Notes to the Text

Sarga 1

Sarga 1  

Ck, said to be missing for sargas 1-3 in the manuscripts used in preparing the crit. ed. (Vaidya 1962, p. 3), appears in the printed edition of the commentary (Mysore, 1964) and is utilized here.


“the delight of the Raghus” raghunandanaḥ: Raghu is the name of an eponymous ancestor of Daśaratha’s clan, whence the normal patronymic Rāghava, cf. 102.22. The zero-grade form is also thus used, though much less frequently (see, for example, 6.96.20).


Yudhājit: See 172.1ff. After this verse several N and S manuscripts add: “Therefore you should go from here with him, to see your maternal grandfather, my son” (4*). Cg and Cr, from whose texts this verse is absent, remark that the king only indirectly tells his son to leave because he could not bear his absence (but cf. 4.25ff. below).


In an N interpolation after this verse, Kaikeyī learns and approves of her son’s departure (7*; cf. 8.19 below). Some manuscripts append a long passage containing Daśaratha’s parting advice to his son and his urging him to take Śatrughna along (App. I, No. 1; No. 2.1-32).


“tireless” akliṣṭakāriṇam: Literally, “acting without difficulty,” an epithet used almost exclusively of Rāma (and Kṛṣṇa). (Cg, Ck, and Ct offer the traditional interpretation, “whose character it is to act in such a way that no one is hurt.”) Note how perfunctorily the poet dismisses Bharata and Śatrughna. The N recension, however, in various interpolations after verse 4, describes Bharata’s departure, voyage. arrival, and stay among the Kekayas (App. I, No. 2.33ff.; No. 3); his course of education there (which includes learning how to write, No. 2.67, 117 = No. 4.4, 117); and his dispatch of a messenger to Daśaratha informing him that he is ready to return hone (No. 2.64ff. = No. 4 [erroneously recorded after verse 14]).


“his father” pitā tasya: That is, Yudhājit’s father. The city of the Kekayas was Rājagṛha also called Girivraja), located in the Punjab (cf. note on 8.22 and sarga 62, where the journey to Rājagṛha is described).


“his uncle Aśvapati” mātulenāśvapatinā: Cg takes Aśvapati (literally, “lord of horses”) to be another name of Yudhājit, while at the same time (like Cr) giving it a functional value: “He honored Bharata by giving him purebred horses and so on.” Kaikeyī is called “the daughter of Aśvapati” below (9.16, 28.4), and in 64.19, 22 the king of the Kekayas is clearly named Aśvapati and distinguished from Yudhājit. That Vālmīki nods here is unlikely, asyndeton is possible: “by his uncle (and) by (his grandfather) Aśvapati” (see 66.6 and note); Cv (on 64.191 may be correct, however, in supposing Aśvapati to be a cognomen of the men of this family.


“they often thought with longing of … Daśaratha” smaratāṃ … daśaratham: This suggests to Cm (Ct) the brothers’ fear that, considering the age of the king, they might have insufficient time to fulfill the proper dharma of sons, which is obedience. Cg finds the implication to be that they wondered whether the king would consecrate Rāma as prince regent, since he himself was now too old to bear the burden of kingship.


The simile, according to Cg, refers to the unwavering friendship of Indra and Varuṇa.


“as if they were four arms” catvāra iva bāhavaḥ: For Ct the verse metaphorically represents the king as the four-armed Viṣṇu (this idea is made explicit in some N manuscripts, which read, “they were like the arms of Viṣṇu”).


“just as the self-existent Brahmā” svayaṃbhūr iva: The simile owes its existence in part to alliteration (svayaṃbhūr … bhūtānāṃ babhūva). Cm extends it: Rāma, being more virtuous, pleased his father more, as Brahmā similarly pleases his father Viṣṇu.

After this verse the S recension inserts: “For he was eternal Viṣṇu born in the world of men when begged by the gods, who were seeking the destruction of haughty Rāvaṇa” (10*.1-2). Note that Rāvaṇa will not be mentioned in Book Two except at 104.4 (see note there) and 108.11.


“merchants” naigamāḥ: So Cg, Ck, Ct; Cm, “townsmen”; Cr construes with brāhmaṇāḥ, that is, “who followed the vedas:” In the Rām nigama- always and naigama usually (except at 2.33.16 and possibly 98.71) appear to refer to the merchant class.


This long catalogue of Rāma’s virtues is not merely epic convention; it seeks to demonstrate that Rāma meets all the qualifications for kingship demanded by the Arthaśāstra (so Ctr vol. 1, pp. 5ff.).


“of noble descent” kalyāṇābhijanaḥ: Also possible: “both sides of his family were blessed in him” (so Cg, “with whom, by whom his mother’s and father’s family were distinguished”; for the idea see MBh 2.70.5).


“knowledgeable and adept in the social proprieties” laukike samayācāre kṛtakalpo viśāradaḥ: Ck and Ct, finding a chiasmus, join kṛtakalpaḥ with laukike (“had acquired skill in worldly affairs”), and viśāradaḥ with samayācāre (“clever, able in dharma”). We follow the more natural interpretation of Gm and Cg.


“skilled in the practice of them” kṛtajñaḥ: That this is the meaning of the compound seems clearly to be indicated by its juxtaposition to śāstrajñaḥ, “learned in the sciences,” that is, in theoretical knowledge (cf. 16.31 and note, 23.4 and note, where the signification is similar; also possibly in MBh 7.36.4 and 50.31). The distinction between “theory”‘ (śāstra) and practice (usually prayoga), which becomes so important in classical Indian culture, is drawn here for perhaps the first time.

“an excellent judge of men” puruṣāntarakovidaḥ: Less likely, “could tell the inner feelings of men (at first glance):” Ct and Cr.

“to show his favor or withhold it” pragrahanigrahayoḥ: The crit. ed.’s reading in pāda c, pragrahānugrahayoḥ, makes little sense; the gloss of Cm and Cg. “to win and keep friends,” fits poorly with yathānyāyam (“when it was appropriate”). The formula in the epics consists either of the pair pragraha- and nigraha- (cf. 6.20.5; MBh 4.4.33 and Raghu Vira 1936 ad loc., as also 16* here), or nigraha and anugraha- (cf. 4.17.28; Ct, Cr here are forced to gloss pragraha- as nigraha-). The segment -ānu- is sufficiently disputed in the manuscripts that preserve the verse to favor our conjecture, pragrahanigrahayoḥ.


“He knew the right means” upāyajñaḥ: “As a bee draws honey from flowers, that is, without oppressing the people,” Cm and Cg; “as the sun draws water with its rays, that is, effortlessly;” Cr.

“the accepted way” samdṛṣṭa Cm, Cg, Ct, and Cr cite: “Kings should pay their expenditures with [that is, should restrict their expenditures to] one quarter, or two or three, of their revenue [but never more]” (cf. MBh 2.5.60); Ck states simply, “The dharma is that expenditure should not exceed income.” See 94.45 below.

“even the most complex” vyāmiśrakeṣu ca: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, and Cr explain, “(śāstras) composed in mixed language, that is, Sanskrit with the Prākrits,” but no such śāstras exist (except in a certain special sense for the later alaṃkāraśāstra or science of rhetoric), and furthermore the word is nowhere attested with this meaning (vyāmiśra- in MahāBh on 3.1.26 end is not instructive, nor can we here follow Lüder’s “bei Parteiungen” [1940, p. 421. n2]).


“all aspects of political life” arthavibhāga: Cm, Cg, Ct, and Cr explain more specifically, “the various uses of wealth,” and cite: “A man fares well both in this world and the next if he spends his money in these five ways) on dharma, glory, artha, himself, and his relatives”; Ck, for contextual reasons, interprets artha as the doctrines of the Bharatīyanāṭyaśāstra, the textbook on dramaturgy.


“bow to the will of time” kālavaśānugaḥ: This is a very literal translation, for we are not certain of the precise meaning of the compound. Presumably something like “fall victim to procrastination” or “wait upon events” is meant (cf. 94.14, 56 below). Less likely, “give in to fate” (literally, “to time”), as in MBh 13.1.44, which would be quite inappropriately used of Rāma, who throughout the poem will assert how irresistible is the power of fate. The commentators offer interesting if irrelevant theological interpretations emphasizing the Blessed One’s transcendence of time.


“the three worlds” triṣu lokeṣu: Usually understood as earth, sky, and heaven, populated by mortal, semidivine, and divine beings.

“patient as the earth” vasudhāyāḥ kṣamāguṇaiḥ: -guṇaiḥ has probably been attracted into the plural by the presence of guṇaiḥ in pāda a.


“the gods who guard the world” lokapāla-: The gods who were thought of as guardians of the directions: Indra (east). Yama (south), Varuṇa (west), and Kubera (north). In the later epic period, world-protectors of the intermediate directions were included: Agni, Nairṛta, Vāyu, and Īśa.


“consecrated” abhiṣiktam: Literally, “sprinkled” with water at the ceremony for inducting the prince regent into office.


“that … I might go to heaven” yathā svargam avāpnuyām: This is best analyzed as an absolute use of yathā with the optative to express a wish (yathā with imperative used absolutely perhaps in 15.7; cf. yadi with imperative as absolute in 53.19). The commentators do not persuasively account for yathā (Cg, Ck, and Cr, for example, read in compound: yathāsvargam “whatever heaven I deserve”).


“prince regent” yuvarājam: Literally, “young king.” The prince so appointed (and note here that it is not a foregone conclusion that Rāma would be appointed; cf. also 4.5ff., 4.38) would assume most of the duties and prerogatives of kingship, but not all of them. His powers were limited so long as the king remained alive or did not retire to the forest to live the life of a hermit (cf. 47.7ff., especially verses 11-12; 52.16).

All but the NE manuscripts add hereafter that Daśaratha had also been frightened by the appearance of ominous portents and, additionally, had suddenly come to realize how old he himself was (27*; cf. 4.17ff.).

NE manuscripts omit verses 34ff. up to 2.14. This omission of the preliminary meeting with the ministers led Ruben to speculate on the development of royal autonomy through the epic period: absolute in the period of the “original” poem (whether in fact or in theory only) and gradually delimited in the period reflected in what he thought the later stratum (S and NW) of the text (Ruben 1936, p. 68); obviously this is speculation only.


Many N manuscripts add after this, “Then the subjects gathered, the chief brahmans and kshatriyas” (29*), whereas the SR inserts 30*, which contains the interesting verse: “However, because of his haste he did not invite the king of Kekaya or Janaka, thinking that they would hear the good news afterwards.” The motive behind Daśaratha’s haste and his reluctance to inform the Kekaya king will become clear in sarga 4.


“nobles” nṛpāḥ: The term seems to be used like rāja- in the Brāhmaṇas (cf. Rau 1957, pp. 47ff.). Possibly “(vassal) princes” of the monarch Daśaratha, though their position and authority are never clearly defined.


“the men of the city and provinces” purālayair jānapādaiś ca: This appears to refer — though no previous mention of them is included in the crit. ed. — to the leading citizens of Ayodhyā (so Ct and Cr; brahmans would of course be included among them) and of the outlying provinces, who, as we shall see, were present in addition to the nobles or vassal princes (cf. 2.18, 27 and note).

“the thousand-eyed lord” sahasracakṣur bhagavān: Ct suggests that the epithet applied to Indra is significant here: Daśaratha too has a “thousand eyes” — his spies — by which he knows what all his vassals and subjects are thinking.

Sarga 2


“The white parasol” pāṇḍurasyātapasya: A symbol of royalty.


“I have lived a life of many, countless, years” prāpya varṣasahasrāṇi bahūny āyūṃṣi jīvataḥ: Sahasra: need not always (in fact, occasionally must not) be taken literally in the Rām; cf. note on 31.16 and Cg on 2.1.11 vulgate, who cites: “‘Hundred; ‘thousand,’ ‘billion’ are all used to connote simply ‘countless.’” Bahūni, moreover, construes not with āyūṃṣi but with pāda a; cf. the NW lection bahūny āyuś ca, and the parallel phrase in verse 15 below. Finally, āyūṃṣi (the internal object to jīvatah), means “years of life” (not “lifetimes”); cf. the NW āyuś ca pālitam. Grammar and the human character and scale of the Ayodhyākāṇḍa force us to reject the interpretation of the commentators, who understand both sahasrāṇi and āyūṃṣi literally, specifying that Daśaratha has lived “60,000 years, many lifetimes” of one hundred yeas each. They have in mind, of course, the (textually later) statement of 1.19.10. There is no indication in Rām Books 2-6 that the narrative takes place during the Tretā Yuga, which might be thought to justify the king’s longevity.


Inasmuch as Daśaratha is explaining why the kingship has wearied him, the first line of the verse should give substance to his explanation. I therefore understand as follows: A king is responsible for the maintenance of dharma; with this charge come royal prerogatives (rājaprabhāva-) for the enforcement of dharma; and the constant self-vigilance necessary for justly exercising these prerogatives (cf. 3.26) has consumed his strength.


“twice-born” dvija-: Men of the first three varṇas (brahmans, kshatriyas, and vaishyas, though often the word is used to refer only to brahmans).They are said to be “born again” when they are inducted into Aryan society at the initiation ceremony, which takes place sometime between the eighth and twelfth year.


“a union as propitious as the moon’s with the constellation Puṣya” candram iva puṣyeṇa yuktam: A particularly auspicious time, on which important ceremonies are by preference held (Draupaḍī’s marriage, for example, MBh 1.190.5), or on which major events take place (for example, the Buddha’s renunciation, enlightenment, and parinirvāṇa [cf. Przyluski 1926, p. 88], or indeed, according to the Southern tradition, Rāma’s birth [see note on 1.17.5]). Rāma will return from exile to Ayodhyā on Puṣya day (6.114.45). The simile is all the more apposite in that Rāma’s consecration itself will be scheduled for that day (3.24). The constellation Puṣya consists of three stars of Cancer (Kirfel 1920, p. 36).


The SR inserts four lines after this verse, in which Daśaratha asks for the assembly’s approval or, that failing, for further suggestions (35*).


“the rumble (of a … cloud)” (mahāmeghaṃ) nardantam: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, and Cr all read nardanta (“[peacocks] crying” [not recorded thus in the crit. app.]), but the crit. ed. reading fits better with verse 2, and Vālmīki uses the root nard frequently of clouds (e.g., 6.41.25). The monsoon marks the beginning of the mating season for peacocks; they are said to welcome the thundering clouds with cries of greeting.


The assembly’s first response (verse 15) is pro forma, based on their recognition of the legitimacy of the succession. It is only when Daśaratha, not wanting merely to be humored on this account, presses them that they give a heartfelt answer (verses 18ff.). Ruben offers various other possible explanations for Daśaratha’s behavior here (1950, pp. 297ff.).

After pādas ab, the SR inserts: “The brahmans and the chiefs of the army, together with the people of the city and provinces, after they had assembled and consulted, reached unanimity” (37*).


“have lived many, countless, years” anekavarṣasāhasraḥ: See the note on verse 6 above.

“(prince regent) of the land” (yuvarājānam … ) pārthivam: For this literal sense of pārthiva- cf. 22.10 below.


“the virtues of your son are many and excellent” bahavo … kalyāṇā guṇāḥ putrasya santi te: Cg cites Yāmunācārya: “[The Blessed One is] endowed with a host of virtues — innate, boundless, countless, excellent” (this line is found in the Gadyatraya, which is dubiously ascribed to Rāmānuja).


“unspiteful” anasūyakaḥ: Having just been used in verse 20 (“never spiteful”), the adjective here is taken by Cv, Cm, Ct, and Cy as a bahuvrīhi compound, “he was the object of no one’s spite,” in their hopes of explaining the iteration.

“grateful” kṛtajñaḥ: Or, “skillful” (cf. note to 1.20).


The two ca’s here function as restrictive particles: Rāma would speak only kind words, and only true words; he would never give voice to a compliment that was untrue or to a truth that might be painful (so Cg). Compare the famous prescription of Manu cited in the note on 46.36-37 below.


Up until now the main participants in the assembly appear to have been the nobles (cf. 1.35ff., 2.13); the situation described here and in verse 26, however, would apply to brahmans (their presence is suggested in 1.37 and 2.8, 18, but faintly enough to call forth interpolations, cf. notes on verse 14 above, and on 1.35). Ck (Ct) attempts to rectify matters by addressing 27b to the kings (“are they [your servants] prompt”; cf. also 3.3 and note, and compare the make-up of the later assembly, 75.11). As Ruben remarks, our manuscripts no longer enable us to determine with certainty the constitution of the assembly (1936, p. 68 n228). Here, as elsewhere, Vālmīki shows himself to be unfamiliar with the actual workings of the monarchical state.


“When misfortune strikes anyone Rāma feels the sorrow keenly” vyasaneṣu manuṣyāṇām bhṛśaṃ bhavati duḥkhitaḥ: The line has considerable importance in the history of South Indian Vaishnavism for the theological question about the nature of the pity (dayā) of God. The position of the Teṅgalai sect is that God’s pity is His sharing of man’s sufferings: since everything the Rām says is true, this passage is speaking of real suffering on the part of Rāma. The Vaḍagalai doctrine is that God’s pity consists in the desire to assuage the suffering of others: when in His avatars God appears to suffer, this is not real but only mimetic (abhinaya), for otherwise it would fundamentally contradict God’s blissful essence (cf. Siauve 1978, pp. 62-63 with notes). We shall have frequent occasion to remark on the latter tenet and its impact on the Rām commentators both in the Ayodhyākāṇḍa and, even more, in the Aranyakāṇḍa.

“celebrations” utsaveṣu: These are normally held to be the seasonal festivals (cf. Gonda 1947, pp. 149ff.): Cg more relevantly calls them “celebrations on the birth of a child.”


After pādas ab, S manuscripts insert nine lines, including: “He has handsome brows, long coppery eyes, is like Viṣṇu in very person” (55*.3).


The articulation of these verses agrees with Cm, Cg, Ck, and Ct (against the crit. ed.’s implication).


“all the gods” sarvān devān: Cg remarks that the women worship the gods indiscriminately, making no distinctions among them according to whether they are superior or inferior gods, vedic or nonvedic, because they are infatuated by their love for Rāma. And that they do worship, he continues, is another consequence of their infatuation: they erroneously believe that the gods are able to protect Rāma, whereas, in fact, it is he who protects them.

“O god” deva: The vocative here and in verse 34 is addressed to Daśaratha.


“Grant … that we may see” paśyāmaḥ: Indicative for imperative (as in 4.4.21).


“O god” deva: This agrees with Cg (first explanation) and Ck in taking deva as vocative. Cm, Ct, and Cr take it in combination, “‘like the god of gods,’ that is, Viṣṇu” (an appellation more often used of Śiva [see 1.35.9, 65.13] or of Brahmā in Sanskrit literature). but this locution is not found in Rām 2-6.

“granter of boons” varada: Usually a nonspecific commendatory epithet of a generous king, here taking on some color from the context. (The MBh connects it with putrapradāna, “giving [fathering] a son,” 14.93.26.)

Sarga 3


“grandeur” prabhāvaḥ: One might translate, “how matchless my (must be),” and see some implication that the appointment of a prince regent rested on a king’s ability to impose his will by virtue of his political power and influence. But Daśaratha would hardly be expected to voice so provocative a sentiment in open assembly. Furthermore, the tone of the assembly so far (and see the beginning of the next verse) suggests that the deliberative procedures described here are not consultative but more or less ceremonial. (When Daśaratha later comes to allow the accession of Bharata, no consultation with the assembly is required.)


“had paid the brahmans this honor in return” iti pratyarcya tān … brāhmaṇān: This agrees with Cg, syntactically the most natural interpretation of the verse. Ck (so Cm?) understands nṛpān with tān, whereas Ct and Cr read paurajānapadān and awkwardly construe brāhmaṇān with the main verb. The problem arises, again, from ambiguity as to who the king’s principal interlocutors are (cf. note on 2.27).


“month of Caitra”: Mid-March to mid-April.

After this verse most manuscripts include thirty-three lines (App. 1, No. 6) in which Vasiṣṭha orders the various preparations for Rāma’s consecration (63* shows the two brahmans writing out a list of things to be done).


“It shall be done” kṛtam: Past participle with immediate future sense (see 16.47 below), as often in the Rām (2.9.45, 23.22, 33.26, 34.17, 49.2. etc.). The usage is similar to, but not quite the same as ādikarmaṇi kta ( 3.4.71, which indicates the actual commencement of the action); it is closer to the finite perfect in Greek and Latin, which can denote a “certainty or likelihood that an action will take place” (Goodwin 1893, p. 15). Was it a misinterpretation of this usage that caused the insertion noted at verse 4?

“with joy and delight” prītau harṣayuktau: Cm, Cg, Ck, and Ct, here, as elsewhere, explain away the pleonasm by identifying the first as mental pleasure, the second as its physical manifestation.

“just as you command” yathoktavacanam: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, and Cr all explain the phrase as part of the brahmans’ statement, even though direct discourse in the Rām is rarely articulated, like this, over the hemistich boundary.


“aryan and barbarian” mlecchāś cāryāś ca: “‘Aryans,’ those who dwell in Madhyadeśa (north-central India)” — Ct; Cr reasonably, but awkwardly, construes “aryan” with the kings of the directions and “barbarians” with the kings of the forests and mountains. Cg and Ck read instead mlecchācāryāḥ, “teachers (that is, kings and at the same time spiritual guides) of the barbarians” (not recorded in the crit. ed.). This reading finds support in the MBh (12.4.8); see Belvalkar’s note ad loc. Raghavan, too, favored this reading and gives various additional arguments in support of it (Raghavan 1968, p. 597). Some N manuscripts substitute yavanāḥ, “Greeks,” and in 9b “the Śakas (Scythians) who live in the mountains:”


“royal seer” rājarṣim: Daśaratha. The title “royal seer” is applied, it seems, to virtually any aged king.


“a bull elephant in rut” mattamātaṅga-: The commentators are not sure whether the bull elephant in rut carries himself in a proud and sportive manner or very slowly (Cm and Cg).


“he ravished both the sight and hearts of men” puṃsāṃ dṛṣṭicittāpahāriṇam: Cg comments as follows: if he can ravish the hearts of men, who are by nature insensitive, how much more easily can he steal away the hearts of women (so Cm); or “men” may be a general term for “self, soul” and thus connote “all creatures”; or, finally, men may, when seeing Rāma, conceive the desire to become women and so to experience Rāma completely, an idea which finds expression in the following verse: “The women who saw lotus-eyed Pāñcālī washing her full hips wished for a moment that they were men” (untraced).


“charioteer” sūtena: He combines the offices of charioteer and poet, in particular the singer of epic and puranic tales (see note on 6.6).


“By virtue of the simile we understand that the assembly hall was already to some extent irradiated by the presence of Daśaratha, Vasiṣṭha, and the others,” Cm and Cg.


“worthy” sadṛśa-: The adjective is grammatically absolute (as in 107.5, 110.34, 36, etc.; Cr glosses, “similar to me,” so Ck). Rāma and Kausalyā are “worthy” in the sense that they share a rank and status commensurate with the king’s.

“most virtuous” guṇaśreṣṭhaḥ: -jyeṣṭhaḥ, “eldest (in virtue)” (as in MBh 2.68.4), is perhaps to be preferred to the -śreṣṭhaḥ of the crit. ed., for it is widely attested, establishes a characteristic symmetry with pāda a, and (if only obliquely) underscores a primary theme of the book, primogeniture. One manuscript, G1, offers what may be the authentic reading, “virtuous and the eldest.”


“overt and covert activities” parokṣayā … vṛttyā pratyakṣayā: Covert activity would include espionage; overt activity, the king’s personal handling of duties, and his close observation of events (Cg, Ct, and Cr). Cm paraphrases the two as personal and delegated supervision of royal business.

“subjects” prakṛtīḥ: The word can mean “the people” in general (for example, 40.4, or 6.116.33) or, more specifically, as perhaps here, the six constituent elements of the state besides the king himself: minister(s), realm, fortified city, treasury, army, and allies (cf. ArthŚā 6.1.1ff.; cf. 84.7 and note). Cg and Ck gloss the passage, “the ministers, general, urban police, the people of the city and provinces, and all the subjects.”


“bearing the good news” priyakāriṇaḥ: Note the NR reading priyanivedinaḥ, which may be interpreted as a gloss, and the sense priya- must have in verse 30 and frequently elsewhere (4.9, 7.29, 10.1, 14.,. 62.15, etc.). PW curiously can adduce no citation but Indian lexica.


“worshiped the gods” devān samānarcuḥ: The purpose of the worship would be to ward off any hostile influences that might impede Rāma’s consecration (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct), not to offer thanksgiving.

Sarga 4


“When he learned what they had determined” niścayajñaḥ: The king learns from the brahmans that Puṣya is to come into conjunction with the moon on the very next day. Niścayajñaḥ is unlikely to be an ornamental epithet, despite the anaphoric use of niścayam; it is too rare for that, and the only other occurrence in the Rām, 6.25.15. tends to support this interpretation.


“his eyes as coppery as lotuses” rājīvatāmrāksaḥ: A sign of beauty and youth (see Roşu 1969, pp. 37ff.).


“comings and goings” gamanāyetarāya vā: Literally, “going or the other,” that is, coming (so Cm, Cg; with equal probability Ck, Ct, “going or not going”: “a servant cannot order his master to go,” Ck [but see 14.11]).


“at a distance prostrated himself” dūrāt praṇipatya: Rāma bows at a distance (contrast 3.16) for fear of what his father might have to tell him (Ck, Ct).


“I have discharged all my debts” anṛṇo ‘smi: Every man is born with “debts” that he must pay before death. Normally three are recognized (to the seers, gods, and fathers, to be paid by vedic study, sacrifices, and male offspring, respectively); a fourth (to brahmans, to be paid by alms) and a fifth (to oneself, paid by pleasure or simply self-preservation) are later, and the commentators here feel obliged to defend them. In 98.64 only the three debts are mentioned.


“lightning bolts out of a clear sky” -nirghātāḥ: Thus explained by Cg (see Bṛhajjā cited on 3.22.15; for the Latins this was by contrast a good omen; see Vergil, Aeneid, 8.523ff.). A D insertion (92*) adds hurricanes and earthquakes.


Aṅgāraka: Mars.


“resolve” cetaḥ: So we translate (in agreement with Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct), especially in view of pāda d (see also verse 27), which cannot imply going mad (still less dying). The omens warn Daśaratha of some terrible calamity in the offing, and in order to avert it, he fears he might ultimately be induced to abandon his plans for Rāma’s consecration. The impression is given, however, that a more specific reason behind the king’s fear of irresoluteness is being suppressed, namely, the possibility of Kaikeyī’s demanding that he make good what he promised her (so too Cg, Ck, Ct; see note on verse 25 below). It may, in fact, be his very deception of her (and the unrighteousness it signifies) to which he tacitly attributes the appearance of the ominous portents.


Punarvasu: This constellation corresponds to two stars of Gemini (Kirfel 1920, p. 36).

“predict” vakṣyante: Ck notes simply that the tense and voice are archaic. The verb may be attracted into the future by pāda c, or is perhaps an example of the weakening of the future tense (so Cr; see 27.4 and note, and Renou 1968, p. 462).


Cm, Cg comment that Daśaratha is thinking of the promise he made when marrying Kaikeyī, that her son would succeed to the throne (see 99.3 and note; less attractive is Cm’s second interpretation, that the king merely doubts Bharata’s self-control as he does his own in verse 20). How much Rāma knows of the marriage promise at this point is open to question. Cr maintains that this passage implies Rāma does know, but this of course would mean that Rāma is assisting his father in breaking his word, whereas the whole Rām is predicated on his efforts “to preserve his father’s truthfulness.” However, we are never shown where Rāma does learn of it (see the Introduction, Chapter 4).


“is best presented with an accomplished fact” kṛtaśobhi: Literally, “is enhanced by (adorned by, appears to its best with) the act accomplished” (for the idea see MBh 5.38.16, kariṣyan na prabhāṣeta kṛtāny eva ca darśayet, “Before the deed is done one should not divulge it; one should reveal accomplished facts”). This interpretation agrees substantially with Cm’s second suggestion: “The idea is this: If Rāma’s consecration is performed immediately, then Bharata too would be pleased, or at least resigned, for there would be nothing he could do about it; if not, if it were still within his grasp, then Bharata might conceive a desire for the kingship himself.” Ck (Ct) is just possible: “even such a man’s mind ‘is adorned with,’ that is, is affected by, things ‘brought about’ — passion, hatred, etc. — through whatever cause. No person has all his emotions wholly under his control; if he did, he would not be here in the sea of transmigration, with waves of pain and joy cresting about him.”


“In keeping with the king’s instructions regarding the consecration” rājñoddiṣṭe ‘bhiṣecane: A viṣayasaptamī (as in the previous verse), rather than sati (Cr), or nimitta (Cg, Ck, Ct). Rāma returns home as the king’s directions for the consecration require, but leaves again on not finding Sītā.


“Sītā had been sent for” sītā … ānāyitā: Having no independent status, Sītā could not come of her own accord, like Sumitrā and Lakṣmaṇa; Kausalyā would have her brought by her servants (Cg) (see verse 45).


“the Primal Being” puruṣam: The cosmic man first described in ṚV 10.90; here, like Janārdana, a name of Viṣṇu, to whom this is one of the relatively few references in the Ayodhyākāṇḍa (see note on 22.18).


“auspicious rites” maṅgalāni: “She is to have costly perfumes made ready, and garlands, garments, jewelry, and so on, and to have ritual baths and similar acts performed,” Ck, Ct.


“my kinsmen and Sumitrā’s” jñātīn me … sumitrāyāś ca: Notice that no mention is made of Kaikeyī. Only through vague intimations of this sort are we to learn of the profound enmity between the two women (see, for example, 8.26).


“He smiled” smayann iva: Probably we have here metrical shortening for eva (so Ck); less likely, “half-smiling” (Cg, Ct), the Gioconda smile often attributed to Kṛṣṇa.


“rule this land with me” imām mayā sārdhaṃ praśādhi tvaṃ vasuṃdharām: Later Rāma will, in fact, offer to make Lakṣmaṇa heir-apparent. but the latter will refuse (6.116.77-78).


“the fruits of kingship” rājyaphalāni: Ck, Ct rightly gloss “dharma and artha.” The rewards of sovereignty consist not only of one-sixth of the wealth of the kingdom (precious objects, clothes, ornaments — Cm, Cg), and of the fame produced by such wealth (Cr), but also of one-sixth of the spiritual merit of the people of the kingdom (as is emphasized in 3.5.13; see ManuSm 8.304).

Sarga 5


Kākutstha: Rāma. Like “Rāghava,” this is a patronymic applied to all the members of the lineage (see also 102.22).


“courtyards” kakṣyāḥ: We should probably think of these “courtyards” or “enclosures” as concentric or emboxed (as in the description of Vasantasenā’s palace in Mṛcch 4; see below 13.28 and note, and note on 15.12). To be allowed to proceed through the courtyards on a chariot appears to be a mark of high respect.

9. Yayāti: Son of Nahuṣa, he was “universal emperor” and father of five sons (Yadu, Puru, etc.), from whom were descended the five great clans of the Mahābhārata epic. (See MBh 1.70.29ff. and below, 11.1 and note. Observe that in 102.27 below, Nahuṣa is included in the solar dynasty, whereas in 1.69.29-30 both he and Yayāti are so reckoned; see also note on 58.36.)


After this verse a few eastern and D manuscripts add that Rāma “made his guru the gift of a thousand cows and ten” (98*).


“royal highways” rājamārgāḥ: A main thoroughfare leading directly from one of the city gates to the royal palace (Schlingloff 1969, p. 8 n5).


“thoroughfares … sprinkled” sikta- … -rathyā: The streets would be sprinkled with scented water, probably to lay the dust.

“fresh” tadahar-: This item is to be joined in compound with vana-, “flowers of that day,” that is, fresh (see VIṣṇUP 5.6.12, tadaharjāta-), against the commentators, who construe it as an independent adverb (“on that day”).


“an occasion for their adornment” prajālaṃkārabhūtam: The phrase is obscure. Cg comments, “[an occasion] rich in ornaments for, or of, the people,” that is, richly distributed to them, or richly worn by them.


A verb governing -mārgam is wanting (unless it is vyūhan, with janaugham as a bahuvrīhi compound).


“a mountain peak wreathed in white clouds” sitābhraśikhara-: madhyamapadalopi (or elliptical) compound as in agryaveṣapramadā- in verse 24 below (see 23.15; so partially Cr on 6.11 [second interpretation]), not upamānapūrvapada (“peaks like white clouds,” Ct, Cr).


“womenfolk in rich attire” agryaveṣapramadājana-: Represented in the simile by the stars; see 3.20.

Sarga 6


“worshiped” upāgamat: See 3.6.21 for this sense of the verb, which appears to be unattested elsewhere (thus too the commentators: “‘went to,’ that is, in his thoughts,” Ck, so Cr; Cm, Ct, “paid worship” [Ctś. “‘went to’ the sanctuary of Nārayaṇa”]). Many N manuscripts read, “went in with his wife, like Nārāyaṇa with Lakṣmī.”

Ck notes, “In accordance with the shastric statement that ‘no king exists without Viṣṇu,’ Viṣṇu [Nārāyaṇa] must be worshiped for the sake of kingship.” On the intimate relationship between the god Viṣṇu and kingship see Gonda 1969, pp. 58-59, and especially pp. 164-67.


“earnestly made his wish” āśāsyātmanaḥ priyam: Ctr (vol. 1, p. 83) cites ĀpaŚS: “After pouring the oblation one should meditate on what one desires” (1.5.1289 in the edition of Narasiṃhācār).


“restraining his desire” niyatamānasaḥ: As in verse 1 above, the underlying thought of the phrase is no doubt correctly explicated by the NE gloss, “suppressing [his desire for] sexual congress” with his wife (this too is likely to be the real function of the instrumental phrases in both verses). See 4.23 above.

“sanctuary” āyatane: It is uncertain whether w can infer from such passages as this (see verse 11) that any significant temple cult was in existence at the time this stratum of the Rām was composed; we have virtually no concrete information about the construction of such places of worship. (Ck and Ct note that the “sanctuary” would be located in Rāma’s palace.)


“With one watch of the night remaining” ekayāmāvaśiṣṭāyāṃ rātryām: Night consists of three watches, each about. three hours long.


“bards” sūta-: Royal charioteers and advisers, as well as reciters of the epics and upaniṣads.

“genealogists” māgadha-: Apparently hailing originally from Magadha (modern Bihar), they recite the royal lineage.

“panegyrists” bandin-: Also called vaitālika; they perform praise-poems for the king, especially at the royal levee. The different functions of the three positions are not always distinguished in the Rām or later literature. The sūta Sumantra is called both “master of ancient tales” (purāṇavit) in 13.17, and bandin in 14.9; whereas the bandins go to awaken the king in 59.l, in 75.1 it is the sūitas and māgadhas who do so.

“he began to intone his prayers” jajāpa: Rāma’s prayers would include the Gāyatrīmantra (Cg), the early-morning hymn directed to the sun (ṚV 3.62.10).


“they began to adorn the city” cakre śobhayitum purīm: We read, as in principle the crit. ed. should have, with the SR (the accepted NR reading is weak: “They once again made grand decoration”). The inconsistency, in light of 5.17, is of a sort not uncommon in the epic.


“shrines” caityeṣu: These need not be Buddhist shrines in particular (though that is how Cg and Ck gloss), nor “brick-piles for the vedic sacrifices” (Belvalkar on MBh 12.29.18). Cf. MBh 12.69.39-40, where clearly it is a tree shrine that is meant (see note on 62.12).


“In public squares and private houses” catvareṣu gṛheṣu ca: The fact that the people praise Rāma in private no less than in public shows there is nothing contrived about their love for him (Cg).

“in praise (of Rāma)” (rām)ābhiṣṭava-: Both here and in verse 16c below we read thus for the crit. ed.’s (rām)ābhiṣeka-, “(spoke … about Rāma’s) consecration,” which is, uncharacteristically for Vālmīki, redundant here in view of pāda c. The lection adopted has the important, virtually conclusive, concurrent testimony of Cm, Cg, most S and NE manuscripts (NW has a substitute verse); note also verse 20 below, which seems to be an analytical expression for the compound here (and see 6.97.28, rāghavastavasaṃyuktā [vāk]).

“now that his consecration was at hand” rāmābhiṣeke saṃprāpte: Perhaps the suggestion is that, with Rāma on the point of being crowned, the people no longer feel it necessary to conceal their preference for him as against any other Ikṣvāku claimant.


“anticipating that night would fall” niśāgamanaśaṅkayā: Before Rāma takes his postinaugural tour of the city.

“lantern-trees” dīpavṛkṣān: “Sorts of lamp-posts consisting of many branches, like a tree,” Ck, so Cg, Ct (Cr, “trees characterized by branches fit for placing lamps there”; see Belvalkar on MBh 12.195.9).


“for a long time to come” cirāya: The common sense of the dative of this word (see 31.33, 3.16.21, etc.; so Cr here). Just possible also, “at long last” (see 47.33), with an implicit criticism of Daśaratha’s reign.

“can tell good people from bad” dṛṣṭalokaparāvaraḥ: The phrase appears to be used in a moral sense n the Rām; see 56.6 (in reference to Kausalyā), and note the similar one in 34.27 Ck, Ct are close: “who understands exactly what is and is not praiseworthy in his people” (Cm, Cg struggle: “who has seen superior and inferior things in the world”). Most N manuscripts give, “who has seen [= come to distinguish] higher from lower principles,” but it is unlikely that the phrase is ever used with a philosophical significance in the Rām, as it is in the MBh, (see MBh 12.219.14. and 13.80.7 and the commentator cited ad loc. by Dandekar; but see Rām 3.10.15, 5.50.8).


“Indra’s residence” indrakṣaya-: “That is, Amarāvati,” Cm. Ct, Cr. Kṣaya- can also mean a structure (that is, a palace), and Cg defends this meaning here, claiming that the comparison of Ayodhyā not to Indra’s city but to his palace, which is the very core of the city, serves to suggest even more Ayodhyā’s marvelous beauty.

Sarga 7


Cg (so Cm) points out that, although the events of the previous sarga take place on the evening before (6.1-8) and the early morning of the day of the consecration (6.9-28), the events of sarga 7 are described as happening on the day before (since only one thing can be told at a time”). For a discussion of this narrative technique, see Chapter 6 of the Introduction to this volume.

“from the time of her birth” yato jātā: This interpretation differs from that of the commentators, who understand “born somewhere or other,” that is, of obscure origin (Cm, Cg). Their intention is either to debase further the wicked Mantharā, or to underscore the fact that, as “an agent of the gods,” her provenance cannot be any more explicitly revealed (thus “the old teachers” cited by Cg). Ct mentions here the Padmapurāṇa’s revisionist account of Mantharā as an apsaras come to earth to effect the object of the gods (which is the story also in the MBh; see 3.260.9-10, Chapter 4 and note 6 of the Introduction to this volume). Ck ridicules the whole interpretation, which he ascribes to Yadvābhaṭṭa (“the master of equivocation,” probably Cg; compare their comments on 5.49.27), but his own is just as unacceptable (“‘since she was a family servant’ she descended ‘in a fury’ [verse 8], on hearing of Rāma’s consecration”).


“freshly bathed” śiraḥsnāta-: The townsfolk would take ritual baths for the auspicious occasion (Cm).


“a nursemaid” dhātrīm: The one Rāma had as a child, according to the commentators.

“has always been so miserly” arthaparā: Thus in agreement with Cm and Cg; Ck, Ct, Cr try variously to palliate the insult. Cg suggests further that Mantharā calls her “Rāma’s mother” because she cannot bear to speak her name.


Before this verse, N manuscripts insert the following passage, in order to provide some kind of motive for Mantharā’s ill-will “She remembered a former injury, and was resolved on evil towards Rāma [read niścitapāpā?]. For once, when she had done something wrong, Rāma struck her with his foot and she fell to the ground” (124*; see 122*).

“malevolent” papādarśinī: Literally, “envisaging evil.” Ct understands it in a causative sense, “pointing out the evil” (that is, the threat to Bharata); Cr, “instructing in evil.”


“Your beautiful face has lost its charm” aniṣṭe subhagākāre: Understood as a sati saptamī (thus, with some minor differences, Ck); Cg analyzes as vocative: “You who are only superficially happy [see below], but really unloved [by the king]”; whereas Ct suggests a viṣayasaptamī, referring to the king: “(Why do you boast of your beauty’s power) over him who, while outwardly ‘providing marital felicity,’ is really ‘unkind’ [to you]?” The phrase is echoed in the MBh version, 3.261.17-18.

“beautiful” subhaga-, “power of … beauty” saubhāgya-: The words connote additionally “marital felicity.” See Ingalls 1962, p. 95: “When applied to men and women … subhaga maintains at least a portion of its ancient, etymological meaning, ‘lucky, especially in love.’ … When applied to a person one may explicate subhaga as ‘possessing that sort of beauty which wins and holds the love of one’s partner.’”


“queen” mahiṣī: Not “chief queen” see 36.7 below.

“how can you fail to know” kathaṃ … na budhyase: For Ct, Mantharā is implying: when your rival comes to the throne, he will destroy you and your son.


“my enchanting beauty” vismayadarśane: This agrees with Cg, Cr (second explanation of both). As Cg notes, the epithet is meant to hint at the means Kaikeyī should employ to effect her goal: she must subjugate the king to her will by exploiting her special power over him (pace Ck, who rejects this interpretation as narratively inconsistent; see 9.19, 42 below).


“rose from the couch” śayanāt: Through eliminating the SR interpolation 129*, the crit, ed, leaves śayanāt (absent in the NR) without syntactical connection.

“presented … a lovely piece of jewelry” ekam ābharaṇaṃ … pradadau śubham: Like Kausalyā in 3.30 (see also 6.101.16ff., 113.40ff., MBh 14.89.14, for other examples), Kaikeyī is here rewarding a bearer of good news (Ck), not trying to assuage Mantharā’s anger (Cr).


“reporting” ākhyātuḥ: ākhyātṛ as a feminine (a reading based apparently on only one manuscript [G2] and two commentators [Cg, Cr]), is of course irregular (expect ākhyātrī [ 4.1.5]).

Ct notices the tautological quality of the verse and defends it on the grounds that the speaker is beside herself with joy.


