Tales Of Ind, And Other Poems Part 2

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Tales Of Ind, And Other Poems is a Webnovel created by T. Ramakrishna Pillai.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

_THE STORY OF THE ROYAL HUNTRESS_.

It was a land of plenty and of wealth; There G.o.d’s indulgent hand made for a race Supremely blest a paradise on earth.

A land of virtue, truth, and charity, Where nature’s choicest treasures man enjoyed With little toil, where youth respected age, Where each his neighbour’s wife his sister deemed, Where side by side the tiger and the lamb The water drank, and sported oft in mirth.

A land where each man deemed him highly blest When he relieved the miseries of the poor, When to his roof the wearied traveller came To share his proffered bounty with good cheer.

Such was the far-famed land of Panchala.

Here reigned a king who walked in virtue’s path, Who ruled his country only for his G.o.d.

His people’s good he deemed his only care, Their sorrows were his sorrows, and their joys He counted as his own; such was the king Whose daily prayers went up to Him on high For wisdom and for strength to rule his men Aright, and guard the land from foreign foes.

Such was the far-famed king of Panchala.

An only son he had–a n.o.ble prince, The terror of his foes, the poor man’s friend.

He mastered all the arts of peace and war, And was a worthy father’s worthy son.

What gifts and graces men as beauties deem These Nature freely lavished on the youth, And people loved in wonder to behold The face that kindled pleasure in their minds.

The courage of a warrior in the field, A woman’s tender pity to the weak– All these were centred in the royal youth.

His arrows killed full many a beast that wrought Dread havoc on the cattle of the poor.

Such was the famous prince of Panchala.

The people, they were all true men and good, Their ruler they adored, for by their G.o.d He was ordained to rule their native land.

They freely to their king made known their wants, And he as freely satisfied their needs, And e’en the meanest of the land deemed it The basest act to sin against his king.

Such were the people of the ancient land Of Panchala, who stood one day with tears Before their king to pour their plaintive tales Of ruin wrought upon their cattle by The tiger of the forest, that all day Was safe in his impenetrable lair, But every night his dreaded figure showed And feasted on the flesh of toiling beasts.

The king gave ear to their sad tales of woe, And straightway called his only son, and said– “Dear son! my people’s good I value more Than thine own life. Go therefore to the woods With all thine arrows and thy trusty bow, And drag the dreaded tiger from his den, And to their homes their wonted peace restore.

His spotted skin and murderous claws must soon Be added to the trophies of the past, Now hanging on our ancient palace walls.”

The prince obeyed, and to the forest went: Three days and nights he wandered in the woods, But still found not the object of his search.

He missed his faithful men and lost his way, Till worn and weary underneath a tree, Whose shady boughs extended far and wide, The lonely straggler stretched his limbs and slept, And for a time forgot his dire distress.

He woke, and thus addressed himself with tears: “Here I am left deserted and alone, Perchance my faithful people at this hour Are vainly searching for their hapless prince, While I die here of hunger and of thirst.

And gladly would I welcome now the brute That has attracted me to this strange spot, To plunge his claws into my body, tear My flesh, and break my bones, and feast on me By gnawing them between his horrid jaws, And so spare me from this slow lingering death.”

So thought the royal youth of his sad doom, When lo! a spotless figure, with a bow, A pouch with arrows dangling on her back, A hatchet in her hand for cutting wood, And with a pitcher on her head, appeared.

Here every day she came to gather wood, And, dressed in male attire, her heavy load Took to the nearest town, sold it, then reached, At close of day to cook the ev’ning meal, Her cottage on the outskirts of the wood, Where, with her sire, bent down with years, she lived, And dragged her daily miserable life.

Such was the maid that was upon that day, As if by instinct, drawn to the fair youth, And such the huntress Radha he beheld.

A fairer woman never breathed the air– No, not in all the land of Panchala.

The maid in pity saw his wretched plight, Then from the pitcher took her midday meal, And soon relieved his hunger and his thirst.

The grateful prince, delighted, told his tale, And she, well pleased, thus spake: “Fair youth! grieve not, Behold the brook that yonder steals along, To this the tiger comes at noon to quench His thirst. Then, safely perched upon a tree, We can for ever check his deadly course,”

Both went, and saw at the expected hour The monarch of the forest near the brook.

In quick succession, lightning-like from them The arrows flew, and in a moment fell His ma.s.sive body lifeless on the ground.

Then vowing oft to meet his valiant friend, The prince returned, and with the happy news Appeared before the king, who blest his son And said: “My son! well hast thou done the deed; Thy life thou hast endangered for my men; Ask anything and I will give it thee.”

“I want not wealth nor power,” the prince replied, “But, n.o.ble father I one request I make.

I chanced to meet a huntress in the wood, And Radha is her name; she saved my life.

I but for her had died a lingering death, Her valour and her beauty I admire, And therefore grant me leave to marry her.”

The king spake not, but forthwith gave command To banish from his home the reckless youth, Who brought disgrace upon his royal house, And who, he wished, should wed one worthy of The n.o.ble race of ancient Panchala.

Poor youth! he left his country and his home, He that was dreaded by his foes was gone.

Vain l.u.s.t of power impelled the neighbouring king, The traitor who usurped his sovereign’s throne, To march on Panchala with all his men.

