The Harsha Charita of Bana/Chapter VI
Translated by E. B. Cowell and F. W. ThomasLondon: Royal Asiatic Society, 1897, 164-196
The Harsha-carita of Bana, Chapter VI:The King's Vow
-  Even as a conqueror, Death gathers his troop of heroes,
- Assembling them from this place and that on the earth,
- sending forth his own secret emissaries to bring them in.
- The sin of smiting the confiding rouses the anger of the mighty to the destruction of the cruel one,
- As the twang of the sapling which an elephant breaks robs the lion of his sleep.
The Brahman who consumes the departed spirit's first oblation had now partaken of his meal. The horror of the days of impurity had passed. The various appurtenances of the royal bier, beds, chairs, chowries, umbrellas, vessels, carriages, swords and the like, now become an eyesore, were in course of distribution to Brahmans. The bones, in shape like sorrow's spearheads, had been carried with the people's hearts to sacred fords. A monument in brick had been set up on the sepulchral pile. The royal elephant, victor in mighty battles, had been abandoned to the woods. Gradually the lamentations subsided, the outcries became rarer, the tears ceased to flow; the sighs were less vehement, the exclamations of despair sank to a murmur, the couches of despondency began to disappear. Ears were now capable of listening to reason, hearts in a mood to be heedful of kind attentions, the king's virtues could now be computed. Grief was becoming a moral theme, the poet's pathos had had its day. Only in dreams was the king present to the eye, only in hearts did he reside, only pictures retained his outline , only poetry preserved his name.
At this season my lord Harsha, having on a certain occasion laid aside his occupations, saw himself unexpectedly surrounded by a great company of silent downcast nobles headed by the whole assemblage of his aged kinsmen. At this spectacle he reflected, 'What else can it be? This sorrow-stricken throng of people announces my dear lord's arrival,' and so with a tremour at his heart questioned one of them, a man of distinguished bearing, as he entered, 'Come, speak; is my noble brother arrived?' 'As your majesty says,' he slowly answered, 'he is at the door': whereat the prince, whose mind was softened with supreme sorrow added to brotherly affection, all but poured out his life along with a gushing torrent of tears.
Anon, heralded by lamentations, which, uttered by the chamberlain, entered like servants in advance, the elder brother came in sight amid a throng of servants pale and worn with many days' neglect of bathing, eating and sleeping, and reduced in numbers by their long and rapid march. Only one or two, chiefly domestics, could be distinguished. The umbrella-bearer was wanting, the superintendent of the wardrobe lagged behind, the pitcher-carrier had collapsed, the spittoon-bearer was prostrate, the betel-bearer panted, and the sword-bearer limped. The prince's form was grey all over with the dust of the roads, as though his helpless heritage, the earth, had made him her refuge. Long white bandages, bound about arrow-wounds received in battle while conquering the Hunas, dotted his form like side-glances from his approaching royal glory. Limbs emaciated, as though for the preservation of the king's life he had offered their flesh in sorrow's fire, told of the heaviness of his grief. Upon his crestless head, with its hair miry and disordered and its jewel gone, he seemed to bear grief visibly enthroned. His forehead, lined by sweat oozing under the heat, appeared to weep with yearning to fall at his father's feet. With a broad river of tears he ceaselessly bedewed the earth, as though it had swooned on the death of its honoured lord. His grief-worn cheeks seemed channelled by the fall of that incessant stream of tears.  From his round lips the betel stain had faded away, as if they were melted through coming in the way of his burning breath. Darkened by the rays of his sapphire ornament, of which only the amulet was left, the region of his ear seemed burnt by a great flame of sorrow at the recent news of his father's death. Though his beard showed but a faint growth, yet his face, being fringed with a tassel of rays from the dark pupils of his fixed downcast eyes, looked black with the long growth of mourning. He was as a lion distressed and left without a refuge by the fall of a great hill, like the day turned into darkness and faded in splendour by the setting of the lord of light, like Nandana robbed of its shade by the crash of its tree of Paradise, like a quarter of the heavens vacant through the exile of its sky elephant, like a mountain quivering and rent by a crushing thunderbolt. Purchased by leanness, made a bondsman to misery, a domestic to despair, a disciple to the demands of grief, appropriated by affliction, dumb with taciturnity, pressed down by depression, all a sweat through hot pain, culled by melancholy, looted by lamentation, adopted by apathy, renounced by presence of mind, disowned by discernment, repudiated by resolution, he was absorbed in a sorrow beyond the appeals of the counsels of age, the cure of good men's eloquence, the scope of sages' voices, the power of holy writ, the course of wisdom's efforts, the range of friendly offices, the sphere of sense delights, the province of gradual repair.
Uplifted, as it were, on an agitated sea of stormy surging love, Harsha rose excitedly to meet him. But his majesty Rajyavardhana, on seeing him at a distance, felt inclined to let loose his long-stemmed torrent of tears. Extending his long stout arms, as if he would make an armful of all his sorrows, he clasped his brother's neck in abandonment of grief and drawing him now to his own worn unshawled bosom,  now to his neck, now to his shoulder, now to his cheek, sobbed with such violence that their hearts were almost uprooted with their moorings. The king's favourite also, as his sovereign was recalled to his mind, responded like an echo with vehement sobs. It was long before the elder brother's tears ceased to flow, and, like the rain-god in autumn, he very gradually calmed himself. Then he sat down, and, water being brought by a servant, bathed his eyes, which seemed to derive the foam line of a great torrent from the massed light of the man's nails, and, often as they were wiped, were robbed of vision by drops of tears, which, forming at the end of their lashes, impeded their opening. Then with a piece of moonlight in the shape of a towel presented by the betel-bearer he wiped his face, which the hot tears had scorched. Having spent some time in utter silence, he rose and proceeded to the bath house. After a stay there he roughly wrung his unadorned locks of dishevelled and disordered hair; and with a lip which, as the remnant of its quivering emotion struggled as it were for existence, seemed to wish to kiss even itself now glorified by the bath, with bathed eyes whose whiteness seemed to adore the sky regents with a dropping flower offering of white lotus petals opening to the autumn moon, he threw himself upon a couch placed on the courtyard terrace and having a cushion disposed beneath a low awning. There he remained without uttering a word.
