Gita Press, Gorakhpur

Srimad Valmiki-Ramayana Volume-I

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Publisher's Note


The Valmiki-Ramayana is read all over India with great reverence and love as it contains the most authentic story of Lord Sri Rama, one of the two most popular Avataras who lived amongst us thousands of years ago but have left an indelible impression on our lives, which is as fresh today as it was during the time of Valmiki, a contemporary of Sri Rama. It is one of the world's most remarkable classics and excels all in its moral appeal. It is full of lessons for all and deserves to be read with interest and benefit by all lovers of healthy literature. It is noted for its poetic excellences and is the oldest specimen of epic poetry. An authentic and readable translation of this world-renowned book was published in Hindi, the national language of India, many years ago after critically editing the text with the help of different recensions, and is very widely read all over the Hindi-speaking and adjacent areas.

For the benefit of those who cannot read Hindi and at the same time who are not so well - versed in Sanskrit as to understand and appreciate original Sanskrit text, an accurate and faithful English translation of this sacred text by scholarly translators has been made by Gita Press. Some years before we have published the entire Katha of Valmiki-Ramayana in serials under the caption of Valmiki-Ramayana number in our English monthly journal 'The Kalyana-Kalpataru'. After that as an independent work we published the Valmiki-Ramayana in three volumes: - Part one containing Balakanda and Ayodhyakanda, part two containing Aranyakanda, Kiskindhakanda and Sundarakanda; part three containing Yuddhakanda and Uttarakanda. But since we received a number of suggestions from our readers to reduce the number of volumes as much as possible, we are publishing it in two volumes-Volume one containing Balakanda to Kiskindhakanda and volume two Sundarakanda to Uttarakanda. In doing so convenience of the readers was the main consideration and at the same time the book has been saved from being unmanageably bulky.

Although great care has been taken in translating and printing these books, typographical and other errors may have crept in and we crave the of our kind readers for them. In our translation we have tried to reproduce the meaning of the original as best as possible so as to enable the reader to follow the text word by word, and made it as close as possible, preserving even the grammatical peculiarities of the original and translating even indeclinables like cha, khalu, veh, hi, ha, nu and so on which cannot called redundant in the work of a Rsi. We leave it to our learned readers, who are conversant with both the languages, to judge how far we have done justice to the work which has fallen on our weak shoulder. In the end we dedicate our humble effort to the Almighty Lord Sri Rama, who has sustained us throughout in His abundant grace and enabled us to bring out these volumes.

The Valmiki-Ramayana
Book One


  Number of Cantos: Page
1. The celestial sage Narada narrates to Valmiki the Story of Sri Rama in a nutshell. 1
2. Brahma's visit. 9
3. A brief outline of the Ramayana as given by the poet himself. 12
4. After his ascension to the throne of Ayodhya Sri Rama listens to his own story as sung by his sons (Kusa and Lava). 16
5. A description of the city of Ayodhya. 20
6. A description of the city of Ayodhya and the prosperity of its inhabitants during the reign of King Dasaratha. 22
7. The virtue and upright conduct of the eight minister of Emperor Dasaratha. 24
8. The King's proposal to perform a horse-sacrifice for being blessed with a son and the acclamation of the counselors and other Brahmanas. 26
