmds Return 
 
=
When morning dawned, Rama, tak=
ing the car Pushpaka, 
given to him by Vibhishana, st=
ood ready to depart. Self- 
moving was that car, and it wa=
s very fairly painted and 
large; two stories it had, and=
 windows and flags and 
banners and many chambers, and=
 it gave forth a melo 
dious sound as it coursed alon=
g the airy way. Then 
said Vibhishana : "What m=
ore may I do?" and Rama 
answered : " Do thou cont=
ent these bears and monkeys 
who have accomplished my affai=
r with divers jewels and 
wealth ; then shall they fare =
to their homes. And do thou 
rule as one who is righteous, =
self-controlled, compassionate, 
a just collector of revenues, =
that all may be attached to 
thee." Then Vibhishana be=
stowed wealth on all the host, 
and Rama was taking leave of a=
ll the bears and monkeys 
and of Vibhishana ; but they c=
ried out : " We wish to go 
with thee to Ayodhya." Th=
en Rama invited them gladly, 
and Sugriva and Vibhishana and=
 all the host mounted 
the mighty car; and the car ro=
se up into the sky, drawn 
by golden geese, and sailed on=
 its airy way, while the 
monkeys, bears, and rakshasas =
took their ease. 
But when they passed by the ci=
ty of Kishkindha, Sugriva s 
capital, Slta prayed Rama to t=
ake with him to Ayodhya 
Tara, the wife of Sugriva, and=
 the wives of other monkey- 
chiefs ; and he stayed the car=
 while Sugriva brought Tara 
and the wives of other monkeys=
. And they mounted and 
set forth towards Ayodhya. The=
y passed across Chitra- 
kuta and Jamna and the Ganges =
where it divides in three, 
 
=
101 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &? Bud=
dhists 
 
=
and at last beheld Ayodhya, an=
d bowed to her ; and all the 
bears and monkeys and Vibhisha=
na rose up in delight to 
see her, shining fair as Amara=
vati, the capital of Indra. 
It was the fifth day after the=
 last of fourteen years of exile 
when Rama greeted the hermit B=
haradwaja, and from him 
learnt that Bharata awaited hi=
s return, leading a hermit s 
life and honouring the sandals=
. And Bharadwaja gave 
him a boon, that the trees alo=
ng the road to Ayodhya 
should bear flowers and fruit =
as he went, even though out 
of season. And so it was that =
for three leagues, from 
Bharadwaja s hermitage to Ayod=
hya s gate, the trees bore 
flowers and fruits, and the mo=
nkeys thought themselves in 
heaven. But Hanuman was sent i=
n advance to bring back 
tidings from Ayodhya and Bhara=
ta, and speedily he went, 
in human form. He came to Bhar=
ata in his hermitage 
garbed as a yogi, thin and wor=
n, but radiant as a mighty 
sage, and ruling the earth as =
viceroy of the sandals. 
Then Hanuman related to him al=
l that had befallen Rama 
since the brothers parted in C=
hitrakuta, and Bharata s 
heart was filled with gladness=
, and he gave orders to 
prepare the city and to worshi=
p all the gods with music 
and flowers, and that all the =
people should come forth to 
welcome Rama. The roads were w=
atered and the flags 
hoisted, and the city was fill=
ed with the sound of cavalry 
and cars and elephants. Then R=
ama came, and Bharata 
worshipped him and bathed his =
feet and humbly greeted 
him ; but Rama lifted him up a=
nd took him in his arms. 
Then Bharata bowed to Slta, an=
d welcomed Lakshman, 
and embraced the monkey-chiefs=
, naming Sugriva "our 
fifth brother"; and he pr=
aised Vibhishana. 
Then Rama came to his mother a=
nd humbly touched her \ 
feet, and he made salutation t=
o the priests. Next 
Bharata brought the sandals an=
d laid them at Rama s 
 
=
102 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Return of Kama =
 
=
 
=
 
=
102 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama installed with Sita =
 
=
feet, and with folded hands he=
 said: "All this, thy 
kingdom, that thou didst entru=
st to me, I now return : 
behold, thy wealth of treasure=
, palace, and army is tenfold 
multiplied." Then placing=
 his brother on his lap, Rama 
fared on to Bharata s hermitag=
e, and there descending, 
Rama spake to the good car : &=
quot; Do thou return to Vaish- 
ravan I grant thee leave."=
; For that self-coursing car 
had been taken by Ravana from =
his elder brother; but 
now at Rama s word it returned=
 to the God of Wealth. 
 
=
Rama installed with Slid =
 
=
Then Bharata restored the king=
dom to his brother, saying : 
"Let the world behold the=
e to-day installed, like the 
radiant midday sun. None but t=
hou can bear the heavy 
burden of an empire such as ou=
rs. Do thou no more dwell 
in lonely places, but sleep an=
d rise to the sound of music 
and the tinkle of women s ankl=
ets. Do thou rule the 
people as long as the sun endu=
res and as far as earth 
extends." And Rama said :=
 " So be it." 
Then skilful barbers came, and=
 Rama and Lakshman 
bathed and were shorn of their=
 matted locks and dressed 
in shining robes ; and Dashara=
tha s queens attended Sita 
and decked her in splendid jew=
els, while Kaushalya decked 
the monkeys wives, and the pri=
ests gave orders for the 
coronation. Then Rama mounted =
a car driven by Bharata, 
and Satrughna held the umbrell=
a, and Lakshman waved a 
chowry and Vibhishana another.=
 Sugriva rode on an 
elephant, and the other monkey=
s followed riding on 
elephants to the number of nin=
e thousand, and with music 
and the noise of conchs the lo=
rd of men entered his own 
city. Four golden jars were gi=
ven to Hanuman and 
Jambavan and Vegadarshi and Ri=
shabha to fetch pure 
water from the four oceans, an=
d they rose into the sky and 
 
=
103 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
brought the holy water from th=
e utmost bounds of ocean, 
north and south and east and w=
est. Then Vashishtha, 
setting Rama and Sita upon the=
ir golden throne, sprinkled 
that first of men and consecra=
ted him as king of Ayodhya. 
Thereat the gods rejoiced, and=
 the gandharvas sang 
and the apsaras danced ; the e=
arth was filled with 
crops, the trees bore fruit an=
d flowers, and all men 
were glad and merry. And Rama =
conferred upon the 
Brahmans gifts of gold and orn=
aments, and cows and 
horses; to Angada he gave a go=
lden jewelled chain 
such as are worn by the gods, =
and to Sita a necklace of 
matchless pearls and other orn=
aments and splendid robes. 
But she, holding the pearls in=
 her hand, glanced at her 
lord, and from him to Hanuman,=
 remembering his goodly 
service ; and Rama, reading he=
r wish, granted her leave, 
and she gave the necklace to H=
anuman. And the Wind- 
god s son, exemplar of energy,=
 renown, capacity, humility, 
and courage, wearing that garl=
and, shone like a mountain 
illumined by the moon and flee=
cy clouds. And to every 
other hero Rama gave due gifts=
 of jewels and wealth. 
Then Sugriva and Hanuman and J=
ambavan, with all the 
host, returned to their own ho=
mes, and Vibhishana repaired 
to Lanka ; but Rama governed A=
yodhya, and in his time 
men lived for a thousand years=
, and due rains fell, and the 
winds were ever favourable, an=
d there was no distress from 
sickness or from wild beasts o=
r from invasion, but all men 
were glad and merry. 
 
=
Rama Reigns =
 
=
Then, while Rama sat on the th=
rone, all the great hermits 
 
=
came to visit him who had rega=
ined his kingdom. They came 
 
=
from east and west and north a=
nd south, led by Agastya, 
 
=
and Rama worshipped them and a=
ppointed for them 
 
=
104 
 =
 
=
 
=
Hanuman Rewarded 
 
=
splendid seats of sacrificial =
grass and gold-embroidered 
deer-skin . Then the sages pra=
ised Rama s fortune, espe 
cially inasmuch as he had slai=
n Ravana s son, mightier 
than Ravana himself, and had d=
elivered men and gods 
from fear. Then Rama questione=
d the sages about the 
former history of Ravana and R=
avana s son, and they 
related to him at length the s=
tory of the rakshasas origin 
how they had come to Lanka ; h=
ow Ravana, Kumbhakarna, 
and Vibhishana had won each a =
boon from the grandsire ; 
what evil deeds had been done =
by Ravana ; and how the 
gods had appointed Vishnu to t=
ake human form to achieve 
his death. Likewise they told =
of the origin and deeds oi 
the monkeys Vali and Sugriva a=
nd Hanuman. " And, 
O Rama ! " they said, &qu=
ot; in the golden age the demon 
sought to fight with thee; for=
 those whom the gods 
destroy go to the heaven of th=
e gods till they are born 
again on earth ; those whom Vi=
shnu slays go to Vishnu s 
heaven, so that his very wrath=
 is a blessing. And it was 
for this that Ravana stole Slt=
a away and thou didst 
assume a human form for his de=
struction, O great one, 
know that thou art Narayana : =
do thou recollect thyself. 
Thou art the eternal Vishnu, a=
nd Slta is Lakshmi." 
Rama himself and all the assem=
bled folk Rama s 
brothers, the monkey-chiefs, t=
he rakshasas under Vibhi 
shana, the vassal kings, and t=
he Brahmans, Kshatriyas, 
Vaishyas,and Shudras of Ayodhy=
a marvelled at the words 
of the great sages ; and Agast=
ya took leave of Rama and 
departed, and night fell. 
 
=
Hamiman Rewarded 
 
=
The monkeys dwelt at Ayodhya m=
ore than a month, feast, 
ing on honey and well-cooked m=
eats and fruits and roots, 
though it seemed to them but a=
 moment, because of their 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus {%P Buddhi=
sts 
 
=
devotion toward Rama. Then the=
 time came for them 
to go to their own city, and R=
ama embraced them all with 
affection and gave them goodly=
 gifts. But Hanuman 
bowed and begged this boon, th=
at he might ever be 
devoted to Rama alone, and tha=
t he might live on earth 
so long as the story of Rama s=
 deeds was told of amongst 
men ; and Rama granted it, and=
 took from his own neck a 
jewelled chain and put it upon=
 Hanuman. One by one 
the monkeys came and touched t=
he feet of Rama, and 
then went their way ; but they=
 wept for sorrow of leaving 
him. 
<= pre> =
Sitd s Second Trial 
 
=
Then Rama governed Ayodhya for=
 ten thousand years ; 
and at length it came to pass =
that Slta had conceived. 
Then Rama asked her if she had=
 any longing, and she 
replied that she desired to vi=
sit the hermitages of the 
sages by the Ganges; and Rama =
said: "So be it"; and 
the visit was fixed for the mo=
rrow. 
 
=
The same night it happened tha=
t Rama was engaged in 
converse with his counsellors =
and friends, and he asked 
them : " What do the citi=
zens and countrymen say of Slta 
and my brothers and Kaikeyi ? =
" And one replied that 
they spoke often of Rama s gre=
at conquest of Ravana. 
But Rama pressed for more defi=
nite reports, and a 
counsellor replied : " Th=
e people do indeed speak of thy 
great deeds and thy alliance w=
ith the bears and monkeys 
and rakshasas ; but they murmu=
r inasmuch as thou hast 
taken Slta back, albeit she wa=
s touched by Ravana and 
dwelt long time in his city of=
 Lanka. For all that, they say, 
thou dost still acknowledge he=
r. Now we, too, will pass 
over the misdoings of our wive=
s, for subjects always follow 
the customs of their king. Suc=
h, O king, is the talk." 
1 06 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
Sita s Second Trial 
 
=
Then Rama s heart sank, and he=
 sent away the coun 
sellors and sent for his broth=
ers, and they came and 
stood by him with folded hands=
 and touched his feet. 
But they saw that he was heavy=
-hearted and that his eyes 
i were full of tears, and wait=
ed anxiously for him to 
speak. Then Rama told them wha=
t he had learnt. " I am 
crushed by these slanders,&quo=
t; he said, " for I am of an 
illustrious family, and Slta i=
s no less nobly born. And 
Slta, to prove her innocence, =
submitted to ordeal by fire 
before you all, and Fire and W=
ind and all the gods 
declared her stainless. Even n=
ow my heart knows her 
to be blameless. But the censu=
re of the folk has pierced 
me : ill is ill-fame for such =
as I, and preferable were death 
than this disgrace. Do thou, t=
herefore, Lakshman, make 
no question, but take Slta wit=
h thee to-morrow to Valmiki s 
hermitage beside the Ganges, a=
s if fulfilling the desire she 
spoke of even now ; and by my =
life and arms, do ye not 
seek to move me from this, les=
t I deem you to be my foes." 
And Rama s eyes were full of t=
ears, and he went to his 
own apartment sighing like a w=
ounded elephant. 
The next morning Lakshman brou=
ght a goodly car and 
came to Slta, saying : " =
Rama hath commanded me to 
take thee to the hermitages by=
 the Ganges in accordance 
with thy wish." Then Slta=
, taking costly gifts with her, 
mounted the car most eagerly. =
On the second day they 
came to the Ganges bank, whose=
 water takes away all 
sin; but Lakshman stood and we=
pt aloud. Then Slta 
asked him why he wept. " =
For," she said, "it is but two 
days since thou didst see Rama=
 : he is dearer to me than 
life, but I am not so sad as t=
hou. Do thou take me 
across the river to visit the =
hermits there and present my 
gifts, and then shall we retur=
n ; and, indeed, I am eager 
to see my lord again, whose ey=
es are like the petals of the 
 
=
107 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus P Buddhist=
s 
 
=
lotus, the lion-breast, the fi=
rst of men." So Lakshman sent 
for boatmen, and they went acr=
oss. When they were 
come to the other side, Lakshm=
an stood by Slta with 
folded hands and prayed her to=
 forgive him and not 
deem him at fault, saying : &q=
uot; This is a matter too sore for 
words, so I but tell thee open=
ly that Rama now renounces 
thee, inasmuch as the citizens=
 have spoken against thee ; 
he has commanded me to leave t=
hee here, as if in satisfac 
tion of thy own desire. But do=
 not grieve, for well I 
know that thou art guiltless, =
and thou mayst dwell with 
Valmlki, our father s friend. =
Do thou remember Rama 
always and serve the gods, so =
mayst thou be blest!" 
Then Slta fell down fainting ;=
 but she came to herself and 
complained bitterly : " A=
las ! I must have greatly sinned 
in a past life to be thus divi=
ded from my lord, though 
blameless. O Lakshman, formerl=
y it was no hardship 
for me to live in the forest, =
for I was able to be Rama s 
servant. But how can I live th=
ere all alone now, and 
what reply can I make to those=
 who ask what sin I have 
committed to be banished thus =
? I would fain be drowned 
in these waters, but I may not=
 bring about the destruction 
of my lord s race. Do thou as =
Rama has ordered, but 
take this message from me to h=
im : Thou knowest, O 
Rama, that I am unstained and =
devoted utterly to thee. 
I understand that it is for th=
e avoiding of ill-fame that 
thou dost renounce me, and it =
is my duty to serve thee 
even in this. A husband is a w=
oman s god, her friend and 
guru. I do not grieve for what=
 befalls me, but because 
the people have spoken ill of =
me. Do thou go and tell 
these things to Rama." Th=
en Lakshman crossed the 
river again and came to Ayodhy=
a ; but Slta went to and 
fro without any refuge and beg=
an to cry aloud. Then 
Valmlki s sons found her there=
, and Valmlki came to the 
108 
 =
 
=
 
=
SIta s Second Trial 
 
=
river-side and comforted her, =
and brought her to the 
hermitage and gave her to the =
hermits wives to cherish 
with affection. 
 
=
Lakshman found his brother sun=
k in grief and with his 
eyes filled with tears, and he=
 was sorry, and touched his 
feet and stood with folded han=
ds, and said : " O sire, I 
have done all that thou didst =
command, and have left that 
peerless lady at Valmiki s her=
mitage. Thou shouldst not 
grieve therefor; for such is t=
he work of time, whereat 
the wise grieve not. Where the=
re is growth there is 
decay ; where there is prosper=
ity there is also ruin ; 
where there is birth there mus=
t be also death. Therefore, 
attachment to wife, or sons, o=
r friends, or wealth is wrong, 
for separation is certain. Nor=
 shouldst thou give way to 
grief before the folk, lest th=
ey blame thee again." 
Then Rama was comforted, and p=
raised the words and 
love of Lakshman ; and he sent=
 for the priests and 
counsellors who waited, and oc=
cupied himself again with 
the affairs of state. But none=
 had come that day for any 
affair, for in Rama s time the=
re was no disease or poverty, 
and none sought redress. But a=
s Lakshman went away he 
saw a dog, that waited by th^ =
gate and barked, and he 
asked it what was its affair. =
Then the dog replied : " I 
wish to tell it to Rama himsel=
f, who is the refuge of all 
creatures, and proclaims Fear =
nothing to them all." 
So Lakshman returned to Rama a=
nd informed him, and 
Rama sent for the dog to come =
to him. But the dog 
would not go in, saying : &quo=
t; We are the vilest born, and we 
may not enter the houses of go=
ds or kings or Brahmans." 
Then Lakshman took this messag=
e also to Rama ; but he 
sent again for the dog and gav=
e him leave to enter, who 
waited at the gate. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
109 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
Rama *s Justice 
 
=
Then the dog went in and stood=
 before Rama, and praised 
his truth and asked his pardon=
 ; and Rama inquired : 
" What shall I do for the=
e? Do thou speak without fear." 
Then the dog related how a cer=
tain Brahman mendicant had 
beaten him without cause, and =
Rama sent for the Brahman, 
and he came, and asked what Ra=
ma required of him. 
Then Rama reasoned with him, s=
aying : " O twice-born one, 
thou hast hurt this dog, who h=
urt thee not. Lo, anger is 
the worst of passions, like a =
sharp dagger, and steals away 
all virtue. Greater is the evi=
l that may be wrought by 
lack of self-control than by t=
he sword, or a serpent, or a 
foe implacable." The Brah=
man answered : " I had been 
seeking alms and was tired and=
 hungry, and this dog 
would not move away, although =
I asked him, so I struck 
him. But, O king, I am guilty =
of error, and thou shouldst 
punish me, that I may escape f=
rom the fear of hell." 
Rama considered what was a fit=
ting punishment ; but the 
dog requested : " Do thou=
 appoint this Brahman head of a 
family." So Rama honoured=
 him and sent him away 
riding on an elephant ; but th=
e counsellors were astonished. 
To them Rama said : " You=
 do not understand this matter ; 
but the dog knows what it sign=
ifies." Then the dog, 
addressed by Rama, explained :=
 " I was once the head of a 
family, and I served the gods =
and Brahmans, and fed the 
very servants before I took my=
 food, and I was gentle and 
benevolent ; yet I have fallen=
 into this sorry state. O king, 
this Brahman is cruel and impa=
tient in his nature, and he 
will fail to discharge the dut=
ies of the head of a family, 
and will fall into Hell."=
 Then Rama wondered at the 
dog s words, but the dog went =
away and betook himself to 
penance in Benares, 
no 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama s Justice 
 
=
Another time there came a Brah=
man to the palace gate 
bearing the dead body of his s=
on, and wailing : " O my 
son, thou art but fourteen yea=
rs of age, and I know not for 
what sin of mine it is that th=
ou hast died ; never have I 
lied, or hurt an animal, or do=
ne any other sin. It must be 
for some other reason that tho=
u hast gone to Yama s 
realm. Indeed, it must be that=
 the king has sinned, for 
else such things may not befal=
l. Therefore, O king, 
do thou confer life again upon=
 him; or, if not, my wife 
and I will die here at thy gat=
e, like those that have no 
king." =
 
=
Then Rama summoned a council o=
f eight chief Brahmans, 
and Narada took up the word an=
d explained to Rama 
what had been the cause of the=
 boy s premature death. He 
told him of the four ages. &qu=
ot; And now, O king, the Kali 
age begins already, for a Shud=
ra has begun to practise 
penances in thy kingdom, and f=
or this cause the boy has 
died. Do thou search the matte=
r out and put down such 
misdeeds, so that the virtue o=
f thy subjects may increase 
and this boy may be restored t=
o life." 
So Rama ordered the body of th=
e boy to be preserved in 
sweet oil, and he bethought hi=
m of the self-coursing car 
Pushpaka, and it knew his mind=
 and came to him straight 
way. Then Rama mounted the car=
 and sought through every 
quarter; but he found no sin i=
n the west nor in the north, 
and the east was crystal clear=
. Only in the south, beside 
a sacred pool, he found a yogi=
 standing on his head 
practising the most severe dis=
ciplines, and Rama asked 
him: "O thou blest and se=
lf-devoted, who art thou, and 
what thy colour, and what dost=
 thou seek to win, whether 
Heaven or aught else ? " =
And the yogi answered : " O great 
Rama, I am of the Shudras, and=
 it is for Heaven that I do 
this penance." Then Rama =
drew his sword and cut off the 
 
=
in 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus S? Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
yogi s head, and the gods rain=
ed down flowers and praised 
the deed ; but the Shudra yogi=
 attained to the abode of 
the heavenly ones. Now Rama pr=
ayed to the gods : " If 
ye are pleased with me, do ye =
restore to life the Brahman s 
son and so fulfil my promise &=
quot; ; and they granted it, and 
Rama returned to Ayodhya. Mean=
while Sita, dwelling at 
Valmiki s hermitage, gave birt=
h to sons, and they were 
named Kusha and Lava ; and the=
y grew up in the forest 
hermitage, and Valmiki taught =
them wisdom, and he 
made this book of the Ramayana=
 in shlokas, and gave them 
skill in recitation. 
 