My lord Harsha also bathed and reclined in silence by his side, stretched on a blanket laid upon the ground. Glancing ever and anon upon his afflicted elder brother, he felt his heart almost split into a thousand parts. For the sight of a brother is a rejuvenescence of sorrow. To the people that day was terrible even beyond the day of their king's death. Throughout the city none cooked, none bathed, none took their pleasure; in every quarter there was no man but wept. Not otherwise did the day pass by.  At length, hued like flesh moistened by a great flow of blood--as if he had just been shaped by Twashtri's axe-- the sun sank, red as madder, in the waters of the western sea. On the (red) lotus ponds the bee tribes buzzed in distress at the closing of the calixes. Anguished by the grief of their spouses at their approaching separation, a horizon of ruddy-geese fixed a tearful gaze upon their dear friend, the sun's orb, now hued like a blooming Bandhuka. Musical with bees, graced by kalahamsa beauties, the (night) lotus pools gave forth a sound like the plaited bells upon the jewelled girdle of the roaming Sri. In the firmament the rising clear-flecked moon shone like the pointed hump of Shiva's tame bull, when blotted with mud scattered by his broad horns.
Rajyavardhana's address to Harsha
At that hour, being solicited by the chief feudatories, who approached with inoffensive admonitions, Rajyavardhana reluctantly consented to take food. Dawn having appeared and all the kings being admitted, he addressed himself to Harsha, who was standing near, as follows:--
- "My dear brother, your situation invites instruction from your elders. Even as a boy you held fast to our father's habits of thought, as to the oriflamme of the virtuous. Wherefore to one so tractable my heart, softened to compliance with the decrees of fate, has something to suggest. Do not revert to the gaucherie so easy to the nature of the young and so much at variance with affection. Do not like a dullard make opposition to my wish. You are surely not unacquainted with the universal practice. What did Purukutsa when Mandhatri, the three worlds' protector, died? What Raghu on the death of Dilipa, whose brow governed the eighteen continents? What Rama on the death of Dasharatha, who in the great Asura battle mounted the chariot of the gods? What Bharata on the death of Dushyanta, to whom the confines of the four oceans were but a cow's puddle? Enough of these:  did not our father himself undertake the government on the decease of his auspiciously named sire, who by the pervading smoke of more than a hundred sacrifices turned the prime of Indra grey? Moreover the man whom grief subdues the learned term coward: for women are the province of sorrows. Still what am I to do? It is some native cowardice or womanishness which has rendered me subject to the flame of filial grief. My mountain being laid low, my tears are all set flowing like torrents. The great splendour sunk, the lamp of wisdom is vanished from my darkened prospect. My heart is on fire, and discernment, as if apprehensive of being itself scorched, visits it never even in sleep. All my manhood is melted like a thing of lac by a mighty flame of pain. At every word my mind faints like a deer smit with a poisoned shaft. Like a misanthrope, my memory roves in devious wanderings. My firmness has, like our mother, departed with our sire. Daily my sorrows increase, like moneys employed by an usurer. My body, as if laden with a cloud born of the smoke of sorrow's flame, rains down a pouring drizzle of tears. 'At death every man is dissolved into the five elements' is no true saying of the childish folk. Our father is become fire only, since he burns me so. The o'ermastering rebel, grief, having penned this recreant heart of mine, burns it as the submarine fire the ocean, rends it as the thunderbolt the hill, attenuates it as waning the moon, and devours it as Rahu devours the sun. My heart  cannot with mere tears dismiss the fall of so noble a spirit, stately as Sumeru. At sovereignty my eye grows disordered, like the partridge's at poison. My mind seeks to avoid a glory, which, as if belonging to outcasts, is of no noble sort, banner-borne, crimson of hue, turbaned with many shrouds of the dead. Like the house sparrow, I cannot endure to abide even a moment in a home which has become a hell. I desire therefore in a hermitage to purge with the pure waters of pellucid streams that run from mountain tops this fond defilement which clings to my mind as to a garment. Therefore do you receive from my hands the cares of sovereignty, a gift not high esteemed indeed and reft of the joy of youth, like old age, which Puru welcomed at his father's will. Dismissing all the sports of youth, deliver your bosom like Vishnu to the embraces of Glory. I have abandoned the sword."
So speaking, he took his scimitar from the hand of his sword-bearer and flung it on the earth.
Harsha's reflection to Rajyavardhana
At this speech Harsha's heart was cloven as with the stroke of a sharp-pointed spear, and he reflected: "Can my lord have been angered when away from me by a hint received from some envious wretch? Or is he seeking in this way to try me? Or is this a mental aberration born of grief? Is this perchance not my dear brother, or has he possibly said one thing and my sorrow-vacant sense apprehended another? Did he intend one thing while another escaped his lips? Is this a stratagem of fate for the downfall and ruin of our whole house,  an intimation of the failure of all the garnered merit of my deeds, or a freak of a whole horizon of disastrous stars? Or is it a pleasantry of the Kali age, heedless of my sire's death, that this man has, like the vilest of mankind, instigated me, as one ready for any deed, to this atrocious act, as if I were no child of Puspabhuti's line, no son of our sire, no younger brother of his own, void of affection and detected in fault? 'Tis like bidding a divine drink wine, a faithful servant outrage his master, a good man have dealings with the low, a chaste wife forget her honour. Thus much indeed is seemly, that on the death of so noble a sire,--a Mandara for churning like an ocean the whole ring of feudatories drunk with the intoxication of valorous frenzy,--a man should seek a hermitage, don the bark dress, and practise austerities. But as for this charge of sovereignty, it is like a rain of cinders on a drought-parched wilderness, scorching one already scorched. This is unworthy of my lord. Again, although in this world a prince without pride, a Brahman without greed, a saint without anger, an ape without tricks, a poet without envy, a trader without knavery, a fond husband without jealousy, a good man free from poverty, a rich man without harshness, a poor man not an eyesore, a hunter without cruelty, a mendicant with a Brahman's learning, a contented servant, a grateful dicer, a wandering ascetic without gluttony, a misanthrope with a soft tongue, a truthful minister, and a king's son without vice are all equally hard to find, yet my lord himself has been my instructor. Who, I wonder, with such a father, a very scent-elephant among kings, fallen, with such a royal elder brother going in his young manhood to a hermitage, abandoning his throne, and rendering sterile his great pillar-like thighs and arms, could desire the clod called earth, defiled by the tears of all men's eyes, or, even were he an outcast, could court that bawd of the deeds of warrior families entitled Glory, whose low character is betrayed by the tokens of the distorted features of all the vile parasites who hang about the drunken game of wealth? How did such a deeply degrading thought enter my lord's imagination?  What is this blemish observed in me? Has Sumitra's son faded from his mind? Have Vrikodara and others been forgotten? Not thus heedless of those who love him, thus singly fixed upon achieving his own ends, used my lord's high preeminence to be. Again, my lord being gone to a hermitage, who indeed could so long for life as even to entertain a thought of the earth? The lion has a countenance all glorious with a handsome mane clotted with the ichor from the heads of mad elephants which his paw, terribly arrayed with claws sharp as the points of a thunderbolt, has felled: but when he has gone forth to take his pleasure in the forest, who is left to guard his dwelling in the mountain cave? for a hero's ally is his prowess. Why is my lord thus considerate to the jilt glory as not to lead her disguised as old age, like a woodland fawn, to that same hermitage, with rags to hide her bosom, and laden with bundles of Kusha grass, flowers, fuel, and leaves? But what avail these vain and manifold reasonings? in silence will I follow in his train. And the sin involved in transgressing my elder's commands austerity in fine shall dispel in a hermitage." So reflecting, he stood silent and downcast, in spirit gone first to the hermitage.