9. A dialogue between Emperor Dasaratha and Sumantra. 29
10. How the sage Rsyasrnga was lured away to the capital of Romapada and married to his adopted daughter, Santa.  
11. Urged by Sumantra, Emperor Dasaratha calls on his friend, King Romapada, and brings with the latter's permission Santa and Rsyasrnga to his own palace. 33
12. Emperor Dasaratha gives his consent to the performance of a horse sacrifice for being blessed with a son. 36
13. Feudatory chiefs called under orders of the emperor and charged with the duty of setting up stables etc. 38
14. King Dasaratha proceeds with the horse-sacrifice; Rsyasrnga grants him a boon regarding the birth of four sons. 41
15. Rsyasrnga conducts a sacrifice for securing the birth of sons to Dasaratha; the gods approach Brahma in that very sacrifice with a prayer for bringing about the death of Ravana; Brahma implores Lord Visnu (also present there) to descend in the house of Dasaratha and do away with Ravana and the Lord undertakes to kill Ravana. 46
16. A dialogue between Lord Visnu and the gods bearing on Ravana; on the disappearance of the Lord an attendant of Prajapati (Lord Visnu, the Protector of all created beings) rises from the sacrificial pit and hands over to Dasaratha a basin containing milk boiled with rice and sugar and the latter divides it among his wives. 49
17. Birth of monkey chiefs from the loins of different gods under the direction of Brahma. 51
18. Advent of Sri Rama, Bharata and others; festivities in heaven as well as in Ayodhya; their investiture with the sacred thread; the arrival of Viswamitra. 54
19. King Dasaratha is stunned to hear the request of Viswamitra to send Sri Rama with him to dispose of the Raksasas that interfered with his sacred observances. 59
20. Dasaratha declines to part with Sri Rama thereby enraging Viswamitra. 61
21. The wrath of Viswamitra; the intercession of Vasistha in favour of Viswamitra. 63
22. King Dasaratha sends Sri Rama and Laksmana with Viswamitra and the two princes receive initiation from the latter in the two mystic spells Bala and Atibala. 65
23. Night-long sojourn of Sri Rama and Laksmana with Viswamitra in a holy hermitage at the confluence of the Ganga and the Sarayu. 67
24. An account of the Sarayu given by Viswamitra; some facts relating to the ogress Tataka revealed and hints given about killing her. 69
25. Questioned by Sri Rama, Viswamitra tells him more about the birth of Tataka, of her marriage with Sunda, as well as about the birth of Marica as a result of their union, and how the latter was subjected to an execration by the sage Agastya, and finally urges Sri Rama to dispatch the ogress. 72
26. Sri Rama kills Tataka. 74
27. Gratified with the death of Tataka, Viswamitra imparts to Sri Rama the knowledge of the various missiles. 77
28. At the request of Sri Rama the sage Viswamitra instructs him as well as Laksmana in the process of calling back the missiles and delivers some more missiles to them. 79
29. Viswamitra tells Sri Rama the history of Siddhasrama and arrives at his own hermitage with the two brothers. 81
30. Sri Rama protects the sacrifice of Viswamitra against the onslaught of the Raksasas and gets rid of them. 84
31. Accompanied by Sri Rama, Laksmana and a host of Rsis, Sage Viswamitra proceeds northward in the direction of Mithila to witness the bow-sacrifice of King Janaka and breaks his journey on the bank of the Sona at sunset. 86
32. An account of the four sons of Kusa; the hundred daughters of Kusanabha turn hunch-backed under a curse of the wind-god 88
33. Kusanabha applauds the forbearance and forgiveness of his daughters; the story of the birth of Brahmadatta and his marriage with Kusanabha's daughters. 91
34. Kusanabha performs a sacrifice for the birth of a son and is blessed with one, Gadhi by name; the glory of the river Kausiki (the modern Kosi in Bihar). 93
35. Crossing the Sona, Viswamitra and party reach the bank of the holy Ganga and spend the night there. Requested by Sri Rama, he narrates the story of the origin of the Ganga. 95
36. Gods interrupt the amorous pastimes of Lord Siva and His Consort, Goddess Uma, on which She curses gods including Mother Earth. 97
37. A detailed account of Kartikeya's birth through Ganga. 99
38. The narrative of King Sagara, a former king of Ayodhya and a forefather of Sri Rama. 102
39. Indra steals away the horse released by Sagara as a prelude to his horse sacrifice; his sixty thousand sons proceed to excavate the earth in quest of the horse and the gods in terror apprise Brahma of this daring of theirs. 104
40. Brahma reassures the gods by telling them that the sons of Sagara will be destroyed by the curse of Sage Kapila. The sons of Sagara in the course of their excavation arrive in the presence of Kapila and, behaving insolently towards him, are forthwith reduced to ashes by the fire of his wrath. 106
41. Under orders of Sagara his grandson Amsuman proceeds to Rasatala through the underground passage made by his uncles and, bringing back the sacrificial horse, tells the king about the fate of his uncles. 108
