But none of all the host was found
To clear the sea with desperate bound,
Though each, as Angad bade, declared
His proper power and what he dared. 1
Then spake good Jámbavan the sage,
Chief of them all for reverend age;
'I, Vánar chieftains, long ago
Limbs light to leap could likewise show,
But now on frame and spirit weighs
The burthen of my length of days.
Still task like this I may not slight,
When Ráma and our king unite.
So listen while I tell, O friends,
What lingering strength mine age attends.
If my poor leap may aught avail,
Of ninety leagues, I will not fail.
Far other strength in youth's fresh prime
I boasted, in the olden time,
When, at Prahláda's 1b solemn rite,
I circled in my rapid flight
Lord Vishnu, everlasting God,
When through the universe he trod.
But now my limbs are weak and old,
My youth is fled, its fire is cold,
And these exhausted nerves to strain
In such a task were idle pain,'
Then Angad due obeisance paid,
And to the chief his answer made:
'Then I, ye noble Vánars, I
Mvself the mighty leap will try:
Although perchance the power I lack
To leap from Lanká's island back'
Thus the impetuous chieftain cried,
And Jámbavan the sage replied:
'Whate'er thy power and might may be,
This task, O Prince, is not for thee.
Kings go not forth themselves, but send
The servants who their best attend.
Thou art the darling and the boast,
The honoured lord of all the host.
In thee the root, O Angad, lies
Of our appointed enterprise;
And thee, on whom our hopes depend,
Our care must cherish and defend.'
Then Báli's noble son replied:
'Needs must I go whate'er betide,
*** For, if no chief this exploit dare,
What waits us all save blank despair,--
Upon the ground again to lie
In hopeless misery, fast, and die?
For not a hope of life I see
If we neglect our king's decree*'
Then spoke the aged chief again:
'***Now your attempt shall not be in vain,
For to the task will I incite
A chieftain of sufficient might.'
391:1 Each chief comes forward and says how far he can leap. Gaja says he can leap ten yojans. Gavaksha can leap twenty. Gavaya thirty.* and so on up to ninety.
391:1b Prahlá*da, the son of H***iranyakasipu, was a pious Datya remarkable for his devotion to Vishnu, and was on this account persecuted by his father.