=
Rama s Sons =
 
=
In those days Rama prepared a =
horse-sacrifice, setting free 
a jet-black horse with lucky m=
arks to wander where it 
would, and Lakshman followed i=
t. Then he invited all the 
bears and monkeys, and Vibhish=
ana and foreign kings, and 
the rishis and others of the h=
ermits from far and near, to 
be present at the final ceremo=
ny. Countless wealth he 
gave away throughout the year =
while the horse wandered, 
yet the treasure of Rama was i=
n no way diminished ; never 
before was such an Ashwamedha =
in the world ! 
Kusha and Lava came with Valmi=
ki to the ceremony, and 
Valmiki told them to recite th=
e Ramayana everywhere, 
and if any questioned them, to=
 name themselves as 
Valmiki s disciples. So they w=
ent about and sang of 
Rama s deeds ; and Rama heard =
of it, and he called a great 
assembly of the Brahmans and a=
ll kinds of grammarians 
and artists and musicians, and=
 the hermit children sang 
before them all. Wondrous and =
delightful was their song, 
and none could hear enough of =
it ; but all men drank up the 
children with their eyes, and =
murmured : " They are as 
like to Rama as one bubble is =
like another ! " When Rama 
112 
 =
 
=
 
=
Rama s Sons =
 
=
would have given them wealth, =
they answered : " We are 
dwellers in the forest: what u=
se would money be to us ? " 
And when he asked who had comp=
osed that song, they 
answered : " Valmlki, who=
 is our teacher. And, O king, 
if the story of thy feats deli=
ghts thee, do thou hear it all at 
leisure." 
 
=
So Rama hearkened to the story=
 day by day, and from it 
he learnt that Kusha and Lava =
were the sons of Slta. 
Then Rama mentioned Slta s nam=
e before the assembly, 
and sent a messenger to inquir=
e from the hermits if they 
would vouch for her faithfulne=
ss and to ask herself if s 1 ^ 
were willing to give proof of =
her innocence again. " Ask 
her," he said, " if =
she will swear before the people to estab 
lish her own purity and mine.&=
quot; - The hermits sent back the 
message that she would come, a=
nd Rama was glad thereof, 
and appointed the next day for=
 the taking of the oath. 
When the appointed time had co=
me, and all were seated in 
the assembly, immovable as mou=
ntains, Valmlki came 
forward, and Slta followed him=
 with downcast glance and 
folded hands and falling tears=
; and there rose a cry of 
welcome and a murmuring in the=
 assembly when they saw 
Slta following Valmlki thus, l=
ike the Vedas following 
Brahma. Then Valmlki spoke bef=
ore the people and said 
to Rama : " O son of Dash=
aratha, albeit Slta is pure and 
doth follow the path of righte=
ousness, thou didst renounce 
her near my hermitage because =
of the people s censure. 
Do thou now permit her to give=
 testimony of her purity. 
And, O Rama, I myself, who fol=
low truth, tell thee that 
these twin children are thy so=
ns. Also I swear before 
thee that if any sin be found =
in Slta I will forgo the fruit 
of all austerities I have prac=
tised for many thousand years." 
Then Rama, seeing Slta standin=
g before the assembly 
like a goddess, with folded ha=
nds, replied : "O great one, 
 
=
H 113 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &P Bud=
dhists 
 
=
thou art ever virtuous, and th=
y words convince me of the 
purity of Sita. I recognize th=
ese brothers Kusha and Lava 
as my sons. Yet Sita shall giv=
e testimony herself, for the 
sake of those that have come h=
ere to witness her avowal." 
 
=
Sita taken Home by Earth =
 
=
Then there blew a sweet, cool,=
 fragrant air, a divine zephyr 
such as used to blow only in t=
he golden age, and folk were 
astonished that that air shoul=
d blow also in the second 
age. But Sita, with downcast l=
ooks and folded palms, 
said : " I have never tho=
ught of anyone but Rama even 
in my heart : as this is true,=
 may the goddess of the earth 
be my protection. I have alway=
s with mind and body and 
words prayed for Rama s welfar=
e, and by this I pray 
Vasundhara to receive me."=
; 
 
=
Then a heavenly throne rose up=
 from within the earth, 
borne on the heads of mighty n=
agas? decked in shining 
jewels ; and the Earth stretch=
ed out her arms and welcomed 
Sita and placed her on the thr=
one, and the throne sank 
down again. Thereat the gods c=
ried out in praise of Sita, 
and all beings on earth and in=
 the sky were filled with 
wonder and astonishment, so th=
at one mood for a single 
moment swayed all the universe=
 at once. 
But Rama sat him down stricken=
 with sorrow and with 
hanging head, and he was torn =
by grief and anger that 
Sita had disappeared before hi=
s very eyes, and he would have 
destroyed the very Earth if sh=
e would not give Sita back. 
But Brahma said : " O Ram=
a of firm vows, thou shouldst 
not grieve ; rather remember t=
hy essential godhead, and 
bethink thee thou art Vishnu. =
Sita is blameless and pure, 
and for her virtue she has gon=
e to the abode of nagas ; 
 
=
1 Nagas, lit. snakes beings of=
 semi-human, semi-serpent nature 
inhabiting the waters and unde=
rworld. 
114 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Last Days of Rama 
 
=
but thou shalt be with her in =
Heaven. Hearken now to 
the ending of Valmiki s story,=
 and thou shalt know thy 
future history " ; and th=
erewith Brahma with the gods 
returned to his own place, and=
 Rama appointed the 
morrow for the hearing of the =
Uttara Kanda. 
 
=
The Last Days of Rama 
 
=
But now Rama was heavy-hearted=
, and the whole world 
seemed empty without Slta, and=
 he knew no peace. He 
gave the monkeys and the kings=
 and hermits gifts, and 
sent them back to their own ho=
mes, and he made a golden 
image of Slta to share with hi=
m in the performance of 
sacred rites, and a thousand y=
ears passed, while all things 
prospered in the kingdom of Ay=
odhya. Then Kaushalya 
and Kaikeyl died, and were uni=
ted with King Dasharatha 
in Heaven. Bharata reigned in =
Kekaya, and Satrughna 
was king of Madhu, while the s=
ons of Lakshman founded 
kingdoms of their own. 
 
=
At length there came to Rama s=
 palace the mighty yogi 
Time, and Rama honoured him. H=
e named himself 
Time, begotten by Narayana on =
Maya, and he reminded 
Rama of his godly self and all=
 that he had achieved in 
Heaven and on earth. " O =
Lord of the World," he said, 
" thou wast born on earth=
 for the destruction of the Ten- 
necked rakshasa, and thou dids=
t undertake to dwell on 
earth for eleven thousand year=
s. Now that time is ripe 
and the grandsire sendeth me t=
o tell thee : now wilt thou 
reign yet longer over men, or =
wilt thou return to the lord 
ship of the gods?" Then R=
ama praised the yogi and 
said he had spoken truth, and =
for himself he would 
return to his own place. =
 
=
But already Lakshman had left =
his home and gone to the 
banks of Sarayu to practise gr=
eat austerities, and there 
 
=
MS 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
the gods rained flowers upon h=
im, and Indra lifted him 
from the earth and returned to=
 his own city, so that all the 
gods, seeing the fourth part o=
f Vishnu come back to them, 
were gladdened and began to wo=
rship him. Then Rama 
would follow the same path, an=
d he sought to crown his 
brother Bharata as king of Ayo=
dhya, but he refused and 
would have the king s sons Kus=
ha and Lava set over 
North and South Kosala ; and R=
ama granted it, and they 
were installed upon the throne=
 and ruled over the new 
cities of Kushavati and Sravan=
ti ; but Ayodhya was alto 
gether emptied of people, for =
the folk would all follow 
after Rama when he went away. =
News of these matters 
was brought to Satrughna also,=
 and he set his two sons 
on the throne of Mathura and h=
astened to return to Rama. 
Hearing that Rama was going aw=
ay, the monkeys, born 
of the gods, went to Ayodhya a=
nd beheld him ; and 
Sugriva said : " I have s=
et Angada upon the throne of 
Kishkindha, and I will follow =
thee." 
 
=
Then Rama granted the desire o=
f all the monkeys to 
follow him ; but to Hanuman he=
 said : " It is determined 
already that thou shalt live f=
or ever : do thou be glad on 
earth so long as the tale of m=
e endures." To Jambavan 
and some others Rama appointed=
 life till the end of the 
Kali age, and other bears and =
monkeys he gave leave to 
follow him. To Vibhishana he o=
;ave good counsel 
regarding government, and ever=
 to worship Jagannatha, 
Lord of the World. =
 
=
The next day Vashishtha prepar=
ed all due rites for those 
who go to the other world, and=
 all men following Rama 
and the Brahmans set out for S=
arayu. There went 
Bharata and Lakshman and Satru=
ghna and their wives, 
and the counsellors and servan=
ts ; and all the people of 
Ayodhya, with the beasts and b=
irds and the least of 
116 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Last Days of Rama 
 
=
breathing things ; and the bea=
rs and rakshasas and 
monkeys followed Rama with hap=
py hearts. 
When they came to Sarayu, Brah=
ma, the grandsire, came 
thither with the godly folk an=
d a hundred thousand goodly 
cars, and th& wind of Heav=
en blew and flowers rained 
down from Heaven upon earth. T=
hen Brahma said to 
Rama : " Hail, O Vishnu !=
 Do thou, with thy brothers, 
enter in again in whatsoever f=
orm thou wilt, who art the 
refuge of all creatures, and b=
eyond the range of thought 
or speech, unknown of any save=
 thy Maya." Then Vishnu 
entered Heaven in his own form=
, with his brothers, and all 
the gods bowed down to him and=
 rejoiced. Then said 
Vishnu to the grandsire : &quo=
t; It behoveth thee to allot their 
due place to all these people =
who have followed me for 
love, renouncing self for my s=
ake." Then Brahm* 
appointed places in the heaven=
s for all those who had 
come after Rama, and the bears=
 and monkeys assumed 
their godly forms, after the l=
ikeness of those who had 
begotten them. Thus did all be=
ings there assembled, enter 
ing the waters of Sarayu, atta=
in to the heavenly state, and 
Brahma and the gods returned t=
o their own abode. 
 
=
Thus ends Ramayana, revered by=
 Brahma and made 
by Valmiki. He that hath no so=
ns shall attain a son 
by reading even a single verse=
 of Rama s lay. All sin 
is washed away from those who =
read or hear it read. 
He who recites Ramayana should=
 have rich gifts of 
cows and gold. Long shall he l=
ive who reads Ramayana, 
and shall be honoured, with hi=
s sons and grandsons, 
in this world and in Heaven. <=
o:p>
 
=
 
=
 
=
117 
 =
 
=
 
=
CHAPTER III : THE MAHABHARATA =
 
=
RELATED IN FIFTEEN EPISODES 
 
=
Introduction to the Mahabharat=
a 
 
=
THE Indian national saga, beyo=
nd all dispute, is the 
Mahabharata. This is to the In=
dian village and 
the Indian home what the Iliad=
 was to the Greek, 
and, to a certain extent also,=
 what the Scriptures and Gospels 
are to ourselves. It is the mo=
st popular of all the sacred 
books. It contains, as an inte=
rlude, the Bhagavad Gita, 
the national gospel. But with =
this it is also an epic. 
The story of a divine incarnat=
ion, Krishna, as he is 
called, has been wrought into =
and upon an immense 
ballad and military epic of un=
known antiquity. Of this 
epic the main theme is a great=
 battle waged between two 
families of cousins, the sons =
of Pandu and the sons of 
Dhritarashtra or the Pandavas =
and the Kauravas, or 
Kurus by name. And although, a=
fter the fashion of 
ancient literature, a thousand=
 other tales, some more and 
some less ancient, have been e=
mbedded in its interstices, 
yet this great drama moves on,=
 full of swiftness and 
colour, from one end of the po=
em to the other. It is 
marked by extraordinary vividn=
ess and richness of 
imagination. But perhaps most =
of us, remembering that 
the work is ancient, will be s=
till more impressed by the 
subtlety and modernness of the=
 social intercourse which it 
portrays. Here and there we ma=
y find an anomalous 
custom or a curious belief, bu=
t in delicacy of character- 
painting, in the play of perso=
nality, and in reflection of all 
the light and shade of life in=
 society we find ourselves, in 
the Mahabharata, fully on a le=
vel with the novels and 
dramas of modern Europe. The f=
ortitude of Kama 
when his mother embraces him ;=
 the low voice in which 
118 
 =
 
=
 
=
How the Princes learned to Sho=
ot 
 
=
Yudhishthira says " eleph=
ant " as a concession to his 
conscience; the laugh of Bhlsh=
ma in battle, contenting 
himself with the slightly emph=
asized " ShikhandinI ? " 
these, amongst many others, wi=
ll occur to the reader as 
typical instances. =
 
=
The outstanding fact to be rea=
lized about the epic, however, 
is that from end to end its ma=
in interest is held and centred 
on character. We are witnessin=
g the law that, as the 
oyster makes its own shell, so=
 the mind of man creates 
and necessitates his own life =
and fate. The whole philo 
sophy of India is implicit in =
this romance, just as it is in 
the common household life. The=
 Mahabharata constitutes, 
and is intended to constitute,=
 a supreme appeal to the 
heart and conscience of every =
generation. Far more than 
the national tradition, it emb=
odies the national morality. 
In this fact lies the great di=
fference between it and the 
Greek epics, in which the domi=
nant passion is the conscious 
quest of ideal beauty. 
 
=
/. HO W THE PRINCES LEARNED TO=
 
SHOOT 
=
 
=
Now Bhlshma, the royal grandsi=
re, became eager to find for 
the princes of the two imperia=
l houses a teacher who might 
train them thoroughly in the u=
se of arms. And it happened 
one day about this time that t=
he boys, all in a company, 
were playing at ball in the fo=
rests outside Hastinapura, 
when their ball rolled away fr=
om them and fell into an old 
well. Try as they would, there=
 was not one of them who 
could get it back. All kinds o=
f efforts were made by each 
in turn, but without avail. It=
 seemed as if the ball would 
never be recovered. Just when =
their boyish anxiety and 
vexation were at their height,=
 their glances fell, with one 
accord, on a Brahman sitting n=
ear, whom they had not at 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
first noticed. He was thin and=
 dark of hue, and appeared 
to be resting after the perfor=
mance of his daily worship. 
" O Brahman ! " crie=
d the lads, surrounding him in a body, 
"can you show us how to r=
ecover our ball?" The 
Brahman smiled a little and sa=
id : " What ? what ? Scions 
of the royal house, and you do=
n t shoot well enough for 
that ! If you ll only promise =
me my dinner, I will bring up 
not only your ball but also th=
is ring, which I now throw 
down, by means of a few blades=
 of grass." And suiting 
the action to the word, he too=
k a ring off his own finger 
and threw it into the well. &q=
uot; Why, Brahman-ji, we ll 
make you rich for life," =
cried one of the lads, "if you can 
really do as you say." 
 
=
" Is it so ? " said =
the Brahman. " Then look at this 
grass," and he plucked a =
handful of long grass growing 
near. " I am able by a sp=
ell to give to this grass a virtue 
that weapons might not have. B=
ehold, here I throw " ; 
and as he spoke he took aim an=
d threw a single blade of 
grass with such deftness and p=
recision that it pierced the 
ball that lay in the well as i=
f it had been a needle. Then 
throwing another blade, he pie=
rced the first, and so on and 
so on, till he had a chain of =
grass, by which it was easy to 
draw up the ball. <=
/span>
 
=
By this time the interest of t=
he boys was centred more on 
the skill of the Brahman than =
on the recovery of their 
plaything, and they exclaimed =
with one accord : " The 
ring, too, O Brahman ! Show us=
 how you can recover 
the ring ! " <=
/span>
 
=
The Recovery of the Ring =
 
=
Then Drona for that was the na=
me of the Brahman 
 
=
took up his bow, which had bee=
n lying beside him, and 
 
=
selecting an arrow from the qu=
iver that he wore, he shot 
 
=
120 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Recovery of the Ring =
 
=
it into the well, and the arro=
w, returning to his hand, 
brought up the ring. Taking th=
e jewel, he handed it to 
the princes, whose astonishmen=
t and delight knew no 
bounds. " What can we do =
for you ? What can we do ? " 
they cried. The Brahman s face=
 had grown grave again. 
"Tell Bhishma, your guard=
ian, that Drona is here," he 
answered briefly, and relapsed=
 again into the depths of 
thought. 
 
