Sunday, 19 August 2012

17. Creation of the Army for Rama.

     About the time the queens were taking the desert, lord Brahma addressed all gods.
     He told them "At our request Lord Vishnu is being born as a son to the King Dasharatha.  We now should do something to help him when he meets Ravana in war.
     "I desire that monkey-shaped progeny equalling Vishnu's valour should be procreated from the physiques of prominent apsara-s, gandharva-s, from the girls of yaksha-s and pannaga-s, and from the bodies of kinnaraa-s, she-vidyaadharaa-s, she-riksha-s and she-monkeys.  They all shall be wizards of miracles and audacious ones; in travel they shall have air's speed; bestowed with intellect they shall be highly imaginative; and with their divine physique it shall be impossible to bump them off; they shall be endowed with all the assaultive aspects of all missiles, and they shall be untiring in their efforts, like you who thrive on amrita, the ambrosia, unmindful of thirst and hunger.
     COMMENT: Gandharva-s (Southey's Glendoveers) are celestial musicians inhabiting Indra's heaven and forming the orchestra at all the banquets of the principal deities. Yaksha-s, demigods attendant especially on Kubera, and employed by him in the care of his garden and treasures. Kimpurusha-s, demigods attached also to the service of Kubera, celestial musicians, represented like centaurs reversed with human figures and horses' heads. Siddha-s, are demigods or spirits of undefined attributes, occupying with the Vidyaadharaa-s the middle air or region between the earth and the sun.
End Comment.
     "I have already created the eminent bear Jambavanta in earlier times, as he suddenly came forth from my yawning face."
     COMMENT: This is to say that Brahma had already created such a typical being, namely Jambavanta, prior to all the gods, as a role model in creation.
End Comment.
     All gods agreed in toto with Lord Brahma and accordingly started to parent sons in the semblance of monkeys.
     COMMENT: This pedigree was not yet given the label of monkeys. They were lookalike of monkeys but not monkeys, 'vaana ruupiNam' resembling monkeys, as said in the verse. The word vanara is 'vane carati iti vanara-s' because they range far and wide over forests, they are called vanara-s, but not exactly a monkey race.
End Comment.
     The great-souled celestial groups, namely the sages, siddha-s, vidyaadharaa-s, caarana-s had created valiant sons that were forest rangers.  Indra procreated the lord of vanara-s, namely Vali, who by his physique was like Mt. Mahendra.  Sun procreated Sugreeva.  Brihaspati, the Jupiter, gave rise to a great monkey named Tara, who was the most important one among all vanara-s, and who exceled all by his intelligence.
     Note: Tara here was a vanara hero but not Lady Tara, the wife of Vali.
     The brilliant Gandhamaadana was the son of Kubera, while the divine architect Vishvakarma procreated the great monkey called Nala.  The bright son of Fire was Neela whose blaze was like that of fire and who exceled other monkeys by his resplendence, renown and courage.  The Ashwin twin gods whose wealth was their beautiful appearance had procreated two vanara-s namely Mainda and Dvivida, blessing them with beautiful appearance.  The Rain-god procreated the vanara named Susheshana, and Thunder-god gave rise to the great mighty Sharabha.
     The direct son of Vayu (Air-god) is the marvellous and adventurous Hanuman with an indestructible body, and one identical in the speed of lady Vinata's son, namely Garuda, the divine eagle vehicle of Vishnu, and among all monkey chiefs he was the most intelligent and the indefatigable one too.
     Thus the gods had procreated many thousands of such bold, courageous, dauntless, doughty, fearless, and who can disguise themselves at their will and who with their immeasurable strength and bravery were manifest for the elimination of Ravana and his clan.
     Thus the gods and others had procreated millions of such noble souled Vaanaras as the chiefs of warriors who can change their guise at their wish.  Those vanara generals who took birth thus became the prominent generals among the principle battalions of monkeys, and they had also procreated brave monkeys on their own.
     Some thousands of them stayed on the ridges of Mt. Riskshavat while others reached many kinds of other mountains and forests. All of the monkeys stood by the brothers, namely the son of Indra Vali, and the son of Sun Sugreeva, and even with the monkey generals like Nala, Neela and Hanuma et al.
     All of those who were highly skilled and knowledgeable  in warfare and endowed with the might of divine eagle Garuda, used to thwart the pride of lions, tigers and great snakes just by their own prideful subjugation while they move about the forests.
     He who was adroit, extremely mighty, and highly indomitable, viz. Vali protected bears, langoors, and monkeys just by the strength of his arms.
     The earth with its mountains, forests and oceanward places were overspread with those brave ones that possessed diverse physiques and peculiar indication marks of their stock.  The earth was thus suffused with those mighty army generals of Vanara race whose physiques resembled the clusters of clouds and peaks of mountains, and who had emerged for helping Rama.
     Now we have covered what we missed in Valmiki Ramayanam earlier to Chapter 5.  Next chapter will, therefore, take off from where we left at the end of Chapter 7.

