Chandra. A Tale Of The Field Of Tellikóta, A.D. 1565.

A poem by Ramakrishna, T.

At length the four great Mahometan governments, A'dil Sháh, Nízám Sháh, Baríd, and Kútb Sháh, formed a league against Rám Rája, then ruling at Bijáyanagar. A great battle took place on the Kishna, near Tálicót, 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 rája, being taken prisoner, was put to death in cold blood, and his head was kept till lately at Bijapúr as a trophy.

This battle destroyed the monarchy of Bijáyanagar, 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 zemíndárs or poligars.

The brother of the late rája 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 God 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.

Lo such the story of two human lives!
To them, as happens oft, abundant share
Of Nature's choicest gifts brought many ills.
But noble lives are thus more noble made,
As shining gold oft-heated shines the more.
Over the ancient land of Vijiapore[2]
There reigned a king for truth and valour known.
The lovely Chandra[3] was his only child,
Who like the moon among the stars of heaven
Shone fairest 'mong the daughters of the land.
The father fondly hoped his child would wed
A neighbouring prince, the mighty ruler of
An ancient kingdom richer than his own;
The mother she would be the worthy spouse
Of him who was her brother's only son
And trusted minister of Vijiapore.
But one there was, a courtier of the land,
A youth, yet full of counsel wise and true,
And ever ready to obey his master's will.
The terror of his foes, a hunter bold,
He rode the fleetest horse with ease and grace,
The wildest elephant his might could tame,
And horned bulls knew well his steady grip.
Him Chandra wished to wed, and in her breast
With silent hope her love for him kept warm.
The years sped on, the father fondly dreamt
She soon would be the queen of two proud realms,
The mother that her future lord would be
Both king and minister of state. Meanwhile
Fair Chandra and her noble Timmaraj
Longed for the consummation of their love.
A flower there is, the fairest flower in Ind,
A flower beloved by poets of all time,
Whose beauties lovers ever love to tell,
And liken oft to woman's thousand charms.
This flower, the stately lotus of our Ind,
Its petals closes to the moon at eve,
And all its beauties hides through silent night,
But with the rising of the morning sun
Opens and swells, its beauty full displays,
And sweetest fragrance breathes when fiercest beat
The rays. E'en so fair Chandra, though oft told
She womanhood had long ago attained,
And soon must wed one worthy of her race,
Nought heeded when alternate to her view
Were brought the prowess of the neighbouring king,
The wisdom of the pilot of the state.
To wean her love from noble Timmaraj,
He forth was sent against his country's foes,
With his small band to fall, and ne'er return.
But oft as he was sent, as often he
Returned victorious with fresh laurels gained.
And when the bards before the king and queen
Recited in the ancient palace hall
The battles bravely won, the glories of
The war, fair Chandra's face with joy, e'en like
The lotus, beamed, and as by magic charmed,
Disclosed a thousand beauties centred there.
Though silent she, her looks to all made known
Her love for Timmaraj, the author brave
Of all his country's good. Yet still she kept
A seal upon her lips, until by chance
An incident occurred which sealed her fate.
As on the sand near by the water's edge
One thoughtless stands to watch with eager eyes
The surf that beats continuous on the shore,
And suddenly when least expected flows
A wave that reaches far beyond the rest,
So stood the king and queen of Vijiapore
In parents' place, tempting their daughter fair
To marry whom she loved not, could not love,
When Chandra suddenly her mind declared.
Down through the stillness of a narrow vale
The lovely Pampa flows, whose course is shaped
By hills that lift their summits to the sky.
On either side, her course is like the life
Inconstant of the daughters of this land,
Who lived in times of old in castles set
Amidst rich groves and cool, pellucid streams,
And woodlands broad and fair to roam at will;
But these by moats and battlements enclosed
Were made impassable that the eyes impure
Of man might not upon their beauty gaze,
And so defile their virgin purity.
For all that here delighted woman's eyes
Was freely lavished by their royal sires;
And countless guards to watch all day were there,
And maidens numberless to sport with them
And while away their tedious hours of life
With tales of youth, who, bolder than the rest,
Leapt over moats and scaled steep battlements
To have a glimpse of those more dear than life,
But who, alas! were doomed to endless woe,
And sent to pine away in dungeons dark
For tainting with their feet forbidden ground.
But soon their life was changed - the royal bride,
Before the happy bridal hour began,
Was first by all her kindred freely seen,
And straightway taken to the palace hall
To choose and then make known her future lord
From anxious suitors there, and thenceforth spend
With him her days of freedom and of joy.[4]
E'en so, none dared, so fearful is the gorge,
To gaze upon the river's loveliness,
Except those inmates of the mountain caves,
That in the noontide hour, to quench their thirst,
Climb down, regardless of the huntsman's bow,
Or save the vultures of the air, those birds
Which, soaring on majestic wings aloft,
Alight, as if by instinct drawn, upon
Her shady margins, there to feast upon
The carcass of some beast that died of age.