=
The lads trooped off, with the=
ir enthusiasm fresh upon 
them, to describe to Bhishma, =
the Protector, the extra 
ordinary experience of the mor=
ning; and he, struck by 
the thought that Drona was the=
 very teacher he was 
seeking, hastened in person to=
 see him and bring him to 
the palace. Bhishma had known =
of Drona formerly a -&gt; 
the son of the great sage Bhar=
adwaja, whose ashrama in 
the mountains, near the source=
 of the Ganges, had been a 
centre of great learning. To t=
hat hermitage had come 
many illustrious students, who=
 had been playmates and 
comrades to Drona during child=
hood and youth. It was 
also rumoured in the royal and=
 military society of the 
period that Drona, after his f=
ather s death, had performed 
great austerities and gone thr=
ough a very determined 
course of study, in consequenc=
e of which he had been 
mysteriously gifted with divin=
e weapons and the knowledge 
of how to use them. 
 
=
It was now the object of the r=
oyal grandsire, therefore, to 
learn how and why the Brahman =
should be seeking atten 
tion in the capital, and a few=
 adroit questions quickly told 
him all that he required to kn=
ow. Drona had married 
and had a son born to him, Ash=
vatthaman by name. 
Moved by the needs of his chil=
d, he had for the first time 
realized his own poverty, and =
had set out to renew the 
brilliant friendships of his b=
oyhood. Chief amongst these 
 
=
121 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &lt;f =
Buddhists 
 
=
had been his intimacy with Dru=
pada, now king of the 
Panchalas, one of the greatest=
 of the minor kingdoms. 
When Drupada, as a prince, had=
 been a student like 
himself, they had been insepar=
able, vowing to each other 
lifelong friendship. It was na=
tural, therefore, that Drupada, 
now a sovereign in his own rig=
ht, should be the first of 
those to whom in his bitter ne=
ed he thought of repairing. 
But when he had appeared befor=
e him the king of the 
Panchalas had laughed him to s=
corn and repudiated all 
their ancient friendship. To h=
im it seemed sheer imperti 
nence that the poor Brahman, i=
n the position of a beggar, 
though he was the son of a fam=
ous scholar, should claim 
equality and intimacy with one=
 seated on a throne. And 
then in the heart of Drona had=
 risen a great wrath and 
wounded pride. The bitterness =
of his poverty was not 
now so great as the heat of hi=
s resentment. He would 
do what he would do. But in or=
der to do it he must find 
pupils of the best. He was des=
irous, therefore, of placing 
himself at the disposal of Bhl=
shma. 
 
=
The old Protector smiled as he=
 heard the climax of this 
story. He was far too discreet=
 to inquire as to the pur 
poses of Drona. Instead of thi=
s he cut matters short by 
rising and saying : " Onl=
y string thy bow, O Brahman, and 
make the princes of my house a=
ccomplished in the use of 
arms. All that we have is at t=
hy disposal. We are indeed 
fortunate to have obtained thy=
 services ! " 
 
=
The Promise to Drona 
 
=
One day, soon after Drona had =
taken the princes as his 
pupils, he called them togethe=
r and made them prostrate 
themselves before him, and hav=
ing done so he required 
from them a promise that when =
they should become skilled 
in arms they would carry out f=
or him a certain purpose 
 
=
122 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Ekalavya 
 
=
 
=
 
=
L22 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Ekalavya 
 
=
that was in his heart: At this=
 demand all the princes fell 
silent; but one of them, Arjun=
a, the third of the Pandavas, 
vowed eagerly that whatever it=
 might be he would promise 
to accomplish it. Then Drona e=
mbraced Arjuna repeatedly, 
and from this moment there was=
 a special attachment 
between the two, and Arjuna wa=
s always with his master, 
with his whole mind bent on th=
e science of arms. 
And princes came from the neig=
hbouring kingdoms to 
learn of Drona. And all the Ku=
rus and all the Pandavas 
and the sons of the great nobl=
es were his pupils. And 
amongst them came that strange=
 and melancholy youth 
who went by the name of Kama, =
and was reputed to be 
the adopted son of a royal cha=
rioteer, his actual birth being 
unknown, though some held, fro=
m his auspicious charac 
teristics, that he must be of =
exalted rank. And young 
Kama and Arjuna thus early bec=
ame rivals, each trying 
to outdo the other in the use =
of the bow. And Kama 
tended to mix rather with Dury=
odhana and his brothers 
than with the Pandavas. <=
/o:p>
 
=
Meanwhile Arjuna took every op=
portunity of learning, and 
in lightness and skill outdid =
all his fellows. One evening 
when he was eating, his lamp w=
ent out, and observing 
that even in the dark his hand=
 carried the food to the 
mouth, his mind was set on the=
 power of habit, and he 
began to practise shooting als=
o in the night. And Drona, 
hearing the twang of the bowst=
ring, came and embraced 
him, declaring that in the who=
le world there should not be 
another equal unto him. <=
/o:p>
 
=
Ekalavya 
 
=
And amongst those who came to =
Drona was a low-caste 
prince of non-Aryan birth know=
n as Ekalavya. But Drona 
would not accept him as a pupi=
l, lest, as one of the leaders 
 
=
123 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
of the lower races, he should =
come in time to excel all the 
Aryan princes, and should lear=
n all the secrets of their 
military science. <=
/span>
 
=
Then Ekalavya, retiring to the=
 forest, made a clay image 
of Drona, and bowed down befor=
e it, worshipping it as 
his teacher. And by reason of =
his great reverence and 
devotion to his purpose, it so=
on came about that there were 
few archers in the land equal =
to Ekalavya. And one day, 
when all the princes were hunt=
ing in the forest, a dog ran 
off alone and found himself su=
ddenly face to face with a 
man of dark hue wearing matted=
 locks besmeared with 
mud and with his one piece of =
raiment black in colour. 
The dog, in his astonishment a=
t this strange sight, began 
to bark aloud. But before he c=
ould close his mouth the 
prince Ekalavya had shot into =
it no less than seven arrows, 
aiming by the sound alone. The=
 dog, thus pierced with 
seven arrows and unable to clo=
se his mouth, ran back to 
the princes, and they, fired w=
ith jealousy and admiration, 
began to seek everywhere for t=
he unknown archer. It 
was not long before they found=
 him, ceaselessly discharging 
arrows from the bow, and when =
they asked who and what 
he was, he replied: "I am=
 the son of the king of the 
Nishadas. Know me also as a pu=
pil of Drona, struggling 
for the acquisition of skill i=
n arms ! " 
But when Drona heard of it he =
took Arjuna with him and 
sought out the archer Ekalavya=
. And when the low-caste 
prince saw Drona approaching, =
he prostrated himself and 
then stood with folded hands a=
waiting his commands. 
And Drona said : " If, O =
hero, thou art really my pupil, 
give me, then, the teacher s f=
ee ! " 
 
=
" Master," said Ekal=
avya in his delight, " you have only 
to name what you will have. I =
have nothing I would not 
joyfully give you." =
124 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Triumph of Arjuna 
 
=
"If you really mean it, E=
kalavya," answered Drona 
coldly," I should like to=
 have the thumb of your right hand." 
And the low-born prince, allow=
ing no look of sadness to 
cross his face, turned without=
 ado and cut off the thumb 
of his own right hand to lay i=
t at the feet of Drona. But 
when the Brahman had gone and =
he turned again to his 
archery, he found that his mar=
vellous lightness of hand was 
for ever vanished. =
 
=
Thus were the royal princes le=
ft without rivals in the use 
of arms. And two of them, Bhlm=
a, the second of the 
Pandavas, and Duryodhana, his =
cousin, became highly 
accomplished in the use of the=
 mace. Ashvatthaman, the 
son of Drona himself, knew mos=
t of the theory of war 
fare. The Pandava twins, Nakul=
a and Sahadeva, 
excelled every one in horseman=
ship and in handling the 
sword. Yudhishthira, the eldes=
t of the Pandavas, was 
greatest as a chariot-soldier =
and officer. But Arjuna 
excelled all in every respect.=
 He could use all the 
weapons, and his intelligence,=
 resourcefulness, strength, and 
perseverance were admitted on =
every side. Moreover, he 
alone amongst the princes beca=
me fitted for a general 
command, being capable of figh=
ting from his chariot with 
sixty thousand foes at once. <=
o:p>
 
=
The Triitmph of Arjuna 
 
=
And Drona one day was desirous=
 of testing by open 
competition the relative excel=
lence of the young men he 
had trained. So he caused an a=
rtificial bird to be made 
and placed, as their target, o=
n the top of a tree. Then, 
assembling all his pupils, he =
said : " Take up your bows and 
stand practising your aim. Whe=
n I give the order you 
will cut off the head of the b=
ird. I shall take you one by 
 
=
 
=
 
=
one in turn." =
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
Then he called Yudhishthira to=
 him alone, " Now be 
 
=
ready," he said, " t=
o shoot with your arrow when I give 
 
=
the order." And Yudhishth=
ira took up his bow and arrow 
 
=
as he was told, and stood read=
y at a word to let fly. 
 
=
" Do you see the bird on =
the top of that tree ? " asked 
 
=
Drona. 
 
=
" I do," answered Yu=
dhishthira. 
 
=
" What do you see ?"=
 said Drona quickly. " Myself, or 
 
=
your brothers, or the tree ? &=
quot; 
 
=
" I see yourself, sir,&qu=
ot; answered Yudhishthira carefully, " my 
 
=
brothers, the tree, and the bi=
rd." 
 
=
Three times Drona repeated his=
 question, and three times 
 
=
Yudhishthira gave the same rep=
ly. Then with great 
 
=
sorrow Drona ordered him to on=
e side. It was not by 
 
=
him that the arrow would be sh=
ot. 
 
=
One by one, princes and nobles=
, the Pandava brothers 
 
=
and their cousins the Kurus, w=
ere all called up, and in 
 
=
each case Yudhishthira s answe=
r was given : " We behold 
 
=
the tree, yourself, our fellow=
-pupils, and the bird." 
 
=
One man only remained untried,=
 and Drona made no 
 
=
effort to conceal his disappoi=
ntment. Now, however, he 
 
=
turned with a smile to the las=
t and called to him Arjuna, 
 
=
his favourite pupil. " By=
 you, if any, must the bolt be 
 
=
sped. So much is clear, O Arju=
na ! " he said. " Now 
 
=
tell me, with bow bent, what d=
o you see the bird, the 
 
=
tree, myself, and your friends=
 ? " 
 
=
" No," said Arjuna p=
romptly ; " I see the bird alone, 
 
=
neither yourself, sir, nor the=
 tree ! " 
 
=
" Describe the bird to me=
," said Drona briefly. 
 
=
" I see only a bird s hea=
d," replied Arjuna. 
 
=
" Then shoot 1 " sai=
d his master with frank delight, and 
 
=
in an instant the bird stood h=
eadless on the tree, and 
 
=
Drona, embracing Arjuna, thoug=
ht of that great tourna- 
 
=
126 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Trial of the Princes =
 
=
ment in which he would yet see=
 Drupada vanquished 
before him. =
 
=
II. THE TRIAL OF THE PRINCES <=
o:p>
 
=
Then Drona, seeing that his pu=
pils had now completed 
their education, applied to Dh=
ritarashtra the king for 
permission to hold a tournamen=
t, in which all would have 
an opportunity of exhibiting t=
heir skill. The request was 
at once granted, and preparati=
ons began for the great 
occasion. Land was chosen, and=
 the citizens assembled 
by proclamation to be present =
at the offering of sacrifices 
for its consecration on an aus=
picious day. The lists were 
levelled and equipped, and a g=
reat hall built for the 
queens and their ladies, while=
 tents and galleries were 
placed at every advantageous p=
oint for the use of the 
spectators. =
 
=
And when the day appointed for=
 the tournament arrived 
the king took his place, surro=
unded by his ministers and 
preceded by Bhlshma and the ea=
rly tutors of the princes. 
Then Gandharl, the mother of D=
uryodhana, and KuntI, the 
mother of the Pandavas, richly=
 robed and jewelled and 
attended by their retinues, to=
ok the places that had been 
reserved for them. And nobles,=
 Brahmans, and citizens 
left the city and came hasteni=
ng to the spot, till, with the 
sound of drums and trumpets an=
d the clamour of voices, 
that great assembly became lik=
e the agitated ocean. 
At last the white-haired Drona=
 entered the lists dressed 
all in white and looking as if=
 the moon itself had appeared 
in an unclouded sky, while bes=
ide him his son Ashvat- 
thaman looked like some attend=
ant star. 
Ceremonies of propitiation wer=
e next performed, and 
then, as the chanting of the V=
edic hymns died away, arms 
were carried in, the blare of =
trumpets was heard, and 
 
=
127 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &P Bud=
dhists 
 
=
the princes entered in process=
ion with Yudhishthira at 
their head. =
 
=
Now began the most marvellous =
display of skill. The 
shower of arrows was so thick =
and constant that few of the 
spectators could hold their he=
ads up unflinchingly, yet the 
aim of the knightly archers wa=
s so sure that not a single 
arrow missed its mark. Each, e=
ngraved with the name of 
its owner, was found in that p=
recise spot at which it had 
been shot. Then they leapt on =
the backs of spirited 
horses, and vaulting and caree=
ring, turning this way and 
that, went on shooting at the =
marks. Then the horses 
were abandoned for chariots, a=
nd driving in and out, 
racing, turning, soothing thei=
r steeds or urging them on, 
as occasion might demand, the =
combatants continued to 
display their agility, their p=
recision, and their resource. 
Now leaping from the chariots,=
 and seizing each man his 
sword and shield, the princes =
began to fence and exhibit 
sword-play. Then, like two gre=
at mountains and thirsting 
for battle, Bhlma and Duryodha=
na entered the arena, clubs 
in hand, for single combat. 
 
=
Bracing themselves up, and sum=
moning to their own aid 
their utmost energy, the two w=
arriors gave a mighty roar, 
and began careering in due for=
m, right and left, circling 
the lists, till the moment cam=
e for the rush and the mimic 
onslaught, in which each would=
 strive to defeat his 
antagonist by right of his sup=
erior skill. And so great 
was the lust of battle in the =
two princes that the vast 
assembly caught the infection =
and became divided in its 
sympathies, some for Bhlma, so=
me for Duryodhana, till 
Drona saw that it was necessar=
y to stop the contest if he 
would not have it degenerate i=
nto an actual fight. 
Then the master himself steppe=
d into the lists and, 
silencing the music for a mome=
nt, in a voice like that 
128 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
4 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Trial of the Princes =
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Entry of Kama <=
/span>
 
=
of the thunderstorm, introduce=
d Arjuna, the most beloved 
of his pupils. The royal KuntI=
, mother of the Pandavas, 
was transported with delight a=
t the acclamation which she 
now saw her son receive, and n=
ot until it had died down 
a little could he begin to dis=
play his skill in arms. But 
such were the power and lightn=
ess of Arjuna that it seemed 
as if with one weapon he creat=
ed fire, with another water, 
with a third mountains, and as=
 if with a fourth all these 
were made to disappear. Now he=
 appeared tall and again 
short. Now he appeared fightin=
g with sword or mace, 
standing on the pole or the yo=
ke of his chariot; then in a 
flash he would be seen on the =
car itself, and in yet another 
instant he was fighting on the=
 field. And with his arrows 
he hit all kinds of marks. Now=
, as if by a single shot, he 
let fly five arrows into the m=
outh of a revolving iron boar. 
Again he discharged twenty-one=
 arrows into the hollow of 
a cow s horn swaying to and fr=
o from the rope on which it 
hung. Thus he showed his skill=
 in the use of sword, 
bow, and mace, walking about t=
he lists in circles. 
 
=
The Entry of Kama <=
/span>
 
=
Just as Arjuna s display was e=
nding a great noise was 
heard in the direction of the =
gate, as if some new com 
batant were about to make his =
way into the lists. The 
whole assembly turned as one m=
an, and Duryodhana with 
his hundred brothers rose hast=
ily and stood with uplifted 
weapons, while Drona stood in =
the midst of the five 
Pandava princes like the moon =
in a five-starred constel 
lation. 
 
=
Then, the centre of all eyes, =
the hero Kama entered, 
magnificent in arms and manhoo=
d. And far away in the 
gallery of queens the royal Ku=
ntI trembled to see again 
the son whom she had long ago =
abandoned, fearing to 
 
=
i 129 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
own his divine birth. For, all=
 unknown to any, the sun 
himself had been the father of=
 Kama, and KuntI in 
future to become the mother of=
 the Pandavas had been 
his mother. =
 
=
And now was he goodly indeed t=
o look upon. Was he 
not in truth an emanation from=
 the hot-beamed sun? His 
proportions made him like unto=
 some great cliff. Hand 
some of feature, he was posses=
sed of innumerable accom 
plishments. He was tall in sta=
ture, like a golden palm- 
tree, and endued with the vigo=
ur of youth, he was capable 
even of slaying a lion. Bowing=
 quietly to his teacher, he 
now turned himself towards Arj=
una, and in the tones of 
one challenging declared that =
he had come to outdo the 
performance that had just been=
 given. A thrill of excite 
ment passed over the great aud=
ience, and Duryodhana 
openly showed his delight. But=
, alas ! the princely Arjuna 
flushed crimson with anger and=
 contempt. Then, with the 
permission of Drona, the might=
y Kama, delighting in 
battle, made good his word and=
 did all that Arjuna had 
done before him. And when his =
display of skill was 
over he was embraced and welco=
med by all the sons of 
Dhritarashtra,and Duryodhana a=
sked him what he could do 
for him. " O prince,"=
; said Kama in reply, " I have but one 
wish, and that is to engage in=
 single combat with Arjuna ! " 
Arjuna, meanwhile, hot with re=
sentment at what he deemed 
the insult put upon him, said =
quietly to Kama : "The day 
will yet come, O Kama, when I =
shall kill you ! " 
" Speak thou in arrows,&q=
uot; answered Kama loudly, " that 
with arrows I may this very da=
y strike off thy head 
before our master himself 1 &q=
uot; 
 
=
 
=
 
=
130 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Kama and Arjuna 
 
=
Kama and Arjuna 
 
=
Thus challenged a outrancc, Ar=
juna advanced and took 
his place for single combat. A=
nd Kama likewise advanced 
and stood facing him. 
 
=
Now Arjuna was the son of Indr=
a, even as Kama had 
been born of the sun, and as t=
he heroes confronted one 
another the spectators were aw=
are that Arjuna was covered 
by the shadow of the clouds, t=
hat over him stretched the 
rainbow, the bow of Indra, and=
 that rows of wild geese, 
flying overhead, gave a look o=
f laughter to the sky. But 
Kama stood illumined by the ra=
ys of the sun. And 
Duryodhana ranged himself near=
 Kama, while Bhishma 
and Drona stood close to Arjun=
a. And up in the royal 
gallery a woman was heard to m=
oan and fall. 
Then the master of the ceremon=
ies advanced and cried out 
the style and titles of Arjuna=
, a style and titles that were 
known to all. And having done =
this, he waited, and 
called upon the rival knight t=
o show equal lineage, for 
sons of kings could not fight =
with men of inferior birth. 
At these words Kama turned pal=
e, and his face was torn 
with contending emotions. But =
Duryodhana, eager to 
see Arjuna defeated, cried out=
 : " If Arjuna desires to fight 
only with a king, let me at on=
ce install Kama king of 
Anga ! " 
 
=
As if by magic, the priests ca=
me forward chanting ; a 
throne of gold was brought for=
ward ; rice, flowers, and 
the sacred water were offered,=
 and over Kama s head was 
raised the royal umbrella, whi=
le yak-tails waved about 
him on every side. Then, amids=
t the cheers of the multi 
tude, Kama and Duryodhana embr=
aced each other and 
pledged each other their etern=
al friendship. 
At that very moment, bent and =
trembling with age and 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
weakness, poorly clad, and sup=
porting himself on a staff, 
an old man was seen to enter t=
he lists. And all present 
knew him for Adhiratha, one of=
 the charioteers of the royal 
household. But when the glance=
 of Kama fell upon him 
he hurriedly left his throne a=
nd came and bent himself 
down before the old man leanin=
g on his staff, and touched 
his feet with that head that w=
as still wet with the sacred 
water of coronation. And Adhir=
atha embraced Kama, and 
wept for pride that he had bee=
n made a king, calling him 
his son. 
 
