Chapter [Sarga] 24

Introduction

While crossing over the River Ganga, sage Vishvamitra sails them through its confluence with River Sarayu, which flows at their capital Ayodhya. The sage leads them to a deadly forest on the other bank of River Ganga and narrates about the ambushing nature of demoness Tataka, preparing him to kill her.


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tataH prabhaate vimale kR^ita aahnikam arindamau |
vishvaamitram puraskR^itya nadyaaH tiiram upaagatau || 1-24-1

1. tataH = then; arindamau = enemy destroyers Rama and Lakshmana; vimale prabhaate = in fresh, morning; kR^ita aahnikam vishvaamitram= one who [just now] performed, morning ritual tasks, Vishvamitra; puraskR^itya = keeping ahead; nadyaaH tiiram upaagatau= at river, bank, arrived at.

Then, in the fresh of the morning those enemy destroyers, Rama and Lakshmana, arrived at the riverbank of Ganga keeping sage Vishvamitra ahead of them, which sage has just completed his ritualistic chores of dawn. [1-24-1]

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te ca sarve mahaatmaano munayaH sa.mshrita vrataaH |
upasthaapya shubhaam naavam vishvaamitram atha abruvan || 1-24-2

2. mahaatmanaH samshrita vrataaH= great souls, scrupulous ones, in their vows; te sarve munayaH= those, also, all, sages [of that hermitage]; shubhaam naavam upa sthaapya= auspicious, ferryboat, nearby, on positioning; atha vishvamitram abruvan = to then, to Vishvamitra, they said.

All those sages of Kaama's hermitage that are the great souls and scrupulous ones in their vows, have positioned an auspicious ferryboat within the reach in the river, and then they said to sage Vishvamitra. [1-24-2]

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aarohatu bhavaan naavam raajaputra puraskR^itaH |
ariSTam gacCha panthaanam maa bhuut kaala viparyayaH || 1-24-3

3. bhavaan raja putra puraskR^itaH = you, king's, sons, keeping ahead of you; naavam aarohatu = boat, you embark; ariSTtam panthaanam gacCha = on prosperous, pathway, you go; kaala viparyayaH = time, change [lapse]; maa bhuut = let not be there without time-shift.

"You may board the boat keeping the princes ahead of you, and we wish you to proceed on a prosperous route without the shift of time." So said the sages. [1-24-3]

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vishvaamitraH tathaa iti uk{}tvaa taan R^iSiin pratipuujya ca |
tataara sahitaH taabhyaam saritam saagaram gamaam || 1-24-4

4. Vishvamitra; tathaa iti uktvaa = 'it must be so', thus, on saying; taan R^iSiin prati puujya cha = them, the sages, in turn, revering; taabhyaam shaitaH = two [princes,] along with; saagaram gamaam saritaam = ocean, going, river; ta taara = crossed over.

Sage Vishvamitra on saying 'it must be so,' to those sages and revering them in his turn, cruised the river that itself is cruising towards ocean, along with both the princes. [1-24-4]

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tatra shushraava vai shabdam toya sa.mrambha vardhitam |
madhyam aagamya toyasya tasya shabdasya nishcayam || 1-24-5
j~naatu kaamo mahaatejaa saha raamaH kaniiyasaa |

5, 6a. raamaH = Rama; toyasya madhyam aagamya = of water, in mid of stream, on coming; tatra = there; toya samrambha vardhitam shabdam = by water's, gush, increasing, [unusual] noise; shushraava= heard; saha kaniiyasaa = he, Rama, with younger brother; j~naatu kaamaH = to know, desired; mahaatejaa = brilliant one [Rama]; tasya shabdasya nishcayam = of that, sound's, significance.

On coming to the midstream of water there Rama heard an unusual and increasing noise of gushy waters along with his younger brother, and that brilliant one Rama desired to know its significance. [1-24-5, 6a]

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atha raamaH sarin madhye papracCha muni pu~Ngavam || 1-24-6
vaariNo bhidyamaanasya kim ayam tumulo dhvaniH |

6b, 7a. atha raamaH = then, Rama; sarin madhye = river's, midst; prapacCha muni pungavam = asked, sage, the eminent; bhidyamaanasya variNaH= [as though] slashing, water; kim ayam = what is, this; tumulaH dhwaniH = turbulent, sound.