But soon the valley widens, and she flows
At will, her waters sparkle in the sun,
And on her margins for grim hills are seen
Green fields, deep shady groves, and peaceful homes.
'Tis here those mountains, that kept zealous guard
O'er Pampa, fade away from view, as if
To make amends for past unkindliness,
So leaving her to shoot into the plain
And watering Vijiapore and countless lands:
'Twas here the village stood of Chengalpore,
The scene of many noble deeds of man
And woman's high devotion to her lord.
'Twas here one crowded hour of Timma's life
Was worth his country's brightest annals, rich
In spoils of war and deeds of valiant men.
In that one hour of all his glorious life
He won a kingdom and a bride, for whom
He left that kingdom never to return;
And this the story of that glorious hour.
One day the news to Vijiapore was brought:
The elephant whose rich caparisoned back
The king, to please his subjects, once a year
Rode on, his keeper in a sudden fit
Of frenzy killed, and dreadful havoc wrought
Amongst the royal steeds in Chengalpore;
And now the mandate from the king went forth
That Timmaraj should slay his fav'rite beast,
For e'en the stoutest warrior of the land
Dared not approach him in his frenzied mood.
Then 'twas that Chandra suddenly her mind
Declared and boldly spake in words like these:
"It is not meet, dear father, that thou shouldst
So lightly use our only warrior's life,
Who won so many battles for his king
And added nought but glory and renown
Unto his country, and bid him thus fling
His life away before a beast insane.
Thou knowest well thy foes are ever bent
On wresting from thine hands this ancient crown,
And he alone it is that often curbs
Their pride. Yes, Timmaraj shall slay the beast,
But grant my pray'r that he shall marry me,
For often hast thou said that womanhood
I long ago attained, and soon should wed
One, therefore, worthy of our ancient house,
And gladly will I wed that warrior bold,
That shall, before to-morrow's sun has set,
Unto the portals of thy palace here
Bring dead the beast, that now at Chengalpore
Is working havoc on thy noble steeds."
The king to this his consent gladly gave,
Assured that Timma by the angry beast
Would be destroyed and never would return;
And so the second mandate was proclaimed
And sent to Chandra's other suitors too,
That he shall win the daughter of the king
Who slays the beast before the morrow's close.
The morrow came, and, ere the warrior youth
Leapt on his faithful steed, at early morn,
A maiden stood before his gate and said,
"Brave youth! thy Chandra sent me here to say
Thou shouldst not fear to boldly face the beast;
Shouldst thou come victor back, she will be thine
And thine for ever even after death.
But shouldst thou flee from him to save thy life,
Think then thou art unworthy of her love,
And she shall not e'en see thy coward face;
But, if perchance thou fallest by the beast,
Vouchsafe to her through me with thine own hand
One javelin of the eight which now thou hast,
For she will not outlive her Timmaraj,
But straightway bare her breast and plunge the dart
And lifeless fall a corpse." The youth replied,
"I gladly send this javelin, but tell her
She shall not need its use, for Timmaraj
Will surely come victorious with the beast."
With javelins seven then he sallied forth
Upon his steed to win his bride or die.
Meanwhile the news was spread that Timmaraj
And that young min'ster, who these many years
Was seeking through her mother Chandra's hand,
And Bukka, ruler of the neighbouring state,
Whom she her father fondly wished should wed,
Had started on their steeds to Chengalpore;
Each vowed to be the first to drag the beast
Unto the royal city for six miles,
And there slay him before the palace gate.
The city poured her sons the sight to see,
For in the annals of their country's past
Not e'en the brightest page contained one deed
That could this glorious feat of man surpass;
And Timma was the people's fav'rite, and
They dearly wished that he should slay the beast,
Win Chandra, and become their future king.
But soon the thought of that mad beast unnerved
Both Bukka and the minister of the state.
The royal Bukka thus to himself said:
"A richer kingdom than this Vijiapore
I own, and why should I now madly stake
My life in this hard feat; 'tis easier far
To gain this Chandra and her father's throne.
I will sit hidden in the thickest bush,
Near yonder stream, by which the pathway runs -
For Timmaraj is sure to pass that way -
And with this arrow I will end his life.
Thereafter Chandra's love for him will fade
And die, and who is there to marry her
But I?" So thought this foolish youth, to whom
A woman's love was as inconstant as
His own resolve to fight a savage beast,
And sat within a bush to watch his prey.