=
And Bhlma, standing amongst th=
e Pandava heroes, 
laughed aloud in derision. &qu=
ot; What ! What hero is this ? " 
he said. " It seems, sir,=
 that the whip is your true 
weapon. How can he be a king w=
ho is the son of a 
charioteer ? " 
 
=
Kama s lip quivered, but for s=
ole reply he folded his arms 
and looked upward to the sun. =
But Duryodhana sprang 
up in wrath, and said: "T=
he lineage of heroes is ever 
unknown ! What does it matter =
where a brave man 
comes from ? Who asks for the =
source of a river ? Was 
a tiger like this ever born of=
 servants? But even if it 
were so, he is my friend, and =
well deserves to be king of 
the whole world. Let him who h=
as any objection to offer 
bend the bow that Kama bends !=
 " 
 
=
Loud cheers of approval broke =
out amongst the spectators, 
but the sun went down. Then Du=
ryodhana, taking Kama 
by the hand, led him away from=
 the lamp-lit arena. And 
the Pandava brothers, accompan=
ied by Bhishma and 
Drona, went back to their own =
place. Only Yudhishthira 
carried away the thought that =
none could defeat Kama. 
And Kunti, the queen-mother, h=
aving recognized her 
son, cherished the thought tha=
t after all he was king 
of Anga. 
132 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Teacher s Fee <=
/span>
 
=
///. THE TEACHERS FEE 
 
=
The time had now come when Dro=
na thought he should 
demand the offering due to the=
 teacher from those he had 
trained. He therefore assemble=
d together all his pupils, 
and said: " Seize Drupada=
, king of Panchala, in battle, 
and bring him bound unto me. T=
his is the only return I 
desire as your master and prec=
eptor." 
The enterprise was wholly agre=
eable to the high-spirited 
youths, and with light hearts =
they got together an imposing 
array of chariots, arms, and f=
ollowers, and set out for the 
capital of Drupada, not neglec=
ting to strike at the Panchalas 
on their way. For it was the d=
elight of the princes and 
nobles who went forth on this =
raid to display their prowess 
and skill as they went. And ne=
ver did they make this 
more noticeable than when they=
 entered the gates and 
clattered up the streets of Dr=
upada s capital. 
Hearing the clamour, the king =
himself came to the 
verandahs of his palace to loo=
k down at the sight. But 
the knights, uttering their wa=
r-cry, shot at him a shower 
of arrows. Then Drupada, accom=
panied by his brothers, 
issued from his palace gates i=
n due form on his white 
chariot, and set himself to en=
counter the raiding force. 
But Arjuna held back his broth=
ers and himself from 
participation in what seemed t=
o him a mere meUe. He 
realized that the Panchala kin=
g, fighting in his own 
capital, would not be overcome=
 by tactics of this order. 
But they would have the effect=
 of wearying him, and then 
would be the opportunity for t=
he Pandavas to act. 
Even as he had predicted, the =
white chariot of the king 
was seen, now here, now there,=
 always driving forward, 
and always hastening toward th=
at point where danger was 
greatest and the gathering of =
the raiders thickest, and 
 
=
133 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus &f Bud=
dhists 
 
=
during these rapid movements h=
e kept pouring into their 
ranks such a quick and constan=
t shower of arrows that the 
Kurus showed a tendency to bec=
ome panic-stricken and 
to assume that they were fight=
ing not one, but many 
Drupadas. 
 
=
By this time the alarm had spr=
ead throughout the city, and 
drums and trumpets began to so=
und from every house, while 
the men poured out, ready arme=
d, to the assistance of their 
king. Now there arose from the=
 great host of the Panchalas 
a terrible roar, while the twa=
ng of their bowstrings seemed 
to rend the very heavens. A ne=
w and answering fierceness 
blazed up for a moment amongst=
 the invading warriors, 
but wherever an arrow was shot=
, there it seemed stood 
Drupada in person to answer it=
. He was here, there, and 
everywhere, and careering over=
 the field of battle like a 
fiery wheel, he attacked Duryo=
dhana, and even Kama, 
wounded them, and slaked in ri=
ght earnest their thirst for 
battle, till, seeing the host =
of the citizens to which they 
were opposed, the Kurus broke =
and fled with a wail of 
defeat back to where the Panda=
vas were waiting. 
 
=
The Might of Arjuna 
 
=
Hastily the Pandavas now did r=
everence to Drona and 
ascended their chariots. To Ar=
juna fell the leadership, as 
if by instinct, and he, forbid=
ding Yudhishthira to fight 
or expose himself, quickly app=
ointed the twins, his 
youngest brothers, protectors =
of his chariot-wheels, while 
Bhima, ever fighting in the va=
n, ran forward, mace in hand, 
to lead the attack. Thus, like=
 the figure of Death, Arjuna 
entered the host of the Pancha=
las. And Bhima with his 
club began to slay the elephan=
ts that covered them. And 
the battle became fierce and t=
errible to behold. Arjuna 
singled out the king and his g=
eneral for his personal 
134 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Vengeance of Drona 
 
=
attack. Then he succeeded in c=
utting down the flagstaff, 
and when that had fallen he le=
apt from his chariot, and 
casting aside his bow for his =
sword, he seized Drupada 
the king with as much ease as =
a huge bird seizes a 
water-snake. 
 
=
Having thus exhibited his own =
might in the presence of 
both hosts, Arjuna gave a loud=
 shout and came forth 
from amongst the Panchalas, ca=
rrying his captive with him. 
At this sight the Kurus were m=
addened and would have 
made to devastate the whole ca=
pital of the Panchalas, but 
Arjuna in a loud voice restrai=
ned them. " Drupada," he 
said, "is our friend and =
ally. To yield him up personally 
will satisfy Drona. On no acco=
unt let us slay his 
people ! " 
 
=
Then all the princes together,=
 bringing with them their 
captives, turned to Drona and =
laid before him Drupada, 
together with many of his mini=
sters and friends. 
 
=
The Vengeance of Drona 
 
=
Drona smiled quietly at the ki=
ng who had once been his 
friend. " Fear not, O kin=
g," he said ; " your life shall be 
<=
span
style=3D'font-size:14.0pt;font-family:Arial'>spared. But would you not care=
 to cultivate my friend 
ship ? " Then he was sile=
nt for a moment. Again 
opening his lips, he said : &q=
uot; In truth, Drupada, I love you 
no less to-day than of old in =
our boyhood. And I still 
desire your friendship. You to=
ld me, alas! that only a 
king could be the friend of a =
king, and for that reason 
shall I restore to you only ha=
lf of your territory, in 
order that, being a king mysel=
f, I may enjoy your 
affection on equal terms. You =
shall be king of all your 
lands that lie on the south of=
 the river Ganges, and I shall 
reign over those on the north.=
 And now, Drupada, will 
it bemean you to grant me your=
 friendship ? " 
 
=
135 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
With these words Drona release=
d Drupada, and bestowed 
on him the sovereignty of half=
 his own kingdom, being 
those territories that lay sou=
th of the Ganges. And 
Drupada, with many compliments=
, assured him of his 
profound admiration and regard=
. But in his own mind 
the lesson that the mortified =
king laid to heart was that 
of his old friend s superior r=
esources, and from this 
time forth he in his turn wand=
ered in all directions, even 
as Drona had wandered to Hasti=
napura, in the hope of 
discovering some charm or othe=
r means, by devotion or 
otherwise, to obtain a son who=
 might work out his revenge 
on the man who had humiliated =
him. And it came to 
pass that this enmity to Drona=
 grew in time to be one of 
the main motives in the life o=
f Drupada, king of the 
Panchalas. <=
/pre>
 
=
IV. THE HOUSE OF LAC 
 
=
It was about a year after the =
invasion of Drupada s city 
that Dhritarashtra, moved by a=
 sense of what was due, and 
having regard also to the welf=
are of his subjects, decided 
to crown Yudhishthira in publi=
c as heir-apparent of the 
empire. For Pandu, the father =
of Yudhishthira and his 
brothers, had been the monarch=
 of the realm, and not 
Dhritarashtra, whose blindness=
 had been considered to 
render him incompetent. It was=
 now incumbent upon the 
blind king, therefore, to nomi=
nate Yudhishthira and his 
brothers as his successors, in=
stead of any of his own 
children. And this, after the =
exhibition of knightly 
prowess that had introduced th=
em to the world, he could 
no longer refuse to do. <=
/o:p>
 
=
But the Pandava princes took t=
heir new position more 
seriously than anyone had fore=
seen. Never contented 
with mere enjoyment, they went=
 out in all directions for 
 
=
136 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The House of Lac 
 
=
the extension of the suzeraint=
y, and constantly sent back 
to the royal treasury immense =
spoils. Duryodhana had 
been jealous of his cousins fr=
om his very childhood, but 
now, seeing their great superi=
ority and their growing 
popularity, even his father, D=
hritarashtra, began to be 
anxious, and at last he, too, =
could not sleep for jealousy. 
Feeling in this way, it was ea=
sy enough for a king to 
summon to his side councillors=
 who would give him the 
advice he craved, and he was a=
ssured in due course that 
the extermination of his enemi=
es was the first duty of a 
sovereign. <=
/pre>
 
=
But the Pandavas also had a wa=
tchful friend and adviser 
in a certain uncle named Vidur=
a, who, though of inferior 
birth, was a veritable incarna=
tion of the god of justice. 
Vidura had the gift of reading=
 men s thoughts from their 
faces, and easily at this junc=
ture did he understand the 
mind of Dhritarashtra and his =
family. But he warned the 
Pandavas that while they ought=
 to be on their guard, they 
must never precipitate the ful=
l hatred of those who were 
in power by allowing it to be =
seen that they understood 
their feelings. Rather must th=
ey accept everything that 
was done with an air of cheerf=
ulness, and apparently with 
out suspicion. 
 
=
About this time Duryodhana ope=
nly approached his father, 
begging him to banish his cous=
ins to the town of Benares, 
and during their absence confe=
r on himself the sovereignty 
of the kingdom. The timid Dhri=
tarashtra could only 
acknowledge that the suggestio=
n marched well with his own 
secret wishes, and this being =
so, his stronger-minded son 
quickly reassured him as to th=
e difficulties that he foresaw. 
Theirs was at present, he poin=
ted out, the command of the 
treasury. Having that, they co=
uld buy the popular allegiance, 
and no critic of their conduct=
 would be strong enough 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
to oppose them. From this time=
 Duryodhana began to 
win over the people by lavish =
distribution of wealth and 
honours. 
 
=
The Princes are Banished =
 
=
It was now, under secret instr=
uctions from Dhritarashtra 
the king, that certain members=
 of the court began to praise 
the beauties of the city of Be=
nares, in which, they said, the 
yearly festival of Shiva was a=
lready beginning. Presently, 
as was intended, the Pandava p=
rinces, with others, showed 
some interest and curiosity as=
 to the beauties of Benares, 
and said how very much they wo=
uld like to see it. Sud 
denly, at the word, the blind =
Dhritarashtra turned towards 
them with apparent kindness. &=
quot;Then go, my children," 
he said, "you five brothe=
rs together, and satisfy your desire 
by living for some time in the=
 city of Benares, and you 
shall take with you from the r=
oyal treasury largess for 
distribution." 
 
=
There was no mistaking the fac=
t that the words which 
sounded so friendly were reall=
y a sentence of banishment. 
But Yudhishthira, with his fix=
ed policy, had sufficient 
presence of mind to bow cheerf=
ully and signify pleasure at 
the opportunity given him. A d=
ay or two later the grey- 
haired KuntI set out with her =
five sons from Hastinapura. 
Purochanna, the friend and min=
ister of Duryodhana, had, 
however, left still earlier to=
 make preparations at Benares 
for receiving the princes. And=
 especially he was 
instructed to build a house fo=
r them of highly inflammable 
materials and fitted with all =
the costliest furniture and 
equipments as close to the pub=
lic arsenal as possible, that 
there he might live, as warden=
 of the city, and watch for a 
suitable opportunity of settin=
g fire to it, as if by accident. 
The palace, in fact, was to be=
 made of lac. 
 
=
138 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Princes arrive at Benares =
 
=
Meanwhile the watchful Vidura,=
 letting nothing in all this 
escape him, had made ready on =
the Ganges a fine ship 
to which KuntI and her sons mi=
ght flee in their hour 
of peril. Now, also, as the Pa=
ndavas set forth from 
Hastinapura, Vidura, of all wh=
o accompanied them at the 
beginning of their journey, wa=
s the last to leave them ; 
and as they parted he said to =
Yudhishthira in low tones, 
and in a language that they tw=
o alone understood : " Be 
always alert ! There are weapo=
ns not made of steel. One 
can escape even from fire by h=
aving many outlets to one s 
house, and a deep hole is a wo=
nderful refuge ! Make 
yourselves familiar with the r=
oads through the forest and 
learn to direct yourselves by =
the stars. Above all, be 
ever vigilant 1 " 
 
=
" I understand you well,&=
quot; replied Yudhishthira quickly, 
and without more words they pa=
rted. 
 
=
The Princes arrive at Benares =
The Pandavas were received wit=
h great magnificence by 
the people of Benares, headed =
by Purochanna, and were 
lodged for a time in a house o=
utside the city. On the 
tenth day, however, Purochanna=
 described to them a fair 
mansion that he had erected fo=
r them within the city. His 
name for it was " the ble=
ssed home," but it was of course 
in reality "the accursed =
house," and Yudhishthira, judging 
that course wisest, went forth=
 with his mother and 
brothers to take up his quarte=
rs in it. On reaching the 
house he inspected it closely,=
 and, indeed, the smell of lac, 
tar, and oil was strongly perc=
eptible in the new building. 
Then, turning to Bhlma, he tol=
d him that he suspected it 
to be highly inflammable. &quo=
t; Then ought we not to return 
at once to our first quarters =
? " said the simple Bhlma in 
surprise. " In my opinion=
 it is wiser," answered his 
 
=
139 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @P Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
brother, " to remain here=
 in seeming contentment, and thus 
gain time by allaying all thei=
r suspicions. If we showed 
that we understood him, this P=
urochanna would make an 
immediate attempt upon us. But=
 we must always have 
our eyes about us ; not for on=
e moment must we allow 
ourselves to be careless."=
; 
 
=
No sooner were the princes est=
ablished in their new abode 
than there came to them a man =
who said he was an 
emissary from Vidura, their un=
cle, and skilled in mining. 
It was his opinion that the ho=
use in which they now were 
would be burnt on some moonles=
s night. He therefore 
proposed to dig for them a wid=
e subterranean passage 
without delay. And he repeated=
 to them, as password, 
the last sentence that had bee=
n spoken, in a strange 
tongue, between Yudhishthira a=
nd his uncle at the 
moment of parting. Hearing all=
 this, the Pandavas 
accepted him with great joy, a=
nd he at once began a 
careful excavation in the cham=
ber of Yudhishthira, 
covering up its entrance with =
planks so as to be level 
with the rest of the floor. An=
d the princes spent their 
days hunting and ranging the f=
orests in the neighbour 
hood, and at night slept alway=
s within closed doors, with 
their arms beside their pillow=
s. 
 
=
The Escape of the Pandavas 
 
=
When a whole year had gone by =
it appeared to Yudhish 
thira that Purochanna was comp=
letely off his guard. He 
therefore considered that the =
time would now be favourable 
for their escape. On a certain=
 evening, therefore, Kunti 
the queen gave a great feast, =
and hundreds of men and 
women came to it. And in the d=
ead of the night, as it 
chanced, when all had gone, a =
great wind began to blow; 
and Bhlma at that time, coming=
 out quietly, set fire to that 
140 
 =
 
=
 
=
 
=
The House of Lac 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Escape of the Pandavas 
 
=
part of the house which adjoin=
ed Purochanna s own 
quarters in the arsenal. Then =
he set fire to various other 
parts, and leaving it all to b=
laze up of itself, he, with his 
mother and brothers, entered t=
he subterranean passage 
to make their escape. And none=
 knew that a poor low- 
caste woman had come to the fe=
ast, accompanied by her 
five sons, nor that all six, i=
n the sleep of intoxication, lay 
within the burning house. And =
since drowsiness and fear 
impeded the motion of the Pand=
avas, the gigantic Bhlma 
lifted his mother to his shoul=
der, and then, taking two 
brothers under each arm, pushe=
d forward along the secret 
passage, and came out after a =
while into the darkness of 
the forest. And Bhlma, thus lo=
aded, pushed on, breaking 
the trees with his breast, and=
 pressing the earth deep with 
the stamping of his feet. 
 
