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Tales from the Hindu Dramatists
by R. N. Dutta
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TALES FROM

THE HINDU DRAMATISTS.

BY

R. N. DUTTA, B.A., B.L.,

Late Officiating Head-Master, Metropolitan Institution, Bowbazar Branch, Calcutta;

AUTHOR OF "THE BOY'S RAMAYANA."

REVISED BY J. S. ZEMIN,

Professor of English Literature, Bishop's College, and Central College, Calcutta; Late Principal, Doveton College, Calcutta; Hon. Fellow and Examiner, University of Calcutta.



Calcutta. B. BANERJEE & Co., 26, Cornwallis Street, and 54, College Street.

1912.

[All Rights Reserved.] Ans. 12.

CALCUTTA,

PRINTED BY K.C. DATTA AT THE VICTORIA PRINTING WORKS 203/2 CORNWALLIS STREET.

PUBLISHED BY B. BANERJEE & Co., 25, Cornwallis Street, and 54, College Street.

To

The Hon'ble Sir Justice

ASHUTOSH MOOKERJEE, SARASWATI, Kt.

C.S.I., M.A., D.L., D.S.C., F.R.A.S., F.R.S.E.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of CALCUTTA.

THIS BOOK

IS

DEDICATED

as a sincere token of the esteem and admiration of the

AUTHOR

for his eminent services to the cause of the

ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING.

- Transcriber's Note: There are some inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation which have been left as the original. -



PREFACE.

Many educationists think that our Indian boys should be encouraged to read the stories of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the two great Epics of India and Tales from the Sanskrit Dramatists when they are recommended to read "The Boy's Odyssey," "Legends of Greece and Rome," "Arabian Nights' Tales" and Lamb's "Tales from Shakespeare." It was perhaps from this view of the matter that the University of Calcutta recommended "The Boy's Ramayana" and "Tales from the Hindu Dramatists" for the Matriculation Examination. As no books were published in time, the University had to issue an amended notice omitting the books from the list. To supply the want, I have ventured to write the "Boy's Ramayana" and this humble book. I have tried my best to narrate briefly, in simple and idiomatic English, the stories on which the chief Sanskrit dramas are based. I hope that the University will be pleased to re-insert "The Boy's Ramayana" and this book in the list of books recommended for the Matriculation Examination.

BALARAMADHAM, } 4, Madan Mitter's Lane, } RAMA NATH DUTT. Calcutta } 1911—December. }



TALES

FROM

THE HINDU DRAMATISTS.



SAKUNTALA OR THE LOST RING.

In ancient days, there was a mighty king of the Lunar dynasty by name Dushyanta. He was the king of Hastinapur. He once goes out a-hunting and in the pursuit of a deer comes near the hermitage of the sage Kanwa, the chief of the hermits, where some anchorites request him not to kill the deer. The king feels thirsty and was seeking water when he saw certain maidens of the hermits watering the favourite plants. One of them, an exquisitely beautiful and bashful maiden, named Sakuntala, received him. She was the daughter of the celestial nymph Menaka by the celebrated sage Viswamitra and foster-child of the hermit Kanwa. She is smitten with love at the first sight of the king, standing confused at the change of her own feeling. The love at first sight which the king conceives for her is of too deep a nature to be momentary. Struck by her beauty he exclaims:—

"Her lip is ruddy as an opening bud; her graceful arms resemble tender shoots; attractive as the bloom upon the tree, the glow of youth is spread on all her limbs."

Seizing an opportunity of addressing her, he soon feels that it is impossible for him to return to his capital. His limbs move forward, while his heart flies back, like a silken standard borne against the breeze. He seeks for opportunities for seeing her. With the thought about her haunting him by day and night, he finds no rest, and no pleasure even in his favourite recreation—sporting. Mathavya, the jester, friend and companion of the king, however, breaks the dull monotony of his anxious time. The opportunity which the king seeks offers itself. The hermits send an embassy to the king asking him to come over to the hermitage to guard their sacrifices. As he was making preparations for departure to the hermitage, Karavaka, a messenger from the queen-mother, arrives asking his presence at the city of Hastinapur.

He is at first at a loss to extricate himself from this difficulty but a thought strikes him and he acts upon it. He sends the jester as his substitute to the city. He is now at leisure to seek out the love-sick Sakuntala who is drooping on account of her love for the king and is discovered lying on a bed of flowers in an arbour. He comes to the hermitage, overhears her conversation with her two friends, shows himself and offers to wed her. For a second time, the lovers thus meet. He enquires of her parentage to see if there is any obstacle to their being united in marriage; whereupon Sakuntala asks her companion Priyambada to satisfy the king with an account of her birth. The king hearing the story of her birth asks the companion to get the consent of Sakuntala to be married to him according to the form known as gandharva.

Sakuntala requests the king to wait till her foster-father Kanwa, who had gone out on a pilgrimage, would come back and give his consent. But the king, becoming importunate, she at last gives her consent. They are married according to the gandharva form, on the condition that the issue of the marriage should occupy the throne of Hastinapur. She accepts from her lord a marriage-ring as the token of recognition.

The king then goes away, after having promised to shortly send his ministers and army to escort her to his Capital. When Kanwa returns to the hermitage, he becomes aware of what has transpired during his absence by his spiritual powers, and congratulates Sakuntala on having chosen a husband worthy of her in every respect. Next day, when Sakuntala is deeply absorbed in thoughts about her absent lord, the celebrated choleric sage Durvasa comes and demands the rights of hospitality. But he is not greeted with due courtesy by Sakuntala owing to her pre-occupied state. Upon this, the ascetic pronounces a curse that he whose thought has led her to forget her duties towards guests, would disown her.

Sakuntala does not hear it, but Priyambada hears it and by entreaties appeases the wrath of the sage, who being conciliated ordains that the curse would cease at the sight of some ornament of recognition.

Sakuntala becomes quick with child and in the seventh month of her pregnancy is sent by her foster-father to Hastinapur, in the company of her sister Gautami, and his two disciples Sarngarva and Saradwata. Priyambada stays in the hermitage. Sakuntala takes leave of the sacred grove in which she has been brought up, of her flowers, her gazelles and her friends.

The aged hermit of the grove thus expresses his feelings at the approaching loss of Sakuntala:—

"My heart is touched with sadness at the thought, "Sakuntala must go to-day"; my throat is choked with flow of tears repressed; my sight is dimmed with pensiveness but if the grief of an old forest hermit is so great, how keen must be the pang a father feels when freshly parted from a cherished child!"

Then he calls upon the trees to give her a kindly farewell. They answer with the Kokila's melodious cry.

Thereupon the following good wishes are uttered by voices in the air:—

"Thy journey be auspicious; may the breeze, gentle and soothing, fan the cheek; may lakes, all bright with lily cups, delight thine eyes; the sun-beam's heat be cooled by shady trees; the dust beneath thy feet be the pollen of lotuses."

On their way, Sakuntala and her companions bathe in the Prachi Saraswati, when, as Fate would have it, she carelessly drops the ring of recognition into the river, being unaware of the fact at the time. At last they arrive at Hastinapur, and send words to the king.

The king asks his family priest Somarata to enquire of them the cause of their coming. Whereupon the priest meets them at the gate, knows the objects of their coming and informs the king of it. The curse of Durvasa does its work. The king denies Sakuntala. At the intercession of the priest, she and her companions are brought before the king. The king publicly repudiates her. As a last resource, Sakuntala bethinks herself of the ring given her by her husband, but on discovering that it is lost, abandons hope. Sarnagarva sharply remonstrates against the conduct of the king and presses the claim of Sakuntala.

Gentle and meek as Sakuntala is, she undauntedly gives vent to her moral indignation against the king. The disciples go away saying that the king would have to repent of it.

Sakuntala falls senseless on the ground. After a while, she revives, the priest then comes forward and asks the king to allow her to stay in his palace till her delivery. The king consents, and when Sakuntala is following the priest, Menaka with her irradiant form appears and taking hold of her daughter vanishes and goes to a celestial asylum. Everyone present there is astonished and frightened.

After this incident, one day while the king is out on inspection, a certain fisherman, charged with the theft of the royal signet-ring which he professes to have found inside a fish, is dragged along by constables before the king who, however, causes the poor accused to be set free, rewarding him handsomely for his find.

Recollection of his former love now returns to him. His strong and passionate love for Sakuntala surges upon him with doubled and redoubled-force.

Indulging in sorrow at his repudiation of Sakuntala, the king passes three long years; at the end of which Matali, Indra's charioteer, appears to ask the king's aid in vanquishing the demons. He makes his aerial voyage in Indra's car. While he is coming back from the realm of Indra, he alights on the hermitage of Maricha.

Here he sees a young boy tormenting a lion-whelp. Taking his hand, without knowing him to be his own son, he exclaims:—"If now the touch of but a stranger's child thus sends a thrill of joy through all my limbs, what transports must be awakened in the soul of that blest father from whose loins he sprang!"

From the vaunting speeches of the boy, the king gathers that the boy is a scion of the race of Puru. His heart everflows with affection for him. A collection of circumstantial evidence points the boy to be his son. The amulet on the boy indicates his parentage.

But while he is in a doubtful mood as to the parentage of the refractory boy, he meets the sage Maricha from whom he learns everything. The name of the boy is Sarvadamana, afterwards known as Bharata, the most famous king of the Lunar race, whose authority is said to have extended over a great part of India, and from whom India is to this day called Bharata or Bharatavarsa (the country or domain of Bharata.)

Soon after, he finds and recognises Sakuntala, with whom he is at length happily re-united.