He too, the pilot of the state, deemed it
A mad resolve to try the dang'rous feat,
And silent sat unnoticed and unknown
Upon the other side of that same path,
Within a secret bush by that same stream.
The one knew not the other was concealed
The fatal blow upon the selfsame prey
To deal, but fearless Timma on his horse
Approached the beast, which madly rushed on them,
To force both horse and rider to the ground
With his huge leg, and then to tear them both.
The horse was fleeter than the elephant,
Which thus the chase gave up, but still the youth
Undaunted neared the beast a second time,
And hurled with all his might a jav'lin, which
Pierced deep the temple. Thus enraged, the beast
Began the chase again, but still the steed
Was fleeter than the wearied elephant,
And once again he stopped, but Timma hurled
A second, which went deeper than the first,
And roused him all the more - and nevermore
He stopped, but towards Vijiapore the chase
Continued; for in due succession flew
Six jav'lins, lightning-like, with deadly aim.
Thus, by the angry beast pursued, he neared
At last the little stream that must perforce
Be crossed to reach the royal city gate.
Then from the pouch that dangled on his back,
His only jav'lin, with his utmost might,
Discharged, that so enraged the maddened beast,
With fury rushing, that his writhing trunk
Had all but touched the rider and his horse
In one embrace to crush them both; but soon
The keen-eyed youth the danger saw, and spurred
His horse, which bounded o'er the stream, when lo!
Two arrows crossed each other underneath.
One pierced the min'ster dead; the other pierced
The royal Bukka, who unconscious fell.
One moment more, and at the palace gate
The wearied rider on his foaming steed
Stood, like a warrior coming with his spoils,
The beast beside him, which, worn out, fell dead.
And as the tall and massive gate of some
Old fort with spikes deep driven to withstand
The foe, who battered it incessant, falls,
And, powerless to stand the shock, at last
Falls with a crash that far and wide was heard,
So fell the beast, his massive corpse all torn
And mangled, and with jav'lins planted deep,
And when he fell from his huge throat went forth
A wail, his last, like roaring thunder, that
Resounded through the hills of Vijiapore.
Another moment and brave Timma sat
Upon the bridal seat, the veil was drawn,
And, through the veil, the sacred knot was tied
Round Chandra's neck, and all was merry there.
And still another moment when - alas!
For that strange fickleness of human life
Whose joys and griefs each other follow like
The spokes of some fast-going wheel - there came
The wounded Bukka with a violent wail
That Timma had the king's adviser slain,
Whose body lay upon the riverside,
Exposed to all the carrion birds of prey,
And him too wounded, but the arrow pierced
Not deep, but laid him senseless for awhile;
But soon, with consciousness restored, his wound
He washed, and straightway hastened on his steed,
In time to tell the story, sad but true,
And stop the marriage of that coward with
The fairest and the noblest of the land.
As when upon a tree, whose boughs with fruits
Are laden, birds innumerable sit,
Them to enjoy and to be merry there,
The cruel hand of man to mar their joys
Hurls suddenly a stone, and all the air
Around is thick with jarring sounds of birds
That in confusion fly - so fell the words
Of Bukka on that scene, where all was joy,
Where, like a beehive, swarmed the surging crowd,
To see the marriage of their princess dear;
And straightway in confusion wild they ran
Without a purpose, but in various ways.
Unto their homes some ran the news t'acquaint,
Some to the wounded Bukka and his horse,
But many to the riverside to find
Their min'ster lying dead by arrow pierced.
The sorrow-stricken king spake not a word,
But like a lifeless figure stood awhile.
A sudden fit of frenzy overtook
The king at last, and Timma's awful doom
He thundered forth in accents strong like these:
"Be this my decree, forthwith known to all,
That Timma henceforth shall be banished from
My land for this dishonour brought on me.
He paved his way by murder to my throne,
And sullied the fair name of my dear house."
When these few awful words the monarch spoke,
Tears trickled down his eyes, and Timma from
The bridal seat received his doom, 'stead of
A blessing from the father of his bride.
A gentle touch, a whisper through the veil,
Then Timma to the royal judgment bowed,
And slowly moved from out those scenes of joy
And merriment, and reached the palace gate,
Where stood his horse by that dead elephant;
And soon in that confusion that prevailed
Was seen to slowly move a figure veiled,
T'approach the gate, and forthwith Timma swung
That figure on the saddle of his horse,
Then himself leapt and vanished straight from view.
The angry monarch saw their sudden flight,
And as some agèd lion, when sore vexed,
Like thunder roaring, musters all his strength
And stands defiant to face the foe, so stood
The agèd warrior, whose old strength returned,
His breast expanded, and his body raised
Erect, and for the time his age shook off.