=
And behind them the citizens o=
f Benares stood all night 
watching the burning of the ho=
use of lac, wailing aloud 
for the fate of the princes, w=
hom they supposed to be 
within, and loudly condemning =
the wicked Purochanna, 
whose motives they understood =
thoroughly well; and 
when morning was ceme they fou=
nd the body of Puro 
channa and the bodies of the i=
nnocent low-caste woman 
and her five sons, and sending=
 word to Dhritarashtra in the 
distant capital, they proceede=
d to render royal honours to the 
unfortunate victims. But the m=
iner who had been em 
ployed by Vidura contrived to =
help in the moving about of 
the ashes, and so to cover the=
 entrance to the secret 
passage as he did so that none=
 suspected its existence. 
Meanwhile, when the Pandavas h=
ad emerged from the 
forest they found in a fair sh=
ip on the Ganges a man who 
seemed to be measuring the riv=
er and searching its bed to 
find a ford. And this was real=
ly that captain who had 
been sent by Vidura to wait fo=
r the hour of the Pandava 
 
=
141 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
flight. Seeing the five men, w=
ith their mother, reach the 
river-bank, he now brought up =
his vessel and said to the : 
grey-haired Kuntl in a low voi=
ce: "Escape with thy 
children from the net that dea=
th hath spread around you 
all!" Kunti looked up sta=
rtled, and he turned to the 
princes and said: "It is =
the word of Vidura. Be ever 
alert ! I am sent to convey yo=
u to the other side of the 
Ganges ! " 
 
=
Recognizing him by these words=
 as the agent of Vidura, 
the princes gladly stepped int=
o his boat, and he took them 
safely to the opposite shore. =
Then uttering the one word 
Jay a, (Victory !), he left th=
em, and returned to the work 
he had seemed to be doing. And=
 the Pandavas, with their i 
mother, fled on from forest to=
 forest and town to town. 
Now they went in one disguise =
and again in another, till; 
at last they came to the town =
of Ekachakra, and being 1 
there received in the outer ro=
oms of a Brahman and his 
family, they settled down to l=
ive as learned men by begging. 
And repeating long passages fr=
om the sacred books, it was 
easy for them to obtain enough=
 food to eat. With their! 
tall forms, their deer-skin ga=
rments, their sacred threads,! 
and their matted locks, all me=
n took them for Brahmans.i 
But returning to Kunti in the =
evening with the rice theyj 
had gathered during the day, i=
t was always divided by her; 
into two equal portions. One o=
f these was eaten by; 
Bhlma, and the other was divid=
ed between the four! 
remaining brothers and herself=
. And so doing they lived! 
for many months in simplicity =
and much happiness in the 
town of Ekachakra. =
 
=
V. HOW THE PANDA VAS WON A BRI=
DE 
 
=
Now while the Pandavas were li=
ving with their mother 
disguised as Brahmans in the t=
own of Ekachakra, there 
142 
 =
 
=
 
=
How the Pandavas won a Bride <=
o:p>
 
=
came one staunch friend and an=
other out of their past life 
to visit them quietly. And fro=
m one of these they heard 
that Drupada, king of the Panc=
halas, had announced the 
Swayamvara of his beautiful da=
ughter Draupadl. A few 
more words passed regarding th=
e extraordinary charms 
and accomplishments of the pri=
ncess of the Panchalas, and 
in the evening, when their gue=
st had gone, Kunti noticed 
that her sons had fallen silen=
t and listless. Then, guessing 
the cause of their changed spi=
rits better than they could 
have done themselves, she said=
, with gentle tact, that she 
was tired of Ekachakra and wou=
ld be glad to renew their 
wanderings, if her sons would,=
 in the country of the 
Panchalas. <=
/pre>
 
=
The very next day all said goo=
d-bye to their host the 
Brahman of Ekachakra and set o=
ut for Kampilya, the 
capital of Drupada. And as the=
y went they fell in with 
certain Brahmans going by the =
same road, who told them 
of the great bridal choice tha=
t was about to be held for 
the princess of the kingdom an=
d of the royal largess to be 
given to wandering scholars on=
 the occasion. And the 
princes, making as though they=
 heard of these things now 
for the first time, joined the=
mselves to their company and 
announced their intention of w=
itnessing the Swayamvara. 
And when they reached the city=
 they went about it for a 
time as sightseers and ended b=
y taking up their quarters 
in the guest-rooms of a certai=
n potter. 
Now it happened that ever sinc=
e the raid of Drona and 
his pupils Drupada had cherish=
ed a secret wish that his 
daughter Draupadl might be wed=
ded to Arjuna. But 
this wish he had never mention=
ed to anyone. Still, not 
knowing of the reputed death a=
nd thinking secretly of 
him, he caused a very stiff bo=
w to be made and had a ring 
suspended at a very great heig=
ht, and announced that he 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
who should string the bow and =
shoot his arrow through 
the ring should have the princ=
ess for his wife. With 
these words he proclaimed the =
Swayamvara, and kings, 
princes, and great sages began=
 to pour in from all sides. 
Even Duryodhana came with his =
friend Kama. And all 
alike Drupada received with la=
vish hospitality. But the 
Pandavas were living as beggar=
s in the house of the 
potter, and none in all the ci=
ty recognized them. 
The festivities attendant on a=
 royal wedding began, and 
every day waxed greater and gr=
eater, till on the sixteenth 
day, when everything was at it=
s height, the great moment 
arrived. The Princess Draupadi=
, robed and jewelled, 
stepped into the arena, bearin=
g a golden plate whereon lay 
a garland of flowers. As she e=
ntered, all music was 
stopped and the royal Brahmans=
 lighted the sacrificial 
fire. When all was still, Dhri=
shtadyumna, her twin- 
brother, stepped forward besid=
e the princess and said in a 
voice as deep and rich as thun=
der itself: " O ye monarchs 
that are assembled here to-day=
, behold the bow, and 
yonder is the ring! He who can=
 shoot five arrows 
through that ring having birth=
, beauty, and strength of 
person shall obtain to-day my =
sister as his bride ! " 
Then turning to the princess h=
erself, he enumerated all 
the kings who were candidates =
for her hand and told her 
that he who should shoot the m=
ark was to be chosen by her. 
And Duryodhana s name came fir=
st, and Kama was men 
tioned, but none spoke the nam=
es of the five Pandavas, who, 
unknown to all, were present i=
n the crowd as Brahmans. 
 
=
The Contest =
 
=
As Dhrishtadyumna finished spe=
aking their names the 
 
=
kings and princes all leapt to=
 their feet, each eager to be 
 
=
first in the stringing of the =
bow. And as they sprang into 
 
=
144 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Contest =
 
=
the arena and crowded together=
 to the testing-spot, it was 
said by some that they saw the=
 gods themselves on 
their heavenly chariots mingli=
ng in the concourse. One 
after another, with hearts bea=
ting high, under the eyes of 
Drupada, in the blaze of the w=
orld and covered with glory, 
the candidates went forward to=
 the shooting-place. And 
some with swelling lips and st=
raining muscles laboured 
long to string that bow, and o=
ne after another, with crowns 
loosened and garlands torn, ha=
d to desist without success, 
being tossed to the ground by =
the resistance of the weapon. 
Then Kama, seeing the mortific=
ation of his friends and 
eager to show the glory of the=
 knighthood, stepped for 
ward quickly to the place of t=
he bow. And seeing him, 
five seeming Brahmans amongst =
the spectators drew in 
their breath and gave the prin=
cess up for lost, for they 
had no manner of doubt that Ka=
ma could string the bow 
of Drupada. =
 
=
But as her eyes fell on the he=
ro the princess exclaimed in 
cold tones of disdain : "=
 I will not wed the son of a 
charioteer!" And hearing =
her, Kama smiled somewhat 
bitterly, glanced up at the su=
n, and cast aside the bow, 
already drawn to a circle. 
 
=
And now when the last of the m=
onarchs was making his 
attempt, and their uniform fai=
lure was being discussed 
hotly by the spectators, Arjun=
a, with his deer-skin rug, his 
matted locks, and his sacred t=
hread, rose from amongst 
the crowd of Brahmans seated a=
s onlookers on the out 
skirts of the arena and steppe=
d forward to the shooting- 
dais. Loud murmurs, some of ap=
proval and some of 
disapproval, rose from the Bra=
hmans to right and left 
of him as he did so. For, rega=
rding him as one of them 
selves, they took his movement=
 for the most part as one 
of mere childish restlessness =
which would bring disgrace 
 
=
K 145 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
on all of them. Only a few of =
them, noting his form and 
bearing, had the courage to cr=
y : " Good, good ! Make 
the attempt ! " 
 
=
But while his friends talked A=
rjuna walked up to the 
bow and stood before it like a=
 mountain. Bending his 
head in prayer, he walked slow=
ly round it. Then in the 
twinkling of an eye he strung =
it, and shooting five arrows 
in quick succession through th=
e ring, he brought down 
the mark that had been suspend=
ed above. 
The cheering that followed see=
med to come from the 
heavens as well as from the am=
phitheatre. The Brah- 
mans stood up in their excitem=
ent waving their scarfs. 
Flowers rained from the sky in=
 all directions. And the 
bards immediately burst out in=
to praises of the hero who 
had won. From the royal seats =
above the lists Drupada 
the king beamed approval on th=
e young Brahman who had 
shot the mark, and the Princes=
s Draupadl lifted her eyes 
to Arjuna s and silently signi=
fied that she took him as her 
lord. 
=
 
=
But while the uproar was at it=
s height Yudhishthira, with 
the twins Nakula and Sahadeva,=
 fearing recognition if 
they remained all in one place=
, rose and left the assembly, 
leaving Arjuna and Bhlma toget=
her alone. In less time 
than it takes the clouds to ov=
erspread the sky, the whole 
temper of the assembly seemed =
to change. 
Arjuna had been vested by Drau=
padl with the white robe 
and the garland of marriage, a=
nd Drupada s approval of 
the hero was patent to all the=
 beholders. Seeing this, the 
kings and princes who had fail=
ed were suddenly filled with 
wrath. They had been set at na=
ught. They had been 
invited to be insulted. They h=
ad been openly refused 
out of contempt, and a Brahman=
 chosen over their heads. 
Seizing their maces, the angry=
 warriors made a united 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Pandavas are Recognized 
 
=
rush upon Drupada, who shrank =
back for the moment 
amongst the crowd of Brahmans.=
 But seeing the danger 
of their host, Arjuna and Bhlm=
a came forward to cover 
him Arjuna with the redoubtabl=
e bow, and Bhima, tear 
ing up by the roots a great tr=
ee, brandishing it ready for 
success. Even Arjuna, accustom=
ed as he was to the great 
feats of his brother, was asto=
nished to see him uproot the 
tree, while all the monarchs f=
ell back in sheer amaze 
ment. 
=
 
=
The Pdndavas are Recognized 
 
=
But one there was in the royal=
 gallery, Krishna by name, 
a prince of the Vrishnis and c=
ousin by birth of the Pan- 
dava princes, who, seeing that=
 feat, knew suddenly who 
the two seeming Brahmans were.=
 
 
=
" Look, look ! " he =
said to his brother, who was beside 
him, " I had heard that t=
he Pandavas had escaped from 
the house of lac, and as surel=
y as I am Krishna yonder 
are two of them, Bhlma and Arj=
una ! " 
Then the Brahmans, shaking the=
ir coco-nut water-vessels 
and their deer-skins, closed r=
ound Drupada for his protec 
tion against the onset of the =
knighthood, while Arjuna 
and Bhlma took them one by one=
 in single combat. And 
such was the shooting of arrow=
s between Kama and 
Arjuna that each was to the ot=
her invisible for several 
minutes at a time, and Kama fa=
inted from loss of blood, 
but recovered to a greater ent=
husiasm for battle than 
before. And all admired the st=
rength and lightness of 
Bhlma, who could seize a hero =
and throw him to a dis 
tance and yet refrain from hur=
ting him much. 
Finally, however, the kings an=
d princes, with all their good 
humour restored by fighting, s=
urrendered cheerfully to 
their Brahman opponents. And w=
hen this moment arrived, 
 
=
147 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
Arjuna and Bhima, leaving the =
throng and followed by 
the princess, turned their ste=
ps to their mother s house. 
Kunti meanwhile had been waiti=
ng in great anxiety for 
the return of her two sons. Th=
e day was wearing on, and 
how many evils might not have =
befallen them ! At last, 
however, in the midst of a cro=
wd of Brahmans, she saw 
Arjuna and Bhima. Reaching the=
 door, they said : " Ah, 
mother, behold what we have ob=
tained as alms to-day ! " 
Kunti, from within the house, =
not having seen the blush 
ing princess whom they were pu=
tting forward as they 
spoke, answered : " Enjoy=
 ye all what ye have brought! " 
Then she saw Draupadl and, emb=
racing her warmly, wel 
comed her as a daughter. Thus =
the princess of the Pan- 
chalas became the bride of the=
 Pandavas. 
But as all sat together in sil=
ence in the house of the 
potter there came two guests K=
rishna, the prince of 
the Vrishnis, and Balarama, hi=
s brother who laughingly 
hailed them all as Pandavas, t=
ouching the feet of Yudhish- 
thira in token of their deligh=
t that they had escaped from 
the house of lac. Then, lest a=
ny should recognize them 
and their disguise be penetrat=
ed, they hastily withdrew 
again. And the Princess Draupa=
dl proceeded humbly and 
lovingly under Kuntl s directi=
on to cook the evening meal 
for the whole family. And none=
 was aware that her 
brother, Prince Drishtadyumna,=
 was lying concealed in an 
adjoining room for the purpose=
 of listening to the secret 
conversation of the seeming Br=
ahmans. 
And when night came, the Panda=
vas, lying awake, dis 
cussed with one another of div=
ine weapons and battle 
chariots and elephants and mil=
itary matters. And 
Drishtadyumna set out with the=
 dawn to return to his 
father and report to him the c=
haracter of the hero who 
had bent the bow. But Drupada,=
 running forward, met 
148 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Story of Shishupala <=
/o:p>
 
=
him, saying: " Tell me 1 =
tell me 1 was it Arjuna who shot 
the mark?" 
 
=
Only after the bridal feast ha=
d been given, however, at 
the palace of Drupada, would Y=
udhishthira admit that he 
and his brothers were in truth=
 the Pandava princes. Until 
Draupadi was duly wedded she k=
new them only as the 
shooters-down of the bow, and =
whatever they might be, 
kings or Brahmans, she accepte=
d them on that basis. 
But when Drupada knew that he =
was now in close alliance 
with the Pandavas his joy knew=
 no bounds and he feared 
nothing, even from the gods. A=
nd the rumour of their 
escape from the house of lac a=
nd their victory at the 
Swayamvara began to spread thr=
ough the neighbouring 
kingdoms, and all men began to=
 look on them as those 
newly returned from the dead. =
And Vidura himself 
carried the news to Dhritarash=
tra that the Pandavas now 
were alive and well and gifted=
 with many and powerful 
friends. 
 
=
VI. THE STORY OF SHISHUPALA 
 
=
When the news reached Dhritara=
shtra that the Pandavas 
had not after all been burnt i=
n the house of lac, but had 
escaped and were now at the co=
urt of Drupada, accepted 
in his family and furnished wi=
th many and powerful 
friends, the old king did not =
know what reply to make. 
So he called to him his son Du=
ryodhana and all his 
councillors, and put to them t=
he question of what course he 
should pursue. 
 
=
All were for their immediate r=
ecall to Hastinapura; every 
one urged the sending of congr=
atulations on their escape. 
But Duryodhana was of opinion =
that after this they should 
proceed to dispose of them by =
a series of frauds, dividing 
their interests and setting th=
em against each other, and so 
 
=
149 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
at last deprive them of all re=
source. Kama, on the other 
hand, held that they should be=
 fought. Prowess against 
prowess, knighthood against kn=
ighthood, he said. These 
men could never be divided. Su=
ch an attempt would only 
render ridiculous him who migh=
t undertake it. But a fair 
fight should be the method of =
a soldier. The Pandavas 
were men, they were not gods, =
and as men they might be 
defeated in battle. 
 
=
Bhlshma, on the other hand, su=
pported by Drona and 
Vidura, pointed out that the r=
ight of the Pandavas to the 
paternal kingdom was at least =
as good as that of Duryo- 
dhana. They must therefore be =
recalled and firmly 
established in half of the kin=
gdom. So strong was the 
insistence of these good men u=
pon this course that 
Dhritarashtra had nothing to d=
o but obey, and an embassy 
was sent to the court of Drupa=
da, with presents for the 
princes, to congratulate them =
on their safety and to invite 
them again to their ancestral =
home. By this time not 
only Drupada, but also, and ev=
en more powerfully, Krishna 
and his brother Balarama, had =
become the friends and 
counsellors of the Pandavas, a=
nd not until they were advised 
to do so by all of these did t=
hey accept the overtures of 
friendship made by their kinsm=
an Dhritarashtra. At last, 
however, they did so, and taki=
ng Kunti, their mother, and 
Draupadi, their queen, set out=
 for the city of Hastinapura. 
 
=
The Return of the Pandavas 
 
=
Arriving there and staying lon=
g enough to rest, they were 
summoned to the presence of Dh=
ritarashtra, who told 
them that in order to prevent =
any further disturbance in 
his family he was willing to d=
ivide the kingdom and give 
them half, assigning to them a=
 certain desert tract for 
residence. It had always been =
the habit of these princes 
150 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Return of the Pandavas 
 
=
to accept cheerfully what was =
offered them by the aged 
sovereign and make the best of=
 it. And on this occasion 
they did not break their rule.=
 Apparently seeing no flaw 
in this gift of a barren tract=
 of wilderness for a home, 
they did homage to Dhritarasht=
ra and set forth to their 
new capital. 
 
=
Once there, however, their ene=
rgy knew no bounds. Offer 
ing the necessary sacrifices o=
f propitiation, they had the 
ground measured off for a new =
city, and proceeded to 
build, fortify, and adorn it t=
ill there stood on the plain the 
famous Indraprastha, a fit abo=
de for the very gods, not to 
speak of emperors, such were i=
ts beauty and magnificence. 
Not content with building a ci=
ty, the brothers set about 
organizing their dominions and=
 their administration, and 
their subjects, realizing the =
wisdom and beneficence of these 
new rulers, felt themselves ha=
ppy indeed to have passed 
under their sway. There was no=
 misery in that kingdom 
caused by arrears of rent. The=
 peasant obtained easy access 
to his sovereign. Justice was =
well administered ; order was 
maintained ; peace and prosper=
ity were united on all sides. 
At this time it was suggested =
to Yudhishthira that he 
ought to hold a Coronation Sac=
rifice, and the thought 
began to cause him some anxiet=
y. On every hand he 
sought the advice of his minis=
ters, but not until he had 
obtained that of Krishna, his =
new and trusted friend, 
could he be sure of the right =
course. He was aware of 
the many motives kindness, fla=
ttery, self-interest, and the 
rest that guide men in the giv=
ing of counsel, and to his 
mind there was but one soul th=
at was above all such 
influence. The Coronation Sacr=
ifice was not a rite to be 
undertaken lightly. It meant t=
he establishment of the 
king who performed it as suzer=
ain over all his fellows. 
To do this it was necessary to=
 bring together an immense 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus Sf Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
concourse of tributary soverei=
gns, and it was well known 
that in this great concourse o=
f feudatories lurked immense 
dangers. It was at such gather=
ings that revolutions were 
apt to originate. It behoved h=
im who would offer the 
sacrifice, therefore, to think=
 well over the state of things, 
and consider clearly what he w=
as attempting. Successful, 
he might expect to be regarded=
 as over-lord of the whole 
empire for life. But the small=
est false step might result 
in supreme disaster, hurling h=
im from the throne and even 
bringing about a civil war. 
 
=
The Counsel of Krishna 
 
=
Even as Yudhishthira had thoug=
ht, whilst others lightly 
counselled him to undertake th=
e sacrifice, Krishna alone 
could point out to him the tra=
in of thought that should 
guide a monarch face to face w=
ith so grave an enterprise. 
Point by point he discussed wi=
th him the political state of 
rival kingdoms and the chances=
 of stability in the country 
at large. Thus he led him to s=
ee what wars must be 
undertaken and what areas must=
 yet be subjugated before 
the imperial sacrifice could b=
e offered. But Krishna 
encouraged Yudhishthira, no le=
ss warmly than his own 
ministers had done, as to his =
personal fitness and the 
appropriate condition of the h=
ome-kingdom and its 
government for the proud posit=
ion that he desired to make 
his own. Nor did Yudhishthira =
or any of his brothers 
suspect that, just as this fes=
tival would establish them in 
the over-lordship, so it was d=
estined to reveal before the 
eyes of all men, and not only =
to the trusted few who 
already knew it, the greatness=
 and power of Krishna him 
self, who was, indeed, no king=
, only because he was so far 
above all earthly kings. =
 
=
Having taken the advice of thi=
s mighty counsellor, 
152 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Quarrel for Precedence 
 
=
Yudhishthira proceeded to carr=
y it out in every particular, 
and not until all was finished=
 would he announce his 
intention of holding the coron=
ation festival. Even after 
this the preparations for the =
sacrifice took a long time to 
make, but finally all was read=
y, and in every direction 
invitations were sent out, and=
 kings and heroes began to 
pour in. And there was one the=
re, Narada by name, who 
had the inner sight, and he, l=
ooking upon that great 
assembly and seeing the Lord K=
rishna as its true centre 
and occasion, was filled with =
awe, and where others saw 
only brilliance and festivity =
he was all reverence and sat 
watching, lost in worship. 
 
