Words of Balakandam -Sarga 1

Some grammar bits..

Sujatha R
10 min readDec 10, 2023

Stumbled upon the IIT K Ramayana website. With its elegant black and white setting, the simple non cluttered translation, and the sweet audio backtrack, I was enchanted and mantramugda. Could not stop from listening and reading the first 4 sargas. Have kept my lateral thoughts at the end of the post.

Poetry is in the domain of sound and words. What does it take to feel those words? What does it take to soak in those expressions.. to navigate and steer through the elegant turns and embellishments crafted by the master poet himself?

It is Valmiki’s Ramayana.. Perched on the branch of poetry, the cuckoo of his work cooing with sweetness.

My 2 bits in identifying and learning some newer patterns. The comprehension is hard and lossy otherwise. As the patterns shall occur again and again.. Small steps in building the bridge.

As sarga 1 summarises the entire Ramayana, and this bit is story part in well engrained, making the travel with verbs and patterns somewhat easy. Have kept the snippets in narration order, to keep intuitive.

Says Valmiki to Narada..
“In this present world, who is that great person? Great is my curiosity!”

कः नु अस्मिन्.. सांप्रतम् लोके ?? परम् कौतूहलम् हि मे”

And Narada narrates the magnificent description of Rama and the life story.

Rare repository of qualities

‘मान्/वान्’ gives the meaning ‘possessor of’, ‘endower of’. Case of maTup pratyaya

द्युतिमान् self effulgent
धृति
मान् selfcommanding
बुद्धि
मान् intellectual
नीति
मान् ethical
श्री
मान् possessing auspiciousness
प्रताप
वान् mighty and powerful
लक्ष्मी
वान् lustrous body
स्मृति
मान् infalliable memory
प्रतिभान
वान् talented

‘सु’ gives meaning of ‘good’

सुशिराः head with noble qualities
सुललाटः has a large and beautiful forehead
सुविक्रमः valiant

The Doer (तृच् प्रत्यय)

धाता
sustain
er of this entire world

रक्षिता जीवलोकस्य.. धर्मस्य परिरक्षिता । 1.13
protector of all living beings and of the moral code

रक्षिता स्वस्य धर्मस्य.. स्वजनस्य च रक्षिता । 1.14
perform
er of his duties.. protecter of subjects.

समासः

Most of the other descriptors are बहुव्रीहिः, as it is referring to Rama, and not X & Y.
सत्यवाक्यो
दृढव्रत
जितक्रोधो

तृतीयातत्पुरुषः
गुणसम्पन्नम् endowed with qualities
विनयसम्पन्न: endowed with modesty,
सर्वलक्षणसम्पन्ना endowed with all auspicious characteristics
ज्ञानसम्पन्नः

Lofty Metaphors in Action

Valmiki Ramayanam is ripe with rich and deep metaphors that bring a surreal tingling to the senses and imagination, and different styles and tag words are used to emote this comparison.

like the sea in depth and gravity.. समुद्र इव गाम्भीर्ये
like Himavant mountain in strength.. धैर्येण हिमवान् इव

like Vishnu in prowess.. वीर्ये विष्णुना सदृशः
like the Moon in pleasing appearance.. सोमवत् प्रियदर्शनः
like the all-consuming fire in anger.. क्रोधे कालाग्निसदृशः

like the earth in patience.. क्षमया पृथ्वी समः
like Kubera in charity.. त्यागे धनदेन समः

समुद्र इव गाम्भीर्ये.. धैर्येण हिमवान् इव ।।1.1.17।।
विष्णुना सदृशो वीर्ये.. सोमवत् प्रिय दर्शनः
काल अग्नि सदृशः क्रोधे.. क्षमया पृथ्वी समः ।।1.1.18।।
धनदेन समः त्यागे सत्ये धर्म इव अपरः

Other tag words are

like devatas and gandharvas.. देवगन्धर्व सङ्काशा:

A few years back, when I was chanting SundaraKandam.. my grammar was flaky and could hardly relate much.. I made an effort at that time to latch on to tag words and keywords, that helped me to have some context while chanting. And there is literally an ocean of metaphors in Valmiki’s Ramayana. Do check out the Sundara Kandam post later on.

