'I doubt not, Prince, thy peerless might,
Armed with these shafts so keen and bright,
Like all-destroying fires of fate,
The worlds could burn and devastate.
But lend thou first thy mind and ear
Of Báli's power and might to hear.
How bold, how firm, in battle tried,
Is Báli's heart; and then decide.
From east to west, from south to north
On restless errand hunting forth,
From farthest sea to sea he flies
Before the sun has lit the skies.
A mountain top he oft will seek.
Tear from its root a towering peak.
Hurl it aloft, as 'twere a ball,
And catch it ere to earth it fall.
And many a tree that long has stood
In health and vigour in the wood,
His single arm to earth will throw,
The marvels of his might to show.
Shaped like a bull, a monster bore
The name of Dundubhi of yore:
He matched in size a mountain height,
A thousand elephants in might.
By pride of wondrous gifts impelled,
And strength he deemed unparalleled,
To Ocean, lord of stream and brook,
Athirst for war, his way he took.
He reached the king of rolling waves
Whose gems are piled in sunless caves,
And threw his challenge to the sea;
'Come forth, O King, and fight with me.'
He spoke, and from his ocean bed
The righteous 1 monarch heaved his head,
And gave, sedate, his calm reply
To him whom fate impelled to die:
'Not mine, not mine the power,' he cried,
'To cope with thee in battle tried;
But listen to my voice, and seek
The worthier foe of whom I speak.
The Lord of Hills, where hermits live
And love the home his forests give,
Whose child is S'ankar's darling queen, 2
The King of Snows is he I mean.
Deep caves has he, and dark boughs shade
The torrent and the wild cascade.
From him expect the fierce delight
Which heroes feel in equal fight.'
He deemed that fear checked ocean's king,
And, like an arrow from the string,
To the wild woods that clothe the side
Of Lord Himálaya's hills he hied.
Then Dundubhi, with hideous roar.
Huge fragments from the summit tore
Vast as Airávat, 3 white with snow,
And hurled them to the plains below.
Then like a white cloud soft, serene.
The Lord of Mountains' form was seen.
It sat upon a lofty crest.
And thus the furious fiend addressed:
'Beseems thee not, O virtue's friend,
My mountain tops to rive and rend;
For I, the hermit's calm retreat,
For deeds of war am all unmeet,'
The demon's eye with rage grew red,
And thus in furious tone he said:
'If thou from fear or sloth decline
To match thy strength in war with mine,
Where shall I find a champion, say,
To meet me burning for the fray?'
He spoke: Himálaya, skilled in lore
Of eloquence, replied once more,
And, angered in his righteous mind,
Addressed the chief of demon kind:
'The Vánar Báli, brave and wise,
Son of the God who rules the sides, 1
Sways, glorious in his high renown,
Kishkindhá his imperial town.
Well may that valiant lord who knows
Each art of war his might oppose
To thine, in equal battle set,
As Namuehi 2 and Indra met.
Go, if thy soul desire the fray;
To Báli's city speed away,
And that uoconquered hero meet
Whose fame is high for warlike feat.'
He listened to the Lord of Snow,
And, his proud heart with rage aglow,
Sped swift away and lighted down
By vast Kishkindhá, Báli's town.
With pointed horns to strike and gore
The semblance of a bull he bore,
Huge as a cloud that downward bends
Ere the full flood of rain descends.
Impelled by pride and rage and hate,
He thundered at Kishkindhá's gate;
And with his bellowing, like the sound
Of pealing drums, he shook the ground,
He rent the earth and prostrate threw
The trees that near the portal grew.
King Báli from the bowers within
Indignant heard the roar and din.
Then, moonlike mid the stars, with all
His dames he hurried to the wall;
And to the fiend this speech, expressed
In clear and measured words, addressed:
'Know me for monarch. Báli styled,
Of Vánar tribes that roam the wild.
Say why dost thou this gate molest,
And bellowing thus disturb our rest?
I know thee, mighty fiend: beware
And guard thy life with wiser care.'
He spoke: and thus the fiend returned,
While red with rage his eyeballs burned:
'What! speak when all thy dames are nigh
And hero-like thy foe defy?
