Monday, October 31, 2011

English Tapasvinī Kāvya (Tapasvini : A Critical Observation/Harekrishna Meher)

Original Oriya Epic Poem By : Poet Gańgādhara Meher (1862-1924)
Complete English Translation By : Dr. Harekrishna Meher
‘Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher : A Critical Observation’
This Research Article has been taken from pages xiii- xl of my English Book
‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher ’

Published by : R.N. Bhattacharya, A-217, Road No.4, HB Town, Sodepur,
Kolkata-700110, India. First Edition : 2009, Total pages : xl +180 =220.
ISBN : 81-87661-63-1]
All Rights Reserved by the Author.

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‘Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher : A Critical Observation’
Article by : Dr. Harekrishna Meher
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[The Sītā-Rāma-story of India has an indelible impression on the people of both oriental and occidental cultures. Sītā, the adorable daughter of Earth and the devoted wife of King Rāma, in her later life appears as a Tapasvinī, A Woman practicing penance or An Ascetic-maid, in the pen of Poet Gańgādhara Meher.

Tapasvinī, an eleven-canto Oriya epic poem, is the magnum opus of this great poet. With the prevailing sentiment of Pathos, this kāvya depicts the post-banishment episode of Sītā in the hermitage of Sage Vālmīki. In this Rāmāyaņa-based literary composition, the poetic presentation is well-embellished with originality and significant innovations. Like Kālidāsa in Sanskrit and William Wordsworth in English, Gańgādhara Meher is regarded as ‘Prakŗti-Kavi’, Poet of Nature, in Oriya literature.

This epic poem reveals the ambition of the poet to portray the brilliant character of a devoted wife steeped in Indian culture in the domain of literature. With vivid and prominent delineation of Sītā’s life-deeds, Tapasvinī kāvya may be construed as a ‘Sītāyana’ in the field of Indian Literature.

In the present article, endeavours have been made to elucidate the significance of Tapasvinī, and some salient features of this literary work are being discussed here in a comparative perspective.]


Gańgādhara Meher, popularly known as ‘Svabhāva-Kavi’ is one of the illustrious makers of Indian literature. In the galaxy of poets of Oriya literature, he is a scintillating star of first magnitude. On 9 August 1862, he was born at Barpali, a small town in the then Sambalpur district. Hailing from a family weaving Sambalpuri sarees, though he had little education in school, he possessed a great poetic talent that presented a novel sensibility in the literary arena. Coming on Śrāvaņa Pūrņimā (Rākshī Bandhan), the day of full illumination, his mortal form disappeared in the murky veil of Chaitra Amāvāsyā on 4 April 1924. Gangadhar Meher College of Sambalpur, one of the distinguished Government colleges of Orissa has been named after him in memory of his poetic genius.

Literary compositions of Gańgādhara comprise several kāvyas, essays, autobiography and numerous lyrics : devotional, patriotic, satirical and reformative. His main works are Tapasvinī, Praṇaya-Vallarī, Kichaka-Vadha, Indumatī, Utkala-Lakshmī, Ayodhyā-Dŗśya, Kavitā-Kalloļa, Arghya-Thāļī, Ahalyā-Stava, Mahimā, Bhāratī-Bhāvanā, Kavitāmāļā, Padminī and Kŗshaka-Sańgīta. “Gańgādhara Granthāvalī”, the compilation of all his writings, has earned high appreciations through several publications. Many research works have been done on his literary writings and various aspects of his life. Ideals of Indian culture are mainly reflected in his poems. His poetic originality uniquely attracts the minds of connoisseurs in the literary sphere. He sees and shows the entire universe ever-beautiful, nectared and imbued with ambrosia.

‘Tapasvinī’ is regarded as the best creation of Gańgādhara. For wide popularization and comparative correspondence, the author of the present article has completely translated ‘Tapasvinī’ into Hindi, English and Sanskrit. From among those tri-lingual translations, Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Burla, Orissa, has published the Hindi Rendering in 2000. The passages of Tapasvinī quoted in this article have been taken from his English Rendering. Previously several passages with discussions have been published in Bartikā (1), Kāntāraka
(2), Saptarshi (3), Jhańkār (4) and Suntimes (5).


Rāmāyaņa of Vālmīki and Mahābhārata of Vyāsa, the two great epics of Sanskrit literature, have profoundly inspired many poets, playwrights, thinkers, critics and litterateurs of various languages in India and abroad. Indian life has been so permeated with these epics that it can never avoid them. Cultured with Sanskrit, worthy sons of Indian soil have contributed much to make the literatures of Indian languages prosper in various ways.The Sītā-Rāma-story of India has immensely influenced the people of both oriental and occidental cultures. In Oriya literature, Sītā, the dearest daughter of Earth, in the later part of her life, appears as a Tapasvinī in the poetic vision of Gańgādhara.

Tapasvinī, an eleven-canto Oriya epic poem, is a great classic of Gańgādhara Meher, who is renowned as Prakŗti-Kavi in Oriya literature. The main theme of this kāvya is the post-banishment episode of Sītā in the hermitage of Sage Vālmīki. Dealing with a topic of poignant Pathos, this kāvya is basically influenced by Uttara-Kāņđa of Vālmīki’s Rāmāyaņa, Raghuvamśa mahākāvya of Kālidāsa and Uttara-Rāma-Charita drama of Bhavabhūti, still the poetic presentation is marked with originality and significant innovations. One can freely observe the novelty of the poetic genius after going through the matters described in different cantos.

‘Tapasvinī’ literally means ‘A woman observing penance’ or ‘An ascetic-maid’. The word ‘Tapasvinī’ used by Gańgādhara has been most probably taken from the verses of Kālidāsa. As the context in Raghuvamśa goes on, Sītā, being banished by King Rāma and deserted by Lakshmaņa, gives message to her life-lord. There Sītā says : “After delivery of child, I shall try my best to practise penance having fixed my eyes on Sun, so that in the next birth, you again will be my husband and there will be no separation.”(6) Again as she says, Rāma is the monarch of the world which includes even the forest-regions. Now she is one of the subjects of the forest-sites. She solicits that as a common hermitess or ascetic-maid, though banished, she should kindly be supervised by his kingship in accordance with the royal duty enumerated by Manu.(7) Further, as Kālidāsa writes, Sītā having ‘Valkala’ (bark-skin of tree) dress for penance abides in the hermitage and bears her mortal body to give heir to her husband.(8)

In the verses of Kālidāsa, ‘Tapas’ (penance) is clearly meant for Sītā in the later part of her life. Gańgādhara happens to take the word ‘Tapasvi’ from Kālidāsa and has used it as ‘Tapasvinī’ in feminine gender for Sītā. Moreover, the poet in the Preface of Tapasvinī kāvya mentions : “The main purpose of this book is to elucidate how Sītā strengthened and heightened more and more, her devotion-to-husband (pati-bhakti) by deeming exile as her own misfortune and how she as a ‘Tapasvinī’ spent time by rendering her forest-dwelling into penitential austerity beneficial to her husband.”(9) The poet further expresses his hope that the wise readers would once unveil the memory’s curtain portrayed with the brilliant impeccable and sacred character of Sītā of their own hearts and would render uplift of the hearts of women.(10)

Gańgādhara is very distinct and doubtless in his writing. Sītā is the heroine of this epic poem that analyses the social condition of a married woman and contends to give appropriate honour and status even after separation from her husband. Tapasvinī mainly treats of the plight of Sītā’s later life, yet the entire story of Rāmāyaņa has been recounted contextually. So in this perspective, this kāvya may be regarded as a ‘Miniature Rāmāyaņa’ in Oriya literature. Just as Rāmāyaņa is named after King Rāma with depiction of his life-deeds, so in a greater sense Tapasvinī kāvya may be construed as a ‘Sītāyana’, as it prominently features the sublime character of Sītā in the entire story.(11)


As per the epical tradition of India, Gańgādhara, in the beginning of Canto-I, pays humble homage to the Goddess of Speech in an inquisitive manner. Further he expresses his desire that indicates the main theme of the kāvya. He modestly prays :

‘To the hermitage of Sage Vālmīki
my mind has rushed to have a view
of the exiled Jānakī.
Her worn-out heart, alas !
how did she sew ?
Her life how with whom did she pass ?

O Compassionate Goddess ! Be kind
to bestow strength so that my mind
be sanctified by seeing
and my hand by writing.’

After the prayer, there appears the pathetic scene of the banished Sītā in the solitary site on the bank of Gańgā. The bewailing Sītā condemns her own fate for exile. Nature, in all aspects sympathetic to her, becomes stunned at her mourning.

In Canto-II, the hermitage of Vālmīki is found reigned by Queen Peace (Śānti). With the fatherly affection of Vālmīki and the motherly love of the hermit-matron Anukampā (a new creation of the poet), Sītā resides in the hermitage. In Canto-III, Rāma’s remourse after Sītā’s exile is depicted. Further kingship is assessed as a sacrifice where a king offers himself as an oblation for the public welfare. Rāma and Sītā, both forlorn in their respective places, become absorbed in pathetic thoughts of separation.

Canto-IV contains a lively and comely picture of Dawn (Ushā) in the hermitage. Sītā, accompanied by Anukampā and the hermit-girls, goes to River Tamasā who expresses all her motherly affections. After ablution, all enter the pleasure-garden where Sylvan Beauty (Vana-Lakshmī) is delineated as a maiden-friend of Sītā. Cordial welcome and parlance of both the friends are pleasantly portrayed.

Canto-V just follows the previous one. The juvenile spring is observed in the garden. Sītā enjoys all sorts of regards and welcome from trees, creepers, flowers, birds and other various aspects of Nature. Anukampā admonishes Sītā about the three kinds of Śraddhā that are divine, human and diabolic. She further figures Sītā as a Tapasvinī endowed with the divine qualities. At about 7 a.m. all return to their abodes and perform their daily duties.

In Canto-VI, a moonlit night of Chaitra month, rich with breeze and fragrance of flowers, comes to the view. Couple of glow-worms are praised by Sītā. Before a hermitess-friend, Sītā narrates all the stories starting from her childhood up to the forest-dwelling. Canto-VII covers the subsequent part of the story till the banishment, as narrated by Sītā before the maiden-friend. The lamenting Sītā is consoled and supported by the friend and other hermit-maidens.

Canto-VIII gives a picturesque view of Summer with the beauties of Nature. Worldly behaviour is alluded with the aestival affluence. Sītā’s reminiscences come to the scene. Dame Thought (Chintā) appears before her and apprises of the arrival of some guests. Coming one by one, Chitrakūţa, Mahānadī, Godāvarī and Ayodhyā, all alive, express feelings of their sorrow-stricken hearts before Sītā and retreat.