VIKRAMORVASI OR URVASI WON BY VALOUR

OR

THE HERO AND THE NYMPH.

In the Himalaya mountains, the nymphs of heaven, on returning from an assembly of the gods, are mourning over the loss of Urvasi, a fellow-nymph, who has been carried off by a demon. King Pururavas enters on his chariot, and on hearing the cause of their grief, hastens to the rescue of the nymph. He soon returns, after having vanquished the robber, and restores Urvasi to her heavenly companions. While carrying the nymph back to her friends in his chariot, he is enraptured by her beauty, falls in love with her and she with her deliverer. Urvasi being summoned before the throne of Indra, the lovers are soon obliged to part. When they part, Urvasi wishes to turn round once more to see the king.

She pretends that a straggling vine has caught her garland, and while feigning to disengage herself, she calls one of her friends to help her.

The friend replies:—

"I fear, this is no easy task. You seem entangled too fast to be set free: but, come what may, defend upon my friendship." The eyes of the king then meet those of Urvasi. They now part.

The king is now at Prayag, the modern Allahabad, his residence. He walks in the garden of his palace, accompanied by a Brahman who is his confidential companion, and knows his love for Urvasi. The companion is so afraid of betraying what must remain a secret to everybody at court, and in particular to the queen, that he hides himself in a retired temple. There a female servant of the queen discovers him, and 'as a secret can no more rest in his breast than morning dew upon the grass,' she soon finds out from him why the king is so changed, since his return from the battle with the demon, and carries the tale to the queen. In the meantime, the king is in despair, and pours out his grief. Urvasi also is sighing for him. She suddenly descends with her friend through the air to meet him.

Both are at first invisible to him, and listen to his confession of love.

Then Urvasi writes a verse on a birch-leaf, and lets it fall near the bower where her beloved reclines.

Next, her friend becomes visible, and at last, Urvasi herself is introduced to the king. After a few moments, however, both Urvasi and her friend are called back by a messenger of the gods, and the king is left alone with his jester. He looks for the leaf on which Urvasi had first disclosed her love, but it is lost, carried away by the wind. But worse than this the leaf is picked up by the queen, who comes to look for the king in the garden. The queen severely upbraids her husband, and, after a while, goes off in a hurry, like a river in the rainy season.

When Urvasi was recalled to Indra's heaven, she had to act before Indra the part of the goddess of beauty, who selects Vishnu for her husband. One of the names of Vishnu is Purushottama.

Poor Urvasi, when called upon to confess on whom her heart was set, forgetting the part she had to act, says "I love Pururavas," instead of "I love Purushottama."

Her teacher Bharata, the author of the play, is so much exasperated by this mistake, that he pronounces a curse upon Urvasi. "You must lose your divine knowledge." After the close of the performance, Indra, observing her as she stood apart, ashamed and disconsolate, calls her and says:—

"The mortal, who engrosses your thoughts, has been my friend in the days of adversity; he has helped me in the conflict with the enemies of the gods, and is entitled to my acknowledgements. You must, accordingly, repair to him and remain with him till he beholds the offspring you shall bear him." The god thus permits her to marry the mortal hero.

After transacting public business, the king retires to the garden of the palace as the evening approaches. A messenger arrives from the queen, apprising his Majesty that she desires to see him on the terrace of the pavilion. The king obeys and ascends the crystal steps while the moon is just about to rise, and the east is tinged with red.

As he is waiting for the queen, his desire for Urvasi is awakened again. On a sudden, Urvasi enters on a heavenly car, accompanied by his friend. They are invisible to the king as on the previous occasion. The moment that Urvasi is about to withdraw her veil, the queen appears. She is dressed in white, without any ornaments, and comes to propitiate her husband, by taking a vow.

Then she, calling upon the god of the moon, performs her solemn vow and retires.

Urvasi, who is present, though in an invisible state, during this scene of matrimonial reconciliation, now advances behind the king and covers his eyes with her hands. The king says:—

"It must be Urvasi; no other hand could shed such ecstasy through my emaciated frame. The solar rays do not wake the night's fair blossom; that alone expands when conscious of the moon's dear presence."

She takes the resignation of the queen in good earnest and claims the king as granted her by right. Her friend takes leave and she now remains with the king as his beloved wife in the groves of a forest.

Subsequently the lovers are wandering near Kailasa, the divine mountain, when Urvasi, in a fit of jealousy, enters the grove of Kumara, the god of war, which is forbidden to all females. In consequence of Bharat's curse she is instantly metamorphosed into a creeper. The king beside himself with grief at her loss, seeks her everywhere. The nymphs in a chorus deplore her fate. Mournful strains are heard in the air.

The king enters a wild forest, his features express insanity, his dress is disordered. Clouds gather overhead. He rushes frantically after a cloud which he mistakes for a demon that carried away his bride.

He addresses various birds and asks them whether they have seen his love,—the peacock, 'the bird of the dark-blue throat and eyes of jet,'—the cuckoo, 'whom lovers deem Love's messenger,'—the swans, 'who are sailing northward, and whose elegant gait betrays that they have seen her,'—the chakravaka, 'a bird who, during the night, is himself separated from his mate,'—but none responds. He apostrophises various insects, beasts and even a mountain peak to tell him where she is.

Neither the bees which murmur amidst the petals of the lotus, nor the royal elephant, that reclines with his mate under the Kadamba tree, has seen the lost one.

At last he thinks he sees her in the mountain stream:—

"The rippling wave is like her frown; the row of tossing birds her girdle; streaks of foam, her fluttering garment as she speeds along; the current, her devious and stumbling gait. It is she turned in her wrath into a stream."

At last the king finds a gem of ruddy radiance. He holds it in his hands, and embraces the vine which is now transformed into Urvasi. Thus is she restored to her proper form, through the mighty spell of the magical gem. The efficacious gem is placed on her forehead. The king recovers his reason. They are thus happily re-united and return to Allahabad.

Several years elapse. An unlucky incident now comes to pass. A hawk bears away the ruby of re-union. Orders are sent to shoot the bird, and, after a short while, a forester brings the jewel and the arrow by which the hawk was killed. An inscription on the shaft shows that its owner is Ayus. A female ascetic enters, leading a boy with a bow in hand.

The boy is Ayus, the son of Urvasi, whom his mother confided to the female ascetic who generously brought him up in the forest and now; sends him back to his mother. The king who was not aware that Urvasi had ever borne him a son, now recognises Ayus as his son. Urvasi also comes to embrace her boy. She now suddenly bursts into tears and tells the king:—

"Indra decreed that I am to be recalled to heaven when you see our son. This induced me to conceal from you so long the birth of the child. Now that you have accidentally seen the child, I shall have to return to heaven, in compliance with the decree of Indra."

She now prepares to leave her husband after she has seen her boy installed as associate king. So preparations are made for the inauguration ceremony when Narada the messenger of Indra, comes to announce that the god has compassionately revoked the decree. The nymph is thus permitted to remain on earth for good as the hero's second wife.

Nymphs descend from heaven with a golden vase containing the water of the heavenly Ganges, a throne, and other paraphernalia, which they arrange. The prince is inaugurated as Yuvaraj. All now go together to pay their homage to the queen, who had so generously resigned her rights in favour of Urvasi.



MALAVIKAGNIMITRA,

OR

AGNIMITRA AND MALAVIKA.

We learn a wise sentiment from the prologue. The stage-manager, addressing the audience, says:—"All that is old is not, on that account, worthy of praise, nor is a novelty, by reason of its newness, to be censured. The wise do not decide what is good or bad till they have tested merit for themselves: a foolish man trusts to another's judgement."

Puspamitra was the founder of the Sunga dynasty of Magadha kings, having been the general of Vrihadratha, the last of the Maurya race, whom he deposed and put to death: he was succeeded by his son Agnimitra who reigned at Vidica (Bhilsa) in the second century B.C. King Agnimitra has two queens Dharini and Iravati. Malavika belongs to the train of his queen Dharini's attendants. The maid was sent as a present to the queen by her brother, Virsena, governor of the Antapala or barrier-fortress on the Nermada.

The queen jealously keeps her out of the king's sight on account of her great beauty. The king, however, accidentally sees the picture of Malavika, painted by order of the queen for her chitrasala, or picture-gallery. The sight of the picture inspires the king with an ardent desire to view the original, whom he has never yet beheld.

Hostilities are about to break out between Agnimitra and Yajnasena, king of Viderbha (Berar). The first, on one occasion, had detained captive the brother-in-law of the latter, and Yajnasena had retaliated by throwing into captivity Madhavasena, the personal friend of Agnimitra, when about to repair to Vidisa to visit that monarch. Yajnasena sends to propose an exchange of prisoners, but Agnimitra haughtily rejects the stipulation, and sends orders to his brother-in-law, Virasena, to lead an army immediately against the Raja of Viderbha. This affair being disposed of, he directs his attention to domestic interests, and employs his Vidushaka or confidant, Gotama, to procure him the sight of Malavika. To effect this, Gotama instigates a quarrel between the professors, Ganadas and Haradatta, regarding their respective pre-eminence.

They appeal to the Raja, who, in consideration of Ganadasa's being patronised by the queen, refers the dispute to her. She is induced to consent reluctantly to preside at a trial of skill between the parties, as shown in the respective proficiency of their select scholars. The queen is assisted by a protege, a Parivrajaka, or female ascetic and woman of superior learning.