42. Amsuman and his grandson, Bhagiratha, successively practise austerities for bringing down the Ganga to the terrestrial plane. Brahma grants a boon to Bhagiratha and exhorts him to propitiate Lord Siva and secure His consent to receive the Ganga on His head. 111
43. Pleased with the asceticism of Bhagiratha, Lord Siva receives the Ganga on His head and discharges it into Bindusarovara. Branching forth into seven streams it then accompanies Bhagiratha to Rasatala and liberates his forbears on the way. 113
44. Applauding Bhagiratha, Brahma urges him to gratify the souls of his departed great grand-uncles by offering them the water of the Ganga, and after doing his bidding Bhagiratha returns to his capital; the glory of hearing and reading the story of Ganga's descent on earth. 116
45. Viswamitra tells Sri Rama how in the remote past the gods and the demons conjointly churned the ocean of milk, using Mount Mandara as the churning rod, how Lord Siva drank off the deadly poison skimmed out of it, how as a result of that churning appeared Lord Dhanvantari, a bevy of Apsaras, the beverage known by the name of Varuni, the horse Ucchaihsrava, the Kaustubha gem and nectar, and how the conflict of gods and the Daityas ended in the destruction of the latter 118
46. Disconsolate over the death of her sons, Diti embarks on a course of austerities at Kusaplava with the permission of her husband, Sage Ksayapa, with the object of securing a son capable of killing Indra. The latter on coming to know of her intention serves her during the period of her consecration and, taking advantage of her falling asleep on one occasion with her head in a wrong position and thereby transgressing the rules of purity, enters her womb and carves the foetus. 122
47. Viswamitra tells Sri Rama how on the very site of the grove where Diti practiced her austerities Visala, a son of Ikswaku, built the city of Visala. Sumati the contemporary ruler of Visala, receives Viswamitra and his party as his distinguished guests. 124
48. Having stayed overnight at Visala as an honoured guest of Sumati, Sri Rama, accompanied by Viswamitra and the other sages, heads towards Mithila (the capital of King Janaka) and, on reaching on the way a deserted hermitage and, inquiring about it is told by Viswamitra how Ahalya, wife of Sage Gautama, whose hermitage it was, was subjected to a curse by her husband. 126
49. At the intercession of the gods Indra is supplied with testicles of a ram; Ahalya gets back her pristine celestial form at the very sight of Sri Rama the moment he enters the hermitage, and the two divine brothers are entertained by the lady with the help of her husband. 128
50. Sri Rama and others reach Mithila and are received in advance by King Janaka, headed by his family priest, Satananda, and Viswamitra satisfies their curiosity about the two princes of Ayodhya. 130
51. At the request of Satananda Viswamitra tells him how Ahalya was redeemed by Sri Rama and entertained him with the help of her husband. And Satananda in his turn commences narrating to Sri Rama the story of Viswamitra. 133
52. Vasistha enjoins his cow of plenty, Sabala by name, the yield necessary articles for entertaining Viswamitra. 135
53. Heartily entertained alongwith his army by Vasistha with delicious foods and drinks yielded by his cow of plenty, Viswamitra asks of him the cow, which Vasistha declines to part with. 137
54. On Viswamitra attempting to take her away by force, Sabala seeks to know Vasistha's mind, and at his instance produces a multitude of warriors that disperse Viswamitra's army. 139
55. His entire army having been exterminated by the warriors produced by Sabala and his hundred sons reduced to ashes by the very roar of Vasistha even as they assailed him, Viswamitra retires to the Himalayas for austerities and, receiving a number of missiles from Lord Siva, tries them on the inmates of Vasistha's hermitage; Vasistha meets him with a mere staff appropriate to a Brahmana. 141
56. With his Brahmanical staff alone Vasistha renders ineffectual all the mystic missiles discharged by Viswamitra, whereupon the latter condemns military strength and makes up his mind to practise austerities with a view to attaining Brahmanhood. 143
57. Viswamitra embarks on a severe course of austerities with a view to attaining Brahmanhood. In the meantime King Trisanku of Ayodhya requests Vasistha to conduct for him a sacrifice which may enable him bodily to ascend to heaven and, on Vasistha declining to comply with his request, approaches his sons for the same purpose. 145
58. Having been repulsed by Vasistha's sons as well, Trisanku gets ready to seek another priest, whereupon he is degraded by the curse of Vasistha's sons to the position of a Candala and approaches Viswamitra with the same request. 147
59. Viswamitra assures Trisanku of his help, sends word to a number of sages, inviting them to conduct a sacrifice for Trisanku, and pronounces a curse on those who declined to come. 149