In Canto-IX, Rainy Season is described with natural colours and splendours. Nature shows her sympathy and concern for Sītā languishing under pregnancy. Birth of the twin sons, Kuśa and Lava, gladdens Nature. Canto-X speaks of the filial affection of Sītā, growth of the twins, their studying various scriptures, their melodious recitation of Rāmāyaņa in accompaniment of lutes and Sītā’s joys with sorrows

Canto-XI embodies Vālmīki’s pondering over the administration of King Rāma, fitness of the twins as the heirs of the royal dynasty and invitation from Rāma to attend the observance of Horse-sacrifice in Ayodhyā. Hearing the message from the Sage and deliberating about her own queenly status, Sitā suspects that Rāma might have accepted a second wife; because the presence of wife is a must for yajamāna in sacrificial performances. Then Sitā secretly and sorrowfully writes an humble letter to King Rāma. This letter is a unique and original issue of the muse of Gańgādhara. In this letter, Sitā earnestly prays Rāma to apprise her of the secrecy of incantation and penance rendered by the second queen (as suspected in Sītā’s mind), so that Sītā would practise more severe penance than hers to acquire Rāma as own life-lord in the next birth also.

After knowing from the twins the news that Rāma has kept the gold image of Sītā as the lady associate and not a second spouse, she shamefully becomes overwhelmed with beatitude. Keeping her letter secret, she inwardly apologizes to her husband-king. Sage Vālmīki and Sītā admonish the twins about their future performances in the sacrificial site. Dame Sleep (Nidrā) and Yogamāyā come to the cottage of Sītā to take her on their laps. Sītā views the royal coronation of King Rāma with herself as Queen, along with Lakshmaņa, Bharata, Śatrughna, Kuśa and Lava. On this auspicious occasion, deities and demi-gods shower flowers from the firmament. Thus Tapasvinī ends with the following lines :

‘In every house, in every life, in every city,
in the river-boat, in the bark of the sea,
in every cavern,
at day and night,
in the even and the morn,
in dolour and delight,
in the hearts of the affluent
as well as of the indigent,
reigns ever-reverberant
the ‘Victory-to-Sītā-Rāma’ chant.
Observing all these,
stood entranced at the scene
the Crest-Crown of the chaste ladies,
the Great Queen.’


Tapasvinī, as the masterpiece of Gańgādhara Meher, enjoys an outstanding position in the arena of language and literature. The desideratum of the poet in composing this kāvya was mainly to fill in the gap of a character of devoted chaste wife flourished with Indian culture, in the domain of Oriya literature and to establish the language of Orissa with its epical excellence. Befitting the modern taste, the poet has utilized different nine melodious metres (Chaturdaśākshara, Rāmakerī, Bańgalāśrī, Chokhi, Rasakulyā, Kalahamsa-Kedāra, Kedāra-Kāmodī, Naţa-Vāņī and Kalyāņa-Pađitāla), collaborating the old metres with the modern ones.

Musical melody, grace of diction, serenity, rhythmic eloquence, lucidity with emotional touch and sweetness of meaning are the remarkable features of this epic poem. Various figures of speech such as alliteration, simile, metaphor, imagery and the like also find proper and praiseworthy places in this literary work. There occurs no verbosity or stiffness of speech. Predominance of meaning and sentiments is greatly appreciable. Words of Gańgādhara are pleasantly intelligible and imbued with emotions. So this kāvya has become unhesitatingly attractive and appealing.

In the beginning of his poetic life, Gańgādhara was influenced by the poets of Rīti-Yuga of Oriya literature for writing in ornate style; but later on, observing the literary milieu, he adopted the contemporary new style. Therefore a blended pattern is found in his compositions. Dr. Māyādhar Mānsinha, an eminent Oriya poet and critic, has aptly regarded Gańgādhara Meher as the ‘Classical Star’ and ‘Miniature Kālidāsa’ of Oriya literature.(12) Dr. Binod Chandra Nāik, a reputed modern poet and critic of Oriya, describes Gańgādhara as a ‘Supreme Craftsman’ creating Tapasvinī kāvya with rhetoric patterns, like weaving Sambalpuri sāree with ornate designs at the loom.(13)


Pathos is the prevailing sentiment in Tapasvinī. In Canto-X, as regards the episode of Rāmāyaņa, especially the post-exile incident of Sītā, Gańgādhara metaphorically mentions :

‘Plenteous is the Epic-mountain
with gems of sentiments.
There majestically roams Rāma-Lion.
Forming murmuring fountain
blood-stream of Rāvaņa-Elephant flows further.
Residing in a cavern, there laments
the Lioness suffering affliction
by tusk-tossing of the tusker.’

In Oriya literature, ancient poets have tried to avoid the particular description of Sītā’s post-banishment story in detail, as it is a matter of poignant Pathos. Gańgādhara took up this topic and composed Tapasvinī in so heart-touching manner that it appealed to the minds of the readers and became considered as the best among his kāvyas.

In Classical Sanskrit Literature, Bhavabhūti is the first poet and dramatist who advocated and elucidated the Sentiment of Pathos (Karuņa Rasa) in a separate style and presented it as the original source of all sentiments.(14) Verily in Indian tradition, it may be observed that Rāmāyaņa known as Ādi-kāvya was originated by Sage Vālmīki who felt the Pathos in his heart by seeing the death of a Krauñcha bird killed by a hunter and the spontaneous flow of a metrical verse was emitted from the mouth of the Sage that led to the composition of the great epic Rāmāyaņa.(15) Kālidāsa conspicuously declares that Vālmīki’s ‘Śoka’ (sorrow) raised by seeing the death of Krauñcha bird turned into ‘Śloka’, the metrical verse.(16) In view of literary criticism also, famous rhetorician Ānandavardhana also clearly mentions the same thing in his work, while dealing with ‘Rasa’ as the essence or Ātmā of poetic composition.(17) Poet Śrīharsha also speaks of Vālmīki’s ‘Śoka’ and ‘Śloka’ describing the praise of God’s incarnation as Rāma.(18)

In this connection, a line from the great poet P.B. Shelley’s poem (19) may be recalled : “Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.” Flash of bliss intrinsically abides even in the sentiment of Pathos; otherwise nobody would be inclined to the sentiment which above all permeates the Rāmāyaņa. Viśvanātha Kavirāj, a reputed rhetorician and poet of Sanskrit, succinctly declares blissfulness of all the sentiments.(20) Poet Gańgādhara is influenced by Bhavabhūti. In Tapasvinī, the excellence of Pathos begins from the outset. Though other emotions are accessories in the middle, sentiment of Pathos is prominent. The poet has avoided to end the kāvya in a tragic description and made the ending comically happy, depicting Sītā’s union with King Rāma even in a dream state. Apropos filial affections of Sītā for her twin sons (Canto-X), also that of Anukampā and River Tamasā (Canto-IV) and as well as of Godāvarī (Canto-VIII), Vātsalya Rasa is contextually blended in this kāvya.

Kālidāsa’s words are mostly indicative or suggestive of sentiments, while like Bhavabhūti’s, appropriate words of Gańgādhara are mostly expressive and directly appealing to the hearts of the readers. In comparison to other sentiments, Pathos directly touches the core of heart and Gańgādhara has successfully portrayed the sentiment that leaves an ever-lasting impression in the mind. While reading different cantos of Tapasvinī, one can really experience the intensity of sentiment and the eyes emotionally get suffused with tears. Such is the speciality of Gańgādhara’s poetic pen which is capable of melting the hearts of the readers in pathetic descriptions.


In Tapasvinī, as in other literary works of Gańgādhara, conjugal love is a divine and sacred phenomenon. His words in the matter of Eros are romantically gentle, polished, descent and lovely. In the sylvan avenues, Sītā’s appearance as a beautiful Flowery Queen before Rāma is a fine illustration of such love. The muse of Gańgādhara allows not a jot of so-called obscenity in the love of the royal couple. They reciprocally pine in their separation and experience pains mixed with pleasures.

King Rāma’s love for Sītā is sincerely selfless and dedicated. He discards her simply because of the false public calumny. Forlorn and perpetually perplexed, he depreciates the royal throne. To render the regal duty, i.e. public gratification, he sacrifices his personal happiness of life; still his mind’s drone remains rapt in relishing the sweet mead of the Lotus-Queen blown in the lake of heart. In Canto-III, as the context goes on, Rāma addressing his sense-organs admonishes:

‘One thing more I like to tell,
Be united with mind and hastened to dwell
in the lake of heart where bliss sublime
you all will sportively enjoy for endless time.

There abides my life-mate
new Lotus-maiden in full efflorescence.
Ever-scintillating and never-set
remains the Sun of reminiscence.’

Sītā, as a devoted wife, understands the inner feelings of her husband who is an ideal king and ruler of the country. She reminds the words of the King within her wailings and says in Canto-I :

‘For public pleasure’s sake
need arises if,
prepared I’m to forsake
even Sītā, my life-like wife.’

Thus you had declared
before Sage Ashţāvakra, O My Lord !
You must be recalling in memory
never slackening those words promissory.’

Here the idealistic supremacy of King Rāma is observed following the idealism maintained by Bhavabhūti. In his drama Rāma proclaims : “For propitiation of the subjects, I have no pain in sacrificing my personal affection, compassion and happiness, even my wife Jānakī also.”(21) In the pen of Gańgādhara, establishing own duties and status, Sītā further says :

‘To the words of thy father
in disobedience you stand never.
In obeying the words of husband,
if in my heart arises no grief,
then only I’ll be worthy
of the status of your wife.
This matter certainly
my mind shall understand.

Of the public contentment
Thyself, an avower ardent.
Further I’m thy wife
as per the laws of wedding life.
Every step of mine does lead
in thy foot-prints indeed.’

Sītā as a Tapasvinī incarnates all the divine qualities that place her in the highest honourable shrine among the devoted wives of Indian culture. The word ‘Satī’ (Chaste woman) is oft-used in Tapasvinī to evince her pure and unblemished character. Bhavabhūti depicts Sītā as an idol of Pathos or an embodiment of pangs of separation.(22) In the pen of Gańgādhara, Sītā is delineated as an embodiment of Pathos.

Natural love of River towards Sea is distinctly illustrated as compared to Sītā’s love for Rāma in Canto-II. Here originality of Gańgādhara is really appealing. The public censure separates the couple from each other; yet the beloved lady of vast heart patiently endures the estrangement. As the context goes on, Vālmīki consoles Sītā in the following lines :

‘Spontaneous is the flow of River
to mingle with Sea, her own lover.
She firmly crosses pass and rock
that appear on the way to block.

With Sea when she enjoys union,
her all previous pains plunge into oblivion.
Between the lives of the two thence
really remains not a jot of difference.

Perchance piercing up amid
any huge mound of sands there
if raises high
and severs the hearts of the loving pair,
verily River cannot die.
Burthen of her life she bears indeed
by expanding own heart to take
the shape of a large lake.’