Rama then asked the eminent sage Vishvamitra in the midst of the river, "what is this turbulent sound sire, as though slashing water?" [1-24-6b, 7a]

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raaghavasya vacaH shrutvaa kautuuhala samanvitam || 1-24-7
kathayaamaasa dharmaatmaa tasya shabdasya nishcayam |

7b, 8a. raaghavasya vachaH = Raghava's, words; koutuuhala samanvitam = inquisitiveness, having; shrutvaa = on hearing; dharmaatmaa = virtuous soul; tasya shabdasya nishchayam = of that, sound's, significance; kathayaamaasa = started telling.

On hearing the inquisitive words of Raghava that virtue-souled sage Vishvamitra started to tell the significance of that sound. [1-24-7b, 8a]

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kailaasa parvate raama manasaa nirmitam param || 1-24-8
brahmaNaa narashaarduula tena idam maanasam saraH |

8b, 9a. nara shaarduula = manly-tiger; Rama; kailaasa parvate = Kailash, mount of; brahmaNaa = by Brahma; param saraH manasaa nirmitam = great, lake, at will, created lake is the brainchild of Brahma; tena = hence; idam saraH = this, lake is [called]; manasam = Manasa lake.

"On Mt. Kailash Brahma created a great lake at his will, oh, tigerly-man Rama, hence that is called Maanasa Lake. [1-24-8b, 9a]

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tasmaat susraava sarasaH saa ayodhyaam upaguuhate || 1-24-9
saraH pravR^ittaa sarayuuH puNyaa brahma saraH cyutaa |
tasya ayam atulaH shabdo jaahnaviim abhivartate || 1-24-10
vaari sa.mkSobhajo raama praNaamam niyataH kuru |

9b, 10, 11a. [yaa = which river]; tasmaat = from it [from that lake]; susraava = spontaneously, flowed out; that is this; sarasaH = River Sarayu; saa ayodhyaam upaguuhate= that [the river,] Ayodhya, surrounds; saraH pravR^ittaa saryuuH = [because] from sara [lake,] originated, [it is called] Sarayu river; brahma saraH cchyutaa = from Brahma's, lake, flowed out; puNyaa = merited [river]; jahnaviim abhivartate = to River Ganga, towards, coursing towards; tasya = its [Sarayu river's]; ayam atulaH shabdaH = this is, the remarkable, noise. vaari samskobha jaH = waters, collision, generated by; Rama; praNaamam niyataH kuru = regards, respectfully, offer.

"That river which spontaneously flows out of that Maanasa Lake surrounds Ayodhya city is this one, the River Sarayu. Because this has originated from a lake, saraH, this is known as Sarayu. And because it flows from Brahma's Lake it is a merited river. This is the remarkable noise of such a Sarayu River in its coursing towards River Ganga, generated by the collision of their waters, and Rama, offer regards to these rivers, respectfully." So said Vishvamitra to the princes. [1-24-9b, 10, 11a]

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taabhyaam tu taavubhau kR^itvaa praNaamam atidhaarmikau || 1-24-11
tiiram dakSiNam aasaadya jagmatur laghu vikramau |

11b, 12a. ati dhaarmkau = most, virtuous pair [of princes]; tau ubhau = those, two; taabhyaam tu = to them [ the two rivers]; kR^itvaa praNaamam = on making, salutation; dakshiNam tiiram aasaadya = southern, bank, on getting at; laghu vikramau jagmatuH = in swiftness, exerts, they proceeded further.

Offering their salutations to River Sarayu and Ganga those two most virtuous and agile footed princes proceeded further on reaching the southern riverbank. [1-24-11b, 12a]

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sa vanam ghora sa.nkaasham dR^iSTvaa naravaraatmajaH || 1-24-12
aviprahatam aikSvaakaH papracCha muni pu.ngavam |

12b, 13a. aikshwaakaH = legatee of Ikshvaku's; nara vara aatmajaH = among people, best one's [king's,] son; saH = he [Rama]; ghora samkaasham = horrendous, in looks; aviprahatam= [a vi pra hatam = not, verily, trodden] = untrodden - uninhibited; vanam dR^iSTvaa = forest, on seeing; prapacCha munipungavam = asked, sage, the eminent.

