THE CITY DECORATED
With his consort pious Rama, pure in deed and pure in thought,
After evening's due ablutions NARAYANA'S chamber sought,
Prayed unto the Lord of Creatures, NARAYANA Ancient Sire,
Placed his offering on his forehead, poured it on the lighted fire,
Piously partook the remnant, sought for NARAYANA'S aid,
he kept his fast and vigils on the grass of kusa spread.
With her lord the saintly Sita silent passed the sacred night,
Contemplating World's Preserver, Lord of Heaven's ethereal height,
And within the sacred chamber on the grass of kusa lay,
Till the crimson streaks of morning, ushered in the festive day,
Till the royal bards and minstrels chanted forth the morning
Healing through the holy chamber, echoing through the roval
Past the night of sacred vigils, in his silken robes arrayed,
Message of the proud anointment Rama to the Brahmans said,
And the Brahmans spake to burghers that the festive day was come,
Till the mart and crowded pathway rang with note of pipe and drum,
And the townsmen heard rejoicing of the vigils of the night,
Kept by Rama and by Sita, for the day's auspicious rite.
Rama shall be Heir and Regent, Rama shall be crowned to-day,
Rapid flew the gladdening message with the morning's gladsome ray,
And the people of the city, maid and matron, man and boy,
Decorated fair Ayodhya in their wild tumultuous joy!
On the temple's lofty steeple high as cloud above the air,
On the crossing of the pathways, in the garden green and fair,
On the merchant's ample warehouse, on the shop with stores displayed,
On the mansion of the noble by the cunning artist made,
On the gay and bright pavilion, on the high and shady trees.
Banners rose and glittering streamers, flags that fluttered in the
Actors gay and nimble dancers, singers skilled in lightsome song,
With their antics and their music pleased the gay and gathered throng,
And the people met in conclaves, spake of Rama, Regent Heir,
And the children by the roadside lisped of Rama brave and fair!
Women wove the scented garland, merry maids the censer lit,
Men with broom and sprinkled water swept the spacious mart and street,
Rows of trees and posts they planted hung with lamps for coming
That the midnight dark might rival splendour of the noonday
Troops of men and merry children laboured with a loving care,
Woman's skill and woman's fancy made the city passing fair,
So that good and kindly Rama might his people's toil approve,
So that sweet and soft-eyed Sita might accept her people's love!
Groups of joyous townsmen gathered in the square or lofty hall,
Praised the monarch Dasa-ratha, regent Rama young and tall:
"Great and good is Dasa-ratha born of Raghu's royal race,
In the fulness of his lifetime on his son he grants his grace,
And we hail the rite auspicious for our prince of peerless might,
He will guard us by his valotir, he will save our cherished right,
Dear unto his loving brothers in his father's palace hall,
As is Rama to his brothers dear is Rama to us all,
Long live ancient Dasa-ratha king of Raghu's royal race,
shall see his son anointed by his father's righteous grace!
Thus of Rama's consecration spake the burghers one and all,
And the men from distant hamlets poured within the city wall,
From the confines of the empire, north and south and west and
Came to see the consecration and to share the royal feast!
And the rolling tide of nations raised their voices loud and
Like the tide of sounding ocean when the full moon lights
And Ayodhya thronged by people from the hamlet , mart and lea,
Was tumultuous like the ocean thronged by creatures of the sea!
In the inner palace chamber stood the proud and peerless queen,
With a mother's joy Kaikeyi gaily watched the festive scene,
But with deep and deadly hatred Manthara, her nurse and maid,
Marked the city bright with banners, and in scornful accents said:
"Take thy presents back, Kaikeyi, for they ill befit the
And when clouds of sorrow darken, ill beseems thee to be
And thy folly moves my laughter though an anguish wakes my sigh,
For a gladness stirs thy bosom when thy greatest woo is nigh!
Who that hath a woman's wisdom, who that is a prudent wife.
Smiles in joy when prouder rival triumphs in the race of life,
How can hapless Queen Kaikeyi greet this deed of darkness done,
When the favoured Queen Kausalya wins the empire for her son?
Know the truth, O witless woman! Bharat is unmatched in fame,
Rama, deep and darkly jealous, dreads thy Bharat's rival claim,
Younger Lakshman with devotion doth on eldest Rama wait,
Satrughna with affection follows Bharat's lofty fate,
Rama dreads no rising danger from the twins, the youngest-born,
But thy Bharat's claims and virtues fill his jealous heart with
Trust me, queen, thy Bharat's merits are too well and widely
And he stands too near and closely by a rival brother's
Rama hath a wolf-like wisdom and a fang to reach the foe,
And I tremble for thy Bharat, Heaven avert untimely woe!