By this the weeping Keeper of the Robes had provided bark dresses, as previously ordered. The women of the royal household were screaming, as if their hearts had left them in alarm at the heavy strokes which their hands dealt (upon their breasts). Brahmans with uplifted arms were wailing aloud in horror. With doleful cries a group of citizens were engaged in bending before the princes' feet. Ancient courtiers ran away with tumult in their hearts. Aged kinsmen leaning on servants entered with trembling forms, disordered apparel, grief-choked voices, streaming eyes, and hearts bent on remonstrance. Despondent feudatories sighed, as prostrate they marked the jewelled mosaic with their nails. All the people had started with their children and aged to forest seclusions.
Suddenly a distinguished servant of Rajyasri,  Samvadaka by name, entered with flowing tears in a bewilderment of grief. Uttering a cry, he precipitated himself into the audience. Thunderstruck at this, Rajyavardhana and his brother questioned him with their own lips: "Speak, friend! speak; what stroke more unmanning than the present is fate, triumphant at the king's death, bringing upon us, in pursuance of her resolve to increase her efforts for our ruin?" "My lord," the man with an effort replied, "it is the way of the vile, like fiends, to strike where they find an opening. So, on the very day on which the king's death was rumoured, his majesty Grahavarman was by the wicked lord of Malwa cut off from the living along with his noble deeds. Rajyasri also, the princess, has been confined like a brigand's wife with a pair of iron fetters kissing her feet, and cast into prison at Kanyakubja. There is moreover a report that the villain, deeming the army leaderless, purposes to invade and seize this country as well. Such are my tidings: the matter is now in the king's hands."
Instantly at the news of such a fresh, sudden, unexpected, unimagined disaster the overwhelming passion of sorrow, rooted as it was, vanished from a heart previously unacquainted even by hearsay with humiliation, naturally impatient of checks from outside, filled with the pride of early manhood, claiming a birth from a heroic line, and devoted to a sister now suddenly an object of compassion. An awful paroxysm of wrath leapt fiercely into the recesses of Rajyavardhana's heart, like a lion into his cavernous abode. On his broad brow a deadly frown broke forth, darkening like Yama's sister and like her wavy with wrinkled lines that writhed like Kaliya's brood in their fright at Keshin's destroyer. His left hand, proudly stroking his right shoulder, huge as a sky-elephant's frontal hump, rained down upon it a torrent of rays from its own nails, as if to consecrate it for the enterprize of battle toils.  His right, whose palm filled with oozing sweat-- just as though he had seized the Malwa's hair to tear him up by the roots-- and which trembled as if with yearning to grasp wanton glory's tresses, glided once more toward his terrible sword. On his cheeks appeared an angry flush, as if Sovereignty, delighted by his taking up arms, were celebrating an ovation by scattered vermilion powder. His upturned right foot climbed his left thigh, as if, all kings being in his presence, it were filled with the pride of trampling upon their array of diadems. Imprinted on the jewelled mosaic, his left foot through the desperate twitching of his toes spat out a smoke, as though he would spout a flame to leave the earth widowed of men. His fresh wounds, bursting in his fierceness, spurted a bloody dew, as if to awake his valour sent by the poison of sorrow to sleep. Thus he addressed his younger brother:
- "This task, my noble brother, is my royal house, this my kin, my court, my land, my people guarded by their king's club-like arm: this day I go to lay the royal house of Malwa low in ruin. The repression of this beyond measure unmannerly foe--this and no other is my assumption of the bark dress, my austerities, my stratagem for dispelling sorrow. Malwas to maltreat the race of Puspabhuti!--this is the hind clutching the lion's mane, the frog slapping the cobra, the calf taking the tiger captive, the water-serpent grasping Garuda by the throat, the log bidding burn the fire, the darkness hiding the sun! My pain has vanished before a more vehement passion. Let all the kings and elephants stay with you. Only Bhandi here must follow me with some ten thousand horse."
So speaking, he ordered the marching drum instantly to sound.
Hearing this command, my lord Harsha, inflamed as he was with a fit of anger at the tidings of his sister's and brother-in-law's fate, felt his loving agony grow, as it were, to a greater height at the order to remain behind.  Speaking out, "What harm," he asked, "does my lord see in my attending him? If I am regarded as a boy, then I should all the more not be abandoned: if as needing protection, the cage of your arms is an asylum; if incompetent, where have I been tried? if in want of fostering care, separation makes thin; if unequal to hardships, I am classed as a woman; if you would have me happy, happiness marches in your train; if you think the toil of the journey great, absence is harder to support; if you would have me watch over my wife, Glory resides in your steel; if you wish me to guard your rear, valour is your rear-guard; if you argue that the feudatories are uncontrolled, they are secured by the bonds of your virtues; if you say a great man must not carry a companion with him, then you count me as distinct from yourself; if you say you are marching with a very light train, what excessive weight is there in the dust of your feet? if you think it inopportune that two should go, gratify me with the commission; if you say brotherly affection is timid, the fault is mutual. Whence this your arm's excessive greediness that you desire alone to quaff the ambrosia of fame as white as a mass of the Milk Ocean's foam? Never before have I been stinted in your favours. Therefore let my lord be gracious and take me also."