Contextually in Canto-IX, Sītā becomes very happy after seeing the birth of the twin sons; but owing to separation from her husband-king who is unable to partake of the happiness, she feels dejected. Here the poet speaks:

‘Blissfully bright the hermitage shone;
but darkness pervaded the Lily
of Sītā’s face, bereft of Rāma-Moon alone.
Her festival was verily
amāvāsyā, the moonless night.
Darkness enhanced her greatness.
Lovable is the Moonlight
solely because of darkness.’

Residing in the hermitage of Vālmīki, Sītā feels comforted among the companions. Regarding Sītā’s Love for King Rāma in Canto-V, the poet expresses :

‘Happiness emerging from affection
of hermits and hermitesses
ousted Sītā’s all the mental distresses.
Into the path of her recollection
there didn’t enter
the royal pleasure
even once by mistake.
In her lucid heart’s lake
was always sportively swimming
Rāma-Swan, supremely charming.’

Concerning Sītā’s devotion-to-husband (pati-bhakti), Gańgādhara differs from other poets by remodelling the epical episode. He presents three reasons of her exile-like misfortune.(23) As Sītā thinks, firstly she had mean-mindedly reprimanded the innocent Lakshmaņa and had sent him in quest of her husband, just after hearing the voice “Save me, O Lakshmaņa” from the interior of Pañchavaţī forest. Secondly, while she was captive in Aśoka grove, Rāvaņa showed a severed illusory head before her eyes and she desperately bemoaned thinking the very head to be her husband’s, further seeing the head she did not die at the spot. Thirdly, deeming the happiness of service at her husband’s feet to be very slight, she became prone to have the pleasure of visiting the hermitage near Gańgā. All these three sins, as Sītā explains by introspection, account for the exile fit for her.

In the verses of Kālidāsa, Sita knowing the exile from Lakshmaņa sorrowfully delivers her words for her husband thus: “Knowing me pure through the fire-ordeal in front of all, you abandoned me after hearing rumours from some people. Is this deed befitting your celebrated pedigree ?”(24) Next moment, she ponders that the exile is the unbearable consequence of her sins acquired in the previous births.(25) In the poem of Gańgādhara, Sītā does never tell a word of rebuke to her husband and merely expresses the above-mentioned three reasons of her self-analyzed sins. This issue exhibits an originality of the poet.

While Sītā was refused by King Rāma and was asked to testify her chastity in the fire-ordeal at Lańkā, as seen in the Vālmīki-Rāmāyaņa,(26) she expresses her feelings with tearful eyes by saying that King’s behaviour towards her is like that of a low-category man to his low-category wife and further prays to the Fire-god to save her life giving proof of her purity. In Tapasvinī, Sītā does not have any propensity to bear the life of a suspected wife and intrepidly invokes her Dharma (Righteousness or Devotion-to-husband) to enter with herself into the enkindled fire to prove her chastity. In Canto-VII, she prays:

‘O Dharma ! In my body
with your excellence entire,
have a stance steady.
Intimid with me enter into the fire.
Not possible if
in my present life,
then after my demise
for my lord’s sake
at his feet you’ll make
myself a maid-servant please.

After my body perishes,
it will turn into ashes.
For a tree, taking them
you’ll make use as manure.
Giving the wood of the same
in the hands of a carpenter,
you’ll get my being prepared
as a pair of sandals fit
for the sacred feet
of my loving life-lord.’

Such is the self-confident devotion-to-husband that reaches the pinnacle of conjugal love. This description also reveals an innovation of the poet. In true sense, Sītā has been depicted as a wife completely consigned to her husband and such love, rid of all selfishness, is a rarest phenomenon for a wife in the household affair of Indian society.


Nature offers a favourable and fruitful profile, particularly for poets and litterateurs. Having an inseparable relationship with mankind, she forms a familiar friend and guide for all. Poets are lovers and literary painters of Nature, also the knowers and way-makers of a healthy ambience in socio-ecological perspective.

Like Kālidāsa in Sanskrit and William Wordsworth in English, Gańgādhara Meher is well known as ‘Poet of Nature’ (Prakŗti-Kavi) in Oriya literature. In his poem, Nature is always alive and personified. All the aspects of Nature express their joys, sorrows and other feelings corresponding to the feelings of human beings. Gańgādhara vividly and exhaustively delineates the beautiful facets of Nature. With his poetic insight, he sees human feelings, conscious life and internal beauty in her. Nature imbibes her comely, gracious, fierce, tranquil and auspicious forms in various contexts.

Depiction of Dame Ushā (Dawn) in Canto-IV is most popular all over Orissa. Here Nature honours Sītā as an esteemed Queen and offers all the royal formalities of worship. Dawn, the blooming lotus-eyed lady, cherishing hearty desire to behold Sītā and bringing gift of dew-pearls in her hands of leafage, stands in the outer courtyard of the hermitage and in cuckoo’s voice speaks to grace her with Sītā’s benign sight. The retinues of Dawn perform their duties to wake up Sītā. For example, in the description of the poet :

‘Musical tune Zephyr sang swinging.
Black Bee played on lute charming.
By Ushā’s bidding, in dance
rapt remained Fragrance.
Kumbhāţuā bird as a royal bard
began to eulogize forward.
As the panegyrist premier
Kalińga bird appeared there,
And spake in voice gracefully sweet :
‘Wake please,
O Queen of the empire of chaste ladies !
Dawned the night.’

Dawn (Ushā) with her Sun-brown costume, blooming smile of flowers and calm countenance, appears as a Goddess of Yoga giving solace by sweet words and rendering relief from sufferings. She as if descends from heaven on earth to give a new life. Sītā pays her devotional reverence to the auspicious Dawn.

In Canto-III, Gańgādhara describes a marvellous scenery of Sunshine and Dusk with poetic imagination. The picture of Nature appears thus :

‘On the bank of Bhāgīrathī, whlle
Lakshmaņa deserted Sītā to exile.
sunshine had spread that moment
all over the regions
of the world along with oceans
neath the fair firmament.

As though it was a white screen
draped over by Sun
after deliberation
that shame it would be, if the affliction
of Rāma’s Queen was seen
to the deities’ dominion.

Knowing that secret discreetly,
to disclose the flaw of Sun’s race,
Dusk lifted swiftly
the screen from earth’s surface.’

As the context continues in Canto-IV, Sītā accompanied by Anukampā and the hermit-girls, goes to River Tamasā for early ablution. Tamasā, the fair-limbed and sacred-streamed hostess of the hermitage, with her wave-hands places Sītā on her lap and embraces with affections. Sītā regards Tamasā as her mother and the latter shows filial affections for the exiled daughter.

In this Canto, Vana-Lakshmī (Sylvan Beauty) extends her heartiest welcome to the exiled Sītā and her friendly address is emotionally expressed. For instance:

‘By Pushpaka plane, when
you were returning through the sphere,
I standing here
bearing in hands the gift of flowers fine,
with gazelle’s eyes woefully gazing above
was calling you with keen love
in the voice of peahen
from a long way.
Friend dearest mine !
Did you come today
remembering this companion
after so many days gone ?’

In Canto-I, seeing the banishment of Sītā, Nature mourns with severe distress and with her army tries to take vengeance upon Fate. A fierce form of Nature is remarkable in the poem as follows:

‘To fight against Fate, there roared
Palm Tree with furious figure
raising his hand with sword.
Shaking frequently the quiver
of Weaver-bird’s nest, he as if
drew an arrow of leaf.’

Knowing own banishment rendered by her husband, when Sītā falls senseless in the ground, depicting the reaction of the sympathetic Cloud, the poet says:

‘Bearing the heart frustrated
and the body emaciated,
there arrived, rushing with armies
the seriously angry Cloud.
Startling others’ eyes
by the rumbling, deep and loud,
he defied Destiny and betrayed menace.
Again and again sprinkling on Sītā’s face
soothing drops of water
he vivified her.’

Description of Spring in Canto-V and of Summer in Canto-VIII manifests the glaring facets of Nature. The panoramic scenery of Chitrakūţa, Godāvarī, Mahānadī and Ayodhyā in Sītā’s mind’s eye appears very much attractive. Nature of Rains in Canto-X helps at the time of Sītā’s delivery. In the merrymaking and ceremony of the birth of Kuśa-Lava, and in reciting the Rāmāyaņa epic emulating the songs sung by the twins, Nature presents her gracious and joyous forms.

Gańgādhara, on one side, has adopted various phases of Nature to depict the human beauty and on the other, he has inserted human aspects with a view to presenting the lively loveliness of Nature. Both internal and external beauties of Nature are well-depicted in Tapasvinī. Veritable is his epithet ‘Prakŗti-Kavi’, the Poet of Nature.


The ideology of Bhavabhūti along with the naturality of Vālmīki and Kālidāsa are intertwined in the poem of Gańgādhara. The quintessence of poet’s philosophy of life has been contextually reflected in Tapasvinī. Forbearance, theistic trend, noble endeavour for the attainment of goal and high aspiration are signified in his work. He believes in both deed and destiny, but never adheres to pessimism. For instance, life of fortitude, benevolence and polite activities is indicated in Canto-IV. River Tamasā expresses before Sitā regarding the significance of life:

‘Wandering over several woods wide,
never wavering astray
by illusion of any gorge,
surmounting many an impediment
in my life limpid,
never deeming darkness
as a distress,
never thinking light
to be a delight,
for a remote way
ahead I’ve continued to forge
with my head humbly bent.
Gratifying every bank-dweller
with offering of water,
fruitfulness of my birth
I’m realizing worth.’

Gańgādhara’s humanistic approach of reaching the destination through incessant practice is traced here. Simplicity, modesty, purity, harmlessness and noble services are the gem-like features of his work and life. Whatever may be the obstacle, the poet’s optimistic insight pervades the realm of life. “Simple living and high thinking” is his view-point both literary and empirical.

In spite of negative attitude of some fault-finders in social life, one should patiently and courageously go ahead to establish one’s own goodness and virtues valuable to others. In Canto-IX, Ketakī’s words for Sītā are worth-mentioning:

‘Conjured by the cynics’ eyes
what can the blemish do,
when one’s own noble qualities
form a divine ornament true ?
Seeing my thorns
with repugnance,
if black-bee from me returns,
shall I forgo the pride of fragrance ?’

In Canto-IV, regarding motherly affection of River Tamasā, Sītā as a wretched daughter expresses her hearty feelings. The poet says:

‘Sītā replied :
Like the water of coconut
sweet is this limpid water;
nay, nay, not water, but
mother’s milk real,
flowing as the stream ambrosial
for Sītā, the dead-like daughter.
Oh ! In this land you’re indeed
my mother dearest
incarnate as Tamasā having a heart
riven by my severe smart.’

In the same context, the poet exhibits the inner feelings of a mother in the words of Sita to River Tamasā :

‘Mother verily knows
her daughter’s sorrows.
A burnt-faced daughter
looks moon-faced in the eyes of mother.’

