Notes: The Raghuvaṃśa, Song II

14 Aug 2020

Dilipa and his wife protect and feed the sacred cow’s calf. Since this is personal, his retinue returns home. They do this alone. Dilipa drinks when the cow drinks, and feeds when the cow feeds, since he’s following her to learn from her.

Internally, he remains vigorous and ready. Externally, he appears as calm and placid as the cow.

The deer, the vines, and flowers all attend to him with appreciation, like he’s a Disney princess. The forest praises him for the protection he offers with his presence. He and his wife milk the cow.

The cow goes up to the Himalayas. He follows her there, thinking her safe. She gets attacked by a lion. Dilipa moves to protect her, but finds his arm failing him when he tries to shoot the lion with an arrow. The lion tells him his efforts are useless. He explains he was placed on the mountain to protect a tree (from elephants) that was adopted as a son by the god Shiva. As a lion, he is dependent on prey. The lion tells Dilipa that the cow is his to eat, and that Dilipa will not lose status from being helpless to protect the cow.

This is the first time Dilipa has encountered failure to protect anything.

Dilipa offers the lion himself to eat instead, and asks the lion to let the cow go.

The lion points out that if Dilipa dies, he will not be able to protect the thousands of people and creatures that rely on him as a just King. What’s the life of one cow against the lives of a kingdom? The lion questions Dilipa’s devotion to all living things- if you’re so devoted to everyone, why would you let them all suffer in exchange for the life of one cow? Dilipa can live, and offer the sage other cows. Lots of cows!

Dilipa points out that his warrior caste is defined as “those who protect from danger”. He asks what use he would be if he can’t protect one cow from danger.

Dilipa compares his cow to the lion’s tree. The lion must protect the tree, he must protect the cow. Dilipa suggests that friendly conversation makes a friend, and since they’re friends now, it’s best for them to agree to a solution together.

The lion says, “so be it”.

The cow was just testing him, of course. The lion disappears into a shower of flowers. Having passed the test, the cow tells him that she will grant him a boon of his choice. Calling her Mother, he asks to drink her milk. He drinks her milk.

He goes home with his wife, and they successfully make a baby.