So speaking, he sank his head to the ground and fell at his brother's feet. But the elder upraised him and said:--"Why thus, dear brother, by putting forth too great an effort add importance to a foe too slight for our power? A concourse of lions in the matter of a deer is too degrading. How many flames gird on their armour against a sheaf of grass? Moreover for the province of your prowess you have already the earth with her amulet wreath of eighteen continents. The winds that carry off ranges of great hills arm not against a trembling cotton yield. The sky elephants, audaciously familiar with Sumeru's flanks, butt not upon a tiny ant-hill. For a world-wide conquest you, like Mandhatri, shall grasp, in the shape of your bow with its curving frame adorned with bright gold leaf, a comet portending the world's end of all earthly kings.  Only, in the unbearable hunger which has been aroused in me for our enemies' death, forgive this one unshared morsel of wrath. Be pleased to stay." Such was his answer, and on the same day he set out to seek the foe.
My lord Harsha's brother being thus occupied, his father laid to rest, his brother-in-law banished from life, his mother dead and his sister a prisoner, he could scarcely make the time pass, alone as he was like a wild elephant strayed from the herd. Many days having elapsed, on one occasion as with the night two-thirds spent he lay awake, being still despondent at his brother's departure, he heard the watchman chanting an Arya couplet:--
- 'Though his virtues be sung by continents, though rich be his worth like a treasure of jewels,
- 'As a squall a ship, so does fate overwhelm a hero without warning.'
At this his heart was still further grieved by thoughts of the instability of things; but when the night was well-nigh ended, he obtained a moment's sleep, and in a vision saw a heaven-kissing pillar of iron broken in pieces. With a throbbing heart he awoke again, and reflected :--"Why do these evil dreams thus incessantly pursue me? Day and night my eye--and not the right one--throbs expert in prophecies of evil. Dire portents again never for a moment weary of announcing the death of no mean king. Day after day Rahu, hard by the sun's disc which shows a headless trunk, is seen to wear a bodily form no longer curtailed. The Seven Sages vomit eruptions of smoke, swallowed perhaps in their time of austerity, and cover all the planets with grey. Every day dire flames are seen in the heavens, and the star groups fall from the firmament like motes of ash from the burning. The dimmed moon seems to sorrow for the downfall of the stars. Each night, as the meteors flash hither and thither, the heavens with tremulous starry eyes gaze as it were upon a mighty conflict of planets in the abysm.  Whistling with bits of gravel and permeated by huge flying dust clouds, the wind seems transporting the earth somewhither to signify the transmission of sovereignty. I see no fair auspice in the hour. Who shall waylay this fatality in our stock, which wastes its tender growth as an elephant a bamboo? Be it well, in any case, with my lord." After such thoughts as these he found a difficulty in encouraging his heart, which seemed in coward flight from an outburst of brotherly affection in its midst. Then rising, he went through the usual round of duties.
When in the audience chamber, he saw Kuntala, a chief officer of cavalry and a great noble high in Rajyavardhana's favour, hastily enter with a dejected company entering in his train. His form was wrapped in a shawl as miry as if unbearable grief had reddened its texture with a smoke of hot sighs. His looks were downcast, as if through shame at the preservation of his life, his glance fixed on the end of his nose, and his face, hairy with the long growth of mourning, mutely with uninterrupted tears bespoke his master's fall. This sight aroused the prince's alarm, but when the time came to hear the dreadful calamity, he seemed seized in every limb by all the world powers at once, water in his eyes, sighs in his moon-like mouth, fire in his heart, earth upon his breast. From the man he learnt that his brother, though he had routed the Malwa army with ridiculous ease, had been allured to confidence by false civilities on the part of the King of Gauda, and then weaponless, confiding, and alone, despatched in his own quarters.
Instantly on hearing this his fiery spirit blazed forth in a storm of sorrow augmented by flaming flashes of furious wrath. His aspect became terrific in the extreme. As he fiercely shook his head, the loosened jewels from his crest looked like live coals of the angry fire which he vomited forth. Quivering without cessation, his wrathful curling lip seemed to drink the lives of all kings.  His reddening eyes with their rolling gleam put forth as it were conflagrations in the heavenly spaces. Even the fire of anger, as though itself burned by the scorching power of his inborn valour's unbearable heat, spread over him a rainy shower of sweat. His very limbs trembled as if in affright at such unexampled fury. Like Shiva, he put on a Shape of Terror: like Vishnu, he displayed a Man-lion's aspect: like the sun-crystal hill, he fired at the sight of another's fierce brilliance: like doomsday, his form overpowered the eye by the brilliance of twelve suns uprisen: like a world-alarming hurricane, he brought a tremour upon all monarchs: like the Vindhya, he grew in sublimity of form: like a great serpent, he was wroth at the insult of a vile king: like Janamejaya, intent upon burning all sovereigns: like Vrikodara, athirst for his enemy's blood: like the gods' elephant, in full career to repel his foes. He represented the first revelation of valour, the frenzy of insolence, the delirium of pride, the youthful avatar of fury, the supreme effort of hauteur, the new age of manhood's fire, the regal consecration of warlike passion, the camp-lustration day of resentment.
"Except the Gauda king," he cried "what man would by such a murder, abhorred of all the world, lay such a great soul low, as Agni's progeny did Drona, in the very moment when, having by his arm's undissembling valour subdued all princes, he had laid the sword aside?  Apart from that ignoble wretch, in whose minds would my lord's heroic qualities, alighting like flamingoes upon the lakes, find no favour, spotless both as a mass of Ganges foam, and recalling the memory of Parashu-Rama's prowess? How could he, furious as the summer sun, which dries the water of the lotus pools, put forth his hands, regardless of friendly advances, to take my lord's life? What shall be his doom? Into what creature's womb shall he pass? Into what hell shall he fall? What outcast even would wreak this deed? My tongue seems soiled with a smirch of sin as I take the miscreant's very name upon my lips. With what design did this mean remorseless being bring my lord to his death, working his way like a worm into a sandal pillar capable of delighting a whole world? Truly now the fool, when in greed for the taste of sweet savours he laid hands upon my lord's life as honey, saw not the coming onset of a swarm of arrows. By lighting up this evil path this vilest of Gaudas has collected only foul shame, like lampblack, to the soiling of his own house. Though the sun, crest jewel of the world, may be sunk in the west, is there not the moon, lion lord of the one deer that roams the planet thickets, ready at once by the creator's appointment to quell the darkling foe of the road of right? Even when the goad, discipline's lawgiver, is broken, there exists for a wicked elephant's admonition the lion's still sharper claw, skilled to cleave the thick-boned heads of all mad elephants. Who is not bound to punish such vile jewellers, as it were, who deface the most brilliant gems? What now will be the wretch's fate?"