Deprived of Sītā’s company in Ayodhyā, Dame Royal Beauty (Rāja-Lakshmī) becomes distressed and sends a letter to Sītā through Ayodhyā who reads the same contextually.
From the letter in Canto-VIII, some lines run thus:

‘Friend ! Myself Night,
You were Moonlight.
Closing my eyes
of blooming lilies
afar you went.
No more thence
remains for me in your absence
even a vestige of pleasure.
I’ve borne the figure
of a woman rid of ornament.’

In Canto-II, hearing Sītā’s mourn, the hermit-girls reach the spot and after consoling her, intimate the father-like Sage Vālmīki about the matter. Here Gańgādhara, to draw the compassion of the same female category, employs the hermit-girls only, not the hermit-boys, nor Vālmīki himself. Contextually hermit-boys are engaged in this matter, as described in the Rāmāyaņa (27). Sage Vālmīki himself moving in the forest for collection of wood and kuśa grass hears Sītā’s wailing and approaches her, as depicted in Raghuvamśa (28). In Tapasvinī, the heartiest relationship between Sītā and the hermit-girls who were companions in her previous forest-dwelling with her husband is beautifully described in Canto-VII in the mouth of Sītā herself before a hermitess-friend in the later forest-dwelling. For example:

‘Their holy affections,
endearment mingling with exhilarations,
lips lovely with soft sweet utterances
and loving calm guileless glances,
all showered ambrosia immense
on the glebe of my reminiscence.

All the names of those dear
hermit-girls, one by one,
blooming as lotuses appeared clear
in my mind’s lake gay,
when the nocturnal murk of separation,
previously poignant and piled,
vanished far away
and the day-spring of happiness smiled.’

From the above-mentioned illustrations, it may be asserted that in presenting the struggle of life, social norms and behaviours, ethical values of human relationship, sympathetic feelings and other mundane phenomena, Gańgādhara identifies his deep-delved dexterity with his intrinsic poetic vision. Several maxims are also befittingly blended. Further dramatic style and retrospective presentations can be marked very exquisitely in this epic poem.

Analysing the literary works and life of Gańgādhara, Dr. Māyādhar Mansinha regards him as a ‘Literary Hero’ referring to the various kinds of heroes of human society described by Carlyle.(29) Really Gańgādhara, being a poet, a social reformer and a patron of Indian culture, is very frank, fearless and ever-beneficial for the country and the mankind at large. As a brave and modest poet, he has tried his best to characterize nobility and brighter sides of life even in the midst of struggle and sufferings.


Tapasvinī elaborates a pathetic plot of the great epic Rāmāyaņa. However Gańgādhara contextually cites some sites of his own province suitable to the situations. Describing the sorrows of Sītā as well as of the hermit-girls (Canto-III), he exemplifies the river Mahānadī along with its tributaries Ańga, Iba and Tela. He refers to the gorge Rāmeśvara of Mahānadī (Canto-III) near Sambalpur, also to Hirākud (Canto-VIII). All these places are mostly attached to Sambalpur district. Expressing the love of River and Sea, he adverts to Lake Chilikā located in the eastern coast of Orissa. This instance is conspicuous from the footnote given by himself (Canto-III). All these regional geographical environs assert loving attraction of the poet for his birth-place and do not mar the beauty of literary theme in any manner.

In an epoch-making period of modern age of Oriya literature, Gańgādhara’s contributions for establishing the language, literature and culture of Orissa are worthy of appreciations. For own extraordinary literary calibre and honest guileless personality, he has earned high admirations and endearments from his contemporary noted litterateurs like Kavivar Rādhānāth Rāy, Vyāsakavi Fakir Mohan Senāpati, Pallikavi Nanda Kiśor Bal, Viśwanāth Kar, Kaviśekhar Chintāmaņi Mahānty, Paņđit Nīlamaņi Vidyāratna, Utkal Gaurav Madhusūdan Dās and many others.

From social point of view, Sītā is regarded as a daughter of King Janaka, yet she was born from the furrow of earth, and therefore an offspring of Nature. A subtle true observer and a proficient literary commentator of Nature, Gańgādhara Meher is the first and most successful poet in Oriya literature to give a complete epic form to the post-exile episode of Sita with a beautifully impressive touch of Pathos. He is a worshipper of Truth, Good and Beauty. His is an all-encompassing artistic view with idealistic faith and sincerity.

For Tapasvinī that deserves a classical dignity and enviable reputation among the epic poems, Gańgadhara is heartily remembered by the lovers of literature. In this kāvya, literary propriety with values of life is commendable indeed. Lapses in Gańgādhara’s writing are hardly seen. In the present day also, Tapasvinī, a prominent poetic achievement on the ever-green Sītā-Rāma-story, may be useful in the field of comparative study among various literatures of Indian languages.

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1. Meher, H.K., Kavi Gańgādharanka Tapasvinī Kāvya : Hindī-Ińgrājī-Sanskruta
Anuvādara Triveņī, ‘Bartikā’, Vishuva Special, 1999, pp.178-209.
Saraswat Sahitya Sanskrutika Parishad, Dasarathpur, Jajpur, Orissa.

2. Meher, H.K., Canto-IV from the English Rendering of Tapasvinī Kāvya,
Kāntāraka’, 2000, pp.14-20, Bhawanipatna, Kalahandi.

3. Meher, H.K., Kavi Gańgādharanka Tapasvinī-Kāvyara Hindī O Ingrājī Anuvāda,
‘Saptarshi', May-June 1992, pp.1-25,
Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Burla, Sambalpur.

4. Meher, H.K., Kavi Gańgādharanka Tapasvinī Kāvyara Hindī O Ińgrājī Anuvāda;
Eka Nūtana Diganta, ‘Jhańkār’, August 1996, pp. 564-576,
Prajatantra Prachar Samiti, Cuttack.

5. Meher, H.K., Excerpts from Gangadhar Meher’s Tapasvini,
Suntimes’, Sunday Special, Bhubaneswar, 28-8-1988, p.8.

6. Sāham tapah sūrya-nivishţa-dŗshţir
ūrdhvam prasūteś charitum yatishye /
Bhūyo yathā me jananāntare’pi
Tvam eva bharttā na cha viprayogah //
Chaturvedi, Sitaram (Ed.) Kālidāsa Granthāvalī – Raghuvamśa, Samvat 2019,
Bharat Prakashan Mandir, Aligarh.

7. Nŗpasya varņāśrama-pālanam yat
sa eva dharmo manunā praņītah /
Nirvāsitāpyevam atas tvayāham

Tapasvi-sāmānyam avekshaņīyā // (Ibid. 14/67)
Chaturvedi, Sitaram op.cit. Samvat 2019.

8. Vanyena sā valkalinī śarīram
patyuh prajā-santataye babhāra //
(Ibid. 14/82)

9. Meher, H.K., Preface of Tapasvinī – English Rendering.

10. Ibid.

11. Meher, H.K.,Tapasvinī (Hindi Rendering Book), 2000, p.15.
Sambalpur University, Jyoti Vihar, Burla, Sambalpur.

12. Mansinha, M.D., History of Oriya Literature, 1962, pp.199-200.
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

13. Naik, B.C., Gangadhar Meher (Makers of Indian Literature Series),
1996, p.35.
Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.

14. Eko rasah karuņa eva nimitta-bhedād
bhinnah pŗthak pŗthag ivāśrayate vivarttān /
Āvartta-budbuda-tarańgamayān viśeshān
ambho yathā salilam eva hi tat samastam //
(Uttara-Rāma-Charita, 3/47)
Regmi, S.S.,(Ed.), Uttara-Rāma-Charita of Bhavabhūti, 1971,
Chowkhamba Sanskrit Series Office, Varanasi.

15. Mā nishāda pratshţhām tvam agamah śāśvatīh samāh /
Yat krauñcha-mithunād ekam avadhīh kāma-mohitam //
(V. Rāmāyaņa, 1/2/15)
Vālmīki, Śrimad Vālmīkīya Rāmāyaņa, Samvat 2049,
Gita Press, Gorakhpur, U.P.

16. Nishāda-viddhāņđaja-darśanotthah
ślokatvam āpadyata yasya śokah //
Chaturvedi, Sitaram, op.cit. Samvat 2019.

17. Kāvyasyātmā sa evārthas tathā chādi-kaveh purā /
Krauñcha-dvandva-viyogotthah śokah ślokatvam āgatah //
(Dhvanyāloka, 1/5)
Tripathy, R.S., (Ed.) Dhvanyāloka, 1995, p.142, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.

18. Krauñcha-duhkham api vīkshya śuchā yah
ślokam ekam asŗjat kavir ādyah /
Sa tvaduttha-karuņah khalu kāvyam
śloka-sindhum uchitam prababandha //
(Naishadha. 21/76)
Śrīharsha, Naishadhīya-Charitam, 1952, Nirnaya Sagar Press, Bombay.

19. Palgrave, F.T., ‘To A Skylark’ (poem), The Golden Treasury, 1979, p.245.
Oxford University Press, Calcutta.

20. Sastri, S.,(Ed) Sāhitya-Darpaņa (Chapter 3/ 4-5), 2000, p.52,
Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.

21. Sneham dayām cha saukhyam cha yadi va Jānakīm api /
Ārādhanāya lokasya muñchato nāsti me vyathā //
(Uttara-Rāma-Charita. 1/12)
Regmi, S.S., op.cit. 1971.

22. Karuņasya mūrtir athavā śarīriņī
viraha-vyatheva vanam eti Jānakī //
(Ibid. 3/4)

23. Das Hemanta Kumar (Ed.), Gańgādhara Granthāvalī (Tapasvinī, Canto-1), 1977,
Pustak Bhandar, Berhampur, Orissa.

24. Vāchyas tvayā mad-vachanāt sa rājā
vahnau viśuddhām api yat samaksham /
Mām lokavāda-śravaņād ahāsīh
śrutasya kim tat sadŗśam kulasya //
(Raghu. 14/61)
Chaturvedi, Sitaram, op. cit. Samvat 2019.

25. Mamaiva janmāntara-pātakānām
vipāka-visphūrjathur aprasahyah //

26. Kim mām asadŗśam vākyam īdŗśam śrotra-dāruņam /
Rūksham śrāvayase Vīra prākŗtah prākŗtām iva //

(Vālmīki Rāmāyaņa. 6/116/5)

27. Sitām tu rudatīm dŗshţvā te tatra muni-dārakāh /
Prādravan yatra bhagavān āste Vālmīkir ugradhīh
// (Ibid. 7/49/1)
Vālmīki Rāmāyaņa, Samvat 2049.

28. Tām abhyagacchat ruditānusārī
Kavih kuśedhmāharaņāya yātah
// (Raghu.14/70)
Chaturvedi, Sitaram, op. cit. Samvat 2019.

29. ‘Meherańka Mahattva’(Article) - Gańgādhara Granthāvalī, 1961, p.5,
Das Brothers, Berhampur-Cuttack-Sambalpur, Orissa.