“possibly tell … or speak” suvacam: The verbal is repeated to render more intelligible the phrase vaco varam (“more welcome words”), which stands in apposition to paraṃ … priyam (“better news”).

Sarga 8


“spitefully” abhyasūya: We read abḥyasūya for the causative abhyasūyya (reported only by Ct; see the NR’s sāsūyam), and we construe enām with uvāca. All S manuscripts hereafter insert:

I find it ridiculous of you, my lady, while at the same time I am sorrowed, that you are delighted when you should be grieving in the face of this great disaster. I grieve for your stupidity, for what intelligent woman would be happy when prosperity comes to a deadly enemy, the son of a co-wife? (5) Rāma must fear Bharata, who has an equal claim on the kingship [rājyasādhāraṇāt], and realizing this I am dismayed, for where there is cause for fear there is danger. Now, Lakṣmaṇa the great bowman is wholly loyal to Rāma [and so no cause of fear to him], and Śatrughna is to Bharata as Lakṣmaṇa to Kākutstha [and so not a separate cause of fear]. Moreover, it is Bharata who is close[st] in order [of birth (see 1.17.6ff.), and thus of succession to the kingship], my lovely. (10) Succession to the kingship is far removed from the other two, who are younger. Rāma is prudent, he knows the things a kshatriya must do and he acts when he must. I tremble when I think about your son, from the danger Rāma poses. (134*)

rājyasādhāraṇāt in line 5 of this interpolation appears to be a key idea, but the precise meaning of the compound is not clear. The commentators are not very instructive: “because the kingship is a thing to be commonly enjoyed,” Ck, Ct; “[Bharata being] equally fit for reigning.” Cr; “[Bharata being one] of whom, to whom. the kingship is common,” Cm, Cg; see note to 9.13.


The first line of this verse is repeated verbatim in MBh 3.261.18.


“cheerfully” pratītām: Against the commentators (“well-known,” Cm, Ct; “‘trusted,’ that is, by the king,” Cr: “renowned,” Cg [citing AmaK]); compare the use of the word in 9.27, 37.9, 42.17, 65.15, 6.110.23, etc.


“Rāma’s exalted women” rāmasya paramāḥ striyaḥ: The plural has exercised some commentators, since Rāma’s monogamy is repeatedly stressed in the text. The simple explanation, given and defended at length by Cg, is that all the women who attend Rāma are meant to be included (Ck. “‘Rāma’s women,’ namely, those who are on his side”; Cm [Ct] “the plurals [here and in the next clause] denote the friends of Sītā and those of Bharata’s wife, respectively”). But in 5.16.15 (see 18.16), as in MBh 15.41.18, the locution seems to mean “wives,” and to have almost a technical sense. Moreover, the plural “daughters-in-law” in the very next line would seem to suggest (despite Cg) that the princes, like their father, all had more than one wife (5.26.14, cited by Cg, supports this notion, to some extent, and see also Book Six, App. I, No. 10, line 91; for Bharata, see also 75.7 and 94.42). The NR reads the singular in both places (139*; we see no reason to believe that the NR has retained “a genuine older tradition,” with Shah 1980, p. 98; M4 is a contaminated and virtually worthless manuscript).

“at Bharata’s downfall” bharatakṣaye: Thus interpreted also by Cg, Ck, Ct. Possible too, but much less probable, is Cm’s “in Bharata’s house” (though this is how D1-3, 5 have interpreted, too: bharatālaye).


“deeply distressed” param aprītām: The two items have to be divided thus (so Cm, Cg, Ct), param being adverbial (see the NR variant bhṛśam; the phrase reappears at 105.9 and possibly 6.99.35, see Cg ad loc.).


Jacobi was troubled by this exchange between Kaikeyī and Mantharā, finding it unnecessary unless one assumed that the original audience lived under another form of government than that depicted in the text. He thus considered it a later interpolation, dating from the period in ancient Indian history when (as he believed) oligarchy had replaced monarchy (Jacobi 1893. pp. 106-107). There is not much to this argument. First, no social or political practice was too familiar to escape the encyclopedic didacticism of the epic; the law of primogeniture in particular is something the epics never tire of examining and illustrating, however late the text might be. Moreover, if the reasoning does have any validity, it is more probable that the political transformation in question was that from tribal oligarchy or elective chieftainship to hereditary monarchy (see the Introduction to this volume, Chapter 3), or from a system in which the eldest male member of the dynasty succeeded to the throne (as may have been the case with the Śakas of Ujjain, for example), to a primogenitural succession. Either would make Mantharā’s instruction necessary.


The verse is most curious, for it makes the odd assumption that after Rāma’s lifetime (of which one hundred years would be the proverbial epic span), Bharata, though born at the same time as Rāma (1.17.6ff.), would still be alive to succeed. The commentators are of no help. The reasonable inference is that in some earlier, still partly surviving, version of the story Bharata was represented as being considerably younger than Rāma (see below verse 19; also 40.8). Mantharā refines Kaikeyī’s supposition in verse 13 below, and will herself be refuted by the events: Rāma will make Bharata heir-apparent upon his return (6.116.79).


“when we have prospered in the past” abhyudaye prāpte: Against the commentators, we translate prāpte as connoting specifically past good fortune. The present good fortune the commentators take to be Rāma’s consecration, the future, Bharata’s (Ck’s kalyāṇa iti ramābhiṣekalakṣaṇa … appears to be a simple error).

S manuscripts include before pādas of a half-verse giving an easier transition: “I feel the same esteem for Rāma as for Bharata, even more so” (141*).

After verse 10. most S manuscripts insert. “Then too, if Rāma has the kingship, Bharata likewise has it, for Rāghava looks upon his brothers as no different from himself” (142*).


“and then the son of Rāghava” rāghavasya ca yaḥ sutaḥ: Cg, Cr read rāghavasyānu yaḥ, “and after Rāghava his son” (not recorded in the crit. ed.). The verse is very close in sentiment to the words of Duryodhana in MBh 1.129.15-16.


“misfortune” anayaḥ: For this sense of the word see Dandekar on MBh 9.40.19 and see Rām 3.62.7,12; possible too, “it would be grave imprudence” (Cm glosses it, “disintegration of the kingdom”; Ck, Ct, “that is, mutual strife [and the oppression of the subjects, Ct] through ‘impolitic’ jealousy”; Cg, Cr more literally, “it would be ‘contrary to political wisdom’ to do so”).

After this verse one manuscript (M4) inserts: “Whoever gets the kingship extirpates his other brothers who have ambition for the kingship, and rules the kingdom alone” (146*).


“however worthy the others” guṇavatsv itareṣv api: “That is, ‘however worthy’ the younger sons, and however unworthy the elder,” Ct, Cr.

N manuscripts add hereafter: “And the eldest one in his turn makes over the whole kingship to his eldest son, indubitably, and never to his brothers” (147*).


After this verse most D manuscripts add: “You have heard about the many conflicts of the gods and asuras, how they cast brotherly love to the winds. each striving for his own advantage. Brothers, sons of the same father, will struggle over their family property, seeking to gain the upper hand, the one over the other — and nowhere have I ever seen brothers show each other brotherly love” (148*).


“unchallenged” akaṇṭakam: Cr takes this as a sort of proleptic adverb with nāyayitā (“will have … sent off,” that is, so that no challenge can be made). It is true that the kingship cannot rightly be called “unchallenged” until Bharata is removed, but such syntax as he proposes is too hard, and the motive for it hypercritical.


“proximity breeds affection” saṃnikarṣāc ca sauhārdaṃ jāyate: Cm interprets the line to mean that, had Bharata remained in Ayodhyā, Rāma would have grown fond of him, and all enmity between the two would have been obviated (so Cr on verse 21). Quite differently Ct (Ck): the king’s partiality for Rāma — which is the reason behind his consecration — is a result of the absence of Bharata, which Kaikeyī herself brought about [only according to the interpolation noted on 1.3]. If Bharata had been there, the kingdom would have been divided, and he would have received an equal share (so in part Cg).

“even in insentient things” sthāvareṣv api: Much of the SR adds a verse attempting to explain: “The story is told of foresters who intended to cut down a particular tree. The tree was saved from its fearful fate by thorny shrubs in close proximity” (151*.3-4). Ck reads avareṣu (not recorded in the crit. ed.), “(proximity breeds affection [in fathers]) for their sons.”


Rājagṛha: A proper noun, the name of the city of the Kekayas (see 61.6. 62.2. 64.1, etc.). “The Kekayas lived near the Jhelam and had their capital at Rājagṛha or Girivraja (modern Girjak or Jalalpur on the Jhelam)” (Sircar 1967. p. 74). Distinguish this city from the ancient capital of Magadha of the same name (1.31.5, but see Chapter 3, note 9 of the Introduction).


Ct suggests another construction: “For in this way [if Bharata flees to the forest], good fortune may still befall our family (insofar as fear of Bharata, even if he is in exile, will prevent anyone from injuring us); or if Bharata might secure .. [yadi ced = yadi vā, which in fact is read by N manuscripts], then good fortune might befall.” The translation offered agrees with his second interpretation and that of Cg, Cr.

Sarga 9


After this verse most S manuscripts add, rather lamely: “Do you not remember, Kaikeyī, or do you remember but hide it, that you want to hear me tell you what will work to your advantage? But if, beautiful girl, you wish to hear me tell you, then listen, I shall, and once you have heard, you must ponder it well” (155*).


“took you along” tvām upādāya: That a king should have his wife accompany him into battle is virtually unparalleled in Sanskrit literature (though Kṛṣṇa did take his wife Satyabhāmā to the battle against the demon Naraka, HariVaṃ 91.39, ViṣṇuP 5.29). Kaikeyī is said, in an N interpolation (see note to verse 27), to possess some vidyā or magic power, which might account for her presence, though see note to verse 13. (Kālidāsa does not mention her presence when he refers to Daśaratha’s exploit on Indra’s behalf, RaghuVa 9.19. He knows two boons, however: 12.5-6.)


Śambara: Indra’s enemy from the time of the ṚV (see Macdonell and Keith 1912, vol. 2, p. 355 for references). The name Timidhvaja seems to occur only here (and below, 39.11) in Sanskrit literature.


After pāda a, S manuscripts insert: “At night, while the men slept hurt and wounded, demons came all of a sudden and began to slay them, and a terrible fight ensued” (158*).


“conveyed” apavāhya: Kaikeyī executed the office of charioteer, according to Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct. Since she in effect guards her husband twice, as the commentators point out, he grants her two boons (so too in Bhoja’s version, RāmāCam after 2.10, and see 2.19). As it stands, the text is clearly contrived. Only one boon would appear to have been granted, and that not in the absurd way recounted here but in the confrontation presented in the following sarga (see verse 22 and note below; 10.21 and note, and Chapter 4 of the Introduction).


“I … was unaware” anabhijñā … aham: Ck reads, anabhijñāsi tad devi tvayaiva kathitā purā, “Do you not recollect that, my lady? It was you who told me long ago” (not recorded in the crit. ed.; see M2).

Hereafter S manuscripts add: “I have borne this story in my mind out of love for you. You must forcibly prevent [the king] from instituting Rāma’s consecration” (162*).


S manuscripts insert after this: “For during the fourteen years that Rāma is banished to the forest, your son will find affection in the hearts of the people and will become firmly established” (163*).


“private chamber” krodhāgāram: Literally, “room or house for anger” (“where women stay after love-quarrels and suchlike,” Cg; an interesting analogy is presented by “boudoir” in its etymological sense, from French bouder, to sulk).


“to look at you” tvāṃ … pratyudīkṣitum: Many N manuscripts read instead, “to ignore you.”


“offers you a boon” te varaṃ dadyāt: Evidently this stratum of the story knows nothing of any previous boon(s). Nor can the phrase be stretched to mean, “allows you to formulate the boons previously given you” The whole point of Mantharā’s instructions in verses 9-15 is to remind Kaikeyī that she already has the means to coerce the king: it is nonsense to say that the king, having once granted her two wishes, should be forced to allow her the opportunity to specify them. Similarly in verses 16-19: the idea there is that Kaikeyī should exploit her power over the king, to seduce him into granting her a wish. And thus in 10.25 and later in 31.23, Daśaratha will maintain (justly, in view of the “earlier stratum”) that he was “tricked” by Kaikeyī into offering a boon (which again makes little sense with regard to an open-ended wish granted long ago). Most of the NR attempts to improve matters by rearranging the verses (especially the problematic verse 21, which obviously disrupts the argument of verses 16ff.), but without appreciable gain.


“Rāma will … cease to be ‘the pleasing prince’” rāmo ‘rāmo bhaviṣyati: An etymological figure based on Rāma’s name, which is traditionally etymologized as “he who pleases [his subjects],” prajā ramayatīti ramaḥ (see 47.1; the etymology is explicitly given only in MBh 3.261.6, though see Bālakāṇḍa 17.16). In exile Rāma will not have the chance to win the affection of his subjects, and they will gradually forget him (so Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 85n; similarly Cg, Ck, Ct).


“won over” saṃgṛhīta-: Cg (Ck, Ct) glosses, “will (through his good government) have won the loyalty of the people of the city and provinces, that is, because of his steadfastness”; Cr, “will have gained control of the army.”

“steadfast” ātmavān: The NR reads more pointedly, “(will be) in control of the treasury” (kośavān).


After this verse, NW manuscripts insert the following vigorous passage: “False-hearted Kaikeyī accepted Mantharā’s advice, unrighteous, pernicious advice that appeared beneficial, and so she was turned against [Rāma]. For that is the nature of women, to accept at once, without a second thought, what a person of their camp says, however foolish he may be. Like a wide-eyed doe charmed by a hunter’s decoy call, she was brought into evil by the hunchback’s words. Good can take the form of evil, and evil that of good, and bring a person to grief, with his full approval” (169*).


After pādas ab of this verse some N manuscripts insert all, some part of a passage of about fifty lines (App. I, No. 7) which, first, attempts to offer some reason why Kaikeyī should accept such malicious advice: as a child she is supposed to have angered a brahman, who cursed her one day to find herself an object of scorn among people (lines 1-6 [also reported by Ct, and see his remarks in note to 33.6]); second, repeats the account of the battle during which Daśaratha gave her the two boons and explains how she protected him: she possessed a magic power that made her unassailable to rākṣasas, a power she obtained from an aged brahman in a rather roundabout way (14-37); and third, shows Kaikeyī to be convinced of the danger in which Bharata will find himself if Rāma is crowned, “since power corrupts” (40-45).


“Of all the hunchbacks … there is none better at devising plans” pṛthivyām asi kubjānām uttamā buddhiniścaye: Cg finds here the implication that kubjas (“hunch-backs”) were generally sagacious servants. Ck, Ct suggest that such servants were particularly desirable to queens, since they did not pose the threat of rivalry that a comely servant might.


“grown thin” śātam: We read thus (see the common compound śātodarī), with many S manuscripts (note agreement of V and B) and Cm, Cg, Ck, for the crit. ed.’s śāntam. As Cg explains, the verse contains the figure utprekṣā (“poetic fancy”): the waist, which is so thin, might be said to have grown thus for shame or envy after seeing the eminence of the chest.


After this verse S manuscripts and Ś1 insert: “The thousand magic powers that were in Śambara, overlord of asuras, have all been placed in you, and many more, by the thousands” (175*).


“liquid” suniṣṭaptena: This follows Cr in rendering the striking image, though it remains uncertain whether “liquid gold” in the strict sense of the term (German Glanzgold) is meant (or was even known in ancient India). Perhaps simply “refined” (“gold infused with sandalwood paste; or, a bodice made of gold,” Cm, Cg; “a garland … made of gold” [connecting with verse 35], Ck, Ct).


“you shall strut” gamiṣyasi gatiṃ mukhyām: This follows Cg’s suggestion that gatim is cognate accusative and refers to a particular style of movement; Ck, Ct, Cr understand, “you will reach the highest rank, preeminence.”

“holding your head high” garvayantī: The causative appears to be svārthe or, rather, to be employed only to permit the verb a quasi-transitive aspect.


“apprise the king” rājānam anudarśaya: Uncertain. Cm, Cg, Ck, “‘show the king’ to the chamber, or, await the king”; Ct, “‘have the king see,’ that is, you in your chamber”; Cr, “go into the sight of the king” (contrast the use of the word in 28.8 and 93.1). The NR offers, “infatuate the king.”


“golden” hemopamā: Varadacharya cleverly remarks that not only is Kaikeyī’s body as beautiful as gold, but her mind, if just as pure, is also as malleable (1964-1965. vol. 1, p. 91n).


“the land” kṣitim: Accepting here the reading of the crit. ed., despite the weighty concord of Ś1, Ñ1, M1, G1, etc., for śriyam (“royal fortune,” that is, the kingship), in order to preserve a significant contrast between the inhabited royal domain and the wild jungle.

It is very likely that hereafter the original contained a verse in which Kaikeyī vows not to drink or eat until Rāma has departed to the forest. Both recensions include the idea (181*, 183*.21-22), though in forms not easily reducible to a single source: moreover, later in the poem two references are made to Kaikeyī’s threat (3.45-8, 5.31.16).


“fallen” patitām: “From heaven to earth, as a result of the diminution of merit,” Cm, Ct.

Sarga 10


“Rāghava’s consecration” Rāghavasyābhiṣecanam: Alter this phrase Ś1 and all S manuscripts insert: “and having taken leave of the assembly [thus picking up the action from 5.23], he entered his dwelling, believing that Rāma’s consecration had only just become known [and that therefore Kaikeyī would not yet have been informed of it]“ (186*).

“gladly” vaśī: Literally, “of his own accord.” The king believes that Kaikeyī will be as pleased as he is to learn of Rāma’s consecration (is this a fatuous belief? see notes to 4.39, 8.10, 10.3). Vaśin in this sense is quite rare, attested in the Rām only two other times (see 17.1 and 98.37 and notes), and elsewhere only TaiS The commentators fail to appreciate it. Ck, Ct, “‘self-controlled,’ in all things except what concerns his wife”: Cg, “‘everything is under his own control,’ that is, he is independent and would tell Kaikeyī himself.”

After verse 1, the SR adds a passage in which Daśaratha, on entering his chamber, fails to find Kaikeyī there. He is troubled, for she has never before missed the appointed hour for their rendezvous, and he is desirous of making love with her (lines 13-15). A chambermaid then explains the situation to him (187*).


“guileless” apāpaḥ: “It is because the king is ‘guileless’ and infatuated with her that he fails to realize how painful to Kaikeyī the consecration of her co-wife’s son would be,” Cg.


“his cow wounded by the poisoned arrow of a hunter” kareṇum … digdhena viddhāṃ mṛgayunā: Though it has the ring of a commonplace, the simile may well be intended to refer to Mantharā and her poisonous counsel (see 27.22 below).


“why you should be angry” krodham ātmani saṃśritam: Ātmani: Cr, “that is, ‘in your mind’”; Cm, Ck, Ct take this as referring to the king (anger “against me”; for this type of oblique reflexivity of ātma- see 64.24 and note), but this does not fit with his next question.


pādas ab are best taken with the previous verse, as Ck does (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr explain as a self-contained sentence, but this is too hard syntactically).

“when you are so precious to me” mayi kalyāṇacetasi: Literally, “when I am [or, when I am here, or, alive and one] of whom the mind is favorably disposed [toward you]” Ck, Ct analyze, “when I have done you no wrong”


“gratified in every way” abhituṣṭāś ca sarvaśaḥ: That is, by means of gifts, high regard being shown them, and so on (Cm, Cg, Ct; the variant reading in some N manuscripts, “well provided with payments,” is simpler and more explicit).


“Is there some guilty man” vadhyaḥ kaḥ: Daśaratha’s flagrant disregard for dharma (see 66.37 and 94.47-48) because of his passion for Kaikeyī is a theme Vālmīki’s idealized treatment of the story has not eliminated altogether (see Introduction, Chapter 9). The verse is closely (in part, verbatim) reproduced in MBh 3.261.22-23.


“not if it cost me my life” ātmano jīvitenāpi: The pāda construes with verse 11 (thus too all commentators).

“the wheel of my power” cakram: So Cm, Ck; see 6.116.11 and MBh 2.68.3: “the wheel of the great king Dhārtarāṣṭra has been set in motion” (see also 1.69.45). The universal monarch is often referred to as “he who turns the wheel,” cakravartin (the word, which is thought to be post-Buddhist, occurs only once in Rām 2-6, at 5.29.2). Less likely Cg, Ct, Cr: “the wheel of the sun’s chariot,” the disc of the sun.

In S and NW manuscripts the statement in pādas cd regarding the king’s dominion follows somewhat more logically on his protestation (verse 19) that Kaikeyī should not doubt his ability to fulfil her desire. Placing verse 19 before 12 cd also allows the powerful verse 18 to stand at the end of the king’s speech, as it was probably meant to.

After verse 12 the crit. ed. excludes a few verses (194*, in NW and S manuscripts) that provide a list of the peoples in the king’s dominions: the eastern Sindhusauviras [Cg, Ct, Cr read “the Drāviḍas, the Sindhusauviras”], the Saurāṣṭras, the Dakṣiṇāpathas, the people of Vaṅga, Aṅga, Magadha. the Matsyas, the people of Kāśi and Kosala; Daśaratha at the same time asks Kaikeyī to (that is, offers as a boon; line 4) any precious thing she might want (see NE manuscripts, 195*).


“mistreated” viprakṛtā: Cg glosses, “(I am) not ill,”


“with some surprise” īṣadutsmitaḥ: Cg offers three possible reasons for the king’s surprise: that she insists on an oath even though he always does as she asks (= Cm, Ct); because he could easily do anything she might want done (= Ck); or that she was not ill, as he had feared.


“there is not a single person I love as much as you” tvattaḥ priyataro mama manujo … na vidyate: Crā, Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr suggest another was to understand the clause: there is none among women I love more than you, none among men I love more than Rāma (i.e., he does not love Rāma more than her). Their intention, apparently, is to emphasize that Daśaratha is blameless and Kaikeyī’s malice wholly unprovoked.

An insertion in S and NW manuscripts, taking up the mention of Rāma in verse 17, has Daśaratha vow to do what Kaikeyī wishes by swearing an oath three times on the head of Rāma (without seeing whom he “could not live an instant,” and whom he “would choose even at the cost of himself or his other sons” [200*]).


The cue for the literal interpretation of this verse is the NR variant 201*: the commentators are hopelessly confused here.


“Seeing that I have the power” balam ātmani paśyantī: “Seeing in [me my]self the power;” Cm, Ck. Since ātma- is, strictly speaking, reflexive to the verbal subject (but see notes to 64.24 and 10.6), some commentators suggest the interpretation “seeing in [your]self the power,” i.e., the power exerted by your beauty or by my love for you — Cm, Cg, Ct. (See MBh 3.261.24, which supports this latter explanation; the problem is complicated by the uncertain position of the verse, see note to verse 12 above.)

“I swear … by all my acquired merit” sukṛtenāpi … śape: “That is, ‘May my good karma not produce its beneficial effects [in my future births] if I do not do what you wish, “ Ct; see note to 18.13.


“like a visitation of death” abhyāgatam ivāntakam: The simile is poignantly apposite, since the ultimate consequence of her request will be that Daśaratha dies (sarga 58).


“in due order” krameṇa: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct take the adverb with śapase alone, “you swear in turn,” that is, by Rāma and by your good works. The passage where the king swears by Rāma is (rightly, see 3.45.7) excluded from the crit. ed. (note to verse 17 above). Here and in verse 24 it again seems clear that in some antecedent version of the story Daśaratha grants Kaikeyī a boon interview, as even here some “interpolations” would have it (see note to verse 12 above). See note to 9.13.


“heaven” jagat: So glossed by Cm, Cg (citing AmaK), Ck, Ct.


“called upon witnesses” abhiśasya: The lection is uncertain. Cg reads thus and we follow his explanation (“‘called to witness,’ namely, all the gods”; Ck, Ct less persuasively explain, “‘having praised’ him by calling him ‘true to his word,’ etc. in order to confirm him in his duty”). A good variant reading reported in some N manuscripts is abhiśāpya “having caused him to swear” (see sampratiśrāvya in 99.5 and for the causative of the root śap, 3.23.12, 4.9.14).

After verse 25 the crit. ed. excludes a twelve-line passage (204*, found in most D and S manuscripts), which again and somewhat differently attempts to explain the two boons Kaikeyī is about to mention: “Remember, Your Majesty, what happened long ago, during the battle of the gods and asuras: There your enemy caused you to fall lifeless. [Remember] that then, my lord, you were protected by me; that when your body was smeared with blood in that battle of the gods and asaras [we omit here the meaningless tatra covāca tacchaktaḥ], the rākṣasas attacked you, and I foiled them with my secret knowledge, though their might and valor were great. And I kept watch and cared for you and then you gave me two boons.”


“thinking you a princess” nṛpasutā: We must understand iti after nṛpasutā (so Cm, Cg; see the NR gloss rājaputrīti).


“I shall lose my mind” naṣṭā bhavati cetanā: The present bhavati here signifies an action about to occur ( 3.3.131; NR accordingly reads optative); less likely is a general statement: when[ever] I cannot see Rāma I lose my mind, lose consciousness.


After this verse most S and NW manuscripts include a long and at times tiresome section (App. I, No. 9), in which Daśaratha, incredulous, hurt, and angry, pleads with Kaikeyī, admitting at one point how often he has withheld any show of affection toward Kausalyā because of her (118-121) and in the end refuses to grant her wishes no matter what she threatens to do.

41. Kaikeyī’s extending her feet for her husband to touch in supplication is an act of extreme disrespect (Cg), or may suggest that she looks on him, king and husband though he be, as her slave or debtor (Ck, Ct). She would naturally he expected to retract her feet and to raise her husband off the ground (Cm, Cs understand, ingenuously, that suspecting her husband might try to bow down to her Kaikeyī “shifts her feet” elsewhere).

A NW interpolation has the night pass with the king lost in grief (219*); the SR transfers this insertion to the end of sarga 11.

Sarga 11


Yayāti: See note to 5.9 above. He reached heaven by means of his self-control, but because of his pride was thrown out by Indra (MBh 1.81). The story is alluded to in 3.62.7.

“his merit exhausted” puṇyānte: The good karma acquired in his previous life (the reward of which was his stay in heaven) had been used up. The depletion of his merit would suffice to eject him from heaven; presumably it made him prone to such vices as pride, which is elsewhere related as the cause of his fall.


“for all the fear she awoke” bhayadarśinī: The commentators explain variously: “showing the danger posed to Bharata by Rāma” (Cm, Ct); “exposing Daśaratha to danger [= Ck], or, reading (a)bhaya-, not seeing (reckoning) the danger to Daśaratha” (Cg [Cm]; perhaps correct: bhayadarśinī in 3.20.10 means, “seeing danger”).

“had yet to secure her fortunes” (a)siddhārtha: Agreeing here with Crā, Cm, Cg, Ct (against the crit. ed.) on the praśleṣa of a(siddha-).


“you are vaunted” katthyase: The passive (for the crit. ed.’s katthase) seems clearly indicated by the NR’s kīrtyase.


A difficult verse, much complicated by the fact that the crit. ed. constitutes a text (pādas a-f) exhibited by no single manuscript. The third-person reference to Kaikeyī (understood to be in oratio obliqua in the SR by and large, through interpolation 221*; so too, it seems, in the NR, through 222*) must be taken as a sudden soliloquizing on the part of Daśaratha. However, pādas cd remain obscure, for the antecedents of the pronouns are uncertain. We follow Cm, Cg, Cr, who consider Daśaratha’s lie to be his failing to consecrate Rāma after he had promised to do so (they cite 4.22; better is 3.24, and see note on 55.2-3). Such too is the opinion of Ruben (1950, p. 292 and note; 1956, p. 36 and note). The Rām never reverts to the issue (though see note on 55.2-3).


“to last a mere three watches” triyāmā: See note to 6.5. The compound must, because of śarvarī, be taken in a literal rather than metonymic sense (see the NR substitute: “though of three watches, the night … seemed like a hundred years,” 224*; Cg understands atriyāmā, “‘the night was no longer only three watches,’ that is, it was very long”).


“his eyes fixed upon the sky” gaganāsaktalocanaḥ: Daśaratha proceeds in the next verse to address the night, for which the present phrase must suffice as reference. Both the NR (225*.5) and the SR (226*) make the apostrophe explicit.


“so that I no longer have to see” nāham icchāmi … draṣṭum: Daśaratha would be relieved of the sight of Kaikeyī at dawn either because the presence of the citizens (that is, men) would force her to withdraw (Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr), or because he would die the moment Rāma departed (Ct).


For the king’s posture here and Kaikeyī’s indifference, contrast the scene between Daśaratha and Kausalyā (56.4ff., especially verses 9-10).


“Daśaratha’s alternating condemnation and supplication of Kaikeyī implies that he cannot bring himself to abandon either his son or dharma,” Cg.


“Please, I am an old man” sādhu vṛddhasya: The reading with best manuscript authority is sādhu vṛddhasya. The crit. ed.’s sādhuvṛttasya (“I have been of good conduct”), makes little textual or contextual sense. Sādhu, “please,” emphatic initial position as in 3.51.12, 53.18, etc. “I am an old man,” as in 4.12.

“I place myself in your hands” tvadgatasya: Close to Cg’s interpretation, “having you as my last resort,” Cm, Ck, Ct understand, “‘come into your power,’ because of his being under the power of truth [that is, his promise].”

“after all, I am king” rājño viśeṣataḥ: N manuscripts have tried to alter the reading of the rather bathetic line, but it is in character (see for example 56.5 and note).


“it was thoughtless” śūnyena: Literally, “I was empty,” “devoid of the discrimination of what one should and should not say, because of grief,” Ct; Cm, Ck seem to take it, “‘I speak to you now empty,’ namely, devoid of all self-respect,” whereas Cm (first explanation), Cg, Ct (second) read śūnye na and explain, “this, namely, Rāma’s consecration, was not announced ‘in an empty place,’ where no people were, but in the presence of all the people.’


“made no reply” na cakāra vākyam: Less likely, “would not do what he said.” The commentators are silent.


“for the exile” vivāsaṃ prati: Dependent on pratikūlabhāṣiṇīm (so, more or less, Cr).

Sarga 12


“as though you deemed it a sin” pāpaṃ kṛteva: Cm, Cg, Ck understand, “‘committing this evil,’ namely, that of not keeping the promise” (and they take iva as eva). This translation agrees with Cr, in view of the explanation offered in verse 3.

“You must stand” sthātuṃ tvam arhasi: The poet probably intends the sarcastic double entendre.


Śaibya: King Śaibya (or Śibi), rather than go back on his promise of protecting a dove that took refuge with him from a pursuing hawk, offered up his own body by way of compensation (the story is a popular one, for one early version see MBh 3, App. I, No. 21). The appeal to mytho-historical precedent is noteworthy. It is a favorite device of Vālmīki’s (for example, 18.20, 27-29. and sarga 102). but has a more than literary function: in questions of what constitutes proper behavior in a matter where no shastric injunctions exist, “the ways of good men in the past” is one of the authoritative standards.


Alarka: Referred to elsewhere in Sanskrit literature only in the MBh, but in a way unconnected with the events mentioned here (see 3.26.12, “Alarka, they say … was a good and truthful man, king of the Kāśikauruṣas, who gave up his kingdom and wealth”; in 14.30.1ff. he is said to have been a rājarṣi who learned the supreme bliss of yoga). The story told of him here appears in the “Jātakas” (#499), where, however, the principal actor is King Śivi. The learned commentator Rāmacandra on RāmāCam 2.18 is unable to cite a source for this story of Alarka.


“he pledged to keep” satyānurodhāt: For the samaye of the crit. ed. (Cm, Ct, Cr, “‘even at the time,’ that is, of its swelling under the full moon”; Cg, “at some given time”), we read samayam, which is strongly indicated by the agreement of G2 and NE manuscripts, by the parallelism with pādas ab, and by the next verse; our interpretation agrees with Ck.


“than Bali could from Indra’s” balir indrakṛtaṃ yathā: All commentators understand the simile as referring to the trap of the promise made by the demon king Bali to Viṣṇu in his dwarf incarnation, and they take Indra here as standing for Upendra “(Viṣṇu) sent by Indra” (a comparatively late cognomen of Viṣṇu; so understood also in the NR, see 235*; for the story see 1.28.11 and 6.105.24). However, in an earlier version of the Bali story, one unconnected with the dwarf incarnation of Viṣṇu, it is Indra who tricks Bali and binds him; see, for example, MBh 9.30.8 and Tripathi 1968, pp. 49ff. (contrast however Rām 3.59.22).


“in accordance with the sacred hymn, I took” mantrakṛtaḥ: This agrees with Ck, “a hand, the bearing of which is made [required] by the mantra, ‘I take your hand [for happiness]’” [ṚV 10.85.36] (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr understand, “purified by the mantra”).

“I now repudiate you … as well as the son I fathered on you” taṃ tyajāmi svajaṃ caiva tava putraṃ saha tvayā: When, at the end of the Yuddhakāṇḍa, Rāma meets his dead father, his only request of him will be to lift this “terrible curse” (6.107.25).

After verse 11, most N manuscripts insert a passage (239*) that brings the night to a close and shows Daśaratha awakened in the morning by the praises of Sumantra, which he says cause him anguish. This insertion is followed by verse 19. SR 240* similarly shows the night to have passed.


“without delay” akliṣṭam: So Cg (see the NR gloss, visrabdham). Kaikeyī urges that Rāma be brought so that the decree of banishment can be made at once.


In the NR, this verse is addressed by Daśaratha to the charioteer; in the SR the king here is never said to order Rāma to be brought (the NW version says explicitly that Sumantra took Kaikeyī’s words as the order of the king. 260*.1-2; thus the commentators of the SR explain 255*, but see note to verse 21; also 13.21 and note).

After this verse the SR inserts a passage of sixty-eight lines (App. I. No. 10: It is dawn and Vasiṣṭha enters the city with the equipment for the consecration. He sees Sumantra and tells him to inform the king that he has arrived and that it is time to commence the ceremony. Sumantra enters and recites the morning panegyric, which grieves the king). After comparing this passage with the one noted above, NR 239* (see note to verse 11), we believe the crit. ed. has imperfectly established the text for verses 17-21. The data are admittedly complex for this scene; Ruben felt a reconstitution of the archetype to be “excluded” (1950. p. 293 n4). But it seems possible, on the basis of the textual evidence, to come closer than the crit. ed. to what the poet must originally have intended. Here, then, follows an alternative reconstruction (the translation of the verses from the crit. ed. must be somewhat adjusted to fit with the new context):

#10.44-45 [see 239*.4-5]. The charioteer Sumantra, it being the appointed hour, then entered the king’s apartment and cupping his hands in reverence, he began to sing the praises of the lord of the world.

#10.46-47 [see 239*.7-8]. “May you be joyful and with a joyful heart delight us with your presence, as the rising sun delights the mighty ocean.”

#10.67-68 [see 239*.11-12 + 251*]. The lord of the earth, as he listened to the charioteer’s cordial and well-meaning words, was overcome once again with grief.

(N.B. verse 17 of the crit. ed. is simply the NR variant of verse 21, and should be omitted.)


Then the righteous and majestic king, utterly joyless on account of his son, looked up at the charioteer through eyes red with grief, and said,

252* [=239*.14]. “You cut me to the very quick with these words of yours.”


Hearing the pitiful words and seeing the king’s desolate expression, Sumantra cupped his hands in reverence and withdrew some steps from his presence.


When in his desolation the lord of earth proved incapable of giving the command himself, Kaikeyī, who well knew her counsels, addressed Sumantra herself:

253*. “Sumantra, the king is exhausted from being awake the whole night in his eager delight over Rāma, and now he is sleepy. Go quickly, then, charioteer, to the glorious prince. Bring Rāma, please. You need have no qualms in doing so.”


cd-255*. Thinking that this meant all was well he rejoiced with all his heart. Joyfully he departed, hurrying in consequence of the royal command.

This is what the manuscripts seem most persuasively to attest, but narrative inconsistencies still remain (see 13.20ff. and notes). In fact, the textual confusion in the whole scene seems to reflect an anxiety on the part of the custodians of the Rām tradition about Daśaratha’s having any direct involvement in the process of Rāma’s banishment.


“tried to speak” uvāca: By the deletion of the various “interpolations” the verb has been left without any direct speech to complement it, a construction without parallel in the Rām. Accepting the crit. ed., we have only one solution, to take this as a conative perfect (and to understand the king as attempting to confirm Kaikeyī’s order?). For the occasional conative aspect of the perfect in the epic see 1.63.7, 3.24.7, 43.36, 59.28, 5.47.21, and MBh 3.102.6.


“who well knew her counsels” mantrajñā: The epithet is principally ornamental, allowing for alliteration (sumantraṃ mantrajñā, a sort of pādamadhyayamaka; see 13.20, sumantraṃ mantrakovidam, etc.).


Several D manuscripts add that Sumantra hesitated to go without receiving a direct order from the king (254*), and attribute verse 21 to Daśaratha.


“has exhausted himself in preparing Rāma’s consecration” rāmābhiṣekārtham āyasyati: We read rāmābhiṣekārtham with all commentators. and with most of them āyasyati (mistaken by the editor of the crit. ed. as a corruption; see āyasta- in 17.1 and 27.21, and note also the “gloss” in 253*.2, [prajāgara-]pariśrāntaḥ). The crit. ed. would give, “Clearly Rāma will come here for the purpose of his consecration,” a reading equally weak with regard to context and manuscript authority.

Sarga 13


“the leading merchants” mukhyā ye nigamasya: For nigamasya we agree with Ct, Cr (so Cm on verse 19 below; see note to 1.14 above, and 106.13. Cg understands, “the leading men of the city”).


Some S manuscripts add, “When the sun had entered the sign of Cancer, when it was Rāma’s birthday” (259*; see note to 1.17.5).


Ct supplies various verbs with the different objects: Cg construes all with bhānti in 7c, and we more or less follow him.


“flawless” susthitaḥ: The adjective (literally, “well-built”) is rare with animate objects. The NR’s upakalpitaḥ seems to speak in favor of the widespread SR variant saṃsthitaḥ (“was present”).


Hereafter many S (265*) and NW (270*) manuscripts add a verse describing the presence of courtesans (see note on 32.3).


“from all over the land” sārvabhaumān: The word appears to be unique in this sense.

S manuscripts insert after this verse: “At the king’s command I am setting off quickly to Rāma. But you are honored of the king, and of Rāma in particular” (275*).


“easily” sukham: We take this adverbially (as Cg, “without delay”); Ck. Ct interpret as direct object. “I shall inform him that you all ask after his ‘comfort’ [“whether he has slept ‘well,’” Ct), (and shall ask why … ).”

“if he is now awake” saṃprati buddhasya: We understand saṃprati independently, as an adverb, with Ck. The participle buddhasya is less likely concessive (Cm, Ck, Ct) than conditional: Sumantra proceeds as if the king is not yet awake (even though he has just left him in the previous sarga), and we must assume the charioteer believed him to have fallen asleep, since he has not yet come forth. After this verse S and NW manuscripts insert: “May the moon and sun, O Kākutstha, may Śiva and Vaiśravaṇa, Varuṇa and Agni and Indra ordain victory for you” (279*), thus attempting to furnish the blessings mentioned.


Many S manuscripts try to introduce order in the rather disorderly narrative by adding: “I had told you to bring Rāma, charioteer. For what reason do you disobey my order?” (288*; see 255*).


“So .. Daśaratha spoke, again ordering” iti … daśarathaḥ anvaśāt punaḥ: This implies that Daśaratha once already explicitly commanded Sumantra to bring Rāma, though the verses indicating that are identified as interpolations (see precious note and note to 12.16). It may be that we are to infer that by not openly countermanding Kaikeyī’s order Daśaratha can be thought to have approved it, and here avers his full consciousness of it (as Cm, Cg, Ck suggest).

22. Sumantra’s redundant inference is eliminated in the NR.


“terraces” vitardi-: See Schlingloff 1969, p. 26 and note 2.

“golden images atop its pinnacles” kāñcanapratimaikāgram: The compound is unclear. The commentators are not unanimous: “dense with golden images, or, in which the chief pinnacles (were surmounted) by golden images,” Cg; “complete with chief golden images,” Ck; “in which the predominant façade was provided with golden images.” Cm, Ct, Cr.

“coral” vidruma-: It has been argued that coral (also pravāla-) was available to India only from the Mediterranean, and thus there is no reference to it in Sanskrit texts until the early Christian era, when trade with Rome became significant (a fact that, if true, might help date our passage; see Trautmann 1971, p. 178, citing Lévi 1936). This may be the case with respect to red coral, but we do not know whether the Sanskrit words refer exclusively to that variety, or also to others, such as the black coral once exported from the Persian gulf, or that which, according to the poem itself (see 3.33.24), is found along the south Indian coast.


“royal palace” rājakulam: There is no necessity to abandon (in agreement with Ck, Ct, Cr) the common meaning of the compound (see 15.12), and to understand it in the very rare sense of “royal highway.” Admittedly, to construe pādas b and c thus together is unusual. This difficulty appears to have called forth the passage rejected by the crit. ed.. 303*; while otherwise vacuous, it in fact supplies the substantive required by 27c (gṛham, with which 27c would have construed were it not for other excisions made by the crit. ed. in verse 27). These lines should have been included since all manuscripts report them (B4 and D3 are missing for this portion of the sarga).


“with a complex of buildings more splendid than celestial palaces” mahāvimānottamaveśmasaṃghavat: Agrees with Cm.

Sarga 14


“the courtyard” kakṣyām: The NR describes it as the “seventh courtyard” (contrast 5.4, and see note there).


“the young men who stood guard” yuvabhir … adhiṣṭhitām: In accordance with Daśaratha’s advice in 4.24 above.


“anxious for the news” priyakāmyayā: See note to 3.29. The commentators explain unsatisfactorily, as Ct, “‘desiring to do a kindness,’ to wit, to his father”; Cg reads, “‘desiring to do a kindness to Rāghava,’ that is, Daśaratha.”


Vaiśravaṇa: Kubera. “lord of wealth,” ruler of yakṣas and gandharvas, “world-protector” of the northern quarter, and, incidentally, half-brother of Rāvaṇa, who drove him from his hereditary kingship (see 3.46.4ff.). See also verse 26 below, and for this type of allusion, note to 2.29.