60. At the instance of Viswamitra the sages assembled at his hermitage commence a sacrifice; on the gods failing to appear at the sacrifice to accept the offerings, Viswamitra sends Trisanku bodily to heaven by dint of his own spiritual power, but the latter is expelled by Indra, on which Viswamitra stops him in the air and proceeds to create a new heaven and desists from his purpose only on the gods granting his desire. 151
61. The animal to be sacrifice at the sacrificial performance of King Ambarisa having been stolen away by Indra appearing in disguise, the arch-priest enjoined the king to secure a human beast as a substitute. Wandering in search of such a beast, Ambarisa saw the sage Rcika at Bhrgutunga and requested him to hand over his juvenile son in exchange for a hundred thousand cows. On the parents declining to part with their eldest and youngest sons, the middle one, Sunahsepa by name, voluntarily offered himself for being sold and the king returned with him to his capital. 154
62. On reaching Puskara, while Ambarisa is taking rest, Sunahsepa approaches Viswamitra, who was practicing austerities there, and inquires of him a means of escaping death without meeting with the king's opposition, whereupon Viswamitra teaches him a prayer each of propitiating Indra and Lord Visnu respectively, by reciting which the boy secures release from Ambarisa's bondage and the latter gets the reward of the sacrifice without sacrificing him. 156
63. Brahma pays a visit to Viswamitra at Puskara and rewards him with the status of a Rsi (seer). There he feels enamoured of Menaka, a celestial nymph deputed by Indra, and enjoys life with her for ten years. At last he realizes his folly and retires to the Himalayas, where he renews his austerities and is rewarded with the status of a Maharsi by Brahma. Still dissatisfied, he prosecutes his austerities with renewed vigour. 159
64. Petrifying by means of a curse Rambha, the celestial nymph sent by Indra to wean him from his austerities, Viswamitra resolves upon a further course of austerities. 161
65. On Viswamitra not ceasing from his austerities even on his being conferred the title of a Brahmarsi by Brahma, Vasistha as urged by gods recognizes it and here ends the narration of Satananda. Having worshipped Viswamitra, King Janaka then returns to his palace. 163
66. On Viswamitra apprising Janaka of the eagerness of Sri Rama and Laksmana to see his famous bow, Janaka reveals to him its glory and tells him how he got it as well as Sita and also of his pledge to give her in marriage to Sri Rama if he should string it. 166
67. Urged by Viswamitra, Sri Rama bends the bow, sent by Janaka to the sacrificial hall, in order to string it and in the process breaks it, whereupon Janaka with the concurrence of Viswamitra sends his counselors to Ayodhya to invite Emperor Dasaratha for the wedding. 168
68. Reaching Ayodhya, the counselors of Janaka tell Dasaratha how Sri Rama broke the bow of Janaka and won the hand of his daughter, and convey to him their master's invitation for the wedding, on which Dasaratha makes up his mind in consultation with Vasistha to depart for Mithila as an early date. 171
69. With a large number of followers Dasaratha proceeds to Mithila for the wedding and is received with signal honour by Janaka and his people and comfortably lodged. 172
70. Janaka sends for his younger brother, Kusadhwaja, from Sankasya. Invited by him, Dasaratha meets Janaka at the latter's palace, where at the instance of Dasaratha Vasistha glorifies the race of Ikswaku. 174
71. Recounting his own pedigree, Janaka offers the hand of his two daughters, Sita and Urmila, to Sri Rama and Laksmana respectively. 178
72. Vasistha and Viswamitra jointly ask for the hand of the two daughters of Kusadhwaja in favour of Bharata and Satrughna and Janaka acquiesces in the proposal. Thereupon Dasaratha gets his sons to perform the rite of Samavartana and himself performs the Nandisraddha. 180
73. Janaka escorts Dasaratha and his four sons clad in nuptial attire to the pavilion erected for the wedding. Placing Viswamitra and Satananda at his head, Vasistha conducts the marriage ceremony. Sri Rama and his three brothers clasp the hand of Sita and her sisters. Singing and dancing for joy, the gods rain heavenly flowers on the brides and bridegrooms. 182
74. Taking leave of Janaka and Dasaratha, Viswamitra returns to his own hermitage and, accepting large wedding presents. Dasaratha too turns back to Ayodhya alongwith his sons and their newly - wedded brides. On the way the irascible and redoubtable Parasurama, a sworn enemy of the Ksatriyas, suddenly appears before them, axe in hand, and Vasistha and the other sages accompanying the party offer worship to him. 185
75 Turning a deaf ear to Dasaratha's prayer, Parasurama relates the history of the bows belonging to Lords Siva and Visnu, and challenges Sri Rama to string the bow of Lord Visnu in his possession. 187
76. Fitting the arrow to the bow of Lord Visnu and declaring it as unfailing, Sri Rama asks Parasurama to point out at whom it may be discharged, and at the instance of the latter puts an end to his title to the (ethereal) worlds earned by him through his austerities. Recognizing Sri Rama to be no other than Lord Visnu and taking leave of him. Parasurama withdraws to Mount Mahendra in order to resume his austerities. 190