(Main Source :
‘Tapasvini of Gangadhara Meher : A Critical Observation’
Research Article By Dr. Harekrishna Meher
Published in ‘Kalahandi Renaissance’ , Volume-1, 2005,
Bhawanipatna, Orissa.)

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Complete English ‘Tapasvinī Kāvya’ : Dr.Harekrishna Meher

Original Oriya Epic Poem ‘TAPASVINĪ’ 
Complete Translation into Hindi, English and Sanskrit languages

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Tapasvinī, an eleven-canto Oriya epic poem, is the magnum opus and a great classic of Poet Gańgādhara Meher. With the prevailing sentiment of Pathos, this kāvya depicts the post-banishment episode of Sītā in the hermitage of Sage Vālmīki. Here Sītā, the adorable daughter of Earth and the devoted wife of King Rāma, in her later life appears as a Tapasvinī, ‘A Woman practising penance’ or ‘An Ascetic-maid’. In this Rāmāyana-based literary composition, the poetic presentation is well-embellished with originality and significant innovations. Like Kālidāsa in Sanskrit and William Wordsworth in English, Gańgādhara Meher is regarded as ‘Prakŗti-Kavi’, Poet of Nature, in Oriya literature.

This epic poem reveals the ambition of the poet to portray the brilliant character of a devoted wife steeped in Indian culture. With vivid and prominent delineation of Sītā’s life-deeds, ‘Tapasvinī Kāvya' may be construed as a ‘Sītāyana’ in the field of Indian Literature.
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‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher ’
Complete English Translation by : Dr. Harekrishna Meher.

Published by : R.N. Bhattacharya,
A-217, Road No.4, H.B.Town, Sodepur, Kolkata-700110.
First Edition : 2009. ISBN : 81-87661-63-1.

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‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher ’ Book Ref :
Tapasvini : A Literary Appreciation 
(Published in E-Journal 'Muse India') :
[All Eleven Cantos have been taken here from this English Book.]

Complete English Version of ‘ TAPASVINĪ ’ is presented here.
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English Tapasvinī [Contents]     
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Other Related Links :

Complete Hindi Tapasvinī Kāvya :
Articles on My Hindi-English-Sanskrit Translations of Tapasvinī Kāvya :
For more details about Gańgādhara Meher’s Tapasvinī, Please see :

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English Tapasvinī Kāvya - Canto-11/ Harekrishna Meher

Original Oriya Epic Poem By : Poet Gańgādhara Meher (1862-1924)
Complete English Translation By : Dr. Harekrishna Meher

[Canto-11 has been taken from pages 159- 180 of my English Book
‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher ’
Published by : R.N. Bhattacharya, A-217, Road No.4, HB Town, Sodepur,
Kolkata-700110, India. First Edition : 2009, ISBN : 81-87661-63-1]
For Introduction, please see,
‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher : A Critical Observation ’ :
Link :

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Tapasvinī (Canto-11)
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Oneday, the Day-lord Sun
feeling weary owing to circumambulation
around the earth entire,
so alleviating his physical lustres,
having a hearty desire
for pleasant ablution,
plunged deeply in the blue waters
of the western ocean.

Unable to brook separation
from own lord, with desperation
Day followed him
without delaying a moment’s time.

Ignorant of condition
of a wife bereft of her husband darling,
the naïve-hearted Lotus-maiden
didn’t leave her dwelling.

Despoiling in a moment,
the treasure of her coloured raiment,
Eventide, in the firmament
spread the sheet
of carpet beauteously meant
for the feet of Dame Night.

Seeing the humiliation laden
to the delicate Lotus-maiden,
Śirīsha tree became
dead-like with shame.

At the set of the Sun,
offering worship to Fire-god well-lit,
the high-minded Sage Vālmīki
remembered noble mercy
of Lord Maheśvara.
In the hermitage, adorning a seat
of Kuśa grass, the great seer
had sat and was rapt there
in brooding over good administration
of King Rāmachandra.
Further he was thinking
about the efficiency of the twin offspring,
also how there would be identifications
between the father and his sons.

‘This time, the twins have reached verily
the threshold of royal duty and archery.
If they remain
in such savage sites
among the anchorites,
their precious time would go in vain.

If the twin sons
of King themselves don’t suit
to be efficient in regal actions,
so destitute of fruit
all the merits would be,
like a barren tree.

The sons of a warrior,
if don’t attain
the ornament of warriorship,
to the heroic lineage, that would reap
intolerable slur
along with disdain.

Who can say
in future oneday,
the gem-like successor
of King Rāma would not seek for
Kośala’s royal throne ?
That time if there be
no protective power
of regal honour,
ignorance in morality
would be revealed alone.

How would the twins there
sans ideology, be adept,
if in the wilderness here
they are kept ?

Especially kings, the scions
of Raghu’s race,
form champions
of charitableness.
By an anchorite’s hut
how can this ideology be taught ?
Rāma’s facsimile,
both the brothers bear
the limbs verily
like that of their father.

Rāma shall recognize his sons
at the first sight however.
All his suspicions
apropos this, Śatrughna shall sever.

Rāma shall accept the twins
if given, and by this means
no sort of slur
I shall incur.

But only for fear
of public blemish,
making his heart cruel,
King Rāma has banished his dearest
enceinte wife in the forest,
on the pretext of fulfilling the pregnancy-relish,
though he knows her
to be chaste and virtuous very well.

After twelve years the affection filial,
in his heart may not occur at all.
His sonly affections
he has bestowed on the denizens.
Therefore their consent
he’ll surely seek at present.

Since not a bit
of confidence in own self he does bear,
what shall be the benefit,
if I sincerely endeavour
to convince him thousand times ?
So proper it seems,
at the present hour,
to make a careful consultation
with Vaśishţha, the wise seer
and Lakshmaņa in this connection.’

Meanwhile a royal messenger
with humbly folded hands,
paying homage to the sage, handed over
a letter of errands.

The great sage
reading the letter of message,
came to know : ‘A nice device
has been discovered for the accomplishment
of the desired end;
since an invitation to attend
the observance of horse-sacrifice
King Rāma has sent.’

He continued to ponder:
“Fortune, favourable afore,
near the sea of thought yonder
has shown the shore.
To see the sacrificial rite,
I’ll be very glad
to take the twins as pupils clad
in the costumes of anchorite.

In the sacrificial sphere,
roaming place to place,
Kuśa and Lava shall sing with music
the new Rāmāyaņa epic.
The tale of King Rāma there
showering apace
the ambrosia of love immortal,
shall certainly capture the minds of all.

Looking at the twin offspring
resembling with the King,
people will surely recognize then
the both to be his children.

Beholding own exact replica,
Rāma shall make his heart immerse
in the waters
of well of love-ambrosia.

To accept twin sons own,
if Rāma be repugnant thither,
would his mother Kauśalyā not fall down
on earth and desperately bother ?

‘The demon-king Rāvaņa
has never been able to touch
Sītā , the Virtuous One’ –
Hearing this depiction
in the epic Rāmāyaņa,
all shall rejoice much.
‘Chaste in fire-ordeal
Sītā has been proved,’ -
Hearing this, who would not feel
horripilated and moved ?

The Rāmāyaņa epic
shall spread the light of learning,
and the entire public
of the three worlds unhesitating,
shall definitely quell
the murk of calumny cruel.”

Deliberating thus, the great seer
rejoiced with heartfelt immense cheer.
Telling the messenger
in sweet words to take rest,
he engaged disciples there
for proper hospitality to the guest.

Approaching Maithilī,
the noble sage gave her gaily
the tidings of horse-sacrifice celebration
and said : ‘Dear Daughter ! Lo !
King Rāma’s messenger
has arrived here
with invitation to attend the function.
With pupils I’ll set out tomorrow.

Kuśa and Lava also
as disciples with them shall go.
Both shall see many sages there
and shall earn blessings rare.’

Deferring to the opinions
of the great ascetic,
Sītā, with zest enthusiastic,
entrusted him the onus of her sons.

To the disciples then
said the sage : “Dear Children !
At the day-break
journey we’ll make
to behold the nice
observance of horse-sacrifice.

You all the class-fellows young,
with Kuśa and Lava shall render
preparations, for way-long
provided with provender.

Kuśa and Lava Dear !
With yourselves, lutes you’ll bear.
There you’ll fructify your learning
by performing musical tune charming.

The Noble King Rāma,
who is the hero of the epic Rāmāyaņa
and has filled your hearts with delight,
is performing this great sacrificial rite.
From many lands, there must
have come personages august.

Crossing the ocean grand,
Vibhīshaņa, the ornament of Lańkā island,
with many demons together
must have come thither.

Headed by Ańgada,
best bears and monkeys
must have come with Sugrīva,
cleansing their faces with ecstasies.

The great mighty Hanumān, who alone
deems mountain as a tiny stone,
shall be roaming like a lion, meantime
there at the holy place,
gaily adorning his heart with pearl-necklace,
a gift by Sītā, bestowed on him.

Having beautified own bodies, further
with wreaths of various feathers,
along with Guhaka, must have come together
innumerable Śabaras, the forest-dwellers.

Bharata, the noble person,
who, by virtue of fraternal devotion
easily repudiated the rare loving embrace
of Dame Royal Wealth in the palace,
-who, by placing sandals of his elder brother
on the royal throne,
passed fourteen years further
taking food of fruits and roots alone,
-who elevated his life with saintly grace
by binding matted hairs,
at which with upraised face
the peak of Himālaya stares,
-who is verily a true follower
of King Rāma, must be present there
bearing lustres of glory effulgent,
like Moon in the firmament.

You’ll see there
Lakshmaņa, Sumitrā’s son,
like whom there is no second person
in the mundane sphere.
He has trampled the overweening pride
of Meghanāda whose ferocity
made the thunderbolt-wielder Indra rid
of rest and stability.

Entering into Rāvaņa’s heart, the news
of Meghanāda’s demise
formed fierce fire huge,
and immensely swelled in size.

Along with it,
offering the oblation
of physical prowess, the great demon
made the fire excessively lit.
Ablaze with ire,
in the furious fire,
making hot, his own mighty mace,
at Lakshmaņa, the demon hurled apace.

As he bears the spots of wounds done
by the adamantine mace of Rāvaņa,
on own chest and back portion,
significant is his name ‘Lakshmaņa’.

You’ll see with your eyes
what you’ve seen in written letters.
You’ll sing all the stories
in front of all the spectators.

Hundreds of kings
and hundreds of anchorites
scintillating with lustres of penitential rites
shall listen to your singings.

If anyone asks you there
about your identity, you’ll answer :
‘Twin brothers are we,
disciples of Sage Vālmīki.’

When King Rāma will call you,
in his front, you two
shall sing the Rāmāyaņa epic
with charming music.
About your identity,
if he queries with curiosity
you’ll reply : ‘Twin brothers are we,
disciples of Sage Vālmīki.’