On seeing a horrendous and uninhibited forest, Rama, the son of the best king Dasharatha asked the eminent sage Vishvamitra. [1-24-12b, 13a]

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aho vanam idam durgam jhillikaa gaNa sa.myutam || 1-24-13
bhairavaiH shvaapadaiH kiirNam shakunaiH daaruNa aaravaiH |

13b, 14a. aho=oh; jhillikaa gaNa samyutam = crickets, swarms, having; bhairavaiH shvaapadaiH = with brutish, predators; shakunaiH = with vultures; daaruNa aarutaiH = [all are] horribly, strident; puurNam = full of , fraught with; idam vanam dur gam = this, forest, difficult, to enter impenetrable.

"Oh, impenetrable is this forest fraught with swarms of crickets, brutish predators, and vultures, which are all horribly strident. [1-24-13b, 14a]

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naanaa prakaaraiH shakunaiH vaashyadbhiH bhairava svanaiH || 1-24-14
si.mha vyaaghra varaahaiH ca vaaraNaiH ca api shobhitam |

14b, 15a. vaasyadbhiH = screeching; bhairava swanaiH = with fierce, voices; naanaa prakaaraiH shakunaiH = with many, varieties, of vultures; simha vyaaghra varaahaiH cha = lions, tigers, wild boars, also; vaariNaiH cha api= with elephants, also, even; shobhitam = made to shine atypical.

"Various vultures are screeching with fierce sonority, and tigers, wild boars, and elephants render this forest atypical. [1-24-14b, 15a]

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dhava ashvakarNa kakubhaiH bilva tinduka paaTalaiH || 1-24-15
sa.nkiirNam badariibhiH ca kim nu etat daaruNam vanam |

15b, 16a. dhavaa = tree of Mimosa catechu family, Hindi: Khaira, khadira; ashvakarNa = trees of Pentapetra Arjuna; kakubhaiH = Arjuna trees; bilva = trees of Egle Marmelos; tinduka = trees of Diospyros glutinosa, Hindi: tamaala; paatalaiH = trees of Bignonia suave olens; badarii bhiH cha = with badarii trees of Zizyphus jujuba, also; samkiirNam = dense with; etat daaruNam vanam = this, wretched, forest; kim nu = what is, indeed.

"Indeed, what is this wretched forest that is dense with Dhava, Ashvakarna, Arjuna, Bilva, Tinduka, Patala, and Badari trees." Thus Rama asked Vishvamitra. [1-24-15b, 16a]

The botanical names of the trees mentioned in the text are Grislea Tormentosa, Shorea Robusta, Echites Antidysenterica, Bignonia Suaveolens, Aegle Marmelos, and Diospyrus Glutinosa. I have omitted the Kutaja (Echites) and the Tinduka (Diospyrus). Griffith.

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tam uvaaca mahaatejaa vishvaamitro mahaamuniH || 1-24-16
shruuyataam vatsa kaakutstha yasya etat daaruNam vanam |

16b, 17a. mahaatejaa mahaamuniH vishvamitraH= great resplendent, great saint, Vishvamitra; tam uvaacha = to him [to Rama], said; shruuyataam vatsa = I will let you hear I will tell you, my boy; kaakutstha = oh, Rama; etat daaruNam vanam yasya= this one, wretched, forest, whose is.

The resplendent and the great saint Vishvamitra then said to Rama, "I will tell you, oh, my boy Rama, whose is this wretched forest. [1-24-16b, 17a]

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etau janapadau sphiitau puurvam aastaam narouttama || 1-24-17
maladaaH ca karuuSaaH ca deva nirmaaNa nirmitau |

17b, 18a. narottama = oh, best one among men, Rama; puurvam = once; deva nirmaaNa nirmitau = of gods, by construction, that are constructed designed by gods; maladaaH cha karuuSaaH cha = [known as] Malada, and, Karuusha, also; janapadau sphiitau = provinces, vast ones; etau aastaam = these, were there.