Happy is the Queen Kausalya, they will soon anoint her son,
When on Pushya's constellation gaily rides to-morrow's moon,
Happy is the Queen Kausalya in her regal pomp and state,
Kaikeyi like a bond-slave must upon her rival wait!
Wilt thou do her due obeisance as we humble women do,
thy proud and princely Bharat as his brother's henchman go,
Will thy Bharat's gentle consort, fairest princess in this land,
In her tears and in her anguish wait on Sita's proud command?
With a woman's scornful anger Manthara proclaimed her grief,
With a mother's love for Rama thus Kaikeyi answered brief:
"What inspires thee, wicked woman, thus to rail in bitter
Shall not Rama, best and eldest, fill his father's royal
What alarms thee, crooked woman, in the happy rites begun,
Shall not Rama guard his brothers as a father guards his son?
And when Rama's reign is over, shall not Gods my Bharat speed,
And by law and ancient custom shall not younger son succeed,
In the present bliss of Rama and in Bharat's future hope,
What offends thee, senseless woman, wherefore dost thou idly mope?
Dear is Rama as my Bharat, ever duteous in his ways,
honours Queen Kausalya, loftier honour to me pays,
Rama's realm is Bharat's kingdom, ruling partners they shall
For himself than for his brothers Rama owns no deeper
Scorn and anger shook her person and her bosom heaved a sigh,
As in wilder, fiercer accents Manthara thus made reply:
What insensate rage or madness clouds thy heart and blinds thine
Courting thus thy own disaster, courting danger dread and
What dark folly clouds thy vision to the workings of thy foe,
Heedless thus to seek destruction and to sink in gulf of woe?
Know, fair queen, by law and custom, son ascends the throne of
Rama's son succeedeth Rama, luckless Bharat steps aside,
Brothers do not share a kingdom, nor can one by one succeed,
Mighty were the civil discord if such custom were decreed!
For to stop all war and tumult, thus the ancient laws ordain,
Eldest son succeeds his father, younger children may not reign,
Bharat barred from Rama's empire, vainly decked with royal grace,
Friendless, joyless, long shall wander, alien from his land and
Thou hast home the princely Bharat, nursed him from thy gentle
To a queen and to a mother need a prince's claims be
To a thoughtless heedless mother must I Bharat's virtues plead,
Must the Queen Kaikeyi witness Queen Kausalya's son succeed?
Trust thy old and faithful woman who bath nursed thee, youthful
And in great and princely houses many darksome deeds hath
Trust my word, the wily Rama for his spacious empire's good,
Soon will banish friendless Bharat and secure his peace with blood!
Thou hast sent the righteous Bharat to thy ancient father's land,
And Satrughna young an valiant doth beside his brother stand,
Young in years and generous-hearted, they will grow in mutual
As the love of elder Rama doth in Lakshman's bosom move,
Young companions grow in friendship, and our ancient legends
Weeds protect a forest monarch which the woodman's axe
Crown�d Rama unto Lakshman will a loving brother prove,
for Bharat and Satrughna, Rama's bosom owns no love,
And a danger thus ariseth if the elder wins the throne,
thee, heedless Queen Kaikeyi, save the younger and thy son!
Speak thy mandate to thy husband, let thy Bharat rule at home,
In the deep and pathless jungle let the banished Rama roam,
This will please thy ancient father and thy father's kith and
This will please the righteous people, Bharat knows no guile
Speak thy mandate to thy husband, win thy son a happy fate,
Doom him not to Rama's service or his unrelenting hate,
Let not Rama in his rancour shed a younger brother's blood,
As the lion slays the tiger in the deep and echoing wood!
With the magic of thy beauty thou hast won thy monarch's heart,
Queen Kausalya's bosom rankles with a woman's secret smart,
Let her not with woman's vengeance turn upon her prouder foe,
And as crown�d Rama's mother venge her in Kaikeyi's woe,
Mark my word, my child Kaikeyi, much these ancient eyes have
Rama's rule is death to Bharat, insult to my honoured queen!"
Like a slow but deadly poison worked the ancient nurse's tears,
And a wife's undying impulse mingled with a mother's fears,
Deep within Kaikeyi's bosom worked a woman's jealous thought,
Speechless in her scorn and anger mourner's dark retreat she sought.