If he offers wealth, you, greedless,
will humbly express :
‘Revered King ! For us what will be the use
of taking wealth in the cottage of a recluse ?’

From the sage, when Sītā heard the incident
of horse-sacrifice, that moment
her heart felt smitten with blows
of sudden pangs of sorrows.

She began to muse :
‘The Crest-jewel of Raghu’s royal dynasty,
surely seated on his lap the second spouse.
Blessed is that fortunate lady
in whose austerity’s tree,
King Rāma, the Moon emerging from the sea
of Sagara’s pedigree,
appeared as fruit very tasty.

What penance severe
did she practise, how and where ?
To observe her austerity
very keen is my propensity.
Who’ll tell me here
the rules of her austerities ?
Excelling that penance, hence most severe
I’ll certainly practise.

Of her past austerities
who does know the particulars ?
To the great seers
like Vaśishţha must be known this matter.
As queen, otherwise,
how was she chosen ?
Lord may have espoused her
with their suggestion.
By any means anon
I’ll bring from her
the secret incantation
of penitential power.’

Thinking thus then
an humble letter she began to pen :
“At the lotus-feet of the Great Emperor
among emperors, wherein the wise
behold the banner
of affection for refugees,
also goad for elephants in the form of foes,
and the thunderbolt for mountains of woes,
this poor beggar-maid,
from remote region,
extends modest prostration
with her bowed head.

Dwelling desolate
in the savage region,
she prays to lacerate
the murk of sweet aspiration.

O Illustrious Emperor !
You must have been consecrated
for the sacrifice you’ve started.
And the newly-wed bride
would be seen therefor
by the left side.

‘Enchanted will be she,
the beauteous queen,’
thinking thus, hundred times enhanced will be
all the virtues of thine.

On the sacred occasion
of the great sacrificial celebration,
Your noble self with munificence
will offer gems immense,
wealth abundant
and costly silken attires.
Of the suppliant
fulfilled will be all the desires.
An urge for a trifle begging
has occured in my mind, O Great King !

In this regard,
deign not to be niggard.
For kind charity,
here Your Majesty
forms the ocean of benevolence
plenteous with gems of mercy immense.

To know who I’m indeed
there is no need.
Your lordship is the dispeller
of peacelessness for ever,
from the hearts of the hermits, O Glorious King !
Unpayble to the ascetics, you have nothing.
I’m an ascetic-maid.
Therefore by any reason
I won’t be made
an object of thy derision.

With hearty devotion,
people of the world gay,
would get a vision
of the noble queen
who has been
worthy of your lap today.

In yore, what penance utter
did she practise ?
Where how much time did she utilize ?
What incantation did she mutter ?
This much may be
kindly conveyed to me, prithee.

Any other wealth sans this thing
for me is of no need,
O Illustrious King !
On my part, this will be considered
more than the wealth offered
in a crore of horse-sacrifices indeed.

For an another matter
I have the prayer.
Innocent are the twin offspring
of this poor maid always suffering.
For a lift on the lap of their father,
no fortune of favour
both have obtained till now.
Since their birth,
fatherly affection’s worth
verily they do not know.

They have known
to make the life of their mother moan
by singing the Rāmāyaņa epic
in accompaniment of lutanic music.

Bearing the heart built
with human qualities,
who’ll not wail to hear the lilt
of the twin brothers,
wherein feel restless all trees
as well as creepers ?

Enticed with thy holy episode,
the twin offspring
along with Sage Vālmīki are going
to thy royal abode.

By their mind, both are
keenly impelled afar
to have a sight
of thy sacred lotus-feet.

Of thy bygone agony and torment
the saga, they’ll narrate,
hearing which becomes rent
the heart of this maid, unfortunate.
When not heard,
to have it, mind rushes forward,
and the alacrity ardently expressed
is hardly suppressed.

O Great among the scrupulous !
Reminiscence of poor Vaidehī apropos
of the episodic thing,
if your ears bring,
there your noble self shall deem
her love a mere dream,
by beholding the blooming mien
of the new beloved queen.”

Thus the letter she was writing
with her heart overwhelmed by worries.
Drenched it was getting
with tears flowing from her eyes.

‘What more shall I write,’
as she was thinking a bit,
there arrived her twin sons
Kuśa and Lava, smiling with elations.

Both expressed :
“O Mother Dearest !
Glory, immense Glory
to King Rāma of Raghu’s pedigree.
Also Glory to his beloved Queen, the blessed
fortunate and chaste.

King Rāma, Kauśalyā’s son,
is performing horse-sacrifice and here
with royal invitation
has come a messenger.
Asking him we could know,
this world has been now
blessed and glorious
because of Rāma, the King Illustrious.

The great emperor
discarded the public censure
by banishing his wife
Sītā, the beloved of his life.

In the horse-sacrifice, appropriate
for his lawful lady associate,
King Rāma has kept
the gold image of Jānakī on his left.

Was spouse another
unattainable for him ? O Mother !
Jānakī’s husband indeed
never longed for a second bride.

O Mother ! Where did Sītā go ?
To her life has she put an end ?
That matter we could not know
in the Rāmāyaņa, the epic grand.

We’ll go, O Mother ! We’ll behold
King Rāma’s lotus-feet auspicious.
The great sage has told
to accompany both of us.”

Waves rising from the sea
of the twins’ speech-ambrosia,
there immersed the life of Sītā.
The delicate heart of hers
was as though replete with hot sand
and now became flooded by showers
from the cloud of love heartily
bred by Rāma, her husband.

In her mind said she : “Fie ! Fie !
The ever-sinful woman am I,
who was writing the words wrecking
to the noble heart of my King.

Really a frail woman, I possess
a heart very feeble.
Mercy of my lord is endless
and unfathomable.

Thy kind apology I supplicate
for my fault profane.
O Ocean of Forgiveness Great !
Fate made me thy heart’s bane.”

Keeping the letter secretly
with expression of glee,
Sītā said then :
“My dear children !
Set forth to have a holy sight
of King Rāma’s lotus-feet.

Father Sage was saying,
there you both would sing.
Sweet song of thine
by nature is nectarine.

Forming nectar-stream in the holy
sacrificial environ,
your song will get permeated wholly
in the heart of every one.

If King Rāghava calls there,
you both approaching anear
will extend humble prostration
at his feet, with devotion.

There you’ll see
his younger brothers three.
Also at their feet
with humble homage you’ll greet.

On your heads you both will take
dusts from the lotus-feet of mothers
of the King and thereby make
your life fruitful in cheers.

Near them, you’ll meet
three sisters of Jānakī yonder.
Having her faith, at their feet,
humble salutations you’ll render.

‘You both, whose sons ?’
If anybody questions,
you’ll reply thus:
“Dear sons of Tapasvinī both of us.”

Such words of mother made the hearts of sons
fraught with exhilarations.
Their mind kept blithesome
filled with fresh enthusiasm.

For them, there remained no liking
for eating and sleeping.
Words of King Rāma’s glory
danced in their hearts further.
Apropos Rāma’s story
conversing together,
the twins took rest deep
in the lap of Sleep.

In the flow of the river
of devotion-to-husband there,
Sītā’s life was floating,
and in eddies, was restlessly rotating.

Unable to bring and keep
her life in own lap, Dame Sleep
approached Yogamāyā,
and apprised : “O Goddess ! Life of Sītā
has today gone beyond
the human heart’s bond.

For twelve years
Virtuous Maithilī,
permeating her bed with tears,
managed to come slowly
in my lap once even.
But today despite my frequent call
in my very sweet tone,
she not at all
paying heed to it, alone
proceeds to the state of heaven.

Idols of eyes, her twin sons,
from her eyes shall now disappear.
All the ten directions
shall seem darkened for her.
In this life of hers
no sun-rise of happiness appears.

So much devoted to her husband,
what fruit did she acquire at end ?
Kindly make her future bright.
Let the poor lady behold it.

Pouring water from eyes
in her life’s basin,
the sobre lady obtained the grand
garden of devotion-to-husband.
Neither any flower bloomed therein,
nor did any fruit appear.
Ah ! Tell me please,
would the life
of the virtuous wife
so desperately suffer ?”

Yogamāyā directed : “Come, My Friend !
Cool night is at its end.
Approaching the devoted Sītā now earlier,
we both will reveal the secret of her future.”

With Sleep, entered Yogamāyā hastily
in the cottage of Maithilī.
By celestial lustre, the sylvan site
continued to shine.
Surface of earth turned replete
with the fragrance divine.

By the aromatic affluence
horripilated, Sītā’s life aroused.
Under the splendour’s influence
her eyes became closed.

There appeared the scene.
Lustrous Sītā has been.
World is being illumed further
by her effusive lustre.

Resplendent with blooming mien,
King Rāma with herself as Queen
has ascended the bejewelled throne there.
Kuśa has sat in the lap of Rāghava,
and in Sītā’s lap, Lava.
Holding the lifted umbrella,
Lakshmaņa, the husband of Ūrmilā,
has stood anear.

Moving the charming chowry moonbeam-fair,
Bharata performs his own duty.
Holding by hand, Śatrughna moves there
the fan prepared with peacock-plumes pretty.

In the mouth of future,
life-lustre of every creature
is flowing apace
forming a stream of river.
Crores of men and women thither
are performing ablutions in the very stream,
knowing it a great place,
sacred, noble and supreme.

By and by, the stream
with its physical expanse
advances towards the ocean of time
in great distance.

Gods and demi-god Vidyādharas with love
are offering from above
soothing showers
of beautiful flowers.

Gods, with demons all,
serpents, human beings
and nymphs celestial,
are permeating there
the entire mundane sphere
with ‘Victory-to-Sītā-Rāma’ chantings.

In every house, in every life, in every city,
in the river-boat, in the bark of the sea,
in every cavern,
at day and night,
in the even and the morn,
in dolour and delight,
in the hearts of the affluent
as well as of the indigent,
reigns ever-reverberant
the ‘Victory-to-Sītā-Rāma’ chant.
Observing all these,
stood entranced at the scene,
Crest-crown of the chaste ladies,
the Great Queen.

* * *

(Canto –XI of Tapasvini ends)
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Translated into English

* * * * *

English Tapasvinī Kāvya Canto-7/ Harekrishna Meher

Original Oriya Epic Poem By : Poet Gańgādhara Meher (1862-1924)
Complete English Translation By : Dr. Harekrishna Meher

[Canto-7 has been taken from pages 87-112 of my English Book
‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher ’
Published by : R.N. Bhattacharya, A-217, Road No.4, HB Town, Sodepur,
Kolkata-700110, India. First Edition : 2009, ISBN : 81-87661-63-1]
For Introduction, please see,

‘ Tapasvinī of Gańgādhara Meher : A Critical Observation ’ :
Link :

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Tapasvinī (Canto-7)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

“Friend !”, said Sītā, “My evil-doings
account for all my sufferings.
For my actions done whatsoever,
Creator deserves no damnation.
Verily my husband, by nature,
is the repository of compassion.