=
Now when the last day of the s=
acrifice was come and the 
sacred water was about to be s=
prinkled on the head of 
Yudhishthira, it was suggested=
 by Bhishma, head of both 
the royal houses, that, as a m=
atter of courtesy to the invited 
guests, homage should first be=
 done to each one of them 
in turn, according to his rank=
 and precedence. And, added 
the old grandfather as his eye=
s dwelt fondly on the face 
of Krishna, to him first of al=
l, as the incarnation of God, 
let these royal honours be pai=
d as chief. And Krishna 
himself consenting also, the h=
onours were paid. 
 
=
The Quarrel for Precedence 
 
=
But one there was amongst the =
assembled kings who 
grudged the precedence given t=
o Krishna in the midst of 
sovereigns, as if he also had =
been a ruling monarch. And 
this guest, Shishupala by name=
, broke out into bitter re 
proaches against Bhishma and Y=
udhishthira for what he 
regarded as the insult done to=
 the tributary vassals in thus 
putting before them one who co=
uld lay no claim to prece 
dence by right of independence=
, or long alliance, or age 
and kinship. Was Krishna, he a=
sked, the oldest who was 
 
=
153 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
present ? How could such a cla=
im be urged when Vasudev, 
his own father, was in his pro=
per place ? Or was he held 
as master and teacher ? But he=
re was Drona the Brahman, 
who had acted as tutor to all =
the royal princes. Or did 
the Pandavas give him preceden=
ce because of his treaty, 
value as an ally in time of wa=
r? If so, here was Drupada, who 
deserved better of them ; for =
he was the father of Draupadi, 
their queen, and none could be=
 so bound to them as he. 
But if it was love and reveren=
ce that had guided the offering, 
then surely old Bhlshma, their=
 kinsman, the bond between 
two lines, had a better right.=
 
 
=
At these words of Shishupala, =
a certain number of the guests 
began to manifest disaffection=
 to the sacrifice and its lord, 
and it became evident that Shi=
shupala was master of a 
faction who might take it upon=
 themselves to prevent the 
proper completion of the cerem=
onies. Now, if a royal 
sacrifice were not brought to =
a proper end, the fact would 
forbode great disaster for the=
 kingdom and its subjects. 
Hence Yudhishthira showed grea=
t anxiety and did all he 
could to conciliate the angry =
king. He, however, like a 
spoiled child, or like a stern=
 and bitter man, refused by 
any means to be placated. Seei=
ng this, Yudhishthira looked 
toward Bhlshma for advice. Bhl=
shma, however, took no 
pains to conciliate the angry =
king. Laughingly he put 
aside the gravity of Yudhishth=
ira. "Wait," he said, "O 
king, till the lord Krishna wa=
kes up to the matter ! Can 
the dog slay the lion ? Verily=
 this king looks very like a 
lion, till the lion is roused =
; then we shall see what we shall 
 
=
 
=
 
=
see." <=
/pre>
 
=
 
=
 
=
But Shishupala heard the words=
 that Bhlshma spoke, and 
being deeply galled at the com=
parison to a dog, he ad 
dressed himself to the venerab=
le statesman in words that 
were openly insulting and unre=
strained. He called him 
 
=
154 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Bhishma s Story 
 
=
an old reprobate, always prati=
ng of morality, and as they 
listened even his own friends =
and allies were filled with 
horror and looked to see some =
judgment fall speedily on 
the head of one who so forgot =
the dignity due to his own 
and equal rank. Bhlshma, howev=
er, showed no excitement. 
Standing calmly there, he held=
 up his hand for silence, and 
as soon as it was established =
he spoke to the angry Bhlma, 
Yudhishthira s brother, whose =
red eyes showed that he 
regarded the words that had be=
en spoken to his revered 
grandfather as a challenge to =
himself. 
 
=
Bhlshma s Story 
 
=
"Softly, O : Bhlma,"=
 said Bhlshma, "and listen to the 
story of this very Shishupala.=
 He was born in the kingly 
line, having three eyes and fo=
ur arms, and as soon as he 
was born he brayed like an ass=
. And his father and mother, 
being affrighted by these omen=
s, were making up their 
minds to abandon the child, wh=
en they heard a voice speak 
ing to them out of the air and=
 saying : Fear nothing ; 
cherish this boy. His time is =
not yet come. One is already 
born who will slay him with we=
apons when his end arrives. 
Before that he will be both fo=
rtunate and highly placed. 
"Then the queen, his moth=
er, much comforted by these 
words, took courage, and asked=
 : Who is this that shall 
be the slayer of my son ? 
 
=
" And the voice answered =
: He on whose lap thy child will 
be seated when his third eye d=
isappears and his two added 
arms fall away. 
 
=
" And lo, after this, the=
 king and queen of Chedi made a 
round of royal visits together=
, and wherever they went they 
asked the king whose guest the=
y might be at the moment 
to take their child into his a=
rms. But nowhere did he lose 
the added arms, nor did his th=
ird eye disappear. 
 
=
155 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus @f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
" Then, disappointed, the=
y came back to their own city and 
 
=
their own palace. And when the=
y had been some time at 
 
=
home there came to visit them =
the young Prince Krishna 
 
=
and his elder brother. And the=
y began to play with the 
 
=
baby. But when Krishna took it=
 on his lap, lo, before all, 
 
=
the child s third eye slowly w=
rinkled up and disappeared, 
 
=
and the two unusual arms withe=
red away. Then the queen 
 
=
of the Chedis knew that this w=
as the destined slayer of 
 
=
her son, and falling on her kn=
ees, she said : O Lord, grant 
 
=
me one boon ! 
 
=
" And the Lord Krishna an=
swered : Say on 1 
 
=
" And she said : * Promis=
e me that when my son offends 
 
=
thee thou wilt forgive him ! <=
o:p>
 
=
" And he answered : Yea, =
if he offend me even a hundred 
 
=
times, yet a hundred times sha=
ll I forgive him. 
 
=
" This is thatShishupala,=
" continued Bhishma, " who even 
 
=
now, presuming on the mercy of=
 the Lord, summons thee 
 
=
to battle. Truly must he be a =
portion of the energy of the 
 
=
Creator, and that energy the A=
lmighty would now resume 
 
=
within himself. It is for this=
 that he may bring about 
 
=
his own destruction, that he i=
s provoking so much anger 
 
=
and roaring like a tiger befor=
e us, caring nothing for the 
 
=
result." 
 
=
Now Shishupala s anger had bee=
n mounting higher and 
 
=
higher during Bhishma s speech=
, and as it finished he 
 
=
shook his sword threateningly =
and said, "Dotard! knowest 
 
=
thou not that thou art at this=
 moment alive only by the 
 
=
kindness of myself and these o=
ther kings ? " 
 
=
"Whether that be so or no=
t," answered Bhishma with 
 
=
great haughtiness and calm, &q=
uot;know that I esteem all the 
 
=
kings of the earth but as a st=
raw. Whether I be slain like 
 
=
a beast of the field or burnt =
to death in the forest fire, 
 
=
whatever be the consequence, h=
ere do I place my foot 
 
=
156 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Fatal Dice 
 
=
on the heads of you all. Here =
before us stands the Lord. 
Him have we worshipped. Let hi=
m only who desires a 
speedy death enter into confli=
ct with him. But such a 
one may even summon him to bat=
tle him of dark hue, 
who is the wielder of the disc=
us and the mace and, 
falling, he will enter into an=
d mingle with the body of this 
god!" <=
/pre>
 
=
The Death of Shishupala <=
/o:p>
 
=
As the solemn words of Bhlshma=
 ended all present 
involuntarily turned their eye=
s toward Krishna. Intent 
he stood there, looking quietl=
y upon the enraged and anger- 
inflated Shishupala, like one =
whose mind might be summon 
ing the celestial weapons to h=
is aid. And when Shishupala 
laughed tauntingly, he merely =
said : " The cup of thy mis 
deeds, O sinful one, is now fu=
ll ! " and as he spoke the 
flaming discus rose from behin=
d him and, passing over the 
circle of kings, descended upo=
n the helmet of Shishupala 
and clove him through from hea=
d to foot. Then came 
forth the soul of that wicked =
one, as it had been a mass of 
flame, and, making its own pat=
h, bowed itself down and 
melted away into the feet of K=
rishna himself. Even as 
Bhlshma had declared, falling,=
 he entered into and was 
mingled with the body of that =
god. 
 
=
Thus ended Shishupala, who had=
 sinned to a hundred and 
one times and been forgiven. F=
or even the enemies of 
the Lord go to salvation by th=
inking wholly upon him. 
 
=
VII. THE FA TAL DICE 
 
=
Now when the imperial sacrific=
e of Yudhishthira was over, 
his cousin Duryodhana continue=
d for many days to be his 
guest in the palace that the b=
rothers had built for such 
purposes at Indraprastha. And =
with Duryodhana there 
 
=
157 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
of the Hindus & Buddhists =
 
=
 
=
 
=
stayed as friend and companion=
 a man who was destined: 
to be his evil genius, an uncl=
e of his, Sakuni by name. 
And together they examined the=
 mansion that the 
Pandavas had built. And in one=
 of the rooms, coming 
upon a crystal floor, Prince D=
uryodhana took it to be 
water, and drew aside his garm=
ents as if to wade; then, 
discovering his error, he went=
 about in constant mortifica 
tion. But next day coming upon=
 a pond, he mistook it for 
crystal and fell in, whereupon=
 he became a mark for good- 
natured raillery. But everythi=
ng affected him with bitter 
ness. Crystal doors appeared t=
o him to be open, and open 
doors he suspected to be close=
d, and vexation was added 
to vexation in his mind. Besid=
es this, the beauty of walls 
starred with jewels and halls =
with thousands of carven 
pillars filled him with jealou=
sy, and in his thoughts he 
compared Hastinapura with Indr=
aprastha and spoke to 
himself of the Pandavas as foe=
s. It was in this mood 
that his stay with his cousin =
ended and he returned to 
Hastinapura. 
 
=
It was well known that Yudhish=
thira was sensitive on all 
points that involved the honou=
r of the knighthood. Now 
there was one matter that was =
incumbent upon the true 
knight : just as he must answe=
r a challenge to battle, so he 
must comply with a challenge t=
o the dice. But the eldest 
of the Pandavas was known to b=
e extremely weak in this 
matter. He gambled badly, and =
was subject to the 
intoxication of the dice. When=
 the stakes were being 
thrown he would lose his head =
and throw wildly, and none 
could at such a time gain his =
attention to reason with him. 
For this reason it was the hab=
it of Yudhishthira to avoid 
gambling, unless it was made i=
mperative by a knightly 
challenge. <=
/pre>
 
=
Now Sakuni, the uncle and comp=
anion of Duryodhana, in 
158 
 
=
 
=
 
=
The Challenge 
 
=
spite of his high position and=
 associations, was a gambler 
who carried his skill with the=
 dice to the height of sharp 
practice. In this there was no=
ne living who surpassed 
him, and like all such men he =
was ever hungry for new 
victims. Sakuni now therefore =
began to harp on the 
well-known weakness of Yudhish=
thira, plying Duryo- 
dhana with the demand that he =
should be invited to 
Hastinapura to play. 
 
=
The Challenge 
 
=
The permission of the aged Dhr=
itarashtra, always like 
clay in the hands of his eldes=
t son, was not difficult to 
obtain, and Vidura himself, in=
 spite of his protests, was 
dispatched to Indraprastha wit=
h the challenge to Yud 
hishthira to come to throw the=
 dice. A large pleasure- 
house was rapidly erected mean=
while, and every prepara 
tion was made to receive the r=
oyal guests. 
Yudhishthira was very grave wh=
en he learned at 
Indraprastha the errand on whi=
ch Vidura had been 
sent. "Gambling is ever p=
roductive of dissension," he 
said ; "tell me who are t=
o be the other players?" 
One by one Vidura mentioned th=
eir names, and at each 
Yudhishthira and his brothers =
grew more thoughtful. 
They were all men known for th=
eir skill and for their 
unscrupulous and greedy method=
s of play. At last, how 
ever, realizing that the invit=
ation was also the king s 
order, Yudhishthira gave direc=
tions that all should be 
made ready for the journey. &q=
uot;I think," he said, "it is 
the call of fate. What is a ma=
n to fight against destiny ? " 
And with heavy hearts the hero=
es and Draupadi set forth 
for Hastinapura, where they we=
re received in right royal 
fashion, and as soon as their =
fatigue was gone conducted 
to the gambling-table. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
With manifest reluctance, acce=
ding only in obedience tc 
the royal wish and the honour =
of his order, Yudhishthira; 
sat down in the presence of th=
e assembled court to play 
with Sakuni. And Dhritarashtra=
 himself was present,! 
together with Bhishma and Dron=
a and Vidura and all! 
the ministers. And it was open=
ly announced, in spite of; 
the irregularity, that Duryodh=
ana would pay the stakes; 
that Sakuni might lose. <=
/o:p>
 
=
But once Yudhishthira had begu=
n to play he became, as 
all present had known he would=
, like a man intoxicated.! 
At every throw he was pronounc=
ed the loser, and yet each; 
time, with pale face and frenz=
ied hands, he shouted for 
higher and more precious stake=
s. And the grave persons | 
present sat with heads bowed a=
nd faces hidden in their: 
hands. And the Pandava brother=
s held themselves still, 
with breath indrawn, feeling t=
hemselves at the disposal 
of their brother, who was also=
 their sovereign, though 
their hearts were bursting wit=
h rage and they longed to 
seize his adversary by the thr=
oat and deprive him of life. 
Only the insolent Duryodhana l=
aughed aloud, and grew 
flushed with triumph as the ma=
dness of Yudhishthira 
became more and more apparent =
to the whole of that 
august assembly. But the weak =
Dhritarashtra was full of 
fear, for he could feel the th=
oughts of all present and 
knew well enough, in his timid=
 way, that a storm was 
here being set in motion that =
would not end till all the 
house should be uprooted. And =
Vidura, sitting beside 
him, reminded him how asses ha=
d brayed when Duryo 
dhana was born. And the monarc=
h shivered, yet had not 
strength to stop the play. 
 
=
 
=
 
=
1 60 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
The Loss of Draupadl 
 
=
The Loss of Draupadl 
 
=
Meanwhile the madness of Yudhi=
shthira progressed. At 
each cast he lost and Sakuni w=
on. Jewels went, the royal 
treasures went, chariots, serv=
ants, stables, banners all 
kinds of possessions followed.=
 Then the play entered on 
a more dangerous phase. The ki=
ng staked his kingdom 
and lost. Yudhishthira was now=
 demented, beyond all 
hope of reaching by arguments,=
 and one by one, in the 
passion of the gambler, he sta=
ked his brothers, himself, 
and Draupadl and lost ! <=
/o:p>
 
=
"Aha!" cried the wic=
ked Duryodhana, leaping to his 
feet in unconcealed delight. &=
quot; Go, Vidura, and bring us 
the virtuous Draupadl, that th=
e Pandava queen may sweep 
our floors ! " But Vidura=
 cursed Duryodhana for the 
wickedness that would insult a=
 woman and bring a doom 
upon them all, and a courtier =
had to be sent for Draupadl. 
 
=
I When at last the wife of Yud=
hishthira stood before them, 
and was told that she had been=
 made the slave of Duryo- 
dhana s faction by her husband=
, she asked in what condition 
 
=
| Yudhishthira had been when h=
e offered such a stake. 
And when she was told that he =
had first lost himself to 
Sakuni, and afterwards staked =
her, she answered in 
triumph that she repudiated th=
e transaction. How could 
one who was himself a slave po=
ssess another who was 
free, and so dispose of her? A=
nd all present felt the 
soundness of her reasoning, ye=
t would not Duryodhana 
admit himself foiled. 
 
=
Then when the dispute was at i=
ts height, and the lawless 
ness of Duryodhana in the pres=
ence of Draupadl was 
threatening to provoke Bhima a=
nd Arjuna to his slaughter, 
at that very instant a jackal =
was heard to wail in the 
 
=
! vicinity of Dhritarashtra. A=
nd in answer to the wail of 
 
=
L 161 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
the jackal there came the bray=
ing of an ass from without, 
and certain birds, also, gave =
hoarse and terrible cries. 
Then Bhishma and Drona and Vid=
ura turned quietly and 
looked at each other, and Dhri=
tarashtra grew pale and 
began to tremble, for he had h=
eard the sounds and under 
stood. " Ask a boon, Drau=
padi ! " he commanded, putting 
up a shaking hand to still the=
 clamour that was going on 
around him. "Ask a boon, =
my daughter. I will grant 
unto thee whatever thou sayest=
 ! " 
 
=
At those words Draupadi looked=
 up. " I who am free," 
she said quietly and proudly, =
"demand the freedom of 
my son s father, Yudhishthira =
! " 
" Granted," said Dhr=
itarashtra. " Ask again ! " 
"And the freedom of all h=
is brothers," continued Drau 
padi, "with their weapons=
, their chariots, and their per 
sonal belongings ! " 
 
=
"It is given!" said =
Dhritarashtra. "Only, O princess, 
ask more ! " <=
/span>
 
=
" By no means," said=
 Draupadi firmly and disdainfully. 
"The Pandavas, armed and =
free, can conquer the whole 
world. They need owe nothing t=
o a boon ! " 
And Kama, looking on, said to =
himself: "Was there ever 
such a woman? The Pandavas wer=
e sinking in an ocean 
of despair, and the princess o=
f Panchala hath made herself 
a ship to carry them in safety=
 to the shore ! " 
Immediately amongst the new-fr=
eed princes arose a fiery 
argument as to whether their f=
irst duty was not the slaughter 
of Duryodhana for the insults =
done to Draupadi, and it was 
averred by those who were pres=
ent that in the heat of his 
anger smoke issued from the ea=
rs of Bhima. But Yudhish 
thira, who had regained his ha=
bitual calm, pacified them. 
He turned to Dhritarashtra to =
ask what might be the royal 
wish. 
=
162 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Loss of Draupadi 
 
=
" Oh, go back to your own=
 city and take your wealth with 
you and rule over your kingdom=
," entreated the old man, 
now thoroughly frightened. &qu=
ot; You fortunately are open 
to reason. Leave us for Indrap=
rastha, and that as quickly 
as possible ! I only beg that =
you will bear no malice 
against us for what has passed=
 1 " And the Pandavas were 
glad enough to carry out his i=
nstructions. With every 
formality of courtesy, therefo=
re, they ordered their chariots 
and escorts and set forth for =
Indraprastha without delay. 
Duryodhana had been absent whe=
n his father Dhritarashtra 
in his panic had urged the Pan=
davas to depart from 
Hastinapura. Now, however, his=
 evil counsellors crowded 
round him, exclaiming: "W=
e are undone! All that we 
had won the old man has given =
away ! He has given their 
wealth back to the enemy."=
; 
 
=
Duryodhana hastened to his fat=
her s side and, without 
frightening him by any reproac=
hes, represented to him the 
danger of allowing the Pandava=
s, after the insults showered 
upon them, again to have acces=
s to their friends, their 
armies, and their stores. Dhri=
tarashtra listened and 
wavered, and at this point Dui=
yodhana suggested as a 
fantastic wager that they shou=
ld be brought back to throw 
the dice once more, and whiche=
ver side lost should retire 
into the forest for twelve yea=
rs to live as ascetics and pass 
the thirteenth year in some ci=
ty unrecognized by any, or, if 
recognized, pass another twelv=
e years in the forest as forfeit. 
During this time Dhritarashtra=
 himself, urged his son, 
could make himself the master =
of widespread alliances 
and of a vast standing army, n=
ot easily to be conquered by 
five wandering princes. So mig=
ht they still retrieve the 
folly of having allowed them t=
o depart. 
The old king listened and, fat=
ally compliant, said: "Then 
let them return. Bring them ba=
ck." 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
" No, no ! " cried a=
ll the ministers, and even Kama, who 
surrounded him. "No, no !=
 Let there now be peace ! " But 
Dhritarashtra said : " My=
 son s desire shall be fulfilled. 
Let them be recalled ! " =
 
=
Then even Gandharl, the aged q=
ueen, came into the 
council-chamber and implored t=
he king her husband to 
cast off Duryodhana, their eld=
est son, rather than again 
allow him to have his way. 
 