“Sītā now was with him” upetaṃ sītayā bhūyaḥ: In contrast to Sumantra’s previous visit, 4.5ff. Our construction is close to Cg’s (“once again with her at his side,” though he goes on to add, “after she had anointed him or [he seems to say] after she had embraced him, overcome by his beauty”). Ct, Cr impossibly connect bhūyaḥ with dadarśa in verse 6 (Ct, “again and again”; Cr, “completely” [intensely]. Cm, Cg report another interpretation, which understands virājamānam ([gleaming] with Sītā at his side). The NR (312*) has “like Madhusūdana (Viṣṇu) attended by Śrī with her lotus in her hand.”


In pādas cd there is a remarkable alliteration: “vavande varadaṃ bandī vinayajño vinītavat” (note that /b/ and /v/ are considered homophonic for all figures of sound).


“passed the time agreeably” vihāra-: Sumantra’s question is unexpected, since Rāma was to have fasted, abstained from sexual intercourse, and entered into a state of consecration. Cm and Cg are perplexed; Ct, with some N support, reads differently and seems to understand, “having seen the handsome man upon the couch [that served] for pleasure and sleeping.”


“worthy son of Kausalyā” kausalyāsuprajāḥ: In conformity with the general practice of the crit. ed., kausalyāsuprajāḥ should probably he printed as two separate words (see 1.22.2. 3.3.17, 5.62.30), though the commentators are not unanimous on whether or not this is in fact a compound, and what its specific sense is. Either “Kausalyā has good offspring in you” (noncompound, suprajāḥ as bahuvrīhi compound, so Cm. Cg; for the termination see note to 64.15), or, “good offspring of Kausalyā” (compound, suprajāḥ as karmadhāraya, so Cg, Ck). 5.4.122, which prescribes the samāsānta asic for bahuvrīhi compounds, would support the first interpretation (though Ck on 3.3.17 maintains that the suffix can exceptionally be used in tatpuruṣas); the use of the phrase in 64.15 (see note there) and 90.5 below likewise favors it.


“on my behalf” madantare: So Cm, Cg, Ck (citing AmaK), Ct, Cr; see note to 84.16. (Less likely, “in my absence.”)


“my lovely-eyed wife” madirekṣaṇe: Read as the vocative with most S manuscripts (rather than the nominative of the crit. ed., a rather curious way for Rāma to speak of his “mother”; the adjective he applies to Kaikeyī in 99.5-6 has narrative relevance).


“A council’s mood” yādṛśī pariṣat: We understand pādas ab in part as a general observation. The “council” at issue is Daśaratha’s colloquy with Kaikeyī (so Cm).


“uttering” abhidadhyuṣī: The commentators (except Cr) derive this perfect participle not, as here, from the root dhā but from the root dhyā, “meditating.”


“almost the size of young elephants” kareṇuśiśukalpaiḥ: According to Ck, however, the simile is meant to suggest that the horses are excited, strong, and so on.


“thousand-eyed Indra”: What is meant to be compared to the thousand eyes on the body of Indra, Ct suggests, is the mass of different gems set in the ornaments on Rāma’s body.


After verse 23, S manuscripts and Ś1 insert an eighteen-line passage (327*), in which, as Rāma passes through the streets, the women at the windows watch enraptured and sing his praises (see the similar scenes, perhaps modeled on this one, in BuddhaC 3 and RaghuVa 7).


“in their deep delight” prahṛṣṭarūpasya: -rūpa- is an intensifier, as often in the Rām (30.22, 84.22, 3.43.36, 56.19; 5.7.69). See 5.3.66.

Sarga 15


“he honored every man, each according to his rank” yathārhaṃ … saṃpūjya sarvān eva narān: “That is, with glances, motions of his eyebrows, words, folded hands, bows, etc., according as these were appropriate,” Cg, Ck, Ct. The poet elsewhere shows himself to be highly sensitive to the proprieties of social rank; see especially 95.46 and note.


“grandfathers and great-grandfathers” pitāmahaiḥ … tathaiva prapitāmahaiḥ: The plurals, according to Cr, are honorific.


“heavenly bliss” paramārthaiḥ: Literally, “ultimate benefits, “‘heaven, etc” (Cm, Ck).

“Would only that we might see” yathā paśyāma: Perhaps to be taken absolutely (Cg correctly interprets the imperative in the sense of requesting, 3.3.162; several manuscripts read the optative).


After this verse the SR adds: “Whoever might fail to see Rāma, or be seen by Rāma, would live an object of the world’s reproach, and of his own” (346* nearly = NW 345*).


“in a way befitting their ages” vayaḥsthānām: See 94.51 and note for the appropriate procedures. Varadacharya suggests, “to elders he would show the compassion of a son, to children that of a father, to his contemporaries that of a friend” (1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 184n). This is essentially the same as the old explanation of the commentators, Cv, Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr, though they take the compound as accusative singular feminine, “[compassion] whose degree or measure was [according to] age.” Cg’s alternative gloss, “to the elders (of all four social orders);” Cm’s, “‘to the youthful,’ that is, ignorant,” have little to recommend them.


After this verse S manuscripts and Ś1 insert: “On horse the best of men passed beyond three courtyards guarded by bowmen, and went through the other two of them on foot [perhaps as a sign of humility, see note to 5.4]” (350*). In 51.20 the royal palace is described as comprising eight courtyards.

Sarga 16


The NR inserts after this verse a passage slowing Lakṣmaṇa to be present (351*; see note on verse 56 below).


“like that of the ocean under a full moon” samudra iva parvani: Ck remarks, “Although it is from joy that the ocean is agitated when the moon rises on full-moon days, the simile here has reference merely to the fact of agitation.”


“He seems desolate” sa dīna iva: Follows Ck, who against all other commentators takes pādas ab to refer still to Daśaratha (see verse 12 below; Ck however also interprets these as questions: “Why does he seem … ?”).


“physical illness or mental distress” śārīro mānaso … saṃtāpo vābhitāpo vā: The commentators all join saṃtāpo with śārīro, and abhitāpo with mānaso, in a sort of yathāsaṃkhyālaṃkāra, and we follow them.


“misfortune … one of my mothers” mātṝṇāṃ vā mamāśubham: One might also take mama closely with aśubham, “misfortune through my doing” (so Cr, Cs).


“in whom … the very source” yatomūlam: yato forms part of an aluk compound (so Cm, Cg. Ck, Ct), and is not to be taken separately as a conjunction (Cr).


“Can it be” kaccit: Rāma’s three previous questions (verses 11. 12, 13) were all framed with kaccin na (“It cannot be, can it?”); this last one pointedly omits the negative, and thereby implies the expectation of an affirmative reply.


After this verse S and NW manuscripts insert eighteen lines (363*), in which Kaikeyī alludes to the boon (singular) given her by the king and asserts she will tell Rāma about it if he will fulfil its conditions. Rāma replies that she ought not to speak that way to him (that is, mistrusting his obedience).


“Rāma need not say so twice” rāmo dvir nābhibhāṣate: That is, he need not repeat a promise. This seems to be supported by MBh 5.160.23, in reference to Kṛṣṇa: na dvitīyāṃ pratijñāṃ hi pratijñāsyati keśavaḥ. So Vedāntadeśika explains, “My word, once spoken, is enough to ensure that the needy will have what they need” (ad Gadyatraya, p. 65, where the Rām verse is quoted to corroborate God’s promise to the devotee of their ultimate union). Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr understand: Rāma never tries to abrogate a promise; this seems to be indicated by 6.3314*.


“wounded” saśalyena: Cs appears to offer the interesting interpretation “(gave the boons [by swearing]) on his [arrow, that is,] weapon.” For this type of oath-taking, see 18.13.


“guarantee” saṃnideśe: The reading [sa] nideśe (“order”) is an editor’s emendation (made on relatively weak grounds, see Vaidya 1962, p. xxvi). The manuscript consensus is definitely in support of saṃnideśe, which we accept (though it is otherwise unattested), and we interpret as “guarantee [to me],” “assurance,” “solemn declaration.” Daśaratha, of course, has not yet ordered Rāma to do anything.


“You need not worn” manyur na ca tvayā kāryaḥ: Ct comments: Kaikeyī ought not to be “angry” with him (so Cs) because of his questions, which seek to know the king’s position; she should not be upset, Rāma will definitely go. Ck seems to understand: she should not be angry with the king for not greeting Rāma [and ordering him to go himself].


“who knows what is right to do” kṛtajñena: See note on 1.20 and 23.4 with note, and observe the NR’s “gloss,” dharmajñasya. The commentators seek too much specificity: Ck, Cr, “cognizant of Kaikeyī’s deed, that is, how she had saved him”; Cm, Cg, “cognizant of his own deed, that is, his having granted the boons”


“without questioning my father’s word” avicārya pitur vākyam: Cg too subtly, “without deliberating (or hesitating) because my father has not said, ‘Go to the forest.’”


“she pressed Rāghava to set out at once” prasthānam … tvarayāmāsa rāghavam: Tvaraya- takes two accusatives here, as in 71.25 below (contra Ct, Cr).


“you needn’t worry about that” manyur eṣo ‘panīyatām: Literally, “let this anger [or depression] be removed” Thus, as referring to Rāma, is the best way to understand the pāda (so Cg, it appears, in his first interpretation; see also the N recension “gloss,” mā manyur kuru rāghava, 382*). Cm, Ck, Ct are more artificial: [the king is upset only because you are not leaving straightaway;] let dejection be removed by your going immediately.


“your father shall neither bathe nor eat” pitā … na te … snāsyate bhokṣyate ‘pi vā: As if Rāma’s presence, like that of a corpse, put Daśaratha into a state of aśauca, ritual impurity (note that in 60.8 Rāma is said to have gone away “dead in life”).


“so dreadful in their consequences” dāruṇodayam: Cf. the use of udaya- at 18.39 (wrongly Cm, Ck, Ct, “[words which were] a cruel answer”).


“I will do” kṛtam: On this aspect of immediate futurity of the past participle, see note on 3.5.


“and” : This should be taken samuccayārthe, for no alternative is being offered (see its use in 92.4; the commentators here are silent).


“Indeed, Kaikeyī” nūnaṃ … kaikeyi: Rāma’s direct use of Kaikeyī’s name (rather than “my lady” or something similar, as in verses 17, 19, 30, 46) may be significant, implying a growing irritation (similarly Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 201 note).


“the vast forest of the Daṇḍakas” daṇḍakānāṃ mahad vanam: On the Daṇḍakas Cg reports: “There was a scion of the House of the Ikṣvākus called Daṇḍa. As a result of Śukra’s curse [for Daṇḍa’s having raped a brahman girl], his kingdom was destroyed by a dust storm and became it wasteland called Daṇḍaka after him” (the episode is related in the Uttarakāṇḍa, sargas 71-72; for a survey of the ancient literature on the Daṇḍakas, see Lüders 1940, pp. 626ff.). The plural he explains as designating a specific locale.


“that Bharata obeys father” bharataḥ … śuśrūśet … pitur yathā: Rāma urges that Bharata “safeguard his father’s promise” by ruling, just as he himself is doing by departing for the forest (so Varadacharya, 1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 202n). But as we shall see in the case of Bharata, fraternal devotion will prove a more powerful motivation than paternal obedience, though neither the poet nor the commentators ever explicitly addresses the problem implicit in Bharata’s choice.


N manuscripts show Daśaratha fainting here (390*); see the following verse.


The NR adds that Rāma met his friends with a smile (394*), and that no one save Lakṣmaṇa knew the sorrow he felt (395*).


We must assume that Lakṣmaṇa was present during Rāma’s interview with Kaikeyī (so Ck. Ct; see note to verse 2 above).


“not to gaze” dṛṣṭiṃ … avicārayan: So we read for avicālayan of the crit. ed., on the authority of Ś1. N, G1, 3, M2, 3 (see 3.23.24 for an identical variation).

The commentators here are very concerned to demonstrate that Rāma is unaffected by his disastrous change of fortune. As an avatar of Viṣṇu, Rāma is never, in the eyes of most of the commentators, really emotionally involved with the happenings in which he participates; any emotional display is simply a pretense maintained in order to expedite his mission (see also note on 2.28). How far this theological preconception inhibits the commentators from appreciating the poem fully we shall have further occasion to observe in Aranyakāṇḍa.


“In this verse Rāma is shown to suffer no mental change, as he was shown in the preceding verse to suffer no physical change,” Cg.

“one who has passed beyond all things of this world” sarvalokātigasya: A jīvanmukta, “one liberated from transmigration while alive” (Ck, Ct) or a great yogin who is indifferent to pain and pleasure, respect and scorn (Cm, Cg). The first hint in the Rām of Rāma’s unique characteristic, his renunciatory approach to political life, his revaluation of the kshatriya’s dharma (see Introduction, Chapter 10).


“to tell … the sad news” apriyaśaṃsivān: Taken by Böhtlingk as a perfect participle (without reduplication), “with future signification and, most unusually, in compound with its object” (1887, p. 221).

Sarga 17


S manuscripts begin this chapter with a fourteen-line interpolation (403*) describing the lamentation of the women in the king’s inner chamber. The commentators take this as the reason for Rāma’s being “sorely troubled” (see note on 16.57).

“of his own accord” vaśī: See note on 10.1. He goes to visit his mother not because he is bidden, but out of a sense of propriety. Given the discrepancy between the description of Rāma’s emotional state here and that in 16.58ff. (a problem noticed by the commentators), one might prefer, “but self-controlled nonetheless” (so CO, but both the position of the word and the absence of any adversative particle make this difficult.


“the venerable elder” puruṣam … vṛddhaṃ paramapūjitam: Presumably the watchman.


“worshiping” akarot pūjām: Literally, “performing pūjā”; one of the first appearances in Sanskrit literature of the term for Hindu worship.

N manuscripts omit the reference to Viṣṇu (see 407*)


“she was … pouring an oblation” juhoti sma: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr, comparing the causative hāvayantīm in the next verse (see note there), all understand that Kausalyā is having the agnihotra or fire-sacrifice performed by a priest, rather than doing it herself. Cs, however, cites a smṛti text to the effect that “women of the highest varṇas have authority to perform vedic rites.”

“pronouncing benedictions” kṛtamaṅgalā: The commentators are silent on the meaning of the compound. It is no doubt equivalent to maṅgalavādinīm (the glossing reading of the NR, 409*.1), as 22.1 verifies (cakāra … maṅgalāni, the prayers following in verses 2ff.).


“pouring the oblation” hāvayantīm: Taking the causative here as svārthe (with Cr and Cs [second gloss]); see 3.70.18 for a likely parallel.


“your father is as good as his word” satyapratijñaṃ pitaram: Note the deep irony on the poet’s part.


“It will bring sadness to you, Vaidehī, and Lakṣmaṇa” idaṃ tava ca duḥkhāya vaidehyā lakṣmaṇasya ca: Rāma, according to Ck, implies by this that he himself feels no sadness at all.


“giving up meat like a sage” hitvā munivad āmiṣam: Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa will later break their fast by eating boar, antelope, gazelle, and deer (46.79; they will eat meat elsewhere, 49.11, etc), Cm, Cg are forced to interpret: like a sage Rāma will have to give up finely prepared meats — but not plain mean. Ck, Ct suggest, “‘like a sage,’ that is, give up meat except at Śrāddha feasts’ (see note on (69.22), but this appears to contradict Rāma’s actual behavior later on, though see note on 48.15. Cr and Cs try, characteristically, to obliterate the signification “meat” altogether.


“He came to her side” upāvṛtya: The commentators read upāvṛttya, which they explain as “[the mare] having writhed [upon the ground].”

“like a mare forced to draw a heavy load” vaḍavām iva vāhitām: Observe how the simile here nicely takes up and advances the one in verse 9.


“only of the mind and only a single grief” eka eva … śokaḥ … mānasaḥ: Both qualifications are emphatic: a mother experiences untold physical agonies in the birth and rearing of her child, and risks multiple emotional sorrows as well (similarly Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 212n). Aprajāsmi is possibly double saṃdhi, aprajāḥ asmi (on the form see note on 64.15).


“within my husband’s power” patipauruṣe: It may be that we are to hear a stronger sexual overtone in the second element of the compound, despite its impropriety in a mother’s conversation with her son (Cm, Ck, Cr gloss it, “a sort of gratification resulting from a husband’s love”). The NR gives, “from (the time of my) marriage with my husband.”

“in a son” putre: Cm, Cg. Ck, Ct understand the locative absolutely, “(I perhaps might find) ‘were there a son,’ if I bore him a son.” But the point is not that Kausalyā hoped to win her husband’s affection by producing a son for him, but rather that the joy she never had from Daśaratha and had hoped to find in her son is now being taken from her by Rāma’s banishment.


“Having told of her past sorrows. Kausalyā is now going to tell of her future ones,” Cg.

“being their senior” varā satī: Kausalyā’s “seniority” derives in the first instance from her status as first or chief queen; it is not a status she acquired “by virtue of Rāma,” as Ck, Ct appear to maintain (Cg, “if she were junior she would not suffer this sorrow [that is, being stigmatized]”).


“The ten years and seven since you were born, Rāghava” daśa sapta ca varṣāṇi tava jātasya rāghava: Rāma’s age is a matter of some uncertainty, for the manuscripts are divided on the issue and the crit. ed. has not been wholly consistent in its decisions over the seven volumes. A detailed consideration is in order here.

If there is unanimous testimony anywhere in the Rām, we must start from that and work back. There does appear to be one such datum. In 3.45.10 Sītā says that Rāma was twenty-five years old at the time of his exile: the context certifies that Sītā is speaking about the time of the exile, not Rāma’s age at the moment of her conversation with Rāvaṇa, see verses 9 and 11; were we to take it otherwise, Rāma would have to have been eleven at the time of his exile (this conversation with Rāvaṇa taking place at the beginning of the fourteenth year of exile), which not only causes more problems than it solves, but is also patently ridiculous. The single variant reading here among the twenty-nine manuscripts is contained in Ś1, which gives Rāma’s age as twenty-seven (see our present verse, 2.17.26 where D4, 5, 7 give twenty-seven also). (Ñ1 omits the verse, but omits also the necessary verse 9, which suggests a lacuna in its exemplar.)

The statement in our present verse, 2.17.26, appears to conflict with this. Kausalyā says, “seventeen years have passed since you were born, Rāghava” (NE and some NW manuscripts give eighteen). Although at first glance artificial, the explanation of the commentators (Cm in particular) seems probable. They understand “born” in the sense of “reborn,” that is, at the initiation ceremony, which for kshatriya boys may take place in their eighth year. Kausalyā could hardly have expected solace for her troubles during Rāma’s infancy and childhood. However, that she waited seventeen years during Rāma’s manhood, when at any moment he might be consecrated as prince regent and so secure her a position of preeminence, is at least reasonable.

Other facts support this age of Rāma as the time of his banishment. In 3.36.6, all S and NW manuscripts (though not the crit. ed.) give the age of Rāma just prior to his marriage as twelve. This need not contradict 1.19.2. where Rāma is merely said to be “under sixteen.” Moreover, in 3.45.4-5 and 5.31.13-14 Sītā says, again in the S and NW manuscripts (so too PadmaP 6.269.181-82), though not in the crit. ed. of Araṇyakāṇḍa, that she and Rāma lived together twelve years in Ayodhyā after their marriage (see also 1.76.14, reported by manuscripts except Ñ1, which for this passage is not extant), and were sent into exile in the thirteenth year. This all construes with an age of twenty-five for Rāma. (There is no reason to consider this an “interpolation,” with van Daalen 1980, pp. 213-14.) For a traditional statement on the age of Rāma, which is in harmony with these calculations, see note on 3.45.10.

Finally, when Rāma first goes off to the forest to perform his divine deeds, he would be just the age a god should be, twenty-five, “for gods are always this age” (3.4.13-14). Note too that in 2.38.15 Kausalyā says of Rāma at his departure that he is “in age like a deathless god.” Since the forest is a place where most normal human social categories are suspended, we may assume this to be his age, in a sense, throughout the years of exile, and thus when he kills Rāvaṇa.

The one textual objection to all this is contained in the NE tradition. Putting Rāma’s age at marriage at just under sixteen, it has Sītā and Rāma live only one year in Ayodhyā (variants on 3.45.4-5, 5.31.13-14), which would allow us to interpret our verse, 2.17.26, more “naturally,” that Rāma is seventeen years old at the time of banishment. But this conflicts with Sītā’s statement in 3.45.10, which the NE also reports. The NE is also self-contradictory elsewhere (see 2.17.26: Rāma is eighteen whereas according to 2.45.4-5, etc. and 3.36.6, he should be seventeen). It looks as if the NE tradition is mistakenly attempting to reconcile the other passages with our verse here — mistakenly, because it failed to grasp the true sense of “born.”

Sītā’s age is not mentioned anywhere except in one line in Aranyakāṇḍa reported by all manuscripts except Ñ1 (and unjustifiably rejected by the crit. ed.), which states that Sītā was eighteen at the time of the exile (874*). This would make her six at the time of marriage (and at least thirty-three at the time of the birth of her children). There are no socio-historical arguments that can effectively impugn the credibility of this datum, for any such arguments for India of this period would have to derive from the Rām itself. (2.110.33, where Sītā says of herself that she was patisaṃyogasulabhaṃ vayo … me, “I had reached the right age for marriage,” does not necessarily mean that she had reached puberty; note that according to Megasthenes, Indian women were considered marriageable at the age of seven [cited in Scharfe 1968, p. 298 n. 1]).


“under … crushing” arpitam: Literally, “afflicted by,” a relatively rare usage (but see 3.53.2).


This verse disrupts the connection between verses 30 and 32, and N manuscripts suggest that it should in fact be read either before or after verse 29.


As the crit. ed. reads pāda d, we would have to translate the verse as follows: “When she looked at Rāghava, and saw how her son was bound … like a kiṃnara woman she broke out in lamentation.” Ck and Ct remark, “‘bound,’ that is, by the bonds of truth,” but Kausalyā at present does not know the cause of Rāma’s exile, and therefore would not think of him as being in any way “bound.” Then again, while the simile of the kiṃnara woman is elsewhere attested (9.46), the placement of iva here is disturbing, and the simile itself meaningless. For these two reasons it seems virtually certain that the correct reading in pāda d is saurabhī, “cow” (for kiṃnarī), preserved in the three conservative D manuscripts, 4, 5, 7. The simile in the previous verse accords nicely with this reacting, and the use of the particular word for “cow,” saurabhī, finds support in the story related below, 68.15ff. (see also 85.52).

“being bound” baddham: “Even as a cowherd, desirous of breaking in a calf … will lead it away from its mother and tie it with a halter to a post planted somewhere out of her way” (Sumaṅgalavilāsinī on Dīghanikāya, cited in Warren 1896, p. 354). See also MBh 12.171.6.

Sarga 18


“in the heat of the moment” tatkālasadṛśam: Literally, “suitable to the occasion”; according to Cg, “befitting the moment of Kausalyā’s grief.” By this we gather that what Lakṣmaṇa is about to speak is not really heartfelt [e.g., verse 3], but is meant merely to assuage Kausalyā’s sorrow.”


“bowing to the demands of a woman” striyā vākyavaśaṃ gataḥ: Ct against all probability construes the phrase with verse 3, in order to avoid the implicit criticism of Rāma.


After this verse many S manuscripts insert: “today I will kill the miserable old man, who is under the power of lust and utterly shameless, who consorts with a woman and not with righteousness, king though he is” (446*). (Similarly in 4.30.3ff. Lakṣmaṇa is prepared to kill Sugrīva.) This idea is repeated in interpolation 454* (after verse 11 below).


After this verse S manuscripts insert: “If our father, incited by Kaikeyī, has become corrupt [read saṃduṣṭo] and our enemy, then let him without compunction be imprisoned, even slain. Though our guru, he is arrogant, does not know, right from wrong, and has gone off the proper course, and so he must be punished [=MBh 12.138.48, a verse repeated elsewhere in that text]. What power does he rely on, or what argument, that he is ready to give to Kaikeyī the kingship meant for you, best of men?” (454*).


“I swear … by my truth and my bow” satyena dhanuṣā caiva … śape: According to ManuSm 8.113, brahmans are to take an oath by their truth, kshatriyas by their mounts and weapons, vaishyas by their material possessions and shudras “by all sins.” Swearing “by one’s truth” means to guarantee an oath by pledging one’s dharma (so basically Cr here; on 45.4 he explains it as pledging the good karma that one has amassed). See MBh 13, App. I, No. 20, lines 181-82, “When one swears by one’s truth in the presence of the gods, the sacred fire or one’s gurus [and fails to fulfil the oath], King Vaivasvata [Death] destroys half his dharma” (see also Medhātithi on ManuSm 8.113, “‘I swear by my truth’ means, ‘May my dharma, which is dependent on truth and the like, prove fruitless for me [if I do not do or mean what I say]’”). As in the present passage, swearing by one’s truth is elsewhere in the epics differentiated from swearing by one’s good karma (here, “gifts of alms and sacrifices,” see also 10.19 above), as in the MBh, śape … sakhyena satyena sukṛtena ca, “I swear by my friendship, by my truth and good deeds” (6.102.68), whereas the dharmaśāstras also distinguish them (see NāraSm 4.248). What precisely the difference comprises we do not know.


“the queen … Rāghava” devī … rāghavaḥ: It is unclear, perhaps intentionally so, whether we should understand “Kausalyā … Rāma” or “Kaikeyī … Daśaratha” (Cs offers both possibilities).

After this verse most S manuscripts insert: “I will kill our old father, who is so mindlessly attached to Kaikeyī — that miserable, feeble child, whose old age is a reproach to him” (458*).


“you have heard your brother … speak” bhrātus te vadataḥ … śrutaṃ tvayā: The genitives (pace Cr) form the object of śrutam (see 58.27 and note).

“Whatever is best” tattvam: “True, right, best thing,” as in 3.11.8, 34.22; 6.11.40, 15.11, etc.


“heeding the unrighteous words spoken by my co-wife” adharmyaṃ vacaḥ śrutvā sapatnyā mama bhāṣitam: Kausalyā’s main argument here is that it is not his father’s order anyway, but his stepmother’s, that Rāma is ready to obey (Rāma will speak to this point in verse 35).


“Kāśyapa obeyed his mother” śuśrūṣur jananīṃ … kāśyapaḥ: The story of Kāśyapa referred to here is unknown. “One may infer,” say Cm, Ck, “that Kaśyapa reached the rank of Prajāpati only by virtue of the obedience he showed his mother in this world.” We may suppose that the son wished to abandon home for a life of austerities in the forest, but bowed to his mother’s wishes and still achieved his aim (Cs takes the patronymic to refer to Garuḍa, but this is difficult).


“In no way … less deserving than the king” yathaiva rājā … tathā: Ck and Ct quote smṛti here: “A mother exceeds a father one-hundredfold in dignity” (see Nāradapāñcarātra 2.6.7).


“a life of comfort” jīvitena sukhena vā: The second half of the verse plainly demands that we regard this as hendiadys, as in 45.9 (3.47.24 additionally demonstrates that the phrase is best taken thus).


“I will fast to death” ahaṃ prāyam … āsiṣye: An early reference to prāyopaveśana, fasting in order to force another to one’s will (see 103.13-15 and notes).


“like the ocean … the guilt of brahman-murder” brahmahatyām iva … samudraḥ: Again we do not know the legend, nor do the commentators, who admit that the ocean is nowhere said to have slain a brahman. Cg reasons that, as Kāśyapa attained heaven through obedience to his mother, the ocean, “through unrighteousness;” that is, causing his mother sorrow, incurred the worst sin of all — brahman-murder — and so went to hell. Cs, like other commentators, reports a “purāṇic story.” but it dues not quite fit: the ocean once offended his mother: in consequence of the unrighteousness engendered by this act, the sage Pippalāda exercised sorcery against the ocean who, attempting to counteract it, incurred brahman-“murder”, that is, he was guilty of obstructing a brahman’s ascetic practices.

Kaṇḍu: The son of the seer Kaṇva (see 6.12.13ff., where some verses of his are quoted regarding the obligation of protecting all who take refuge with one). We know from 4.47.18ff. that in consequence of the death of his ten-year-old son he turned a forest into a barren wilderness. But nowhere in epic or post-epic literature do we find a reference to the incident mentioned here.

“strict in his observances” vratacāriṇā: The reading “dwelling in the forest” (vanacāriṇā) appears both textually and contextually preferable: all three examples (verses 27, 28, 29) would thus have reference to the exceptional circumstances of forest existence, which obtain to some degree in Rāma’s case, too.

“for he knew that it was right” jānatā dharmam: That is, to obey his father above all else. Were we to take the phrase concessively (“though he knew what was right”), or with Ct to understand jānatā adharmam (“though he knew that [to kill a cow] was unrighteous”), the verse would imply that Rāma believes what he is doing to be wrong, which is unlikely.


“and thereby met with wholesale slaughter” avāptaḥ sumahān vadhaḥ: The NR, attempting to make the example more apposite, offers: “a great slaughter of living things was brought about by them” (467*). Cm, Ck, Ct explain: thus a father’s command is to be obeyed even at the cost of one’s own life. The story of Sagara and his sons is related at Rām I.37ff.


“an ax … in the forest” paraśuṇāraṇye: Ck reports a reading unrecorded in the crit. ed., paraśudhāreṇa, “with the blade of an ax,” which is attractive (though see above, note to verse 27). For the legend see MBh 3.115-17.


“It is this that is my duty on earth. and I cannot shirk it” tad etat tu mayā kāryam kriyate bhuvi nānyathā: This agrees with Cg; equally acceptable: “this is my duty on earth that I do, not anything else (or, not anything contrary to duty)” (Cm, Ck, Ct).


The constitution of the text is uncertain here. Translating what the crit. ed. offers, we must take avijñāya in pāda e as being governed by tava in c (either as a true continuative or as a finite verb [as frequently in the MBh, see 8.67.27, 9.36.18, and Dandekar’s references there; see also note to Rām 3.45.4 and 5.25.10]). This is corroborated by a comparison of 474*.2 (NW) and App. I, No. 11.29-30, which also suggests that originally the passage contained a main verb and read something like: “You (and mother) fail to understand … and to are causing me much pain.”


“on righteousness is truth founded” dharme satyaṃ pratiṣṭhitam: Several good D manuscripts (4, 5. 7) read dharmaḥ satye pratiṣṭhitaḥ, “and righteousness is founded on truth,” which is more logical, and is supported by a previous SR passage, 234*.1 (satye dharmaḥ pratiṣṭhitaḥ).


“Having once heard” saṃśrutya: It is hard to see how this can mean “promise” here, though that is how Cm, Ct and Cr gloss it (and see the NR version, 478*, kariṣyāmīti saṃśrutya).


“and it is at father’s bidding” pitur hi vacanāt: The NR offers, “for father gave his approval to what Kaikeyī told me.” As noted, Rāma here responds to Kausalyā’s argument in verse 18. But let us observe that neither previously nor later does Daśaratha himself ever explicitly order Rāma to go into exile.


Cg comments: “Having described the real meaning of truth, Rāma now goes on to describe the principle of self-restraint … ‘the code of kshatriyas; described in the MBh as ‘a thing of savagery and villainy’” [12.22.5]. Rāma’s explicit rejection here of the dharma of the kshatriya class is worth noting closely. We shall see, particularly in Araṇyakāṇḍa, that a certain contradiction underlies Rāma’s behavior, as a kshatriya who is by nature inclined to deny his proper dharma and to accept the dharma of ascetics, or in other words, to “spiritualize” the conventional behavior of his class (see also 101.20, 30-31 and note, and the Introduction, Chapter 10).

Cg remarks further: “The main concern of this śāstra [the Rāmāyaṇa] is to validate dharma, and this it does by refuting the doctrines of the materialists, who maintain that expedient policy [nīti] plain and simple, to the complete exclusion of dharma, is the means of achieving political success. Thus Rāma validates dharma by refuting the materialist doctrine everywhere it is brought forward for consideration, as here by Lakṣmaṇa. Herein lies the secret of the work” (see sarga 100 and notes there).


“the promise” -pratijñaḥ: Daśaratha’s to Kaikeyī (10.19), probably, rather than Rāma’s own to her (16.19) (so too according to the SR interpolation, App. I, No. 11.43, pituḥ pratijñām).


“earnestly” parākramāt: Adverbial ablative. The word parākrama- frequently carries no sense of “bravery” or “valor” in the Rām (as Cr erroneously takes it here), especially in such compounds as satyaparākrama-, “striving for truth.” See notes to 19.7 and 101.30 in particular.

“Then, in his heart, he reverently circled the woman who gave him birth” cakāra tāṃ hṛdi jananīm pradakṣiṇām: The expression is curious, and only Cr seems to understand it reasonably and grammatically. One normally circumambulates a person to the right before taking leave, but “he did it only in his heart, because a real circumambulation would have hinted at their [forthcoming] separation” (“he resolved to do it,” Cg, “having performed the circumambulation, he ‘put in his heart,’ set his mind on, going,” Cm, Ck, Ct).

Sarga 19


‘like a mighty serpent’ nāgendram: This can mean elephant as well as snake, but the more usual simile for an angry man is that he sighs or hisses like a snake (which is what the NR in tact reads, 489*.2 and see 20.2 below; but see 17.1 and Johnston on Saund 1.38).


“You must take care that our mother” mātā naḥ sā yathā … tathā kuru: This obviously, considering the position of this verse between verses 3 and 5, has reference to Kaikeyī (so Crā, Cm [second interpretation], Cg, Ct [second interpretation]), not to Kausalyā (Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr, Cs). See the version of the good D manuscripts 4, 5, 7: mātā naḥ … yavīyasī, “our younger mother” (485*.6). Kaikeyī’s anxiety would be that Lakṣmaṇa might incite Rāma to a coup d’état (Cg).


“a truthful man, true to his word, ever striving for truth” satyaḥ satyābhisaṃdhaś ca nityaṃ satyaparākramaḥ: The three qualifications apply to the tripartite division of human action — thought, speech, and deeds — as in 88.18 below, see note there (so Varadacharya rightly points out, 1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 240; contrast the note on 104.3 below). -parākrama-: A “strenuous undertaking” or “attempt to achieve;” without any suggestion of “valor.” Compare the use of the word in the Aśokan inscriptions, especially Rock Edict VI (Shahbazgarhi), lines 16-18 (Hultzsch 1925, p. 57). Similarly employed is vikrama-. See also below 58.50, 66.28, 101.30, 103.7, 104.3 and notes, 3.6.6 and note, and Pollock 1983, pp. 276-79.

“of what other people might say” paraloka-: Here lies one of those crucial details that must color our whole understanding of the psychological motivations underlying the action of the Rām. Is Daśaratha acting as he does because of his “fear of public opinion,” or is it “in fear of the other world,” of his fate after death (a second possible meaning of the Sanskrit)? Evidence favors the first explanation, but not conclusively, as follows:

First, both Cr here and Cs on 47.26 agree in giving the compound the sense of “public opinion.” In 47.26, additionally, the NR reads lokavāda-, “public talk,” for paraloka-, a glossing reading of the sort that we often see elsewhere, causing us to regard the NR as our oldest “commentary” on the Rām (see Pollock 1981).

Second, when the sense “other world” is intended in the Rām, the uncompounded form is preferred, as for example in 3.11.26 (and far more frequently replaced altogether by param alone [2.100.16], svargam, tridivam, etc.). There is only one instance in the critically constituted text of the Rām where the compound form indubitably bears the meaning “other world,” 3.59.6 (note that it is picked up in 59.8 by the uncompounded form). But see also note to 54.6 below.

Third, in the context of our present verse, the charge made in the following verse, “to hear his truthfulness impugned,” makes far better sense if Daśaratha’s fear is what the people might say. In 20.6, Lakṣmaṇa is unquestionably answering Rāma’s argument here when he speaks of being “fearful of losing people’s respect on account of some infraction of righteousness” (see also the note there). Elsewhere the Northern tradition has Daśaratha explicitly state that he is afraid of what people might say (see note on 31.1).

Finally, in 11.6 Daśaratha makes it clear that the consequences of lying he most fears are unequaled infamy and inevitable disgrace in the eyes of the people (loke). If further evidence is required of how strong the power of public opinion was felt to be, we need only point to the events of the Uttarakāṇḍa, where Rāma drives Sītā from the kingdom because of what the people are saying (7.42ff.).

Against the translation offered stands the opinion of the majority of the commentators: Cm, Ct, “What causes fear in the world to come, that is, falsehood”; Cg, “What causes the loss of the world to come” (similarly Cg, Ck, Ct on 47.26). Although it is true that Rāma often shows himself to be very concerned with the eschatological implications of behavior (see 101.8, 11, 15, 30), it is easy, against all of these examples, to set passages that reflect an anxiety about one’s duty and fame in world (see 18.39, 101.7, 9, 10; see also 101.22 and note). A second objection to this translation lies in 54.6, but there either of the two meanings is possible (see the note there). In the end, the problem cannot be solved with absolute certainty. Although the translator is forced to choose, the reader should bear in mind the alternative possibility.


“the city” puraḥ: Reading puraḥ for puṇaḥ (see NR 489*.16, itaḥ purāt; so also Ck, Ct, Cr, and two good S manuscripts, G2, M1).


This analysis of the verse takes a hint from the NR version, 489*.21-22 and understands yena … tat as “since .. , therefore,” and saṃkleṣṭum as absolute (perhaps with “to cause [her, that is, Kaikeyī] more pain” understood; the verb might also be used in the sense of “delay, tarry” [see the NR gloss vilambitum, and possibly 6.64.49], but this meaning is nowhere attested). The commentators are quite confused. They read tam for tat in pāda c and understand: “‘I should not pain him,’ that is, myself, by whom [yena],” Cg; “‘him,’ that is, my father,” Ck (“that is, god or fate,” Ct; “Mantharā and the other people,” Cm).


“speak to my harm” brūyāt … matpīḍām: The text is somewhat uncertain. Cm, Ck give “harm me” (kuryāt for brūyāt), whereas the NR has brūyāt māṃ tathā, “speak to me in that way” (489*.32).


“What cannot be explained” yad acintyam: We understand this as referring to Rāma’s previous statements, especially verses 15-17, and take api almost in the sense of ca; Ck eliminates api, reading attractively, [bhūteṣu] na vi[hanyate] (not recorded in the crit. ed.). This is in general agreement with Cm.

“(which) clearly” vyaktam: On this sort of single-word enjambment, see note on 21.14.


“What man” kaś ca … pumān: Reading kaś ca with most NW and S manuscripts (see 489*.32 v.l.) and Cg, Ck, Ct, for the crit. ed.’s kas cit.


“all things” yac ca. Reading yac ca with all but one S manuscript and the commentators. Neither Ct’s yasya = yat, not Cr’s yasya janasya, is any explanation.

“birth and death” bhavābhavau: Glossed “transmigration and liberation” by Cm, Ck, Ct (we agree with Cg, Cr).

“things such as these” kiṃcit tathābhūtam: The cause of which is inexplicable (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct).


“Comply with my wishes” anuvidhāya mām: Ck, “imitate me”; Ct, “‘follow me,’ with a veiled hint that Lakṣmaṇa, too, will be going to the forest” (see note on 28.1).


“younger mother” yavīyasī: We translate the word strictly, as a comparative. The poet does not make it wholly clear who the youngest mother is. In 64.8 Sumitrā is called the “middle mother” (madhyamā, but note D4, 7, sumadhyamā, “fair-waisted”), while in 3.2.18 Kaikeyī is so termed (NE manuscripts read yavīyasī for madhyamā; in 3.15.35 all manuscripts name Kaikeyī the middle mother, and this is how Bhavabhūti alludes to her in UttaRāC 1.21.2). Cg sees the inconsistency, which he tries to rectify by arguing that, where “middle” is used with reference to Kaikeyī, it means “middle [in age] with regard to all the [350] wives of the king,” not with regard to the three chief queens (among whom he says Kaikeyī is the youngest). Such incidents as 1.15.26, where Kaikeyī receives the divine food only after Kausalyā and Sumitrā have first received a share, and overall narrative propriety argue for Kaikeyī being the youngest of the three principal queens (see SkandP 6.99.20).

Sarga 20


“midway between joy and sorrow” madhyaṃ … duḥkhaharṣayoḥ: Lakṣmaṇa’s joy stems from seeing Rāma holding so firmly to righteousness, his sorrow from the loss, or abandonment, of the kingship (see 98.70; so Cm, Cg, Ct; Ck: when he called to mind the mental discipline regarding the power of fate, which Rāma had just taught him, Lakṣmaṇa was happy; when he forgot it by force of his inherent nature, he could not bear the loss of sovereignty and all the rest, and so grew angry. As an avatar of Śeṣa, according to Ck [Cs finds this hinted at in the simile in verse 2], Lakṣmaṇa is characterized by a mixture of the qualities rajaḥ and sattva, Rāma by pure sattva).


“like a great snake seized with anger in its lair” mahāsarpo bilastha iva roṣitaḥ: The commentators wonder why a snake should become angry in its own lair. and try variously to explain it; presumably something harasses it in a moment of unpreparedness. The simile reappears in 4.6.1.


“from side to side, up and down” tiryag ūrdhvam: We connect the adverbs with vidhunvan; it is hard to see how they can be joined with pādas cd (as Cm, Cg, Ct construe).


“the source of this sheer folly.” yasya jāto vai sumahānayaḥ (crit. ed., -yam): The dangling relative yasya is uncharacteristic of the poet and troublesome (though not to the commentators, who understand yasya prasiddhasya te. See also the NW gloss yas te). The text as constituted would require the following translation: “Now is not the time for this great (sumahān ayam) panic that has sprung up in you.” The problem of the relative is solved if we conjecture, as here, sumahānayaḥ (see 8.14 above, sumahān anayaḥ; anayaḥ is a favorite word of Vālmīki, occurring also in 51.26. 72.4, 3.62.7 [see 12], 5.19.10, 20.29, etc.). Rāma’s panic (saṃbhramaḥ) is causing him to make an egregious (sumahān) political misjudgment (anayaḥ).


“fearful of losing people’s respect” lokasyānatiśaṅkayā: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cs analyze anatiśaṅkayā, in the sense “for the purpose of the nonexcessiye doubts,” that is, for the removal of excessive doubts — which is manifestly unsatisfactory. Cg’s second interpretation is the correct one, by which we divide lokasya ānati- (this also agrees implicitly with the NR gloss, lokavādabhayena). In this way, too, a sensible connection is established with 19.7 above.


Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct join pādas ab with verse 6cd. We treat this śloka as a unit (so too Cr).


“suspicion” śaṅkā: “That they are evil and that therefore in not doing as they order Rāma will be guilty of no lapse from righteousness,” Cm (so Cg).

After this verse most S manuscripts add: “They have acted very skillfully, eager to seize their own advantage through guile. For if they had not conspired before now, Rāghava, then long before now she would have raised the matter of the boon and he would have granted it” (503*).


“I despise that ‘righteousness’” sa … dharmo mama dveṣyaḥ: Lakṣmaṇa will later deny the existence of dharma (6.70.14ff.).

“has so altered” āgatā dvaidham: That is, he had just been prepared to accept the kingship, and now he is prepared to go into exile (so the commentators). Note that Lakṣmaṇa addresses Rāma as king here, as in verse 17 below (the NR removes both references, but adds a new one in verse 34). In 3.1.19, 5.10ff., etc., Rāma is regarded as a king, though he does not so regard himself in Book Four (see for example 4.18.23).


“Even if you think it fate that framed this plot of theirs” yady api pratipattis te daivī cāpi tayor matam: The construction adopted is that of Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct (though Ct repeats matam as subject of pāda c, “your own notion”). Another possibility, which avoids the slight problem of the absence of concord in pratipattiḥ … matam (“corrected” to matā in many S manuscripts), would be: “Even if you have a presumption (pratipattih) regarding fate (that is, if you presume that fate is involved), still, the plan (matam) of those two must be rejected.”

“this course” tad: That is, Rāma’s course of action in submitting to fate (Cm, Cg, Ct gloss, “[I do not approve of that,] that is, fate”; Ck. “the fact that he does not reject what should be rejected,” and he cites smṛti: “One should not perform an act, dharma though it may be, if it does not lead to heaven and if it is something hateful to people”).


On the issue here, that of fate versus free will, see the Introduction, Chap. 5.


“their hopes” tadāśām: Tatpuruṣa compound, pāda b functioning epexegetically, pitus tasyāś ca (Cm, Cg take tat adverbially [= tasmāt], Ct adjectivally [= tām]), while is relative to āśām (Ct), not tasyāḥ (Cg).


“one fallen (within my mighty grasp)” (madbalena) viruddhāya: Some S manuscripts make the reference more explicit, reading viruddhāyā, “of her [Kaikeyī] fallen,” Pādas cd literally, “(the power of fate would not be such [that is, for the benefit of the person so endangered (Cm, Cg); to be able to free the person (Ck, Ct)]) as my terrible strength is able to work grief [for the person].”


As the following verse indicates, Lakṣmaṇa’s primary intention here is to advise Rāma on the proper time to go to the forest, that is, only after he has ruled (Ck, Ct), though additionally he may be suggesting that Bharata will never gain the kingship (Cm, Cg; also noted by Ct). The main idea of the verse is, somewhat awkwardly, contained in the locative absolute. For the irony of Rāma’s fulfilling in his youth the “vow” that normally fell to aged Ikṣvāku kings, see RaghuVa 12.20, UttaRāC 1.22.

“many years from now” varṣasahasrānte: See the note on 2.6 above.

“my brother” ārya-: We read the compound āryaputrāḥ as ārya putrāḥ following B2’s gloss, against Ct, Cr, and Cg.


“without the king’s wholehearted support” rājany anekāgre: Literally, “the king not being of one mind.” We take this to mean that the king’s allegiances are divided (and thus that Rāma’s accession would not be wholly legal), and translate vibhrama- as “revolt,” particularly in view of verse 24 (see also ArthŚā 3.11.13, rājyavibhrama-); Cm, Cg are close to this.


“may I never … if I do not” mā bhūvaṃ … ca rakṣeyam aham: Literally, “may I never … and I will guard,” a rather unusual construction, clarified in D4, 5, 7, which read yadi for aham.


“kings” mahīpālān: “That is, the opposing (rebellious) kings,” Ck (Ct).


“ornament” ābandhana-: So Cm, Cg, Ck; other commentators try to explain this as something related specifically to life in the forest, as Ct, “to be used for making holes in logs, in order to them together”; Cr, “to cut ropes for building huts, etc.” Similarly with stambhahetavaḥ (“just for filling [a quiver],” so Cg, PW s.v. stambha-): “‘to be used as props,’ for propping up logs to keep them from falling down,” Ck, Ct; “to be banded together ‘so as to construct a post,’” Cr.


“that anyone” yaḥ: Understood as reduced from yat (or yadi) kaścit, as often (see 3.41.45 and note, and Speijer 1886, p. 356).

“match” śatruḥ: Here and in verse 27 the word has the specific meaning of an equal or superior foe, a conqueror (as in indraśatru, ŚatBr; see the name Ajātaśatru, which means not “having no enemy born” but “no conqueror”).


“I count” kalpaye: So essentially Ck; “I do not let him stand [sthāpayāmi], but rather cut him down,” Cg (so Ct).


“trunks, flanks, and heads of elephants, horses, and men” hastyaśvanarahastoruśirobhiḥ: For this figure, which is technically called yathāsaṃkhya, see also 3.38.12 and note there (and Brinkhaus 1981).


The two similes refer to two different aspects of the slaughter: “like clouds with lightning,” because Lakṣmaṇa’s sword is “lustrous as flashing lightning,” verse 27 (and the elephants are gray); “like mountains engulfed in flames,” because of the red blood streaming from the massive animals (so, for the latter, Ck, Ct, Cr).


“now one man with many, now many men with one” bahubhiś caikam … ekena ca bahūñ janān: That is, shooting one formidable enemy with many arrows, many weak enemies with one (an epic commonplace, see MBh 1.219.26).


The verse contains a remarkable figure of speech: half of its words are derived from the root bhū + pra (“be powerful”). Much of the sarga, in fact, shows great verbal playfulness (verses 13, 14, 28, 31). This might seem inappropriate at such moments of high passion, but it was clearly felt that the tension of the situation was underscored by such figures of sound, for they are common (see 27.18, 3.60.26).


“father’s command” pitrye vacane: Cf. 21.1; or “parents’ command” (Cm, Ck; pitroḥ is in fact read by Ct, Cr).

Sarga 21


N manuscripts insert three extra sargas before and within sarga 21, in which first, Rāma continues to placate Lakṣmaṇa, telling him to bear the burden of kingship with Bharata, while he (Rāma) bears his heavy burden of dharma (lines 23-24), at which Lakṣmaṇa protests that he too will dwell in the forest (27-46), and Rāma agrees (48; see note on 28.1 below); second, Kausalyā tries to dissuade Rāma; third, Rāma reasons further with his mother (App. I, No. 12).


“Who would believe it” ka etac chraddadhet: Cm understands, “who would [ever again] believe the king.”

“who would not be seized with terror” kasya … na bhaved bhayam: The fear would come with the realization that, if the king can exile his own beloved son, he might all the more readily exile anyone else (Cg, “another might have fears for his own banishment”; Ct, “sons might fear banishment from their fathers”; Cr, “with Rāma away, the people of Ayodhyā would fear for their lives”; Ck, “the fear would result from suspicions used by the recollection of [instances of] laxity in the affections of one’s own wife or sons” [that might presage a similar finale?]).

After this verse, both the NR and the SR show insertions (526*, 527*, respectively.). By comparing these, it appears that the original must have contained a śloka or two here in which Kausalyā laments that she will be burned “by a fire whipped up by the wind of separation, stoked by grief, smoky for her tears of worry,” and so on. The antiquity of the lines is further corroborated by their being imitated by Aśvaghoṣa in BuddhaC 9.29 (see Gurner 1927. p. 357).


“when winter is past” himātyaye: Cg, “late winter”; Ct, “summer” (this latter is preferable). An epic commonplace, see MBh 5.72.10.


“Deceived by Kaikeyī” kaikeyyā vañcitaḥ: This is the first intimation that Rāma is obeying his father even though he knows a fraud has been worked against him (see the Introduction, Chapter 4).


“recognized what was proper” śubhadarśanā: “Her thinking was [now] in accord with dharma,” Cg; see the NR gloss dharmadarśinī. Śubha- has the sense of “just,” “righteous” elsewhere, as in 3.49.28.

“without joy” asuprītā: The crit. ed.’s reading suprīta here is most improbable, in view of both the situation itself and the very next verse; in addition, the NR reads instead, “sick with grief” (the commentators are silent). The emendation to [uvācā]suprītā is easy, besides being necessary. The meter is no problem, for the heavy sequence not uncommon, see 20.18a.


“Once I have passed” vihṛtya: According to Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr, Rāma is here making light of the hardship of exile (“after I have pleasantly whiled away”). We disagree, understanding vihṛtya in its old, neutral sense and construing “with the deepest joy” in the main clause. The one-word enjambment over hemistich boundary (varṣāṇi) is not uncommon (see 19.18, 41.2, 68.18, 79.21, 108.10, and for a dramatic example, 3.45.13).


“like a wild deer” vanyāṃ mṛgīṃ yathā: “The sense [of the simile] is: ‘As a deer of the wilds lives contented in the wilderness, so too shall I live. I shall not cause you any trouble,’” Cg.


“Rāma wept, too” rāmo rudan: Again the problem of Rāma’s showing human emotion (see note on 16.57). Ck, Ct, Cr alter the reading to ‘rudan, “not weeping,” Ck explaining: “Were he to weep he would show himself to be irresolute, and thus his mother’s hopes of accompanying him might be revived.” Cg reads as in the text, noting, “Though Rāma was described earlier as follows: ‘When misfortune strikes anyone Rāma feels the sorrow keenly’ [2.28], nonetheless he had remained firm in the face of his mother’s misfortune for fear he might be prevented from acting righteously, that is, from keeping his father’s command. But now that he has received permission to go to the forest, he weeps so that, by demonstrating his own affection, he may guard against anything calamitous happening to his mother.” (The NR eliminates “wept” altogether.)


“Bharata is righteous, too” bharataś cāpi dharmātmā: See verse 2 above. “Here Rāma addresses Kausalyā’s complaint in verse 16,” Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct.


“who earnestly undertakes vows and fasts” vratopavāsaniratā: “The performance, however complete, of optional observances cannot counteract the evil consequent upon the sin of not performing obligatory observances [such as obedience to one’s husband],” Ck.


“revealed in the veda and handed down in the world” loke vede śrutaḥ smṛtaḥ: We take this as a chiasmus (so Ct, Cs).


“if the champion of righteousness should survive” yadi dharmabhṛtāṃ śreṣṭho dhārayiṣyati jīvitam: “Supreme (earthly) good comes not from a son alone, but also from having one’s husband alive,” Cg, Ck, Ct.

Sarga 22


“pure” śucih: Various parallels (1.21.18, 2.46.14) and strong manuscript testimony in the SR (the NR reads the pāda altogether differently) cogently support Cg’s reading śuciḥ for śuci of the crit. ed. He comments: “Since weeping is a cause of impurity, and supplication of the gods can be made only by one who is in a state of purity, she is said to ‘sip water’ and thus is described as ‘pure.’” (Śuci can hardly bear the meaning “purifying.”)

S manuscripts insert thirteen lines after this verse, which include a prayer that Rāma be protected by the weapons he acquired from Viśvāmitra (559*.7-8; see 1.26).


sādhyas: Like the other gods in the verse, an undifferentiated group of celestial beings (Cg glosses merely, “particular gods”; see Hopkins 1915, p. 175, and for the “All-Gods,” Gonda 1975a, p. 102).

Dhātṛ and Vidhātṛ: Frequently mentioned in the epics (especially the MBh), if only formulaically and without elaboration. Presumably the “Arranger” and the “Disposer.” Cm, Ck, Ct explain as Virāj Viṣṇu and (Viṣṇu in the form of) Prajāpati, respectively (both are, again, to Cg “particular gods”).

Pūṣan, Bhaga, and Aryaman: Gods of the vedic pantheon, obsolescent from the very beginning of the epic period. We are not meant to associate particular attributes with any of these obscure gods; the whole verse appears to be intended only to lend an air of vedic solemnity to the invocation.


“learning, fortitude” smṛtir dhṛtiḥ: Cg, Ck understand as “contemplation” and “meditation” or “mental stability,” respectively. The translation agrees with Cr.

Skanda: Son of Śiva and leader of the army of the gods (for his birth see 1.36).

Soma: Probably the moon is meant, as, by Bṛhaspati, the planet Jupiter.


“as you wander … through the great forest” mahāvane vicarataḥ: So we read with most manuscripts, for the crit. ed.’s mahāvanāni carataḥ.


“monkeys” plavagāḥ: So Cg, Ck, Ct (Cr, “frogs”). None of the commentators is troubled by the inclusion of monkeys in this list of annoying or poisonous creatures. The NR is perhaps correct in reading patagāḥ, “moths”

“in the jungle thickets” gahane: Ck reads instead bhavane, in your dwelling” (not noted in the crit. ed.).


“way” āgamāḥ: So Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, a rare usage, if not unique. To account for it, Ct suggests that the nuance is, “May the roads be fit for your speedy return.”


“things … in heaven” devebhyaḥ: Not “from the gods” (divyebhyaḥ of N and G manuscripts appears to be a lectio facilior).


“sustainer of creatures” bhūtabhartā: We understand this epithet in apposition to Brahmā (some manuscripts, and Ct, read more explicitly bhūtakartā, “maker of creatures”). Cg, understanding the compound independently, glosses it Nārāyaṇa.

After this verse the NR includes a line mentioning Janārdana (Viṣṇu) (575*.1).


Hereafter the SR includes ten lines (577*) that supply a somewhat easier transition to Kausalyā’s further benedictions in verses 13ff.


“when he slew the demon Vṛtra” vṛtranāśe: In the mythology of Indra, from early vedic times, his greatest feat is the killing of the serpent-demon Vṛtra.

14. Vinatā: The mother of Suparṇa (= Garuḍa), who fought the gods for the drink of immortality and brought it to earth (see 3.33.27-34). Before Suparṇa departs on his perilous journey, Vinatā pronounces blessings over him, similar to Kausalyā’s (see MBh 1.24.8-9). This verse, like the former, seems clearly to intimate the action to come — Rāma’s quest for Sītā and his killing of Rāvaṇa (noted also in part by Ct). The present scene between Kausalyā and Rāma had already achieved a paradigmatic stature by the time of the gāthās of the Jayadissa Jātaka. “As Rāma’s mother made her prayers for him when he was about to leave for the wilderness of Daṇḍaka, so I make my prayers for you” (“The Jātakas” #513, p. 29.1).

After this verse the SR adds some lines in which reference is made to Viṣṇu’s good fortune when he took his three strides (581*.3-4).


“that could ward off thorns” viśalyakaraṇīm: Or, “that could ward off arrows”; Cm, Cg, “that could extract thorns” (Ck, Ct, Cr take it as a proper name). The NR calls it a rākṣasa-slaying herb, and has Kausalyā tie it to Rāma’s right hand (582*). In 6.40.30, the magical herb “viśalyā, made by the gods,” along with the saṃjīva or revivification herb, is used by Bṛhaspati to heal the gods when the dānavas had mortally wounded them.

NW manuscripts include a line hereafter invoking Brahmā, Śiva, Viṣṇu, and Prajāpati (583*).


“had him bow” ānamya: With Cg we interpret the verb causatively.


“in the house of the king” rājaveśmani: A metonymical expression (the palace being the power center of the state; see Schlingloff 1969, p. 46). The reading has little manuscript support; with the majority of S manuscripts it might be preferable to read rājavartmani, “in the way (that is, position) of king,” in the kingship, but the question must remain open, since the NR disagrees with both. It gives instead, “(When shall I see you again) endowed with royal splendor,” which would establish an interesting contrast with verse 20, where we are shown that Rāma does not really require investiture with kingship to corroborate his true kingly power.


That there is not a single explicit reference to Viṣṇu in all the invocations Kausalyā pronounces in this sarga is remarkable, particularly in view of 4.33, 4.41, 17.6, where Kausalyā is shown to be a devotee of Viṣṇu. But if Viṣṇu is to be regarded exclusively as the superintending deity of kingship (see note to 6.1), his omission here (and Kausalyā’s earlier worship of him) would make sense, since Rāma is not to be concerned with kingship for the fourteen years of his exile. A more likely explanation might be the belief that Rāma is an avatar of Viṣṇu himself, if we were prepared to ascribe any antiquity to that belief (see the General Introduction, and Introduction to the Araṇyakāṇḍa).


“she reverently circled Rāghava” pradakṣiṇaṃ … cakāra rāgḥavam: As mothers do not normally circumambulate their sons, the act here is meant as a special apotropaic charm, according to the commentators.

Sarga 23


“Along the royal highway … the prince went illuminating it” virājayan rājasuto rājamārgam: Note the alliteration, the sort of which Vālmīki seems particularly fond.


“Poor” tapasvinī: See note on 28.18. Not, “characterized by the restraints of vows and fasts on behalf of Rāma’s consecration,” Cm, Cg.


“knew the rites” kṛtajñā: See 1.20 and note, 16.31 and note, and again the glossing lection dharmajñā (in D4, 7). Such is Cr’s interpretation (similarly Cm, Cg, though they understand prospectively: knowing the rites that she was to do when Rāma returned). Less likely, “‘grateful’: she worships the gods in gratitude for their beneficence in granting the kingship,” CI..

“kingly attributes” rājadharmāṇām: The compound here does not, as in 7.19 above, mean “the ways of kings” (that is, that they can be cruel and fickle; this erroneous interpretation probably called forth the hypermetric variant reading of some N manuscripts, anabhijñā, “ignorant of”), but rather the marks or accoutrements of kings, the white parasol, and so on. Cm, Cg: she knew the signs betokening the completion of the ceremony that she was to expect (see verses 9-16 below).


“ruled by Bṛhaspati” bārhaspataḥ: The constellations (nakṣatras) and lunar mansions are each under the superintendence of a particular god, Puṣya being under Bṛhaspati, family priest of the king of gods, Indra (see Kirfel 1920, p. 35; Kane 1962-1975, vol. 5.ii, p. 798).


“officials” prakṛtayaḥ: See note on 3.27 (so Cm, Cg here).


“Puṣya chariot” puṣyarathaḥ: According to Cm, Cg (citing AmaK), Ck, and Ct, it was used on ceremonial occasions for spectacle (never as a war chariot): it would precede kings in processions and they would mount it or not as they wished.


“you are the daughter of a great house” kule mahati saṃbhūte: “Fearing that Sītā would be overwhelmed with sorrow at hearing such awful news, Rāma tries to fortify her by mentioning her different virtues, ‘You are the daughter of a great house,’ and so on,” Cm, Cg, so Ct; Ck, “He speaks thus in order to ensure that she remain lucid during his discussion of the cause of his banishment.” Perhaps additionally Rāma wishes to secure Sītā’s approval of his (and his father’s) observance of dharma by reminding her of her own natural commitment to righteousness (see 25.2).


“great boons” mahāvarau: “The boons are ‘great’ insofar as they are irrevocable,” Cr.


“Since he had made an agreement,” sasamayaḥ: As the crit. ed. prints pāda c, sa samayaḥ (and Cm, Ck, Ct understand it), we are required to supply a new subject (Daśaratha) for pāda d, and this is too hard a construction. Moreover, pracodita seems invariably to take a personal subject (see above 12.3, 8, 15; 3.57.6, 22; 60.8, etc.). Cg (and Cr) interpret best, explaining sasamayaḥ as a bahuvrīhi compound.


Cg believes Rāma’s advice to Sītā here and in the following verses to be a deliberate provocation by which he means to test her affection for him (see also notes on 27.26 and 47.10).


“You must not ever expect to receive any special treatment from him” nāpi tvaṃ tena bhartavyā viśeṣeṇa kadācana: There is a dispute among the commentators about the reading of the line. Ck gives ahaṃ te nānukartavyo, explaining “I am not to be thought back on” (Ct reports Ck’s reading as nānuvaktavyo, “I am not to be mentioned, or, discussed,” but this disagrees with Ck’s manuscripts, and anyway it is redundant in view of verse 23). Ck notes further, “This is the ancient lection, which some other commentator [Cm?] has utterly spoiled” Ck’s “ancient” reading, however, as is often the case, has virtually no manuscript authority. The NR version is similar to the SR but more pointed: “When I am gone to the forest you will have to be supported by him, and only by conciliating him will you get food and clothing” (605*).


“she has subordinated all to righteousness” dharmam evagrataḥ kṛtvā: With Ck, we understand this as referring to Kausalyā rather than to Sītā (as per Cg, Ct); Rāma’s mother can be said to have done this by acquiescing in her son’s course of action.


“Bharata and Śatrughna” bharataśatrughnau: The reading of the crit. ed., lakṣmaṇaśatrughna, is an editor’s emendation. The reasons for it are not compelling (see Vaidya 1962, pp. xxvi-xxvii), and would require us to reject the unanimity of our manuscripts. Why, moreover, would twins be shown different degrees of respect, which is based on age? Cg will later cite this passage as implying that Rāma has given [or rather, was intending to give] Lakṣmaṇa permission to accompany him; see note on 28.1.


“and sedulously attended to” prayatnaiś copasevitāḥ: The NR more powerfully, “attended to like gods — and if they are not, they destroy.”


“offense” vyalīkam: Ck, Ct understand as “false”: “do not give the lie to my command, or, word,” but compare the use of the word in 58.7, 5.44.8, 49.18.

Sarga 24


“past deeds” puṇyāni: Literally, “merit,” which is meant to include also demerit (pāpa) (Cg, Ck).


“But a wife, and she alone, … must share her husband’s fate” bhartur bhāgyaṃ tu bhāryaikā prāpnoti: A wife shares in her husband’s karma because she participates with him in his ritual activity. (Cm cites, “One’s wife is half of oneself;” TaiS


The sense of the verse is this: Granted you may feel anger or resentment toward Kaikeyī and the others, still you should not “pass that on to me,” should not feel that way about me, for I am not to blame.

“resentment” īrṣyā-: Not merely “impatience” with her for insisting on going to the forest (so Cm, Ck, Ct understand; Ck actually reads roṣāmarṣau, unrecorded in the crit. ed.). Cg feebly explains Rāma’s resentment to be caused by a perception that by following her husband Sītā will be “wholly fulfilled” with respect to her duty (and so more highly regarded by people than Rāma?).

“like so much water left after drinking ones fill” bhuktaśeṣam ivodakam: We follow Cg, Cr, Cs it attaching this simile to pāda a. It probably only refers to the custom of not passing on to another a cup of water from which one has already drunk (Cs cites a dharmaśāstra that prohibits the use of leftover water; see also Wezler 1978, pp. 23ff., p. 26n, who compares Viṇayapiṭaka 4.265.32, and discusses the impurity attached to foods partly consumed). The other commentators are unsatisfied with this plain interpretation; joining the simile to the following sentence, they try to explain more pointedly, while at the same time specifying what is meant by pāda d (literally, “there is no evil in me”): “A man who travels through a wilderness where water is hard to find can save the water from a meal in his water jug and it is not considered impure; in fact it will benefit him and so must necessarily be taken along.” This appears to be more subtle an interpretation than the verse can bear.


“surpasses the finest mansions” prāsādāgrair … viśiṣyate: Syntactically the most reasonable analysis of the verse is to construe the first line with viśiṣyate (instrumental for ablative, see note on 42.26: so Cv, Cm [second interpretation]. Cg, Cr, and see the NR gloss, -vimānebhyaḥ … śreyān. 6l8*). A possible but less convincing alternative: “The shadow … circumstances — whether the finest mansions … — is [to be] preferred.” The instrumental for locative is found elsewhere in the epic dialect, see MBh 8.7.15, 10.12.10, and De’s notes there.

The NR’s -(ā)śrayaḥ, “shelter of [a husband’s] feet;” for -cchāyā, “shadow,” is an attractive variant reading, but apparently unsubstantiated by the SR. The phrase reappears in 42.14; see the note there.

“the finest mansions” prāsādāgraiḥ: Probably thus, in agreement with Cr (see also vimānāgrāt in 6.115.48, and Sukthankar on MBh 3.176.18), rather than “the tops of palaces.”

“flying through the sky” vaihāyasagatena: By the power of yoga (specifically the attainment of “subtlety”), according to the commentators.


“in all these different questions” vividhāśrayam: So Cm (not, “with regard to a husband’s different circumstances” [Ck, Ct]). The NR specifies, “They told me, ‘you must never live without your husband’” (620*.2).


“practice … chastity” brahmacāriṇī: Although a woman’s brahmacarya is normally just fidelity (see 110.9 below), the term is thus translated because it has specific reference to the sexual abstention that will prevail during their exile as ascetics (so here Cg [second interpretation], Ck); see note on 25.7.

“What pleasures I shall share with you” saha raṃsye tvayā: The phrase need not have any. sexual connotations. The type of pleasure meant is described in sargas 88-89; see also 50.21 and note.


Before this verse, some N manuscripts include a line likening Rāma’s bravery to Viṣṇu’s (624*).

“any other person” anyasyāpi janasya, So Ct (“any person to whom you are the only refuge,’ Cm, Ck). just possible: “(You were able [or, ready] to protect) another [that is, a stranger] in the forest” (for this sense of janasya, see 23.33). A reference to the Viśvāmitra episode of 1.29?


“can survive” bhaviṣyāmi: For the pregnant sense see 3.41.23, 60.49; 6.23.27.


The word order of the verse is noticeably dislocated; diagrammatically the construction of the main items is: A B A B A. This may be intended to convey a sense of high emotion in the climax of Sītā’s speech (see 96.4 and note, and note on 3.29.24).


“teeming with deer, monkeys. and elephants” mṛgāyutaṃ vānaravāraṇair yutam: Cg sees here veiled references to Mārīca (the magic deer) and Sugrīva (the monkey king), who are to appear later in the epic, in Books Three and Four.

“in strict self-discipline” saṃyatā: The reading of the crit. ed., saṃmatā (“permitted,” though Ct glosses, “following your commands”), seems to be based only on Dt (what Dd, Dm, and Ñ1 report is unclear). The best attested reading is saṃyatā, which we confidently adopt; see niyatā in verse 10 above.


“who so cherished righteousness” dharmavatsalaḥ: Cg glosses, “who could not bear that his wife suffer.” But the NR reading dharmavādinīm (“speaking words of righteousness”) suggests the emendation -vatsalām (Sītā ‘‘who so cherished”).

Sarga 25


Sītā: According to Ct (on verse 4). Rāmia’s calling his wife by her given name (not normally done) is “not a lapse but is meant to represent the mental confusion consequent upon his sorrow.” Note the threefold anaphora of “Sītā” (verses 2-4), which lends an importunate tone to his words.


“wild regions” kāntāram: Cm, Ck, Ct treat this word adjectivally and make bahudoṣam the predicate (‘‘the forest is declared to hale many ills’), which is less meaningful. Oldenberg suggests a pun, and this is indeed the form such punning etymologies could take. But no commentator mentions it and we are not convinced by Oldenberg’s odd solution (“the poet probably had in mind the Dhātupāṭha gloss vana saṃbhaktau, ‘to grant a share’” [1919, p. 65 n5]). Presumably he means that the root van can signify “enjoy,” as occasionally in Vedic and Pāli. But why the poet would want such a pun is hard to see.


For the style of this passage, particularly the refrain at the end, see the interesting remarks of Oldenberg 1918, pp. 452ff.; 1919, especially pp. 64ff.: in comparison with that of the epic, the jātakas’ use of the figure is “far more archaic, the movement of the verses petrified.” At the conclusion of his comparison of the Vessantarajātaka passage that parallels the present one, he remarks, “Does one not get the sense here, in respect of their artistic capabilities, of two entirely different ages?” p. 67. Compare also 61.8ff., 69.14ff., etc.


“redoubled” -sambhūtāḥ: So Cg, Ct, Cr; or, “(roars of lions and roars) coming from (torrents)” (Cm, Ck).


“broken off of themselves” svayaṃ bhagnāsu: the commentators remark that by this qualification we are to understand that the leaves are sere and brittle. The reference, however, is probably more specifically to the prohibition against injuring trees (see also 3.67.22, and Kane 1962-1975, vol. 2.ii. p. 895), which is especially enjoined upon forest hermits (see 646*: one must eat only fruit that has fallen of itself; also ManuSm 6.21). Recall that Rāma had promised Kaikeyī to live the life of an ascetic (16.28, 30). He will become subject to the rules of the dharma of forest hermits (vānaprasthadharma), and consequently many of the things he mentions here with regard to food and fasting, clothing, personal hygiene, and so on, are not simply natural consequences of forest life, but requirements or prescriptions. More of these prescriptions are listed in 648*, 649*, especially 655*.3 (“One must turn one’s thoughts to ascetic practices”); for Sītā’s promise in 24.10 to practice sexual continence, another such requirement, see ManuSm 6.26 and Kane 1962-1975, vol. 2. ii, p. 920. Note that in 46.55ff., Rāma intentionally mats his hair with juice of the banyan tree, and is said to take on the vow of a forest hermit (see also 28.9; Ctr also more or less supports this interpretation, vol. 1. p. 259).


See ManuSm 6.6: “[The ascetic] is to wear hides or barkcloth … bear matted locks of hair and (let) his beard and nails (grow).”


“of every size and shape” bahurūpāḥ: Cg glosses instead, “with large bodies,’ perhaps rightly.


“branches and blades” -śākhāgrāḥ: This applies by synecdoche to both the trees and the grass (Cg, Ct; Cm, Ck take -agrāḥ as construing specifically with the grasses).


“did not reply” na … vacanaṃ cakāra: Compare 11.14 (so Cr here? Note the well-attested variant reading for tat in pāda c); or, “would not accept what he said” (Cg, Ck, Ct; so Cm?).

Sarga 26


“trickling” prasakta-: Cg glosses, “(her face) partly (tear-covered)”; Cr, perhaps rightly, understands prasaktā separately (“attached [to her husband],” or better, “persistent”).


Cg refers to the amplification of this idea in 27.11ff.


“By the order of” -ājñayā: Although the order might be that of Sītā’s elders (see 24.8; Cm, Ct refer to 1.72.17, with 1327*.1), Cg is perhaps right to say that “as śruti declares, ‘one’s wife is half of oneself’ [TaiS], and so a command to Rāma from his elders is a command to Sītā” (as Sītā has already asserted, 24.3; thus also Cr).


“Śakra … could” śaknoti … śakraḥ: There is a light pun here in the Sanskrit, the name śakraḥ being derived from the root śak (literally, “The Able One”).


“regardless of” kāmam: Regardless of all Rāma’s instructions on how to live in his absence (23.23ff.), Sītā will not be able to live at all. Alternatively, we may take kāmam with pādas ab: “Despite the fact that a woman … you [nonetheless] have given such instructions as these to me.” The commentators do not shed any light on the problem.


“yearned” -utsāhā: See 3.26.4 and pw s.v.; note also the NR gloss -sprhā.


“And it is with you that I would go there” sā tvayā saha tatrāhaṃ yāsyāmi: That is, I do not want to fulfil the prediction in any way other than in your company (see the NR version 668*, na hīcchāmi tam [siddhādeśam] anyathā). This seems more persuasive than the explanations of the commentators: Ct, Cr: the prediction will not come true otherwise (that is, if I do not go with you); Cg (and apparently Ck): since it is thus prophesied for me, I will go with you, not otherwise; that is, not merely because I want to.


“unprepared” akṛtātmabhiḥ: So Cg; or, “without self-discipline” (Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr).


Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct suppose the verse to offer a corroboration of the brahmans’ prediction (“‘I heard that living in the forest’ would befall me”), rather than an explanation of Sītā’s preparedness.

“in the presence of my mother” mama mātur ihāgrataḥ: This must refer to Sītā’s adoptive mother, the king’s chief queen. See below, 110.32.


“I have been waiting for the chance” kṛtakṣaṇā: Thus Cm; so also in 5.45.39, kṛtakṣaṇaḥ kāla iva prajākṣaye, “Like doom waiting for the chance to destroy all living things” (see also 5.62.20). Alternatively: “the opportunity has now been given me.” (Ck, Ct: “[let me be] given permission”; Cg, Cr: “I celebrate (going)” [am eager to go].)


“I shall have no sin to answer for” bhaviṣyāmi vikalmaṣā: If she remains behind, people will impute some sin to her (Ct); nor can she stay and propitiate her household god for purity, because “Rāma is her highest divinity” (Cg).


“is sacred” kalyāṇaḥ: Cm, Cg, Ct explain predicatively, and we follow them. Ck supplies as predicate something like siddhaḥ (“[my holy union] is permanent”), which may well be right, for it is the perdurability of their union, not its sanctity, that Sītā is concerned with here, as the next verse shows (and see 674*.1-2).


“in accordance with their own customs” svadharmeṇa: So Cg, Ct (they gloss “each according to his own caste-dharma”). Cm and Cr connect it with pāda d: through her own dharma, that is, fidelity, a woman remains with her husband.

“fathers” pitṛbhiḥ: The plural is meant to include grandfathers, etc. (Cm, Cg, Ct). Near the conclusion of the marriage ceremony, the heads of the bride and groom are sprinkled with holy water, see ĀśvaGS 1.7.20 (see below 110.48; Kane 1962-1975, vol. 2.ii, p. 1,267, and vol. 2.i, pp. 529-30), and above, 1.1327*.2.

Ck indicates that, with the exception of the element mahāmate (it is added by the poet for the sake of the meter), the śloka is essentially a yajurmantra (untraced).


“I have always shared” māṃ samām: Not, “I am the same, unchanging, whether pain or pleasure befalls me” (Cg), for then she would hardly call herself “desolate.”

Sarga 27


The future vakṣyati is not explained by commentators. Cg and Ck merely gloss it as present, Ct impossibly takes it as future of the root vah; indeed it does not seem to have a true future sense here (see vakṣyante in 4.21 above with note).

“Rāma’s ‘great power’ is not at all” tejo nāsti paraṃ rāme: We understand the line not as a quotation of the people’s statement (“Rāma’s great power is not like [that is, excels] that of the burning sun,” Cm, Cg [third explanation] Ck, Ct, so the NR, 686*), but as a contradiction of it (with Cg’s second gloss, and Cs). Cr tries to temper the insult and his explanation is clever: “‘If’ [reading yadi for yad dhi] you do not take me, ‘the people in their ignorance,’ of any reason why you should refuse to take me, ‘will speak this lie, that Rāma’s great power is not. …’”


Sāvitrī: The paragon of wifely devotion who, with half her own life, redeemed her husband from the god of death. Her story is told in MBh 3.277ff.


“I would not even think of looking” na tv ahaṃ manasāpi … draṣṭāsmi: “Thus, fear of that need not stop him from taking her,” Ck. The location of the comparison in pāda d, in isolation from its referent, is awkward, but irremediable. Additionally pāda c (“were I to go with you”) is taken as a conditional clause, not an independent sentence (so the commentators). Because of these syntactical problems, the Mylapore editors suggest understanding yathānyākula-: “I would go with you, as any other woman who is no disgrace to her family (would want to go with her husband)” — that is, were he not to allow her to go, he would be treating her as if he thought her a slut. Rāma wants not only to spare her the hardships of life in the forest, but also to preserve her from the eyes of other men (see also note on 30.8 below).


more … than” na … iva: The reading iva (crit. ed. api) seems clearly indicated by the testimony of the manuscripts (so too Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr); the sense is also superior.

“on our pleasure beds” vihāraśayaneṣu: We analyze the compound as a tatpuruṣa; Cm, Cg take it unconvincingly as a dvandva, in order to avoid the sexual reference (“ ‘as in strolling,’ namely, through a garden, ‘or in sleeping’”).


“you will not know any grief or displeasure on my account” na … kiṃcid draṣṭum arhasi vipriyam / matkṛte an ca te śokaḥ: Here, as elsewhere, Vālmīki charges Sītā’s speech with a profound and tragic irony.


“But” atha: There is no need, with Cg and Ck, to take this as an interrogative particle.

The second half-verse contains an interesting alliteration: viṣam … viśaṃ dviṣatāṃ vaśam (see note on 20.32).


“ten years of sorrow, and three, and one” daśa varṣāṇi trīṇi caikaṃ ca duḥkhitā: There is a moving pathos in Sītā’s computation of the years of separation. Cg points out that it is meant to show how, to a woman separated from her lover, the ten years at the beginning, the three in the middle, and the one at the end of the period all seem equally long.


“the tears she had held in so long” cirasaṃniyataṃ bāṣpam: There is a slight inconsistency in view of 26.21, where Sītā is already weeping. Cg tries to reconcile this by saying that “long” means all the while she was talking (see also note to 23). The NR (697*, 698*) makes Rāma the subject of both verses 22 and 23 (“He was bruised by her pitiful words … and began to weep”), which is far more powerful. It may be that the theological attitude discussed in the note to 16.57 motivated the SR alteration (if there was alteration), but our manuscripts no longer allow us to reconstruct confidently the original state of the verses.


“Water clear as crystal” sphaṭikasaṃkāśaṃ vāri: “The ‘crystal-like’ clarity of her tears gives us to understand that the kohl in her eyes must already have been washed away, and thus that her tears must have been streaming down for a long time” (Cg; he also takes “water” in the lotus simile as “sap” [Cs imagines the lotuses to have been torn from the pond], this being both warm and clear).


“Self-existent” svayaṃbhoḥ: “This must be Nārāyaṇa, not Four-faced [Brahmā], because the latter did feel fear of [the demons] Madhu, Kaiṭabha, etc.,” Cg; “‘Self-existent’ means Blessed Brahmā, who is not afraid of anything, because there is no other really existent thing distinct from him — and according to the scriptural passage, ‘Fear comes from [the existence of] a second,’ etc. [BṛĀraU 1.4.2],” Ck.


“without knowing your true feelings” tava sarvam abhiprāyam avijñāya: The NR offers, “to test your commitment … I said I would not take yon” (702*), and this may be what is in fact implied in our verse. Cf. also Cg’s comment noted on 23.23.


“determined” sṛṣṭā: Here and in 35.5 below the word is translated thus, though this sense is rare, if not unique (so Cm, Ck; see PW s.v.; Cg suggests, “‘sent,’ that is, by fate” [see 26.6]).

“self-respecting” ātmavān: Compare the use of the word in 46.63, 3.43.37, and 6.106.18. Like many other epithets, ātmavān takes its color from the context, and interpretation is often uncertain.


“my smooth-limbed wife” gajanāsoru: Literally, “whose thighs are (smooth) as an elephant’s trunk.”

Here Rāma is informing Sītā that, for him, living in the forest will be an act of dharma, of the highest moral dimension, not a vacation, as she is repeatedly shown to view it (so too Daśaratha, 32.5). This interpretation is at odds with that of all the commentators. They understand dharma here as vānaprasthadharma, the customs and code of forest hermits, and believe Rāma to be saying that, in taking his wife to the forest, he is only doing what other good men of the past have done. But this is beside the point, and in any case conflicts with the definition of dharma given in the next verse.

“radiance” suvarcalā: Certainly not meant as the personification of the wife of the sun, which is late.


“bestow precious objects on the brahmans” brāhmaṇebhyaś ca ratnāni … / dehi: Gifts to brahmans (and the needy) are considered an essential preliminary for any important act, here Rāma’s departure. Cg, Ck on 32.1 vulgate call it the yātradāna, giving of gifts before embarking on voyage (we do not, however, find any mention of this in the dharmaśāstras or nibandhas); such is also the opinion of Ctr, vol. 1, p. 296, who cites a parallel from the MBh (5.149.56-57). They may be correct, but at the same time, insofar as Rāma is virtually renouncing the householder stage of life, he is divesting himself of his material possessions (see 28.18ff., 33.2; so Dhṛtarāṣṭra before going forth into the life stage of the forest hermit, MBh 15.21.5). Additionally, Rāma may wish to ensure that his dependents and friends have the wherewithal to maintain themselves in his absence.


The verse is a recapitulatory one, marking sarga closure.

Sarga 28


Before this verse both the NR and the SR include sections that on comparison indicate that the original contained a number of lines in which Lakṣmaṇa addresses Rāma, telling him that he wishes to accompany him to the wilderness, and that Rāma has already given him permission. Note 716*.7-12 (the NR), 717*.11-19 (D4, 5, 7), 718*.1-4, 13-15 (the SR), and especially lines 11, 16, and 13, respectively, of the three “insertions”: anujñāto ‘smi [-taś ca, SR] bhavatā pūrvam eva vanaṃ prati [nararṣabha, Ñ1; yad asmy aham, SR], “you have already granted me permission (to go) to the forest.” The NR explicitly shows Rāma granting permission, see 21.1 and note; in the SR the commentators identify various passages where permission is implied: 19.21 (see note there; thus Ck, Ct; Ck notes that when Rāma told Lakṣmaṇa to “imitate” him he meant not in going to the forest, as Lakṣmaṇa thought and here asserts, but in not resisting the cancellation of the consecration); 23.30 (“here it is only Bharata and Śatrughna whom Sītā is told to obey,” Cg; see note on 23.30 — Cg adds here that Rāma gave Lakṣmaṇa permission at that time only to prevent him from doing anything violent on the spur of the moment).


“shower [them] with all they desired” abhivarṣati [te] kāmaiḥ: We must understand, as direct object, te (feminine dual); or perhaps we have in kāmaiḥ instrumental for accusative with verbs of raining, as in Greek.


After this verse the SR adds, “Once Bharata becomes the king he will be wholly in Kaikeyī’s power and will take no thought for Kausalyā or Sumitrā in their sorrow” (725*).


Hereafter most of the SR inserts, “If, when he gains the kingship, Bharata grows corrupt and out of animosity and pride does not protect [our mothers], I will kill him without hesitation for his cruelty and ill will, and everyone else who takes his side” (728*).