Thought in my mind, again
even for a while had never occured
that my life can sustain
bereft of my life-lord.
I endured, My Friend !
all the torment bold,
terrible and intolerable, solely to behold
the auspicious face of my husband.

Forming incantation
of inner consolation
in the cavities of my ears
at that time, hope
drove out somehow
the proneness to death’s scope.
The hope itself has expired now.
When it occurs
in my memory,
my life is burnt severely.”

The maiden said : “Friend !
I could not understand
how there was hope and
why it came to an end.
Even if affected by great suffering,
you, the devoted wife, are never uttering
a word of rebuke to the Creator.
Very strange is this matter.”

Virtuous Sītā told,
“When you’ll hear,
the story of my suffering, My dear !
verily you’ll know
all the matter well,
how myself invited the severe sorrow
and how the knell
of my hope tolled.

At Pañchavaţī, oneday
contiguous to the cottage, a golden deer
exhibited its sportive play
with excessive cheer.
Its body, dappled, polished and fine,
dazzled in touch with sunshine.

The splendour of dots various,
spotted in its golden limbs beauteous,
there created illusion
of gems in my vision.
Such sort of deer
I had never seen ere
in city, in palace
or in any sylvan place.

I thought there :
‘In my return journey
to the city, the lovely deer
I’ll take in my company,
and make the denizens surprise,
therewith depicting the sylvan beauties.’

I displayed food to capture;
but to me there didn’t come, the creature.
Alluring my mind, enchanting my vision
ever and anon it appeared
and disappeared
in the forest-region.

Knowing my mind
worried for the creature of that kind,
my husband told me affectionately :
‘Fetching the charming stag immediately
your keen zeal
I’ll fulfil.’

My lord, holding bow with arrow
hurriedly rushed to follow.
Hastily pursuing it, he flew
from the range of my view.
‘Lakshmaņa ! Save me,’
the voice was heard
in the interior of forest there.
My mind thereby felt bewildered.
With mind further,
ears I concentrated.
‘Lakshmaņa ! Save me,’
the voice came reiterated.

Warrior Lakshmaņa was anear,
I told: ‘See dear brother !
Now to our proximity
has come some calamity.’

Consoling my mind, he said :
‘Revered One ! Don’t be afraid.
For, that’s never
the voice of Rāghava, my elder brother.’

“O Friend !
Warrior’s nature brave,
only warrior does understand.
I viewed Lakshmaņa calm and grave.
Heart of a woman is
very frail indeed.
By those words of his,
my perplexity grew rapid.

After my humble request,
harsh words I showered
and sent him in quest
of my life-lord.
All the opulence
of my blissful fortune thence
swept away in his egress-current,
as I forcibly sent.

Hither the embodied hazard
in guise of a sage
appeared as a beggar forward
at the gate of our cottage.

Until retreat of my lord at the gate,
the devil sage could not wait
and severely ere my vision
for alms importuned anon.

When I gave alms, my hand
he snatched by force and
swiftly at the spot
seated me in the aerial chariot.

Humbly much him I prayed,
then with menace reprimanded;
but the evil-minded
paid no heed to whatever I said.

I knew, mere dress
is not the symbol of virtuousness.
The guise is ostensibly honest;
but internally satanic and vilest.

People deem Dharma as the giver
of all auspiciousness for ever ;
but who can know, the Death-god Yama
bears the epithet ‘Dharma’ ?

The wicked rascal then
southwards propelled the plane,
making the way of welkin
tremble with its deep din.
With voice high and profound
I cried, wailed unbound ;
but all my voice drowned
in the womb of the chariot’s sound.

Below as I beheld,
there various flocks
of sylvan peacocks
gazing at me woefully wailed.
Herds of deer, again,
with eyes uplifted
cast on the plane
their looks intimidated.

Intervening the chariot
on the way against him,
an Eagle-king fought
with courageous actions ;
but the evil-minded grim
severed the pinions.

To the journey, wind with abrupt
and adverse blow
couldn’t interrupt
the notorious fellow.

Rows of mountains on the way
with heads aloft
couldn’t intervene the plane.
To apprise the people mundane,
I cast looks in dismay,
distressed down-dropt.

In the sound of the aerial plane,
all my voice would go in vain,
knowing thus, that moment
I threw down all my ornament.

I beheld, rivers perplexed within
as though remained stable
and became incapable
with their limbs emaciated and thin.

Contracting own bodies
afraid of the rascal thither,
all the tall trees
twined one another.
Quiet remained there earth afterwards.
Concealed own selves all beasts and birds.

Directions, east, west and south,
gradually plunged into the mouth
of deep darkness veiled.
No spot of earth was seen
and the rascal propelled
the chariot in between.

Corners of quarters
ahead looked refulgent.
By degrees, to me, the light
seemed to be forest-fire there.
Nigher and nigher
as the chariot went,
countless congregations of lustres
appeared bright before my sight.

I thought : ‘All stars afar
shunning the skies,
at the time of day are
shining effulgent array-wise.
Bereft of Moon,
abandoning the firmament soon,
they have kindled in their heart’s core
the separation’s fire,
or, my mundane life has to expire,
I myself therefore
am entering into the city
of Yama, the Death-deity.’

I beheld further,
charming citadels splendid
shone row-wise there
with gold-pitchers amid.
City-citadels arranged in arrays
gradually looked attractive to the vision.
The city has been embellished by Sun.
He has adorned with his rays
the pitchers placed at the crescent
of palaces and made them effulgent.

In my mind’s board
meanwhile thought occured :
‘Surely the saint is a messenger
of the Death-deity.
Anyhow to the death-city
proudly I’ll enter
lifting up my sharp-edged sword
of devotion-to-lord.’

In the city’s corner, the saint got
alighted from the chariot
and stepped ahead, as he could mark
the path to a pretty park.
With marble-plates, the alley was magnificent.
Bearing enormous
flowers and fruits thus
the garden was ebulient.

Very pleasant to the eyes
were more and more Asoka trees
bearing clusters
of fine flowers.
In the garden came to the notice
a resplendent jewel-decked edifice.

The saint told me : ‘Stay here,
You’ll never adhere
to estrangement any sort,
from your consort.
Now here expired the affliction
of your forest-dwelling sultry.
Do enjoy the pleasure empyrean
by adorning this country.

Any thing unattainable
in the three worlds entire,
will be very easily available
to yourself now, when for it
you cherish a desire.
Thousands of pretty maidens
extending hearty affections
shall serve at your lotus-feet.’

Summoning a thousand maid-servants
adorned with ornaments,
he emphatically gave order :
‘Knowing this good lady
as the queen of my heart really,
you all shall render
sincere service to her
with heartiest devotion proper.

As she likes everyday
you all will obey,
also make her hear
my praise and power.
Utmost attempt
you’ll make to tempt,
so that her mind,
to my riches, be inclined.’

Saying thus, the saint went.
My heart overwhelmed with amazement.
I could not know
who the yogi was,
where he brought me now
and what his country was.

Queen of his heart verily
how was I made ?
I’ve borne the body of daughter-in-law
of King Raghu’s ancestry.
I’m not dead,
I really recall.
Kauśalyā’s son Rāmachandra
is my sole shelter, be-all.

Heartily confident
steadfast again I became there.
Whoever may be the saint,
what’s the fear ?
In my life, as long as I remember,
Kauśalyā’s son Rāma is my sole shelter.

The land may be even
the death-dominion or heaven.
Deities may be wandering here.
But my mind, who can allure ?
Kauśalyā’s son Rāma , sure,
is my sole shelter.

For me what’s the need
of thousands of maids indeed ?
Where are my ablutions and foods ?
My life-lord aright
might be roaming in the woods,
and my mind is at his feet.

If hundreds of Sarasvatī, Goddess of Speech,
lovely-lute-handed do anear reach,
and play the tunes melody-imbued,
in my ears how can these be valued
even like a single word
expressed from the mouth of my lord ?

Deliberating thus thence,
rivetting mind at the feet of my husband,
I forgot my life-sense
and could understand
nothing, except the thought of my lord
and how days elapsed of their own accord.

But in that country,
for me all days and nights seemed
like gods’ time. [1]
Further I deemed
that dominion
to be gods’ land prime,
and filled my life anon
with heavenly bravery.

I prayed to the God Almighty
to confer on me the divine prowess
and devotion-to-husband worthy
for the heart of a goddess.
In the nectar of the feet of my lord
my hope sheltered.
For my thirst and famishment there
I didn’t care.

Maid-servants brought
perfumeries a lot,
immense ornaments effulgent,
with numerous items of foods,
and in flattering moods
told me with words affluent;
but there my mind
never cherished any of that kind.

By and by, from conversations
of maids, I learnt there :
Bearing audacious might,
Rāvaņa is the conqueror
of the three worldly regions.
Hearing his name, the heart
of the god-king Indra trembles with fright.
His kingdom is Lańkā, the isle sea-girt.

Brought I have been to that land
by the pseudo-saint,
the immodest villain.
Uniquely magnificent
are his city and palaces grand,
inaccessible by Kinnaras and men. [2]

Wherever his mind rushes,
his desire the timorous deities fulfil.
While in eyes flashes
the ruddiness utter,
there occur panic and peril
in the mind of Brahmā, the Creator.

The name of Rāvaņa when I heard,
I could know,
his overweening conceit
was churned by Siva’s bow.
I thought, how a dog has dared
to drink the nectar of sacrificial rite.

Oneday in truth,
as I could find,
the evil-minded fiend
bearing the glow of fire
appeared before me there.
With sinful desire
in sinful words in his mouth
babbled extolling own power.

Beholding the tears torrent
from the cloud-mass of my distress,
the dire darkness
of his pride far aside went.
Of his hope’s lightning,
the streak frightening,
gleamed with shine
in that cloud of mine.

From the very day, My Friend !
when I came to know
that the sinner brute
has touched my hand,
then raising from the touched place,
pervading the body, the acute
intolerable feverish woe
makes my life restless.

Of my limbs, all hairs,
for me, seem like venomed arrows.
To my mind thought occurs,
how herds of does
wounded by the arrows of hunter
would be suffering sorrows severe.

Tolerating internally
the intolerable dolour,
by Dharma, my mind stable I had kept.
I had then only
great hope unswept.
For women, always Dharma is the valour.

Once however
without knowing of the wretched demon,
alms I handed over,
being obsessed with illusion.
If he tries to display
his prowess now again,
him I would slay
or by his hand, I would be slain.

In the world , if Dharma is true indeed,
the world will see my marvellous deed.
Like a mountain
may be the heaped cotton of sin.
A spark of virtue does contain
the power for burning it to ruin.

