The princes’ failure to lift the bow and Janaka’s despondent utterance
bōlē baṃdī bacana bara sunahu sakala mahipāla.
pana bidēha kara kahahiṃ hama bhujā uṭhāi bisāla..249.. [1-249]
The heralds then uttered these polite words, “Listen all princes: with our long arms uplifted we announce to you King Videha’s vow:-
nṛpa bhujabala bidhu sivadhanu rāhū. garua kaṭhōra bidita saba kāhū..
rāvanu bānu mahābhaṭa bhārē. dēkhi sarāsana gavaomhiṃ sidhārē.. [1-249-1]
sōi purāri kōdaṃḍu kaṭhōrā. rāja samāja āju jōi tōrā..
tribhuvana jaya samēta baidēhī..binahiṃ bicāra barai haṭhi tēhī.. [1-249-2]
suni pana sakala bhūpa abhilāṣē. bhaṭamānī atisaya mana mākhē..
parikara bāomdhi uṭhē akulāī. calē iṣṭadēvanha sira nāī.. [1-249-3]
tamaki tāki taki sivadhanu dharahīṃ. uṭhai na kōṭi bhāomti balu karahīṃ..
jinha kē kachu bicāru mana māhīṃ. cāpa samīpa mahīpa na jāhīṃ.. [1-249-4]
The might of arm of the various princes stands as the moon, while Śiva bow is the planet Rāhu as it were; it is massive and unyielding, as is well-known to all. Even the great champions Rāvaṇa and Bāṇāsura quietly slipped away as soon as they saw the bow. Whoever in this royal assembly breaks today the yonder unbending bow of Śiva shall be unhesitatingly and insistently wedded by Videha’s daughter and shall triumph over all the three worlds .” Hearing the vow all the princes were filled with longing, while those who prided on their valour felt very indignant. Girding up their loins they rose impatiently and bowing their heads to their chosen deity went ahead. They cast an angry look at Śiva bow, grapled with it with steady aim and exerted all their strength; but the bow refused to be lifted. Those princes, however, who had any sense at all did not even approach the bow.
tamaki dharahiṃ dhanu mūḍha nṛpa uṭhai na calahiṃ lajāi.
manahu pāi bhaṭa bāhubalu adhiku adhiku garuāi..250.. [1-250]
Those foolish kings indignantly strained at the bow and retired in confusion when it refused to leave its position, as though it grew more and more bulky by absorbing the might of arm of each successive warrior.
bhūpa sahasa dasa ēkahi bārā. lagē uṭhāvana ṭarai na ṭārā..
ḍagai na saṃbhu sarāsana kaisēṃ. kāmī bacana satī manu jaisēṃ.. [1-250-1]
saba nṛpa bhaē jōgu upahāsī. jaisēṃ binu birāga saṃnyāsī..
kīrati bijaya bīratā bhārī. calē cāpa kara barabasa hārī.. [1-250-2]
śrīhata bhaē hāri hiyaom rājā. baiṭhē nija nija jāi samājā..
nṛpanha bilōki janaku akulānē. bōlē bacana rōṣa janu sānē.. [1-250-3]
dīpa dīpa kē bhūpati nānā. āē suni hama jō panu ṭhānā..
dēva danuja dhari manuja sarīrā. bipula bīra āē ranadhīrā.. [1-250-4]
Ten thousand kings then proceeded all at once to raise it; but it baffled all attempts at moving it. Śambhu’s bow did not stir in the same way as the mind of a virtuous lady refuses to yield to the words of a gallant. All the princes made themselves butts of ridicule like a recluse without dispassion. Helplessly forfeiting their fame, glory and great valour to the bow they returned. Confused and disheartened, the kings went and sat in the midst of their own company. Seeing the kings thus frustrated, King Janaka got impatient and spoke words as if in anger; “Hearing the vow made by me many a king has come from diverse parts of the globe; gods and demons in human form and many other heroes, staunch in fight, have assembled.
kuaomri manōhara bijaya baḍai kīrati ati kamanīya.
pāvanihāra biraṃci janu racēu na dhanu damanīya..251.. [1-251]
A lovely bride, a grand triumph and splendid renown are the prize; but Brahmā, it seems, has not yet created the man who may break the bow and win the above rewards.”
kahahu kāhi yahu lābhu na bhāvā. kāhu na saṃkara cāpa caḍhaāvā..
rahau caḍhaāuba tōraba bhāī. tilu bhari bhūmi na sakē chaḍaāī.. [1-251-1]
aba jani kōu mākhai bhaṭa mānī. bīra bihīna mahī maiṃ jānī..
tajahu āsa nija nija gṛha jāhū. likhā na bidhi baidēhi bibāhū.. [1-251-2]
sukṛta jāi jauṃ panu pariharaūom. kuaomri kuāri rahau kā karaūom..
jō janatēu binu bhaṭa bhubi bhāī. tau panu kari hōtēu na haomsāī.. [1-251-3]
janaka bacana suni saba nara nārī. dēkhi jānakihi bhaē dukhārī..
mākhē lakhanu kuṭila bhaiom bhauṃhēṃ. radapaṭa pharakata nayana risauṃhēṃ.. [1-251-4]
Tell me, who would not have this prize? But none could string the bow. Let alone stringing or breaking it, there was not one of you, brothers, who could stir it even a grain’s breadth from its place. Now no one who prides on his valour should feel offended if I assert that there is no hero left on earth to my mind. Give up all hope and turn your faces homewards. It is not the will of Providence that Sītā should be married. All my religious merits shall be gone if I abandon my vow. The princess must remain a maid; what can I do? Had I known, brothers, that there are no more heroes in the world, I would not have made myself a laughing-stock by undertaking such a vow.” All who heared Janaka’s words, men and women alike, felt distressed at the sight of Jānakī. Lakṣmaṇa, however got incensed: his eyebrows were knit, his lips quivered and his eyes shot fire.