Then spake he forth in angry tones like these:
"My only child is gone, and he that brings
My daughter back shall have my highest meed -
Nay, even half my kingdom I will give."
None dared save Bukka to essay the feat,
Who forthwith sprang upon his horse, and soon
O'ertook the running pair, for Timma's horse,
Though deemed the fleetest in the land, now felt
His double weight, his wonted speed decreased.
Then Timma said, "Our foe is nearing fast,
And he is armed, while weapons I have none.
In bridal dress I cannot face the foe,
And he will sure kill me and take you back
Unto your angry sire. Thou art a girl
Born of the martial Kshatriya race, and hence
Thou knowest well to ride the wildest horse;
So let me now dismount for thee t'escape."
"'Tis better far I die with thee," she said,
"But I have here the javelin thou didst give
Before thou went'st to kill the elephant,
The eighth and last, concealed within my veil.
Take this and stop the coming foe, - but oh!
Kill not the wretch who dared to follow us,
And sully this our happy bridal hour
By murder; only stay, oh, stay the chase!"
So said, she gave the jav'lin, which he hurled
Upon the chasing charger's breast with all
His might, and straightway horse and rider fell;
And, like those innocent and helpless doves,
The loving pair together fled away,
Their life of joy and freedom to renew.
Before the fury of an angered king
For full three days and nights they ran, and found
At last a safe and happy shelter in
A shepherd's cot, and in those troublous times
'Twas easier for the brave to kingdoms found,
Rear palaces, and rulers strong become,
Than for the toiling peasants, from sown fields,
To reap their crops and safely bear them home.
Brave Timma was a stranger 'mongst new men;
The many tigers by his arrows killed
And neighboring clans and lawless robbers kept
In check gave them sure hopes of future peace
And future joy, and straightway they made him
Their king to guard their women and their homes,
While they their avocations of the soil
In peace pursued, and soon was raised a fort;
A stately palace too was reared within
By willing hands, and safe from dang'rous foes,
And far away from their dear native vale
Of Vijiapore they spent their peaceful days
In joy, beloved by all their loyal men.
But 'tis a saying often told in Ind,
He hath a foe who hath a lovely wife.
Her very loveliness is reason deemed
To hate her lord, nay, murder him, and hence
Her husband's foe unconscious she becomes.
For Chandra's beauty all these evils wrought
Upon the youth, who for his country fought
So many battles, and the Moslem kept
In constant dread, and for his virtue's sake,
Though most beloved in his native land,
And dreaded most for valour by his foes,
He lived a stranger in a foreign land.
She, too, that maiden, 'twas her fate to share
Her husband's troubles for her beauty rare.
Still 'twas a little heav'n their new home where
The halcyon days of mutual love were spent.
'Tis sweet to love and sweeter to be loved;
And thus in their new home their life of joy
They spent in undisturbèd solitude;
But ah! this even was not long to be.
One day the news was brought to their new king,
By a small troop of sorrow-stricken men,
That ev'ry night a tiger from his den
Came down and fearful havoc wrought amongst
Their toiling cattle, and the piteous tales
Of dreadful woe they poured into his ear
Moved Timma's heart, who took his trusty bow
And forthwith started with a faithful band
To drag the tiger from his mountain cave
And then for ever stop his mad career.
For days and nights he wandered in the woods,
But sad to tell found not the dreaded beast.
Still, nothing daunted, continued the search,
Until at last his faithful men he missed,
And wandered far into the wilds unknown,
When lo! the villain Bukka, who, upon
The outskirts of the newly-founded state,
Was hovering like a falcon o'er his prey,
Pounced suddenly upon the lonely youth
And safely carried him to his abode;
Then tidings sent to Chandra in these words:
"Dear maid! thy Timma is a helpless slave,
A humble suppliant for his life before
The valiant Bukka; let thy pride now cease.
The jav'lin which thou sentest me to slay,
Which killed my noble steed instead, awaits
To pierce his head and forthwith end his life.
But hearken ere I strike him dead therewith,
Thy matchless beauty, valour, virtue - these
Are fit to shine in royal courts like mine,
Add splendour to my household, where installed
As queen the daughters of my land will pay
Homage to thee - discard him, therefore, and
Love me, and I will forthwith set him free."
The angry maiden made reply, "Vile wretch!
Cursed be thy head to hold this evil thought.
If in my presence this request were made,
Sure I to fragments would have splintered it
With my own weapon, and the pieces thrown
To carrion birds to feast upon withal.