Lo ! Friend !
Dharma, being Truth Grand,
there poured as if
ambrosia in my life.
Before me, a monkey delivered
the message of my lord,
and against Rāvaņa demon
made an altercation.

My lord, the jewel of Raghu’s dynasty,
with the power of monkeys
took the step hasty,
and over the ocean built bridge.
Crossing the inaccessible waters there,
furiously waging invasion
in Lańkā, my lord lodged fear
in the life of the great demon.

There started my lord
the sacrifice of battle not feasible at ease.
Lanka with scare shuddered,
hearing the roars of monkeys.
All who were warriors
in the ancestry of demons,
came there with powers,
and in the sacrifice became oblations.

On the path of virtue,
there was only one
who found rescue
at the feet of my lord, Raghu’s scion.
In the battle-sacrifice grand,
he, like the stable ritually-sanctified pillar,
wearing the fearlessness-garland
around his neck, stood anear.

Blood of demons flowed crore-times more
than the tears streamed from my eyes before.
Floating in the sea of sorrow meanwhile,
affrighted Rāvaņa became a draught
for the cruel crocodile
of my lord’s shaft.

Of Raghu’s pedigree, the great scion,
my lord called me later on.
Affectionless looks at me he cast
and expressed at last :
“In the worldly region,
no sin is more than evil company.
Relation with the evil companion
verily gives vigorous agony.

In the evil mansion
of the lust-blind
great demon,
you were in captivity.
Sin might have touched the cavity
of your mind.
I can therefore
accept you no more.
By accepting you, sure,
I’ll incur public censure.

If water from cloud comes below,
can the cloud keep it again in prop ?
Like the fire-flame aglow,
if burnt in fire, the water
becomes united thereafter
with the cloud up.”

I pondered :
‘My life I’ve sustained
solely in order to extend
service at the lotus-feet of my lord.
To touch those feet, if
myself unworthy,
what more is the necessity
of this trifle life ?

I’ll burn my body
looking oft at the auspicious face
of my life-lord.
More than this
what can be my bliss ?
After the end
of this body offered,
my life shall surely
obtain a place
in the holy limbs of my husband.

By virtue of Dharma benign, [3]
if survives this body of mine,
I’ll acquire doubled affection
from my lord, the life-companion.’

Then I said :
“Let fire be kindled well-lit,
and this maid
will enter into it.”

Unhesitatingly obedient
Lakshmaņa, with hesitant mind,
kindled the fire swiftly now.
Flames of fire, with the blow
of conducive wind,
hurried up for leap into the firmament.

Casting a longing look there,
at the lotus-face
of my life-lord,
and approaching the fire-place
by my inner valour,
I declared :

“O Sun ! Moon ! Wind !
O Sky ! O Fire !
You all do know the mind
of creatures of the world entire.
If my mind, even slightly,
has been prone
with love to anybody
sans Rāma alone,
adept you are
in consuming all, O Fire !
so hastily please
now burn me at ease.

In the city of demon,
I was kept in prison.
If he has bound me with sin,
I’ll never be able to get a sight
of my lord’s lotus-feet
till crores of births mine.
Therefore, O Fire !
destroy me in pyre.

You never know discrimination,
whether a sinner or a virtuous one.
By dint of your nature
you take away life of a creature.

If Dharma stands true
evermore in this world, sure,
my Dharma will rescue
me from the censure.”

“O Dharma ! In my body
with your excellence entire,
have a stance steady.
Intimid with me enter into the fire.
Not possible if
in my present life,
then after my demise
for my lord’s sake,
at his feet you’ll make
myself a maid-servant please.

After my body perishes,
it will turn into ashes.
For a tree, taking them
you’ll make use as manure.
Giving the wood of the same
in the hands of a carpenter,
you’ll get my being prepared
as a pair of sandals fit
for the sacred feet
of my loving life-lord.”

Looking oft at the auspicious face
of my life-lord,
I, frightless,
approaching the fire, entered.
Seeing this incident,
my lord moaned and Lakshmaņa as well.
Soldiers also cried that moment
with pathetic wail.

From countless eyes, tears
gushed forth heavily.
I got drowned by the wail-waters.
Fire became cool, I felt verily.
The mourning cries
filled the circle of skies.

Divine speech in my favour appeared
in the welkin above,
and my life-lord
could know my chastity with love.
Because of Dharma, the fire extinguished.
By Dharma’s power,
my life there
remained unperished.

All my pains burnt in the flame.
By fortune unbanned,
maid I became
at the feet of my husband.

I mused : ‘The lotus-feet
of my lord, I certainly attained ;
since in poignant plight,
my life I had sustained.’

My lord seated me in the plane,
accompanied by monkeys and demons then.
Towards Ayodhyā he set out
return-expedition in aerial route,
with happiness and revelry
of his great victory.

Crossing the desert land
of separation in my dry life,
I achieved the love-ocean grand.
Ineffable bliss emerged in my life.
Thence I deemed this
mundane region filled with bliss.

In one’s own life
if remains grief,
in the whole world, no sign
of happiness is seen.
In one’s own life
happiness appears if,
all the world looks aright
replete with happiness to the sight.

With the piles
of opulence, I got
entered the same chariot,
where I had fallen
in the pitfall of perils.
Whatever seeing in my vision
I had wailed before,
oft seeing the same in view,
now my glee grew
more and more.

The chariot with gems aglow,
its marvellous gaits, the ocean below,
clouds above, mountains, rivers
as well as trees,
for my eyes
all became givers
of heartiest gaieties
in unbounded series.

All the woodland
of previous dwelling sites,
pleasure-bowers, charming mountains and
smoke-matted-haired hermitages of anchorites
were beckoning my mind,
as I could find.

Having unkempt hairs,
hermit-maidens there,
hearing from far
the din of aerial car,
were amazingly gazing with upraised faces,
yielding reminiscences
of the bygone happiness with cheers
in my mental sphere.

Their holy affections,
endearment mingling with exhilarations,
lips lovely with soft sweet utterances
and loving calm guileless glances,
all showered ambrosia immense,
on the glebe of my reminiscence.

All the names of those dear
hermit-girls, one by one,
blooming as lotuses appeared clear
in my mind’s lake gay,
when the nocturnal murk of separation,
previously poignant and piled,
vanished far away
and the day-spring of happiness smiled.

Aroma of their bygone love imbued
my life with beatitude.
With the sight of comely
vast sylvan extent,
my mind was not yet content,
the chariot proceeded swiftly.

My mind could not restrain
itself from the pretty forest, the repository
of natural splendours and glory.
The mind was again
in the firmament wide,
where passed the chariot aerial ;
on the other side,
absorbed became it,
at the holy feet
of my mothers-in-law in the capital.

In the company of my dark-figured
handsome life-lord,
my mind merging in sportive beatitude,
with the comely colours of three sides thither, [4]
shone semi-circular
like rainbow in a new cloud.

When life-like son
repaired to the forest-region,
my father-in-law,
the king of Ayodhyā, tormented with grief,
extinguished the lamp of his life
and went to heaven near Indra.

Seeing the country kingless,
Bharata rushed to my lord
in the forest, and in distress
with folded hands implored.
That time still
we were at Chitrakūţa hill.

Brave Bharata, being very modest,
in front of my life-lord, came
and made earnest request
to receive the lordship of Earth-Dame.
Keeping the devotion-to-father
immensely stronger,
my lord Rāghava didn’t utter
any consent in this matter.

My lord said : “Dear Brother !
Father gave up his body mortal;
but didn’t swerve from the truth.
Now unscrupulously turning ruth,
how can I strangle
the tender Dharma-bird fostered by father ?”

With wailing flow,
falling at my lord’s feet thither
Bharata prayed then :
“Revered Brother !
To serve thy holy feet, kindly allow.
Leaving the earth, when Sun
goes to the setting mountain,
him can his ray ever shun ?”

My lord said : “Brother ! At night
Moon, cool-rayed and bright,
verily eradicates forth
all the distress of earth.”

In reply Bharata humbly told :
“Rays from Sun, Moon does acquire.
Bearing thy sandals, bejewelled and charming,
my head, like Śesha, the serpent-king,
will be able to hold
the earth entire.
On this head of mine,
when jewels, effulgent,
of thy sandals shall shine,
enemies will think me to be a serpent.”

My lord handed over the sandal-pair.
On own head Bharata placed them there.
With tear-suffused vision,
to the capital he retreated,
and to remove the affliction
of Dame Royal Wealth, his mind he rivetted.

As fourteen years ended,
Bharata, very anxious,
was awaiting all of us,
and our chariot
reached the spot.
Therefrom I descended
and took dusts from the feet
of my mothers-in-law with delight.

Beholding my husband thither
with wife myself and his younger brother,
Bharata immersed his mind free
in the river of revelry.

Returning the sandals at the feet
of my life-lord,
worship he offered
with parasol and chowries bright.

My lord shone coronated as King;
Myself became his Queen darling.
Knowing his mind there
service at his feet I did render.
Need of every kind
arising in my mind
was satiated in proper way
without any delay.

Ascending the boat of love in cheers
we, the royal couple,
sportively enjoyed there
in the sea of pleasure.
Enthusiastically curious,
both of us
immersed many years
in the waves of wealth ample.

Who had known that Fate
has writ on my forehead-plate
the scripts of limitless sufferings
and the submarine fire of calamity
emerging suddenly
would destroy all the things ?

Like the sky scarlet,
at the doom of day’s brilliancy,
at the last facet
of my fortune, I bore pregnancy.

With heartiest affection
more and more, my life-lord
then attentively endeavoured
to fulfil my desire of conception.

Later on oneday
I expressed before my husband :
‘Lord My Dearest !
I would like to play
in the environ of forest
with my Forest-maiden friend.’
Ere the night dawned, my consort
sent me with Lakshmaņ as escort.

Bringing me to the bank of Jāhnavī, [5]
alighting from the boat,
what Lakshmaņa said gently . . . ”
With these words choked became her throat.
She mourned there
ahead seeing the sorrow severe.

She floated in the current
of tears incessant.
The hermit-maiden companion
consoled her with support anon,
and wept connecting own face with hers.
When wailing reached ears,
other hermitesses apace
arrived at the place.

To the alcove immediately
they took both the wailing ladies,
and pleasing their mind affectionately
described various things at ease.
Among themselves, merging in parlance deep,
apropos several matters
such as watering plants and culling flowers,
they rested in the lap of Sleep.

* * *

(Footnotes :
[1] One day of gods’ time is equal to six months of the mundane people.
[2] Kinnara = A kind of demi-god.
[3] Dharma = Righteousness, here ‘Devotion-to-husband.’
[4] Here three parts of Sītā’s mind have been indicated. Firstly her mind was impressed by the sylvan beauty ; secondly it was rapt in seeing the beauty of sky and lastly it was anxious to render worship at the feet of mothers-in-law.
[5] Jāhnavī = A name of River Gańgā.
* * * *

(Canto – VII of Tapasvinī ends)
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