In the forest, near the city, there lived an aged hermit, Visvamitra; and this good old man was sore beset by ugly Furies or Demons, who would not let him rest. ” I will go to the king,” he said to himself, ” and ask him for the help of his brave son, Rama.”
When the hermit stood at the royal gate, the king made haste, and he set the old man on the throne, and brought water to wash his feet, and bowing before him, he said: ” It is a blessed day for me because you have come to my house. Tell me, O holy one, why you come to see me.” .” King,” he answered, ” a troop of furies annoy^me in my house in the jungle, and I beg for the aid of your noble son Rama, in driving them away, and let Lakshman the Fortunate come with him.”
Then was the face of the king downcast, and he sighed: ” Oh, sir, ask anything but that—cattle, jewels, even myself, but I cannot let my sweet son go. What would his strength avail against the demons of the wood? “
But the wise man of the court, even Vasishta, bade the king send his sons, and so Dasaratha gave way and having said good-bye to their mothers, they went forth.
Each youth was bright of eye, broad of chest; and each had a quiver slung from a yellow sash and each bore a bow. A scream was heard on the road, and the hermit pointed to a horrid figure that fluttered in the air. The Divine Archer, Rama, aimed and shot; and the demon fell, pierced by an arrow. That night the two princes supped on roots and fruit and water in the hermit’s hut, and there also they slept.
At daybreak, the hermits of the forest were standing about the fire of sacrifice, when dark shapes floated about their heads, and raised a dreadful yell. The Divine Archer and his brother raised their bows. Arrows flew, and ere long all the band of demons was slain.
After a few days the hermit, Visva-mitra, said to the young men: ” My lords’, would it not gladden your hearts to see the holy stream of Ganges, and to see the city of Videha, where lies the bow that no man on earth can bend? “
” We do, indeed, desire to behold these things,” they replied. So the old man and the two youths fared forth and Viswa-Mitra told them the story of the origin of Ganga. They saluted the waters of the Ganges and bathed in the sacred river.
They journeyed onward and saw the mighty walls and towers of the city of Videha, and round the city were beautiful gardens; and in the city, the bazaars were filled with rich goods; and horses, elephants, and chariots crowded the streets; and fountains gUttered in the sunshine.