Ramyana in Poetry -By Mahatma Das
It was the night before the coronation,
Prince Ram to be crowned Ayodhya’s king,
Amidst the joy and celebration
Ram’s father, Dasaratha, met his favorite queen.
He found Kaikeya lying on the ground
Overwhelmed by agonizing grief.
He asked her the cause of her trouble
And how he could give her relief.
At first she remained silent,
Then assured him she would be all right;
If the king could just fulfill her desire,
And promise to do it that night.
Save for my son Ram, the king said,
There is none more dear to me than you.
In the name of Ram whose absence would end my life,
I promise you anything you want me to do.
Kaikeya said, “Do you remember long ago
When the gods enlisted you to fight
A fierce battle against the demons
And how in that battle I saved you life?
You wanted to repay me,
So two boons you promised to give.
Now the time has come to ask for them;
If you don’t grant them I cannot live.
“Yes, I remember well this promise,
Please ask anything of me dear.”
She asked that her son Bharat be made the king,
And Ram exiled for fourteen years.
He begged her not to ask this of him,
He reasoned and pleaded and cried.
Realizing he could not dissuade her,
He fainted and fell by her side.
Dasaratha was bound by his promise,
His son would not become the king.
When Kaikeya told Ram about his exile,
The Lord gracefully accepted everything.
When Ram told his wife of his departure,
Sita begged to accompany Him.
“I will clear thorns from the road,
My duty is to serve your every whim.”
The citizens could not bare the grief
Of being separated from their dear Ram.
So they accompanied Him to the forest
But He would only take Sita and Laksman.
When Kaikeya’s son Bharata returned to Ayodhya,
He found all of the citizens in pain.
He then chastised his mother and told her,
I will rule only until Ram returns again.
Dasaratha could not bear the thought
That he put Ram in this situation.
Shortly after Ram was banished
The king died out of separation.
In the forest they lived in huts
Amidst many a ferocious beast.
Their clothes were made from the bark of trees,
Roots and fruits were all they had to eat.
They met a witch disguised as a maiden
Who wanted Ram to be her own.
When she tried to attack and devour Sita
Laksman cut off her ears and nose.
She lied to her brother Ravana,
The most powerful of evil kings;
“I just tried to bring Sita back for you,
And look what they did to me!”
To take revenge she provoked him
To enact an evil scheme,
“Steal Sita away from Ram
And make her your principal queen.
He had a magical deer charm Sita,
And Ram chased him on her plea.
Then the deer imitated Ram’s cry for help
And Sita forced Laksmana to go see.
Laksmana made a circle before he left
That none could go beyond.
So Ravana disguised himself as a saint
And grabbed Sita while she was giving him alms.
Ravana took her to his island Lanka
And offered her pleasures of every kind;
Although he tried to make her his queen,
Ram was the only One on her mind.
Ravana said I give you one year
To submit to my request.
If you don’t become my queen by then
I will kill you and eat your flesh.
To find Sita, Ram enlisted monkey soldiers;
They searched for Her everywhere.
When Hanuman jumped to Lanka
He found her in lying great despair.
When he showed her Ram’s ring,
Tears of happiness poured from her eyes.
Hanuman assured her that very soon
Ram would come and save her life.
Then Ravana’s soldiers attacked Hanuman,
But he killed them yet didn’t tire.
Finally Ravana set his tail ablaze,
And he used it to set Lanka on fire.
The monkeys built a bridge to Lanka
By floating stones upon the sea.
Ram, Laksmana and millions of monkey soldiers
Came to kill Ravana and set Sita free
Seeing this vast monkey army
Ravana’s advisors told him not to fight.
“Give Sita back to Ram,” they begged,
“Or we shall face a horrible plight.”
Ravana did not listen to a word,
He could not give up his sinful desire.
Thinking his armies all powerful,
He ordered them to attack and fire.
Ghastly battles ensued,
Killing Ravana’s best men;
At last He challenged Ram saying,
“I will put you to an end”
Ravana’s strength seemed invincible,
He put Ram’s might to the test.
Although filling Ram’s body full of arrows,
He finally killed him with an arrow through his chest.
Then Hanuman brought Sita to Ram,
But Ram’s broken heart didn’t mend;
Since Sita had lived with another man
It wasn’t right that he accept her back again.
Weeping loudly, she assured her Lord
That she had never yielded to Ravana’s desire;
“Ram if you do accept me back
I will kill myself by entering fire.”
Walking into the fire saying,
“If I have been faithful to You
Let the fire god now save me
And prove that I was true.”
Amidst the cries of the people
Ram’s tearful eyes followed her,
But she came out of the fire unharmed
While Agni assured, “Your wife was always pure”
Eyes flooded with tears, Ram said,
“I know Sita is my devoted wife;
But this had to be proven to the world
To confirm a king’s moral life.”
Now They could return to Ayodhya
Fourteen years had come and gone.
Bharata turned over the throne to Ram
And all rejoiced with dance and song.
The gods felt the highest bliss
Everyone was peaceful and calm;
And the whole city of Ayodhya chanted
All glories to Sita Ram.
They lived happily in Ayodhya
Until one day Ram went out in disguise,
To mix among the people
And find out what was on their minds.
He heard a husband chastise his wife
For spending the night away from home.
He said it is not right that I take you back,
I will not be immoral like King Ram.
When Ram overheard this conversation
It went deep into his heart;
He knew that now the time had come
For him to ask Sita to depart.
For if a king is not respected
And does not set an example for all,
His life will be a failure,
And his kingdom will be sure to fall.
So to set the proper example
And to maintain religious rites,
He told Sita they could no longer remain together
And she walked away into the night.