« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
erk. With 41. Dean St Soho.
Mublished by farbury, Allen & (London 1832
consequence of it, with the monarchy of the three regions. Rama Chandra had also been brought up in the paths of religion and virtue, and had been taught that one of the first duties of a prince was to subjugate his own passions to their control. When, therefore, Ravan became an apostate from his duty to the gods, Rama Chandra was appointed the instrument of his destruction.
The Grecians had their Homer, to render imperishable the fame acquired by their glorious combats in the Trojan war; the Latins had Virgil, to sing the prowess of Eneas; and the Hindus have had their Valmic, to immortalize the martial deeds of Rama, and his army of monkeys, in subduing the giant Ravan and his hosts of many-headed monsters. The Ramayana, one of the finest epic poems (in spite of its many extravagancies) extant, beautifully describes the incidents of Rama's life, and the exploits of the contending foes.
The deity whose fame is thus celebrated, is, in the pictorial representations of him, usually described as a green man, seated beneath an umbrella, the emblem of sovereignty, on a throne: a quiver of arrows hangs at his back; in one hand he holds his destructive bow, and in the other a flower of the sacred lotus. By his side is placed Sita, who is depicted as a goddess of transcendent beauty, of a deep yellow complexion (see fig. 1, plate 9). Although the daughter of a king, and far famed for her loveliness, she did not disdain to sweep, in a most patriarchal manner, her own room daily; a task which our charming and accomplished princesses are not frequently discovered performing. In doing this, she was accustomed to lift with
the Linga, and Parvati. These were, in consequence of Siva's pledge, bestowed: but as that god happened to be seized, like some of our austere Benedicts, with a momentary uxorious fit, he was unwilling to part with the lovely source of all his torment and all his bliss; so he prevailed on Vishnu to obtain (which that deity had a happy facility in doing), by stratagem, what he himself could not withhold. Vishnu, in disguise, succeeded; and Parvati, after purifying herself by austerities, was restored to her proper lord. Dominion and immortality, it would appear, still remained with Ravan; as, according to descriptions of compartments said to be in the temples of Ellora, he made prisoners of all the gods, not excepting Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, and put them in chains.
one hand, while she swept under it with her left, a bow, which a thousand of her father's stoutest archers could not raise. This ponderous bow obtained for Rama the possession of the beauteous Sita, as her father, Junuka, who had received it from Mahadeo, had declared, that no one should marry her who could not bend it. Rama and Ravan were competitors for the prize; but the strength of the former easily effected that which the monstrous giant attempted in vain. Sita was, in consequence, adjudged to Rama, and Ravan retired overwhelmed with jealousy and shame, and brooding over a desire of revenge, which he lost no time in attempti to accomplish ; and which was increased by a subsequent outrage offered by Lackshman, the brother of Rama, to Surpanukha, the sister of Ravan, whose nose and ears he most unceremoniously and ungallantly cut off, in consequence of her attempt to intimidate him for having rejected her proffered love. This insult instantly roused her family to arms, and three of her brothers fell by the hand of Rama. Thus the tyrant had obtained too correct a knowledge of the strength of Rama (as well as when he bent the bow of Junuka), to venture to attack him openly: he therefore sought to accomplish, by artifice, that which he could not effect by valour and strength ; and to rob him, by stratagem, of the prize which he himself had been unable to win. It appears that Rama having been exiled from the dominions of his father by the machinations of one of his queens, had determined, although invited to return, to seclude himself from the world for a time, to perform his penitential austerities in honour of the gods in a retired forest, and Sita prevailed upon him to allow her to accompany him.
Ravan, who knew what had passed, and judged it a proper opportunity to effect his purpose, transformed himself into a beautiful deer, and sedulously ranged about the hut where Rama and Sita had taken up their abode. The beauty of the animal attracted the notice of Sita, who, with amiable female tenderness and humanity, earnestly besought Rama to kill it and present her with the skin. He at length consented, and set off in search of the deer, which led him in pursuit a considerable distance from the forest. It then suffered itself to be shot. Ravan immediately transported himself back to the hut, and carried away Sita through the air in triumph.*
The poem then pathetically describes the grief of Rama, the measures adopted by him and his brother Lakshman to discover Sita, rendered difficult by the aerial course which Ravan had pursued. At length they learnt that she had been conveyed to Lanka. Rama then engaged in his interest a sovereign, Sugrivu, whose subjects consisted of monkeys, who sent an army of these sagacious and intrepid warriors, headed by his renowned generals, Hanuman, a monkey, and Jumont, a bear, and others of great martial fame, to his assistance. They marched forward, in the shapes of various animals, in splendid military array, until they reached, after numerous difficulties, dangers, and privations, the coast opposite Lanka, when they learned in a more positive manner from Sanput (a vulture) that Sita was in that island. But a difficulty then presented itself which necessarily led to a considerable delay; being no other than the ocean, which rolled its waves between the island and the main. It was accordingly determined in council, after long and mature deliberation (for they acted like discreet warriors, which all pugnacious nations of the present day do not), that it would be more prudent to attempt that which was possible, than to endeavour to do what was absolutely impossible; and as it was evident they could not pass over without a bridge, not to try that manæuvre, but, difficult as the undertaking was, to set about building one with all necessary dispatch. This, after strong opposition on the part of Ravan, and the utmost skill and
* There is another account of this incident, which my regard for the industrious and lovely daughter of Junuka induces me to give implicit credit to : namely, that while hunting, Rama meeting the Rakshasa in the form of a deer or antelope, shot him. The Rakshasa called, apparently in pain, upon the name of Lakshman, with whom Rama had left Sita. The affectionate wife believing that the cry came from Rama, whom she imagined to be in danger, urged her protector to fly to his aid. Lakshman at length, having previously drawn with his bow round the abode of Rama a charmed circle, within which nothing could injure Sita, and which he forbade her to pass, hastened to the relief of his supposed brother. No sooner had he left his charge than a mendicant Brahman appeared, and solicited alms; but would accept of none unless taken without the circle. Sita, respecting the sacred character of a Brahman, was induced to pass the prescribed bounds, and was immediately seized by him (who was Ravan in disguise), and carried away through the air to Lanka.