Zoë Translates

Poems, original and translated.

Brahma to Valmiki, from the Ramayana

And thus with a laugh Brahmā spoke
To the foremost of devotees,
“Indeed you have made a śloka;
That is certain beyond all doubts.

“For sacred speech by My own will
Went forth from you, O pure soul!
So create, most excellent sage;
Narrate Rāma’s account in full.

“Tell everyone of Rāma’s deeds
According to what Nārada taught:
Of a hero who’s just and wise,
Of a man who’s good and firm;

“Of what the world knows already
And deepest secrets unrevealed;
Of staunch Rāma and Saumitri,
And all about the villains too.

“By all means tell Sītā’s story,
What’s popular and what’s unsung —
For all that’s hitherto unseen
Shall become crystal-clear to you.

“Your song has no place for untruth,
Not for even a single word.
Do it, bring Rāma’s Lay to life,
Knit in śloka⁠s, sublime and sweet.

“So long as mountains stand on Earth,
So long as rivers keep their flow,
Rāmāyaṇa shall spread itself,
Told and retold across all lands.

“And while this song that’s yours to make
Persists and thrives across all lands,
Your name will live on forever,
To sky and Styx in all My worlds!”


The following texts in Sanskrit have been transliterated in IAST. Verse numbering is based on the Critical Edition.

tamuvāca tato brahmā prahasanmunipuṃgavam |
śloka eva tvayā baddho nātra kāryā vicāraṇā ‖ 1.2.29

macchandādeva te brahman pravṛtteyaṃ sarasvatī |
rāmasya caritaṃ kṛtsnaṃ kuru tvamṛṣisattama ‖ 30

dharmātmano guṇavato loke rāmasya dhīmataḥ |
vṛttaṃ kathaya dhīrasya yathā te nāradācchrutam ‖ 31

rahasyaṃ ca prakāśaṃ ca yadvṛttaṃ tasya dhīmataḥ |
rāmasya saha saumitre rākṣasānāṃ ca sarvaśaḥ ‖ 32

vaidehyāścaiva yadvṛttaṃ prakāśaṃ yadi vā rahaḥ |
taccāpyaviditaṃ sarvaṃ viditaṃ te bhaviṣyati ‖ 33

na te vāganṛtā kāvye kācidatra bhaviṣyati |
kuru rāmakathāṃ puṇyāṃ ślokabaddhāṃ manoramām ‖ 34

yāvatsthāsyanti girayaḥ saritaśca mahītale |
tāvadrāmāyaṇakathā lokeṣu pracariṣyati ‖ 35

yāvadrāmasya ca kathā tvatkṛtā pracariṣyati |
tāvadūrdhvamadhaśca tvaṃ mallokeṣu nivatsyasi ‖ 36