The party assembles in the chamber where the performance is to take place, fitted up with the Sangitarachana, or orchestral decorations. The king's object is attained, for Ganadasa brings forward Malavika as the pupil on whom he stakes his credit. Malavika sings an Upanga or prelude, and then executes an air of extraordinary difficulty. Malavika's performance is highly applauded, and, of course, captivates the king and destroys his peace of mind; the Vidushaka detains her until the queen, who has all along suspected the plot, commands her to retire. The warder cries the hour of noon, on which the party breaks up, and the queen, with more housewifery than majesty, hastens away to expedite her royal husband's dinner.

There stands an asoka tree in the garden. The Hindus believe that this tree, when barren, may be induced to put forth flowers by the contact of the foot of a handsome woman. The tree in question does not blossom, and being the favourite of Dharini, she has proposed to try the effect of her own foot. Unluckily however, the Vidhushaka, whilst setting her swing in motion, has tumbled her out of it and the fall has sprained her ankle, so that she cannot perform the ceremony herself: she therefore deputes Malavika to do it for her, who accordingly comes to the spot attired in royal habiliments, and accompanied by her friend Vakulavali. In the conversation that ensues, she acknowledges her passion for the king, who with his friend Gotama has been watching behind the tree, and overhears the declaration; he therefore makes his appearance and addresses a civil speech, to Malavika when he is interrupted by another pair of listeners, Iravati and her attendant. She commands Malavika's retreat, and leaves the king, in a violent rage, to inform Dharini of what is going forward. The King never behaves as a despot but always with much consideration for the feelings of his spouses.

The Vidushaka now informs the king that Malavika has been locked in the Sarabhandagriha or the store or treasure room by the queen. The room was no enviable place, as the Vidusaka compares it to Patala, the infernal regions. He undertakes, however, to effect her liberation; and whilst he prepares for his scheme, the Raja pays a visit to the queen.

Whilst the Raja is engaged in tranquil conversation with Dharini, and the parivrajaka, the vidushaka rushes in, exclaiming he has been beaten by a venomous snake, whilst gathering flowers to bring with him as a present on his visit to the queen, and he exhibits his thumb bound with his cord, and marked with the impressions made by the teeth of the reptile. The parivrajaka, with some humour as well as good surgery, recommends the actual cautery, or the amputation of the thumb; but the vidushaka pretending to be in convulsions and dying, the snake-doctor is sent for, who having had his clue refuses to come, and desires the patient may be sent to him: the vidushaka is accordingly sent. The queen is in great alarm, as being, however innocently, the cause of a Brahman's death. Presently the messenger returns, stating that the only hope is the application of the snake-stone to the bite, and requesting the Raja to order one to be procured: the queen has one in her finger-ring, which she instantly takes off and sends to the vidushaka. This is his object, for the female jailor of Malavika has, as he has ascertained, been instructed to liberate her prisoner only on being shown the seal ring or signet of the queen, and having got this in his possession, he immediately effects the damsel's release, after which the ring is returned to the queen, and the Vidushaka is perfectly recovered.

The king then being summoned away by a concerted pretext, hastens to the Samudra pavilion, where Malavika has been conveyed with her friend and companion, Vakulavali. This pavilion is decorated with portraits of the king and his queens, and Malavika is found by her lover engrossed with their contemplation. Vakulavali retires. The Vidushaka takes charge of the door, but he no sooner sits down on the threshold than he falls asleep. The Raja and Malavika, consequently, have scarcely time to exchange professions of regard, when they are again disturbed by the vigilant and jealous Iravati, who sends information of her discoveries to Dharini, and in the meantime remains sentinel over the culprits. The party, however, is disturbed by news, that Agnimitra's daughter has been almost frightened to death by a monkey, and Iravati and the Raja hasten to her assistance, leaving Malavika to the consolation derived from hearing that the Asoka tree is in blossom, an omen of the final success of her own desires.

The Raja, Dharini and the Parivrajaka, with Malavika and other attendants, gather about the Asoka tree, when some presents arrive from the now submissive monarch of Viderbha, against whom the troops of Virashena have been successful. Amongst the gifts are two female slaves, who immediately recognize in Malavika the sister of Madhavasena, the friend of Agnimitra, whom the armies of the latter have just extricated from the captivity to which the Viderbha sovereign had consigned him. It appears that when he was formerly seized by his kinsman, his minister, Sumati, contrived to effect his own escape, along with his sister and the young princess. That sister, Kausika, now reveals herself in the person of the Parivrajaka, and continues the story of their flight. Sumati joined a caravan bound to Vidisa On their way to the Vindhya mountains, they were attacked by the foresters, who were armed with bows and arrows, and decorated with peacock's plumes: in the affray Sumati was slain and Malavika was lost.

Kausika, left alone, committed her brother's body to the flames, and then resumed her route to Vidisa, where she assumed the character of a female ascetic The Raja observes she did wisely. Kausika soon found out Malavika, but forebore to discover herself, confiding in the prophecy of a sage, who had foretold that the princess, after passing through a period of servitude, would meet with a suitable match.

It thus finally turns out that Malavika is by birth a princess, who had only come to be an attendant at Agnimitra's court through having fallen into the hands of robbers.

The king issues his orders respecting the terms to be granted to Yajnasena, the king of Viderbha, the half of whose territory he assigns to Madhavasena, the brother of Malavika.

A letter arrives from the general Pushpamitra, giving an account of some transactions that have occurred upon the southern bank of the Indus.

On his own behalf, or that of his son, he had undertaken to celebrate an aswamedha, or horse-sacrifice, for which it was essential that the steed should have a free range for twelve months, being attended only by a guard to secure him. This guard had been placed by Pushpamitra under the command of Agnimitra's son, Vasumitra. Whilst following the victim along the Indus, a party of Yavana horse attempted to carry off the courser, but they were encountered by the young prince, and after a sharp conflict, defeated.

Pushpamitra concludes with inviting his son to come with his family to complete the sacrifice.

The queen, Dharini, overjoyed with the news of her son's success and safety, distributes rich presents to all her train and the females of Agnimitra's establishment, whilst to him she presents Malavika. Iravati communicates her concurrence in this arrangement, and the Raja obtains a bride, whom his queens accept as their sister. The difficulty of conciliating his queens is thus removed. The king now marries Malavika and all ends happily.



THE VIRA CHARITA OR THE MAHAVIRA CHARITA

OR

THE LIFE OF THE GREAT HERO.

Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya (Oudh), is the father of four sons Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. Rama and Lakshmana visit Viswamitra's hermitage. Kusadhwaja, the king of Sankasya and the brother of Janaka, the king of Mithila, accompanied by his two nieces, Sita and Urmila, enters the hermitage of Viswamitra on the borders of the Kausiki (Cosi), having been invited by the sage to his sacrifice. He is met by the sage with the two youths Rama and Lakshmana, and the young couples become mutually enamoured. Meanwhile Ahalya—the cursed wife of Gautama—gets cleared of her guilt through the purifying influence of Rama.

A messenger from Ravana, the demon king of Lanka, arrives, who has followed them from Mithila, and comes to demand Sita as a wife for his master.

They are further disturbed by Taraka, a female fiend, the daughter of Suketu, wife of Sunda and mother of Maricha. Rama, by command of Viswamitra slays her. Viswamitra is exceedingly pleased with the deed and invokes and gives to Rama the heavenly weapons with all their secrets of discharge and dissolution. The sage recommends Kusadhwaja to invite the bow of Siva for Rama's present trial, and consequent obtaining of Sita. The bow arrives, self-conveyed, being, as the weapon of so great a deity, pregnant with intelligence. Rama snaps it asunder, in consequence of which feat it is agreed that Sita shall be wedded to him; Urmila her sister, to Lakshmana; and Mandavi and Srutakirti, the daughters of Kusadhwaja, to Bharata and Satrughna respectively. The party is again disturbed by Suvahu and Maricha, the first of whom is killed and the second, thrown at a distance by Rama.

The messenger of Ravana then goes away mortified to represent the matter to the minister of Ravana. The saint and his visitors then retire into the hermitage.

Malyavan, the minister and maternal grandfather of Ravana and the king's sister Surpanakha have heard the news of Rama's wedding with Sita from Siddhasrama and discuss the consequences with some apprehension. The minister takes the marriage as an insult to his master.

A letter arrives from Parasurama partly requesting and partly commanding Ravana to call off some of his imps, who are molesting the sages in Dandakaranya. He writes from Mahendra Dwipa.

Malyavan takes advantage of this opportunity to instigate a quarrel between the two Ramas, anticipating that Parasurama, who is the pupil of Siva, will be highly incensed when he hears of Rama's breaking the bow of that divinity. The hero comes to Videha, the palace of Janaka, to defy the insulter of his god and preceptor. He enters the interior of the palace, the guards and attendants being afraid to stop him, and calls upon Rama to show himself. The young hero is proud of Parasurama's seeking him and anxious for the encounter but detained awhile by Sita's terrors: at last the heroes meet. Parasurama alludes to his own history how he, having overcome his fellow-pupil, Kartikeya, in a battle-axe fight, received his axe from his preceptor, Siva, as the prize of his prowess.

Parasurama addresses Rama thus:—

"How dost thou presume to bend thy brow in frowns on me? Thou must be an audacious boy, a scion of the vile Kshatriya race. Thy tender years and newly wedded bride teach me a weakness I am not wont to feel.

Throughout the world the story runs, I, Rama, and the son of Jamadgni, struck off a mother's head with remorseless arm. This vengeful axe has one and twenty times destroyed the Kshatriya race, not sparing in its wrath the unborn babe hewn piecemeal in the parent womb.

