Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The advent of Siva - Bhāravi

By Indra's mandate Arjun great
   Once more began his pious rites,
And worship paid to saintly Siva
   Dwelling in far Kailâsa's heights.
Firm in his purpose, pure in heart,
   Unwearied in the sun's hot ray,
In rigid fasts, in penance long
   The pious chief passed many a day.
Mortifying flesh and sense.
   In penance long he passed his hours,
In pious rites, unmoved as rock,
   For high resolve hath wondrous power!
Luscious fruits that ripened near him,
   Crystal rills that rippled by,—
For righteous is sweetest nectar,—
   Drew from him nor wish nor sigh!
He boasted not, he ne'er despaired,
   He never ceased from righteous toil.
Nor wrath nor passions in his heart
   His noble steadfast faith could soil.
He wore a world subduing power,
   Though pale with many a rigid rite,
And saints beheld him with a fear,—
   The great in heart are great in might!

Brighter than the nightly fires
   His radiance seemed the woods to fill,
More mighty than the boundless sea.
   And loftier than the towering hill!
His sacred mantras ever chanting,
   With a beauteous light he shone;
And on his features fell a radiance
   Like the halo of the sun!
Clad in armour dark, he wore
   His mighty bow across his chest;
So wears the lofty wood-clad hill
   The glorious rainbow on his breast!
When for ablutions, — fixed by rules,—
   He walked betimes, in morning's hour.
The mountain felt his mighty tread.
   For worth is might and worth is power!
A wondrous lustre on him shone
   When Arjun stood serene and high,—
It shone across the firmament,
   And flashed upon the upper sky!
And on moonless nights there fell
   Upon the prince a wondrous ray,—
And like the silver beams of moon
   It pierced the darkness of the sky!
So bright, so clear the light celestial
   That the paled orb of sun
Marching through the cloudless sky
   Scarce with wonted radiance shone!

Holy hermits viewed in awe
   His crimson locks, his bow unbent!
They whispered, — "Is it Siva's self
   On mighty Asur's death intent?
Is he great Indra or the Sun?
   Or Fire, who helps our pious rites?
No mortal he of woman born,
   Such glory decks no anchorites."
But unlike the tongues of Fire
   Serene was Arjun's radiant light;
Unlike the scorching rays of Sun,
   'Twas gentle in its wondrous might!
As virtues seek true gentleness,
   As moral rules seek peaceful thought,
As righteous laws seek precepts pure.
   The troubled saints great Siva sought!

Dazzled, blinded, when they came.
   By Siva's more than solar light.
They sought in vain with mortal eyes
   To compass Siva's glorious might!
In humble prayer they sought the Lord
   Of times to come and times gone by,—
And by its grace they faintly saw
   His glorious mien, his triple eye!
Resting on his sacred bull,
   His glorious arm of wondrous might,
Sweet Uma's lord, to Uma dear,
   Stood forth upon the mountain's height!
Far distant from the living world
   He stood upon a snowy height;
But rock and ocean, earth and heaven
   Pelt his presence and his might!
Coiling serpents stretched their length
   Around the muscles of his feet,
As on the vast and boundless earth
   High mountain ranges spread their height!
And on his blue and ample neck
   Great coiling serpents, white as snow,—
Even like the thread of twice-born mortals,—
   Caught its dark and tremulous glow !
By his tresses partly hid.
   Like Gangâ's ripples looked the moon,
And on his fair and ample forehead
   With a gentle radiance shone!
Permission gained, the holy saints
   Addressed the God with many a prayer,
Told him how a mortal's penance
   Filled the earth with mighty fear.

Mighty Lord of all the worlds!
   A mortal wielding Vritra's might.
Unceasing penances performs,
   The sun obscuring by his light!
A bow he wears and mighty quivers.
   Armour and a wondrous blade,
And plaited locks and skin and barks,—
   A saint! in arms accoutred dread!
Earth trembles 'neath his mighty tread,
   And when he prays at evening's glow.
The starry skies are hushed to peace.
   The evening breezes cease to blow!
His force terrific could subdue
   This world with Gods and Asurs brave!
What mighty task, what daring feat
   His matchless strength might not achieve!
Or if he seeks to rule the world,—
   Or to destroy in wantonness,—
Or to attain salvation pure,
   Great Lord of hosts! we may not guess!
Thou knowest all, mighty Lord!
   World hides no secret from thine eye!
Thou knowest all, and thou canst save.
   And we are safe when thou art nigh!"

