Ordeal By Fire By Valmiki

Ordeal By Fire

For she dwelt in Ravan’s dwelling-rumour clouds a woman’s fame-
Righteous Rama’s brow was clouded, saintly Sita, spake in shame:

‘Wherefore spake ye not, my Rama, if your bosom doubts my faith,
Dearer than a dark suspicion to a woman were her death!

Wherefore, Rama, with your token came your vassal o’er the wave,
To assist a fallen woman and a tainted wife to save,

Wherefore with vour mighty forces crossed the ocean in your pride,
Risked your fife in endless combats for a sin-polluted bride?

Hast thou, Rama, all forgotten?-Saintly Janak saw my birth,
Child of harvest-bearing furrow, Sita sprang from Mother Earth,

As a maiden true and stainless unto thee I gave my hand,
As a consort fond and faithful roved with thee from land to land!

But a woman pleadeth vainly when suspicion clouds her name,
Lakshman, if thou lov’st thy sister, light for me the funeral flame,

When the shadow of dishonour darkens o’er a woman’s life,
Death alone is friend and refuge of a true and trustful wife,

When a righteous lord and husband turns his cold averted eyes,
FuneraI flame dispels suspicion, honour lives when woman dies!’

Dark was Rama’s gloomy visage and his lips were firmly sealed,
And his eye betraved no weakness, word disclosed no thought concealed,

Silent heaved his heart in anguish, silent drooped his tortured head,
Lakshman with a throbbing bosom funeral pyre for Sita made,

And Videha’s sinless daughter prayed unto the Gods above,
On her lord and wedded consort cast her dying looks of love!

‘If in act and thought,’ she uttered, ‘ I am true unto my name,
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!

If a false and lying scandal brings a faithful woman shame,
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!

If in lifelong loving duty I am free from sin and blame,
Witness of our sins and virtues, may this Fire protect my fame!’

Fearless in her faith and valour Sita stepped upon the pyre,
And her form of beauty vanished circled by the clasping fire,

And an anguish shook the people like the ocean tempest-tost,
Old and young and maid and matron wept for Sita true and lost,

For bedecked in golden splendour and in gems and rich attire,
Sita vanished in the red fire of the newly lighted pyre!

Rishis and the great Gandharvas, Gods who know each secret deed,
Witnessed Sita’s high devotion and a woman’s lofty creed,

And the earth by ocean girdled with its wealth of teeming life,
Witnessed deed of dauntless duty of a true and stainless wife!


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