 Even as he thus spoke, the senapati, Simhanada, a friend of his father also, was seated in his presence, a man foremost in every fight, in person yellow as a hill of orpiment, stately as a great full-grown Sal tree's stem, and tall as if ripened by valour's exceeding heat. He was far advanced in years: and, although he had oft risen from repose upon a couch of arrows, yet in point of vigorous age he seemed to scoff at Bhishma. So stubborn was his frame, that even old age laid but a trembling hand, timidly as it were, upon his stiff hair. He seemed while still alive to have been born anew into a lion's nature, compounded of guileless valour and having for a mane his straight locks white as a bunch of moonlight. His eyes were veiled by brows whose wrinkled skin hung loose, as if he shrank from the mortal sin of beholding a new master's face. His terrible visage, brightened by a thick white moustache which hid his cheeks, seemed to pour forth an untimely war time in the shape of a commencing autumn white with blooming Kasha groves. A beard hanging down to his navel played the part of a white chowrie, fanning his master, who though dead survived in his heart. In spite of age his broad chest was rough with great gashes of wounds opening their lips as if athirst to drink the water of whetted steel's edge: and all across it ran in lines the writings of many great scars graven by the axe edge of sharp swords, as though he were making a calculation of the hour of victory in every battle; whence he might be likened to an eastern range of hills in motion. In the charm of divers martial exploits he seemed to outstrip the very Maha-Bharata; in an unbroken career of slaughtering foes to give a lesson to Parashu-Rama himself: in ranging oceans and in energy devoted to winning glory perforce to throw even Mandara into the shade:  in adapting himself to the limitations of his position to surpass the very sea: in steadfastness, rigidity and elevation to shame even the hills: in circumambient effulgence of fierce native brilliance to set the sun himself at nought: in the wearing toil of supporting his lord's weighty concerns to laugh even Shiva's bull to scorn. Of fury's fire he was the rubbing stick, of valour the lordliness, of arrogance the arrogant quality, of pride the erysipelas, of violence the heart, of martial ardour the life, of enterprise the panting gasp: to the infuriate a hook, to noxious kings an elephant's goad, the colophon of chivalry, the family priest of martial companies, the scale-beam of the brave, the boundary overseer of the village of swords, the performer of proud speeches, the sustainer of the routed, the executor of pledges, the authority on openings in great wars, the reveille drum of battle's devotees. His very voice, deep as the booming of a drum, inspired the warriors with lust for battle, as he said:
'My lord, knaves in themselves most foul mark not how they are themselves deluded by the foul unresting vixen fortune, as crows by the koïl. The aberrations of success, like those of the lotus, include the closing of the eyes in error. Hiding the sun with umbrella shades, the sluggard souls become unaware of the fierce heat of others. What indeed is a wretch to do whose looks, for ever turned away through excess of timidity, have never even beheld the faces of angered heroes when the fire of rage puts forth its bristles upon cheeks tawny with the swelling of unparalleled excesses of passion?  Little suspects this miserable man how great souls dishonoured, like spells wrought by Brahmans, in a moment consummate the ruin of whole houses. Even against the low the mighty blaze out at a blow. Well does this deed, so capable of hurling irredeemably to hell, befit such an outcast from all martial gatherings. To right-thinking men, who bear in the bow a treasure precious above all else in battle, and whose is the sword, that lotus thicket for the sport of glory's hamsas, even ocean-churnings and the like appear but mean expedients to bring fame to view: what then of such expedients as his? Those for whom, as if themselves incompetent for the task, the very hills appointed by the creator to support the earth vomit forth iron to assist the stroke of clublike arms hard as the thunderbolt,-- how can such stout-armed myrmidons of spotless fame even in thought dream aught impossible? Before warriors' hands, glorious in power to quell all opposition, the sun's rays (hands) are in respect of occupying the realms of space maimed. Only by vulgar report is Yama's dwelling in the southern quarter, essentially it is in the frown of warriors, where are terrible spaces curving with wavy lines like the Great Buffalo's horns. Strange that heroes roaring like lions in battle do not suddenly grow manes along with the thorny hair that bristles under the joy of conflict! The mass of wealth born from the four oceans has two dreadful crucibles whereby foes are burnt, the subaqueous fire and the heart of a great hero. How can the fire's natural heat rest before it has embraced all oceans? Idly has the lord of serpents expanded his vast ponderous hood, when by his coils he supports merely a clod of earth. Only the arms of warriors, adorned with forearms heavy as a sky elephant's trunk, know how sweet a taste does the earth provide in the enjoyment of a supremacy whose edicts are never set at nought. Like the sun, a king passes his days at his ease with radiance unimpaired, while with upturned face the goddess of lotuses clasps his feet.  But the coward is, like the moon, deer-hearted and pallid of hue: how can his glory abide steady for even a pair of nights? Expansive is the heroic spirit, raining a spray of boundless glory. The paths of prowess are levelled by the pioneer valour. The portals of pride by their very creak dispel its foes. The open realms of space to valour are lighted by the sheen of swords. Glory, like the earth, derives a loving flush from a dewy shower of the enemies' blood. Like a row of toe-nails, Royalty also glitters more brightly through rubbing against the grindstone edge of many a king's diadem jewels. Enemies' looks as well as a man's palms are darkened by ceaseless practice in arms. Hundreds of bandages bound about manifold wounds make fame as well as the body white. Hard strokes of swords, falling upon the cuirassed panels of enemies' breasts, spit forth not only sparks but also glory. Whoso, when his people have been slain by the foe, announces his heart's grief like a wise man by the breast beating of his enemies' wives, whose sighs are the wind caused by the descent of hard scimitars, whose tears are those which drip and fall on the body of a lifeless foe, who offers water by the eyes of his enemies' mistresses, he and none other deserves fame. No notion of kindred do the enlightened attach to bodies evanescent like a vision come and gone in sleep: with heroes, the conception of body belongs to imperishable fame. As foul lampblack does not so much as touch the diamond mirror, naturally brilliant with a radiance of ever glittering splendour, so sorrow touches not the illustrious. Once more, you are the vanguard of the stout-hearted, the captain of the wise, the foremost of the mighty, the champion of the noble, the forerunner of the illustrious, the prime of the dauntless. Here also you have cool retreats for the abode of fortitude, concealed by the shadow of a forest of strong arms, with the delight of sword-edge water within reach, and the fire of anger ever smoking in the vicinity: stout are those walls whose panels are soldiers' breasts. Think not therefore of the Gauda king alone: so deal that for the future no other follow his example.  