It was thus I slaked the fires of a wronged father's wrath with blood, whose torrents, drawn unsparingly from martial veins, fed the vast reservoir in which I love to bathe."

Rama replies thus:—

"Give over thy vaunts—I hold thy cruelty a crime, not virtue."

The combat between the two Ramas is suspended by the arrival of Janaka and Satananda, and Rama's being summoned to attend the Kanchana Mochana, the loosening of Sita's golden bracelet.

Parasurama awaits Ramachandra's return. He is accosted in succession by Vasishtha, Viswamitra, Satananda, Janaka and Dasaratha, who first endeavour to soothe and then to terrify him; but he outbullies them all: at last Ramachandra returns from the string-removing ceremony and is heard calling on Parasurama, and the combat ensues. Ramachandra comes out victorious.

The two kings Janaka and Dasaratha congratulate each other on the victory of Ramachandra. Parasurama is now as humble as he was before arrogant: he calls upon the earth to hide his shame. Whilst Rama regrets Bhargava's departure, Surpanakha, disguised as Manthara, the favourite of Kaikeyi, Dasaratha's second wife, arrives with a letter to Rama, requesting him to use his influence with his father to secure Kaikeyi the two boons which Dasaratha was pledged to grant her; specifying one to be her son Bharata's inauguration, and the other, assent to Rama's voluntary exile. In the meantime, Dasaratha, who has determined to raise Rama to the participation of regal dignity, communicates his intention to his son. Rama replies by informing him of Kaikeyi's message, and is earnest with his father to accede to her request.

Bharata and his maternal uncle Yuddhajit arrive, and ask Dasaratha to crown Rama and all are full of wonder and concern: however, as there is no help for it, Dasaratha consents and orders preparations for the ceremony.

Lakshmana and Sita are alone to accompany Rama, on which her father Janaka exclaims, "My child, what happiness it will be to wait upon thy husband in the hour of trouble, permitted to partake and cheer his wanderings!" Bharata requests permission to go with them, but Rama refuses his assent; on which his brother begs his golden shoes of him, promising to instal them in the kingdom, and rule thereafter as their representative. The seniors are led out in deep despondency, and Rama with his brother and wife set off to the woods.

A dialogue opens between the two birds, Jatayu and Sampati, the vulture-descendants of Kasyapa, who have seen successive creations. They relate Rama's progress towards the south; and Sampati, the elder leaves his brother Jatayu, with strict injunctions to assist Rama, if needed. He then goes to the ocean to perform daily duties and Jatayu to Malaya. Jatayu perches on the mountain and marks the hero Rama in pursuit of the swift deer. Lakshmana directs his remote course thither. A holy seer approaches the bower and the dame gives him meet welcome. His form expands.

It is he, the felon Ravana—his train crowd from the groves; he seizes upon Sita—he mounts the car. Jatayu cries shame on his birth and threatens to rend his limbs and revel in his gore. Jatayu is, however, killed in the conflict. Rama raves with indignation. The brothers set off in pursuit of the ravisher, when Sramana, a female devotee sent by Vibhishana to Rama, calls for succour being seized by Kabandha, a headless fiend. Rama sends Lakshmana to her rescue; he goes off to kill the demon and returns with the dame. She gives Rama a note from Vibhishana praying for his refuge. Rama asks Lakshmana what reply to be sent to (his) "dear friend—lord of Lanka" and Lakshman replies that those words are sufficient.

(Two promises are implied—first contraction of friendship and secondly bestowal of the Kingdom of Lanka.)

Rama, learning from the devotee that Vibhishana is with Sugriva, Hanuman, and other monkey chiefs at Rishyamuka, and that the monkeys have picked up Sita's ornaments and upper garments in the forest, determines to go to them. Kabandha then appears, to thank Rama for killing him, being thereby liberated from a curse and restored to a divine condition.

They then set off to Rishyamuka, the residence of Bali, watered by the Pampa. In the way Rama performs a miracle by kicking away the skeleton of a giant.

When the brothers arrive at the mountain, Bali appears like a cloud upon its peak and, being instigated by his friend Malyavan, resolves to oppose Rama. The heroes meet and, after exchange of civilities, go to the conflict.

The noise brings Vibhishana, Sugriva, and all the monkey chiefs to the place. Bali is overthrown and mortally wounded. He recommends the Monkeys to choose Sugriva and his own son Angada for their joint sovereigns, and mediates an alliance between Rama and them, as well as with Vibhishana. Rama and Sugriva pledge themselves to eternal friendship, over the sacrificial fire in Matanga's hermitage which stood close by. Bali then repeats his request to the monkey chiefs, as they were attached to him, to acknowledge Sugriva and Angada as their joint leaders, and to follow them in aid of Rama against Ravana in the ensuing contest: he then dies.

Malyavan laments over these miscarriages. Trijata, a Rakshasi, adds to his despondency by news of the mischief inflicted by Hanumana, who has burnt the town of Lanka and slain a son of Ravana. He goes off to set guards, and gather news by means of spies.

Ravana meditates on his love. His queen Mahodhari comes to bring him tidings of Rama's approach, but he only laughs at her. She tells him of the bridge made by Rama: he replies, if all the mountains of the earth were cast into the ocean, they would not furnish footing to cross it. His incredulity is terminated by a general alarm, and the appearance of Prahasta, his general, to announce that Lanka is invested. Angada comes as envoy from Rama, to command Ravana to restore Sita and prostrate himself and his family at the feet of Lakshmana. Ravana, enraged, orders some contumely or punishment to be inflicted upon him. He orders him to be shaved. Angada puffs his hair out with rage. The monkey tells Ravana, if he were not an ambassador, he would tear off his ten heads, and he then springs away; the tumult increases, and Ravana goes forth to the combat. Indra and Chiraratha then come to see the battle from the air.

All the chiefs of the two parties engage in promiscuous war. The Rakshasas have the worst, but Ravana, with his brother Kumbhakarna and his son Meghanada, turns the tide: the monkeys fly, leaving Rama almost unsupported. Lakshmana attacks Meghanada: Ravana quits Rama to assist his son.

The "serpent band" of Meghnada is dispersed by the "eagle-king-weapon" of Lakshmana. The forces of Kumbhakarna are reduced to ashes with a fire-weapon by Rama. Rama kills Kumbhakarna, and then goes to the aid of Lakshmana; the whole of Rama's party are then overwhelmed with magical weapons, hurled invisibly by Ravana upon them, and fall senseless. While Ravana seeks to restore Kumbhakarna, Hanuman, reviving, goes to fetch amrita, and tearing up the mountain that contains it, returns to the field: his very approach restores Lakshmana, who jumps up with increased animation, like a serpent starting from his shrivelled skin or the sun bursting from clouds. So Raghu's youngest hope, restored by heavenly herbs, burns with more than wonted ardour, wonders a moment what has chanced and then, all on fire for glory, rushes to the fight. Rama also revives, and instigated by the sages, exerts his celestial energies, by which the daitya, Ravana, and his host speedily perish. Rama is victorious, and Sita is recovered.

Vibhishana is now crowned king of Lanka. Alaka, a tutelary deity, comes. Lanka, another tutelary deity, is consoled by Alaka.

Sita passes the fiery ordeal in triumph. The gods cheer her.

Rama, accompainied by Sita, Lakshmana, Vibhishana and Sugriva, then enters the aerial car Pushpaka which was once wrested from Kuvera by Ravana, and which is now placed at the disposal of Rama by Vibhishana. The car transports them from Ceylon all the way to Ayodhya. One or other of the party points out the places over which they fly viz. the Setu or bridge of Rama the Malaya mountain, the Kaveri river, the hermitage of Agastya, the Pampa river, the residence of Bali and of Jatayu, the limits of the Dandaka forest, the Sahya or Sailadri mountains and the boundaries of Aryavarta.

They then rise and travel through the upper air, approaching near the sun, and are met and eulogized by a Kinnara and his bride; they then come to the peaks of the Himalaya, and descend upon Tapavana, whence they go towards Ayodhya, where Rama is welcomed by his brothers Bharata and Satrughna, their mothers, Vasistha and Viswamitra.

The four brothers embrace one another. Rama is now consecrated king by Vasishtha and Viswamitra.



UTTAR RAMA CHARITA

OR

THE LATER LIFE OF RAMA.

Rama, when duly crowned at Ayodhya, enters upon a life of quiet enjoyment with his wife Sita. The love of Rama and Sita, purified by sorrow during the late exile, is most tender.

After a stay of a few days at Ayodhya, Janaka, the father of Sita, goes back to his country Mithila. Rama consoles his queen for her father's absence. The sage Ashtavakra comes in and delivers a message to Rama from his spiritual preceptors to satisfy the wishes of Sita and please his people. Then the sage goes away.

The family priest Vasishtha, having to leave the capital for a time to assist at a sacrifice, utters a few words of parting advice to Rama, thus:—

"Remember that a king's real glory consists in his people's welfare."

Rama replies: "I am ready to give up everything, happiness, love, pity—even Sita herself—if needful for my subjects' good."

In accordance with this promise, he employs an emissary named Durmukha to ascertain the popular opinion as to his own treatment of his subjects.

Lakshmana now asks Rama and Sita to come out and see their early history drawn on the terrace of the palace. They move about and the different parts of the picture are shown to Sita, when the eyes of Sita turn on the 'yawn-producing' weapons. Rama asks her to salute them so that they would attend also on her children. Sita then feels tired and lays her head on the arm of her husband and sleeps.

