I mentioned in my previous post that I have been reading Ralph T.H Griffith’s translation of Ramayana in verse. I finished the Balakanda and am planning to write a summary of the interesting verses and events I encountered therein. This is the first post in that series.
Griffith begins with the invocatory verses in the praise of Valmiki.
Praise to Valmiki, bird of charming song
Who mounts on Poesy’s sublimest spray,
And sweetly sings with accent clear and, strong
Rama, aye Rama, in his deathless lay.
This corresponds to the popular verse that can be found in the Ramaraksha stotram
कूजन्तं राम रामेति मधुरं मधुरक्षरं |
आरुह्य कविताशाखं वन्दे वाल्मीकि कोकिलं ||
I like the imagery in this next verse whose sanskrit equivalent I do not know:
The stream Ramayan leaves its sacred fount
The whole wide world from sin and stain to free
The Prince of Hermits is the parent mount
The lordly Rama is the darling sea.
One more nice invocatory verse, again in the praise of Valmiki is apparently a standard shloka that is recited before reciting Ramayana.
Glory to him whose fame is ever bright!
Glory to him, Prachetas’ holy son!
Whose pure lips quaff with ever new delight
The nectar-sea of deeds by Rama done.
I didn’t know the sanskrit equivalent of this verse until yesterday when my professor recited the following verse on seeing this translation:
यः पिबन् सततं रामचरितामृत सागरं |
अतृप्तः तं मुनिं वन्दे प्राचेतसं अकल्मषं ||
Griffith has translated it rather well, since in the sanskrit verse, अतृप्तः must not be interpreted as “unsatisfied” since it makes no sense. Instead, it alludes to the fact that Valmiki never grow tired of drinking nectar from the ocean of Rama’s deeds.
One of my favourite mangala shlokas comes from Tulasidasa’s Ramacharitamanas.
सिताराम गुणग्राम पुन्यारण्य विहारिणौ |
वन्दे विशुद्ध विज्ञानौ कवीष्वरकपीष्वरौ ||
I am not a poet and I very well know it. So, here’s a translation in my own words, fortunately it’s not in verse. Hope it’s not really that worse!
I salute both the king of hermits and foremost among the vanaras! Blessed are these enlightened ones who had the good fortune to wander about in the enchanting woods of the glorious qualities of Sita-Rama!
In the next post, we shall see a few selected verses from the first canto of Balakanda where Narada narrates the summary of the events that occurred in Rama’s life in answer to Valmiki’s deep question about the ultimate man!