Come, meet me in the fight this day,
And learn my strength by bold assay.
Or shall I spare tbee, and relent
Until the coming night be spent?
Take then the respite of a night
And yield thee to each soft delight.
Then, monarch of the Vánar race.
With loving arms thy friends embrace.
Gifts on thy faithful lords bestow,
Bid each and all farewell, and go.
Show in the streets once more thy face,
Instal thy son to fill thy place.
Dally a while with each dear dame;
And then my strength thy pride shall tame
For, should I smite thee drunk with wine
Enamoured of those dames of thine,
Beneath diseases bowed and bent,
Or weak, unarmed, or negligent,
My deed would merit hate and scorn
As his who slays the child unborn.'
Then Báli's soul with rage was tired,
Queen Tárá and the dames retired;
And slowly, with a laugh of pride,
The king of Vánars thus replied:
'Me, fiend, thou deemest drunk with wine:
Unless thy fear the fight decline,
Come, meet me in the fray, and test
The spirit of my valiant breast.'
He spoke in wrath and high disdain;
And, laying down his golden chain,
Gift of his sire Mahendra, dared
The demon, for the fray prepared;
Seized by the horns the monster, vast
As a huge hill, and held him fast,
Then fiercely dragged him round and round,
And, shouting, hurled him to the ground.
Blood streaming from his ears, he rose,
And wild with fury strove the foes.
Then Báli, match for Indra's might,
With every arm renewed the fight.
He fought with fists, and feet, and knees,
With fragments of the rock, and trees.
At last the monster's strength, assailed
By S'akra's 1b conquering offspring, failed.
Him Bali raised with mighty strain.
And dashed upon the ground again;
Where, bruised and shattered, in a tide
Of rushing blood, the demon died.
King Báli saw the lifeless corse,
And bending, with tremendous force
Raised the huge bulk from where it lay,
And hurled it full a league away.
As through the air the body flew,
Some blood-drops, caught by gales that blew,
Welled from his shattered jaw and fell
By Saint Matanga's hermit cell:
Matanga saw, illustrious sage,
Those drops defile his hermitage,
And, as he marvelled whence they came,
Fierce anger filled his soul with flame:
'Who is the villain, evil-souled,
With childish thoughts unwise and bold,
Who is the impious wretch,' he cried,
'By whom my grove with blood is dyed?'
Thus spoke Matanga in his rage,
And hastened from the hermitage,
When lo, before his wondering eyes
Lay the dead bull of mountain size
His hermit soul was nothing slow
The doer of the deed to know,
And thus the Vánar in a burst
Of wild tempestuous wrath he cursed:
'Ne'er let that Vánar wander here,
For, if he come, his death is near.
Whose impious hand with blood has dyed
The holy place where I abide,
Who threw this demon corse and made
A ruin of the pleasant shade.
If e'er he plant his wicked feet
Within one league of my retreat;
Yea, if the villain come so nigh
That very hour he needs must die.
And let the Vánar lords who dwell
In the dark woods that skirt my cell
Obey my words, and speeding hence
Find them some meeter residence.
Here if they dare to stay, on all
The terrors of my curse shall fall.
They spoil the tender saplings, dear
As children which I cherish here,
Mar root and branch and leaf and spray,
And steal the ripening fruit away.
One day I grant, no further hour,
To-morrow shall my curse have power,
And then each Vánar I may see
A stone through countless years shall be.'
The Vánars heard the curse and hied
From sheltering wood and mountain side.
King Báli marked their haste and dread,
And to the flying leaders said:
'Speak, Vánar chiefs, and tell me why
From Saint Matanga's grove ye fly
To gather round me: is it well
With all who in those woodlands dwell?'
He spoke: the Vánar leaders told
King Báli with his chain of gold
What curse the saint had on them laid,
Which drove them from their ancient shade.
Then royal Báli sought the sage,
With reverent hands to soothe his rage.
The holy man his suppliant spurned,
And to his cell in anger turned.
That curse on Báli sorely pressed.
And long his conscious soul distressed.
Him still the curse and terror keep
Afar from Rishyamúka's steep.
He dares not to the grove draw nigh,
Nay scarce will hither turn his eye.