Then Durmukha, who, as an old and trusted servant, had free admission to the inner apartments, comes and whispers to him that people condemn his receiving back a queen, abducted by a fiend, after her long residence in a stranger's house. In short, he is told that they still gossip and talk scandal about her and Ravana. The scrupulously correct and over-sensitive Rama, though convinced of his wife's fidelity after her submission to the fiery ordeal, and though she is now likely to become a mother, feels himself quite unable to allow the slightest cause of offence to continue among his subjects.

He has no other resource. People must be satisfied. He orders his dear Sita's exile, and the messenger goes away to deliver the order to Lakshmana to seclude her somewhere in the woods. He is torn by contending feelings. He is overpowered with grief, withdraws his arm from his sleeping wife and pours forth pathetic lamentation. Then he takes up her feet and cries when the announcement of the arrival of frightened Rishis makes him go out to send Satrughna to their succour. The messenger Durmukha then enters and takes Sita unsuspectingly to mount the chariot which is to lead her to exile.

Lakshmana takes Sita to the forest and leaves her there.

She is protected by divine agencies. Her twin sons, Kusa and Lava, are born and entrusted to the care of the sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana, who brings them up in his hermitage. The boys have no knowledge of their royal descent.

An incident now occurs which leads Rama to revisit the Dandaka forest, the scene of his former exile. The child of a Brahman dies suddenly and unaccountably. His body is laid at Rama's door. Evidently some national sin is the cause of such a calamity, and an aerial voice informs him that an awful crime is being perpetrated; for a Sudra, named Sambuka, is practising religious austerities, instead of confining himself to his proper vocation of waiting on the twice-born castes. Rama instantly starts for the forest, discovers Sambuka in the sacrilegious act and strikes off his head. But death by Rama's hand confers immortality on the Sudra, who appears as a celestial spirit, and thanks his benefactor for the glory and felicity thus obtained.

Before returning to Ayodhya, Rama is induced to visit the hermitage of the sage Agastya in Panchavati. Sita now reappears. She is herself invisible to Rama through the favour of the Bhagirathi but able to thrill with emotions by her touch. Rama is greatly distracted.

He faints with old remembrances but revives on the touch of Sita. He observes, "What does this mean? Heavenly balm seems poured into my heart; a well-known touch changes my insensibility to life. Is it Sita, or am I dreaming?"

He vainly seeks for her possession, but at last goes away on the advice of his companion Visanti.

The sage Valmiki makes great preparations for receiving Vasishtha, Janaka, Kaushalya, the mother of Rama and other eminent guests. The pupils are delighted because the visit of the guests affords hopes of a feast at which flesh meat is to constitute one of the dishes.

As the boys have got a holiday in honour of the guests, they are playing at some distance from a tree outside the hermitage. Among them, Kaushalya notices a boy with the features of her son, who is called in but whom the guests do not yet know to be a son of Rama.

Soon after, the horse of the horse-sacrifice of Rama comes near and he goes out with other boys to see the fun while the elders go to see the host.

The attendant soldiers cry out that Rama is the only hero of the world. Lava—for such is the boy's name,—cannot brook such vaunts and removes the banner. Soldiers crowd upon him and Lava draws his bow. Lakshmana's son Chandraketu—the general of the army—arrives surprised at the slaughter of his army and asks Lava to leave the incapable army and fight with himself. Lava obeys the call and after some conversation in which he ridicules the powers of Rama and infuriates his antagonist, they go out to fight.

The discharge and repulsion of the divine weapons occur.

The approach of Rama puts an end to the contest. Lava's elder brother Kusa has heard of his fight and comes to "eradicate from the world the name of emperor." But Lava has become calm and asks his brother to pay respects to the hero of the Ramayana.

Rama embraces both of them and is moved with their son-like touch. He notices in them the features of his wife He knows that his children alone could possess the divine weapons. He recollects that his wife was left in that part of the forest and instinctively comes to the conclusion that they are his children. He wishes to ask about their birth in a roundabout way, but before proceeding to the end, is asked to see his spiritual preceptor.

The desertion of Sita is acted by nymphs on the banks of the Ganges before Rama and other high guests invited by Valmiki.

Sita, from behind the stage, cries out "the beasts of prey desire [to devour] me in the forest (left) alone and unprotected. I will throw myself into the Bhagirathi." She enters supported by her mother Prithivi, the Earth and Ganga, each carrying a baby in the lap. Ganga tells her of the birth of the twins and consoles her, but Earth is greatly distressed with the conduct of Rama. Ganga replies "who can close the door of Fate?"

But Earth says, "has it been proper for the good Rama? He disregarded the hand he pressed when a boy. He disregarded me and Janaka. He disregarded Fire (who shewed her purity). He disregarded the children she was about to bring forth."

But Ganga pacifies her and they agree to make over the children to Valmiki, when they become a little old. Earth then asks her daughter to come to the nether world, to which she agrees and with their exit closes the play.

At the close of the play, Rama faints. Then the real Sita enters with Arundhuti, the wife of Rama's preceptor and touches and revives her husband. The people are satisfied with her purity and Rama takes her back with the children who are introduced by Valmiki. The husband and wife are thus re-united after twelve years of grievous solitude, and happiness is restored to the whole family. The re-union is witnessed not only by the people of Ayodhya, but by the congregated deities of earth and heaven.

Rama thus describes his love for his wife:—

"Her presence is ambrosia to my sight; her contact, fragrant sandal; her fond arms, twined round my neck; are a far richer clasp than costliest gems, and in my house she reigns the guardian goddess of my fame and fortune. Oh! I could never bear again to lose her."



MALATI AND MADHAVA OR THE STOLEN MARRIAGE.

There lived, in the town of Kundinapura in Berar, Devarata, a very calm and sagacious minister to the king of Vidarbha. He had a son named Madhava. Madhava was very beautiful and of uncommon intelligence. He became proficient in all branches of learning, in his early age. He now arrived at a marriageable age. The beautiful town of Padmavati in Malwa is situated at the confluence of the two rivers Indus and Madhumati. There lived in Padmavati, Bhurivasu, who was minister to the king of Padmavati. He had a very beautiful unmarried daughter named Malati. The king indicated an intention to propose a match between Malati and his own favourite Nandan, who was both old and ugly, and whom she detested. Bhurivasu feared to give offence to the king by refusing the match. Devarata and Bhurivasu were fellow students. In their academical days they pledged themselves that they should enter into matrimonial alliance, if they happen to have children. Malati and Madhava did not know anything about their fathers' promises. There lived in Padmavati, Kamandaki, an old Buddhist priestess who was nurse of Malati. The priestess knew everything about the matrimonial promise. She was a very intelligent lady and was respected by all. The two friends concert a plan with the priestess to throw the young people in each other's way and to connive at a secret marriage. In pursuance of this scheme, Madhava is sent to finish his studies at the city of Padmavati with the ostensible object of studying Logic under the care of the priestess, who takes great care of her pupil and endeavours her utmost to fulfil the promise of her two friends. By her contrivance and with the aid of Malati's foster-sister Lavangika, the young people meet and become mutually enamoured.

Kamandaki addresses her favourite disciple Avalokita thus:—

"Dear Avalokita! Oh how I wish for the marital union of Madhava, the son of Devarata, and Malati, the daughter of Bhurivasu! Auspicious signs forerun a happy fate. Even now my throbbing eyeball tells that propitious destiny shall crown my schemes."

Avalokita replies:—

"Oh, here is a serious cause of anxiety. How strange! You are already burdened with the austerities of devotional exercises, Bhurivasu has commissioned you to perform this arduous task. Though retired from the world, you could not avoid this business."

Kamandaki says, "Never say so. The commission is an office of love and trust. If my friend's object is gained even at the expense of my life and penances, I shall feel myself gratified."

The pupil asks "why is a stolen marriage intended?"

The priestess answers, "Nandana, a favourite of the king of Padmavati, sues him for Malati. The king demands the maiden of her father. To evade the anger of the king, this ingenious device has been adopted. Let the world deem their union was the work of mutual passion only. So the king and Nandan will be foiled. A wise man veils his projects from the world." The pupil says, "I take Madhava to walk in the street in front of the house of the minister Bhurivasu."

The priestess says,

"I have heard from Lavangika, the foster-sister of Malati, that Malati has seen Madhava from the windows of her house.

Her waning form faithfully betrays the lurking care she now first learns to suffer."

The pupil says, "I have heard that, to soothe that care, Malati has drawn a picture of Madhava and has sent it through Lavangika to Mandarika, her attendant."

The priestess perceives that Malati has done so with the object that the picture would reach Madhava as Mandarika is in love with Kalahansa, the servant of Madhava. Avalokita again says,

"To-day is the great festival of Madan; Malati will surely come to join the festival, I have interested Madhava to go to the garden of Love's god with a view that the youthful pair may meet there."

The priestess replies, "I tender my best thanks for your kindly zeal to aid the object of my wishes. Can you give me any tidings of Soudamini, my former pupil?"

Avalokita answers, "she now resides upon mount Sriparvata. She has now arrived at supernatural power by religious austerities. I have learnt the news about her from Kapala Kundala, the female pupil of a tremendous magician Aghorghanta, a seer and a wandering mendicant, but now residing amidst the neighbouring forest, who frequents the temple of the dreadful goddess Chamunda near the city cemetry." Avalokita remarks, "Madhava would be highly pleased if his early friend Makaranda is united in wedlock with Madayantika, the sister of Nandana."

The priestess observes, "I have already engaged my disciple Buddharakshita for the purpose. Let us go forth and having learnt how Madhava has fared, repair to Malati. May our devices prosper!"