=
But Dhritarashtra s was the ob=
stinacy of a weak intellect. 
He said : " If our race i=
s about to be destroyed, I am ill able 
to prevent it. Let my son s de=
sire be fulfilled. Let the 
Pandavas return ! " =
 
=
The Renewal of the Contest 
 
=
Yudhishthira and his brothers =
had gone far along the road 
when the royal messenger overt=
ook them with the king s 
command for their return. Ther=
e was no great need for 
compliance. They knew well tha=
t the play was false. 
They might easily have made so=
me courteous excuse and 
pushed on to their own city. B=
ut the mind of a man under 
the sway of calamity becomes d=
eranged. Yudhishthira, at 
the words " Return and pl=
ay ! " took on the look of a man 
under a spell. And in due cour=
se, to the despair of all 
their friends, the Pandavas on=
ce more entered Hastina- 
pura and addressed themselves =
to play. 
Once more the dice were thrown=
. Again Sakuni cried: 
" I have won ! J) And the=
 Pandavas stood up masters 
of themselves, but doomed to l=
ive twelve years in the 
forests and a thirteenth year =
unrecognized in some city ; 
from there, if recognized, to =
return to the wild woods for 
another twelve years of exile.=
 
 
=
But as they went forth, grim a=
nd silent, to their exile, wise 
men marked the manner of their=
 going and read in it of a 
164 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Kirat-Arjuna 
 
=
terrible return a return that =
should be disastrous to all 
their foes. =
 
=
VIII. THE KIRAT-ARJUNA 
 
=
Now while the Pandavas, in acc=
ordance with their defeat 
at dice, were living in exile =
in the forest, the mind of 
Yudhishthira brooded much upon=
 their weakness as com 
pared with the strength and re=
sources of Duryodhana. He 
clearly foresaw that at some f=
uture time the differences 
between their cousins and them=
selves would have to be 
decided by the fortunes of war=
. And he remembered that 
Duryodhana was in actual posse=
ssion of the throne and 
treasury, and that all the fri=
ends of their youth whose 
prowess on the field they knew=
 were his friends and, he 
felt sure, devoted to him. Dro=
na and his pupils, above all 
Kama, would, he feared, fight =
and die if need be, not for 
the Pandavas, but for Duryodha=
na, son of Dhritarashtra, 
the reigning king. =
 
=
Just at the time when the elde=
st of the Pandavas was 
possessed by these forebodings=
 a holy man came to visit 
the retreat of the brothers, a=
nd the instant he saw Yudhish 
thira he began to answer the d=
oubt that was in his mind. 
"Thou art troubled, O kin=
g," he said, "about the rival 
strength of thy friends and th=
y foes. For that have I come 
to thee. There is none in the =
world who can defeat thy 
brother Arjuna, if once he bet=
akes himself to the mountains 
and obtains the vision of the =
Great God. By his hand 
are all thine enemies destined=
 to be slain. Let Arjuna go 
to the mountains, and there al=
one let him fast and pray." 
Arjuna, therefore, thus select=
ed, took vows of austerity, 
promising to be turned aside b=
y nothing that he might 
meet, and set out for the Hima=
layas. At the foot of the 
mountains, when he reached the=
m, he found a holy man, 
 
=
165 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
seated beneath a tree, and by =
him he was told that any 
spiritual gift that he chose m=
ight be his with eternal 
bliss ; he had only to name wh=
at he wished. But the 
knight replied disdainfully th=
at he had left his brothers in 
the forest to the south, and h=
ad himself come thither to 
obtain divine weapons. Was he =
going to accept bliss and 
leave them unaided ? And the h=
oly man, who was none 
other than the god Indra in di=
sguise, blessed him and 
approved his resolution. And A=
rjuna, passing by this 
temptation, pushed on to the h=
igher mountains where, if 
anywhere, he might expect his =
vision. 
Passing through the thick fore=
sts, he soon reached the 
very breast of the mountains a=
nd established himself 
there, amidst trees and stream=
s, listening to the songs of 
birds, and surrounded by fair =
blossoms, to practise his 
vow of prayer, vigil, and fast=
. Clad in scant clothes made 
of grass and deer-skin, he liv=
ed upon withered leaves and 
fallen fruits, and month after=
 month he reduced his allow 
ance of these till in the four=
th month he was able to live 
on air alone, taking no other =
food whatever. And his head 
looked like lightning because =
of his constant bathing and 
purification, and he could sta=
nd day after day with arms 
upraised without support, till=
 the earth began to smoke 
and the heavenly beings to tre=
mble from the heat of 
Arjuna s penance. <=
/span>
 
=
The Boar 
 
=
One day, as he performed his m=
orning worship, offering 
flowers to a little clay image=
 of the Great God, a boar 
rushed at him, seeking to slay=
 him. And Arjuna, in whom 
the instincts of the soldier a=
nd the sportsman were ever 
uppermost, seized his bow and =
arrows and rose from his 
worship to kill the creature. =
At that moment the forests 
166 
 
=
 
=
 
=
 
=
Kirat-Arjuna 
 
=
 
=
 
=
166 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Boar 
 
=
had grown strangely and solemn=
ly still. The sound of 
springs and streams and birds =
had suddenly stopped. But 
Arjuna, with his mind still on=
 his half-finished worship, did 
not notice this. Stringing his=
 bow, he shot an arrow and 
hit the boar. At the self-same=
 instant the beast was struck 
by another dart, seemingly as =
powerful, and with a roar he 
fell and died. But in Arjuna t=
he wrath of a sportsman 
had blazed up, and apparently =
in his unknown rival also, 
each to find his own shot inte=
rfered with at the last 
moment. For there stood toweri=
ng above him, as angry 
as himself, a huntsman, seemin=
gly some king of the 
mountain tribes, accompanied b=
y his queen and a whole 
train of merry followers. His =
form was blazing with 
energy, and he was saying : &q=
uot; How dared you shoot ? The 
quarry was mine 1 " =
 
=
" Let us fight for it ! &=
quot; said Arjuna, and the two began to 
turn their arrows on each othe=
r. 
 
=
To the mortal s amazement, the=
 body of the huntsman 
swallowed up his darts without=
 seeming any the worse, 
and Arjuna could only shoot ti=
ll his quiver was empty. 
"Let s wrestle, then!&quo=
t; he cried, and threw himself upon 
his opponent. He was met by th=
e touch of a hand on his 
heart, and instead of continui=
ng his combat he turned at 
once to finish his worship. Ta=
king up a garland of flowers, 
he threw it about the image, b=
ut the next instant it was on 
the neck of the mountain king.=
 
 
=
"Great God! Great God!&qu=
ot; cried Arjuna, falling in a 
rapture at the feet of his unl=
ooked-for guest. "Pardon 
thou my blows!" 
 
=
But the Great God, well please=
d, put out his hand and 
blessed his worshipper and gra=
nted him the boon of divine 
weapons, such as could be hurl=
ed by the mind, by the 
eyes, by words, and by the bow=
. Never should such 
 
=
167 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
weapons be used till all other=
s had been exhausted. Never 
should they be used against fe=
eble foes. For so they might 
in truth destroy the universe.=
 Then the Great God gave to 
Arjuna Gandiva, the divine bow=
, and, blessing him, turned 
and left that mountain with it=
s vales and caves and snowy 
heights, and went up into the =
sky with all his train. 
Such was the Kirat-Arjuna, Arj=
una s vision of Mahadeva, 
the Great God, as a Kirata, or=
 huntsman. 
 
=
IX. THE MAIDEN WHO BECAME 
A KNIGHT 
 
=
Now it happened that the eldes=
t queen of Drupada, king 
of the Panchalas, was childles=
s, and had been so for many 
years. And Drupada worshipped =
Shiva daily, ^praying 
that a son, not a daughter, mi=
ght be born unto him ; and 
dedicated this son in advance =
to the task of aiding in the 
destruction of Drona. 
 
=
At last, after much prayer and=
 severe austerity, Shiva 
himself blessed him, saying : =
" It is enough, O king ! Thou 
shalt in due time have a child=
 who will be first a daughter 
and then a son. This strange t=
hing is decreed for thee. 
It will not fail ! " 
 
=
Then Drupada returned home and=
 told his queen of the 
divine promise that had been m=
ade to him. And she, 
being a woman of strong faith,=
 took the blessing to heart 
and built her whole mind upon =
this decree of destiny. 
In due time accordingly the qu=
een gave birth to a 
daughter of great beauty, but =
from the strength of her 
belief that the promise of Shi=
va would be fulfilled she 
actually gave it out that she =
had borne a son. And 
Drupada, concurring in the pro=
clamation, had all the rites 
performed that were proper on =
the birth of a son. The mother 
carefully kept her own counsel=
 and placed her trust firmly 
1 68 
<= pre> 
=
 
=
 
=
The Maiden who became a Knight=
 
 
=
in Shiva, and the father every=
where said : " She is a son " ; 
and no one in all the city sus=
pected that that concealed 
daughter was not a son. And sh=
e was called Shikhandin, 
because that name had a femini=
ne form which was Shikhan- 
dim, and for the education of =
this Shikhandin-Shikhan- 
dinl every care was taken by D=
rupada. She learned 
writing and painting and all t=
he arts that were proper to 
a man. For her parents lived d=
aily in expectation of a 
miracle, and it behoved them t=
o be ready for it when it 
should happen. And in shooting=
 and fencing the child 
became a disciple of the royal=
 guru Drona, and was in 
no way inferior to other princ=
es in the management of 
weapons. 
 
=
Then, as she was beginning to =
grow up, her mother urged 
her husband to find a wife for=
 their supposed son and 
marry him in the sight of the =
whole world to some 
princess of royal family. Then=
 Drupada sent embassies 
of betrothal in all directions=
, and finally selected a maiden 
to whom marriage was to be pro=
posed on behalf of 
Shikhandin. And this maiden wa=
s a king s daughter. 
But now, for the first time, t=
he dread secret began to be 
whispered, and it came to the =
ears of the royal father of 
the princess who was promised =
to Shikhandin in marriage. 
And he, thinking he had been p=
urposely insulted in that 
dearest point, the honour of t=
he names of the women of 
his house, sent messages of th=
reats and vengeance to 
Drupada. He would, he declared=
, destroy his city, and 
kill both Drupada and his daug=
hter, and place a creature 
of his own on the throne of th=
e Panchalas. 
At this crisis the sense of hi=
s own guilt made Drupada 
somewhat weak. However, the qu=
een publicly took the 
responsibility of the deceptio=
n upon herself. She had, 
she told her husband in the pr=
esence of others, had a 
 
=
169 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
promise made to her by the god=
 Shiva, and relying on this 
promise she had deceived him, =
so that he had publicly 
advertised the world of the bi=
rth of a son. She had been 
altogether responsible, and ev=
en now she believed in the 
word of the Great God : "=
 Born a daughter, this child 
would become a son ! " 
 
=
This statement Drupada laid be=
fore his councillors, and 
they conferred all together fo=
r the protection of city and 
subjects against the intended =
invader. In the first place, 
they refused to admit that any=
 such insult as was averred 
had been offered to the brothe=
r monarch. The proposals 
of marriage had been made in a=
ll good faith and were 
perfectly fit and proper propo=
sals. Shikhandin, they 
repeated, was a man ; he was n=
ot a woman. Then they 
refortified the city and stren=
gthened the defences. And 
last of all, extraordinary cer=
emonies of worship were 
instituted, and the king appea=
led to the gods for help in 
this crisis, at every temple i=
n his land. 
Nevertheless he had his hours =
of depression, when he 
would go to talk the situation=
 over with his wife ; and she 
did all she could to encourage=
 him. Every effort was 
directed to keeping up his cou=
rage. Homage to the gods 
was good, she said, when secon=
ded by human endeavour ; 
no one could tell how good. Ha=
nd in hand, these two 
things were always known to le=
ad to success. Un 
doubtedly success awaited them=
. Who could dispute it? 
 
=
The Resolve of Shikhandim 
 
=
While the husband and wife tal=
ked thus together their 
 
=
daughter Shikhandin! listened,=
 and her heart grew heavy 
 
=
as she realized the unspoken d=
espair that all this insistent 
 
=
cheerfulness was meant to conc=
eal. It was the sense that 
 
=
they were to blame that so und=
ermined their courage, and the 
 
=
170 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Resolve of Shikhandim 
 
=
root of trouble and fault alik=
e was in herself. Oh, how 
worthless she must be ! What a=
 good thing it would be 
if she could wander off and ne=
ver be heard of again ! 
Even if she died, what matter =
? Losing her would only 
rid her unhappy parents of a b=
urden that might possibly 
cost them, in any case, their =
lives and kingdom. 
Thinking thus in heavy despond=
ency, she rode out of the 
city and wandered on and on al=
one till she came to the 
edge of a dark and lonely fore=
st. Now this forest had the 
reputation of being haunted. T=
here stood in it an aban 
doned grange, with high walls =
and gateway, and rich with 
fragrance of smoke and grain. =
But though one might 
wander through this house day =
after day, one would never 
meet the owner of the house, a=
nd yet never feel that it had 
no owner. It was, in fact, the=
 abode of a powerful spirit, 
^yaksha, known as Sthuna. He w=
as full of kindness, and 
yet the name of the house was =
a word of dread amongst 
the peasant folk in the countr=
y-side because of the empti 
ness and mystery that hung abo=
ut it. 
 
=
But of all this Shikhandim had=
 no idea when she entered 
the place. She was attracted b=
y the open door and the 
peace and silence; and having =
entered, she sat down on 
the floor plunged in sorrow, a=
nd remained so for hours and 
days, forgetting to eat. =
 
=
The kind-heartedjx#/.$v# saw h=
er, and grew more and more 
disturbed at her evident distr=
ess. Nothing would distract 
his visitor from her depth of =
thought, and her forgetfulness 
of herself seemed endless. At =
last the friendly yaksha, 
unable to comfort her, could d=
o nothing but show himself 
to her, and urged her to tell =
him what it was she wanted. 
So he did this, begging her at=
 the same time to tell him 
her trouble, and encouraging h=
er to trust him by every 
means in his power. He was a f=
ollower, he said, of Kuvera, 
 
=
171 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myth 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
s of the Hindus & Buddhist=
s 
 
=
 
=
 
=
God of Wealth. There was nothi=
ng that he could not 
grant if he were asked. He cou=
ld even bestow the impos 
sible. Let the princess only t=
ell him her trouble. " Oh ! " 
broke out Shikhandinl, unable =
to resist kindness so over 
whelming when her need was so =
desperate. " Oh ! make me 
a man, a perfect man ! My fath=
er is about to be destroyed 
and our country to be invaded;=
 and if I were a man it 
would not happen ! Of thy grac=
e, great yaksha^ make me 
a man, and let me keep that ma=
nhood till my father is 
saved ! " And poor Shikha=
ndinl began to weep. 
 
=
Shikhandinl attains her Desire=
 
This was more than her kind-he=
arted host could bear, and, 
strange as it may sound, he be=
came eager to do anything 
in the world, even the absurd =
thing she asked for, if only 
it would comfort the unhappy l=
ady. So then and there he 
made a covenant with her. He w=
ould give her his blazing 
form and his manhood and all h=
is strength, and he would 
himself become a woman in her =
place and remain hidden 
in his house. But when her fat=
her should again be safe 
she was to return and once mor=
e make the exchange. She 
would once more be Shikhandinl=
 the princess, and he 
would again be Sthuna the yaks=
ha. 
 
=
No words can paint the joy of =
the knight Shikhandin as 
he left the presence of the ya=
ksha and went forth to save 
his father and his father s ci=
ty from the sword. But alas 
for the poor yaksha ! It happe=
ned within a day or two 
that his master, the God of We=
alth, made a royal progress 
through those parts and, notic=
ing that Sthuna did not 
present himself, sent to order=
 him into his presence. 
And when the poor shrinking ya=
ksha^ in his altered garb 
and form, appeared before him =
in shamefaced fashion, 
Kuvera his king, between laugh=
ter and disgust, hotly 
172 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Story of the Lady Amba 
 
=
declared : "This shall no=
t be undone ! You shall remain a 
woman and she shall remain a m=
an ! " And then softening 
a little, as he saw the look o=
f fright on the yakshcts face, 
he added : " At least, it=
 shall be so until Shikhandin s 
death. After that this foolish=
 wretch can take back his 
own form ! " <=
/span>
 
=
And in due time, all being saf=
e and at peace, the prince 
Shikhandin returned to Sthuna,=
 as he had promised, to 
give up his treasured manhood.=
 And when the yaksha saw 
that in the heart of this mort=
al there was no guile he was 
much touched and told him the =
truth that he had himself 
been doomed to persist in his =
newly acquired womanhood. 
And he comforted the young kni=
ght for the injury he 
had unwittingly done him, sayi=
ng : " All this was destiny, 
Shikhandin ! It could not have=
 been prevented." 
Thus was fulfilled the blessin=
g of Shiva, spoken over 
Drupada: "The child that =
thou shalt have, O king, shall 
first be a daughter and then a=
 son ! " And thus it came 
about that there was amongst t=
he princes and soldiers of 
that period one who, though he=
 had been born a woman, 
was actually a man and known a=
s Shikhandin, maiden 
and knight. =
 
=
But to Bhlshma only was it rev=
ealed that this Shikhandin 
was no other than Amba, who ha=
d been born a second time 
for the very purpose of his de=
struction. 
 
