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The Bengali Book of English Verse/The Legend of Balaki (Romesh Chunder Dutt)

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ROMESH CHANDER DUTT,
1848-1909.


The Legend of Balaki.


Balaki, a learned Brahman,
Proud of knowledge, proud of lore,
Versed he was in many a sastra,
Travelled many a distant shore,
In the land of Usinara,
And in Matsya he had been,
Panchala and the Kuru kingdoms,
Videha and the Kasi seen.

Ajatasatru, learned monarch,
Ruled in Kasi's mighty land,
Unto him repaired the Brahman,
In his palace rich and grand.
"Blessed be thy rule, O monarch!
O'er this kingdom rich and broad,
I will speak to thee of Brahman,
I will speak to thee of God!"

"Welcome, welcome, learned priest!"
Ajatasatru thus replied,—
"For thy holy speech accept
A thousand kine of finest breed!
Every learned Brahman hies
To Janaka, holy king,—
Welcome thou to Kasi's court,
And a Brahman's blessings bring!"


"List then, king! to words of wisdom,"—
Proud Balaki thus began,—
"Knowest thou the radiant Soul
Dwelleth in the radiant sun?
Him I worship!"—said Balaki.
"Not so!"—answered thus the king,
"For the sun is mighty, glorious,
But is a created thing!"

"Knowest thou the lunar crescent,
Shining in the starry sky?
Knowest thou the beauteous Soul,
Dwelleth there serene and high?
Him I worship!"—said Balaki.
"Not so!"—answered thus the king,
"For the moon is bright and beauteous
But is a created thing!"

"Dost thou know the forked lightning,
Flashing through the lurid sky?
Dost thou know the dreaded Soul,
Dwelleth there, terrific, high?
Him I worship!"—said Balaki.
"Not so"—answered thus the king,
"For the lightning is terrific,
But is a created thing!"

"Dost thou know the deep-voiced thunder,
Pealing through the echoing sky?
Dost thou know the soul that dwelleth
In that sound, terrific, high?
Him I worship!"—said Balaki.
"Not so!"—answered thus the king;
"For the thunder is terrific,
But is a created thing!"


Long he toiled, the learned Brahman,
Power Almighty to explain,
Quoted he from holy sastras,
Argued long, but argued vain!
To his reasons, to his learning,
Ever answered thus the king,
"Mighty wondrous is all nature,
But it is created thing!"

Still he toiled, the learned Brahman,
To explain the God on high,
Spoke of fire and spoke of ether,
Spoke of water and of sky,
Spoke of shadow and reflection,
Spoke of echo and of sound,
Argued about dreams and slumber,
But solution none he found!

Silently the boastful Brahman
Bent his head in grief and shame,
Sad he was, the learned Brahman,
To a wiser king he came!
"Thus far,"—said the monarch gently,
"Thus far doth thy wisdom go!"
"Thus far! wise and learned monarch!
Teach me what you further know!"
 
With the fuel, meek and humble,
Balaki as student came,
Seeking knowledge from the monarch,
Great in learning as in fame.
"He who made the sun and moon,
And the sky and earth so broad,
He who breathed all Nature forth,—
He is Brahman, He is God!"