Madhava thus describes to his friend Makaranda his first interview with Malati, and acknowledges himself deeply smitten:—

"One day, advised by Avalokita, I went to the temple of the god of love. I saw there a beauteous maid. I have become a victim to her glances. Her gait was stately. Her train bespoke a princely rank. Her garb was graced with youth's appropriate ornaments. Her form was beauty's shrine, or of that shrine she moved as the guardian deity. Whatever Nature offers fairest and best had surely been assembled to mould her charms. Love omnipotent was her creator. Then I too plainly noted that the lovely maid, revealed the signs of passion long entertained for some happy youth.

Her shape was as slender as the lotus stalk. Her pallid cheeks, like unstained ivory, rivalled the beauty of the spotless moon. I scarcely had gazed upon her, but my eyes felt new delight, as bathed with nectar. She drew my heart at once towards her as powerfully as the magnet does the unresisting iron. That heart, though its sudden passion may be causeless, is fixed on her for ever, chance what may, and though my portion be henceforth despair. The goddess Destiny decrees at pleasure the good or ill of all created beings."

Makranda observes, "Believe me, this cannot be without some cause. Behold! all nature's sympathies spring not from outward form but from inward virtue. The lotus does not bud till the sun has risen. The moon-gem does not melt till it feels the moon." Madhava goes on with his description thus:—

"When her fair train beheld me, they exchanged expressive looks and smiles and murmured to one another as if they knew me. What firmness could resist the honest warmth of nature's mute expressiveness? Those looks of love, beaming with mild timidity and moist with sweet abandonment, tore off my heart,—nay plucked it from my bosom by the roots, all pierced with wounds. Being incredulous of my happiness, I sought to mark her passion, without displaying my own. A stately elephant received the princess and bore her towards the city. Whilst she moved, she shot from her delicate lids retiring glances, tipped with venom and ambrosia, My breast received the shafts. Words cannot paint my agony. Vain were the lunar rays or gelid streams to cool my body's fever, whilst my mind whirls in perpetual round and does not know rest. Requested by Lavangika, I gave her the flowery wreath. She took it with respect, as if it were a precious gift and all the while the eyes of Malati were fixed on her. Bowing with reverence, she than retired."

Makaranda remarks—

"Your story most plainly shows that Malati's affection is your own. The soft cheek, whose pallid tint denoted love pre-conceived, is pale alone for you; She must have seen you. Maidens of her rank do not allow their eyes to rest on one to whom they have not already given their hearts. And then, those looks that passed among her maidens plainly showed the passion you had awakened in their mistress.

Then comes her foster-sister's clear enigma and tells intelligibly whose her heart is."

Kalahansa, advancing, shows a picture and says, "This picture is the work of hers who has stolen Madhava's heart. Mandarika gave it to me. She had it from Lavangika, Malati painted it to amuse and relieve distress." Makaranda says, "This lovely maid, the soft light of your eyes, assuredly regards you bound to her in love's alliance. What should prevent your union? Fate and love combined seem labouring to effect it. Come, let me behold the wondrous form that works such change in you. You have the skill. Portray her."

Madhava, in return, delineates the likeness of Malati on the same tablet and Makaranda writes under it the following impassioned love-stanza,

"Whatever nature loveliness displays, May seem to others beautiful and bright; But since these charms have broken upon my gaze, They form my life's sole exquisite delight."

Being asked by Makaranda as to how and where Malati first saw Madhava, Mandarika says, "Malati was called to the lattice by Lavangika to look at him as he passed the palace."

The picture is restored to Mandarika and brought back to Malati.

The mutual passion of the lovers, encouraged by their respective confidants, is naturally increased.

Madhava thus addresses Makaranda,

"It is strange, most strange! wherever I turn, the same loved charms appear on every side. Her beauteous face gleams as brightly as the golden bud of the young lotus. Alas! my friend, this fascination spreads over all my senses. A feverish flame consumes my strength. My heart is all on fire. My mind is tossed with doubt. Every faculty is absorbed in one fond thought.

I cease to be myself or conscious of the thing I am."

Malati thus addresses Lavangika:—

"Love spreads through every vein like subtlest poison and, like fire that brightens in the breeze, consumes this feeble frame. Resistless fever preys on each fibre. Its fury is fatal. No one can help me. Neither father nor mother nor Lavangika can save me. Life is distasteful to me.

Repeatedly recurring to the anguish of my heart, I lose all fortitude and in my grief become capricious and unjust. Forgive me. Let the full moon blaze in the mighty sky. Let love rage on. Death screens me from his fury."

In the meantime, the king makes the long-expected demand and the minister Bhurivasu returns the following ambiguous answer:—

"Your Majesty may dispose of your daughter as your Majesty pleases."

[This answer is used in a double sense:—

"Your minister's daughter is your own daughter and you can dispose of her as you please," and "You can dispose of your own daughter as you please, but not my daughter."

The father's connivance at his daughter's stolen marriage would appear inconsistent if the reply is not understood in its double sense.]

The intelligence reaches the lovers. They are thrown into despair.

Requested by Lavangika, Kamandaki thus describes Madhava in the presence of Malati:—

"The sovereign of Vidarbha boasts for minister the wise and long-experienced Devarata, who bears the burden of state and spreads throughout the world his piety and fame. Your father knows him well. For, in their youth, they were joined in study and trained to learning by the same preceptor.

In this world we rarely behold such characters as theirs. Their lofty rank is the abode of wisdom and of piety, of valour and of virtue. Their fame spreads white and spotless through the universe. A son has sprung from Devarata whose opening virtues early give occasion of rejoicing to the world. Now, in his bloom, this youth has been sent to our city to collect ripe stores of knowledge. His name is Madhava."

Kamandaki soliloquises thus:—

"Malati is tutored to our wishes and inspired with hatred of the bridegroom Nandan. He is reminded of the examples of Sakuntala and Vasavadatta that vindicate the free choice of a husband. Her admiration of her youthful lover is now approved by his illustrious birth and my encomium of his high descent. All this must strengthen and confirm her passion. Now their union may be left to fate."

By the contrivance of Kamandaki, a second interview between the lovers takes place in the public garden of the temple of Sankara. Malati is persuaded that the god Sankara is to be propitiated with offerings of flowers gathered by one's self. Whilst she is collecting her oblation she and Madhava meet as if by accident.

At this moment, a great tumult and terrific screams announce that a tremendous tiger has escaped from an iron cage in the temple of Siva, spreading destruction everywhere. Instantly, Nandana's youthful sister, Madayantika happens to be passing, and is attacked by the tiger and is reported to be in imminent danger.

Madhava and Makaranda both rush to the rescue. The latter kills the animal, and thus saves her who is then brought in a half-fainting state into the garden. He is himself wounded. Mandayantika is thus saved by the valour of Makaranda. The gallant youth is brought in insensible. By the care of the women, he revives.

On recovering, Madayantika naturally falls in love with her deliverer.

The two couples are thus brought together. Malati affiances herself there and then to Madhava.

Soon afterwards, the king prepares to enforce the marriage of Malati with Nandan. A messenger arrives to summon Madayantika to be present at the marriage. Another messenger summons Malati herself to the king's place.

Madhava is mad with grief and in despair makes the extraordinary resolution of purchasing the aid of ghosts and malignant spirits by going to the cemetery and offering them living flesh, cut off from his own body, as food. He accordingly bathes in the river Sindhu and goes at night to the cemetery. The cemetery happens to be near the temple of the awful goddess Chamunda, a form of Durga. The temple is presided over by a sorceress named Kapalkundla and her preceptor, a terrible necromancer Aghorghanta. They have determined on offering some beautiful maiden as a human victim to the goddess. With this object they carry off Malati, before her departure, while asleep on a terrace and bringing her to the temple, are about to kill her at the shrine when her cries of distress attract the attention of Madhava, who is, at the moment, in the cemetery offering his flesh to the ghosts.

He thinks he recognizes the voice of Malati. He rushes forward to her rescue. She is discovered dressed as a victim and the magician and the sorceress are preparing for the sacrifice.

He encounters Aghorghanta and, after a terrific hand-to-hand fight, kills him and rescues Malati.

She flies to his arms. Voices are heard as of persons in search of Malati. Madhava places her in safety.

The sorceress vows vengeance against Madhava for slaying her preceptor Aghorghanta.

Malati is now restored to her friends. The preparations for Malati's wedding with Nandana goes on. The old priestess Kamandaki, who favours the union of Malati with her lover Madhava, contrives that, by the king's command, the bridal dress shall be put on at the very temple where her own ministrations are conducted.

There she persuades Makaranda to substitute himself for the bride. He puts on the bridal dress, is carried in procession to the house of Nandan and goes through the form of being married to him. Nandana, being disgusted with the masculine appearance of the pretended bride, and offended by the rude reception given to him, vows to have no further communication with her and consigns her to his sister's care in the inner apartments. This enabled Makaranda to effect an interview with Nandana's sister Madayantika, the object of his own affections.

Makaranda then discovers himself to his mistress and persuades her to run away with him to the place where Malati and Madhava have concealed themselves.

Their flight is discovered. The king's guards are sent in pursuit. A great fight follows; but Makaranda, assisted by Madhava, defeats his opponents. The bravery and handsome appearance of the two youths avert the king's anger and they are allowed to join their friends unpunished.

The friends accordingly assemble at the gate of the temple.

But the sorceress, who has been watching an opportunity when Malati is unprotected, takes advantage of the confusion and carries her off in a flying car, in revenge for the death of her preceptor. The distress of her lover and friends knows no bounds. They are reduced to despair at this second obstacle to the marriage. They give up all hopes of recovering her when they are happily relieved by the opportune arrival of Soudamini, an old pupil of the priestess Kamandaki, who has acquired extraordinary magical powers by her penances.