Friday, 17 August 2012

16. The fruits of Putrakamesti Yaga.

       After assuring the gods that He would completely eliminate Ravana and his clan, Vishnu took leave of  Brahma and vanished while he was still being extolled by gods and sages.
     Then, from the Fire of Altar of Dasharatha's ritual emerged a greatly vigorous and energetic Divine Being with an unparalleled resplendence, called yajna puruSa.  He was clad in black and red garments and his face was red and his voice resembled the drumbeat.  His moustache and hairdo were soft like that of a lion's mane.  And he was endowed with auspicious features and decorated with divine ornaments; in height he was like a mountain peak, and in valour he was like an imperious tiger.
     That great 'yajna puruSa' personally brought a big golden vessel, carrying it lovingly with both hands as if it was his wife. The vessel was made of molten gold and covered with a silver lid, and was obviously crafted out of a divine illusion, since it was dazzling like sun and glowing like the tongues of flame.  The vessel was full with the divine dessert.
     That divine person told king Dasharatha  "oh, king, you may know me as the being sent by Prajapati."  On hearing that, king Dasharatha greeted that divine being with palms adjoining and said  "oh, god, welcome to you, and what shall I do for you?"
     Then that divine being sent by Prajapati said  "oh, king, now you have got this dessert in golden vessel for gratifying the gods.
     "Take this dessert prepared by divinities.  This is a blessed dessert that enriches progeny and health.  By consuming this, your wives will bear sons.  Give this among your eligible wives."
     Agreeing to that the king wholeheartedly took that god-given golden vessel, full with divine food.  With high ecstasy Dasharatha revered that Ritual Being, the Prajapati Purusha or yaj~na purusha, an astonishing and delightful being in his appearance, and performed circumambulations around him.
     After complying his orders of giving the golden vessel with dessert, that divine being who was astonishing by his form and highly glowing by his physique, disappeared.
     Then Dasharatha on entering palace chambers told his queen Kausalya, "I got this dessert that will pave the way for begetting our sons."
     COMMENT: This divine dessert was meant for the 'eligible' queens, as informed by the Ritual Being and also in order to maintain the divinity of Ram's birth.  In the context of seed and field, the field has no equal importance to the seed biija kshetra nyaya.  Hence the seed was divine in the form of dessert and fields are therefore shall 'be eligible' for the seedling.  As such the First Queen and Empress Kausalya was being addressed firstly, and given firstly.
End Comment.
     The king then gave half of the dessert to queen Kausalya, and he gave half of the half, i.e., one fourth to queen Sumitra.  And to Kaikeyi he gave half of the remaining half, i.e., one eight of the dessert.  Then on an afterthought he gave the remaining, i.e., one-eighth portion to queen Sumitra again.  Thus, the king distributed the dessert to his wives differently.
     COMMENT: This is a much-discussed distribution by the traditionalists.  Adhyatma Ramayana, a treatise that postulates god-hood to Rama, gives a well-constructed argument about these shares of dessert and the resultant births of the four brothers, viz., Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna, in accordance with these shares.  In its simplest terms and as contained in these verses, queen Kausalya got half of the dessert as an Empress, paTTa mahiSi.  Sumitra got one-fourth in the first round and after a rethink by Dasharatha, she got another one-eighth portion.  Kaikeyi got only a one-eighth quantity. Thus, Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, and Kaikeyi to Bharata. The quantum of apportionment of the dessert does not make Rama all-powerful or Bharata the least. Since the Absolute is indivisible into parts, the dessert that is divided is not to be taken as the divided Absolute, but a kind of medium through which the incarnation is made possible.
     There is another declination enquiring whether the incarnation of Rama is full or partial, puurNa avatara or artha avatara... Rama is Vishnu Himself while Bharata and Shatrughna are his disc and conch-shell, while Lakshmana is the thousand headed snake 'aadi sesha' on whose coils Vishnu reclines.  The whole dessert is divine and parts of it do not signify and inter-divided god-hoods.  Hence, the apportionment of the desert is done in order to keep up the hierarchy of the queen-hoods and their status. Throughout this magnum opus Rama never said that he was god or an incarnate of god, but called himself nimitta maatra, a casual relation to the course of events.  Should Rama be the incarnation of the Almighty Himself, he has little or no necessity to incarnate the weaponry along with him.  They are at his beck and call at any time.  Thus, Rama is neither a half nor one-fourth incarnation of the Absolute nor a dividend of the whole, but an incarnate of the virtuously ideal personality of Vishnu, maryaada purushottama Rama.
      Incidental to this apportionment of the dessert, the aspect of eldest son is also studied.  Rama is the first-born and thus the eldest. This is because the dessert was given to queen Kausalya in the first instance, half of the whole vessel. She immediately consumed to lionise her share as an Empress.  Sumitra waited a while till apportionment is complete.  Kaikeyi got her portion but waited till her elder sister Sumitra completes her drink.  In the meanwhile Dasharatha thought a while, as said in the verse, and gave Sumitra another one-eighth part.  Sumitra then consumed her two parts. Later Kaikeyi drinks her dividend.
End Comment.
     After consuming the dessert all the queens became pregnant.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