Wave the chowries of those mock conquerors, these would-be lovers of the whole earth, by the sighs of the matrons in their harems. Excise their vicious cravings for the umbrella's shade by awnings of flocking kites blinded by the scent of carnage. Dispel with exudations of tepid blood the unhealthy flush of eyes diseased by the side glances of the harlot, ill-got fame. Assuage by the lancing of sharp arrows the tumours of preposterous hardihood. By panaceas of scars from encircling bunches of iron fetters uproot the stinging pains of feet that wanton with yearning for footstools. By the letters of stern command in caustic showers allay the itching of ears alert for the cry of 'Victory.' Remove the unhealthy rigidity of stiff unbending heads by forehead applications of a sandal salve consisting of the gleam of toe-nails. With levies of tribute for nippers extract the splinters of unmannerly forwardness inflamed by the arrogance of wealth. With the radiance of gemmed footstools for lamps pierce the darkness of soldiers frowns produced by windy swelling. Overcome the complications of vain pride with a cure removing heaviness of head by the lightness of kicks. Soften the hardness of the bow-string's callosities by the warmth of clasped hands folded in a perpetual obeisance. Forsake not the path along which your sire, grandsire, and great grandsire have marched amid the envy of the three worlds. Relinquishing the grief proper to cowards, appropriate, as the lion a fawn, the royal glory which is your heritage. Now that the king has assumed his godhead and Rajyavardhana has lost his life by the sting of the vile Gauda serpent, you are, in the cataclysm which has come to pass, the only Shesha left to support the earth. Comfort your unprotected people. Like the autumn sun, set your forehead-burning footsteps upon the heads of kings. Let your enemies with nail-scorching clouds of smoke from sighs all hot with the vexation of consecration to new subservience and with dawning light from a horizon of trembling crest gems give your feet a dappled hue. Even Parashu-Rama, though reared as a solitary ascetic among the deer, though soft-hearted with the tenderness of his Brahmanical nature, did yet, when his father was slain, frame his resolve and one and twenty times cut down and eradicated the united power of the Kshatriya stock, which with the fierce echoing twang of its forest of bows' notched ends  could rob the sky elephants of their madness, and could inflame the world with fever by its array of humming bow-strings: what then of my lord, the prince of the magnanimous, whose spirit wields in the native hardness of his frame a thunderbolt? Therefore do you this very day register a resolve, and for the wreck of this meanest of Gaudas' life take up the bow, that pennon of the sudden expedition of fate busy in gathering lives. My lord's body, baked in the flame of humiliation, cannot without the cool application of the crimson sandal-unguent of foes be relieved of this dire fever of pain. Failing the means of allaying the pain of insult, Bhimasena did yet without the device of any Mandara quaff the ambrosia of foemen's blood, as though it had been sweetened by Hidimba's kisses. And Jamadagni's son bathed in pools of Kshatriya gore, whose coolness was grateful to the touch by assuaging the fever of anger's fiery flames.'
So much said he ended, and my lord Harsha replied:- 'The advice of your eminence deserves to be acted upon. As it is, my envious arm looks with a claimant's eye upon even the king of serpents who upholds the earth. When the very planet groups rise, my brow longs to set itself in motion for their repression. My hand yearns to clutch the tresses of the very hills that will not bow. My heart would force chowries upon even the sun's presumptuously bright hands. Enraged at the title of king, my foot itches to make footstools of even the kings of beasts. My lip quivers to command the escheatment of the very quarters of heaven so wilfully occupied by their headstrong regents. How much more therefore now that such a woeful issue has come to pass! My mind, brimming with passion, has no room for complying with the observances of mourning. Nay, so long as this vile outcast of a Gauda king, this world contemned miscreant, who deserves to be pounded, survives, like a cruel thorn in my heart, I am ashamed  to cry out helplessly with dry lips like a hermaphrodite. Until I evoke a storm of rain from the tremulous eyes of the wives of hostile hosts, how can my hands present the oblation of water? But small store of tears have these eyes till they have seen the smoke cloud from this vilest of Gaudas' pyre. Listen to my vow: 'By the dust of my honoured lord's feet I swear that, unless in a limited number of days I clear this earth of Gaudas, and make it resound with fetters on the feet of all kings who are excited to insolence by the elasticity of their bows, then will I hurl my sinful self, like a moth, into an oil-fed flame.' So saying he gave instructions to Avanti, the supreme minister of war and peace, who was standing near: 'Let a proclamation be engraved': "As far as the orient hill, whose summit the Gandharva pairs abandon when alarmed by the hurtle of the sun's chariot wheels,--as far as Suvela, where the calamity of Rama's devastation of Ceylon was graven by axes hewing down the capital Trikuta,--as far as the western mount, the hollows of whose caves resound with the tinkling anklets of Varuna's intoxicated and tripping mistresses,--as far as Gandhamadana, whose cave-dwellings are perfumed with fragrant sulphur used as scent by the Yaksha matrons; let all kings prepare their hands to give tribute or grasp swords, to seize the realms of space or chowries, let them bend their heads or their bows, grace their ears with either my commands or their bowstrings, crown their heads with the dust of my feet or with helmets, join suppliant hands or troops of elephants, let go their lands or arrows, grasp mace-staves or lance-staves, take a good view of themselves in the nails of my feet or the mirrors of their swords. I am gone abroad. Like a cripple, how can I rest, so long as my feet are not besmeared with an ointment found in every continent, consisting of the light of precious stones in the diadems of all kings?"