We know what terrors warm him hence,
And roam these woods in confidence.
Look, Prince, before thee white and dry
The demon's bones uncovered lie,
Who, like a hill in bulk and length,
Fell ruind for his pride of strength.
See those high Sál trees seven in row
That droop their mighty branches low,
These at one grasp would Báli seize,
And leafless shake the trembling trees.
These tales I tell, O Prince, to show
The matchless power that arms the foe.
How canst thou hope to slay him? how
Meet Báli in the battle now?'
Sugríva spoke and sadly sighed:
And Lakshman with a laugh replied:
'What show of power, what proof and test
May still the doubts that fill thy breast?'
He spoke. Sugríva thus replied:
'See yonder Sál trees side by side.
King Báli here would take his stand
Grasping his bow with vigorous hand,
And every arrow, keen and true.
Would strike its tree and pierce it through
If Ráma now his bow will bend,
And through one trunk an arrow send;
Or if his arm can raise and throw
Two hundred measures of his bow,
Grasped by a foot and hurled through air,
The demon bull that moulders there,
My heart will own his might and fain
Believe my foe already slain.'
Sugríva spoke inflamed with ire,
Scanned Ráma with a glance of fire,
Pondered a while in silent mood.
And thus again his speech renewed:
'All lands with Báli's glories ring,
A valiant, strong, and mighty king;
In conscious power unused to yield;
A hero first in every field.
His wondrous deeds his might declare,
Deeds Gods might scarcely do or dare;
And on this power reflecting still
I roam on Rishyamúka's hill.
Awed by my brother's might I rove,
In doubt and fear, from grove to grove,
While Hanumán, my chosen friend,
And faithful lords my steps attend;
And now, O true to friendship's tie,
I hail in thee my best ally.
My surest refuge from my foes,
And steadfast as the Lord of Snows.
Still, when I muse how strong and bold
Is cruel Báli, evil-souled,
But ne'er, O chief of Raghu's line,
Have seen what strength in war is thine,
Though in my heart I may not dare
Doubt thy great might, despise, compare,
Thoughts of his fearful deeds will rise
And fill my soul with sad surmise.
Speech, form, and trust which naught may move
Thy secret strength and glory prove,
As smouldering ashes dimly show
The dormant fires that live below.'
He ceased: and Ráma answered, while
Played o'er his lips a gracious smile:
'Not yet convinced? This clear assay
Shall drive each lingering doubt away.'
Thus Ráma spoke his heart to cheer,
To Dundubhi's vast frame drew near:
He touched it with his foot in play
And sent it twenty leagues away.
Sugríva marked what easy force
Hurled through the air that demon's corse
Whose mighty bones were white and dried,
And to the son of Raghu cried:
'My brother Báli, when his might
Was drunk and weary from the fight,
Hurled forth the monster body, fresh
With skin and sinews, blood and flesh.
Now flesh and blood are dried away.
The crumbling bones are light as hay,
Which thou, O Raghu's son, hast sent
Flying through air in merriment.
This test alone is weak to show
If thou be stronger or the foe.
By thee a heap of mouldering bone,
By him the recent corse was thrown.
Thy strength, O Prince, is yet untried:
Come, pierce one tree: let this decide.
Prepare thy ponderous bow and bring
Close to thine ear the straining string.
On yonder Sál tree fix thine eye,
And let the mighty arrow fly,
I doubt not, chief, that I shall see
Thy pointed shaft transfix the tree.
Then come, assay the easy task,
And do for love the thing I ask.
Best of all lights, the Day-God fills
With glory earth and sky:
Himálaya is the lord of hills
That heave their heads on high.
The royal lion is the best
Of beasts that tread the earth;
And thou, O hero, art confessed
First in heroic worth.'
335:1 Righteous because he never transgresses his bounds, and
335:2 Himálaya, the Lord of Snow, is the father of Umá the wife of S'iva or S'ankar.
335:3 Indra's celestial elephant.
336:1 Báli was the son of Indra. See p.28.
336:2 An Asur slain by Indra. See p. 261 Note. He is, like Vritra, a form of the demon of drought destroyed by the beneficent God of the firmament.
336:1b Another name of Indra or Mahendra.