15. Putrakamesti Yaga.

     As agreed, Sage Rishyasringa commenced putrakaameSTi ritual, offering oblations into the sacred fire with ritual acts meticulously contained in hymns.
     All deities along with celestial beings, siddha-s, and also other esteemed sages who by now were the residents of Heavens had assembled in the firmament to receive their part of the offerings.
     Comment: These celestial beings having attained salvation and living in their heavenly abodes do not re-enter our mortal world.  They assemble in their cosmic zone, up above the Fire Altar of the Vedic ritual whenever a yajna is conducted on earth, to receive oblations.
End Comment.
     Those deities who procedurally assembled there approached Lord Brahma and prayed "Oh! God, the rakshasa Ravana, armed with the various boons got from you, is torturing  us all with his intrepid daring, and we are unable to control or restrain him.
     Comment: Hindu mythology has no devils, but has only raakshasa-s, who can hardly be called demons, either.  Not all the raakshasa-s were evil-doers.  Some of the raakshasa-s were the fallen angels who take birth as mortals.  They have their Vedic education, and they perform Vedic rituals and penance etc., thereby they get the patronage of any one of the gods among the Hindu Trinity, viz., Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.  On attaining their cherished boons, they suddenly revolt against their own patron deity/deities and start their atrocities, only to conquer the Heavens, knowing well that they cannot be attained with a mortal body.  In order to contain the upsurge of such violence or the unnatural ascension to Heaven, the deity who gave the boons seeks the help of any of the other two in the Trinity. Then one from the Trinity will take birth as a mortal, as an incarnation of god on earth. Usually Vishnu incarnates himself to eradicate the evils created by the intrepid raakshasa-s.
     Here the celestials bring in a preamble for Vishnu's incarnation as Rama and thus the topic of Ravana occurs in this chapter of Ramayana.  Ravana need not be taken as an evil spirit, devil, hobgoblin or a monstrous being.  He is said to be a Brahman, well versed in all Vedas, musicologist, and a great king of Lanka, with unlimited riches, and very many of his clansmen had vast dominions, and what not. Brahma and Shiva blessed Ravana with boons, but he flouted all the norms in conquering Heavens in which course he did not hesitate to torture anyone who becomes his personal hurdle or hindrance.  Hence it is inevitable for the Trinity to curb Ravana's atrocities, and Vishnu will now be requested by all the deities to incarnate himself on earth. As such, the expression of the word "DEMON" may not always be taken as an ugly and monstrous looking devil or Satan, as per the usual religious conceptualisation of evil.
       In Hinduism evil is not a separate entity from humans, but available in the same personification and resides along with virtue, like the two sides of a coin. These raakshasa-s were also mortals, extraordinary beings with extraordinary powers like god incarnates.  But, with wickedness in their will, monstrosity in mind and a conqueror's ambition in their heart, they were rendered themselves as demons.
End Comment.
     "That malevolent Ravana is tormenting all the three worlds, hating the functionary deities of cosmos, and always desires to assail Indra, the king of all the functionary deities of universe.
     COMMENT: There are eight functionary gods for cosmos in Hindu mythology that keep the cycle of natural law going. Each one is assigned with each of the eight sides of the universe along with a natural function.  They are: 1] Indra, Heaven : East, 2] agn,i Fire-god : southeast, 3] yama, Death-god : South, 4] naiR^iti, Demon-god : southwest, 5] varuNa, Rain-god : west, 6] vaayu, Air-god : Northwest, 7] kubera, god of wealth management : North, 8] iieshaana, god of bliss : Northeast.  The governance of all these deities is Indra's function, since he is the presiding deity of Heaven.
End Comment.
     "That invincible one is further self-conceited by the boons you have accorded, and he is overbearingly torturing the sages, celestial beings like yaksha-s, gandharva-s, asura-s, and like that even the Brahmans.