Tell him 'tis better far he should be like
A cur tied at my gate, for servants, as
They pass, to throw a little morsel from
The remnants of our feast; I fear him not,
And if my lord he kills, sure I am not
His wife, if forthwith I don't leap upon
The flames and then to ashes be reduced.
Begone! 'twere better far my husband dies
Than be the prisoner of a grovelling wretch."
Bukka, whose ire was roused, sent word at last -
"Beware, you foolish maid! poor Timma's life
Endanger not by this refusal stern,
Nor lightly treat my prowess, for to me
'Tis easier far to take away his life
Than for the lordly monarch of the woods
To kill the puny, weakly lamb; and nought
Prompts me to wait thus far, but pity for
The daughter of a friend and neighbour-king,
Else Timma's body would have long ere this
Been given to the eagles of the air.
So listen now, once more, ere I kill him,
And, if at all thou carest for his life,
Let me but see the beauty of thy face,
And for one moment only gaze upon
Its loveliness - then Timma shall be free,
And I will pass in quietness to my home -
Nay, henceforth I will not molest you both.
Shouldst thou this last request refuse, I swear,
By all I sacred hold, the moment that
Refusal comes, the jav'lin from my hand
Will fly at Timma and will strike him dead."
Meantime brave Chandra in the audience hall
Of her own palace, 'midst her faithful men,
Received the news, and then in angry tones
She spurned the wild request, when there appeared
Her priest, who counsel gave in words like these:
"It is not meet, O royal lady, that
Thou shouldst this attitude defiant assume,
When Bukka in a moment may bereave
Us all of our dear, noble Timmaraj,
And drive thee, too, to fling thy life away;
And, if 'tis writ thou shouldst so die with him,
Our sad entreaties and our tears will nought
Avail, nor alter laws thus preordained.
But haply, if it is writ otherwise,
Why break the link that binds you both for life?
Call it not chance the link that binds men's hearts,
But Heaven's sacred gift to sweeten life.
It is the hand divine that guides man's life
From the inception to the very end;
Nay more, sees even after that life's end,
Its own appointed destiny is reached,
To take fresh shape, its course to run anew,
And reap what it had sown before, for take
The tree, its fruit but falls to reach its base.
The calf his mother easily doth find
Amidst a thousand cows, to suck the milk;
And all our deeds doth likewise follow us,
E'en after death, and they are not our own,
But preordainèd laws, that must perforce
Be anywise fulfilled, and He alone
It is that sees their strict fulfilment here.
For ah! why should the noblest maiden and
The fairest and the wisest in the land
Be mated to the meanest wretch through life?
All that is deemed the highest in the world -
Beauty and honour, valour, virtue, wealth -
All these availeth not, her mind is blank;
She herself knows not whom to love and wed;
Not e'en dear friendship kindles in her breast
The lamp of love, but suddenly
A passing stranger's glance, a simple look
Instinctive plants that love, which slow takes shape,
Despite a thousand counter forces, till
At last the final end is reached: a look
Is thus enough to bind two hearts for life,
And this is but the true fulfilment of
A preordainèd law that in the life
Before had all but reached perfection full,
Or their appointed shape had all but tak'n,
And in the new life easily attains
The end: such, then, the truth of all such things.
Call it what you will, simple tendency
Inherited, the least sign gives it life,
Which but leads it to its appointed end,
Like powder whose combustibleness sleeps,
The sudden spark to action rouses it.
And thus it was, O Chandra, thou didst share
A humble courtier's lot, and didst refuse
The premier noble's hand, or better still
The queenship of two mighty states, and thus
The many counter forces that were set
At work but strengthened thy true love for him.
And why endanger such a husband's life?
One wedded so to thee, and not by chance,
But by the preordainèd law of God;
For know thou livest only for thy lord.
Thy husband is thy lord, and, if perchance
It is his will thou shouldst be Bukka's queen,
Thou shouldst, so knowing it, obey his will,
Else, sure thou shalt be deemed nor pure nor chaste,
But counted worse than e'en a faithless wife;
'Tis not in man to alter written laws;
'Tis hard, nay useless too to fight 'gainst fate,
And if 'tis writ that Bukka should now see
Thy matchless face, thou canst not alter it,
And fate's severities good deeds alone
Can soften, and our holy writings say
'Tis sin to let another man behold
Thy face, admire the beauties that enchant,
And thou becomest then impure; but those
Same holy books say, 'tis no sin to see
The shadow for the true reality.
Now, therefore, let a silken veil be drawn,
And underneath a bowl of oil be placed,
And the reflection of thy face therein
Let Bukka see and Timmaraj be saved."