“she has acquired a thousand villages as her living” yasyāḥ sahasraṃ grāmāṇāṃ saṃprāptam upajīvanam: A remarkable statement on Kausalyā’s vast wealth, even if “thousand” is hyperbolic and means only “many.” Leaving aside the general question of women’s usual property rights in the epic (according to MBh 2.63.1, for example, dependent women can own no property, see MBh 5.33.64, ManuSm] 8.416), the editor of the text volume is probably right in seeing this wealth as a payment by Daśaratha to Kausalyā when she was “superseded” (adhivinnā) by Kaikeyī (Vaidya 1962, p. 697; see ArthaŚā 3.2.38-42 for the compensation of supersession adhivedanikā), though nowhere in the Rām narrative are the grounds, or the fact itself, of supersession explicitly related (Cm, Ck, Ct, reading upajīvinam for upajīvanam, explain the line, “whose dependents [or, by whose grace her dependents] have acquired a thousand villages,” that is, if she can bestow such wealth, all the more should she be able to support herself).


For Cg, this passage shows that at all times, in all places and circumstances, every sort of service is to be performed by the subordinate individual soul (śeṣa) on behalf of the Supreme Master (śeṣin) in conjunction with his goddess.


“proper fare” svāhārāni: “Fit to be easily [su] eaten,” Cg; “proper [sva] food, and good [su] food,” Ck.


This verse, along with a line inserted by the SR before verse 1 of the sarga (718*.3, “Lakṣmaṇa clasped his brother’s feet”), holds a special place in South Indian Vaishnavism. Vedāntadeśika explains the famous mantra called the Dvayam, recited daily by Vaishnavas, as expressing the “two things” contained in these two verses, namely, the goal of the soul’s striving (28.10), and the correct means of realizing that goal (718*.3) (see Rahasyatrayasāra, pp. 318ff.).


“that great Varuṇa himself bestowed” ye … dadau … mahātmā varuṇaḥ svayam: The episode of Varuṇa’s presentation of weapons to Janaka, or Janaka’s to Rāma, has not been previously referred to in the Rām. (In 110.38 mention will be made of the great bow Varuṇa bestowed on Janaka, but that is the one Rāma shatters at the marriage rite of Sītā; see note there.) Cm, Cg notice this inconsistency and they explain it as follows: It is Vālmīki’s habit to neglect to mention an incident where chronologically it should be noticed, because of the pressure of treating the topic at hand. Later on, his brief recapitulation of the incident, as here, establishes it as a fact of the narrative. They cite two other instances: in 5.64.4, Rāma refers to a piece of jewelry given to Sītā by her father at the time of her marriage, mention of which was omitted in Book One; the story of the crow attacking Sītā on Mount Citrakūṭa is not related in Book Two, though Sītā speaks of it in 5.36.12ff. but see note on 89.19); see also note on 52.12ff. Cm, Cg, Ck suppose that the weapons were given “at Janaka’s sacrifice” by Varuṇa to Rāma himself; Ct, on the other hand, that they were given to Janaka and then to Rāma, as part of Sītā’s dowry. Insofar as Rāma is shown in 3.11 to acquire magical weapons from the seer Agastya, these weapons (not to speak of those given by Viśvāmitra, 1.26 or Brahmā, 39.11 below), seem superfluous.


“preceptor’s residence” ācāryasadmani: Vasiṣṭha’s (so Cm, Cg, because of the phrase “guru of the Ikṣvākus” in verse 15); or Suyajña’s (Ck, Ct)

“in perfect order” satkṛtya: Taken by the commentators as “‘honoring,’ that is, the teacher,” but this is weak, and inappropriate in verse 16.


“tiger of the Raghus” raghuśārdūlaḥ: The crit. ed. reading “tiger among kings” is marked as uncertain; “tiger of the Raghus” is preferable both on manuscript and contextual grounds (so too Ck: note Ñ1, D4, 5, 7 naraśārdūlaḥ).


“with full self-possession” ātmavān: A vague epithet. like so many others (contrast its sense in 27.27, see the note there). Perhaps Rāma’s “self-possession” is stressed here in view of verses 18-19, where he is preparing to give away everything he owns.


“poor” tapasvibhyaḥ: = kṛpaṇa- in 29.21. See also 23.3 and note, 36.2, 58.25 and note. 3.46.16, 56.8. 60.8 for the larger sense of the word; “ascetics” would hardly have any use for Rāma’s wealth.

Sarga 29


“most just and welcome order” śāsanam … śubhataraṃ priyam: His command is “just” insofar as it betokens benefits for the brahmans; “welcome” in that it signifies approval of Lakṣmaṇa’s accompanying him to the forest (Cg).


“the twilight worship” saṃdhyām: The fire-sacrifice required at the time of the noonday “twilight,” when the sun is at its zenith (Cm, Cg, Ct). The morning twilight is some time passed (see 13.1 above), and it will be close to evening twilight when Rāma departs (see note to 31.27). On the twilights and the accompanying ceremonies see Kane 1962-1975, vol. II.i, p. 312.


“worth a thousand others” gajasahasreṇa: Literally, “at, equal to, the price of a thousand elephants”; a rare locution, but see Renou 1968, p. 292 (several S manuscripts read, “with a thousand units of gold” [niṣkā], that is, for its maintenance). Cg distinguishes this Śatruṃjaya from Daśaratha’s elephant of the same name (see 91.13).


“As Brahmā … Indra, lord of the thirty gods” brahmeva tridaśeśvaram: Ck, Ct, evidently considering the simile unusual — since Rāma is being coordinated not with the preeminent kshatriya god Indra, but with the preeminent priestly god Brahmā — assert that it is employed merely with reference to the relative power of the commander and the recipient of the command. But the comparison of Rāma to Brahmā reappears in other sorts of contexts (see 93.27, 96.27. and note on 46.64), and is evidently meant to signal a special feature of Rāma’s character (see the Introduction, Chapter 10).


Āgastya: The son of Agastya; Kauśika, the son of Viśvāmitra. We follow Cg who, like Ck (and Ct), must have read āgastyam (so the Kumbhakonam ed., contra the report of the crit. ed.). That Agastya himself should be in Ayodhyā is absurd; Rāma is not to meet him until 3.11.


“the learned preceptor of the Taittirīyas” ācāryas taittirīyāṇām abhirūpaḥ: The commentators offer no identification of this teacher of the Taittirīya school of the vedic tradition, with whom Rāma’s mother appears to have had a special intimacy. But note that Vālmīki (or rather, a Vālmīki) is named as an authority of this school (in the TaiPrāti 5.36, 9.4: the work is to be dated before 350 b.c., see Keith 1914. pp. xxxix-xli). The poet probably quotes the TaiS in 85.42 below, and may well be alluding to other Taittirīya scriptures in 39.8-9, 101.28, 102.3, 110.17 (see notes there).


Citraratha: No previous mention has been made of this charioteer, who is different from Sumantra (as Cg, Ck, Ct tell us); perhaps his son?

Rāma throughout the passage is taking pains to secure the maintenance of his and his mother’s friends and dependents (the older men in Daśaratha’s entourage would still be provided for by the king), lest they suffer from Kaikeyī’s studied neglect.


The presents listed here are presumably given to other brahmans. For the obscure terms employed one is forced to take refuge with the commentators:

“oxen” bhadrakān: So Cm, Cg. Ck, Ct gloss “a type of grain.”

“dairy needs” vyañjana: The word appears to be unique in the sense Cg here attributes to it. Ck, Ct read vyañjanārhān [not recorded in the crit. ed.], but this is equally obscure (“[grains] suitable as condiments”?).


After the first half-verse, the SR, Ñ1, and the good D manuscripts (4. 5. 7) insert eight lines showing Trijaṭa’s wife, oppressed by her poverty in the forest, urging her husband to seek refuge with the beneficent Rāma (763*).

“sallow” piṅgalaḥ: An effect of his life of poverty (Cg, Cs). Possibly also, or instead, a proper name?


The brahman is asked to throw his staff (possibly instrumental for accusative with verbs of throwing, as in Greek, see Smyth 1966, pp. 346-471 above the extensive herd of cows. He will receive as many cows as are covered by the flight of the staff (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct; see 770*). The commentators do not address the issue of the insensitivity (indeed, cruelty, as it must strike us) of Rāma’s “joke” Cm merely remarks, “it is meant to show how shamelessly avaricious brahmans can be about cows” (so Ck, Ct). One can well appreciate the aesthetic requirement for comic relief between the dramatic confrontations of sargas 7-28 and the hysteria to come in sargas 30ff., but the humiliation of poverty does not offer much.

Sarga 30


“they went to see their father jagmatuḥ pitaraṃ draṣṭum: “Though already given leave by his father, Rāma goes to Daśaratha to ask that Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā be granted permission to depart,” Cg (see 30.20-21).


“weapons, which Sītā had ornamented” āyudhe … sītayā samalaṃkṛte: The weapons would have been adorned by Sītā as an act of pūjā, worship (Ct), with sandalwood paste and such (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr; see 6.23.17).


“wealthy” śrīmān: Though the word usually connotes royalty, here it must be taken to signify simply “rich” (the commentators point out that all the structures are grand ones; they are otherwise silent).


“a vast army of four divisions” caturaṅgabalaṃ mahat: The four parts of an Indian army are the horse, elephant, chariot, and foot-soldier units.


“has always met the needs of the needy” kāmināṃ caiva kāmadaḥ: The clause seems irrelevant to the context. The NR replaces it with śaktimān api vīryavān, “though he is powerful and mighty” (783*).


“whom even creatures of the sky” yā … bhūtair ākāśagair api: Sītā, like all women of noble birth, would have lived up till now a life of uninterrupted sequestration (see the phrase used of a king’s wife, asūryaṃpaśyā, “who never sees the sun” [MahāBh on 3.2.36]). This fact makes it all the more dramatic when the queens show themselves in public following Rāma’s departure (35.24).


“some spirit that has possessed Daśaratha” daśarathaṃ sattvam āviśya: Pāda b as printed in the crit. ed., daśarathaḥ sattvam āviśya, is meaningless here, and the commentators cannot convincingly explain it. The NR’s sattvenāviṣṭa-, “possessed by a spirit’ (785*), makes almost certain the conjecture adopted here, daśaratham (accusative). The lection is found in one manuscript of Ck and is suggested also by the Mylapore editors.


The similes in these two verses seem to have been transposed, though no manuscript reports this.


After this verse most S manuscripts (and Ñ1) add by way of explanation: “For he is the root of human beings, the glorious one whose essence [or, sap] is righteousness: the fruit, flower, leaf, and branches are the rest of the people” (791*).


“even (when Rāma looked) at the people” (pratīkṣamāṇo) ‘pi janam … (rāmaḥ): The reading ‘bhijanam, which is never found in the Rām in the sense required here (see note to 53.15), seems at be based exclusively on Ct, who glosses “‘the place,’ that is, the people in it.” Cm, Cg, Ck all read ‘pi janam, and are supported by most of the NR. We confidently accept this (the concessive particle is also necessary here).

“not the least anguish touched him” anārtarūpaḥ: -rūpa, as in verse 23 below, is an intensifier (see note on 14.24).


“only then” tatpūrvam: Literally, “that being the first time.” He halted only when he had to; none of the earlier signs of grief having stayed him. There seems to be no other way to construe the adverb, which has the sense given here also in 6.115.16.


This verse is preserved only in the SR, and is accordingly marked as uncertain in the crit. ed.

Sarga 31


The NR inserts before this a sarga in which Daśaratha again renounces Kaikeyī, and Bharata too (line 5), and accuses hey of being in league with others (9-12). He expresses the hope that Rāma might disobey him, but knows he will not (31-32). He reproaches himself, fearing what people will say (kiṃ māṃ vakṣyati loko ‘yam, line 39), and only wishes that he could die before having to consign Rāma to such a miserable fate (App. I, No. 13).


“He has given away all his wealth” dhanaṃ dattvā sarvam: As Ck and Ct remark, the implication here is that Rāma has absolutely no intention of remaining in Ayodhyā.


It would seem as if the poet protests Daśaratha’s innocence too much. See the Introduction, Chapter 9.


“in the company of all my wives” dāraiḥ parivṛtaḥ sarvaiḥ: Why does Daśaratha want all his wives present? The commentators are silent. Perhaps he hoped that their anguish (verse 16) might check Kaikeyī, or that their very presence might shame her (32.13, 33.6) into relenting.


“Half seven hundred” ardhasaptaśataḥ: Not 750 as per PW s.v. (see 34.32).

Ck and Ct observe that the fact that the women surround Kausalyā substantiates Lakṣmaṇa’s previous statement [28.7] regarding her power. Though high-born women (and men, see 4.2 and note) are usually said to have coppery or red eyes, the commentators all remark that here it is due to weeping.


“countless” sahasra-: Here as often (such as verse 25 below, where Cg glosses aneka-, and see note on 2.6 above) for any large number. (Had he realized this, Cs would have been spared the problem of how to transmute 350 into 1,000.)

“made all the louder by the noise of their jewelry” bhūṣaṇadhvanimūrchitaḥ: Their jewelry would be shaking and falling off as the women beat their breasts and heads (Cm, Ck, Ct).


“and with Sītā’s help” sītayā sārdham: Cr seems to construe this phrase only with rudantaḥ (“in tears”), taking the plural verb as epicism for dual (this is possible, see 3.67.20 and note). The commentator may in fact be correct: not only would Sītā shrink from touching her father-in-law, but she later explicitly says that she would never willingly touch any other man than Rāma, not even with her foot (see 3.43.34, 5.35.62-63).


“overwhelmed by a sea of grief” śokārṇavapariplutam: Four conservative N and S manuscripts (D4, 5, 7, M3) apply this adjectival phrase to Rāma rather than to Daśaratha.


“as Prajāpati once gave his children leave” prajāpatir iva prajāḥ: Brahmā (Prajāpati) permitted his children, Sanaka and the others, to depart when they wanted to go off and perform religious austerities, according to Ct and Cr. The legend seems not to be attested elsewhere.


“I was deceived by Kaikeyī into granting a boon” kaikeyyā varadānena mohitaḥ: This follows the natural interpretation indicated by Cm and Cg (and made explicit in 821*.4 below, channayā calitas tv asmi striyā). Ck and Ct, presumably in order to eliminate the narrative inconsistency (see note on 9.13 and Introduction, Chapter 4), explain, “‘Because of my granting the boon to Kaikeyī I have become deluded,’ that is, utterly lost in grief and so unworthy or incapable of executing kingly duties”


“on my account” me: A sort of “ethical” dative.


For direct discourse to commence without a speaker introduction, as the crit. ed. has it here, is most unusual. The NR and SR differ completely here (though see 815*.17-18). But since the crit. ed. elsewhere includes unanimous SR readings when essential for the narrative, the necessary introductory verses in 816*, which have precisely the same manuscript authority as, for example, 30.24, must be put in the text before verse 26, as we have done.

“Go in safety” gacchasvāriṣṭam: An adverbial usage; possible also as adjective to panthānam (Cg). Cm, Ck, and Ct understand it as a sort of interjection, “farewell,” for which we find no evidence. (On the meaning of ariṣṭa-, see note on 37.19 below.)

“to good fortune, prosperity” śreyase vṛddhaye: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct distinguish the two as heavenly and earthly good, respectively.


“in the company of” saṃpaśyan: Literally, “seeing”; also possible: “out of regard for.”

“you may set out” sādhayiṣyasi: So Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct. Though common in the Sanskrit drama, the verb is rare in this sense in the Rām (see however 32.8). But it is quite unlikely that the poet intends a double entendre: “you may achieve your purpose (that is, that there may still be a way to achieve the coronation).

With respect to the chronology of the narrative, Ck, Ct observe that it was early in the day that Kaikeyī had banishment decreed for Rāma; that Rāma spoke with his mother and made the donations through the afternoon; and that it was early evening when he came to take leave of the king. (The sun sets in 41.10ff., soon after Rāma reaches the Tamasā River.)


“Who will confer” kaḥ … pradāsyati: That is, sooner or later his royal pleasures (so Cm, Cg, and Ct; see NR v.1.: yān adya bhogān prāpsyāmi, “the delights I shall have tonight”) will have to come to an end, and it might as well be sooner (note too that Rāma had promised to leave that very same day, 16.51, and see 16.22 and 40). Ck and Ct suggest an alternative, but less persuasive, interpretation: who will give [ascribe to me] tomorrow [if I should go tomorrow] the virtues [that is, dharma] I shall gain [if I go] today?


“its kingdom” sarāṣṭrā: Though somewhat awkward, this sense appears to be authorized by verse 33 below. Perhaps otherwise: “along with its vassal kingdoms” (see note on 43.11, and 102.31).


“this kindly land” mahīm imāṃ … śivām: Cg suggests that we are to understand by the adjective “kindly” that Rāma is not abdicating because of the rigors of kingship.

“as you have said” tvayā yad uktam: To Kaikeyī, as Cm and Ck note. Daśaratha himself has never yet Rāma to go into exile (see 16.24 and the end of the note on 12.16). though Rāma often speaks as if he had (see verses 33 and 35, 43.1, 97.21. 98.38, etc.; see the Introduction, Chapter 4).

Sarga 32


Before this the SR inserts a sarga (App. I, No. 14) in which Sumantra vehemently reproaches Kaikeyī, saying among other things that he himself shall go with Rāma, “for no brahman ought to live in your domain” (line 21), and explaining that her evil character derives from her mother’s. On this point he tells the following curious story: Kaikeyī’s father had been granted a boon, which enabled lam to understand the speech of animals. Once when he overheard what a bird was saying he laughed out loud. His wife, lying in bed with him and thinking him to be laughing at her, demanded to know the reason for his laughter. The king replied that, were he to tell her, he would straightaway die [for breaking the condition of the boon]. His wife persisted in her demand, regardless of whether he might live or die. The king then related the incident to the sage who had granted him the boon. The latter cautioned the king against telling, whatever his wife might do. Thereupon the king divorced his wife, “and enjoyed himself like Kubera” (33-54). For folkloric parallels to this story in India and elsewhere, cf. Ruben 1950, p. 294 note 1.

“in an urgent voice” punaḥ punaḥ: The reading has little manuscript authority (better punar vacaḥ) though cf. 46.14.


“eminent courtesans” rūpājīvāś ca śālinyaḥ: On the status of courtesans in the epics and the auspicious character of their presence, see Meyer 1930, pp. 264ff.

“with choice wares to display” suprasāritāḥ: This translation accords with Cm and Cg, “(merchants) making a display of their wares in the area of the camp” (cf. 42.3).


“all whose acts of strength have pleased him” ramate yaiś ca vīryataḥ: According to Cm, Ct, Cr, this refers to wrestlers whose bravery or strength he delights in testing. The SR adds that all the munitions, as well as townsmen and hunters, are to go, too (839*).


By a half-verse inserted after this verse (or in place of pādas cd), the NR makes explicit what Daśaratha intends by all these appointments: “Let Rāma enjoy the virtues of kingship even while living in the forest” (843*; cf. 840*).


“Great-armed” (ca) mahābāhuḥ: The NR reads more pertinently, (‘py) uddhṛtadhanām, “[Ayodhyā] emptied of its wealth” (cf. note on verse 10).

“Let … be sent off” saṃsādhyatām: Translated according to Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct; perhaps also: “let all the objects of desire fall to the share of Rāma.” By either translation, however, the intended contrast is clear.


On manuscript evidence (as well as for sense) the readings vivarṇā (“pale,” for viṣaṇṇā, “disconsolate”) and gatadhanam (“its wealth gone,” for gatajanam, “its people gone”) are far more likely (cf. T3, G1, 2, M1-3, vivarṇā, and Dg, Dt, M3 gatadhanam, supported by NR 846*, vivarṇa-, hṛtasāram), and are therefore adopted here.

Note that Kaikeyī’s demands of Rāma in 16.26 did include Bharata’s control of the treasury of Ayodhyā.


“large-eyed wife” āyatalocanām: Cg remarks, rather cryptically, that “the reference to her beauty [when she is acting so perversely] is a function of the reference to his sadness,” that is, apparently: it is used to show that his misery is inextricably connected with her physical attraction for him.


“dispossessed” upārudhat: Pace Cg, who claims that the word denotes only “exile” (Ct glosses, “to be shut out from the luxuries of kingship”). The whole point of the story is dispossession, not just exile (for which the poet normally uses pra or vi + the root vas or vraj).


The strange story of the psychopathic prince Asamañja, the very oddity and ignominy of which lend it a certain semblance of historicity, is related elsewhere in the Rām (1.37.16-21) and in the MBh (3.106.10-15, 12.57.8-9).

Sarayū: A river running to the north and west of Ayodhyā.


The SR continues: The minister knows of no crime on Rāma’s part, and if Kaikeyī does, she should speak out before the assembly. He also cautions Kaikeyī to guard herself from the ill fame she will incur as a result of these actions (859*).

Sarga 33


“must refuse” anujānāmi: cf. below 37.8, 44.19 and note.


“a small basket, too, and a spade” khanitrapiṭake cobhe: To be used for digging and collecting tubers, roots, and so on (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr).


Ct notes: “Up to this point Kaikeyī has effected what Mantharā set in motion; now she commences the act that will make her an object of universal scorn, as the brahman’s curse ordained. The curse is explicit[ly narrated] in the Adhyātma Rāmāyaṇa” (we are unable to locate the episode there; cf. the interpolation of the NR noted above on 9.27).


“a pair of them” cīre: The two articles of clothing are the upper and lower garments.


After this verse the SR (and Ñ1 and D) insert fifty-four lines, in which the other wives cry out that Sītā has not been ordered to live in the forest, and beg Rāma not to take her. Vasiṣṭha then reviles Kaikeyī, saying that Sītā should not go but rather, being Rāma’s “self” (cf. note on 24.3), should govern in his absence (lines 18-20); or she may go, if she would, and all the people will follow. He asks finally that Sītā be allowed to wear her jewels, if she insists on going (App. I, No. l5).


“as if defenseless, though her defender was at her side” nāthavatyām anāthavat: Or, “like a woman without a husband, though she had one” (according to Varadacharya, bark clothes were also the dress traditionally worn by widows [1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 375 note]). But cf. the use of nātha elsewhere, such as 36.2.

“A curse upon you … ” dhik tvām: The execration against Daśaratha, for his remaining passive and failing to prevent this outrage against Sītā even though her exile was not included in the stipulations of the boon, is eliminated in the NR (compare however the denunciation spoken by the villagers, 43.3-4).


kuśa grass” kuśa-: This would have been woven into a belt.

Within this verse the NR interpolates four lines in which Daśaratha exclaims that neither Lakṣmaṇa nor Sītā was meant, by the provisions of the boon granted Kaikeyī, to go into the forest (cf. the SR interpolations 873*.8 and 875*), and that therefore there is no reason for Kaikeyī to give them bark clothes (872*). After the verse the SR interpolates eighteen lines in which Daśaratha says that Sītā may go if she would [Cm, Ck, Ct on verse 16 below take this as Daśaratha’s granting her leave], but let her do so wearing her jewels.


“it suffices” paryāptam: This agrees with Cm, Cg, and Ct on the meaning of the word (they add, “that is, it suffices to send her to hell for as long as her soul shall exist”). Possible also: “Have you not already secured (Rāma’s exile)?”


“higher” bhūyaḥ: That is, higher regard than Kausalyā has been accustomed to receive from her husband (cf. 17.22, note on 10.40). Less likely, “(show her) continued (favor).”

“granter of boons” varada: Note how this common epic epithet applied to great and generous kings (cf. 2.34 and note) is invested here with a poignant and tragic appropriateness.

Sarga 34


“made many childless” vivatsā bahavaḥ kṛtāḥ: Cg, Ck, Ct supply dhenavaḥ “cows”) with vivatsāḥ (“childless,” literally, “calf-less,” cf. 38.16 below), though this is unnecessary, as the latter construes well enough with prāṇinaḥ by enjambment (such is Cr’s second interpretation, and see NR 881*, kṛtāḥ … viputrāḥ putravatsalāḥ). Daśaratha’s memory will become clearer later in the story (sargas 57-58).

For similar metaphysical explanations of otherwise inexplicable suffering, see 38.16 (Kausalyā), 47.19 (Rāma), and the Introduction, Chapter 5.


“Such … must be the reward” evam … pḥalam: Cm, Ck, and Ct heighten the sarcasm: since a good and heroic man is going into exile, śāstra must (somewhere) declare that such is the reward of virtue. One of the sources of dharmaśāstra is sadācāra, the doings of good people.


“He was a meticulous and altogether honest man, with an accurate knowledge” deśakālajñaṃ niścitaṃ sarvataḥ śucim: We read the second half of the verse differently from the crit. ed.: -jñam … śucim (thus also Ct), on equally strong, if not stronger, manuscript testimony and for contextual reasons (cf. note on 15). The crit. ed. reading would give something like, “(the king) knowing the proper time and place, announced his decision (which was) altogether honest” — not wholly nonsense, but almost.


“calculating against the number of years’ varṣāny etāni saṃkhyāya: That is, estimate the number of garments and so on that Sītā will require for the fourteen years of exile. Thus the propriety of the epithet in verse 14, “had an accurate knowledge of times and places.”


“Noble” sujātā: Literally, “well-born.” Glossed “not born from the womb” by Cm, Cg, and Ct (cf. below 110.27ff., 1.65, and note on verse 28 below).


“what was right and good” dharmārthasaṃhitam: Cg and Cr interpret: “(words) endowed with a motive (artha) which was righteousness.”


“I have learned well” śrutaṃ ca me: That is, from her own mother and father (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, and Cr); cf. 24.8.


A famous verse, found also in MBh (12.144.6), PañcT (3.148), MatsyaP (210.18), and elsewhere. There is no reason to believe that the Rām is the borrower (as Kane supposes, 1966, p. 29 note); the very image of lender-borrower for such gnomic verses is misleading, for many of them were, like proverbs, the common property of the culture (see also Introduction, Chapter 6).


“ I … understand this” evaṃgatā: Here we follow Ck, Ct, Cr, and Cs (Cm and Cg: “who have acquired this dharma of marital fidelity”).

“high-born woman” śeṣṭhā: This agrees with Cs; all other commentators, attempting to avoid the apparent self-praise (but cf. 46.24), construe it compound with pāda b (though compounding over pāda -boundary is extremely rare in the Ayodhyākāṇḍa): “I have learned … from the best women,” that is, from women worthy of respect (Cm, Ck), or who are themselves faithful (Cg): her mother, mother-in-law, etc.

“right from wrong” -dharmaparāvara: Literally, “the higher and lower aspects of righteousness”? (so Cr); Cm, Cg, Ct specify “the general rule [of righteous conduct] and the exception” (cf. 6.22 and note).

28. Kausalyā addresses Sītā again in a NR insertion after this verse (908*), saying at one point, “These words of yours do not surprise me, my daughter Maithilī, who cleaving the earth arose like lovely truth itself” (cf. above note on verse 17 for references to Sītā’s birth).


“Do not be (sorrowful)” mā (duḥkhitā) bhūs tvam: Were we to accept the widely attested S variant reading bhutvā (for bhūs tvam) we would have, “Mother, do not look upon my father sorrowfully (that is, with a sorrowful face).”


“safe and sound” samagram: As in 3.55.18, sītāyāḥ sāmagryam not “having executed his father’s order, or, with his wishes fulfilled,” Cg; nor “with his beatitude complete,” Cm; Ck, Ct, and Cs are on the right track: “with his brother and wife”; cf. MBh 7.50.15).

“my loved ones” suhṛt-: Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, as Cm also takes it (Ct, “‘surrounded by friends,’ that is, insofar as he will [then] be king”).


It is best, with Cm, Cg, to take mātaraḥ as epicism (for the sake of meter) for mātṝs.


“where … tambourines and bass drums rumbled like stormclouds” murajapaṇameghaghoṣavat: Cm, Cg, Ct, and Cr suggest that megha- (“stormclouds”) may also signify a musical instrument, but this is unexampled in epic literature. Cg, Ck, and Ct are all explicit in taking the compound as a rūpakasamāsa (metaphor compound), “where stormclouds — tambourines and bass drums — used to rumble,” though it is as easily upamānottarapada (a simile compound) as translated here.

Sarga 35


“to your loved ones” suhṛjjane: With Cg and Cr, taken as referring to Rāma [and Sītā] (cf. note on 34.31); if with Cm, Ck, and Ct, it is to be understood as “your loved ones here,” the clause will be concessive: “(you are determined to live … ) although devoted.” (Cg in his second explanation proposes to understand sṛṣṭaḥ as “born”: “Just as Kausalyā brought forth a son for the protection of the world, so .. you were ‘engendered’ by me for following Rāma into the wilderness” [= Ctś], but cf. the use of the word above, 27.27 and note.)

After this verse the NR adds, in the desire to account for Lakṣmaṇa’s wife (cf. 110.51, 1.72, and the General Introduction): “I and my kinsmen have been saved by having so good a son — you, who are ready to abandon your beloved wife and me in your devotion to Rāma” (917*).


“Look upon Rāma as Daśaratha” rāmaṃ daśaratham viddhi: Cm, Cg, Ct observe that Sumitrā provides Lakṣmaṇa with these substitutes lest in living in the forest he weaken his resolve by thinking back longingly on his father and the others. This simple admonition on the appropriate emotional stance Lakṣmaṇa is to adopt and that he might have some other attitude toward Sītéā she herself will come to suspect, see 3.43.6, 8, 22-24), caught the imagination of the more inventive or theologically inclined commentators, who offer a large number of interpretations. Two of these we offer from Cm and Cg by way of illustration: first, know that Rāma is “Daśaratha,” he whose chariot (ratha) is the Biter (daśa) [Garuḍa], that is, that Rāma is Viṣṇu; know that the daughter of Janaka is “me” (Sanskrit mām), that is, (= Lakṣmī); that the wood is Ayodhyā, the “Impregnable City,” that is, Viṣṇu’s city (Vaikuṇṭha). (See note to 39.1 on the traditional ascription to Sumitrā of the knowledge of Rāma’s divine nature.) Second, know that Daśaratha is [will as a result be] dead [rāmaḥ = uparataḥ]; that I will be [once again] the daughter of my father (janakātmajā) (that is, as a widow she will have to return to live in her father’s house); that Ayodhyā will be a wood, because everyone will depart with Rāma.


Mātali: The charioteer of Indra.


“which the queen has forced upon you” yāni devyāsi coditaḥ: For codita- to take a secondary object in the accusative (a gauṇa karma) is somewhat unusual, but it seems more awkward to take the final clause as an independent sentence: “The queen has compelled you,” that is, to leave this very night. Sumantra gives this advice either in the belief that for Rāma to have behind him even one day of the exile is a blessing (Cg), or in the awareness that dharma requires Rāma to leave immediately (Cr).


“leather basket” sacarma kaṭhinam: Comparing MBh 3.281.1, it seems certain that kaṭhinam means “basket” (so two Cnā cited in CSS on Rām 2.39.20); Cm, Cg, and Ct understand it as “spade,” and sacarma as “‘leather,’ that is, basket.”


“for his long (stay)” cirarātrāya: So Cm, Ct, and Cr; Ck: “(When) ‘at last’” (cf. 6.22 and note); Cg: “(a wave … ) ‘for a long time’ (passed).” The adverb is used, as noted by Varadacharya, to distinguish Rāma’s departure now from any brief excursions out of Ayodhyā he might have made in the past (1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 393 note).


“clangored” -śiñjita-: The word refers to the rattling of the horses’ trappings, according to AmaK (cited by Cg, Ck; similarly Cm, Ct).


“godlike child” devagarbhapratimaḥ: This agrees with Cm and Cg; Ck and Cs, with unnecessary specificity, gloss “Hiraṇyagarbha”; Ct, “Skanda”; Cr, “a god.”


“no more … than sunlight … Mount Meru” merum arkaprabhā yathā: See note on 3.19. The sun revolves clockwise around the mountain and so always partially illuminates it.

Notice the attractive comparison of Sītā first to a shadow and then to the gleam of the sun.


“accompanied by his desolate wives” vṛtaḥ strībhir dīnābhiḥ: See note on 30.8 regarding the presence of the royal women outside the palace.


“Oh mother of Rāma” rāmamāteti: Note the irregular sandhi (expect -mātar iti).

“while … the women … lamented over the crying king” antaḥpuraṃ … krośantaṃ paryadevayan: The line as printed in the crit. ed. is unclear. With some hesitation we understand antaḥpuram as the subject, krośantam as object (with nṛpam understood, cf. the NR’s version 941*, krośamāṇā [v.l., krośanto] nṛpam), and paryadevayan as plural for singular (either through pariṇāma or with the collective singular antaḥpuram treated as a plural). This agrees in general with Cg, though like most S and N manuscripts he too reads krośantaḥ. Krośantam could be a neuter singular epic participle (cf. Renou 1968, p. 337; Hopkins 1901, p. 69), but the king must be introduced somewhere, both for reasons of context and to explain the NR version 941*, nṛpam … parivavruḥ.


“sight .. was like a goad …” darśanam … totra- … iva: Differently Ct: Rāma was like an elephant tormented by a goad, the goad being Kaikeyī’s words.


“who seemed almost to be dancing” nṛtyantīm iva: A striking image, reported nearly unanimously by the manuscripts. The commentators suggest that the likeness consists in her oscillating movements. An NR insertion before this line shows Kausalyā raising her arms (950*), which might have been felt to enhance the simile (cf. note on 89.8).


“very soul” ātmā: The poet could have used any number of words had he meant merely “mind,” as Cg glosses. The situation demands the heightened sense (cf. also 58.55 and note).

“between two wheels” cakrayor iva cāntarā: The one at the front, the other at the back of the cart (Cg), so that if the cart goes forward, the back wheel crushes one, if backward, the front wheel.


“rebuke” upālabdhaḥ: Or, reading with several S manuscripts, upalabdhaḥ, “(even though you) did perceive it.” Concerning the lie that “ever-truthful Rāma” (cf. his words to Sugrīva in 4.7.21 and 14.13) urges his charioteer to make, the commentators are uncharacteristically silent, except for Cr, who attempts to preserve Rāma’s truthfulness by way of a rather complex argument turning on a fine point of linguistic philosophy: what Rāma tells him to deny is the necessary volition (kṛti, signified by the personal ending of the verb) motivating the effort (vyāpāra) that is required to secure the end result of the verbal root “hear”; this does not entail a denial of the contact of the sense-organ with the sense-object, which would indeed be untruthful.


“the people” taṃ janam: Apparently Kausalyā and other women of the inner chamber (Cg; cf. verse 32 above; called “the king’s people” in the next verse), not the townspeople (Cm, Ck, Ct), some of whom are said to follow Rāma up to the Tamasā River (cf. sarga 40). The NR calls them the “wives of the townsmen,” 952*.2.


“but their hearts did not, nor the rush of their tears” manasāpy aśruvegaiś ca na: The artificial construction of Cm and Ct for the second half as of this verse (“the other people, the townspeople, did not return ‘even with their hearts,’ let alone with their bodies”) attempts to account for the continued presence of the townsmen as noted above. Janaḥ and mānuṣam here refer to the same group of people (cf. the NR adaptation, 952*.3-4).


“his perfect son” sarvaguṇopapannam … sutam: Despite their being so far separated from one another, these two items are here construed together (the adjective having considerably less propriety with vacaḥ, “what they said”). The dislocation may have been felt to be particularly emphatic or emotive (cf. note on 24.16).

It is not necessary to describe in detail Jacobi’s arguments (1893, pp. 47ff.) for considering sargas 36-39 an interpolation. They are based on a subjective appreciation of poetic verisimilitude (cf. note on 57.3), on verses which are themselves interpolated (1369*, 1370*; even if one were to grant some authenticity to these lines, they do not have to be interpreted with the strict literalism Jacobi adopts; Rāma need not “just” have left: cf. 45.14 note for a similar case); and on an analytical text criticism whose fortunes have waned since Jacobi’s day.

Sarga 36


“of the entire world” jagataḥ: The item is less likely to be construed with kva, “where in the world.” Ct interprets it as an interjection by a second speaker (“who knows the true nature of the Blessed One”).


“and the sun vanished” sūryaś cāntaradhīyata: The clause instead might be concessive, “even though the sun vanished.” Fire-offerings are required at the evening twilight as at sunrise.

The sun disappears at Rāma’s misfortune, Ct cleverly suggests, because Rāma and the sun belong to the same clan (the Ikṣvāku clan traces its descent from the sun; cf. 102.5). Crā notes, “By saying, instead of ‘the sun set,’ that the sun ‘vanished,’ we are given to understand that, though a little of the day still remained, the sun was wasted by the tragedy of Rāma’s going into the wilderness and so disappeared.” Ct suggests further that the portents presage the death of Daśaratha (so Cm and Cg on verse 11), and of the demon-king, Rāvaṇa. Cm comments: “What the verse means is that, since Rāma is the Self of all creatures, when he suffers everyone suffers. And for that reason we must understand that every single thing that is set forth in this Rām is [not mere poetic convention, but] absolutely real” (similarly Ck).

The anthropomorphic response of all nature to Rāma that we see here (as in 40.28ff, 42.8ff., 53.4ff.), perhaps the first appearance of the motif in the literary tradition, is a theme that will be developed throughout the Vaishnava poetic corpus (cf. BhāgP 10.21, especially verses 15ff., for one particularly lovely example).


Triśaṅku: A dynast of the Ikṣvāku clan. His story is related in Bālakāṇḍa 59. Though not a planet (apparently some constellation, but probably not the Southern Cross as per PW, which cannot be seen in India and in any case consists of four, not three visible stars), Triśaṅku is included in the general reference, by the chatrinyāya [whereby one can characterize a whole group by properties that may apply only to a few members of it] (so Cg).

Lohitāṅga: Mars.

Bṛhaspati: Jupiter.

Budha: Mercury.

Cg is troubled by certain contradictions, too abstruse to detail, in the astronomical data here. But in commonplace descriptions of omens and portents such as this one we are wrong to expect astronomical precision on the part of epic poets.


“the constellation Viśākhā” viśākhāḥ: Four stars of Libra, according to Kirfel (1920, p. 36). It was the family constellation of the Ikṣvāku House; see 6.4.45, nakṣatraṃ param asmākam ikṣvākūṇām (according to Cm: “because Ikṣvāku was born in the clan of the sun, which sprang from the constellation Viśākhā”). Cm (second interpretation), Ck, and Ct erroneously gloss viśākhāḥ as an adjective referring to the planets and constellations (“out of their orbits”).


“suddenly” akasmāt: Though the word is not infrequently used in this sense, all the commentators take it in its more usual signification, “without apparent reason,” and then attempt to explain it in various ways, all of them unsatisfactory because that meaning is impossible here.


“children became indifferent, and brothers, too” anarthinaḥ sutāḥ … bhrātaras tathā: The verse is elliptical; we must understand: children become indifferent to their parents, brothers to their brothers. Cm’s remarks are worth recording in full: “On the grounds that Kausalyā did not stop Rāma when she saw him going to the forest, children forsook their mothers, thinking them to be of no avail; mothers forsook their children, thinking them to be of no use, since even Rāma left his mother and went to the forest; husbands, observing how treacherously Kaikeyī had acted towards her lord, forsook their wives, and wives in turn forsook their husbands after observing how the king, in disregard of Kausalyā, made her son go to the forest; brothers forsook their brothers, thinking that Bharata was the reason the kingship was taken from Rāma, and in the same way even younger brothers left their elder brothers. So everyone turned his back on everyone else and thought about Rāma — thought, that is, that he was their only true kinsman, and that there was no need for others.”


“As for Rāma’s friends” ye tu rāmasya suhṛdaḥ: According to Cg we are meant by this “to differentiate these friends from those previously mentioned [that is, the loved ones]: the emperor permitted Rāma to go, Kausalyā gave him her blessings and so neither was really a ‘friend’; not one of them did anything [to stop him]. The friends here mentioned are those to whom Rāma would tell things he would not tell even his parents … So why did they not grasp his feet and stop him? ‘They were bewildered.’”


“just as the earth would … if abandoned by Indra” puramdareṇeva mahī: Cm takes this to mean: because Indra is the lord of the three worlds, the earth if destitute of him would have no protector, and so would quake (so Ck and Ct). Less likely is Cg’s second suggestion: “as the earth quakes at the hands of Indra [in his aspect of] the splitter of mountains.”

Though the manuscript support is not overwhelming, -rathā(ḥ) (“chariots,” for -gaṇā(ḥ), “hosts”) seems to be a superior reading: the city, even with a complete army of four divisions (elephant, [foot-]soldier, horse, chariot), shook with fear when Rāma left.

Sarga 37


“he seemed to stand firm on the ground just to have him in sight” vyavardhatevāsya dharaṇyāṃ putradarśane: The line is problematic. Daśaratha is taken here as subject of the verb (and asya construed with putra-, literally, “[in order to have a view] of his son”). Not dissimilarly Cg (second interpretation), Ck, Ct, Cr, though they supply deham, “so long could ‘his body’ stand upright on the earth.” Quite differently Cm: “‘It,’ that is, the dust ‘on the ground, seemed to increase,’ as if it thought, ‘The king might remain yet a little while untroubled if with my help he can continue to watch his son.’“


“to his left side came Kaikeyī” vāmaṃ cāsyānvagāt pārśvaṃ kaikeyī: The detail is emphasized by the commentators as symbolically distinguishing Kaikeyī from Kausalyā both in her behavior toward the king and in his attitude to her.

“whose only love was for Bharata” bharatapriyā: = priyabharatā, paranipāta occasioned by the verse cadence (cf. note on 42.27).


“The king, a man of prudence” nayena … saṃpannaḥ … rājā: Considering what Daśaratha proceeds to say, the first half-verse should probably be understood concessively: “The king, though a man of prudence” (the commentators are silent).


“I renounce it all” anujānāmi tat sarvam: Daśaratha renounces the earthly prerogatives of matrimony, that is, his sexual relationship with Kaikeyī (Cm, Ct), and either the performance of religious ritual with his wife (Cm) or the results of such ritual, that is, heaven (Ct).


“sovereign kingship” rājyam avyayam: Not just the prince regency, because Daśaratha will be dead (cf. 47.7, 11-12; 69.6).

“any funeral offering he makes” yat … sa dadyāt pitrartham: That is, the śrāddha offering to the dead (cf. note on 71.1).


The crit. ed. misspells here (for samuddhvastam), as do virtually all the vulgate editions and commentators — a curiously persistent error.

“began to lead him home” nyavartata: In agreement with Cs, we explain the form as an unmarked causative.


“he collapsed in the ruts of the chariot” sīdato rathavartmasu: Ck and Ct understand less literally: “suffering at the sight of the path of the chariot.”