"Once these were vast provinces, oh, best one among men, designed by gods and known as Malada and Karuusha. [1-24-17b, 18a]

The word mala da is malam dyati khaNDayati iti mala da that which abolishes excreta, but not filth itself. karusha is kaa ruusha remover of hunger. If mortal hunger is there excreta will be there and then mortality of Indra is at stake. Hence if hunger is eliminated there will be nothing filthy. Once these provinces were such hunger removers equalling to heaven, but deteriorated in their heaven-on-earth attributes, owing to demoness Tataka.

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puraa vR^itra vadhe raama malena samabhiplutam || 1-24-18
kSudhaa caiva sahasraakSam brahma hatyaa sam aavishat |

18b, 19a. Rama; puraa vR^itra vadhe = once, demon Vritra, while eliminating; malena = with filth; eva= thus; kshudhaa cha = with hunger, also; sam abhiplutam = completely submersed soaked, stained; sahasra aksham = thousand-eyed god [Indra]; brahma hatya samaavishat = Brahman killing [sin of,] befell upon.

"Once upon a time, oh, Rama, mortal impurities of filth and hunger completely stained Indra when he eliminated demon Vritra, as he committed the sin of killing of a Brahman, where the demon Vritra was incidentally a Brahman. [1-24-18b, 19a]

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tam indram malinam devaa R^iSayaH ca tapodhanaaH || 1-24-19
kalashaiH snaapayaamaasuH malam ca asya pramocayan |

19b, 20a. tam malinam indram = him, feculent one, that Indra; devaa = gods; tapodhanaa R^iSayaH cha = ascetically rich, sages, also; kalashaiH snaapayamaasuH = with handy-vessels [kamanDulu-s,] started to bathe; asya malam pra mochayan = his, filth, for riddance.

"The gods and ascetically rich sages then started to bathe feculent Indra with their handy vessels for the riddance of his defilement. [1-24-19b, 20a]

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iha bhuumyaam malam dattvaa devaaH kaaruSam eva ca || 1-24-20
shariirajam mahendrasya tato harSam prapedire |

20b, 21a. mahendrasya = of Mahendra; shariiram jam malam = from body, emerged, filth; iha bhuumyaam= here, on earth; kaaruuSam ca eva = hunger, also, thus; datvaa = on giving; tataH devaaH harSam prapedire = then, gods, gladness, they obtained.

"On giving filth and hunger emerged out of the body of Mahendra here on the earth then the gods were gladdened. [1-24-20b, 21a]

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nirmalo niSkaruuSaH ca shuddha indro yathaa abhavat || 1-24-21
tato deshasya supriito varam praadaad anuttamam |

21b, 22a. Indra; yathaa = as to how; nir malaH nish karuushaH cha = without, filth, without, hunger, also; abhavat = became; suddha = purified; tataH = then; deshasya supriitaH = of this place, gladdened; anuttamam varam praadaat= unexcelled, boon, he gave.

"As and when Indra was without desecration and hunger as well, and thus purified, then gladdened about this place he gave it an unexcelled boon. [1-24-21b, 22a]

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imau janapadau sphiitau khyaatim loke gamiSyataH || 1-24-22
maladaaH ca karuuSaaH ca mama a.nga mala dhaariNau |

22b, 23a. mama anga mala dhaariNau= my, body's, impurity, bearing ones; imau janapadau sphiitau = these, habitats, will be resourceful places; maladaH cha karuuSaaH cha = as Malada, and Karuusha, also; loke khyaatim gamishyataH = in world, renown, they will attain.

"These provinces that bear the impurity of my body shall become resourceful and they shall attain renown in world as Malada and Karusha." Thus Indra gave boon to this place. [1-24-22b, 23a]

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saadhu saadhu iti tam devaaH paakashaasanam abruvan || 1-24-23
deshasya puujaam taam dR^iSTvaa kR^itaam shakreNa dhiimataa |

23b, 24a. dhiimataa shakreNa kR^itaam= by wise one, Indra, done according; taam deshasya puujaam = that, place's, honouring; devaaH dR^iSTvaa = gods, on observing; saadhu saadhu iti = splendid, splendid, thus; tam = him; paaka shaasanam = demon Paaka, controller of - to Indra; abruvan = said - praised.