To this the queen consent unwilling gave,
And Bukka to the palace gladly came,
Resolved to freedom give to Timmaraj,
If Chandra were like other maidens fair,
But sure possess her, if she shone among
The daughters of the earth surpassing fair,
And like the moon among the stars of heav'n.
The veil was drawn, the bowl of oil was placed,
And lo! was seen therein a face, whose like
The royal Bukka ne'er had seen before
In all his life; like lightning it appeared,
Bright'ning the surface for an instant, and
Like lightning vanished, planting in his breast
Impassioned love for Chandra, and a love
Too deeply rooted to be rooted out.
Then Chandra through the screen impatient said:
"Now that this deed is done, delay no more
My long lost husband to restore to me."
And Bukka made reply - "O maiden fair,
O Chandra! I am smitten by thy charms,
Thy wondrous face is ever in my mind,
And nought can now induce me to restore
Thy Timmaraj to thee, to gaze upon
Thy wondrous beauty and enjoy those charms.
My kingdom broad is at thy feet, and there
Enthroned as queen my riches and my all
Shall be at thy command, and therefore hear, -
If, by to-morrow eve, thou dost not reach
My tent pitched yonder, Timmaraj shall die,
And to the pyre, if thou dost follow him,
Sure I will myself die with thee, and thus
A double sin will rest upon thy head."
As the fond mother of an only child,
When sick, clings closely to it, and for days
And nights incessant watches it with care,
When he, well versed in all the healing lore,
Gives but to please her hopes of cure complete,
But suddenly the dang'rous malady
New shape assumes, the symptoms serious grow,
The healer himself breaks at last the news
Unto the anxious mother, who stands mute,
And knows not what to do in blank despair -
So felt the hapless Chandra when these words
The treach'rous Bukka spake and left the scene.
Now 'twas her holy Brahmin priest appeared,
And counsel gave again in words like these:
"Grieve not, but well rejoice that Bukka builds
His future hope on base dishonesty.
His fall is near, and Timma's safe return
Henceforth is sure, for he that hopes to win
By treach'ry and deceit, fails sorely in
This world of God, and therefore fear him not;
It is the foe magnan'mous thou shouldst fear.
Our holy ancient writings say it is
No sin deceit to conquer by deceit;
And hence fail not to send immediate word
That Bukka should to-morrow eve expect
Thee as befits a woman of thy rank,
And with a hundred maidens in his tent.
Take twenty litters, and let one appear
More gorgeous than the rest, for thee to sit,
Take but a hundred of thy faithful men,
All armed to fight for their dear king and queen.
Thou art a kshatriya girl, thou knowest well
To fight, and therefore take thy fav'rite bow
And arrows and conceal thy person with
A maiden's veil, armed fully as thou art,
And likewise let thy men be covered too,
To look like thine own maids of honour, let
Each litter, with a man inside, be borne
By four, go forth equipped likewise, surprise
The foe, bring him a prisoner, or upon
The field of battle die a noble death.
And death need have no horrors unto thee,
But unto those to whom this world is bright,
Its prospects hopeful and its pleasures keen,
And to the healthy and the young death's pangs
Are most severe when life is plucked, and from
Sere age, when all is ready for the end,
Life unperceived goes as from one that sleeps.
The gentlest wind brings down the serest leaf.
To sever from the parent stem by force
The freshest must be plucked, and so with man.
And by the righteous and the just, when sore
Oppressed with grief, dear death is welcomed most.
When the eruptions on the skin pain most,
By cutting them relief at once is sought;
E'en so, if noble Timmaraj is killed,
Court instant death, thy dagger hurl, and bare
Thy breast and lifeless by thy husband fall,
Like that same bird that, full up to the throat,
Swallows the little pebbles of the sand,
And, soaring high aloft upon her wings,
Suddenly closes them and drops down dead
Near her dead lover, where the body bursts.
But this, if you find hard, run with thy life
To this our safe abode, where willingly
The fun'ral pyre we, with our hands, will raise
And feed the flames thy body to consume.
Hence soon depart and Krishna will help thee."
The morrow came, and Chandra sallied forth
And, as directed by her Brahmin sage,
Went with a hundred of her armèd men,
All veiled, surprised the foe, who, flushed with hope,
Unguarded waited but to welcome her:
Then safely rescued her lost Timmaraj;
The fatal jav'lin wrung from Bukka's hands,
And himself too a prisoner brought in chains.
Then in the spacious palace hall, amidst
Her faithful men, the noble queen sat veiled
With Timmaraj, long absent from the throne,
And spake to Bukka, standing in the front
With folded hands, in angry words like these:
"By treach'ry thrice thou triedst to win, and thrice
Hast failed, and, when my noble Timmaraj
Went singly forth to bring the maddened beast,
Concealed thou didst aim at his life and failed.