She rescues Malati from the hands of the sorceress and restores her to her despairing lover.

The two couples are now united in happy wedlock.



HANUMAN NATAKA, OR MAHANATAKA, OR THE GREAT DRAMA.

In Ayodhya, there was an illustrious and powerful monarch, the subduer of foes and the renowned ornament of the exalted house of the sun, named Dasaratha in whose family, for the purpose of relieving the Earth of her burden, Bhurisravas (Vishnu) deigned to incorporate his divine substance as four blooming youths. The eldest, endowed with the qualities of imperial worth, was Rama.

He goes with his brother Lakshmana to the court of Mithila, to try his strength in the bending of the bow of Siva, and thereby win Sita for his bride. The hero triumphs. The bow is broken with a deafening sound which brings Parasurama there. Rama wins his bride. He tries the bow of Parasurama and shoots an arrow from it which flies to Swerga or heaven. The Brahmin hero now acknowledges the Kshatriya hero to be his superior. Rama is married to Sita. The sweet loves of the happy pair grows with enjoyment.

Various portents then indicate Rama's impending separation from his father. The sun looks forth dimmed in radiance. Fiery torches wave along the sky. Meteors dart headlong through midheaven. Earth shakes. The firmament rains showers of blood. Around, the horizon thickens. In the day, the pale stars gleam. Unseasonable eclipse darkens the noon. Day echoes with the howls of dogs and jackals, whilst the air replies with horrid and strange sounds, such as shall peal, when the destroying deity proclaims in thunder the dissolution of the world. Rama is exiled. At this, the king dies in agony. It is the result of the stern curse denounced upon the king by the father of the ascetic whom the king, hunting in his youthful days, had accidentally slain.

Rama fixes his residence at Panchavati. Maricha, a Rakshasa, now appears as a deer. The supposed animal is chased by Rama and Lakshmana at Sita's request.

Ravana then comes disguised to see Sita. He mutters, "pious dame! Give me food." She heedlessly oversteps the magic ring traced by Lakshmana, when the Rakshasa seizes her by the hand stretched in charity. She calls in vain the sons of Raghu. Jatayu, the vulture, endeavours to rescue her, but is slain. She encounters Hanuman, the chief Counsellor of Sugriva, the dethroned king of the Monkeys, and begs him to carry her ornaments, which she casts to him, to Rama.

Having slain the deer, the prince, with his brave brother, returns to their bower. He seeks Sita, but seeks in vain. His steps tread three several quarters, the fourth he leaves, overcome with grief and terror, unexplored.

Rama prosecutes his search after Sita. He fights with Bali, the king of the Monkeys, and triumphs over him.

He now despatches Hanuman to Lanka, Hanuman pays a visit to Sita.

He performs various feats at Lanka and returns to Rama whose hosts now advance towards Lanka.

Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana, expostulates with his royal brother, but in vain. Consequently he deserts the king and goes over to Rama.

The Monkeys advance further towards Lanka.

A bridge is built over the sea.

The troops cross over it.

Where first the Monkey bands advance, they view a watery belt smoothly circling round the shore: the following troops plough their way through the thick mire with labour; the chief who leads the rear, filled with wonder, exclaims, "Here is Ocean."

Rama now sends Angada, the son of Bali, to persuade Ravana to relinquish Sita peaceably. Angada has some feeling of aversion to Rama, who killed his father, but thinks he shall best fulfil his father's wishes by promoting the war between Ravana and Rama; he therefore goes to Ravana and defies him in very haughty terms.

Ravana says:—

"Indra, the king of the gods, weaves garlands for me; the thousand-rayed or the Sun keeps watch at my gate; above my head Chandra or the Moon uprears the umbrella of dominion; the wind's and the ocean's monarchs are my slaves; and for my board the fiery godhead toils. Knowest thou not this, and canst thou stoop to praise the son of Raghu, whose frail mortal body is but a meal to any of my households?"

Angada laughs and observes:—"Is this thy wisdom, Ravana? Infirm of judgement dost thou deem of Rama thus—a mortal man? Then Ganga merely flows a watery stream; the elephants that bear the skies, and Indra's steed, are brutal forms; the charms of Rembha are the fleeting beauties of earth's weak daughters, and the golden age, a term of years. Love is a petty archer; the mighty Hanuman, in thy proud discernment, is an ape."

Angada, having in vain endeavoured to persuade Ravana to restore Sita, leaves him to expect the immediate advance of the Monkey host.

Virupaksha and Mahodara, two of Ravana's ministers utter a string of moral and political sentences.

Ravana is not to be persuaded, but goes to Sita to try the effect of his personal solicitations—first endeavouring to deceive her by two fictitious heads, made to assume the likenesses of Rama and Lakshmana. Sita's lamentations are stopped by a heavenly monitor, who tells her that the heads are the work of magic and they instantly disappear. Ravana then vaunts his prowess in war and love, and approaches Sita to embrace her. She exclaims "Forbear, forbear! proud fiend, the jetty arms of my loved lord, or thy relentless sword, alone shall touch my neck."

Thus repulsed, Ravana withdraws, and presently reappears as Rama, with his own ten heads in his hands. Sita, thinking him to be what he appears, is about to embrace him, when the secret virtue of her character as a faithful wife detects the imposition, and reveals the truth to her. Ravana, baffled and mortified, is compelled to relinquish his design. Sita's apprehensions, lest she should be again beguiled, are allayed by a voice from heaven, which announces that she will not see the real Rama until he has beheld Mandodari kiss the dead body of her husband Ravana.

A female Rakhasi attempts to assassinate Rama, but is stopped and slain by Angada. The army then advances to Lanka, and Ravana comes forth to meet it. Kumbhakarna, his gigantic and sleepy brother, is disturbed from his repose to combat. He is rather out of humour at first, and recommends Ravana to give up the lady, observing: "Though the commands of royalty pervade the world, yet sovereigns ever should remember, the light of justice must direct their path." Ravana answers:—

"They who assist us with a holy text are but indifferent friends. These arms have wrested victory from the opposing grasp of gods and demons. Confiding in thy prowess, sure in thee to triumph over my foes, I have relaxed their fibre, but again their nerves are braced, I need thee not; hence to thy cell and sleep." Kumbhakarna replies:—"King, do not grieve, but like a valiant chief, pluck from thy heart all terror of thine enemies, and only deem of thy propitious fortunes, or who shall foremost plunge into the fight——I will not quit thee."

Kumbhakarna's advance terrifies Rama's troops, whom the Kshatriya hero addresses thus:

"Ho! chiefs and heroes, why this groundless panic, the prowess of our enemy untried in closer conflict? Ocean's myriad fry would drain the fountain, and before the swarm of hostile gnats the mighty lion falls." Kumbhakarna is killed by Rama; on which Indrajit, a son of Ravana, proceeds against the brethren. By the arrow called Nagapasa, presented him by Brahma, he casts Rama and Lakshmana senseless on the ground, and then goes to Nikumbhila mountain to obtain a magic car by means of sacrifice. Hanumana disturbs his rites.

Rama and Lakshmana revive, and on being sprinkled with drops of amrita brought by Garura, the latter with a shaft decapitates Meghnada, and tosses the head into the hands of his father Ravana.

Ravana levels a shaft at Lakshmana, given him by Brahma, and charged with the certain fate of one hero. Hanumana snatches it away, after it has struck Lakshmana, before it does mischief. Ravana reproaches Brahma, and he sends Nareda to procure the dart again and keep Hanumana out of the way. With the fatal weapon Lakshmana is left for dead. Rama despairs:—

"My soldiers shall find protection in their caves; I can die with Sita, but thou, Vibhishana, what shall become of thee?"

Hanuman reappears and encourages him. Ravana has a celebrated physician, Sushena, who is brought away from Lanka in his sleep, and directs that a drug (Vishalya) from the Druhima mountain must be procured before morning, or Lakshmana will perish. This mountain is six millions of Yojanas remote, but Hanuman undertakes to bring it bodily to Lanka, and call at Ayodhya on his way.

He accordingly roots up the mountain, and is returning with it to Rama, via Ayodhya, when Bharata, who is employed in guarding a sacrifice made by Vasishtha, not knowing what to make of him, shoots Hanuman as he approaches. He falls exclaiming on Rama and Lakshmana, which leads Bharata to discover his mistake. Vasishtha restores the monkey who sets off for Lanka. On Hanuman's return, the medicament is administered, and Lakshman revives.

An ambassador from Ravana comes and offers to give up Sita for the battle-axe of Parasurama, but this, Rama replies, must be reserved for Indra. On this refusal, Ravana goes forth after a brief dialogue with his queen Mandodari, who animates his drooping courage with the true spirit of the tribe to which she belongs.

"Banish your sorrow, lord of Lanka, take one long and last embrace. We meet no more. Or give command, and by your side I march fearless to fight, for I too am a Kshatriya." The progress of Ravana through the air appals all Nature. The winds breathe low in timid murmurs through the rustling woods; the sun with slackened fires gleams pale abroad and the streams, relaxing from their rapid course, slowly creep along. Ravana defies Rama with great disdain and in derision of his modest demeanour, asks him whether he is not overcome with shame by the recollection of his ancestor, Anaranya, killed formerly by Ravana.

Rama replies:—

"I am not ashamed my noble ancestor fell in the combat. The warrior seeks victory or death, and death is not disgrace. It ill befits thee to revile his fame. When vanquished, thou couldst drag out an abject life in great Haihaya's dungeons, till thy sire begged thee to freedom, as a matter of charity. For thee alone I blush, unworthy of my triumph."