"On observing the honour accorded by wise Indra to these places gods praised the controller of demon Paaka, namely Indra saying, 'splendid, splendid it is.' [1-24-23b, 24a]

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etau janapadau sphiitau diirgha kaalam arindama || 1-24-24
maladaaH ca karuuSaaH ca muditaa dhana dhaanyataH |

24b, 25a. arindama = oh, enemy subjugator, Rama; maladaaH cha karuuSaaH cha = Malada, and, Karuusha, as well; diirgha kaalam = for a long, time; sphiitau etau janapadau = were affluent, these, people's habitations; dhana dhaanyataH muditaa= with wealth, grains, [people] were happy.

"For a long time these habitations Malada and Karuusha were affluent, oh, enemy subjugator Rama, and people were happy with wealth and provisions. [1-24-24b, 25a]

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kasya cit atha kaalasya yakSii kaama ruupiNii || 1-24-25
balam naaga sahasrasya dhaarayantii tadaa hi aabhuut |
taaTakaa naama bhadram te bhaaryaa sundasya dhiimataH || 1-24-26
maariico raakSasaH putro yasyaaH shakra paraakramaH |

25b, 26, 27a. atha = later; kasyachit kaalasya = at some, time; tadaa = then; kaama ruupiNii = by wish, guise-changer; naaga sahasrasya = elephants, of a thousand; balam dhaarayantii = strength of, possessing; dhiimataH sundasya bhaaryaa= clever one, Sunanda's, wife; shakra paraakramaH = Indra [like,] in bravery; raakshasaH maariichaH= demon, Mareecha; yasyaH putraH = whose, son is; taaTaka nama yakshii= Tataka, named, she-yaksha; abhuut hi= was there - prevailed, indeed; bhadram te = safety, to you.

"Later at sometime, a yaksha female who is a guise changer at her wish, possessor of the strength of a thousand elephants, wife of clever Sunanda, and she whose son is demon Mareecha, the one equal to Indra in his bravery, prevailed here, let you be safe Rama. [1-24-25b, 26, 27a]

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vR^itta baahur mahaa shiirSo vipulaa asya tanur mahaan || 1-24-27
raaxaso bhairava aakaaro nityam traasayate prajaaH |

27b, 28a. vR^itta baahuH = round, shouldered; mahaa shiirSaH = huge, headed; vipulaa asya= cavernous, mouthed; mahaan tanuH= gigantic, bodied; bhairava aakaara = mammoth, in shape; raakshasaH = demon Mareecha; nityam traasayate prajaaH = always, terrifying, people.

"That demon Mareecha is round shouldered, huge headed, cavernous mouthed, and gigantic bodied one, and he is always terrifying the people. [1-24-27b, 28a]

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imau janapadau nityam vinaashayati raaghava || 1-24-28
maladaa.mshca karuuSaa.mshca taaTakaa duSTa caariNii |

28b, 29a. Raghava; duSTta chaariNii Tataka= malevolence, pursuer malevolent one, Tataka; imau janapadau = these, inhabitations; maladaam cha karuuSam cha = Malada, also, Karuusha, also; nityam vinaashayati = always, destroying.

"And Raghava, that malevolent Tataka is always destroying the inhabitations at Malada and Karusha. [1-24-28b, 29a]

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saa iyam panthaanam aavR^itya vasati adhyardha yojane || 1-24-29
ata eva ca gantavyam taaTakaayaa vanam yataH |

29b, 30a. saa iyam panthaanam aavR^itya = she, this, route, on blockading; vasati adhyartha yojane= lives, after one half, yojana [distance]; yataH= where/ for which reason; taaTakayaa vanam = [this has become,] Tataka's, forest; ataH eva= there alone / for that reason alone; gantavyam = headway is to be made.

"She lives about one and half yojana distance from here, and by which reason this became the forest of Tataka, owing to her gruesome activities, for that reason only a headway is to be made, to eradicate her and her activities. [1-24-29b, 30a]

This verse also means 'where there is the forest of Tataka there we have to go.' The above is another shade of that verse.