Instigation & Cause/Effect.. Conveyed with अपादान kaaraka

This style has been deployed quite a bit in this sarga and I feel quite amused.

स सत्य वचनात् because of his truthfulness

पितुर् वचन निर्देशात् out of fulfilling father’s promise
कैकेय्याः प्रिय कार
णात् out of gratifying kaikayi

स सत्य वचनात् राजा धर्म पाशेन संयतः
That Dasaratha, due to his word

पितुर् वचन निर्देशात् कैकेय्याः प्रिय कारणात् ।।1.1.24।।
That Rama, out of fulfilling father’s promise, out of gratifying kaikayi, set out to forest.

Some more instigations/proddings..

भरद्वाजस्य शासनात्
because of order by Bharadwaja

पितु: आदेशात्
because of his word to his father

अगस्त्य वचनात् च एव
as directed by sage Agastya

शूर्पणखा वाक्यात्
(instigated) by the words of Surpanakha

हनुमत् वचनात्
on the word of Hanuman, Rama befriended Sugriva

प्रणयात् due of friendship

गृध्रस्य वचनात्
instigated by the words of Sampatti

पैतामहात् रात्: due to boon from brahma, Hanuman could free himself from the weapons

**Note, sometimes, this taddita form (with तः ending) is used too.
कालचोदितः incited by destiny

That Dasaratha.. That Rama.. That Bharata.. Pronouns as adjectives

सत्य वचनात् राजा.. धर्म पाशेन संयतः
That Dasaratha, true to his word and restrained by dharma

जगाम वनम् वीरः ..प्रतिज्ञाम् अनुपालयन् ।1.1.24।
That brave Rama.. in order to obey the word of his father, went to the forest

जगाम वनं वीरो.. रामपादप्रसादक: ।। 1.1.34 ।।
That Bharata went to the forest in order to worship Rama’s feet

A list of verbs enumerating the Past actions..

The prefixes are masking the ‘a’ beginning here.

अब्रवीत् spoke; Narada thus spoke
ऐच्छत् desired; Dasharata desired to coronate Rama
व्यसर्जयत् dispatched; Rama sent back his charioteer at shrungiberapura

नैच्छत् Bharata did not desire
अयाचत् Bharata implored his brother

अभ्यगच्छत् Rama went towards Shabari

अगर्जत् roared; Sugriva roared in Kishkinda
प्रत्यपादयत् installed; Rama installed Sugriva as the king
न्यवेदयत् informed; Hanuman informed that he had seen Sita
अकारयत् made; bridge was built with the help of Nala

न्यवसन् [plural] they dwelled in Chitrakoota

Nich Pratyaya

विवासयामास सुतं रामं दशरथ: प्रियम् ।।1.1.23।।
विवासयामास getting X exiled

सूतं गङ्गाकूले व्यसर्जयत्
व्यसर्जयत् getting X seperated ।।1.1.29।।

~

Lyut krudanta

Brings bhava
विवासनं च रामस्य भरतस्याभिषेचनम् ।।1.1.22।।

Lit krudanta

ram + yat => ramya, gam gamya, shak shakya, pada padya

Nuvul Pratyaya

prasAdakah

Case of Sati Saptami

चित्रकूटं गते रामे.. राजा दशरथस्स्वर्गं जगाम ।।1.1.32।।
While Rama was in Chitrakoota, Dasaratha passed away

मृते तु तस्मिन्भरतो.. नैच्छद्राज्यं ।। 1.1.33।।
While Dasaratha was dead.. Bharata did not want to be enthroned.

A sense of Continuity: शतृ-प्रत्ययः

A beautiful “moving visual” is created with the “continuous” usage.. That “departing” Rama.. That “obeying” Rama.

अनुपालयन् obeying,
अनुदर्शयन् showing,
व्रजन्तम् that departing Rama [vibhakti 2.1]

अनुपालयन् वनम् जगाम
Obeying, Rama left to the forest

व्रजन्तम् तं भ्रातरम् ..स्नेहात् अनुजगाम ह 1.1.25
Lakshmana followed that departing brother

लक्ष्मण: सौभ्रात्रम् अनुदर्शयन्
showing fraternal affection, Lakshmana too left

Some more..