Translated here following a hint from Cs: Daśaratha looks again at the ruts into which he has fallen (verse 12) and, momentarily discomposed, imagines them to be the tracks of the chariot . Ct and Cr straightforwardly interpret, “Realizing that his son had reached the outskirts of the city, he said …,” but it is hard to see how this fits with verse 14.

“to the city” nagarāntam: -anta- here probably does not mean “the outskirts” (of the city; so Ct), but either functions as an “otiose, suffix-like element” (see Gonda 1938, pp. 453ff., especially pp. 464 and 476), or has the sense of “middle” (as in the common vanānta-, or veśmānta- in verse 20 below).


“like the bull” ivarṣabhaḥ: The simile is weak, unless some unattested sense of prasravaṇa- (“mountain stream”) lurks here, though this appears to be the meaning of the word in the Rām (cf. 5.54.12, 33.45, 33.55, etc.), except, of course, where it means Mount Prasravaṇa (as in 3.60.14, 5.34.38, etc.).


“the way a mourner enters a cemetery” apasnāta ivāriṣṭam: Literally, “as one who has performed the funeral bath enters an inauspicious place” (a burning ground, or cemetery). The translation is a rather desperate solution, but the problems of the line are insoluble, there being some irremediable corruption. In light of BuddhaC 7.7, puraṃ śanair apasnātam ivābhijagmatuḥ (“those two came slowly to the city as if going to a funeral bathing rite,” Johnston, see his note ad loc.), which is clearly adapted from our Rām verse, would expect apasnātam (or apasnānam), which we would translate, “a place for funeral bathing” (rather than the rite itself; for apasnānam cf. 3.3.117). The difficulty of ariṣṭam, however, remains intractable. In the Rām the word always has its ancient (vedic) and authentic sense. “free from evil or danger” (cf. 31.26, 5.1.179. etc.; here is another small point to consider in locating the Rām historically, for the use of the word in this sense is limited almost exclusively to vedic texts). The one exception is 6.55.120, where the variant reading arighnam seems compelling. The negative connotations of the word appear only later in the epic period (MBh 12.69.47 is perhaps the earliest example; cf. also Vaidya on MBh 8.2.5), and it is unreasonable to suppose that the poet would have used the same word in two diametrically opposed senses. Hence the suspicions of corruption, and the stopgap character of the translation. The commentators understand, “as a man who has performed the funeral bath might enter a polluted place, such as a lying-in chamber” (and so be polluted once again; or, extrapolating considerably, the lying-in chamber where the infant son he just cremated had been born — so Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 1, note on p. 409), but this signification of ariṣṭa- is post-epic. The NR points altogether elsewhere: “as if seized with an epileptic fit.” For an interesting discussion of “le cas curieux du terme áriṣṭa-” cf. Renou 1939-1942, p. 7.


“the people haggard, feeble” klāntadurbala-: Cm and Cg remark that this implies that all who were able to walk had followed after Rāma (see sarga 40).


“like a … pool, from which Suparṇa has snatched the serpents” -hradam iva … suparṇena hṛtoragam: The simile is a but odd, in making “serpents” the upamāna or standard of comparison of Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa. and Sītā (it is repeated in 1032*.3-4 below). Cm, Ck, Ct unsatisfactorily explain that the illustration has reference merely to the king’s being able to enter his home without fear of enemies (that is, they do not relate pādas ab to cd). We take it somewhat more closely with Cg, whose comment however is highly elliptical: “[He entered the house which was previously] like a pool that was not to be penetrated [by hostile creatures] because it had serpents [and which then becomes penetrable after Garuḍa has taken the serpents away].” Cf. note on 75.14.


After the first half of this verse, the SR adds: “For nowhere else will my heart find consolation” (974*). It is, again, only in such passing references that the subordinate drama of Kausalyā’s relationship with Daśaratha — their marriage, her childlessness and supersession by Kaikeyī, her renewed position of trust and authority after Kaikeyī’s repudiation — is adumbrated in the received text (cf. the Introduction, Chapter 8).


“Looking around” tac ca dṛṣṭvā: All but several NE manuscripts (which consequently alter the reading in pāda a) precede this verse with a line that supplies some antecedent to tac. In all cases it is “house,” and that is doubtless what we must understand.


“at the hour” taṃ kālam: Accusative of time at which (cf. 63.2, 75.1, 5.65.26, Cm, Cg on 5.38.14, and Böhtlingk 1896, p. 250).


“touch me” māṃ … spṛṣa: According to Ck, Daśaratha wants to find out whether Kausalyā is in fact present; to Ct, whether he is still really alive.

“My sight has followed after Rāma” rāmaṃ me ‘nugatā drṣṭiḥ: Note the attractive rhetorical figure (technically an utprekṣā or “poetic fancy”).

Sarga 38


“like a snake that has shed its skin” nirmukteva hi pannagī: Cg suggests, “with boundless cruelty.” Herpetologists say that shedding the skin is a traumatic process for a snake, which may well result in increased aggressiveness. But the point of the simile is probably simply that Kaikeyī will now act with “naked cruelty.”


“like a vicious serpent in the house” duṣṭāhir iva veśmani: The implication, as Cr points out, is that Kaikeyī should be driven from the palace.


“You had the freedom to grant such a boon” kāmakāro varam dātum: A problematic line, for which the commentators are no help. The key to it is to be found by comparing the poet’s use of kāmakāraḥ elsewhere (98.15, 3.57.6, 6.98.23, 104.8 [cf. also 2.2201*). Invariably the sense is “an act of one’s own free will” (Both here and in the next verse Kausalyā suppresses naming the agent, Daśaratha. Only by verse 7 can she no longer maintain her tactful reticence: similarly in 55.16ff.) Kausalyā recognizes that Rāma’s succession could legally be set aside, but she cannot forgive her husband’s truly senseless act in freely allowing Kaikeyī a boon by which to Rāma (here, as noticed elsewhere, the “boon” is obviously regarded as a single one, given during the interview in sarga 10; the “two boons” are unknown).


“But you let Kaikeyī … throw” pātayitvā tu kaikeyyā: Technically kaikeyyā is the prayojyakartā of the verbal, Daśaratha (unnamed) the prayojaka: “[you,] letting Kaikeyī throw Rāma … have assigned him” (so Cm, first interpretation).

“from his place” sthānāt: Ck, “from dwelling in his own house”; Cm, “or, from the kingship.” Cm’s explanation of the simile is a good one: “As the sacrificer at the half-month (that is, new- or full-moon festival) assigns the heap of husks from the rice[-cake offered during the rite] as portion for the demons, so Kaikeyī has delivered Rāma up as portion for the demons [Ct: and thus, “we can never hope to see him again, for he will be slain by them”]. This donation is prescribed in the Darśapūrṇānukrāmaṇikā [“The Index to the New- and Full-Moon Rite”], [with the liturgical expression:] ‘Hail to the demons! This is for the demons, it is not mine’” (thus also Ctr, vol. 1, p. 313, with citations from śrauta literature). Cg understands differently: “‘the share’ of the kingdom that should have been given by you [Daśaratha] to Rāma, ‘was assigned to Kaikeyī [taken as genitive], as a sacrificer [might assign] a portion’ of an oblation ‘to the demons,’ when it should have been given to the gods.”


“yielded to Kaikeyī” kaikeyyānumate: Cg rightly takes this as double saṃdhi (that is, kaikeyyāḥ as genitive).


“my two … sons” mamātmajau: The NR removes the reference, reading “the two Rāghavas’ (cf. Kausalyā’s explicit statement in verse 18).

After (or somewhere near) this verse all manuscripts save B add: “When shall I see them entering Ayodhyā, with their lovely earrings, their weapons and swords upraised, like two high-peaked mountains” (980*).


“When will maidens” kadā … kanyāḥ: The ceremony is unknown to the commentators; “An auspicious ritual observance of the northerners,” is all Cg can say. Reading differently, Cm, Ck, and Ct understand, “When will Rāma and the others give bowers to maidens and fruits to brahmans, and circle … .”


“young as a deathless god” vayasā cāmaraprabhaḥ: That is, “twenty-five years old, for the gods always remain twenty-five years old,” Cm and Cg; cf. Rāma’s own words in 3.4.13-14, and note that this is almost certainly the age of Rāma at the time of his exile (cf. note on 17.26).

Sarga 39


Sumitrā’s presence during Daśaratha’s interview with Kausalyā has not in any way been indicated prior to this; the NR transfers the whole sarga to a place later in the narrative (after sarga 56). The commentators are more disposed here than previously in the Ayodhyākāṇḍa to interpret anagogically; Ctś perhaps explains this when he mentions the traditional belief that, like Tārā and Mandorarī (who appear later in the Rām, in Books Four and Five respectively), Sumitrā possesses, by reason of her merit accumulated in a former birth, knowledge of Rāma’s transcendent divinity, paratvajñāna, which she here expounds. Partially similar is Cm on verse 8 below; cf. also note on 35.8.


In the traditional manner of counting the Rām, its 24,000 verses are correlated with the twenty-four syllables of the Gāyatrīmantra [ṚV 3.62.10] (the first syllable of the mantra coming at the commencement of the poem). The first syllable of this verse (va, corresponding to the fifth of the mantra) indicates that 4,000 verses of the (vulgate) Rām have been completed (noted by Cm, Cg).


We agree with Ct (and Cm, Ck, more or less), who sees in verses 5 and 6 further reasons why Rāma should not be mourned, and is in fact a lucky man (Cm accordingly understands rāmasya in 5d), rather than with Cg (and Ctś), who believes Sumitrā to be saying: Kausalyā should rejoice that both Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa are so firmly devoted to their respective duties and he accordingly understands lakṣmaṇasya in 5d; the NR does, however, support this interpretation, cf. 985*, 988*).

Ct observes, with reference to verses 5-6, that by Lakṣmaṇa’s “compassion in all creatures” it is implied that he is an avatar of Śeṣa, the supporter of the all-supporting earth: that by Sītā’s following Dharma [incarnate in Rāma] it is implied that she is Śrī, and by this that Rāma is the Blessed One (Viṣṇu).


“What gain has your … son failed to reap” kiṃ na prāptas tavātmajaḥ: We follow Ct and Cr; Cm, Cg, and Ck gloss, “for what blessing is he not fit.”


“purity” śaucyam: We translate the reading of the crit. ed., though the variant śauryam (“valor”) of several S manuscripts is authenticated by the NR’s sattvam (“courage”).

In support of their anagogical interpretation Cm and Ct (so too Ctś) appositely cite the scriptural passage, “From fear of him the sun rises” [TaiU 2.8], on which Cm remarks. “It is unreasonable to hold that the sun would burn the supreme soul when the sun fears the supreme soul, as we know for certain from this scriptural passage.” Perhaps the poet truly intended the allusion (cf. note on 29.13).


Cm (so Cg) again quotes scripture. “From fear of Him the wind blows” [TaiU 2.8].


Ctś cites, “By command of the Imperishable One, the sun and moon are held in their places” [BṛĀraU 3.8.9].


“was given divine weapons by Brahmā” dadau cāstrāṇi divyāni yasmai brahmā: Contrast 28.12-13 and note. The event here referred to is not mentioned elsewhere in the Rām (though cf. 3.48.23 and note). There is consequently considerable uncertainty among the commentators. Cm and Cg: “Timidhvaja is Śambara, cf. ‘the city called Vaijayanta, where Timidhvaja ruled, the same who is called Śambara’ [9.10-11 above, cf. note there]. When Brahmā saw Śambara’s son, the Dānava king, killed [by Rāma], he gave Rāma divine weapons. This is referred to above ‘Whenever he goes forth with Saumitri to battle in defense of a village or city, he always returns triumphant’ [2.24 above]. Once Rāma went to the Daṇḍaka forest and laid siege to the city of Vaijayanta, where he slew the son of Śambara, who had shown hostility to Daśaratha. Pleased by this act, Brahmā gave him the weapons:” Ct calls their explanation “desperate conjecture.” Ck (so Cr, Cs) suggests: “‘Brahmā’ is the Brahmā-like maker of creation [or just, “the brahman” (so Ct)], that is, Viśvāmitra [so too the NR, 992*]; the ‘son of Timidhvaja’ is Subāhu” (a demon slain by Rāma, see 1.29). Ct again criticizes this latter equation on the grounds that Viśvāmitra gave the divine weapons to Rāma after the death of Tāṭakā (1.25-26). and prior to that of Subāhu. He also maintains that Subāhu could not possibly be the son of Śambara, inasmuch as he had already been identified as the brother of Mārīca [this is not actually so, but according to 1.19.24-25 we would at least be justified in assuming that Subāhu is the son of Upasunda, and Mārīca the son of Sunda]. Cr, for his part, disputes Ct’s reasoning, but not altogether cogently.

After this verse the SR includes a ten-line insertion (993*) which further extolls Rāma’s virtues. Ct comments (on 44.15 vulgate) that these verses show Rāma to be the antaryāmin or inner-controller of all things (cf. for example lines 7ff.: “He is the Sun of the sun, the Fire of fire … he is the Divinity of the gods”).

Sarga 40


“men loyal to him” anuraktāḥ … mānavāḥ: On these followers, see the note on 35.36.


“his people … as though they were his children” tāḥ prajāḥ svāḥ prajā iva: The words for “people” (“subject”) and “child” here are, untranslatably and significantly, the same: prajā-. On the significance of this, see the Introduction, Chapter 3.


“welfare” hitāni, “happiness” priyāṇi: Agrees with Crā. Cm, Ck, and Ct want to distinguish between priya- and hita- as earthly and heavenly good (the latter specified as Bharata’s preservation of the duties of caste and stages of life).


“though gentle he is endowed with all the virtues of a hero” mṛdur vīryaguṇānvitaḥ: We accept the view of Cm, Ck, and the indications of symmetry, in identifying mṛduḥ (“mild”) as concessive, rather than vīryaguṇānvitaḥ (“endowed with all the virtues of a hero”). Ct reverses it (“He is gentle though endowed … “).

Rāma, we have seen (note on 17.26), is about twenty-five years old at the time of his exile. His calling his brother Bharata a “boy” gives further credence to the inference about his youth (see note on 8.9).


“I myself have shown you, you must obey” mayā śiṣṭaiḥ kāryaṃ vaḥ: We understand vaḥ as instrumental (so too, it seems, Ck; this is epicism, cf. Sen 1956, p. 268, where, however, he neglects to note this case), and construe it with śiṣṭaiḥ (derived from the root śās). The commentators fail to make sense of the verse.

Rāma has “shown” the citizens by was of his own example that they, two, must accede to the king’s decisions, however displeasing they may be — a very important point for the significance of the poem as a whole, and one which the poet is not content to make merely by way of implication.


“By their virtues … seemed to bind” iva guṇair baddhvā: The verse works on a common pun, guṇa- meaning both “virtue” and “string” or “rope.”


“authority” ojasā: Or, according to the commentators, the “power” acquired by the brahmans’ religious austerities (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct).

“began to cry out from afar” dūrād ūcuḥ: Since they are physically incapable of running up to Rāma (Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr).


“Rāma then … proceeded on foot” padbhyām eva jagāmātha … rāmaḥ: Rāma was unwilling to proceed by chariot lest the brahmans hurt themselves (in trying to run after), nor could he turn back in deference to them lest his vow be broken. He thus continues forward, but slowly, so that the brahmans might catch up (Cm, Cg, Ct). Ctr (vol. 1, p. 317) finds a scriptural precept for Rāma’s conduct: tasmāj jyāyāṃsam kanīyān pratyavarohati (“Therefore a younger person must descend [from his vehicle] before an elder [who is on foot]”).


“brahman order” brāhmaṇyam: Cm (first explanation) and Ck interpret this as the “activity,” that is, accoutrements of the brahmans (by karmaṇi ṣyañ [ 5.1.124], rather than by samūhe yat [4.2.42], as we analyze it [so too Ct]).

“sacred fires … borne on the shoulders” -skandhādhirūḍhāḥ … agnayaḥ: It would be the receptacles and fire-sticks that the brahmans carried on their shoulders (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct), not the live fires themselves, in fire pots (as presumably is the case in 69.9).


“umbrellas given to us at the vājapeya rite” vājapeyasamutthāni chatrāṇy etāni … naḥ: “One who performs the vājapeya rite [a soma-sacrifice, performed only by brahmans and kshatriyas] acquires a [white] umbrella, just like a king’s, according to the statement of scripture, ‘Therefore (for the rest of one’s life [addit Cg]) the performer of the vājapeya does not rise up [as a mark of respect] before anyone. (One becomes a bearer of the white umbrella [addit Cg]),’” so Ck, Cg [on verse 21 below]. We find something very similar in TaiBr, and PañcBr 18.6.12 (see ĀpaŚS 18.7.18 and Kane 1962-1975, vol. 2.ii, p. 1,210 and note).

Geese — these would be the white royal geese, corresponding to the white umbrellas — migrate after the monsoons, in the autumn.


“our minds are made up … to turn to a life in the forest” sā kṛtā …vanavāsānusāriṇī: Cg remarks that with this [their intention to abandon vedic study, Cm, Ck, Ct], the brahmans are placing a heavy burden of responsibility on Rāma, and by so doing hope to persuade him to return (as Cg explains more fully on verse 19 above).


“will any regard now be paid to what is right?” kiṃ syād dharmam avekṣitum: A difficult quarter-verse. We understand kim as an interrogative particle, and syāt with infinitive as “is there a chance that?” “will you?”. The point seems to be this: since Rāma is so wise in dharma, can he not see the transgressions that he is forcing them to commit because of his departure? The brahmans in the following verses appear to be cataloguing the breaches of dharma that have occurred and will occur if they follow Rāma (as they must if he continues). This explanation is relatively close to Ck: “Since you have constant regard for dharma, do you have a mind [repeated from pāda b] to regard our dharma?” The other commentators are perplexed.


“We have bowed our heads … we have pleaded” yācitaḥ … śirobhiḥ: Several commentators, troubled that the verse shows (aged) brahmans bowing down before a (young) kshatriya, remark, “It is because they know he is the Supreme One” (Cg), “or, because there is no fault in bowing down to a king, insofar as kings are a portion of Viṣṇu” (Ct). Ck offers a more elaborate explanation: “Why for that matter do we [brahmans] at the present day bow down [apparently before icons of Rāma]? If we answer that by listening to the Rām we come to believe in Rāma as the supreme god [kuladaivata], whereby our belief in him as the son of a kshatriya mother terminates, we can conclude that precisely the same reason obtains here: these brahmans came to understand that Rāma is Brahmā, and all the more easily [than we], because they actually experienced, with their very senses, the different properties of his divine nature.”


If Rāma does not return he will be guilty of obstructing the sacrifices, presumably because the brahmans will not return without him.


“because their roots prevent their movement” mūlair uddhataveginaḥ: The crit. ed.’s -vegibhiḥ is marked as dubious. The preferable lection is -veginaḥ, “(trees) whose movement (is prevented by their roots),” adopted here (though it is just possible to dissolve the instrumental compound in the same sense, the -in suffix being otiose).

“as the gusting wind uplifts them” unnatā vāyuvegena: To be construed as a unitary phrase (cf. the NR v.l. ūrdhvaśākhāḥ): through the force of the wind the trees are raising up and waving their armlike branches in their misery (exactly as in 3.50.32, when Sītā is abducted). This is also the typical posture of mourning (cf. 51.23, 59.14, 60.15).


“They sit in one place in the trees” vṛkṣaikasthānaviṣṭhitāḥ: That is, the birds do not alight on the earth even to find food (Cm, Ck), and implore Rāma to turn back even if they must die in the process. Cg remarks, “Thus animals and unmoving things were pained, and it is because Rāma is the embodied soul of all things. When the embodied soul is discomfited, the body is seen to be tormented.”

Sarga 41


Translated in accordance with the commentators (Cm and Cg in particular) and the indications of the parallel verse, 47.2 (and cf. the NR’s version, 1017*). Alternatively: “This is the first night, Saumitri, that [we] have gone to [spent in] the forest. [But] please, do not feel sad at our living in the forest [karmaṇi ṣaṣṭhī]:”

According to Cm, Rāma wants to emphasize that the period of their exile is already beginning to diminish, and for that reason Lakṣmaṇa should not feel sad.


“all around they seem to weep” rudantīva samantataḥ: The forest appears to be sobbing, presumably, because of the animals’ nighttime sounds (as Cg notes, though he seems to contradict this when he goes on to say, “‘empty means gloomy … and this gloominess makes for the poetic fancy of the forest’s weeping”; Cm, Ck, Ct gloss the verb rudanti as “seem downcast”).


Cg comments, “His memories are awakened by the poetic fancy of the forest’s weeping, and he thinks back on what is happening in the city.”


It is not certain (despite the hi, for this particle has a protean character in the epics) whether the second line supplies the reason for the first, or its consequence. The implications are, in the one case, that otherwise Rāma would have had to seek protection for her, which Lakṣmaṇa all by himself can now provide (Cm and Cg, especially Ct and Cr); or, in the other, that since Lakṣmaṇa has fulfilled his duty by the very act of his following Rāma, it is as something over and above this that Rāma must seek his attendance on Sītā. This would be a polite circumlocution for asking Lakṣmaṇa to fetch her food and drink, which would tally nicely with the following verse; this is what Ck intends. and how we understand it.


Rāma will fast because it is the inaugural day of his exile (and fasting is ancillary to the commitment to undertake exile in the forest [vanavāsasaṃkalpāṅgātvena], Ck, Ct). On their first night of exile the Pāṇḍavas likewise drink only water. MBh 3.1.40 (Ctr adduces this, claiming that on entering the forest one is required to abstain from food on the first night). Another reason to fast is the holiness of the place, according to Cg, Cm, and Cr. Cs believes the implication to be that Rāma fasts at the pilgrimage site in view of the fact that his father may have only a short time to live [that is, as an apotropaic rite?], cf. 44.24 below and note. Rāma finally does eat, and ravenously, after he crosses the Ganges (46.79).


“When Rāma had worshiped … and saw” upāsya … dṛṣṭvā … rāmasya: The subject of the gerunds in pādas ab is rāmasya, to whom in the first instance the ritual is always ascribed elsewhere (43.2, 44.24, 47.1, etc.; for this kind of “dangling” gerund, see 48.18. 84.5. 106.7, and Gonda 1967, pp. 264-65). Cg and Cr unwisely construe the gerunds with sūtaḥ, “charioteer,” being then forced to explain: “‘worship’ here means greeting. Even the sūta- caste [offspring of a pratiloma marriage, cf. ManuSm 10.26; but cf. also above 32.1 note, where Sumantra appears to be a brahman] is allowed to make the greeting, but only that [and not use the Gāyatrīmantra]”


“Escorted by Saumitri’ saumitreṇa sārdham: The translation here agrees with Cm (first explanation). Word order might more cogently suggest the following: “Rāma found … and then with Saumitri and his wife,” but common sense and the procedure in 44.25 speak against this. A strong variant reading, attested in all recensions, for the second half of the śloka is: “Rāma bade goodnight to Saumitri and …”


“he engaged … in conversation, talking about Rāma’s many virtues” kathayām āsa … rāmasya vividhān guṇān: Lakṣmaṇa talks about Rāma’s virtues simply to pass the time and stay awake (Ck, Ct; Cg on the following verse).


“at a little distance” vidūrataḥ: Ck, Ct maintain that the specification (glossed “near by” by Cg in the VSP, who thus appears to have understood avidūratah) indicates that Rāma camped away from the crowd of twice-born so that he could depart more easily after deceiving them (see below). The herds of cattle on the bank may have been a more powerful reason (Cr feebly suggests that Rāma was afraid he might commit some infraction like spitting in the river, were he too close to it).


“good … Lakṣmaṇa” lakṣmaṇaṃ puṇyalakṣaṇam: Literally, “of good, auspicious marks, traits,” that is, particularly his devoted service to his elder brother.


“(a path) free from danger” akutobhayam: cf. verse 28 below. The NR offers tapovanam, “(along the path) to the grove of asceticism,” a reading substantiated by the SR in a recapitulative verse (1029*.4).


“now, or ever again” ato bhūyo ‘pi (n)edānīm: We differ from all the commentators in our understanding of the pāda. Cm and Cg: “They should not sleep again as [but whence the iva?] now” [or, “will not?” that is, they will return home?]; Ct: “Since they are loyal, they will not sleep [much longer] beyond this”; Ck seems to read without the negative: “They will sleep beyond this because they did not have anything to eat or drink on the previous day, and spent the night wakeful because of grief,”


“head northward” udaṅmukḥaḥ: Toward Ayodhyā.

Rāma does not go himself lest by making even this partial return to the city he break his vow (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr).

Cg comments on Rāma’s deception as follows: “If Rāma is so compassionate, is it not wholly improper for him to deceive those who love him so dearly and cannot stand to be separated from him? The answer is that this is not in fact deception. It cannot be a insofar as it is something done in their own best interests. The people of the city ran the risk of dying from the excessive bliss [of being with Rāma]. By the proverb of “healing a wound” [whereby initially the medicine may be more painful than the wound itself], Rāma contrived to separate himself from them under the pretext of going to the forest, and this was intended almost as a therapeutic regimen for them. If Rāma had not this, then how to explain the fact that every single person was put to sleep? For some one among them, like Sumantra and Lakṣmaṇa, must otherwise have remained awake.”

“on returning” pratyāgamya: That is, by another route (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct).

“eddying” -ākulāvartām: Note paranipāta of āvartā (expect -āvartākulām). The phenomenon is not uncommon in the epics (cf. 37.4, 43.12, 45.13 and notes there; 5.12.8, 39.14. 6.40.1; HariVaṃ 40.44, 41.12, 55.3. 78.1, etc.).

The SR, by transposing verses 24-26 and 27-28, has Rāma first cross the Tamasā and then send the charioteer back to confuse the townsmen.


With this verse the vulgate commences a new sarga. For the rest of this sarga the NR substitutes simply: “When the townsmen awoke at the close of night, they saw that the chariot had turned back, and in the belief that the prince had returned to the town they went back to the city themselves” (1031*).


After this verse, the SR inserts twenty lines (1030*), reporting the incredulous and mournful outcry of the townsmen, their shock that Rāma could have done something so unfair to them (5-8). their threat to commit suicide (9-12). their anxiety about returning to the city without Rāma (13-18).


“when it gave out’ mārganāśāt: That is, the chariot track heading toward the city; it would of course have to continue in another direction, but presumably the townsmen are by now sufficiently convinced that they have been deceived (“by fate,” verse 32) and that it would be futile to search further.


“good people” -sajjanām: “The qualification is meant to exclude Kaikeyī and her partisans,” Ck, Ct.

Sarga 42


“would have no meals prepared” apacan: Very possibly an unmarked causative. Cg (understanding as simplex) hastens to point out that “it is only because their wives are ‘half their bodies’ [cf. note on 26.3], that the householders themselves can be said to have any connection with cooking” (that is, the men do not actually do any cooking themselves).


Ct (and Cm, who is similar) comments on what he takes to be the theological implication of the verse: “Those who did not attentively keep blessed Rāma in sight, but returned out of attachment to their homes, sons, wives, pleasures, and so on, will transmigrate again and again, and will never attain liberation. For even the sight of his phenomenal form renders the mind clear, and by means of this one becomes qualified for the knowledge requisite for ultimate liberation.”


“Fortunate” kṛtapuṇyāḥ: Literally, “will realize [reap the benefits of] their [previously won] merit”; equally possible: “[must have] built up merit.” For the anthropomorphic response, cf. note on 36.9.


“will adorn” śobhayiṣyanti: None of the commentators clarifies the sense of the word (in 1044*.6 it is Rāma who is said to “adorn the forests,” as in 3.12.8). The NR reads either “delight” or “attract” (could such be the sense, otherwise unattested, of śobhaya- here?).


“before he is too far away from us” purā bhavati no dūrāt: The translation of pāda a (purā as conjunction) is in accordance with Cg’s intention (though he takes it as “he will soon be far, so … “), and many N manuscripts (cf. 1039*, yāvad dūraṃ na gacchati). Cm, Ck, and Ct, reading ‘dūrād, gloss, “he will be [purā adverbially as a simple future-tense marker, according to 3.3.4] near us” [that is, to protect them, as per verse 13].

“the shadow of the feet” pādacchāyā: That is, attending on him (Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct).


“we would have no further use” na … naḥ … arthaḥ: The second half of the verse forms the apodosis (so according to the interpretation of Cm), not pāda b, as Cg takes it. He argues this on the grounds that “this is a statement made under the supposition of what will occur,” that is, Daśaratha’s death. But the very conditions in which Kaikeyī acquires the kingship would be “against all that is right” and it would necessarily be “with our one defender gone” — Rāma, not Daśaratha.


“so long as she lives, or we do” jīvantyā … jīvantyaḥ: Cg is correct to take the participles as indicating temporal extent rather than as simple attributives (“living as her servants,” so Cm, Ck, Ct).


“total devastation” vilopaḥ: Usually by enemy troops (ArthŚā 7.4.22, 8.4.15, etc.), but in view of verses 19 and 24 it is probably despoliation by Kaikeyī and her son that is meant.


“impoverished, luckless men” kṣīṇapuṇyāḥ sudurgatāḥ: “Their greatest wealth — Rāma — has been lost, so they are ‘impoverished’” (Cg), and since Rāma is gone, the merit acquired in their previous existences must have been used up, and thus they are called “luckless” (see the note on 42.8).

“mix” āloḍya: As in MBh 4.20.33, viṣam āloḍya pāsyāmi.

“you shall never be heard from again” aśrutim … gacchata: That is, “die” (see the following verse; so the NR, praṇāśam … anugacchata; against Cm, Cg, Ck, and Ct, who suggest, “Go to some distant place whence not even your names (“where not even Kaikeyī’s name,” Ct] will be heard”).


“than their own sons” sutaiḥ: Instrumental of comparison (cf. also 82.10, and Renou 1968, p. 292).

Note how the women’s affection for Rāma is said to be only either maternal or sisterly (though one B manuscript reads, “as though … a husband had been banished”). It is as if the poet were attempting to differentiate their attitude from that of the cowherders’ wives for Kṛṣṇa.

Sarga 43


“the frontier of the realm” viṣayāntam: The southern border of Kosala (but cf. note on verse 7 below).


“wide-spaced boundaries” vikṛṣṭasīmāntān: That is, the plots were large and not crowded together. Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr interpret as “exceptionally well-plowed boundaries,” but this gives vikrṣṭa- a sense it does not have elsewhere in the epics.

“he proceeded swiftly — though it seemed so slow” atiyayau śīghraṃ śanair iva: As Varadacharya remarks, Rāma’s progress seemed slow because he was so zealous [to enter the Daṇḍakas and] to commence his exile (1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 453 note). Less acceptable Cm, Cg: the horses were so skilled in running and the sights of the countryside so attractive that Rāma believed himself to be going very slowly.


“who made their homes in the villages” grāmasaṃvāsavāsinām: Cg, Cm, Ct, Cr gloss, “living in villages and hamlets”; we agree with Ck, -saṃvāsavāsin- forming a cognate accusative construction (cf. note on 48.33).


“steadfast” atandritam: Many S manuscripts, including the recensions of Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr, read instead jitendriyam, “self-controlled.”


“he passed beyond the land of Kosala” atiyayau … kosalān: This seems to indicate that the Vedaśrutī River (mentioned in the next verse) formed the southern border of Kosala (contrast 4.8.6, where the land under the jurisdiction of the Ikṣvākus seems to be much vaster). No other mention of the southern border will be made (but see note on verse 11 below).


“toward the region where Agastya lived” abhimukhaḥ agastyādhyuṣitām diśam: The south. Agastya was the legendary seer who brought Brahmanism to south India; Rāma encounters him in 3.10ff.


“its shores teeming with cows” goyutānūpām: The phrase furnishes something of an etymological figure (cf. note on 65.2-3) for the name Gomatī, which means literally, “rich in cows.”


“the land … bestowed upon Ikṣvāku” mahīṃ … dattām ikṣvākave: The commentators are less concerned with what appears to be a contradiction between this verse (on which they remark that the Syandikā forms the southern border of Kosala), and verse 7 (see note there), as they are with the question of how Ikṣvāku could be universal emperor (sārvabhauma) as he indeed was, if he was given only this land. They respond that Kosala was merely his home base, whereas he had rights of taxation over, and correspondingly defense obligations toward, all other kingdoms (Cg, Ck, Ct).

“vassal kingdoms” rāṣṭra-: The qualification “vassal” is shown to be necessary by 102.31, anuśādhi medinīṃ prabhūtarāṣṭrām, “govern the earth with its … abundant vassal kingdoms.”


“charioteer” sūta iti: Both Cg and Ct notice the absence of saṃdhi after sūta, the former claiming that phrase-saṃdhi is in any case not obligatory, the latter (quite plausibly) that pluta is present, by which saṃdhi would be impeded (pluta being pragṛhya); cf. note on 95.26.

“in a voice like the call of the wild goose” haṃsamattasvaraḥ: Ct understands as paranipāta for mattahaṃsa- (so the NR), probably rightly (cf. note on 41.27; for the simile, 76.9 and note, 104.15).


“(I) so (long)” atyartham (abhikāṅkṣāmi): The reading nātyartham (“not very much”), accepted by the crit. ed., seems to be an absurd alteration of an original atyartham (preserved either literally or in spirit in the NR, in D1-7, M1, G1, 2).

Since addiction to hunting later came to be considered a vice (there is no evidence the Rām considered it such; note that it is not included among the fourteen “errors” listed at 94.56ff.), the commentators clearly felt it necessary to alter the text in order to explain away Rāma’s declaration: Rāma enjoyed hunting “not very much”; he was not so addicted to it that he neglected his other duties. But observe that Rāma’s zeal for hunting is elsewhere emphasized (cf. 3.6.17ff. and notes; 4.18.36), and in a sense it is narratively essential. His one foolish act is partly a result of his enthusiasm for the chase — his going out to capture the magical deer, despite Lakṣmaṇa’s sound arguments to the contrary (3.41, especially verses 29-32).


Cg remarks that Sumantra will later reveal these sentiments to Daśaratha, but we do not find what he is referring to.

Sarga 44


An SR insertion shows Rāma dismissing the villagers who had been following him (1058*).

Śṛṅgaverapura: Literally, “Ginger Town” (śṛṅgavera Greek zingiberi Latin gingiber).


“river that goes by three paths” tripathagām: The three paths of the Ganges are in heaven, on earth, and in the netherworld. See Viśvāmitra’s account of the origin of the epithet in Bālakāṇḍa 34ff.


“almond tree” iṅgudīvṛkṣaḥ: Actually the Bengal almond or bādām. It is glossed “ascetic’s tree” (tāpasataru) by the commentators, and indeed it is often mentioned in descriptions of hermitages (cf. Śāk 1.14, RaghuVa 14.81). It bears sweet-smelling nuts which are pressed for oil, and of which a cake is made to be used as an offering to the dead in 95.24 and 96.10 below.


“of the Niṣāda tribe” niṣādajātyaḥ: Or, “of the Niṣāda caste”?

“chief” sthapatiḥ: “Originally the political and cult chief of a semi-barbaric or nomadic tribe, who nominally at least was subordinate to a more powerful king. … Later the sthapati may have been a dependent vassal prince or governor” (Rau 1957, p. 114; cf. Hazra 1979).

The Niṣādas (see 1.2.10ff. above) were a tribe of forest-dwelling hunters and fishermen (cf. sarga 78 below). Other epic texts treat them in what can only be described as a racist fashion (see for example the story of Ekalavya, MBh 1.123.10ff.). Vālmīki’s treatment, especially given his historical context, is eloquent testimony to his profound and rare humanism. Some of the commentators, by contrast, are concerned that Rāma is shown to have an intimate friendship with a man of such a “caste.” Ck claims that, since the verse implies Guha’s authority, and so military might, Rāma’s friendship with him in the present circumstances, when an army of woodsmen would be eminently useful, is proper; and that the strictures of the lawbooks, which number associating with low castes like the Niṣādas among the minor sins [he cites YājñaSm 3.241] apply only to brahmans. Cg makes two observations: first, since a chief of the Niṣādas is authorized to perform vedic sacrifices [MīmāSū 6.8.20; the commentary of Śabara ad loc. is cited by Cg; cf. MaiS 2.2.4, upon which the MīmāSū passage is based], we infer that friendship with a Niṣāda cannot be wholly reprehensible. But he claims the true explanation is that Guha is a devotee of Rāma — his love for the Blessed One is demonstrated by 1.59* [where Cg comments that by mentioning Guha in the same verse as Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā, the poet shows that he had the same affection for Rāma as the other two] — and so is in fact a very great person, as the following verse serves to indicate: “They are not shudras who are devoted to the Blessed One — they are Bhāgavata priests, as tradition shows. The real shudras are people of any caste who are not devoted to Janārdana” (cf. Dharmaśāstrasaṃgraha p. 636, verse 22).


The action here involves a point of protocol: Rāma rises and goes out to Guha as a mark of respect.


“Guha … in anguish” ārtaḥ … guhaḥ: Guha’s pain comes from seeing Rāma dressed in an ascetic’s clothes (Cg, Cm, Ct).


“our kingdom is yours to rule” rājyaṃ praśādhi naḥ: Merely a grandiloquent invitation to accept a host’s hospitality (rattler than implying any real political subservience, though cf. 78.5); cf. MBh 2.17.10.


“(with … ) your treasury” dhaneṣu: A number of S manuscripts and Ck, Ct instead read vaneṣu, “in the forests.”


“I must … refuse” anujānāmi: For this sense of the root jñā + anu cf. 33.4 and 37.8 above.


Ś1 and some D manuscripts insert by way of explanation: “[I would have you know that I will be] living [as an ascetic] for fourteen years at the command of my father” (1070*). For the kuśa grass, cf. note on 33.14.

Ct sees here, as more obliquely in verse 9 above, the implication that Guha has knowledge of Rāma’s true nature (and so is not really low-caste any more). He reasons rather circuitously: Rāma is represented as refusing the food for no other reason than because he is under a vow. If Guha did not have such knowledge [and so become casteless], then his being a Niṣāda would have been sufficient reason for Rāma not to accept the food, for it would be impure. Or again, Guha would not have brought cooked food in the first place. (Note that in 81.14-16 Guha explains that Rāma refused the food on the grounds that kshatriyas may not accept gifts.)


“My honored friend” atrabhavatā: Cg separates atra-, glossing it, “on this occasion.”


Rāma drinks only water, since presence at a pilgrimage site requires one to fast (Ct, Cr, Cs), or, he fasts because, being omniscient, he knows his father is soon to die (Cs); cf. note on 41.8.


“and his wife’s” sabhāryasya: cf. 81.20. The more fastidious commentators (Cg and Cr) make a futile attempt to avoid this, the only natural interpretation.

Sarga 45


“wide awake” adambhena: Literally, “without pretence,” that is, without pretending to wake while really dozing. Cs, adducing ViśvaPra, claims dambha- can have the sense of “bed,” but this is unattested in the literature.


“by my truth I swear it” satyenaiva … śape: Cf. note on 18.13.


“happiness in life” jīvitaṃ vā sukhāni vā: A kind of hendiadys (so interpreted also by Ck, “a happy life”); cf. 18.22 and note.


“(Look … ) Guha” (paśya) guha: For the inappropriate sukha- (“comfortably”) of the crit. ed., we read the vocative Guha, with the NR and T2. This reading is validated by manuscript testimony in 80.11 below, where the verse recurs.


“This” eṣaḥ: Cg and Ck, as several S manuscripts, read instead iṣṭaḥ, “[the single most] beloved [son]”; this removal of the correlative adjective makes construing verses 11 and 12 together even more likely than it at first appears (so Cr understands).

“austerities, vedic recitations, and all kinds of heavy labors” mantratapasā … vividhaiś ca pariśramaiḥ: They form the subject matter of Bālakāṇḍa 8-17.


“the din … has ceased” nirghoṣoparatam: So Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct understand, taking the compound as a bahuvrīhi with paranipāta of uparatam (see the note on 41.27 above; though it may be as easily an ablatival tatpuruṣa [Cr]). It is surely the noise of lamentation, not of blessings (Ck) that Lakṣmaṇa imagines finally to have ceased.


“this night” śarvarīm imām: It is, of course, the second night of the exile. This slight and only apparent inconsistency led Jacobi to reject sargas 40-43 as interpolation (Jacobi 1893, p. 47, note 1; to prove his point he relies on what has now been shown to be an interpolation, 1058*). These temporal adverbs are often used elastically, without rigorous attention to chronology; see for example, the note on 46.34, where “today” is used of events that have happened two days earlier (and Jacobi did not consider sargas 44-45 an interpolation). Thus we must understand, not “this very night, the first of our exile,” but “these nights.”


“Kausalyā’s sorrow is such that” tadduḥkhaṃ yat: The parallel passage 80.16, duḥkhitā yā tu, suggests strongly that yat is meant to introduce a result clause, and is thus translated (pace the commentators).


“with its pleasant aspect” sukhāloka-: Cr quite as plausibly divides sukhā loka-, “a happy city (that brought) its people (gladness).”


“that just eluded him” atikrāntam atikrāntam: Evidently we have here a type of repetition (āmreḍita) not covered by 8.1.1ff. Three other interpretations are offered by the commentators: (having never got his wish, [crying,]) “it is gone, it is gone” (Ck, Ct, Cs); “everything will have gone,” that is, will have lost its purpose, since the king will de without installing … (Cm, Cg); (having never got his wish) “that grew and grew” [as Rāma grew] (Cg).


The verse refers invidiously to Bharata and his supporters, as Ct notes. He explains further that Lakṣmaṇa in his anger refuses to use their names. Cm, Cg interpret more charitably: fortunate the people who will be able to perform the funeral for the king — we will not have even that.

Pāda c construes with the verb in d (Cm. Ct), not as a locative absolute with upasthiteṣu understood (Cg).


Again, we should understand Bharata and his partisans as subject (Cm, Ct; not the citizens of Ayodhyā [Cr]), and the description of the city as a general, timeless one; Lakṣmaṇa envisions the city as it had always previously been, not (with Ck) as it will again become.


“to find him well and his promise fulfilled” satyapratijñena sārdhaṃ kuśalinā: This must refer to Daśaratha (so Cg), not to Rāma (Cm, Ct, Cr, Cs).


