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At the Feet of The Mother

XI. 4. POETRY — Ravana Vanquished

Ravana Vanquished

 

Titans, assembled here, the race supreme on this earthly globe!
A city supreme bejewelled in this sea-girt isle
On a stony crest they shall set up in their own might,
Fearless defying the King of the gods, in disregard of the world.
But listen! What is this rumour
All along the walls surrounding the city of Lanka,
What is this tumult unprecedented in this land?
Is this the roar of a puny army in laughter and jeer,
Dancing over the head of the Mother of Rakshasas, revelling in pride and victory?
But whom do I fear? Why am I confined, a prisoner in my own city?
Mute I look at their mad dance, hear their loud boast?
Protected by Varuna in this sea one can never cross,
We warriors enjoyed the wide universe.
A little island has proudly trampled over the whole mankind,
And is the master of it, possessed as its own
The wide earth with her million habitants.
The haughty King of the gods, who names himself
The imperial majesty of the triple worlds,
Is himself imprisoned and works as a slave here today in our Lanka —
It is through the might of your arms.
Here are we the same Titans. Here is our city, Lanka.
Is that might of the arms turned limp?
Say, Titans, has that pride lost its brilliance?
Has that power evaporated unnoticed
As we lay courting sleep at night without care?

Who has stolen your blazing might?
Is it Krishna or Mahadeva or any other bold enough
In the still night trembling to enter Lanka while she lay asleep?
Oh! the irony of Fate! the unconquerable race
Is conquered at last in a petty skirmish!
Petty man is victorious in Titan’s land!
I could understand if Rudra with his trident rushed in,
His cosmic might teeming with demi-gods and demons
And for days and nights and centuries battled and battered and broke through
And at last, Providence aiding, ravaged and destroyed the city of Lanka.
I could also understand if the great Vishnu spread
His net of duplicity, cast his spell of darkness
Upon the intelligence of the Rakshasas and stole away
The Fair Royal Deity of Lanka.
But we are conquered by the arms of Rama,
Men have trampled upon the city of Ravana!
Smile happily, O vanquished gods now in heaven,
There is no fear of punishment for you any more.
Smile, O Indra, in happiness, the lord of the gods is now free from slavery.
I do not blame you if you take pride in this victory
That should be a shame for you.
Luminous is the city of Heaven, eternal Spring is there,
Enjoy the garden of Paradise there through the mortal’s grace.
Ravana, enemy of the gods, is vanquished at the hands of a human being.

Vanquished! Listen! O listen! on the mighty rock afar,
The fierce echo hears and laughs at the word:
It is the daughter of the Mountain in this Isle of Lanka and her thundering voice.
Vanquished! It rends the mind and heart to utter the word.
A Titan’s tongue cannot speak it out.
A proud Rakshasa clad in iron-strength, with iron weapons,
Not content with earthly victories I roamed in all the three heavens,
Not content, I assailed the very crest of the triple world.
You say that race is vanquished! A mirage is this truth,
False is this history.
Brothers, friends and sons are killed; in my vast bejewelled halls,
Crowded with slaves and servants I wander all alone
In search of friendly faces but in vain.
The women’s quarters are crowded too; there with a dry and desert heart
I look upon mothers who have lost their sons.
In the Assembly Hall, in the battlefield,
In the joyless taverns, in the insipid playfield
My eyes in vain look for the glories of Lanka.
Silent is the lion roar. Into these ears used to be poured
A torrent of delight, the trumpet call of victory,
The wild war-cry, the leonine yell of my brother Kumbhakarna.
But O Aksha, O Indrajit, why are you silent at this hour of peril!
Why does not your ever victorious voice delight our ears any more!
O my children, is the embrace of Death so fast, so sweet!
Pardon me, Titans, for the first time today the earth
Under Ravana’s power is wet with Ravana’s tears.

But nay, let them be slain, I am yet there.
Shall history write in its pages in iron letters as truth
That the world-conquerors at last were conquered by Rama, the little feeble man!
This dark infamy shall never be written down in the history of the Rakshasas.
Let the world hear of the past history and wonder
And declare that the son of Dasharath enjoyed a momentary victory
Because of the negligence of the Rakshasas.
Now, the wonderful news will spread, unique on earth,
A thing to madden a hero’s heart, that sons killed,
Friends killed, killed all the great heroes,
Yet Ravana, the Rakshasa, rises again with a roar,
Leaps mad into battle, and a few of Lanka’s men
Kill countless enemies in a few days,
With little effort enthrall again the whole rebel world.
Arise once more, wipe away the memory of grief,
Wipe off from your heart all shadow of sorrows,
Kindle fire of wrath in your blinded eyes.
Forget pity, forget weariness, O heaven-conquering race.
In an iron body, an iron mind and heart befits the race of Rakshasas.
Once more we shall slaughter all and each.
We shall cross the seas and depopulate
The land of birth of the son of Wind-god.
With myriads of prisoners, slaves unnumbered
We shall repopulate to overflowing the isle of Lanka,
Beget in the wombs of the enemy womanhood a new race of children.
But what has gone, let it go —
We shall build again, we shall destroy again.
We are not puny human hearts,
Ravana’s thirst is not quenched with scanty blood!
The flaming grief dies not in this vast heart
Satisfied with a feeble revenge.
A little enjoyment does not enfeeble the ardour of these senses.
I am a Rakshasa, once more I shall conquer
All the world and enjoy the Infinite itself.

Otherwise rest content, O jackals of Shiva’s consort,
Rest content, O you host of vultures —
A deathbed for me shall I build up like a hill
With thousands and thousands of human and ape heads.
Or I shall throw into devouring fire, like faggots,
All the rich treasures, things of beauty and art of ancient Lanka —
I shall throw down all this peerless grandeur:
This entire great city I shall light up into a titanic funeral pyre.
The three heavens with Earth I have won in battle,
I imprisoned all the gods, I enjoyed fame incomparable;
I am as though the all-enveloping world-eye of the Sun,
I burn at noon of mid-summer; afflicted by its heat
The world adores the scorching Fire.
I shine over the universe, displaying my effulgence.
As the sun reddens the blue of the firmament with its own blood
And goes down at setting in all its glory,
So shall I sink into the sea of Death.
I was at dawn, during my sway, head uplifted,
Fierce and radiant.
And at the setting I will be there still,
In death and destruction unconquerable, a fierce lustre and a mighty blaze.

(Archives, April 1979)

 
 

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If you use power to show that you possess it, it becomes so full of falsehood and untruth that finally it disappears.