He went, and to the helpless king proclaimed– “Thou knowest well my armies are the best On earth, and folly it will be in thee To stand ‘gainst them and shed thy people’s blood.

Send forth thy greatest archer, and with him My prowess I will try: this will decide If you or I should sit upon the throne, And whether Panchala is thine or mine.”

The king, bewildered, knew not what to do, But soon two maidens, strangers to the land, Met him, and, of the two, the younger said– “O righteous king! we left our distant homes To visit shrines and bathe in holy streams.

We have been wandering in many climes, And yesternight this place we reached, and heard Your loyal people speak of your sad plight.

In early youth I learned to use the bow– I pray thee, therefore, send me forth against The wretch that dares to wrest this land from thee.”

And ere the treacherous wretch could string his bow, A pointed arrow carrying death with it, Like lightning flew from forth the maiden’s hands, Pierced deep into his head, that plans devised To kill his royal master and once more Thought ill of Panchala and her good king.

His body lifeless lay upon the field.

Then spake the maiden to the grateful king:– “Thou, n.o.ble ruler of this ancient land!

Before thy sacred presence and before All these a.s.sembled in thy royal court, I will reveal my story, sad but true.

I am the only child of him that ruled The neighbouring state, whose kings for centuries In peace and friendship lived with Panchala.

Alas! the villain, whom my arrow gave To crows and to the eagles of the air, Usurped my father’s throne, and sad to tell, He instant orders gave to murder us.

The menials sent to do the cruel deed Felt pity for the fallen king and me, His only daughter, in the woods left us And went away, reporting they had done The deed; and there, in that deserted place, Unknown we lived a wretched life for years.

And glad I am that death ign.o.ble, which The wretch deserved, has now befallen him.

“This person standing here–I now remove The veil, and, by the mole upon his breast, Behold in him thine own begotten son– Was by thy orders banished from the land.

Grant that I now may plead for him, because A woman’s words can sooner soothe the heart.

I crave your Majesty to pardon him For loving me, and take him back unto His father’s home; grant also, gracious king, That I, a princess, may be worthy deemed Of being wedded to thine only son.”

_CHANDRA_.

A TALE OF THE FIELD OF TELLIKoTA, A.D. 1565.

At length the four great Mahometan governments, A’dil Shah, Nizam Shah, Barid, and Kutb Shah, formed a league against Ram Raja, then ruling at Bijayanagar. A great battle took place on the Kishna, near Talicot, which, for the numbers engaged, the fierceness of the conflict, and the importance of the stake, resembled those of the early Mahometan invaders. The barbarous spirit of those days seemed also to be renewed in it; for, on the defeat of the Hindus, their old and brave raja, being taken prisoner, was put to death in cold blood, and his head was kept till lately at Bij.a.pur as a trophy.

This battle destroyed the monarchy of Bijayanagar, which at that time comprehended almost all the South of India. But it added little to the territories of the victors; their mutual jealousies prevented each from much extending his frontier; and the country fell into the hands of petty princes, or of those insurgent officers of the old government, since so well known as zemindars or poligars.

The brother of the late raja removed his residence further east, and finally settled at Chandragiri, about seventy miles north-west of Madras, at which last place his descendant first granted a settlement to the English.–_Elphinstone_.

The setting sun sank slowly in the west, The village labourer from the threshing-floor Hied home full laden with the gathered corn, When soon there came, as from a cage just freed, Two lovely doves intent to peck the grain That scattered lay upon the vacant field.

Between these birds, by instinct closely linked, Attachment fond had grown. It seemed, indeed, That G.o.d for speech denied to them had given Sense exquisite to know each other’s ways.

Not all the speech of favoured man in truth Could meaning make more clear or deeply felt Than one soft motion of the slender frame, One gentle murmur from the tiny throat.

The wife more bold, yet pausing oft to scan Her lord, adventurous strayed with timid steps, Unconscious all of aught to mar their joys.

Just then with steady poise on outstretched wing A hungry falcon hovered over her, Resolved with one fell swoop to seize his prey, His talons bury in her tender flesh, Lift her away to some sequestered spot, There drink her blood in leisure undisturbed, And break her bones and her torn flesh devour.

At early morn upon that selfsame day A huntsman sallied forth in search of food, And, wandering luckless all day long, at last Did chance upon this bird. Behind a bush He quickly crept, and straightway strung his bow.

A gladsome vision suddenly appeared– He saw his wife and children in their home Enjoy the dove’s well spiced and roasted flesh.

But lo! a gentle flutter of the leaves By eagerness unconscious caused, to her Revealed the huntsman take his deadly aim.

With head uplifted and with wings outstretched She flight essayed, but saw the falcon near.

Thus scared and terror-struck she lay resigned To fall by deadly arrow pierced, and give Her lifeless form to feed the hungry bird.

The keen-eyed huntsman saw that lifted head And open wings meant flight and sure escape.

He therefore quickly aimed his arrow high, Which flying pierced the falcon nearing down.

That selfsame moment when the arrow flew, When all his thoughts were centred on the bird, The huntsman pressed his foot upon a snake That in the bush lay coiled. Writhing with pain, The snake poured deadly poison from its fangs.

The huntsman and the falcon both fell dead Before the helpless dove; and foes that came To work her woe had worked each other woe.

The loving pair together flew away, Their life of joy and freedom to renew.

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