विलपन् स्वर्गम् जगाम lamenting; lamenting, Dasaratha went to the heavens
रामपादौ उपस्पृशन् touching; touching the sandals of Rama
अभ्यागमन् approaching
मर्षयन् enduring
मार्गमाण: Rama and Lakshmana were wandering for Sita
अमृष्यमाणा incapable of enduring, Sita enters the fire
जल्पन् conversing
पठन् reading
रममाणा sporting [shaanach]

Use of elegant क्त-प्रत्ययः forms

These have been used as descriptors and verb sense in active & passive voices.

चारित्रेण च को युक्तः
who is amalgamated with character

प्रहृष्टो मुदितो लोकः तुष्टः पुष्टः सुधार्मिकः |
The world was rejoiced, contended, nourished

अनुगत: followed.. समागत: joined.. अभिगतः approachable

दृढव्रत: firm in his vows
हित: benifitter
श्रुत: heard
निष्ठित: accomplished
सर्वगुणोपेत: endowed with all virtues
संयत: restrained
दयित: beloved
आर्यभाव पुरस्कृत: worshipped with reverence
वसत: was dwelling
प्रीत: pleased; Sugriva was pleased with Rama
शङ्कित: आसीत् had a doubt
पूजित: was adored
प्रस्थित: set out
काल चोदितः incited by destiny

Feminine form in क्त-प्रत्ययः

In this beautiful description of Sita Devi, feminine forms in क्त-प्रत्ययः are used as descriptors/verbs.

दयिता भार्या -beloved wife of Rama
हिता -befitting wife
जनकस्य कुले
जाता -born in the family of Janaka
देवमायेव
निर्मिता -as though created by magic of Gods
सर्वलक्षण
सम्पन्ना -endowed with great triats
अनुगता -Sita followed him

रामस्य दयिता भार्या नित्यं प्राणसमा हिता ।।1.1.26।।
जनकस्य कुले जाता देवमायेव निर्मिता
सर्वलक्षणसम्पन्ना नारीणामुत्तमा वधू: ।।1.1.27।।
सीताप्यनुगता रामं शशिनं रोहिणी यथा ।

Born in the race of Janaka and daughter in law of Dasaratha, Sita, the beloved spouse of Rama, is like his vital breath, always desired the wellbeing of Rama. She followed him, like Rohini followed the Moon. Endowed with all virtues, she is the foremost woman.

Rama meets Guha & bids bye

“Accompanied with” is seen in Vibhakti 3..

पौरै: पित्रा दशरथेन च Accompanied with his dear citizens, with his father Dasharatha..
शृङ्गिबेरपुरे गङ्गाकूले at
Shrungiberapura, at the banks of Ganga,
गुहम् आसाद्य having met
Guha
रामो सूतम् व्यसर्जयत्
Rama sends the charioteer back 1.1.29

गुहे लक्ष्मणे सीतयासहित: with Guha, Lakshmana & Guha, Rama sets forth

A long chain of cascading Verbs.. tvaa/lyap pratyaya

ते वनेन वनं गत्वा नदीस्तीर्त्वा बहूदका: ।।1.1.30।।
चित्रकूटमनुप्राप्य भरद्वाजस्य शासनात् ।
रम्यमावसथं कृत्वा रममाणा वने त्रय: ।।1.1.31।।
देवगन्धर्वसङ्काशास्तत्र ते न्यवसन् सुखम् ।

ते वनेन वनम् गत्वा
having gone from forest to forest

बहूदका: नदी: तीर्त्वा
having crossed many rivers

भरद्वाजस्य शासनात् चित्रकूटम् अनुप्राप्य
having reached chitrakootam on order of Bharadwaja

रम्यम् आवसथम् कृत्वा
having
built wonderful hut,

ते त्रय: तत्र वने रममाणा: देवगन्धर्वसङ्काशा: सुखम् न्यवसन्
the three of were
living happily like devas and gandharvas.

Background Narration with LiT Lakaar

While there are many dialogues, the background narration has ample usage of LiT lakaar, which is used for paroksha ie “reported-past” style of verbiage. The doubling sounds in some of these Lit Lakaars give a ringing effect.