Unto them great Siva spoke
   In accents deep and full of grace,
Deep as the troubled ocean's roar
   Resounding to the ends of space!

'Know ye, who with lofty rites
   Worships in Badrika's heath?
Earth-born man, — but part of Him,
   Who is life and who is death!
Lofty penance he performs
   Foes to conquer and to quell,
Foes who rule this boundless earth
   Indra's mighty power assail!
By the will of Lotus-Born,
   Krishna and great Arjun came,—
Sons of men by mortals bred,—
   Men to save in Brahmâ's name!
"But the wily Asur,—Muka—
   Dreaded by the gods in sky,
Seeks to kill the mighty Arjun;—
   I must to his safety hie.
But to conquer mighty Arjun
   Openly 'twere vain to try;
Muka takes the form of wild-boar
   To achieve his purpose sly!
I will take the form of hunter,
   Pierce the wild-boar in the heart,
Claiming honour of the wild sport,
   Arjun too will send his dart!
Pale with rigid rites and penance.
   Still he wields a wondrous might,
Ere the mortal wins my favour
   He must prove his worth in fight!"

Thus speaking to the holy saints
   A forester in guise he went!
His ample chest bedewed with toil,
   With many a pearl and sandal paint!
With flowering tendrils rudely tied
   His clustering manly locks he wore.
And bright a peacock's painted feather
   O'er his bloodshot eyes he bore!
A mighty bow with arrows keen
   He carried in his brawny hand,—
And like a rain-cloud dark he looked.
   The leader of a forest band!
And all his hosts in various guise.
   Obedient to their Master's word,
Assembled like a hunting troop,
   With bow and arrow, lance and sword !
They parcelled out the mountain wood,
   Obedient to their Leader's will,
Shaking the earth with mighty sound,
   Forward, marched the hunters still!

Screams and sounds of birds and beasts
   Filled far and near the forest land,
As if the woods and mountains quaked
   In terror of that hunter-band!
And the flying beasts and birds
   Forgot awhile their mutual strife;
A common danger made them comrades,
   And a common fear of life!
The timid Chamari* feign would fly.
   Bewildered by the hunter's yell,—
But in the jungles wild and thick
   Was caught his white and bushy tail.
The mighty lion, forest-king.
   Owned in his heart no dastard fear!
He calmly viewed the hunters pass.
   Through echoing woods, through gorges drear!
The fish leap out from jungle lake.
   The wild beasts on its margin crowd,
And tall trees by the tuskers broken
   With their juice its waters cloud.
Buffaloes tearing through the forest
   Broke in twain the tangled trees,
And many a wild flower, tossed and shaken,
   With their fragrance filled the breeze!
Wild beasts, splashing through the water,
   Felled the plantains, crushed the grain,
Dashed aside the water-lily,
   Like a summer storm and rain!
Sweeping thus through forest lands
   At length the hunters came and stood,
Where grazed in peace the gentle deer,
   Nor dreaded harm, — in Arjun's wood!
And Siva marked, — black as a cloud —
   A wild boar in the covert rise;
Tearing the earth with angry tusks,
   It flew, — the Asur in disguise!

Leaving his hosts behind the forest lake.
Concealed by creepers and by jungle-brake.
The Lord of hosts, resistless in his force,
Tracked the mighty wild boar in its course.

Bhāravi (6th century) India
Translated by Romesh Chunder Dutt (From "The Hunter and the Hero", or "Kirdtdrjuniyam" - Book IX)
*The yak of the Himalayas, from whose bushy white tails fans are made.

1 comment:

Please keep your comments relevant and free from abusive language. Thank you.