     COMMENT: The sura and a-sura nomenclatures are commonly found in Vedic literature. Sura is a celestial being and asura is its antonym, usually referred as a demon.  Here it is not so because there are many asura-s who made their abode in heaven, like Rahu, Ketu, and others who attain salvation in this mortal life. Even Ravana came from Heaven, and returned there only at the end of the war with Rama.  Thus a-sura-s are not earthly demons but celestial beings of a kind like other demi-gods, namely yaksha, gandharva, kinnara, kimpurusha etc.
End Comment.
     "The Sun-god will not verily parch Ravana, the Air-god will not puff at his sides, and on seeing Ravana, the lord of the undulating waves, namly the ocean will not pulsate either.
     COMMENT: And ocean hides those undulating waves from Ravana for the waves are his wives whom Ravana may abduct as in the case of Seetha.
End Comment.
     "Thereby, there is a great panic for all of us from that demon with an awesome look, hence oh, god, we pray you to give a thought for his elimination."
      On hearing the representations, Brahma thought for a while and then said "Aha! The idea to kill that evil-minded Ravana is discerned.
     "Ravana, while seeking boon said 'I shall not be killed by gandharva-s, yaksha-s, or by gods, or by other demons...' and I granted him the same.  However, he did not specify about humans then with his scant respect for them, and evidently his death does not occur otherwise."
      In the meanwhile Lord Vishnu, the Lord of the Universe, arrived there mounted on his Eagle-vehicle Garuda.  He saw Brahma standing there contemplating, but all the other gods bowing down and offering prayers addressed to HIM (Vishnu) and appealed to him "Oh! Lord Vishnu, we all desire that you should become the son of the ruler and lord of Ayodhya, namely Dasharatha, through his wives, who are in similitude with the hrii, the virtue, shrii, the affluence, and kiirti, the glory, you have a fourfold transformation and take birth as their sons.
COMMENT: These three hrii, shrii and kiirti were the daughters of Daksha Prajapati in their earlier births.  The hrii is hR^illekha, virtuous disposition - which Queen Kausalya has, and who begot Rama.  The shrii is shriikaara , the affluence of everything, which Queen Sumitra has, by which alone she magnanimously and unhesitatingly advised her son Lakshmana to go along with Rama to the woods.  And the third, kiirti, the glory, and the glory of Kaikay is well known.  The position of this epic minus Kaikay can be imagined, thereby her glory, may it be negative, may be imagined.
End Comment.
     "Sir, on your taking birth as a human through the wives of Dasharatha, you eliminate Ravana in war. His  evil doings have become exacerbating and thorny to all worlds, and he cannot otherwise be eliminated.
     "Ravana with his invigorated doggedness is torturing gods along with eminent saints, gandharva-s, and siddha-s.  He, with his furious insolence is knocking down sages from their celestial abodes, and like that he is knocking down the apsara celestials too from the heavenly gardens Nandana, where they play with delight.  We fervently seek for his elimination, and we all pray to you in this respect.
     "Oh, Vishnu, you are the ultimate recourse for all of us in eliminating the enemies of divinity.  We therefore fervently pray you make up your mind to take birth in human world."  
      On hearing their appeal, Lord Vishnu assured them by saying that he would certainly eliminate that cruel and evil-minded Ravana, along with his sons, grandsons, friends, cousins and relatives, ministers and forces too in war.   He added "I will then reside in human world ruling this earth for eleven thousand years."    
     COMMENT: There is a great lot of discussion whether Vishnu made himself fourfold as Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna, or he himself incarnated along with his main ingredients like conch shell, disc, mace as those three brothers.  This verse says that he 'made himself, or agreed to make himself as fourfold.'  Even then, there are discussions that Rama is a 'full incarnation' puurNa avataara as the 'Supreme is indivisible'.  And his brothers cannot be reckoned as his incarnation – as they become parts of the whole but not the 'whole' itself, he did not divide himself – on the other account.  And the tradition believes that Vishnu did not divide himself but incarnated in one piece, where his brothers are his paraphernalia.  There is no unanimity on this, as yet.
End Comment.
     Then all the groups of gods, sages, gandharva-s, with rudraa-s, and apsarasa-s, extolled Vishnu with prayers of divine exposition.