=
X. THE STORY OF THE LADY AMBA =
Now Bhishma, the great knight,=
 was guardian of the 
imperial house of the Kurus. A=
nd this Bhlshma had 
made a vow in his youth that h=
e would never marry, and 
never, though he was heir-appa=
rent, seat himself on his 
father s throne. And this vow =
he made in order to enable 
his father to marry a certain =
fisher-maid, Satyavatl by 
 
=
173 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
name, on whom he had set his h=
eart. And it came to 
pass that when Bhishma s fathe=
r, Shamtanu, was dead, 
Bhlshma set on the throne his =
own half-brother, Vichi- 
travirya. And it was necessary=
 that he should find a 
suitable marriage for this bro=
ther in order that the 
royal succession might be duly=
 secured. And he heard 
that the bridal choice of the =
three daughters of the king 
of Benares Amba, Ambika, and A=
mbalika was about 
to take place, and that all th=
e kings and princes of the 
earth were bidden, their fathe=
r having announced that his 
daughters should have for thei=
r dowry the courage of the 
bravest knight. So they were t=
o be borne away by that 
prince whose unaided might sho=
uld win them from all the 
rest. Nor did the king of Bena=
res dream, when he made 
this announcement, that his el=
dest daughter Amba was 
already secretly betrothed to =
a certain king, Shalwa by 
name ; nor did the princess th=
ink it necessary to speak to 
her father of the matter, for =
she made sure that her true 
love, strengthened by her fait=
h and the sure prospect of 
immediate happiness, would ove=
rbear all obstacles and, 
displaying his prowess before =
the whole assembled world, 
would carry her off as the pri=
ze of victory. But alas ! when 
Bhlshma heard of this bridal t=
ournament he decided that 
the opportunity was an excelle=
nt one to secure suitable 
queens for the young Vichitrav=
lrya, and he determined to 
seize the three maidens and do=
 combat for them against 
all comers. =
 
=
In accordance with this purpos=
e, therefore, Bhlshma set 
out for the city of Benares as=
 a simple gentleman without 
a retinue. Arriving at the roy=
al lists, he beheld the three 
maidens, all unrivalled for be=
auty and richly robed and 
ornamented, and before them, r=
anged on thrones and in 
cars, under royal umbrellas an=
d pearl-embroidered 
174 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Challenge 
 
=
canopies, each with his proper=
 cognizance blazoned 
on his banner, all the greates=
t of the earth. 
For a moment the prince paused=
 to survey the scene; 
then, with a voice that was li=
ke the roaring of a lion, he 
sounded three times the great =
battle-cry that was to 
summon his rivals to mortal co=
mbat. 
 
=
The Challenge 
 
=
"Bhlshma, son of Shamtanu=
, seizes these maidens. Let 
who will rescue them! By force=
 do I seize them, from 
amongst men before your very e=
yes ! " 
No one could stir while the ch=
allenge was being sounded, 
and as for the third time the =
cry died away Bhishma s 
charioteer, in the twinkling o=
f an eye, turned his battle- 
chariot and swiftly drove down=
 upon that part of the lists 
where the three princesses wai=
ted surrounded by their 
ladies. It was not a moment be=
fore their attendants had 
been made to place them on Bhi=
shma s car, with a line of 
his servants drawn up in front=
 of them, and even while the 
great counter-challenge was ri=
nging out on all sides, and 
angry kings had risen, with sw=
ords unsheathed, to leap to 
chariot or elephant or horseba=
ck, as the case might be, he 
stood alert and smiling, with =
bow drawn and his back to 
the royal maidens, ready to do=
 battle for his prize against 
a world in arms. Never had the=
re been an archer like 
Bhishma. With a shower of arro=
ws he stopped the rush 
that came upon him from all si=
des at once. His part was 
like that of Indra fighting ag=
ainst the crowds of asuras. 
Laughingly with his blazing da=
rts did he cut down the 
magnificent standards, all dec=
ked with gold, of the 
advancing kings. In that comba=
t he overthrew their 
horses, their elephants, and t=
heir charioteers, each with a 
single arrow, till, seeing how=
 light was the hand and how 
 
=
175 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
true was the aim of Bhlshma, s=
on of Shamtanu, all the 
kings of the earth broke ranks=
 and accepted their defeat. 
And he, having vanquished so m=
any sovereigns, retained 
his royal prize of three princ=
esses, and escorted them 
back to Hastinapura, the royal=
 city, to the queen-mother 
SatyavatI, that they might bec=
ome the brides of her son 
Vichitravirya the king. Well m=
ight it be told henceforth 
amongst men that Amba, Ambika,=
 and Ambalika had 
had knightly prowess itself fo=
r their dower. 
But as the wedding-day itself =
drew near, Amba, the eldest 
of the three princesses, sough=
t an audience of Bhlshma, 
the guardian of the imperial h=
ouse, and with much shy 
ness and delicacy disclosed to=
 him the fact of her prior 
betrothal to the king of the S=
halwas. It seemed to her a 
far from noble deed that she s=
hould marry one man while 
secretly longing, she said, fo=
r another. She therefore 
asked Bhlshma to decide for he=
r whether she might be 
allowed to depart from the Kur=
u court. 
The matter was quickly laid by=
 Bhlshma before his 
mother, the council of state, =
and the priests both of 
the realm and of the royal hou=
sehold. And all the^e 
persons judged it with kindly =
judgment, as if Amba had 
been some tenderly guarded dau=
ghter of their own. 
Secretly, then, before the tim=
e arranged for the Kuru 
wedding, she was allowed to le=
ave Hastinapura and pro 
ceed to the capital of the kin=
g of the Shalwas. And her 
escort was carefully chosen, b=
eing made up of a number 
of old Brahmans. And besides t=
hese, her own waiting- 
woman, who had from childhood =
been her nurse, travelled 
with her. 
 
=
And when she reached the city =
of the Shalwas, she came 
before the king and said simpl=
y to him : tc I have come, 
O king. Here I am." =
176 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Amba is Rejected 
 
=
Ambd is Rejected 
 
=
But some blindness and pervers=
ity had come upon the king 
of the Shalwas. Perhaps he was=
 really angry and mortified 
by his defeat at the hands of =
Bhlshma. Perhaps at first 
his attitude was taken half in=
 play and gradually grew 
more and more bitter and earne=
st. Or perhaps and this 
seems the most likely he was i=
ndeed an unknightly man, 
and the girl had done ill to t=
rust him. In any case, he 
proved utterly unworthy of the=
 great and faithful love of 
the Lady Amba. 
 
=
At first, with lightness and l=
aughter, he declared that he 
did not want a wife who had on=
ce been carried off by 
Bhlshma and intended for anoth=
er s bride. Then he 
taunted the princess with havi=
ng gone to Hastinapura 
cheerfully. But she, poor girl=
, could truthfully urge that 
she had wept all the way. 
 
=
Finally, he showed himself sim=
ply indifferent, and though 
she made her feeling clear ove=
r and over again with 
a sincerity that all her life =
after it made her hot to 
remember, he showed not the sl=
ightest affection for her, 
but turned away from her, cast=
ing her off, say the 
chronicles, as a snake discard=
s his old skin, with no more 
feeling of honour or of affect=
ion. And when the maiden, 
eldest daughter of the king of=
 Benares, at last understood 
that this was King Shalwa s in=
tention, her heart was filled 
with anger, and in the midst o=
f her tears of sorrow and 
pride she rose and said : &quo=
t; Though thou dost cast 
me off, O king, righteousness =
itself will be my pro. 
tection, for truth cannot be d=
efeated ! " And with these 
words she turned, crying softl=
y, and haughtily went forth 
from the city. 
 
=
Suffering the deepest humiliat=
ion as she was, and scarcely 
 
=
177 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus ^f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
knowing where to turn, the roy=
al maiden for that night 
took refuge in one of the grea=
t forest-hermitages of the 
time, known as askrdmas, of wh=
ich her own grandfather 
happened to be the head. Her h=
eart was full of pain and 
her whole mind was in confusio=
n. She had been scorned 
and refused, but whose was the=
 fault ? Had it been 
Shalwa or Bhishma who was more=
 to blame? Sometimes 
she would reproach herself tha=
t she had not publicly 
refused, in the tournament-gro=
und, to go with her sisters, 
under Bhishma s protection, to=
 Hastinapura. Then she 
would make her father responsi=
ble for the rashness that 
had announced that prowess sho=
uld be the dower of his 
daughters. Again, her mind wou=
ld turn upon Bhishma. 
If he had not captured her, if=
 he had not taken her to 
Hastinapura, and, again, if he=
 had not arranged for her 
expedition to the king of the =
Shalwas, this trouble would not 
have come upon her. Thus she b=
lamed herself, her father, 
and Bhishma all by turns, but =
never did this princess of 
Benares turn in her heart to b=
lame the king of the Shalwas, 
whom she would fain have had f=
or her lord. Even in the 
insult he had inflicted upon h=
er she made endless excuses 
for him. She could not see his=
 lightness and vanity. 
She saw only the trial to whic=
h he had been put. Her 
own mind was set to give up th=
e world. Rejected on two 
sides for she could not now re=
turn to Hastinapura and 
too proud to ask shelter in th=
e home of her childhood, there 
was nothing before the royal m=
aiden save a life of austerity 
and penance. And gradually, as=
 she grew calm and took 
the help and advice of the old=
 sages of the ashrama, her mind 
began to settle on Bhishma as =
the source and root of her 
woes, and the destruction of B=
hishma gradually became 
the motive to which all her se=
lf-severities were to be 
directed. 
 
=
178 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Amba @f Bhishma 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Amba and Bhishma 
 
=
Religion itself took the part =
of Amba, for the hermits, 
headed by her grandfather, lov=
ed and pitied the mortified 
girl. And in after ages a stor=
y was current of a great 
mythical combat waged against =
Bhishma on her behalf by 
Parashu-Rama, who had been his=
 early teacher, and was 
even as God himself. And this =
combat lasted, it was 
said, many days, being fought =
with all the splendour and 
power of warring divinities, t=
ill at last it was brought to 
an end by the intervention of =
the gods, surrounded by all 
the celestial hosts. For they =
feared to see the exhaustion of 
mighty beings who owed each ot=
her reverence and affection 
and could by no means kill one=
 another. But when Amba 
was called into the presence o=
f Parashu-Rama to hear the 
news of the cessation of the c=
onflict, she merely bowed 
and thanked the old warrior wi=
th great sweetness for his 
energy on her behalf. She woul=
d not again, she said, seek 
the protection of Bhishma in t=
he city of Hastinapura, and 
she added that it now lay with=
 herself to find the means of 
slaying Bhishma. 
 
=
Parashu-Rama, who was almost t=
he deity of fighting men, 
must have smiled to hear a gir=
l, with her soft voice, 
promise herself the glory of k=
illing the knight whom even 
he had not been able to defeat=
. But Amba rose and left 
his presence with her head hig=
h and despair on her face. 
There was now no help for her =
even in the gods. She 
must depend upon herself. 
 
=
From this time her course of c=
onduct became extra 
ordinary. Month after month sh=
e would fast and undergo 
penances. Beauty and charm bec=
ame nothing in her eyes. 
Her hair became matted and she=
 grew thinner and thinner. 
For hours and days she would s=
tand in stillness and 
 
=
179 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus & Budd=
hists 
 
=
silence as if she had been mad=
e of stone. In this way she 
did more than was human and &q=
uot; made heaven itself hot " 
with her austerities. 
 
=
Every one begged her to desist=
. The old saints near whom 
she lived, and embassies const=
antly sent by her father, all 
begged her to surrender her re=
solve and live a life of 
greater ease. But to none of t=
hese would she listen, and only 
went on with redoubled energy =
practising her asceticisms. 
Then she began to seek out pil=
grimages, and went from 
one sacred river to another, p=
erforming the while the most 
difficult of vows. On one occa=
sion as she bathed, Mother 
Ganges herself, who was known =
to have been the mother 
of Bhlshma, addressed her, and=
 asked her the cause of all 
these penances. But when the p=
oor lady replied that all 
her efforts were bent toward t=
he destruction of Bhlshma 
the spirit of the Ganges rebuk=
ed her severely, and told 
her the terrible consequences =
of vows of hatred. Yet still 
the Princess Amba did not desi=
st. Until he was slain 
through whom she had come to b=
e "neither woman nor 
man," she would not know =
peace and she would not 
stop. 
=
 
=
At last Shiva, the Great God, =
appeared before her, drawn 
by the power of her prayers an=
d penances, and standing 
over her with the trident in h=
is hand, he questioned her as 
to the boon she sought. <=
/o:p>
 
=
" The defeat of Bhlshma !=
 " answered Amba, bowing 
joyfully at his feet, for she =
knew that this was the end 
of the first stage in the exec=
ution of her purpose. 
" Thou shalt slay him,&qu=
ot; said the Great God. Then Amba, 
filled with joy, and yet overc=
ome with amazement, said : 
" But how, being a woman,=
 can I achieve victory in battle ? 
It is true that my woman s hea=
rt is entirely stilled. Yet I 
beg of thee, O thou who hast t=
he bull for thy cognizance, 
1 80 
<= pre> =
 
=
 
=
Kurukshetra =
 
=
to give me the promise that I =
myself shall be able to 
slay Bhlshma in battle 1 "=
; 
 
=
Then answered Shiva : " M=
y words can never be false. 
Thou shalt take a new birth an=
d some time afterwards 
thou shalt obtain manhood. The=
n thou shalt become a 
fierce warrior, well skilled i=
n battle, and remembering the 
whole of thy present life, tho=
u thyself, with thine own 
hands, shalt be the slayer of =
Bhlshma." 
And having so said, the form o=
f Shiva disappeared from 
before the eyes of the assembl=
ed ascetics and the Lady 
Amba there in the midst of the=
 forest ashrama. But 
Amba proceeded to gather wood =
with her own hands, and 
made a great funeral pyre on t=
he banks of the Jamna, and 
then, setting a light to it, s=
he herself entered into it, and 
as she took her place upon the=
 throne of flame she said 
over and over again : " I=
 do this for the destruction of 
Bhlshma ! To obtain a new body=
 for the destruction of 
Bhlshma do I enter this fire !=
 " 
 
=
XL KURUKSHETRA 
 
=
The thirteen years exile was o=
ver, and the Panda vas once 
more, by their prowess in batt=
le, had revealed themselves 
to their friends. Now was held=
 a great council of kings at 
the court of one of those alli=
es, and Dhritarashtra, hearing 
of it, sent to it an ambassado=
r charged with vague words 
of peace and friendship to the=
 Pandavas, but not empowered 
to make any definite proposal =
for giving them back their 
kingdom and property. To this =
embassy all agreed 
with Yudhishthira that there w=
as only one answer to be 
given : " Either render u=
s back Indraprastha or prepare to 
fight ! " 
 
=
It was now clear indeed to all=
 men that nothing remained 
for either family but war. The=
 aggressions of Duryodhana 
 
=
181 
 =
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus SP Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
had been too many and too pers=
istent. The insults offered 
at the gambling party had been=
 too personal and too 
offensive. Duryodhana, moreove=
r, had had all the 
opportunity he craved. For thi=
rteen years, while his 
cousins were in exile, he had =
enjoyed the power of making 
alliances and dispensing benef=
its. It was now for him to 
test the faithfulness and the =
courage of the friends he had 
won. The clouds of war hung th=
ick and black above the 
rival houses, and both knew no=
w that the contest must be 
to the death. And Duryodhana p=
ut the command of the 
Kaurava forces into the hands =
of Bhishma, while Kama, 
in order that he might not cre=
ate a separate faction in the 
army, pledged himself not to f=
ight till after the grandsire 
should be slain. And the Panda=
va forces were put under 
the command of the Panchala pr=
ince, Draupadi s brother, 
Dhrishtadyumna. And Hastinapur=
a, at the approach of 
battle, crowded with kings and=
 men-at-arms, with elephants 
and chariots and thousands of =
foot-soldiers, looked like 
the ocean at the moment of moo=
nrise. And the Pandavas 
also gathered their forces in =
the capital of Drupada, and 
both sides marched down on the=
 great plain oi Kuruk- 
shetra, which was to form the =
scene of action. Thus 
entered both parties into that=
 mansion where the play was 
to be war, where the gamblers =
were men and their own lives 
the stakes, and where the dice=
-board was the battle-field, 
filled with its armies, chario=
ts, and elephants. From 
the beginning Duryodhana had g=
iven orders that Bhishma, 
as commander, was to be protec=
ted at all hazards, and 
having heard vaguely from Bhis=
hma himself that through 
Shikhandin alone could his dea=
th come, he commanded 
that every effort was to be ma=
de throughout the battle to 
kill Shikhandin. 
 
=
And the smaller army that marc=
hed beneath the banners 
182 
 =
 
=
 
=
The Battle <=
/pre>
 
=
of the Pandavas and Panchalas =
was full of joy and spirit. 
Their minds soared to the comb=
at. They seemed like 
men intoxicated with delight a=
t the thought of battle. 
But terrible omens were seen b=
y Bhlshma, and whenever 
Duryodhana sat down to think o=
f battle he was heard to 
sigh. 
=
 
=
The Battle <=
/pre>
 
=
When the sun rose on the fatal=
 day the two great armies 
stood face to face with one an=
other, with their chariots and 
steeds and splendid standards,=
 looking like two rival 
cities. Then sounded the conch=
 shells and battle trum 
pets, and with a vast movement=
, as of a tidal wave passing 
over the ocean or a tempest sw=
eeping over the forests, 
the two forces threw themselve=
s upon one another, and 
the air was filled with the ne=
ighs of the chargers and the 
noise and groans of combatants=
. With leonine roars and 
clamorous shouting, with the b=
lare of trumpets and cow- 
horns and the din of drums and=
 cymbals, the warriors of 
both sides rushed upon each ot=
her. For a while the 
spectacle was beautiful, then =
it became furious, and, 
hidden in its own dust and con=
fusion, there was nothing to 
be seen. The Pandavas and the =
Kurus fought as if they 
were possessed by demons. Fath=
er and son, brother and 
brother forgot each other. Ele=
phants rent each other 
with their tusks. Horses fell =
slain and great chariots lay 
crushed up on the earth. Banne=
rs were torn to pieces. 
Arrows flew in all directions,=
 and wherever the darkness 
was rent for a moment was seen=
 the flashing of swords and 
weapons in deadly encounter. <=
o:p>
 
=
But wherever the combat was th=
ickest, there at its heart 
might be seen Bhlshma, the lea=
der of the Kurus, standing 
in white armour on his silver =
car, like unto the full moon 
 
=
 
=
 
=
Myths of the Hindus (f Buddhis=
ts 
 
=
in a cloudless sky. Over him w=
aved his standard, a 
golden palm-tree wrought on a =
white ground. And no 
warrior whom he marked for his=
 aim could survive the 
shooting of his deadly arrow. =
And the whole host of 
those who were opposed to him =
trembled, as one after 
another he shot down trusted o=
fficers. And as darkness 
began to fall the rival comman=
ders withdrew their forces 
for their nightly rest. But th=
ere was sorrow in both 
camps for those that had falle=
n in the combat of the day. 
Day after day went by, and ami=
dst growing ruin and 
carnage it became clear to the=
 Pandavas that so long as 
Bhishma, their beloved grandsi=
re, lived they themselves 
could not conquer. On the tent=
h day, therefore, the fatal 
combat was undertaken. Bhishma=
 was mortally wounded, 
and the command of the Kurus m=
ade over to Drona in 
his stead. <=
/pre>
 
=
Under Drona the Kurus once mor=
e enjoyed a blaze of 
victory. The science of the ol=
d preceptor had its value 
in enabling him to dispose of =
his forces to advantage 
and teaching him where was the=
 point to attack. After 
a time it became evident that =
under his direction all the 
strength of the Kurus was bein=
g concentrated on the 
seizure of Yudhishthira s pers=
on, for Drona was known 
to have made a vow to capture =
the Pandava king. The