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sva baahu balam aashritya jahi imaam duSTa caariNiim || 1-24-30
mat niyogaat imam desham kuru niSkaNTakam punaH |

30b, 31a. sva baahu balam aashritya= your own, arms, strength - self-confidence, depending upon; duSTa chariNiim = evildoer; jahi imam= kill, this one; mat niyogaat = by my, assigned; desham kuru = this, province, be made; punaH nisH kaNTakam= again, free from, thorniness.

"Depending upon the strength of your own self-confidence you have to eradicate this evildoer, and assigned by me you have to make this province free from thorniness. [1-24-30b, 31a]

Great persons accomplish their deeds by their self-confidence, kriyaa siddhiH sattve bhavati mahataam, na upakaraNe not by their hardware.

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na hi kashcit imam desham shak{}to hi aagantum iidR^isham || 1-24-31
yakSiNyaa ghorayaa raama utsaaditam asahyayaa |

31b, 32a. Rama; ghorayaa = hazardous; a+sahyayaa = in, tolerable invincible; yakshiNya = yakshii, unearthly being turned demoness; utsaaditam iidR^isham desham = destroyed, this kind of, to province; aagantum = to come; kaschit na shaktaH hi= none, not, capable, indeed; [hence make them habitable.]

"Indeed, none is able to enter this sort of province, Rama, destroyed by the hazardous and invincible unearthly being who turned into a demoness, namely Tataka, hence you have to make the provinces habitable. [1-24-31b, 32a]

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etat te sarvam aakhyaatam yathaa etat daaruNam vanam |
yakSyaa ca utsaaditam sarvam adya api na nivartate || 1-24-32

32. etat vanam sarvam= this, forest, entirely; daaruNam= rendered it as a devastated one; yakshyaa = by ghoulish, she-yaksha - Tataka; yathaa utsaaditam = as to how, destroyed; adya api = now, even; na nivartate = not, returning not retracing her steps without refrain; etat sarvam te aakhyaatam = that, all, to you, is narrated.

"As to how that ghoulish Tataka destroyed this entire forest, rendering it as a devastated place, without refraining from it even today, all that is narrated." So said Vishvamitra to Rama. [1-24-32]

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The epithets in Ramayana

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The epithets used in epic may be on the increase from now, and they may not be construed as redundant foot fillers. All have implicit meanings and they can be understood with the help of commentaries. As this work cannot include voluminous commentaries, many of the meanings of epithets as said by commentators are not incorporated. This bypassing will not effect the ordinary narration. For e.g., the meaning to the words muni pungava, nara shaarduula will be 'saint, the eminent' 'tigerly man.' And trying to obtain a squeezed meaning from them would be futile, without resorting to some commentary. So also, there are words like indra, candra, simha, shaarduula, naaga, vR^iSabha, pungava which when suffixed to vocatives will mean 'best, choicest, excellent' etc., as per simha shaarduula naaga aadyaaH pumsi shreSTa artha gocaraa. But commentators have explained why that character is 'best or excellent, or a lion' at that juncture. For e.g., dharma aatmaa the apparently usual epithet in Ramayana has many meanings like 1] one whose life is dharma; 2] one whose body is dharma incarnate; 3] one whose soul is filled with dharma; 4] one whose entity itself is dharma so on, basing on the thesaurus of aatma that say as: aatmaa yatna dhR^iti svaanta svabhaava paramaatmaasu jiiva buddhi shariireSu .

So also, more than often Seetha will be referred as Vaidehi or Maithili in Aranya Kanda. Some details about it are incorporated in that book. Wherever possible those niceties will be included subject to availability of commentaries, which commentaries have already became 'the flowers in the sky.'

Hence, without trying to squeeze meaningless meanings, and leaving this aspect to pundits and researchers, and as this work cannot be stuffed with those intricacies, henceforth the meanings of epithets are said simply, and at times ignored also. This may please be kept in view while reading.

 

iti vaalmiiki raamaayaNe aadikaavye baala kaaNDe chatur vi.mshaH sargaH ||

Thus, this is the 24th chapter in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.


Verse Locator for Book I : Bala Kanda - The Youthful Majesties : Chapter 24

 

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Sarga 24 in English Prose

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2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : May 4]