Thus resolved, he dismissed the assembly, and having sent away the feudatories, left the hall once more desirous of the bath. Having risen, he performed all his daily duties like one restored to himself. And from the face of the three worlds, which had heard the vow, the day with heat allayed faded, like the spirit of self-assertion, away.  Later on when even the adorable sun, reft of his radiance, had disappeared, as if afraid of the loss of his own sovereignty; when even the red-lotus beds, apparently through fear, were closing and hiding the buzzing of their bees; when the birds, motionless and checking as if in fright the agitation of their wings, were becoming invisible; when in honour of the afterglow, which, like the king's vow, embraced the whole world, all the people with bowed heads joined a forest of adoring hands; when, as if the sky regents, apprehensive of falling from their station, were erecting a circle of sky-kissing iron bulwarks, the heavens were being hidden by an array of thick mists; Harsha did not stay long at the evening levee. The very lamps around, whose flames shook in the wind from the swaying shawls of bending kings, seemed to salute him, as he dismissed the company, and, interdicting the servants from entering, passed into the bed-chamber. There he lay prostrate and stretched upon the bed his languid limbs. As soon as he was left alone with his lamp, fraternal affection, finding its opportunity like a brigand, held him in its grasp. Closing his eyes, he beheld his senior living as it were in his heart. Without a pause his sighs issued forth, as if in quest of his brother's life. Covering his face with a flood of tears in place of a white shawl's hem, he wept long and silently; and these thoughts were in his heart: 'How could such a form as his possibly deserve an end like this? Our sire had a hard-knit flame like a broad mass of rock: but, like the iron-stone from the hills, my brother was harder still. How after losing him does it become me, heartless that I am, even to draw one breath? This is my love, devotion, attachment! What child even could approve of my surviving his death? Whither so suddenly has that noble unity gone? Accursed fate has parted me from him without even an effort. Unfeeling that I am, my grief has been all this time obscured by rage--fie upon it!--and I have not even abandoned myself to tears. Frail beyond question are the loves of mortals, fragile as a spider's web. Kinship can be only a conventional tie, if even I sit here apparently self-contained like a stranger when my lord has gone to heaven. What profit has dastard destiny reaped by parting a pair of happy brothers with hearts blessed in the union of mutual love?  My lord's virtues, once grateful to all creatures as if made of moonlight, do now that he has passed to another world verily burn, as if they had caught fire from his pyre. These and the like mournful meditations were in his mind. When day dawned, he gave early instructions to the chamberlain that he desired to see Skandagupta, the commandant of the whole elephant troop.
Summoned by a succession of numerous people running all together, Skandagupta, not waiting for his elephant, hastened on foot from his quarters with bustling lictors forcing the people aside. At every step he questioned the chief elephant doctors, who bowed on every hand, as to the night's news concerning the favourite elephants. All around him was a bustle of groups of people belonging to the camp. In front ran throngs of unemployed persons, come for the purpose of bursting the animals' fastenings and looking like Vindhya forests as they filled the expanse of heaven with thickets of bamboo clumps bedecked with uplifted peacocks' tails. With them were riders displaying handfuls of emerald green fodder, soliciting fresh-caught elephants, or bowing from a distance in delight at getting prime wild ones, or reporting the approach of rut in one under their charge, or ordering the drums to be mounted. First of all came some who, having been deprived of their elephants for careless offences, wore their beards long in mourning, while ragged new comers ran up in hope of the happiness of securing one. Troops of superintendents of decoys, finding at last an opportunity, were busy with hands uplifted enumerating the serviceable females. Rows of foresters with tossing badges of twigs strove by upraising forests of tall goads to announce the number of fresh captured elephants which they had secured. Crowds of mahouts displayed leathern figures for practising manoeuvres.  Emissaries from the rangers of elephant forests, sent to convey tidings of the movements of fresh herds and momentarily expecting supplies of fodder, reported the commissariat stores at villages, towns, and marts.
Beneath an aspect of indifference the bearing of a great minister, upheld by his master's favour, and a natural unbending rigidity gave to Skandagupta an air of command. He seemed to enjoin the very seas to provide a limitless supply of shells for elephants' ears, to pillage the very hills for store of red-chalk unguents to paint their heads, to deprive Indra of his Airavata's charge over the sky elephants. His tread, heavy as when Kailasa bent beneath the weight of Shiva's step, sought, as it were, to quell the earth's pride in her power to support great weights. His swinging arms, which reached his knees and dangled as he moved, appeared to plant on either side an avenue of stone pillars for elephant posts. A somewhat full and pendulous lip, sweet as ambrosia and soft as young sprays, suggested a bait to allure the elephant of Sri. His nose was as long as his sovereign's pedigree. A pair of long eyes, exceedingly soft, sweet, white, and large, as if they had drunk the Milk Ocean, gulped down the expanse of heaven. His forehead was full and wide beyond even Meru's flank. His hair, very long, naturally curling and rejoicing in a soft dark colour as if from growing in a perpetual umbrella shade, appeared, as its tresses tossed and quivered like young tendrils, to cut the sun's rays and despoil them of their light. Though, owing to the fall of all hostile alliances, he had abandoned the use of the bow, yet all the ends of heaven heard the echo of his great qualities. With a whole army of raging elephants at his disposal, he was yet untouched by presumption. Great in station, he was yet full of sweetness: royal yet full of virtues: chief of the generous as of elephants: wearing his dependence with the enviable undaunted dignity of sovereignty: raised to a position in the king's favour, unapproachable, like a noble wife, by others and fast fixed by love to one lord: disinterested kinsman of the wise, unsalaried servant of the great, unbought slave of the prudent.
 Entering the palace, he saluted from a distance, leaning his lotus hands upon the earth and touching it with his head. When he had seated himself in not too great proximity, Harsha addressed him: 'You have received a full account of my brother's destruction and my own intentions. You must therefore hastily call in the elephant herds out at pasture. The hot pain of my brother's defeat forbids even the briefest delay in marching.' Thus addressed Skandagupta replied with an obeisance: 'Let my master consider his orders executed. Loyal devotion, however, requires of me a few words. Therefore let your majesty hear. All that your majesty has undertaken is worthy of the nobility fostered in Pushpabhuti's line, of your own in born valour, of your arms long as a sky-elephant's trunk, and of your peerless affection for your brother. When even the wretched worms named snakes brook no insult, how should such mines of valour as yourself? Yet the story of his majesty Rajyavardhana has given you some inkling into the despicable characters of vile men. Thus do national types vary, like the dress, features, food, and pursuits of countries, village by village, town by town, district by district, continent by continent, and clime by clime. Dismiss therefore this universal confidingness, so agreeable to the habits of your own land and springing from innate frankness of spirit. Of disasters due to mistaken carelessness frequent reports come daily to your majesty's hearing.