जगाम वनं वीर:.. Rama went to the forest
लक्ष्मणोऽनु
जगाम ह ।Lakshmana followed his brother
राजा दशरथस्स्वर्गं
जगाम । Dasaratha departed to heavens

शुश्राव told.. the rishis told Rama of their problems
निजघान killed.. Rama killed the raakshashas accompanying shurpanakha
जहार carried away.. Ravana carried away Sita

सख्यं चकार.. made friendship
ददाह.. burnt him
ददर्श सीतां ..saw Sita

विवासयामास सुतं रामं .. exciled his son Rama
निवर्तयामास persuaded Bharata to return to the kingdom
सहायं
वरयामास.. Ravana sought help of Marachi
कथयामास Rama was informed to visit Shabari

दर्शयामास showed
दिश: प्रस्थापयामास .. the monkeys were dispatched in all directions in search of Sita
मर्दयामास तोरणम्.. Hanuman crushed the archway of Lanka

Embedded Dialogues

In many ways, that Ravana was persuaded by Marichi — “O Ravana! Do not fight against the mighty one! Not good for us!”

वार्यमाणः सुबहुशो मारीचेन स रावणः।।1.1.50।।
“न विरोधो बलवता क्षमो रावण तेन ते”।

While dieng, Kabandha tells Rama “‘O Raghava, By name Shabhari, performing religious duties and austerities. You may visit her’.”

स च अस्य कथयामास “शबरीम् धर्म चारिणीम् || ।।1.1.53।।
श्रमणाम् धर्म निपुणाम् अभिगच्छ” इति “राघव”

And then.. tatho..

There are 13 occurrences. ततो lends a distinct style of narration and hooks the events. A mini Ramayanam can be constructed with these verses. Have highlighted the doer.

निवर्तयामास ततो भरतं भरताग्रज: ।।1.1.37।।
And then, Rama persuaded Bharata again and again to return to the capital.

ततो ज्ञातिवधं श्रुत्वा रावणः क्रोधमूर्छितः ।।1.1.49।।
And then, having heard the slaughter of his folks, Ravana became violent with anger

ततः तेन एव शोकेन गृध्रम् दग्ध्वा जटायुषम् ।।1.1.54।।
Then, with sorrow, he set the funeral pyre for the departed vulture Jatayu.

ततो वानरराजेन वैरानुकथनं प्रति ।।1.1.61।।
And then, by Sugriva, the story of enimity with Vali was narrated.

ततः प्रीत मनाः तेन विश्वस्तः स महाकपिः ।।1.1.67।।
And then, pleased with Rama’s actions, Sugriva sets forth to Kishkinda cave along with Rama.

ततः अगर्जत् हरिवरः सुग्रीवो हेम पिंगलः ।।1.1.68।।
And then, that Sugriva, the best of monkeys, having a reddish yellow hue, roared with a great voice.

ततः सुग्रीव वचनात् हत्वा वालिनम् आहवे ।।1.1.70।।
And then, after he defeated Vali in the mighty battle, adhering to his promise..

ततो गृध्रस्य वचनात् संपातेः हनुमान् बली ।।1.1.72।।
And then, बली हनुमान heeds to the words of sampatti..सम्पाते: गृध्रस्य वचनात् and leaps over the ocean.

ततो दग्ध्वा पुरीम् लंकाम् ऋते सीताम् च मैथिलीम् ।।1.1.77।।
And then, Hanuman burns the city of Lanka except for मैथिली सीता

ततः सुग्रीव सहितो गत्वा तीरम् महा उदधेः ।।1.1.79।।
Thereafter, Rama reached the shore of the ocean together with Sugriva

ताम् उवाच ततः रामः परुषम् जन संसदि ।।1.1.82।।
Then, Rama spoke harsh words in the assembly.

ततः अग्नि वचनात् सीताम् ज्ञात्वा विगत कल्मषाम् ।।1.1.83।।
And then, due the of testimony of the firegod, Rama was exceedingly pleased to know that Sita was untainted.