After this verse Ś1 and several D manuscripts insert eight attractive lines beginning “Saumitri fell to brooding [cintām, feminine], and sleep [nidrā, feminine] avoided him, as a jealous mistress, disappointed at a rendezvous, will avoid her lover,” and which go on to show that Rāma did not sleep either, for “His disappointment over the loss of the kingship, his having to leave his home and repair to the forest, all three things at once had taken sleep from him” (1076*).


“good” prajāhite: Literally, “good to his subjects.” The epithet is inapposite, but the commentators are silent and the manuscripts suggest no alternative. Conjecture: prajāgrite [or prajāgṛte], “kept awake,” or prajāgrati, “waking.”

“in deep compassion” gurusauhṛdāt: Possible too, but less probable: “friendship, affection for his guru(s)” (brother, father, etc.), construing with the locative absolute clause, “(spoken) in affection” (Cg; Cm, Ck, Ct allow both constructions).

Sarga 46


“good Lakṣmaṇa” lakṣmaṇaṃ śubhalakṣaṇam: See note on 41.16.


“the jet-black bird, the cuckoo” ṣukṛṣṇo vihagaḥ kokilaḥ: The commentators are curiously reluctant to allow the natural meaning, with “cuckoo” in apposition (some cuckoos being quite dark). Ct explains, “The ‘jet-black bird’ is the crow, and since it is the protector of the cuckoo [which lays its eggs in the crow’s nest] it is referred to by the word ‘cuckoo.’ ‘Crow’ itself is not used because to speak that word in the early morning is considered unlucky’ (= Cs, Cr); Cg supposes asyndeton, glossing, “‘the black bird,’ that is, the skylark [bhāradvāja], ‘the cuckoo.’”


After this verse, the SR adds twelve lines in which Guha orders his men to bring a boat, and then informs Rāma that it is at hand (1079*; an interpolation to account for the otherwise unexplained presence of a boat in verse 61 below).


“strapping on their quivers and buckling on their swords” kalāpān saṃnahya khaḍgau baddhvā ca: Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr take saṃnahya absolutely, “‘strapped on,’ that is, armor,” and construe both the other substantives with baddhvā (an unusual, and unlikely, syntax).

“down to the Ganges” yena gaṅgā: Literally, “to where the Ganges (flowed).” The adverbial use of yena (frequent in Buddhist Sanskrit, cf. Edgerton 1953b s.v. [“rare in Skt. Epic”; he cites MBh 3.137.15]) requires the nominative, cf. 30.15 above for example. This is what Cv reports to be the correct reading, and it is adopted here in place of the crit. ed.’s gaṅgām. The commentators are forced to the labored explanation, “they went (there) where (people reach or cross) the Ganges” (Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr; Cm joins with the following verse, “ they went to the Ganges without the chariot, therefore the charioteer approached”).


“expected” atikrāntam: The word is unattested in this sense, but this is how the NR appears to have interpreted (atarkitaḥ), and the meaning is sensible (contrast its use in 45.17). Some commentators gloss “accepted, approved” (Cg; Ck, “Sumantra means that Rāma’s banishment was totally unreasonable [read ‘nyāya-] and that thus he should stay with Rāma”), but this meaning appears to be unique as well, and anyway is very weak. The other options are not acceptable: “No man .. can [fate, by which] your living,” Cm, Ct; “no man … could ,” “Poona Dictionary” s.v. atikrāntam.)


“chastity” brahmacarye: Actually “studentship,” but one of its principal features is strict sexual continence, as already noted (on 24.10).

For the sentiment of the verse, and its possibly significant parallelism with a later event in the book, cf. 57.32 and note.


“an end” gatim: “Fame” (Cg), “liberation” (Cm), “supreme bliss and the world of Brahmā” (Ck), “supremacy” (Ct, Cr).


“even you have misled us” tvayāpy upavañcitāḥ: Sumantra speaks both on behalf of the townsmen (cf. sarga 41; so Cg [the published editions of Cg’s commentary misplace this statement]), as well as on his own account, for having been brought this far he was naturally led to believe he would continue on.


“precious to him as life” ātmasamam: This is better taken as an adjective referring to Rāma (cf. 44.9, 64.24) than as a substantive, “(speaking what was) fit, appropriate to him” as counselor (Cm [first explanation], Ct, Cr).

“And as he looked at Rāma, so far from home” dṛṣṭvā dūragataṃ rāmam: This may also mean, “seeing him [in his mind’s eye] far away from him” (such is probably what Cm, Ck, Ct intend).

For this whole episode we may compare the parting scene, modeled after our passage, of the Buddha and his charioteer Chandaka in BuddhaC 6, which includes Chandaka’s dismissal, his anguish, the message he is to deliver to the king (verse 16, “‘You [father] should not grieve for me’”) and his tearful entreaties (verse 36, “I cannot leave you as Sumantra left Rāghava”).


“sipped water, and when he was thus purified” spṛṣṭodakam śucim: Cf. note on 22.1 above.


“(That is why I tell you) this” (tasmād) etad (bravimi te): We follow Cm, Ck in regarding etat as introducing the statement that follows; Daśaratha’s “desire” is specified in the next verse.


“displeasure” alīkam: Translated in accordance with Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct (Cg cites AmaK).

The NR inserts some verses here in which Rāma tells the charioteer to greet Vasiṣṭha (1082*).


“self-controlled” jitendriyam: One might naturally be disposed to think it an ornamental epithet, but perhaps Rāma means to reassert, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, his father’s kingly virtue (contrast however his private sentiments, 47.9 ff., but see note on 47.7).


“we must live” vatsyāmaheti: Double saṃdhi (expect -maha iti).


“(you shall look upon) each of us again” punaḥ punaḥ … (drakṣyasi): The repetition of punaḥ is taken distributively (vīpsā, 8.1.4; rather than iteratively, nitya, Cg; so too in the following verse); the construction punar āgatān punar drakṣyasi (Cm, Ct) will not do.


“ask … after their health” ārogyaṃ brūhi: “Tell, inquire after, another’s health,” is no doubt the true meaning of the phrase (so too, it seems, for Cm, Ck; cf. below 52.13 and note; so kuśalaṃ brū in 1.72.3), rather than “tell them I am well” (Ct, Cr).

“I, her noble son” mama cāryasya: There appears to be no way to eliminate Rāma’s using this epithet in reference to himself (cf. 34.27), though Cm and Cg (who construe with lakṣmaṇasya), Ct (“= eldest”) and a number of N and S manuscripts make the vain attempt.


“in office with the approval of the kings” nṛpamate pade: That is, installed in the office of prince regent with the (formal) approval of, presumably, the vassal kings (as Rāma was “approved” by them in sarga 2).


Cm (first explanation), Ct, Cr improbably if understandably want to take the verse as addressed directly to Sumantra (with abhiṣicya as simplex for causative), since to some extent it is still Sumantra’s grief that is under discussion.


“Kaikeyī and Sumitrā” kaikeyī sumitrā ca: Recall Śatrughna’s special position in the eyes of Bharata (cf. note on 1.17.10), which would ensure Bharata’s goodwill toward Sumitrā.

After this verse (or one interpolated after it) the NR ends the sarga and inserts an extra one (App. I, No. 16), in which Lakṣmaṇa informs the charioteer what he for his part wishes him to tell the king: why was Rāma exiled, when he had done nothing wrong? Since Daśaratha gladly abandoned them he should not have any regrets about them, any more than an ascetic who drinks an alcoholic beverage (lines 23-24); anyway, rich and powerful people like Daśaratha never feel remorse when they consider what they have done (25-26). Rāma, predictably, tells Sumantra not to repeat to the king what Lakṣmaṇa has said (but see below the note on 52.12ff.).


“how (the people were)” tathā (janaḥ): Tadā (janaḥ), the reading of the crit. ed., is intolerably elliptical, for no predicate is supplied. The correct reading is no doubt preserved in T1, 3 and M3: tathā (for tadā). The idea is amplified in verses 34 and 35.


“only a charioteer survived” sūtāvaśeṣam: Cg joins the compound with pādas ab (“the chariot empty except for the charioteer”) and understands the remainder, “like an army seeing its brave warrior slain” (hatavīram as karmadhāraya compound); Cm, (Ck?), Ct also take svasainyam [sic] as subject of the simile, but then need to supply ratham as object, “like an army seeing (the chariot) with only the charioteer … while all its … ” Both are possible interpretations; we agree with Cr, and cf. 5.17.12 hataśūraṃ camūm iva, which tells against Cg’s analysis.


A difficult verse, but as throughout this passage the idea seems to be: it was bad enough when the citizens knew you would be leaving — how much worse will it be when they realize that you are gone for good. The translation here accords to some extent with that of Cm. The alternatives (of Cg, Ct, Cr and the Mylapore editors) in one way or another turn the sense around (“though you are far away, they think of you as nearby”), but with impossible, or jejune, consequences.

“Just now” adya: Literally “today,” but here used loosely (it happened two days ago; so at 47.26, etc.).


“And what am I to tell” ahaṃ kiṃ cāpi vakṣyāmi: Cm (first explanation) and Ck, because of the presence of api in 37a, want to understand, “Then again, I will tell your mother this … it is untrue: I could not say such a thing as this (namely, that I have taken you to the forest).” This agrees with Cm, Cg (second explanation), Ct. Cr. All commentators cite in support of their interpretations the famous dictum of Manu’s: “One should say what is true, one should say what is pleasing; one should not give voice to an unpleasant truth [nor to a pleasant falsehood. That is the eternal way of righteousness]” (ManuSm 4.138).

“it is true” tāvat: Note the concessive force of the particle.

“you and your kinsmen” tvadbandhujana-: We follow Cm, Ck, Cr in analyzing the compound as a dvandva.


The good D manuscripts 4, 5, 7 remove this verse to the end of the speech, after verse 48 where, as Sumantra’s final desperate threat, it may well have more propriety.


The problem here is not what the first half of the verse says, but what it really means. We are told in 34.10 that it is Daśaratha who bids Sumantra convey Rāma to the forest. Cm, Ck, Ct suggest that Sumantra was in the past a counselor, who “by or for the favor, or for the sake of” Rāma, gave up his position for that of a lowly charioteer. Cm and Ct go on to suggest that Sumantra was prompted in his decision by his knowledge of Rāma’s divine nature. (Cg’s first suggestion, which he seems to abandon, is to divide -kṛte na [Ck, who appears to do the same, is in fact misprinted], and to interpret: “‘because of you I did not have the joy of tending your chariot,’ that is, after your consecration into the kingship.”)


“the world of the gods” devalokam: “What the phrase suggests is that a devotee of Rāma’s should abandon even the desire to attain the world of the gods, since it is an impediment to devotion,” Ct.


“the capital of great Indra” rājadhānī mahendrasya: Amarāvatī, the principal city of heaven.


“cherished your servants” bhṛtyavatsala: The majority of N and S manuscripts give bhaktavatsala, “cherished your devotees,” but the crit. ed.’s decision seems correct: cf. the responsive epithet bhartṛvatsala, “cherish your master,” in verse 50 below.


“This is my first consideration” eṣa me prathamaḥ kalpaḥ: Cg combines the three motives — Kaikeyī’s conviction (verse 51), her trust in the king (52) and her obtaining the kingship — as constituting Rāma’s “first consideration.” But the language does not indicate this.

“that it may thrive under Bharata’s protection” bharatārakṣitaṃ sphītam: The qualifications must be understood proleptically.


Most of the NR inserts a sarga ending here.


After this verse the SR for the most part adds: “I can no longer rightly live in this forest where there are people, Guha. I must live in an ashram and carry on its way of life. I must take on the vow that is the ornament of ascetics, in my desire for the welfare of my father, and again, of Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa” [commentators differ] (1091*).

“I will mat my hair” jaṭāḥ kṛtvā: Recall his promise to Kaikeyī (16.25 and 28), which perhaps explains why his words “were purposeful” (cf. also note on 25.7).


“forest hermits” vaikhānasam: Cg shows a keen interest in the question of whether or not Rāma actually enters wholly into the stage of life of the hermit: “If he does, then he could not reenter the householder stage, for returning to an earlier stage after one has entered a later is censured: ‘He called one who has fallen after rising’ [ārūḍhapatito hi saḥ = ParāSm 2.1.373; cf. also Kane 1962-1975, vol. 4, p. 114]. But if he does not really enter it, then as a householder who wears the matted hair and so on, which are exclusive to hermits, he becomes a renegade from his stage of life, much the same as a renegade from a vedic school. But really this dilemma does not present itself, for there is nothing contradictory in the adoption of a special vow with a definite purpose, deriving from the command of one’s father — and in this way Rāma’s renunciation-dharma approximates that of Yudhiṣṭhira and others — for Manu himself says, ‘The very root of dharma, it is handed down, is a desire springing from a right intention’” (actually = YājñaSm 1.7). Ct notices that Rāma does not shave his head, either here at the Ganges or later at Prayāga, or even when he hears of his father’s death; and he interprets this as a prohibition, by way of “paradigmatic narrative” [parakṛtirūpārthavāda], against any kshatriyas doing so.


“saw a boat” dṛṣṭvā … nāvam: Cf. note on verse 4 above.


The point of etiquette at issue here is not clear. Rāma tells Lakṣmaṇa to board first and to help Sītā aboard (anvakṣam, “then,” “next,” is the reading of the SR only, but its very difficulty speaks in its favor; N manuscripts read kṣipram, “quickly,” which of course solves the problem, but we still must explain how the problem could have arisen). Lakṣmaṇa does just the opposite, and the poet takes pains to justify his action. Does Rāma want Lakṣmaṇa to go first, as a token of higher respect, which Lakṣmaṇa then accords to Sītā in the belief (the correct belief, according, it would seem, to Cg) that this is what Rāma really wants him to do?


After this verse, the SR inserts some lines in which Rāma “prays like a brahman and a kshatriya too” [brahmavat kṣatravac caiva jajāpa; commentators differ] for his welfare, sips water, and bows to the Ganges (1096*).


“guided by the helmsman” karṇadhārasamāhitā: “Made ready by the helmsman,” Cm, Ck, Ct; “with attentive sailors,” Cg.


“Sītā addresses the Ganges both because it is a great divinity and a woman’s divinity,” Ck, Ct. One is reminded by the following scene of Hecuba’s supplication of Athena. “Iliad” 6.297ff.


“let him carry out his instructions” nideśam pālayatv enam: The manuscripts are almost equally divided between the readings pālayatu and pārayatu (/r/ and /1/ being nearly homophonic, as Ct points out). The latter would give, appropriately to the circumstances, “let him [that is, fulfil] his instructions.”


“may he return” pratyāgamiṣyati, The NR has the optative in place of the future, whereas Cg, Ct, Cr supply “when” or “if,” making a protasis to verse 70. In the epics the future often has an optatival nuance (as translated here), though it may in the present verse intimate, not prayer or conditionality but a stubborn optimism.


“for making all my wishes come true” sarvakāmasamṛddhaye: The reading -samṛddhaye (marked uncertain) is that of the NR (its more natural meaning, “for the fulfilment [of all desires],” is unlikely here). S manuscripts (and Cg, Ck, Ct) have -samṛddhini, “O you who grant all desires,” or one of several other similar locutions.


This agrees with Cr (thus Cg, Ck, Ct also appear to construe) in joining verses 72 and 73; it is less likely that we should understand the present tenses here as future (“I shall pay”).


“I will give the brahmans” brāhmaṇebhyaḥ pradāsyāmi: “Gods accept offerings by way of the brahmans,” Cg.


“courteous” dakṣiṇā: Perhaps meant in part to suggest the tactfulness of Sītā’s address to the Ganges, the epithet is nevertheless used principally for the figure of sound, dakṣiṇā dakṣiṇaṃ tīram.


“Go in front, Saumitri” agrato gaccha saumitre: Under more normal circumstances the elder brother would precede the younger and the woman (in 3.10.1 Rāma goes first, Lakṣmaṇa last).

“Vaidehī will come to know the pain” duḥkham … vaidehī … vetsyati: Recall sarga 25, where “the pain of living in the forest” is described.

After verse 77 (or at the end of the sarga) the NR inserts some twenty-three lines that mainly describe the forest and show Lakṣmaṇa collecting lotuses for Sītā (App. I, No. 17).


An SR insertion after this verse (1108*) shows Rāma reaching the land of the Vatsas (in the Ganges-Yamunā doab).


“meat” medhyam: This follows Ck, though the word is rarely used in this sense; alternatively, and perhaps preferably, we should read with T1, 2, G1, 3 medhyāṃs, “pure,” that is, animals, those fit to consume; cf. 49.14. medhyān mṛgān so in 50.16. In the NR substitution (1109*) the brothers kill only one beast (a dappled antelope), light a fire, cook, and along with Sītā eat the meat, and then retire for the night beneath a tree.

Finally, and with a vengeance, Rāma breaks his fast (cf. note on 41.8 above), and it is noteworthy that he does so by eating meat (cf. note on 17.15, and contrast his words to Guha in 44.19-20, and to Bharadvāja in 48.15 [but see note ad loc.]). Ct (similarly Ck) remarks, “Meat is included in ‘forest fare,’ so there is no fault here; nor is there any in his killing animals, since it is part of the dharma of hunting.” Cr’s gloss displays an amusing perversity: “‘He struck great animals,’ that is, he knocked them about in fun and then took ‘pure’ food, fruits, etc.”

Sarga 47


“Rāma, the most pleasing of men” rāmo ramayatāṃ śreṣṭhaḥ: An etymological figure (cf. also note on 9.24).

“Prior to this, in the presence of other people, Rāma had steadfastly held in his sorrow; now, in solitude [cf. also verse 27 below], he lets it all out,” Ck; contrast Cg on verse 7 below, and Ck himself on verse 10.


“we shall spend outside our country without Sumantra” yātā janapadād bahiḥ / yā sumantreṇa rahitā: Pādas bc form one complex idea (Cr), not two distinct ones (Cm, Ck, Ct): Rāma had already spent one night (the second night of exile, and third of the narrative) beyond Kosala — out of which he passed in sarga 43 — in Guha’s domain on the bank of the Ganges.


“as best we can” kathaṃcit: They have not yet had time to build a leaf hut and so have to sleep on the open forest ground (Ck; similarly Cm, Ct; Cg: night has come before they have had time to make a proper bed).


“heartfelt words” kathāḥ śubhāḥ: As in 15.9, 48.21 (“forthright”), 4.2.18, etc.; not “good”: there is nothing “good” about the suspicions to which Rāma proceeds to give expression. The NR apparently found the adjective troublesome and so substituted, “He carried on a conversation with Sītā [cf. verse 30 below] and Lakṣmaṇa in the night.”


Rāma anxiously wonders whether Kaikeyī, emboldened by Bharata’s presence (considering how she acted even in his absence), might not assassinate the king in order to secure her son’s coronation, not merely as prince regent, but as mahārāja (Cm, Ck, Ct; cf. 52.16 below), or in order to stabilize his position (Cg). In the next verse, however, Rāma says that the king will be able to do nothing about Kaikeyī’s actions, and in verse 12 it is said that Bharata will be sole head of state because the king is “on in years.” Daśaratha’s passion surely cannot be so overpowering that he would not defend himself from a murder attempt (the NR felt the need to affirm this, however: “He would pay no heed to his own life, since he is under the power of Kaikeyī” [1114*]). Perhaps we have an ancient corruption of some sort that has substituted prāṇān for an original sthānāt: Kaikeyī will try to “drive him from his place,” that is, to dethrone him (cf. 58.20, 1.31.17 for the idiom).

Cg comments that Rāma’s invidious supposition might be thought to contradict his own admonition later to Lakṣmaṇa not to speak ill of Kaikeyī (3.15.34-35 and note there, and compare also 97.17-18 below); but in fact Rāma is only playing on Lakṣmaṇa’s own fears, in hopes of convincing him to return (verse 16).


Ck (like Cg on verse 7) claims that Rāma does not really believe what he is saying here — he knows full well that Daśaratha loves him more than life itself and sent him into exile only under the compulsion of his promise — but only wants to inspire Lakṣmaṇa to return (or, according to Ct on the following verse, to find out what Lakṣmaṇa is really thinking; cf. note on 23.23, and 27.26 and note).


“with father well on in years” tāte ca vayasātīte: Since Rāma has already conjectured (according to the crit. ed.) that Kaikeyī might murder Daśaratha, it seems gratuitously inconsistent to translate “with father dead of old age” (as PW s. v. ī + ati); the translation offered is supported by Cr. A possible alternative: “with father passed over, ignored, because of his age.”


A gnomic statement (so Cr), rather than, as Ct takes it, one meant to refer specifically to Bharata (cf. 4.37.20-21).


“came among us” saṃprāptā: The NR replaces the vague locution with “was born” or “was married.”


“You must commit” paridadyāḥ: Ck, Ct, Cr read instead, “She might give poison to your mother or to mine.”


“by my mother’s doing … (and so this has happened) to her” jananyā: This construes with both halves of the verse, and probably as genitive rather than instrumental.


“one who parts her hair” sīmantinī: A general designation of “woman”; Indian women as a rule part their hair down the center. The verse, the first line at least, is a very old one, appearing also in the Vidurāputra episode of the MBh (5.131.28), on the antiquity of which see Jacobi 1903, pp. 53-55 (not later than the fourth century b.c.)


“even her myna bird is a greater source of joy than I” prītiviśiṣṭā sā mattaḥ … sārikā: The myna, like Rāma. was raised and taught to speak by Kausalyā, but unlike him the bird is there to cry out (or, does not hesitate to cry out) in the woman’s defense. The “enemy” can be that of the birds (such as a cat [Cm, Cg, Ct; similarly Cnā on CSS 2.52.24]), or more probably Kausalyā’s (that is, Kaikeyī [Cg, Ck, Cr]). Mynas were often kept with parrots; the two are associated in ManuSm 5.12, BhāgP 5.24.9, and cf. especially KāmSū 1.3.15, where forty-third among the sixty-four arts is teaching mynas and parrots to speak.

Cg has a long theological comment on this verse from the viewpoint of Teṅgalai Vaishnavism, and it is worth summarizing. What the verse (allegorically) states, he argues, is that resorting to a teacher is a more efficacious means of salvation than even worshiping the Blessed One. This is suggested as follows: The teacher is represented in the verse by the bird (the myna), the teacher having two possible philosophical “positions” (pakṣa-) — action or knowledge — corresponding to the bird’s two wings (pakṣa-); the feminine gender (sārikā) is meant to indicate dependence on [and so difference from] the Blessed One, for “everything besides [the Supreme Primal Man, that is, Viṣṇu-Kṛṣna] is feminine” (strīprāyam itarat sarvam); and it serves to show that in comparison with the Blessed One a teacher is an even more effective means of producing the “bliss” of liberation. The teacher is the “one from whom can be heard the word,” the secret mantra passed down through the succession of gurus; and this word is: “O parrot” (the parrot, being of the same blue color as Viṣṇu, is equated with Viṣṇu), “bite the enemy’s foot,” that is, destroy the basis of man’s great enemy, transmigration. The teacher from whom this is heard (says Rāma) “is greater … than I” [is better than Viṣṇu]. Cg goes on to read the whole episode (sargas 40ff.) as an allegory of this idea, man’s quest for liberation: One leaves (Ayodhyā =) Vaikuṇṭha, Viṣṇu’s heaven; crosses (the Ganges =) the Virajā River in heavenly Gokula; enters the forest (of transmigration); betakes oneself with one’s individual soul to (a tree =) the body; eats, that is, experiences the fruits of one’s karma; longs for a wise teacher [ = Bharadvāja?], and finally comes to the certainty that of the four spiritual paths [karmayoga, jñānayoga, bhaktiyoga and ācāryaniṣṭhā or absolute confidence in one’s teacher] the last one is the superlative means of release [= reaching Citrakūṭa?].


“force is useless” vīryam akāraṇam: Ck, Ct, “that is, in effecting what is beneficial for the world to come; only dharma can do that”; Cg. “Force should not be resorted to in order to effect something that would cause the loss of dharma.”


“what other people might say” paralokasya: We agree with Cs’s analysis (= parakīyajanam), which is clearly substantiated by the NR (1122*, lokavāda-); cf. 19.7 and note. Cs specifies further that the “danger of unrighteousness” is that, if Rāma does not follow his father’s command, no one else will obey his own father [or the king]; cf. Rāma’s own words in 101.9 and note there.


Cm, Ct, Cs try to explain away Rāma’s lamentation and/or weeping. either as (literally) the histrionic performance of god in a human incarnation, or (if real) as being sympathy felt for his loved ones and not sorrow on his own account (cf. the notes on 2.28 and 16.57).


After this verse most of the NR inserts four lines, wherein Lakṣmaṇa says that people like Rāma should not grieve, and in any case the calamity is not really to be counted a calamity, but rather a blessing, since through it Rāma has learned how much affection the people have for him (1123*; a few manuscripts go on to show how this is so: “No one feels sorry for an evil man in misfortune … but since you are lauded even in misfortune … “ 1124*).


“to (no) avail” aupāyikam: This agrees with Ck; Cg, Cm, Ct, Cr on the authority of AmaK gloss “right” (yuktam): because he is a “bull among men” it is not “proper” for him to grieve.


“(I would not care) to see” (na … ) draṣṭum (iccheyam … aham): “Much less to go and protect them,” Cm, Ct. Lakṣmaṇa speaks here, as in the preceding verse, in response not to Rāma’s remonstrance against feeling “sad” or homesick (verse 2; so Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr take it), but to his order to return (Cm).


“at last, recognizing it as the way of righteousness” prapadya dharmaṃ sucirāya: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct all interpret this as “having betaken himself to the dharma of a forest hermit for a long time to come,” which is acceptable for the Sanskrit, but makes little sense in the present context. Cs is somewhat better. “‘having accepted dharma’ that is, that of his [Lakṣmaṇa’s] obedience to himself.” For pra + pad in the sense of “give in, admit, recognize,” cf. 82.27 below.

“considerately gave him permission to live in the forest” vanavāsam ādarāt … vidadhe: Cm, Ck, Ct by a most unlikely syntax make the adverb and the substantive dependent on vacaḥ, “words (spoken) considerately about living in the forest.” Cg, on the other hand, “After considerately listening … he was prepared to undergo (?) life in the forest,” vidadhe as conative perfect (the simple past being impossible, as he sees), apparently in the sense “to undergo.” The other commentators including Cs gloss the main verb as translated here.

Sarga 48


“the place where .. the river Ganges” yatra … gaṅgā … taṃ deśam: Prayāga. The majority of manuscripts and the vulgate have, “where the Yamunā meets the Ganges” (glossed, “where the Yamunā starts, at the Ganges,” Cm, Ck, Ct [“a locution meant to suggest the extreme holiness of the Ganges.” Ct]).


“glorious (party)” yaśasvinaḥ: This probably refers to Rāma and the others, rather than to the places (“so called because their inhabitants were honored [by Rāma’s visit]” Cg), or to “sages famous for their austerities” (Cr).


Agni: The god of fire. The smoke Rāma sees is that of the evening fire-offering (cf. verse 11).


“around [Bharadvāja’s] ashram” bharadvājāśrame: Ct and Cr read instead chinnāś cāpy āśrame, “(trees) at the ashram that have been hewn off” (not recorded in the crit. ed.). Forest hermits and their dependents are often represented as cultivating trees, and so the hermitage would stand out distinctly’ from the surrounding wild forest.


“bearing their bows” dhanvinau: It is indeed curious that Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa carry their weapons into the sacred precinct (Bharata will deposit his before entering, 84.2; cf. Śāk 1.14.6 for one good example among many of disarming before entering an ashram). Similarly 3.1.9. Dhanvinau could also, of course, be a static epithet “the two bowmen” — but even so we should expect some mention of their laying down their weapons before entering; in the NR interpolation 1131* Rāma is explicitly said to be armed, and then again, it is precisely because of this, say Ck and Ct, that he is said to frighten the animals in the next verse. The oddity of Rāma’s bearing weapons is heightened by his ascetic clothing and matted hair; other characters later in the story will specifically refer to this antinomy — Virādha, for example (3.2.11), and Śūrpaṇakhā (3.16.11); note also the emphatic statement of the MBh: “(Rāma) had all the marks of an ascetic (and yet) was bearing a bow” (3.261.37). In fact, these references seem to invite us to a repeated consideration of the self-contradictory nature of Rāma, one in whom the ethos of a kshatriya and of a renunciatory brahman are fused (see note on 16.59, the insertion noted above on 46.64, and the Introduction, Chapter 10).


“stood some distance off” dūrād evāvatasthatuḥ: They stand at a distance either to wait until the fire-sacrifice is completed (Cg), or to receive permission before entering (Ck, Ct). The NR and the SR each inserts its own verse describing the entrance of the sage (1132*, 1133*).


“we are to enter” pravekṣyāmaḥ: A number of both N and S manuscripts read the singular (“I am to enter … ,” etc.) in part or throughout.

“the way of righteousness” dharmam: Here surely the dharma of forest hermits (Ck, Ct, Cr), not that of guarding his father’s command (Cg).

“living only on roots and fruit” mūlaphalāśanāḥ: Rāma again professes his vegetarianism, though he has eaten meat (46.79) and will do so again (49.14). (The suggestion of Varadacharya [1964-1965, vol. 1, p. 503n] that “‘roots and fruit’ is a general designation for unrefined food” seems implausible.) It may well be that the dietary restrictions come into play only when Rāma is actually in the grove of asceticism, not while he is traveling through the forest, for at no time after he reaches Mount Citrakūṭa do we see him eating meat (though cf. the interpolated passages noticed in the notes to 89.19 and 90.1, and cf. notes to 3.42.21 and 45.19).


“presented him with a cow” upānayata … gām: The cow, according to Cg, Cm, Ct, Cr, is required to provide (according to Ck it means) the madhuparka, the offering of curds and honey or butter which is to be given to “one who studies the vedas, a teacher, a priest, a religious student completing his studies [snātaka] or a righteous king” (thus a smṛti text cited by Cg and Ck ad loc.); or is it in fact, by the ancient custom, the cow to be slain in honor of a guest, especially a king (according to AitBr 3.4)?


“with deer and birds” mṛgapakṣibhiḥ: Some commentators join the phrase with “showed … hospitality,” Cm rather fancifully explaining, “By the sage’s power they were no longer animals, and being thus no different from the sages they realized that Rāma was the lord, and served him, too” (similarly Cg).


“at last I see” cirasya … paśyāmi: One might naturally have understood the verse to mean, “Since long ago have I [fore-]seen [that is, by his jñānacakṣu or “eye of wisdom”] … (and I have [recently] heard),” but no commentator supports this. In 6.112.14 Bharadvāja knows by means of his ascetic power everything that has happened (as does Agastya, 3.12.15).


Cm offers a long theological interpretation here, claiming that the real meaning of verses 22-23 is that Rāma is requesting the sage not to reveal his divine nature (criticized vigorously by Ct as philologically and contextually unsound).


“in a way that carried conviction” vākyam arthagrāhakam: Literally, “words that convinced with their sense.” This seems to be the meaning of grāhaka- in the only other instances of its use in the Rām tradition (Book 4. App. I, No. 19.24; 4.1325*; Ck, Ct, “that informed him of the requirement he had spoken of”; Cg, “full of meaning”).


“twenty miles” daśakrośa: Literally, “ten krośas” A krośa (Hindi kos) is the farthest distance one can hear another shout — a little more than two miles. The compound is accusative of extent of space. (Ck, Ct take daśakrośa as locative, Cm, Cg as nominative, “[situated] ten krośas away.”)


“Langurs … monkeys and apes” golāṅgūla- … vānararkṣa-: For the zoological problems see note on 1.16.10. “By his mentioning just these three types of animals we understand Bharadvāja to be hinting that Rāma’s only companions [in the later books of the Rām] will be creatures of this sort,” Cg.

“Mount Gandhamādana”: A name of at least two different mountains; here, it probably refers to the one included among the seven chief mountains (kulaparvata) of Bhāratavarśa, which is also called Ṛkṣavat or Ṛkṣaparvata (“Monkey-mountain”).


“meditates” samādhatte: Perhaps also, “acquires” (Cg, Cr), or, “undertakes” (Cg).


“hundred autumns” śaradāṃ śatam: The proverbial span of human life (cf. note on 8.9).

“skull-white heads” kapālāśirasā: According to PW the B recension [= Gorresio] reads kalāpaśirasā (not recorded in the crit. ed.). The word is unique, and its signification uncertain. We take it as an (inverted) simile compound, attributive in function, the singular being collective (upameyasamāsa, upalakṣaṇe tṛtīya jātyekavacanam), that is to say, close to Ck, Ct. It may be useful to list the suggestions of, or reported by, the commentators:

“with head(s) like skull(s)” — for example, of men dead by famine — that is to say, “white”; they ascended to heaven by austerities that were full, performed throughout their lives, even in old age (Ck, Ct). 2. “with head(s) reduced to skull(s),” skin and hair having been rubbed away by continuous yogic headstands performed in the course of austerities (Crā, Cm, Cg). 3. “skull-head” connotes, or we are to supply, “body”; they ascended to heaven with their bodies (Cv, Cg, Cm; Ck, Ct dispute this: “but the body is not worthy of heaven; even Rāma, Yudhiṣṭhira, and so on went only a little way with their bodies — and only to demonstrate the power of their dharma — and then abandoned them before entering heaven, where they took on heavenly bodies”; but cf. the bodily ascensions mentioned in 102.10 and especially 4.13.18). 4. attributive of tapasā, that is, austerities in or from which “their head(s) were left nothing but skull(s)” (Cg). 5. proper name of a seer (Cm, Cg; = D3-5, 7 in 1147*). 6. Śiva (to be construed with pāda b, “Śiva waits there continually in order to see Rāma … and this intimates that he is most enamored of Rāma,” Cr).


“Last night” śarvarīm … adya: An idiom, cf. 56.14 and note, 66.8 and note.

“we made our dwelling here” uṣitdḥ … vasatim: Vasatim with the root vas forms a cognate accusative construction (cf. for example, 33.5 above, vāsam … vasataḥ); grammar and sense argue against construing vasatim with anujānātu, as Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr all would have it.


“lapwing” koyaṣṭika-: So Ingalls 1965, p. 573, though, as this is a water bird (cf. also 3.71.11), we might not expect to find it on a mountain.

Sarga 49


After this verse the SR inserts a śloka in which the party is directed to go to the confluence of the Ganges and Yamunā, and follow the Yamunā where it flows westward (deflected by the Ganges) (1160*).


Kālindī: The Yamunā.

“the daughter of the sun” aṃśumatī: We follow Cm, Cg (who divide āṃśu-), Ck (on verse 11 below), Ct, Cr in their explanation. The Yamunā’s descent from the sun is narrated at HariVaṃ 8.6-7. However, as an epithet for a river the word is as old as the ṚV (8.85.13), and here may mean simply “radiant.”


Śyāma: We agree with Cm, Cg (first explanation), and Ct in taking this as the proper name of the tree here and in verse 12 below. This is corroborated both by Kālidāsa, RaghuVa 1353, vaṭaḥ śyāma iti pratītaḥ, “the banyan tree known as Śyāma,” and by Bhavabhūti, UttaRāC (after 1.23), kālindītaṭe vaṭaḥ śyāmo nāma, “the banyan tree on the bank of the Kālindī named Śyāma.”

Both the NR and the SR (no manuscript excepted) insert hereafter one verse (1164*, 1165*), in which the sage says that Sītā should make a wish before the tree (cf. verse 13 below; the tree is named satyābhiyācana, “Granter-of-Wishes” in the NR, 1163* and 1177*; cf. below 62.12).


“How fortunate we are” kṛtapuṇyāḥ: cf. above note on 42.8.


“she was half embarrassed” iṣatsaṃlajjamānāṃ tām: Her embarrassment comes from grasping the hand of her beloved, and from the necessity of having to do so (Cg).

An SR insertion after this verse shows Sītā praying to the Yamunā (1173*, especially 5-8), much as she did to the Ganges.


“ate” ceratuḥ: So Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct. Note that curiously Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa are once again said to hunt and eat alone (cf. 46.79 above).

Sarga 50


“but straightway” anantaram: Literally, “afterwards,” that is, immediately after Lakṣmaṇa had fallen asleep. Differently the commentators: “afterwards,” that is, after Rāma himself had awakened (Cm, Cg, Ct).

Ct remarks that the popular belief that Lakṣmaṇa spent the entire fourteen years of exile without eating or sleeping is laid to rest by this verse. (Lakṣmaṇa is said to remain awake throughout the fourteen-year period in the Telugu Dvipada Rāmāyaṇa of Raṅganātha, sung in Andhra Pradesh).

The day now beginning is the seventh of the narrative, and more importantly for the coming action, the sixth of Rāma’s exile (for the latter, the chronological signposts are found in sargas 40, 45, 47-50).


“Let us be off … it is time” saṃpratiṣṭhāmahe kālaḥ: Ct reports the reading (not recorded in the crit. ed.) saṃpratīkṣāmahe kālam (he explains, “we know it is time”).


“sipped … water” spṛṣṭvā … jalam: This connotes the performance of all the obligatory morning rituals, bathing, etc. (Cg, Cm, Ct).


“in bloom” phullān: All but four manuscripts read instead bilvān, “bael” or Bengal quince, a plausible lection, for this is a medicinally valuable tree, like the marking-nut, and “one of the most useful … of Indian trees. A gum is obtained from the stem. A mucous is obtained chiefly from the fruit which is used as a cement … it is also used as a soap substitute. The fresh ripe fruit is eaten” (McCann 1959, p. 122).

“I shall be able to live” śakṣyāmi jīvitum: Most S manuscripts and the earliest commentators read the plural, “we shall be able” (the NR has the impersonal passive, 1192*).


“buckets” droṇa-: The word signifies not only a container but also a measure (of weight or liquid), which is how the commentators take it here (“filled with honey to the measure of a droṇa” [a little more than 21 pounds; cf. Kane 1962-1975, vol. 3, p. 145n], Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct). The image of bucket-like honeycombs appears elsewhere in the Rām (cf. 6.4.59).


“moorhen” natyūhaḥ: Dātyūhaḥ is the more common spelling of the name (so read here in the NR); it appears in this form in 4.1.14.


The fourfold anaphora of paśya (“look”) in verses 6. 7, 8, 10 lends a quality of almost childlike excitement to Rāma’s description.


The NR twice (verse 9cd v.l.; 1197*) indicates the party’s proximity to the Mandākinī River (probably not the Ganges; cf. note on 86.11); cf. note on verse 22 below.


“he said”: The commencement of direct discourse here is in fact uncharacteristically and jarringly left unmarked. The NR eliminates the problem. which is contained also in the vulgate.

An SR insertion within this verse mentions the sages who live on the mountain (1198*.4), and a later one (1200*, a particularly inept interpolation) shows the party going to greet one of them, who turns out to be none other than Vālmīki himself. The commentators show no surprise at this, but are interested only in the fact that in the Bālakāṇḍa (2.3) Vālmīki is said to live on the banks of the Tamasā. They reconcile the two accounts by asserting that Vālmīki first lived on Citrakūṭa and moved to the Tamasā when he composed the Rām, after Rāma became king (Cm, Cg, Ck; Ct dissents: the truth, he says, is that this is some other Vālmīki than the son of Pracetas and author of the Rām).


“Fetch wood” ānaya dārūṇi: It is probably because ascetics are not supposed to cut down trees (cf. note on 25.7) that the NR specifies, “trees broken by elephants” (1201*). It also indicates that two houses were constructed (1201 *, 1202*), possibly, as Vaidya suggests (1962, p. 698), one for Rāma and Sītā, and one for Lakṣmaṇa (cf. 93.4 and note; in 86.12, parṇakuṭī, we no doubt have a singular rather than dual).


In an insertion after this verse, the NR shows Sītā smearing the house with fragrant earth (1203*).


No manuscript presents this succession of half-verses, which actually leaves the subject of the verse unidentified.

“to our hut” śālām: That is, to the tutelary deities of the hut. The SR expands Rāma’s words with remarks on the vāstuśānti (1206*), the rite performed upon entering a new house, by the power of which, according to the BrahmāṇḍP, “one no longer fears disease, one’s kinsmen do not perish, one will live a hundred years as though in heaven” (cited by Cg). The interpolation goes on (line 3) to assert that the sacrificial injunction they will be following — namely, animal sacrifice — is envisaged by śāstra (and so no crime of violence will attach to them, Cm, Ck, Ct). No extant gṛhyasūtra authorizes animal sacrifice for vāstuśānti. Note that the ceremony performed at the construction of their hut at Pañcavaṭī (3.14.23) consists of an offering of flowers. The tutelary deities to be propitiated are, according to Cm, forty-six in number (Ct, fifty), including the rain god, the fire god, etc. (or, Kāma at the bedstead, Space at the threshold, etc. (Cg, Ck]).


“The black deer has been roasted black” ayaṃ kṛṣṇaḥ … śṛtaḥ kṛṣṇamṛgo yathā: Or, “It has been roasted black and looks just like the black deer itself” (this on the assumption that Lakṣmaṇa skinned the animal before cooking it).

“with all its limbs intact” samāptāṅgaḥ: The sacrificial animal was apparently immolated whole, head and all, something not encountered elsewhere in Sanskrit literature.


Both the SR and the NR expand the ceremony, the former with the intonation of vedic hymns, offerings to the Viśvadevas, Rudra, and Viṣṇu, etc. (1210*), the latter with offerings of grains to the ancestors and an offering to the bhūtas or spirits (2111*).

No manuscript appears to have the sequence of half-verses offered by the crit. ed. for verse 19, and indeed the repetition of Rāma (deleted in the translation) is suspicious.

“for averting evil” pāpasaṃśamanam: The “evil” is specified as either savage creatures that stalk the day and night (Cg), or the five dangers of the householder mentioned in ManuSm [3.68-71] (that is, the five “slaughter-houses’ — the hearth, the grinding stone, the broom, the mortar and pestle, and the water-pot; by using these a householder runs the risk of incurring sin, against which he can protect himself by sacrifice — Cg, Ck).

After this verse the NR has Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa eat the leavings of the sacrifices, and Sītā their leavings (1212*), whereas the SR shows Rāma constructing religious structures of a dimension appropriate to the ashram (altar sites, a caitya or shrine), and placating the bhūtas with fruit and the like (1213*).


“wild animals” vyālamṛga-: This appears to be the true sense of the compound in the Rām. Cg takes vyāla- as elephants (possible, cf. 5.46.16) or snakes (impossible).