The hand of God had otherwise decreed.
And when upon the bridal seat we sat,
And all were merry in my father's home,
Thou camest with a story, false and base,
And for our lives we had to flee, and now
Are strangers here, and when upon thy steed
Unjustly thou pursuedst us both, it was
My hand that stayed my husband killing thee,
Else long ago the worms had eaten thee;
Thy bones the jackals of the earth had tak'n;
And nothing left of thee but thine own sins.
It was thy charger innocent that paid
For them the penalty instead. Once more
You came, and, like a lawless thief concealed,
Carried my lord, when helpless and alone,
And for his freedom vile proposals made,
And for so many days these troubles wrought
On me and these my faithful loyal men.
Know well, 'tis virtue that is sure to win,
And truth and justice will prevail at last.
This very jav'lin will put thine eyes out;
But pity for thy present state prompts me
To let thee now alone - go safely home,
And henceforth never even sin in thought."
And like a criminal who, by pity freed,
At once goes forth worse sins to perpetrate,
So Bukka, vowing vengeance, left the hall,
And henceforth love and hate alternate played
In his dark breast - hate for this grave insult,
And by a woman offered, and love too,
A bestial passion for her wondrous charms;
And from that selfsame moment various plans
His head devised her pride to humble and
Her purity to sully, when alas!
The Moslems' greed of power gave him sure hopes
At last her Timma's ruin to complete.
Unto the agèd king of Vijiapore
His only warrior's and his only child's
Escape brought many toils and endless woe.
That Bukka, with a perjured tale, came on
The day of marriage was made known to all,
Soon after they had left their native home.
The agèd monarch knew not where they lived,
But sent his faithful servants far and wide
To bring them home; the cruel Moslems, too,
Aware that Timma's absence weakened him,
Combined a sudden rush to make upon
The royal city, kill her ruler, and
Divide the spoils and take his vast domains.
And now the wily Bukka with those foes
Of foreign faith conspired; what though he fought
As usual in the ranks of Vijiapore,
Under the banner of her Hindu king!
To them he would run in the thickest of
The fight and sudden turn the tide of war,
And, from the conquered spoils, for his own share,
He wanted neither lands nor riches, but
Demanded Chandra and her lord alive.
And news of instant war had travelled far
And wide, the princes and the chieftains poured
Their loyal forces, ready to avenge
Their Moslem foes, who, for no cause, thus dared
Their city to invade so suddenly.
And Timma hastened with his wife at last,
And was with joy received by all, who lost
All hopes of ever seeing them alive.
And soon a council in the royal hall
Was held, to name a leader and decide
How best to strike at once th' advancing foes.
Many felt proud by Timma to be led
To victory in the field or glorious death,
And many too in that assembly said
That Bukka should not join their Hindu ranks,
For he would, in the midst of battle, join
The Moslem ranks and surely bring defeat
And ruin too upon their agèd king,
The noble Ramaraj of Vijiapore,
And cause their ancient kingdom's overthrow.
But said one counted high for wisdom there:
"Do good, and so chide him that evil does,
Is the oft-quoted saying of our true
And ancient faith, and this is but the war
For mastery 'tween different creeds and faiths,
And hence let Bukka forthwith come to fight
Against the common foes, who thus combined
To mar our ancient faith and change our lives,
And let our Ramaraj himself go forth
And lead, and everlasting glory win,
And in defence of our old Hindu faith,
Or, if he falls, let him to Swarga go
To join th' immortals there; and one word more
To thee, O Timma, - bury all the past,
And Bukka for his sins forgive, and both
Go hand in hand to fight the Moslem foes.
To pardon is the spirit of our faith."
To this consent was gladly giv'n by all,
And the propitious day and hour to march
Was soon named by the holy Brahmin priest,
So deeply versed in all the starry lore.
Brave Timma sought his anxious wife ere he
Went forth to fight, and thus took leave of her.
"Dear wife! the day to march is named at last.
Your agèd sire and our dear monarch leads
The war, and Bukka, as a Hindu true,
Joins us to fight against the Moslem horde,
And doubly glad I am that in this war,
With Bukka vying in the field with me,
And in the very presence of our king,
Who well rewards the val'rous and the brave,
The place of honour I will there attain
For courage true, and prove once more before
The world I am a worthy husband of
A noble wife; so let me now depart."
She made reply - "Some evil it forebodes
That Bukkaraj should thus be madly told
To join our ranks, for what is truth and God
To one so steeped in sin? And sad it is
My agèd father goes with him to fight.
