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.
tataḥ prabhāte vimale kṛta āhnikam arindamau |
viśvāmitram puraskṛtya nadyāḥ tīram upāgatau || 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]
te ca sarve mahātmāno munayaḥ saṃśrita vratāḥ |
upasthāpya śubhām nāvam viśvāmitram 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]
ārohatu bhavān nāvam rājaputra puraskṛtaḥ |
ariṣṭam gaccha panthānam mā bhūt kāla viparyayaḥ || 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]
viśvāmitraḥ tathā iti uktvā tān ṛṣīn pratipūjya ca |
tatāra sahitaḥ tābhyām saritam sāgaram gamām || 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]
tatra śuśrāva vai śabdam toya saṃrambha vardhitam |
madhyam āgaṃya toyasya tasya śabdasya niścayam || 1-24-5
jñātu kāmo mahātejā saha rāmaḥ kanīyasā |
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]
atha rāmaḥ sarin madhye papraccha muni puṅgavam || 1-24-6
vāriṇo bhidyamānasya kim ayam tumulo dhvaniḥ |
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]
rāghavasya vacaḥ śrutvā kautūhala samanvitam || 1-24-7
kathayāmāsa dharmātmā tasya śabdasya niścayam |
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]
kailāsa parvate rāma manasā nirmitam param || 1-24-8
brahmaṇā naraśārdūla tena idam mānasam saraḥ |
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]
tasmāt susrāva sarasaḥ sā ayodhyām upagūhate || 1-24-9
saraḥ pravṛttā sarayūḥ puṇyā brahma saraḥ cyutā |
tasya ayam atulaḥ śabdo jāhnavīm abhivartate || 1-24-10
vāri saṃkṣobhajo rāma praṇāmam niyataḥ 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]
tābhyām tu tāvubhau kṛtvā praṇāmam atidhārmikau || 1-24-11
tīram dakṣiṇam āsādya 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]
sa vanam ghora saṃkāśam dṛṣṭvā naravarātmajaḥ || 1-24-12
aviprahatam aikṣvākaḥ papraccha muni puṃgavam |
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]
aho vanam idam durgam jhillikā gaṇa saṃyutam || 1-24-13
bhairavaiḥ śvāpadaiḥ kīrṇam śakunaiḥ dāruṇa āravaiḥ |
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]
nānā prakāraiḥ śakunaiḥ vāśyadbhiḥ bhairava svanaiḥ || 1-24-14
siṃha vyāghra varāhaiḥ ca vāraṇaiḥ ca api śobhitam |
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]
dhava aśvakarṇa kakubhaiḥ bilva tinduka pāṭalaiḥ || 1-24-15
saṃkīrṇam badarībhiḥ ca kim nu etat dāruṇam 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.
tam uvāca mahātejā viśvāmitro mahāmuniḥ || 1-24-16
śrūyatām vatsa kākutstha yasya etat dāruṇam 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]
etau janapadau sphītau pūrvam āstām narauttama || 1-24-17
maladāḥ ca karūṣāḥ ca deva nirmāṇa 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.
purā vṛtra vadhe rāma malena samabhiplutam || 1-24-18
kṣudhā caiva sahasrākṣam brahma hatyā sam āviśat |
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]
tam indram malinam devā ṛṣayaḥ ca tapodhanāḥ || 1-24-19
kalaśaiḥ snāpayāmāsuḥ 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]
iha bhūṃyām malam dattvā devāḥ kāruṣam eva ca || 1-24-20
śarīrajam mahendrasya tato harṣam 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]
nirmalo niṣkarūṣaḥ ca śuddha indro yathā abhavat || 1-24-21
tato deśasya suprīto varam prādād 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]
imau janapadau sphītau khyātim loke gamiṣyataḥ || 1-24-22
maladāḥ ca karūṣāḥ ca mama aṃga mala dhāriṇau |
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]
sādhu sādhu iti tam devāḥ pākaśāsanam abruvan || 1-24-23
deśasya pūjām tām dṛṣṭvā kṛtām śakreṇa dhīmatā |
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]
etau janapadau sphītau dīrgha kālam arindama || 1-24-24
maladāḥ ca karūṣāḥ ca muditā dhana dhānyataḥ |
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]
kasya cit atha kālasya yakṣī kāma rūpiṇī || 1-24-25
balam nāga sahasrasya dhārayantī tadā hi ābhūt |
tāṭakā nāma bhadram te bhāryā sundasya dhīmataḥ || 1-24-26
mārīco rākṣasaḥ putro yasyāḥ śakra parākramaḥ |
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]
vṛtta bāhur mahā śīrṣo vipulā asya tanur mahān || 1-24-27
rākṣaso bhairava ākāro nityam trāsayate prajāḥ |
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]
imau janapadau nityam vināśayati rāghava || 1-24-28
maladāṃśca karūṣāṃśca tāṭakā duṣṭa cāriṇī |
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]
sā iyam panthānam āvṛtya vasati adhyardha yojane || 1-24-29
ata eva ca gantavyam tāṭakāyā vanam yataḥ |
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.
sva bāhu balam āśritya jahi imām duṣṭa cāriṇīm || 1-24-30
mat niyogāt imam deśam kuru niṣkaṇṭakam punaḥ |
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.
na hi kaścit imam deśam śakto hi āgantum īdṛśam || 1-24-31
yakṣiṇyā ghorayā rāma utsāditam asahyayā |
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]
etat te sarvam ākhyātam yathā etat dāruṇam vanam |
yakṣyā ca utsāditam 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]
The epithets in Ramayana
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 vālmīki rāmāyaṇe ādikāvye bāla kāṇḍe catur viṃśaḥ sargaḥ ||
© 2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised : May 4]