“all the while holding their senses under control” jitendriyāḥ: Cg notes that the phrase is significant: their pleasure on the mountain was of a quite different order from the vulgar pleasures most people enjoy in the country — swimming, gathering flowers, and so on (the phrase is eliminated in the NR).


The NR again (cf. note on 11 above) names the river Mandākinī, substituting for the otherwise unknown Malyāvatī. It has evidently preserved the correct reading here, cf. 86.11.

The three successive lyric meters, verses 20-22, serve to bring to a close this movement, as it were, of the narrative symphony. We should observe with what sense of contentment Rāma settles down to his rustic life, and how it is able to make him forget the attractions of the city. As mentioned in the Introduction, here (and elsewhere) in the Rām the tension between town and country is intimated perhaps for the first time in Sanskrit literature, although it becomes something of a commonplace in the later literary texts.

Sarga 51


With this sarga we pick up the action three days prior to the close of the previous one (that is, the fourth day from the beginning of the narrative and the third since Rāma left Ayodhyā). An SR insertion after this verse (1218*) reads, “Their visit to Bharadvāja, their stay at Prayāga, their going up to Citrakūṭa was reported by those there.” The commentators take this to mean that Sumantra was informed — whether by Guha’s scouts or others is not clear — of the progress of Rāma’s journey. The motivation behind this interpolation is unclear, for Sumantra will make no use later (sargas 52-53) of the intelligence he is here supposed to have received. Daśaratha has no precise idea where Rāma is (53.20, 21), nor has Sumantra or Bharata later in their search for Rāma (78.12, 84.18). For the commentators’ remarks here on the chronology of the narrative, see the note on verse 4 below.


“Given leave to depart” anujñātaḥ; Either by Guha (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr) or by Rāma (Ck).


“on the third day at dusk” sāyāhnasamaye tṛtīye ‘hani: Sumantra returns “on the third day,” that is, two and one-half days after being dismissed by Rāma. There is no reason to believe that it took Sumantra any longer than Rāma to make the journey between Ayodhyā and Śṛṅgaverapura, that is to say, one and one-half to two days (note that he proceeds “directly” and “speeds along,” 51.2-3). The commentators, especially Ck, clearly show their sense of the need for uniformity in the two travel periods, for three of them, and two of the manuscripts, change the text here to read that Sumantra arrived “on the second day.” But this leaves us with one extra day. If we now read with the NR in 53.3b that Sumantra spent “one day” with Guha — and there is no reason not to, for unquestionably the SR reading that has Sumantra spend “many days” with him depends exclusively on the athetized verse 1218* noted above on verse 1 — our chronology is perfect: Rāma leaves Śṛṅgaverapura on the third day since his departure from Ayodhyā; Sumantra, waiting one day and traveling for two, returns three days after leaving Rāma, late on the afternoon of what must then be the sixth day of Rāma’s exile. And in fact in 56.14, a scene that takes place on the evening of Sumantra’s arrival, we shall be told that five nights of Rāma’s exile have already passed (that is, it is the evening of the sixth night); and in 57.3, also on the same evening, that it is the sixth night since his exile. (These data find confirmation in the PadmaP [cited by Ct. This verse is not found in the Nāgarī vulgate of the text; presumably it is contained in the Bengali recension, which is unavailable to us].) The commentators, given their corrupt text, are adrift here.

The whole scene of Sumantra’s return and the lamentation in the palace (sargas 51ff.) has been closely adapted by Aśvaghoṣa in BuddhaC 8.


After this verse several D manuscripts add that the people lost their minds when they saw just one man in the chariot (cf. 46.32) (1224*).


“have crossed the river” tīrṇāḥ: So all the commentators. Possible, too: “(realizing that) they (themselves, the people) had been overpowered” (that is, by fate; for the use of the verb, cf. 47.25); or, “(realizing that) they (themselves, the people) had (in fact) been deceived” (tīrṇāḥ abbreviated for pratīrṇāḥ, as in 1.34 above, amanyata for anvamanyata).


“we shall not see Rāghava here again” neha paśyāma iti rāghavam: The iti probably closes off the statement of one group of people, as Cm, Ct, Cr appear to take it; it is difficult to make it a causal adverb: “we who … are lost” (with Cg).


“We shall … show ourselves” drakṣyāmaḥ: We explain this verbal form as (future) passive, or rather reflexive, with active termination, cf. 57.16 (and Sen 1949, pp. 102-103, though he neglects to note this example).

“since … Rāma will not be there” rāmam antarā: The NR understands the phrase in its correct sense (vinā tam, 1227*); antarā cannot be taken absolutely (“[We shall never again see Rāma] in [our] midst, among [us],”) nor in construction with the distant locatives (with Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr).

Cg suggests that Rāma’s presence at all these events is in order to present gifts, make corrections of any lapses in the ceremonies, and so on.


“pondering what was advantageous” kiṃ samartham: False are Cm, Ck, Ct (similarly Cr), “The city, which had been watched over … became worried, thinking ‘what will be advantageous (from now on).’” The NR sufficiently clarifies the construction intended (1228*: iti cintayatā tena).


“inner shops” antarāpaṇam: Apparently shops inside of houses rather than stalls open on the street (Schlingloff 1969, p. 8. n. 7); the word is in compound with anu. The NR tries variously to supply the women’s statements (1229*, 1230*, where Sumantra is called “shameless” or “hopeless”).


“Sumantra covered his face” sumantraḥ pihitānanaḥ: Covering one’s face appears to be not so much a way to avoid being seen as a response to embarrassing or mortifying criticism, here presumably the women’s abuse (cf. HariVaṃ 63,14, though in MBh 2.71.3 Yudhiṣṭhira is said to cover his face lest he accidently cast the evil eye; Cg guesses, “he does so because he could not bear the sight of the people”).


“crowded with men of importance” mahājanasamākulāḥ: Perhaps, as Cg suggests, as a result of the fact that the king has not been coming out (to transact royal business).


“hushed” mandam: Because of the presence of the king? (Cm, Ck, Ct).


“no easier to die” na sukaram: Literally, “to put an end (to life)”; cf. the NR v.l. sumaram, which may well be original (cf. durmaram … aprāpte kāle, “it is impossible to die before one’s appointed hour,” MBh 11.20.22, also MBh 8.1.21, and cf. MBh 14.60.9, where durmaram is replaced in the SR with duṣkara.). The inability to die except at one’s fated moment is continually asserted throughout the Rām (see 17.30, 34.5; 5.23.12, 26.3, etc.).

“despite” ācchidya: See PW s.v. The only other example in the Rām (aside from the interpolated 557*.5) is 6.23.15, which may be similar (mayācchidya, “in spite of me”). The whole verse is admittedly difficult, but the commentators do not persuade us to translate otherwise (Cg: “Just as I think my own life is difficult to live, so surely it is not easy [na sukaram] that Kausalyā continues stubbornly [ācchidya = prasahya; so Cm] to live”; similarly Cs, Ck, save that for the latter and Ct, Cr, ācchidya = “[when her son left] abandoning [the consecration]”; Cm tautologically, “that she lives … is surely difficult; such a life is not easy”).


“pale white chamber” pāṇḍare gṛhe: Cg claims that the qualification is meant to indicate that the splendor of royalty has disappeared.


With Ck, Ct, the first half of the śloka is taken as a question.

“set things right” sukṛtaṃ te ‘stu: This is the most reasonable way to understand the phrase, considering the other instances of sukṛtam in our text (cf. 53.18, 58.1, 103.29, etc.). Cm, Ck, Ct: “You have your good deed,” that is, you have kept your word, what are you afraid of (so, too, Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 8n). But this interpretation requires us to invest the words with a sarcasm uncharacteristic of the poet.

“Grief will render you no aid” śoke na syāt sahāyatā: A formula (cf. Lüders 1940, pp. 103-104; he cites parallels from Buddhist gāthā literature), but usually spoken in a tone of solace rather than of anger, as apparently here.

Sarga 52


“had revived and recovered from his faint” pratyāśvastaḥ … mohāt pratyāgataḥ: The tautology is irremediable. The glosses on pratyāgataḥ by Cg (“‘he went’ toward the charioteer’) and Cm (“[he summoned the charioteer] ‘who had come’ [from Rāma]’) are fruitless attempts to cure it.


The SR (by reason of “interpolation”) and the NR (through a different reading) refer this verse not to the charioteer but rather to the king. Nonetheless the crit. ed. may be correct: the simile of the captured beast nicely describes Sumantra in his predicament of having to speak a painful truth (cf. above 46.36-37 and note).


With Cs we take the futures here as present (cf. note on 4.21).


“Wild animals” vyālamṛgaiḥ: Cf. note on 50.21 (Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr gloss the compound “boas”).


“as the two Aśvins . … onto Mount Mandara” aśvināv iva mandaram: The point of comparison in the simile here, say Ck and Ct, is the blackness of the mountain (corresponding to that of the forest), but this is uncharacteristically vapid for Vālmīki. Varadacharya suggests isolating mandaram. From the simile (“handsome as the two Aśvins”) and understanding it adverbially (= mandam): being delicate and unused to the forest, they would enter it “slowly” (1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 11n). The NR reads instead, “like Nara and Nārāyaṇa” (1251*).


After this verse the SR rather movingly adds, “I shall live on this, as Yayāti [when he fell from heaven and attained some consolation by falling] among good men” (1253*) (cf. note on 11.1; when Yayāti fell from heaven, he came down among his grandsons, who ultimately saved him).


“in a sob-choked and breaking voice” sajjamānayā … vācā … bāṣpaparirabdhayā: Cs suggests taking this apo koinou, with both coditaḥ (“pressed”) and uvāca (“answered”).


“Rāghava … bowed his head” rāghavaḥ … śirasābhipraṇamya: Apparently because they feel there is some impropriety in having Rāma bow to the (presumably) lower-caste charioteer, Cm, Ck, Cr ignore word order and interpret, “Rāghava in his solicitude … said, ‘Cupping your hands … and bowing your head’” [to be construed with verse 12]. It may be that, reading the verse naturally, we are to picture Rāma adopting with Sumantra the posture Sumantra, as Rāma’s proxy, is to adopt with Daśaratha; or, more probably, Rāma may be bowing in the direction of his absent father (so the NR, 1255*; cf. also 76.14, 5.15.31 and 56.6, and MBh 12.217.30).


As we can ascertain by a comparison with sarga 46 above, Sumantra’s report of Rāma’s message is not very faithful, despite Rāma’s express desire for precision (46.54). There are, of course, a number of close parallels: 52.12 / 46.20 (though Rāma’s optimistic words in 21-22 are omitted by Sumantra; the NR here inserts something approximate, 1257*); 52.13 / 46.23bcd-24a; 52.14 / 46.24ab (Sumantra, however, adds an extra admonition to Kausalyā; and Rāma’s advice to have Bharata brought and crowned is omitted); 52.15 / 46.27. 52.16, a strong line, is not in Rāma’s original message. But the most startling divergence is Sumantra’s report of Lakṣmaṇa’s words (verses 18ff.). It is only the NR that offered this (cf. note on 46.28), one would assume ex post facto, though for a later fabrication the number of parallels is very small (52.18 / App. I, No. 16.7-8; 52.19 / 16.9-10; the rest differs), and Rāma’s warning to Sumantra, to hush it all up (“for the king is old … and sorrowful over my banishment; if he hears such insults he will die straightway,” App. I, No. 16.31-32) is ignored here. (Cg [GPP 58.33] defends the narrative propriety of reporting indirectly Lakṣmaṇa’s speech when it was never directly related: “By virtue of its being recounted here — though never mentioned when Sumantra was being sent away — we are given to understand that it must have been spoken then” [this is his standard rationalization of narrative inconsistency, cf. note on 28.12-13 above].) It is impossible to determine whether the variations are intentional or simply consequences of the special exigencies (such as inconsultability) of oral poetry (though cf. the verbatim report of the later message, 62.7 = 64.3).


“ask … after their health” vācyam … ārogyam: The idiom ārogyaṃ vac (or brū) is here correctly interpreted by Ck and Ct (cf. the NR gloss, praṣṭavyā kuśalam [1258*]; contrast above 46.24 and note).


The crit. ed. constitutes a text exhibited by no single manuscript, and one that is highly elliptical. Vācyā is easily supplied from the previous verse, though this is not typical of Vālmīki’s style.


“the tears rolled in a flood” bhṛśam aśrūṇy avartayat: Rāma cries (cf. 1264* and Cg; Cr wants to supply mām with the causative verb, “made me cry”), Cg suggests, “only because of the impropriety of his saying anything further [lest he reveal his true thoughts?] since ‘one can find out the true feelings of a person by what he says when asleep, drunk, or angry’; this idea will come up again after the abduction of Sītā” it is unclear what verses he is referring to).


“that must provoke protest” janayiṣyati saṃkrośam: For this sense of saṃkrośa, cf. ArthŚā 1.17.39 (“public outcry”). Two possible alternatives to the translation offered: “that will bring forth censure (upon the agent)” (Cm, Cr); or, “that will bring forth, that must have, its denunciation.”


“Rāghava shall now be brother, father” bhrātā … pitā … rāghavaḥ: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct, all quote, “One is authorized to abandon a person, guru though he may be, who is proud, who does not know the difference between right and wrong, or follows an evil course” MBh 5.178.24 and elsewhere in that epic). Cg interprets allegorically: “Those who are directed solely to the Supreme One should abandon their natural fathers and other kin; the Blessed One alone is father, master, kinsman, and one without qualification.”


“could … feel loyalty to you” anurajyeta … tvā: That is, to Daśaratha. The change of address from third to second person does not have overwhelming manuscript support, but no clear alternative presents itself.

“devoted to the welfare of all the world” sarvalokahite ratam: The compound, rather surprisingly, occurs only here in Rām 2-6; it appears also in the Aśokan inscriptions (cf. for example Rock Edict VI, lines 9, 11). (Cg’s reading is not recorded in the crit. ed.: sarvalokāhite ratam [joined with tvā], “[you] so keen to harm all the world.”)

The SR inserts after this verse its logical conclusion: “Why should you remain king after going against the wishes of all the world by exiling Rāma?” (1271*).

Sarga 53


Before this verse an NR insertion (contained also in T2, 3) has Sumantra report how Rāma matted his hair, crossed the Ganges, and headed for Prayāga (1272*; in verse 21 below Daśaratha has no idea where Rāma is).

“as I was about to return” nivṛttasya: Connive absolute (pace Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr). The past participle has an inchoative aspect, as does prasthitaḥ in verse 2.

Horses weep in 6.94.26 below, and elsewhere in Sanskrit literature: in the MBh (4.37.6: 5.141.11; 6.2.33. 3.42), and the BuddhaC (6.53; modeled on the Rām); cf. “Iliad” 17.437ff. In Indian literature this generally represents an evil omen, rattler than, as here, an emotional response.


“sorrow … for them” tadduḥkham: Not understood as a compound by Cm, Cg (“such a sorrow”). We agree with Ct, Cr.


“But I waited the whole day” kṛtṣnaṃ ca tatraiva divasaṃ sthitaḥ: We read pādas ab with the NR, against the SR’s version accepted by the crit. ed., “(I waited) many days” (see note on 51.4).


The transition between verses 3 and 4 is abrupt, but all manuscripts support it. Before verse 4, therefore, we must understand: on the next day I departed and soon entered your realm.


“no beasts stirring forth” vyālā na prasaranti ca: That is, even to get food (Cm, Cg, Ct; cf. 40.29, 46.54). Again some uncertainty about vyāla-; the translation follows Cm, Cg (Cg’s second explanation is “elephants”; Cr, “snakes”).


“dimly” ‘vyaktam: We accept the reading of Cm, Cg, Ct, Cs (so B manuscripts and the Mylapore editor), although pūrvarūpasaṃdhi at pāda-boundary appears to be rare in the Rām (if anything there is a tendency, very slight, toward hiatus [exaggerated by Böhtlingk 1887, pp. 213-214]). The crit. ed. reading vyaktam is very weak (“clearly [more anguished]”).

“bright eves” vimalair netraiḥ: Cg suggests instead that the women’s eyes are “clean,” because they have stopped using kohl (in Rāma’s absence).


“enemies” amitrāṇām; The commentators try to explain away this reference to the “enemies” of Rāma. But obviously, as Varadacharya points out, if there were no enemies the verse would not make any sense: sorrow would then be perfectly uniform, and in addition no one could be said to be either friend or enemy, but only “neutral” (1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 21n).


“Ayodhyā, like Kausalyā” kausalyā … iva ayodhyā: The similitude is heightened by the feminine gender of the name of the city.


Daśaratha here is confessing his personal responsibility, apparently in response to the accusations implicit in Sumantra’s statements in this chapter (so Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct): natural disasters, as described in verses 4-5 above, were often attributed to a king’s unrighteousness, in India (cf. MBh 12.91.33ff.) as elsewhere in the ancient world.


“a woman of evil family and evil designs” pāpābhijanabhāvayā: The compound is problematic. Comparing verse 10.40 above, where Kaikeyī is called papaniścayā (“evil-scheming woman”), we follow Ct in the main (but abhijana in the Rām seems always to mean only “fancily” or “descent” [cf. 2.1.18, 98.48], never “birthplace,” which eliminates Ct in part, and Cm, Ck). But what is evil about Kaikeyī’s family? The account of her mother’s perversity, to which Cg refers, is an interpolation (cf. note on 32.1). Cg’s analysis of the compound (“with an evil intent coming through her family”) is attractive if we understand it, not as Cg himself does, that she is hereditarily prone to do evil, but as referring to the rājyaśulka, the “brideprice consisting in the kingship,” which was exacted at the time of Daśaratha’s marriage to her (cf. 99.3), and in which the king of Kekaya must have had a hand (this implication can also be gleaned from the translation offered). It may be to this that Daśaratha is referring in these verses.


“wise brahmans” naigamaiḥ: We follow Cm, Cs, Cr (“those who know the vedas and śāstras”), but the meanings “merchants, guildsmen” (cf. note on 1.14) or just “(leading) townsmen” (Cg) are also possible.


With a final pitiful attempt at self-exculpation, and perhaps with a hint of his recollecting the incident soon to be related (sargas 57-58), Daśaratha offers the alternative cause, fate (so essentially Cg; Ct wrongly has va = vai).


Daśaratha asks first to have Rāma brought to him (verse 18), hoping that his direct command will compel him to return (verse 19), but then realizing that Rāma may have traveled far already, he offers to go himself, one supposes, to avoid the insufferable delay of a return journey.


“If only … might … make … turn back” yadi … nivartayatu: yadi (+ imperative) used absolutely, without apodosis (cf. Speijer 1886, p. 371, recording, however, only optative constructions). The commentators take pāda a as protasis to b, “if the command is still mine (to give),” and variously explain the third person singular verb (“let some one,” “let you,” etc.).


“with pearly teeth” vṛttadaṃṣṭraḥ: Literally, “with rounded teeth” (“like jasmine buds,” Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr). The epithet is eliminated in the NR, but note that Daśaratha elsewhere at moments of severe emotional stress dwells on Rāma’s physical beauty, cf. for example 58.51ff..

“if I am to live” yadi jīvāmi: Again, there is some problem with the conditional clause. Ck, Ct, recognizing the syntactical impossibility of the construction “if I may see him I shall live” (Crā, Cm, Cg, Cr), suggest, “I would see him, if I [may] live [long enough].” The translation offered attempts to account better for verse 22, while also respecting syntax.


Ct discusses what he takes to be the real meaning of verses 21ff.: “The Blessed One separated himself from his father in order to ensure that he would be continuously thinking about Him at the hour of his death, which is drawing close. For one who thinks [about the Blessed One during that time] secures for himself a place in heaven.”


“You did … know” jānīta: Understood as second plural indicative active (augmentless imperfect); Cr takes it as third singular optative middle.

“my lady” devi: The sudden switch to direct address of Kausalyā is the reading of the SR (the NR reads for the most part, “charioteer.”) And the crit. ed.’s decision to accept it makes no contextual (or manuscript) sense without the SR insertion that precedes the line: “His heart crushed by sorrow, the king was plunged into a sea of grief, one whose further shore was far beyond his reach. He said, ‘The sea … in which, without Rāghava, I am sinking, Kausalyā …’” (1297*).


“What misfortune” aśobhanam: Against Ct (“[it is a result of] my sin that”). Half of the manuscripts that preserve this verse alter to suśobhanam, “handsome” (agreeing with rāghavam), and so locate the antecedent to the relative yaḥ in verse 24.


“terror seized her once again” bhayam agamat punar eva: Kausalyā first feared for her life when Rāma departed (cf. 17.24), and now fears again, lest Daśaratha die leaving her a widow and at the mercy of her enemies (so, too, in the opinion of Varadacharya, 1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 25n). Cg, Ck, who construe “doubly” with “terror,” suggest she feared first for Rāma’s life and now for Daśaratha’s, but this seems less convincing. Kausalyā’s anxiety throughout has been principally on her own account (cf. especially 17.23ff.).

Sarga 54


“The charioteer … in a breaking voice” sa vācā sajjamanayā … sūtaḥ: Presumably because it seems self-defeating to have Sumantra try to console Kausalyā in a tearful voice, Cm suggests joining the instrumentals in pāda ab (as attributives, upalakṣaṇe) with devīm, but this is very hard.


“is winning the higher world” ārādhayati … paralokam: Or, “winning the regard of other men,” see note on 19.7. The translation adopts the first alternative, in hesitant agreement with all the commentators, for two main reasons. The NR version of the clause runs paraṃ lokam arjayan, “securing the higher world” (1301*). (The variant is interesting in showing that both the compounded form paraloka- [cf. note on 19.7] and the use of the verb ārādhayati were felt to be obscure or ambiguous: see below.) It is, however, possible that the variant here is to be viewed as a revision rather than a gloss. More compelling evidence is provided by a parallel found in the Aśokan inscriptions, Kalinga Rock Edict II [Jaugad], line 7: hidalogaṃ ca paralogaṃ ca ālādhayeyū, “that they might gain both this world and the other world.” See also 35.23. Speaking against the translation are several factors. First, the compounded form paraloka-, on which see the note on 19.7. More serious is the use of ā + the root rādh. This verb generally construes with a personal object in the Rām (4.40, 23.32, 99.4, 3.10.86, etc.), and with one uncertain exception (cf. 3.10.89 and note there), there is no other example in the Rām, or indeed in Sanskrit literature in general, of its being employed with an impersonal object, as it is here (PW s.v. records only the present verse). The very important set of D manuscripts, 4, 5, 7, obviously found the usage impossible, offering instead, “(Lakṣmaṇa will be dwelling in the forest) winning the regard (ārādhayiṣyan) of Kākutstha by his righteousness” (1302*). Finally, there are the frequent references to the esteem Lakṣmaṇa has won in the eyes of the people for his selfless sacrifice (cf. 35.22, 42.7, 80.1). The Aśokan parallel may be enough to tip the balance here, but the arguments to the contrary are too strong to allow the interpretations of 19.7 and 47.26 to be affected. If the translation chosen here is indeed the correct one, we must posit for the Rām a bivalence in the term paraloka-, perhaps reflecting a process of ethical reorientation.


“as if she were at home” gṛheṣv iva: Compare Sītā’s own words above. 24.9, 17.


“I did not perceive that Vaidehī felt any despair” nāsyā dainyaṃ kṛtaṃ kiṃcit … lakṣaye: How easy the courtier Sumantra finds it to alter his story — cf. 52.23ff. — perhaps to spare the innocent woman any further pain (as he did not feel to be necessary in the case of the more culpable Daśaratha?).

“the hardships of exile” pravāsānām: For this sort of plural cf. Renou 1968, p. 275 (“noms d’action envisagés au point de vue des actes ou des moments”).


“with her full-moon face” -bālacandranibhānanā: There is a question whether to understand bāla- with the crit. ed. (and Crā), or (sīt)ābāl- with Cv, Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr (supported by the NR; cf. also verse 14 below). One trouble with the latter is that saṃdhi (savarṇadīrgha or otherwise) at the pāda-boundary is rare in the Rām (cf. above, note on 53.10; though it does occur, for example, in 110.30). But this seems less a problem than the text reading, which must mean either “new moon,” obviously awkward, or, “newly (risen)” (as Varadacharya suggests, 1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 27 note). But in Sanskrit literature the moon is usually said to be of a darkish hue (red or orange) when it rises (cf. Ingalls 1965, p. 272; thus Rāma, who is śyāma, “dark,” is properly compared to a bālacandra “just risen moon,” in 3.36.12). Abāla- also establishes a familiar sort of contrast with bāla- in pāda a. The translation thus agrees with the majority of the commentators.

“like a young girl” bāleva: “The simile refers either to her inveterate playfulness, or to her insensibility to sorrow,” Cg (Ck and Ct accept the second alternative).


After this verse the NR includes a śloka comparing Sītā in the midst of Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa to Śrī between Viṣṇu and Indra (1307*), while the SR continues with two verses in which the charioteer, claiming he cannot recall anything Sītā might have said against Kaikeyī, is shown to repress his recollection, preferring to report only what will positively cheer Kausalyā (1309*; the commentators have some difficulty in locating these words attributed to Sītā — understandably so, since they are nowhere recorded).


Contrast Kausalyā’s own impression of Sītā in 96.22-3.


“Sweet” vadānyāyāḥ: “Sweet-voiced,” according to Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr, who cite AmaK in support of their gloss (contrast the use of the word in 55.2). The epithet in any case is principally for alliteration: vadanaṃ … vadānyāyā vaidehyā … vikampate.

After this verse some D manuscripts add several lines comparing Sītā to Śrī, Umā, and Rati (wife of the god of love) (1310*).


Red liquid lac was applied to women’s feet: Sītā’s feet are said to be naturally such a hue and to remain so despite her traveling on foot.


“when she has cast off her jewelry out of love for him” tadrāgānyastabhūṣaṇā: The pāda is a little unclear. One naturally expects the verse, insofar as it is both juxtaposed to verse 15 and similarly constructed, to contain a comparable conceit (that is, that she moves as gracefully as if she were wearing ornaments, though she has removed them out of her desire to live as an ascetic with Rāma); this is how Cg (second explanation) and Cm (first) interpret. We follow them, despite the fact that Sītā is shown to have put on ornaments when they departed (34.17, 35.12), and still to be wearing them when Bharata comes to search for Rāma (82.13). The ornaments will take on a great importance later in the story: Sugrīva will find them after Sītā’s abduction and show them to Rāma, 4.6.13ff. (unless these are supposed to be Anasūyā’s gift, 2.110.17ff.).


“For theirs are exploits the world will keep alive in memory forever” idaṃ hi caritaṃ loke pratiṣṭhāsyati śāśvatam: Ck believes that the “exploits” include both the famous deeds of Rāma and the infamous ones of Kaikeyī. Cs comments that, by asserting that Rāma’s deeds will live forever, the poet intimates Rāma’s divinity (“for no one else’s deeds attain to an eternal existence”). Although this view is an interesting example of the medieval understanding of the Rām, it is alien to the spirit of the work, which stresses the nobility of human suffering in adherence to righteousness, and the ignominy of victory in violation of it. The verse is powerful in its simplicity. It calls to mind, by its wording, the first śloka chanted by Vālmīki mā … pratiṣṭhām … agamaḥ śāśvatīh samāḥ, 1.2.14) and, by its substance, though the point of view is instead pessimistic, “Iliad” 6.357-58 (“Zeus doomed us that we might be a grand theme for singers in times to come”). Cf. 6.88.53 where, before slaying Rāvaṇa, Rāma says, “Now I will do a deed that people … shall talk about as long as the earth lasts” (and of course 1.2.35).


“are making good” śubhām … paripālayanti: Notice the proleptic character of śubhām.

Sarga 55

Several D manuscripts have Sumantra sent from the room before Kausalyā begins to speak (1319*), whereas the NR substitutes some verses showing Kausalyā (in a way quite out of keeping with her actual words) reviving and gently stroking the king while she addresses him (1320*).


The crit. ed. presents the reading of the SR (the NR substitutes for 2cd, “I think that fame of yours has perished because of the banishment of Rāma” [1321*]), and the expression is unclear. We understand an iti after rāghavaḥ (with all commentators), taking the whole of verse 2 as the concessive protasis to verse 3, and understand duḥkhitau predicatively. The commentators for the most part are forced to supply a supplement to the verses (for example, though Daśaratha’s fame is widespread, how could he have done so infamous a thing [Cm, Cg], or, how could he have abandoned them [Ck, Ct, Cr]; Cg’s second alternative is not much better: even though Daśaratha’s fame, from keeping his word at the cost of abandoning a son so dearly obtained, will be widespread, and so will Rāma’s from returning the kingship promised him; and even though the fame of both of them is a worthy thing, how will they bear …).

After verse 2 the NR includes a long interpolation (App. I, No. 18), in which Kausalyā argues that Daśaratha has indeed broken his word by not consecrating Rāma after promising to do so (lines 1-10; cf. 11.6 and note); she goes on to praise truth (it is worth more than a thousand horse-sacrifices, is the first cause of the universe, etc. [11-32]), asserting that Daśaratha’s infamy will be eternal, and expressing gratitude that Kaikeyī did not demand Rāma’s execution, for Daśaratha would probably have complied (43-44). Kausalyā ends by saying that her grief has made her disobey Rāma’s entreaties not to reproach the king (53-58) and by asseverating the power of fate (63ff.).

In place of, and after, verse 3, many N manuscripts insert a lament for Lakṣmaṇa and lengthen the one for Sītā (1323*, 1324*).


“a woman in the bloom of youth” taruṇī śyāmā: A woman’s life is divided by the Sanskrit tradition into four periods: childhood (up to 16), young womanhood (16-30), middle age (30-55), old age (55-). Cm and Cg remark that the two words (which they gloss, “beyond childhood, in the middle of young womanhood,” respectively) being used together here mean that Sītā was somewhat less than half-way through young womanhood (cf. note on 17.26 and 3.874*).


“like the banner of great Indra” mahendradhvajasaṃkāśaḥ: “By reason of his giving everyone cause to rejoice” (as people rejoice at the festival of Indra, where the banner is raised, cf. note on 68.29), Ct, Cr, Cg, Ck take the word in the sense of “rainbow,” meaning it seems never to have in the Rām; cf. 71.9, 24, etc.


“since Bharata will have possessed them” bharatenopabhokṣyate: We should understand yad before bharatena, or iti after upabhokṣyate (which itself is future perfect).


“the oblation, clarified butter, rice cakes, kuśa grass or posts of khadira wood” havir ājyaṃ puroḍāśāḥ kuśā yūpāś ca khādirāḥ: The list of sacrificial materials not to be used again varies somewhat in different sources. Cg, Ck, Ct, Cr cite one authority that exempts from the prohibition “mantras, the black-antelope skin, darbha [nearly = kuśa] grass,” and try to explain away the last item; according to the TaiS ( the havis (“oblation”) remains reusable.


“drained to the lees” hṛtasāram: Literally, “with its essence taken away” (cf. the similar expression used by Kaikeyī, 32.10). In the soma-sacrifice the officiants consume the soma or sacred drink after libations have been poured to the gods.


“Such a man” tādṛśaḥ: The adjective (eliminated in the NR) has no natural referent when we eliminate the SR verses in 1345*. It must therefore be taken absolutely.


“If only” yadi: Absolutely employed, in an optative sense. The only reasonable alternative offered by the commentators is Cg’s “yadi in the sense of an interrogative particle,” that is, “Did you keep … ?”


Cg compares the famous verse, “A woman’s father guards her in childhood, her husband in womanhood, her children guard her in old age. She should never have independence” [ManuSm 9.3].


“you are no recourse for me” tvaṃ … me nāsti: The third singular verb, well-attested in the manuscripts, is to be taken with gatiḥ understood, tvaṃ gatir nāsti (as Varadacharya [1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 38n] and the Mylapore editors have also seen).

Two problems requiring attention here are the absence of any further mention of Kausalyā’s third recourse, her kinsmen, and her sudden disinclination to go to the forest (cf. 54.3). The solutions offered for the first problem are not convincing (Ct: “her kinsmen are not in the vicinity”; Varadacharya: there were no relations between Kausalyā’s kin and Daśaratha [this he claims is shown by the omission of their name in the passage cited at the note on 1.35], or, Kausalyā being the eldest wife and thus aged herself, her father and other kinsmen would be presumed to be dead [1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 37n] but cf. 46.36 above). Nor is one persuaded by the solution offered for the second (she did not want to go to the forest because she still did have a husband, Cg, Ck, Ct). Both problems would be lessened if we were to read, for vanam in pāda c (is it an ancient dittography?) something like gṛham, “(and) I will not go home,” where as a divorced woman her social degradation would be intolerable.


“Your son and your wife” sutaś ca bhāryā ca tava: The expression is a pregnant one: Daśaratha has now in effect only one son and one wife (Varadacharya 1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 38n).

Sarga 56


“he … fell to brooding” cintayām āsa: Cm, Cg, Ck, Ct (presumably because of 1349*.4, “he noticed Kausalyā at his side and fell to brooding once again”) understand by the king’s pondering here his reflection on the truth of Kausalyā’s words in sarga 55, rather than on his evil deed (55.21), but of course it is the latter, as verse 2 shows, that we have to understand here.


“shooting arrows by the sound of the target alone” śabdavedhinā: Cf. below 57.16ff.. (Cg, Ck, Cr also take the compound as instrumental of means referring to the arrow).


“strangers” pareṣu: Cm, Cg. “disagreeable people”; Ck, Ct, Cr, “enemies.” The NR substitutes the powerful lines, “You ought not to throw salt on my chest … my heart is split open in my grief for my son” (1353*, of, 67.3 for the image).


The bathos of Daśaratha again; cf. 11.12 and note. Ruben seeks to explain it as the effect of a heavily burdened conscience (1950, p. 296).


“you can tell good people from bad” dṛṣṭalokaparāvarā: A phrase used with reference to Rāma, 6.22 above (see note there). The commentators differ again: “who have seen among people their rise and fall” [Cg, Cm, Ct]; “the higher and lower world” [?] [Ck]; We are close to Cr.

“one more sorrowful still” suduḥkhitam: This agrees with Varadacharya (1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 40n) in seeing a comparative aspect in the adjective: Daśaratha is not, like Kausalyā, merely a parent commiserating for his child’s misfortune; he is the cause of it.


“before the king” rājñaḥ: Here the genitive is understood according to Renou (“un gén. de la personne interéssée” [1968, p. 307]); Cm, Cg, Ct, Cr make it a subjective genitive, that is, she grasped and brought to her head the king’s folded hands (which seems unnatural).

“alarmed” trastā: Ck and Ct note that her fear is that she has become a second Kaikeyī, saying things that break her husband’s heart.


“and you ought not to hurt me” hantavyāhaṃ na hi tvayā: Cg and Ck, who alone of the commentators read with the crit. ed., seem to interpret the pāda as a question: “[I have offended you and so] should I not be struck by you [like a common slave]?” We understand, “You should not strike me again,” that is, by beseeching her. The other commentators and most of the SR give, “I do not deserve your forgiveness,” reading kṣantavyā.


“She is counted no real wife in this world or the next” naiṣā hi sā strī bhavati … ubhayor lokayoḥ: This agrees with Cg in construing together pādas a and c; cf. the NR “gloss” 1359*.4, hatā seha paratra ca, “She is lost both in this world and the other.” Cm, Ck, Ct, Cr want to join pāda c with ślāghanīyena, “(a lord deserving to be praised) in this world and the next.” The verse is no doubt reminding us of Kaikeyī’s behavior in 10.40-41, 11.11ff.


“all one has learned” śrutam: “The sure sense of dharma that results from learning the śāstras,” Cr.


“Only five nights all told have now passed” pañcarātro ‘dya gaṇyate: “That is, the previous night was the fifth; the sixth is coming on now. Adya + rātrī idiomatically “last night” (cf. 48.33 and note, 66.8 and note); the NR makes it rather clearer: “Five days have passed” [1362*]. The poet will call the coming night the sixth since Rāma’s exile (57.3; cf. note on 51.4. The commentators’ chronological computations here are false, and in any case immaterial, occasioned as they are by the spurious reading noted at 51.4 and 53.3).


“just as the waters of the ocean grow great with rivers ever rushing in” nadīnām iva vegena samudrasalilaṃ mahat: Cg and Ck remark that the comparison is founded on a popular belief (Ck: “one extrapolated from seeing what happens to smaller bodies of water like ponds; the ocean does not really increase by waters running into it — in the rains it actually diminishes in volume — but rather by the waxing of the moon”). The NR alters the simile, “like the current of the Ganges after summer [that is, in the monsoons]” (1363*).


“heartfelt” śubham: Cf. note on 47.5. The commentators understand “good”: “The ‘goodness’ of her words lies in her trying to conciliate her husband even in her state of extreme grief,” Cm, Cg, Ct. (Cm reads locative for genitive in pādas ab [not noted in the crit. ed.].)


“gladdened … and overburdened” prahlāditaḥ … samākrāntaḥ: Varadacharya (1964-1965, vol. 2, p. 43n) seems to think the two states — of contentment with his wife and grief for his son — cancel each other out and give way to sleep, as one or the other alone would not. The commentators are silent.

Note the reduplicated perfect participle eyivān used as a finite verb (against 3.2.108ff.; cf. also 6.47.126, below in 66.43, upapedivān, and Böhtlingk 1887, p. 221).

Sarga 57


“the equal of Vāsava” vāsavopamam: For alliteration, vivāsād vāsavo-.

“the demon’s darkness” tamaḥ … āsuram: An eclipse, thought to be caused by the demon Rāhu swallowing the sun.


“that sixth night” rajanīṃ ṣaṣṭhīm: Significantly, the action is contemporaneous with sarga 50 (cf. note on 50.1). Jacobi believed that it was Vālmīki’s intention, according to the demands of “poetic authenticity” (poetische Gerechtigkeit), that Daśaratha die on the very day of Rāma’s departure (he consequently considered sargas 36-43 to be an interpolation via “thematic variation,” but cf. above, notes on 35.38, 45.14). That Daśaratha dies six days later Jacobi claims to be due to one or both of the following reasons: either it is a result of the “error” that narrative time must coincide with chronological time, that is, that after the description of Rāma’s journey to Citrakūṭa, the narrative of the events in Ayodhyā would be placed ahead, erroneously, the same amount of time, six days; or “Rāma’s exile and return were celebrated on the ninth day of the bright half of [the month] Caitra. The full moon appears six days after this. Probably this date was decided on for the death of Daśaratha,” for “according to [6.4.45] Viśākhā is the nakṣatra [constellation] of the Ikṣvākus. With the full moon in Caitra a cycle, in a certain sense, ended, and a new one began with the first day of Viśākhā” (Jacobi 1893, pp. 47-50 and addendum p. 255). The possibility that Vālmīki’s narrative as we have it in the crit. ed. is a coherent and, indeed, brilliant piece of literary art, with its own inner motivation, is explored in the Introduction, Chapter 6.

“fully” san-: The preverb here is doubtlessly significant. Daśaratha has had momentary flashes of memory already in 55.21 and 56.2.

The NR adds, “He said, ‘If you are awake, Kausalyā, listen attentively to my words’” (1371*.4).


It seems as if Daśaratha were here thinking about two things at once: the evil deed of his youth (verse 4) and his marriage promise to Kaikeyī (verses 5-7).


“who sets about a deed … what he stands to gain” ārambhe karmaṇāṃ phalam: Cm, Cg take ārambhe karmaṇām together, construing phalam (doṣaṃ vā) also with arthānām. It is more sensible to join karmaṇām apo koinou with both ārambhe and phalam. (Ck, Ct want to distinguish arthānām from karmaṇām as “secular” and “religious” acts, respectively, which is unnecessary. They add with regard to pāda d: “such a man is the real [“fool,” literally,] child, not the infant at the breast.”)


“A person who … instead waters flame trees” kaścid … palāśāṃś ca niṣiñcati: “The person thinks the flame trees will bear fruit commensurate with their flowers, which are enormous and colorful. and he cuts down the mango trees — whose flowers are small and pale — because they are obstructing the flame trees. … The fruit of the flame tree is inedible [whereas the mango’s is delectable]” (Cg; the idea is a commonplace in Sanskrit literature; cf. Ingalls 1965, p. 577).


This verse can be interpreted in two different ways. Daśaratha can be said to have “cut down a mango grove” by withdrawing his affection from Kausalyā, and by transferring it to Kaikeyī he “watered a flame tree.” By “watered” Daśaratha may be referring either to the boon he offered Kaikeyī or, more probably, to the bride-price promise he made in order to gain her hand (99.3). Kaikeyī never bore the sweet fruit her appearance promised, but the bitter fruit that meant the exile of Rāma (so Cm, Cr; the commentators otherwise fail to understand the verse satisfactorily). Whereas this interpretation seems appropriate to the terms of the simile, it does not construe well with what follows, for Daśaratha proceeds to discuss the “fruits” borne by his “shooting by sound” (verse 9), which actually turn out to be his repudiation of Rāma (and eventually his own death). To make the present simile more relevant to this, we would have to equate the flame tree with his flamboyant archery, and the mango grove with the more temperate and virtuous pleasures of a prince — which would be a weak solution. In fact, Daśaratha again may be thinking of two things consecutively but unrelatedly: his beguilement by Kaikeyī (verses 5-7) and his youthful intemperance (verses 8ff.).


“it has now come home to me” tad me ‘nusaṃprāptam: “[Normally] the good or evil deed a person does bears its fruit in some other world or in some future life. Because his deed was so heinous it bore its fruit in this very world,” Cg.


‘just as a child might eat something poisonous out of ignorance” saṃmohād iha bālena yathā syād bhakṣitaṃ viṣam: The simile underscores the fact that, with respect to the karmic effect of the deed, his youth and the accidental character of the act are both immaterial (Ck).

All S manuscripts include a line before pādas cd supplying the simile of the man deluded by the flame tree (1377*), which causes the commentators then to interpret variously the second half (for example, Daśaratha was deluded by his fame in archery and did not realize the bitter fruit it would bear, Cm, Cg). As the text stands (and as the NR in part confirms) the simile in pādas ab refers merely to the ignorance (and youth) of Daśaratha.


The following episode is closely paralleled by the Sāmajātaka (“Jātakas” #540, cf. Mahāvastu pp. 209-19 [prose version], pp. 219-31 [metrical version]); points of significant agreement or divergence will be noted in their appropr