77. On the departure of Parasurama Sri Rama hands over the bow of Lord Visnu to Varuna (the god of water) and, sending his army ahead, King Dasaratha enters Ayodhya. After some days Prince Yudhajit, Bharata's maternal uncle, takes away Bharata and Satrughna to his father's capital. 192
Book Two
  Number of Cantos: Page
1. Bharata having left for his maternal grandfather's capital alongwith Satrughna. Emperor Dasaratha makes up his mind to install Sri. Rama as his regent and, summoning a number of princes for consultation. Confers with them on the subject. 195
2. Dasaratha apprises the assembly of his intention to retire from active rule after relegating the power to Sri Rama's able hands and the councilors with one voice say ditto to the proposal and urge the emperor to expedite matters. 200
3. Urged by the emperor to solemnize the installation of Sri Rama as Prince Regent, Vasistha enjoins in his turn Dasaratha's ministers, Sumantra and others, to get ready all requisites for the ceremony. Sent by Sumantra, Sri Rama in the meantime calls on his father, who announces his decision to install him as Prince Regent and also tenders some opportune advice to him. Sri Rama's chums break the news to Sri Rama's mother, Kausalya; and, treasuring in his mind the exhortation of his father and bowing low to him, Sri Rama returns to his own apartments. 204
4. Apprehending obstruction of Sri Rama's installation from an ominous dream, Dasaratha summons Sri Rama immediately and asks him to observe certain sacred vows preliminary to installation alongwith Sita. Dismissed by his father, he enters his mother's gynaeceum and, after receiving her blessings, retires alongwith Sita, already present there, to his own palace. 209
5. At the instance of the emperor, Vasistha calls at Sri Rama's palace and, instructing him alongwith Sita to fast for the night, returns to Dasaratha. Permitted by the sage, the emperor adjourns the assembly and retires to the gynaeceum. 212
6. Enjoined by the sage Vasistha, Sri Rama undertakes a vow to bathe early next morning, worship the gods and sleep for the night on a mat of Kusa grass. On waking up the next morning, he says his Sandhya prayers and Brahmanas wish him a propitious day. The citizens decorate the city in order to give it a festal appearance and it is thronged with men eager to witness the installation of Sri Rama as Prince Regent. 214
7. Beholding the festivities and finding Kausalya bestowing large gifts of money on Brahmanas, Manthara, a hunchbacked hereditary maid-servant of Queen Kaikeyi, who had accidentally ascended the roof of the palace, inquires of Sri Rama's erstwhile nurse the occasion for the festivities and, on being told of Sri Rama's forthcoming installation, feels enraged and, approaching Kaikeyi, instigates her to stop the installation. Kaikeyi on the other hand, feels rejoiced over the news and gifts her a jewel as a token of her pleasure. 217
8. While Manthara was thus trying to impress on Kaikeyi's mind that the installation of Sri Rama on the throne of Ayodhya would spell disaster to Bharata, Kaikeyi for her part went on harping on Sri Rama's virtues and maintained that his installation as Prince Regent was quite welcome to her, Manthara, however, goes on labouring her point and urges Kaikeyi to interrupt the installation 220
9. Kaikeyi, whose heart was poisoned by the malicious gossip of Manthara as aforesaid, takes a vow to see that Rama is sent into exile and Bharata installed as Prince Regent, and asks Manthara herself how to secure that consummation. Manthara tells her how in the course of a conflict between gods and demons, in which Dasaratha's help was enlisted by the gods, the queen, who had accompanied her husband to the field of operations and had rendered valuable assistance to him at a critical juncture, was offered a couple of boons, which she had kept in abeyance. Manthara now asks Kaikeyi to demand the banishment of Rama and the installation of Bharata against the two promised boons. Kaikeyi accordingly throws away her ornaments and lies down on the bare floor in the sulking-room in a sullen mood. 223
10. Having told off Sumantra and others to get together necessaries for the installation of Sri Rama, Dasaratha calls on Kaikeyi to break the happy news to her. Not finding her in her apartments, however, he makes inquiries from the portress, who tells him of her presence in the sulking chamber. The emperor calls on her there and, lifting her up, cajoles her. 228
11. Egged on by Kaikeyi to grant her desire. Dasaratha gives his word of honour to her to that effect. Invoking the presence of gods as witnesses and reminding the emperor of what took place during the conflict of gods and demons, Kaikeyi asks of him the two boons, promised by him, in the shape of exiling Sri Rama for a period of fourteen years and installing Bharata as Prince Regent. 232


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