Trust not in him and keep a steady eye
On him, e'en if within the thickest of
The fight thou art, for any moment he
May turn the tide of war; fight till the last,
And, if thou comest back victorious from
The field, I'll be the first to welcome thee,
But, if thou fallest fighting in the field,
Or if, perhaps, it chances otherwise,
Thou art left helpless and alone, here is
Our ever ready jav'lin to kill thee.
Thy body forthwith shall be nobly borne
Unto the pyre by thine own faithful men,
And I will gladly leap upon the flames.
But if thou comest routed and alive,
Then Chandra nevermore shall see thy face."
At early morn, upon th' appointed day,
The king his faithful servants summoned, and
Before them all his only brother named
To rule the kingdom and confided all
His subjects to his care; then, at the head
Of his brave troops, out of the city marched,
Amidst the royal bards recounting in
Sweet tones the glories of his kingdom's past,
His holy priests invoking Krishna's help
And chanting sacred hymns, and in the midst
Of maidens of the martial Kshatrya race,
Proceeding to the very city gates,
And singing to their fathers, brothers, and
Their husbands in shrill notes heard far and wide,
That Swarga's gates are ever ready to
Receive the faithful if they bravely fall,
The flames are ready to take their proud wives,
But burning hell gapes wide for to devour
The cowards that run routed and alive;
Their maidens' sweet embrace awaits them not.
At last, upon the plains of Tálicót,
The armies met, fierce raged the battle, and
Old Ramaraj fought nobly in the field;
And Timma too wrought dreadful havoc on
The Moslems and their ranks oft shattered, but
Alas! the ever treach'rous Bukka pounced
Sudden on his own ranks; the king was slain;
His ghastly head upon a pole was shown,
And helpless and forlorn the Hindus stood;
But, ere perfidious Bukka could run with
The Moslem foes, to capture him alive,
A faithful soldier Timma called, gave him
His Chandra's jav'lin, in his steady grip
To hold, then boldly ran his body through
And instantly fell lifeless to the ground.
A faithful few the body bore, and laid
Before the orphaned and the widowed maid
Their precious charge, and soon the pyre was raised.
Then, near the flames that brightened her bright face,
Her uncle and her people shedding tears,
Her noble husband lying cold and still,
The story of her father's cruel death
Still ringing in her ears, she took farewell.
"Dear uncle and my faithful men! grieve not:
I see a cloud, now looming yonder there,
No bigger than the hand of man, that shall
Expand and rain and water to purge all
The land of th' innocent blood shed on it,
For mother India's cup of woe is full,
And but three decades more, - there will come from
The far-off ends of this vast globe of ours, -
A little island planted in the sea, -
A handful of a noble race to trade,
And shall from thee ask for a plot of land,
And they shall prosper for their valour and
Shall be exalted for their righteousness.
They shall befriend the helpless and the poor,
And like the streams that seek the ocean broad,
The chickens that run to their mothers wings,
The maidens helpless and forlorn, that court
The succour of the chivalrous and the brave,
The orphans poor, the bounty of the kind,
All men of Ind, all races and all creeds
Shall to their banner flock, to live in peace
And amity; the tiger and the lamb
Their thirst shall quench both from the selfsame brook.
The giant brute before the weakly sage
Shall bow, and men shall fear to even gaze
Upon the maidens that go forth alone,
Adorned with naught but chastity, and from
All lands the wisest shall revere our faith.
He that desires our homes to plunder and
Sully the honour of our women, him
Punishment terrible shall sure await.
Three hundred years more and the little plot
Of land thou gavest shall grow and expand
Into an empire huge, unwritten yet
On hist'ry's page, and shall surpass the dreams
Of warriors bold in times of old, and like
The creepers that, entwined around the oak,
Luxuriant grow, safe from the storms that blow,
And flow'rs give forth to beautify the scene,
Her sons shall everlasting peace enjoy,
And blessings, hitherto unknown to man -
The grandest scene for God to ever cast
His loving eyes upon, and for the world
Of man to wonder at, and there shall be
One sway, the sway of reason and of truth;
One creed, the creed of righteousness and love;
And mercy for all living things on earth;
One brotherhood, the brotherhood of man;
One fatherhood, the fatherhood of God.
But hark! there comes a shout, and yonder runs
Exulting Bukka to seize me alive.
But these kind flames are ready to save me.
Run, uncle, run at once to far-off lands
And continue thy sway in safer climes."
So saying, she leapt on the fun'ral pyre,
And speedily to ashes were consumed
The faithful wife and her departed lord.
The monarch, who thus from the Moslem ran,
In honour of this noble maiden, reared
A princely town,[5] and here the Saxon came,
And mother India was for ever blest.

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