Ravana falls under the arrows of Rama. The heads, that once, sustained on Siva's breast, shone with heavenly splendour, now lie beneath the vulture's talons. Mandodari bewails the death of her husband. Sita is recovered, but Rama is rather shy of his bride, until her purity is established by her passing through the fiery ordeal: a test she successfully undergoes. Rama returns with Sita and his friends to Ayodhya, when Angada challenges them all to fight him, as it is now time to revenge his father's death. A voice from heaven, however, tells him to be pacified, as Bali will be born as hunter in a future age, and kill Rama, who will then be Krishna: he is accordingly appeased. Rama is now seated on the throne of Ayodhya. After some time, he orders the exile of Sita.



ANERGHA RAGHAVA OR MURARI NATAKA.

The sage Viswamitra comes to Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya, to request the aid of his eldest son Rama. Each tries to outdo the other in complimentary speeches. The sage observes:—

"The monarch of the day invests the dawn with delegated rays to scatter night, and ocean sends his ministers the clouds, to shed his waters over the widespread earth."

The king, taking counsel with himself, and being reminded by Vamadeva, one of his priests and preceptors, that the race of Raghu never sent away a petitioner ungratified, sends for Rama and Lakshmana, and allows Viswamitra to take them with him, to his hermitage, situated on the banks of the Kausiki or Coosy river, to protect him in his rites against the oppression of Taraka, a Rakshasi.

The cry is heard that Taraka is abroad. Rama, after some hesitation about killing a female, slays her.

Viswamitra now proposes that they should visit Mithila. The two princes are introduced to Janaka, the king of Mithila, who is urged by the sage to let Rama try to bend the bow of Siva. Sanshkala, the messenger of Ravana, the king of Lanka, now arrives to demand Sita in marriage for his master, refusing, at the same time, on his part, to submit to the test of bending the bow. The demand is refused. Rama tries his fortune, bends the bow and wins the lady. The family connection is extended by the promise of Urmila, Mandavi, and Srutakirti, to Rama's brothers. Sanshkala is highly indignant and carries the information to his master's minister Malyavan, who is disappointed on Ravana's account. Malyavan anticipates that Ravana will carry Sita off; and to render the attempt less perilous, projects inveighing Rama into the forests alone, for which he sends Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, in the disguise of Manthara, the attendant of Kaukeyi.

Parasurama then appears and boasts of his destruction of the Kshatriya race. Rama replies:—"This flag of your fame is now worn to tatters, let us see if you can mount a new one." Rama then calls for his bow, and Parasurama presents him with his axe. They go forth to fight. In the end, the two Ramas turn very excellent friends. Parasurama departs.

Dasaratha now declares his purpose of relinquishing the kingdom entirely to his son Rama, Lakshmana announces the arrival of Manthara, and presents a letter from Kaikeyi, the purpose of which is to urge Dasaratha's fulfilment of his promise, and grant her as the two boons, the Coronation of Bharata, and banishment of Rama. The old king faints. Rama recommending his father to Janaka, departs for the forests, accompanied by Lakshmana and Sita. On their arrival in the forests, they are cordially received by Sugriva, the brother of Bali the king of the monkeys. Lakshmana carries on a dialogue with Ravana, disguised as a juggler.

Jatayu, the king of birds, beholds Sita carried off by Ravana. He follows the ravisher. Rama and Lakshmana both express their grief.

Lakshmana observes:—

"The worse the ill that Fate inflicts on noble souls, the more their firmness; and they arm their spirits with adamant to meet the blow."

Rama replies:—

"The firmness I was born with or was reared to, and rage, that fills my heart, restrain my sorrows; but hard is the task to fit my soul to bear unmurmuringly a husband's shame."

A cry of distress is now heard, and on looking out, the youths observe Guha, the friendly forest monarch, assailed by the demon Kabandha, or a fiend without a head. Lakshmana goes to his aid, and returns with his friend Guha. In the act of delivering him, Lakshmana tosses away the skeleton of Dundubhi, a giant, suspended by Bali, who, deeming this an insult, presently appears. After a prolix interchange of civility and defiance, Rama and Bali resolve to determine their respective supremacy by single combat. Bali is slain. His brother Sugriva is inaugurated as king and determines to assist Rama to recover Sita. A bridge is built over the sea. Rama's army advance to Lanka. Kumbhakarna, a brother of Ravana, and Meghanada, a son of Ravana, go forth to battle. Malyavan wishes them prosperity in a phrase perfectly oracular. They are slain. Ravana now takes the field himself. Malyavan resolves to follow him and resign, on the sword, a life now useless to his sovereign. The king is overthrown. Sita is recovered.

Rama with his wife and brother, accompanied by Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana, and Sugriva, mounts the celestial car, which was once wrested by Ravana from his brother Kuvera, and sets out to proceed to Ayodhya.

On the way the travellers descry the Sumeru mountain, the Malaya mountain, the Dandaka forest, the mountain Prasravana, the Godaveri river, mount Malyavan, Kundinipura in the Maharashtra country, the shrine of Bhimeswara, the city of Kanchi, Ujayin, the temple of Mahakala, Mahishmati the capital of Chedi, the Jumna and Ganga rivers, Varanasi, Mithila or Tirhut, and Champa near Bhagalpur.

They then proceed westward to Prayaga, and Antarvedi or Doab, when they again follow an easterly course and arrive at Ayodhya.

Bharata, Satrughna, Vasishtha the priest and the people of Ayodhya await the arrival of the party and receive them most cordially. Rama is now crowned king.



VENI SAMVARANA OR VENI SANHARA

OR

"THE BINDING OF THE BRAID OF HAIR."

Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, is dragged by the veni or braid of hair into the public assembly by the hand of Duhsasana, one of the Kaurava princes, a disgrace that weighs most heavily upon the Pandavas, who contemplate most bitter revenge.

Krishna returns to the Pandava camp from a visit to the Kaurava princes, as a mediator between the contending chiefs. Ferocious Bhima expresses, to his brother Sahadeva, his refusal to have any share in the negotiations instituted by Krishna and his determination to make no peace with the enemy until the insult offered to Draupadi is avenged. He announces his resolution, in case the dispute be amicably adjusted, to disclaim all connection with his own brothers, and throw off obedience to Judhishthira.

The price of peace is the demand of five villages or towns, Indraprastha, Tilaprastha, Mansadam, Varanavatam, and another. Sahadeva attempts to calm the fury of Bhima, but in vain; and Draupadi, with her hair still dishevelled, and pining over her ignominious treatment, comes to inflame his resentment. She complains also of a recent affront offered by Bhanumati, the queen of Duryodhana, in an injurious comment upon her former exposure, which serves to widen the breach.

Krishna's embassy is unsuccessful, and he effects his return only by employing his divine powers against the enemy. All the chiefs are summoned by the trumpet to prepare for battle.

Before day-break, Bhanumati repeats, to her friend and an attendant, a dream in which she has beheld a Nakula or Mungoose destroy a hundred snakes. This is very ominous, Nakula being one of the Pandavas, and the sons of Kuru amounting to a hundred. Duryodhana overhears part of the story, and at first imagines the hostile prince is the hero of the vision. He is about to burst upon her, full of rage, and when he catches the true import of the tale, he is at first disposed to be alarmed by it, but at last wisely determines to disregard it.

For, by Angira it is sung, the aspect of the planets, dreams and signs, meteors and portents, are the sports of accident, and do not move the wise. Bhanumati offers an arghya of sandal and flowers to the rising sun to avert the ill omen, and then the king appears and soothes her.

Their dialogue is disturbed by a rising whirlwind from which they take shelter in a neighbouring pavilion. The mother of Jayadratha, the king of Sindhu, then appears, and apprises Duryodhana that Arjuna has vowed, if sunset finds Jayadratha alive, he will sacrifice himself in the flames. His wrath is especially excited by the death of his son Abhimanyu, in which that chieftain had borne a leading part. Duryodhana laughs at her fears and those of his wife, and despises the resentment of the Pandavas. He observes, that this was fully provoked by the treatment which Draupadi received by his command, when in the presence of the court and of the Pandavas, she called out in vain for mercy. Duryodhana then orders his war-chariot and goes forth to the battle. Up to the period of the contest, the following chiefs have fallen, Bhagadatta, Sindhuraja, Angadhipa, Drupada, Bhurisravas, Somadatta, and Bahlika.

Ghatotkacha is also slain, and Bhima is about to avenge his fall, on which account Hirimba, the queen of the Rakshasas and mother of Ghatotkacha, has ordered goblins to be ready to assist Bhimasena.

Drona is seized by Dhrishtadyumna and slain. Aswatthama, the son of Drona, appears armed and is overtaken by his father's charioteer who tells him of the treachery by which Drona was slain, having been induced to throw away his arms by a false report that his son Aswatthama had perished, and been then killed at a disadvantage. Aswatthama's distress is assuaged by his maternal uncle Kripa, who recommends him to solicit the command of the host from Duryodhana.

In the meantime, proud Kerna, the friend and ally of Duryodhana, fills the mind of the Kuru chief with impressions hostile to Drona and his son, persuading him that Drona only fought to secure Aswatthama's elevation to royal dignity, and that he threw away his life, not out of grief, but in despair at the disappointment of his ambitious schemes. Kripa and Aswatthama now arrive and Duryodhana professes to condole with Aswatthama for his father's loss. Kerna sneeringly asks him what he purposes, to which he replies:—

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