In Padmavati there was the fall of Yagasena, heir to the Naga house, whose policy was published by a sharika bird. In Shravasti faded the glory of Shrutavarman, whose secret a parrot heard. In Mrittikavati a disclosure of counsel in sleep was the death of Suvarnacuda.  The fate of a Yavana king was encompassed by the holder of his golden chowrie, who read the letters of a document reflected in his crest jewel. By slashes of drawn swords Viduratha's army minced the avaricious Mathura king Brihadratha while he was digging treasure at dead of night. Vatsapati, who was wont to take his pleasure in elephant forests, was imprisoned by Mahasena's soldiers issuing from the belly of a sham elephant. Sumitra, son of Agnimitra, being over fond of the drama, was attacked by Mitradeva in the midst of actors, and with a scimitar shorn, like a lotus stalk, of his head. Sharabha, the Ashmaka king, being attached to string music, his enemy's emissaries, disguised as students of music, cut off his head with sharp knives hidden in the space between the vina and its gourd. A base-born general, Pushpamitra, pounded his foolish Maurya master Brihadratha, having displayed his whole army on the pretext of manifesting his power. Kakavarna, being curious of marvels,  was carried away no one knows whither on an artificial aerial car made by a Yavana condemned to death. The son of Shishunaga had a dagger thrust into his throat in the vicinity of his city. In a frenzy of passion the over-libidinous Shunga was at the instance of his minister Vasudeva reft of his life by a daughter of Devabhuti's slave woman disguised as his queen. By means of a mine in Mount Godhana, joyous with the tinkle of numerous women's jewelled anklets, the Magadha king, who had a penchant for treasure caves, was carried away by the king of Mekala's ministers to their own country. Kumarasena, the Paunika prince, younger brother to Pradyota, having an infatuation for stories about selling human flesh, was slain at the feast of Mahakala by the vampire Talajangha. By drugs whose virtues had been celebrated through many different individuals some professed physicians brought an atrophy upon Ganapati, son of the king of Videha, who was mad for the elixir of life. Confiding in women, the Kalinga Bhadrasena met his death at the hands of his brother Virasena, who secretly found access to the wall of the chief queen's apartments. Lying on a mattress in his mother's bed, a son of Dadhra, lord of the Karushas, encompassed the death of his father, who purposed to anoint another son. Chandraketu, lord of the Chakoras, being attached to his chamberlain, was with his minister deprived of life by an emissary of Shudraka. The life of the chase-loving Pushkara, king of Chamundi, was sipped, while he was extirpating rhinoceroses, by the lord of Champa's soldiers ensconced in a grove of tall-stemmed reeds. Carried away by fondness for troubadours, the Maukhari fool Kshatravarman was cut down by bards, his enemy's emissaries, with the cry of 'Victory' echoing on their lips. In his enemy's city the king of the Shakas, while courting another's wife, was butchered by Chandragupta concealed in his mistress' dress.  The blunders of heedless men arising from women have been brought sufficiently to my lord's hearing. Thus, to secure her son's succession, Suprabha with poisoned groats killed Mahasena, the sweet-toothed king of Kashi. Ratnavati, pretending a frenzy of love, slew the victorious Jarutha of Ayodhya with a mirror having a razor edge. Devaki, being in love with a younger brother, employed against the Sauhmya Devasena an ear lotus whose juice was touched with poisoned powder. A jealous queen killed Rantideva of Viranti with a jewelled anklet emitting an infection of magic powder: Vindumati the Vrishni Viduratha with a dagger hidden in her braided hair: Hamsavati the Sauvira king Virasena with a girdle ornament having a drug-poisoned centre: Pauravi the Paurava lord Somaka by making him drink a mouthful of poisoned wine, her own mouth being smeared with an invisible antidote.'
So much said, he ended and went forth to execute his master's orders. His majesty Harsha complied with all the forms of royalty. But while he, according to his vow, was commanding his march for a world-wide conquest, in the abodes of the doomed neighbouring kings manifold evil portents spread abroad. Thus:--herds of black spotted antelopes roamed restlessly hither and thither, like imminent glances of death's emissaries. In the courts resounded the hum of swarms of honey bees, types of the clatter of deserting glory's anklets. With streams of flame issuing from cavities of hideous open mouths, ill-omened jackals dismally even in the day time howled long and with no fair presage. Down swooped vultures, red as young monkeys' faces in the roots of their wings, as if full well acquainted with dead men's flesh. All at once the trees in the parks put forth untimely flowers, as though to say farewell. Vehemently wept the statues in the halls, beating their breasts with strokes of agitated palms. The warriors, as though their heads had vanished in fear of the near clutching of their hair, beheld themselves headless in their mirrors.  Upon the crest gems of the queens appeared footprints marked with wheels, conchs and lotuses. The chowries of the slave women slipped suddenly from their hands. Even in lovers' quarrels the soldiers, averted from their mistresses, turned their backs for a long while away. On the elephants' cheeks were parted the honey-symposia of the bees. As if sniffing the scent of Yama's buffalo, the panting steeds refused to eat the green young grass, ripe though it might be. In the courtyards the sluggish peacocks would not dance, though coaxed by girls clapping music accompanied by the sound of tossing bracelets. Near the gateways night after night troops of dogs howled shrilly without cause, upturning their faces as if their eyes were fixed upon the moon's deer. Shaking her forefinger as if to count the dead, a naked woman wandered all day long in the parks. Upon the inlaid pavements uprose lines of grass swaying like the curved hairs upon a deer's hoofs. With braided locks and eyes not from collyrium lustrous, appeared in the wine of their goblets the reflections of the lotus faces of warriors wives. The lands shook as if affrighted at their approaching seizure. Upon the bodies of the soldiers a crimson rain might be seen to have fallen, in hue ruddy as blooming Bandhuka flowers, and suggesting the clots of red sandal juice wherewith doomed criminals are decked. As if to lustrate a doomed glory, blazing meteors ceased not to fall in showers, setting the star-clusters afire with eruptions of incessantly flashing sparks. At the very first a furious hurricane swept along, from every house bearing away, like a chamberlain, chowries, umbrellas and fans.
End of chapter VI
Here ends the sixth Chapter--entitled The King's Vow--of the Harsha-Carita composed by Sri Bana Bhatta.
Go to Chapter VII
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