Linking with Sati Saptami / Adhikarana

When event 1 happens, it triggers event 2.. Perhaps these examples follow this style.

चित्रकूटं गते रामे.. पुत्र शोक आतुरः तथा ।।1.1.32।।
While Rama left for chitrakoota, Dasaratha passed away lamenting.

गते तु भरते.. श्रीमान् सत्य सन्धो जितेन्द्रियः ।।1.1.39।।
When Bharata leaves chitrakoota, Rama forsees and leaves to DandakAranya inorder to prevent further meetups.

Karta in Shasti Vibhakti

वसतः तस्य रामस्य वने.. सर्वे ऋषय:..
While Rama was staying in Sage Rishabanga’s forest, all the Rishis approached Rama to eliminate the rakshasas.

Sequencing of Past Actions

With क्त्वा-प्रत्ययः, past actions are stitched well.

श्रुत्वा च एतत् वच: having these these words from Valmiki
गत्वा having gone, तीर्त्वा having crossed, कृत्वा having made
उत्स्मयित्वा having smiling
निवेदयित्वा having presented the ring
हित्वा shedding
इष्ट्वा satisfying the gods
उपासित्वा reigning

प्रविश्य तु महाअरण्यम् having entered the vast forest
अनादृत्य तु तत् वाक्यम्.. disgarding the advise of Marichi, Ravana sets forth
तम् निहत्य.. after slaying Kabandha
prekShya = after seeing
lankaam puriim
samaasaadya = After reaching the city Lanka
abhiShichya = after anointing Vibhesshena anointing in Lanka
siitaam
anupraapya = after getting back Seeta
puShpakam
samaaruhya = having boarded that Pushpaka aircraft
abhigamya = approaching

Newer Diction

विवासनं exile
दयित: beloved
प्रकृति subjects, people
पौरै: by citizens

शंसत् reported.. Rama reported the past events to Sugriva
अमृष्य not enduring
ईयात् attains.

The ending lines

प्रहृष्टो मुदितो लोकः तुष्टः पुष्टः सुधार्मिकः
सुधार्मिक: निरामय: अरोग:
Everybody rejoiced, flourished.. free from suffering

पुरुषा: क्वचित् किञ्चित् न द्रक्ष्यन्ति
No where, even little, did people see any bad

न चापि क्षुद्भयं तत्र न तस्करभयं तथा
In his kingdom, there was no fear of fire, water, wind, disease, hunger and theft.

इदं रामचरितम् this story of Rama.. पवित्रम् पापघ्नम् पुण्यम् auspicious, वेदै: सम्मितं equal to vedas.. य: पठेत् सर्वपापै: प्रमुच्यते he who eads, all sins will be released.

जनश्च शूद्रोऽपि महत्वमीयात् ।।1.1.100।।
All sects of people shall beget felicity

Some lateral thoughts on Sarga 1 to Sarga 4

Sarga 1
When there is intense curiosity and tapas, the answer eventually dawns in..

“Who is that Role Model? What was that path?”Valmiki’s question to Narada..& Narada narrates the magnificent description of Rama and his life story.

Sarga 2
There is clarity and freshness in the mind. There is elevation from the muddy state. The forces and surroundings make it possible to create history..

With the turn of events, Valmiki is sparked to create perhaps the world’s first poetry in this unique Anustup meter. He is gifted the vision to rewind back and visualise the impeccable journey of Rama.. RamAyana

Sarga 3
Valmiki composes the great epic. A brief summary of Ramayana follows.

Sarga 4
Valmiki composes the poetry in 6 kandas. It is a storehouse of rasas. The master wonders how to transmit this knowledge. kusha lava are commissioned for this task, as they are gifted musicians. They inturn attract the masses in Ayodhya and Rama himself with this singing of this unheard song..

References

https://www.valmiki.iitk.ac.in/sloka?field_kanda_tid=1&language=dv&field_sarga_value=1

Past articles on Ramayana

1. Some topics from Sundarakandam
2. Words of Sundarakandam
3. Grammar markers in Aditya Hridayam

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Sujatha R

I write.. I weave.. I walk.. कवयामि.. वयामि.. यामि.. Musings on Music, Linguistics & Patterns