Tuesday, 28 May 2013

53. Prelude to the forest life.

           Lakshmana obeying his brother's kind and auspicious order, went immediately to the house of Suyajna, and after the usual salutations to that brahman, conveyed him Rama's message "Oh, friend!  My brother Rama wants to see you.  I would be greatly obliged to you if you follow me to my brother Rama."                                                        
         Suyajna agreed and followed Lakshmana to Rama's house.  Rama suitably received him.  Rama adorned Suyajna with excellent Angadas(armlets) and beautiful earrings of gold, gems stung on gold threads as also with keyuras(another ornament similar in shape to an Angada but worn above it near the armpit) and bracelets as well as with many other excellent precious stones.  Urged by Seetha, Rama told Suyajna "Oh!, my friend!  Now, Seetha wants to give for your wife a pearl necklace, a string of gold and a girdle.  Please take them.  Seetha is following me to the forest and is therefore, giving for your wife armlets adorned with figures cut in them and beautiful keyuras.  She also wants to offer that couch which is inlaid with various jewels and provided with an excellent coverlet.  I am giving you this elephant called Satrunjaya, given earlier to me by my maternal uncle as well as those thousand elephants."   
         Suyajna accepted the gifts and bestowed the most benign blessings to Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha.
         Then, Rama told Lakshmana "Oh, Lakshmana! Call those two excellent brahmanas Agastya and Kausika and worship them with valuable gifts as water is poured to a crop of corn.   Satiate them with thousands of cows, gold, silver and with gems of great value.  See to it that the brahmana who is studying Taittiriya (a school of Yajurveda), a preceptor, a man of conformity, a knower of Vedas, serving Kausalya with his devotion and blessing, is duly gifted conveyance, servant maids and silken clothing till he is satisfied absolutely.
comment: Taittiriya was first taught by the sage Vaisampayana to 27 pupils, among whom Yagnavalkya was one.  Subsequently Vaisampayana being offended by Yaganavalkya, made him disgorge the Veda committed to him, which he did in a tangible form; whereupon the older disciples of Vaisampayana being commanded to pick it up, took in the form of partridges, and swallowed the soiled texts, hence named black(called Krishna Yajurveda) the other name of Taittiriya referring to the patridges.  Yagnavalkya then received from the Sun a new or white version of the yajurveda (called Shukla Yajurveda)
End Comment.
        "The charioteer called Chitraratha, is the the companion of a very long standing of our venerable father.  Gratify him with valuable gifts of great worth, with clothes, with money, with all types of small animals and with thousands of cows.  Here are many religious students belonging to the katha and kalaapa branches of Yajurveda, who being always engaged in studying the sacred scriptures, do not perform any other austerities but are highly honored by even noble men, are inactive (in the sense, they do not move out for alms and crave for sweets).  Cause them to be given eighty carts loaded with jewels, a thousand bullocks carrying loads of rice and two hundred bullocks used for cultivation.  Give a thousand cows for use in their nourishment,  Oh Lakshmana! Many celibates wearing fillets stand near Kausalya.  Cause them to be given a thousand cows each.   Honour all those brahmanas in every way, so that my mother Kausalya will feel happy to see my gifts."
          Then, Lakshmana himself gave away that wealth, like Kubera, to the best of brahmanas, as instructed.   Rama, after giving abundant wealth to each and every one of the dependents, standing there with tears in their throats, spoke to them  "Till my return, the house belonging to Lakshmana and also this house which is occupied by me  should be guarded by all of you, by turn."  Having thus ordered, those servants distressed as they were, he instructed his treasurer as follows: "Let my wealth be brought(here)." Thereafter, the servants brought all the wealth of Rama. That very large heap of wealth there looked awesome.  Rama, along with Lakshmana then distributed among the brahmanas, the children, the old-aged and the pitiables. 
         There lived a brahmana by name Trijata who was born in the garga community and whose skin was reddish in colour.  He used to make his living in the forest by digging the soil and as such he always was carrying an axe, a spade and a plough.  His young wife told him to see Rama who was disbursing his wealth to all the deserving people.
        As suggested by his wife, he wrapped a strip of cloth that could hardly cover his body and set out to Rama's palace.  Up to the fifth gate, none in that society of men could obstruct this Trijata, who was equal in spiritual splendour with the sages Bhrigu and Angira.  That Trijata having approached Rama, and told him "Oh, the most illustrious prince! I am a destitute, having many children in my family.  I always dwell in the forest, with an occupation of digging the soil.  Look at me."  Rama looked at him and told him jokingly  "I have not given away one thousand cows far.  You will get as many cows to such an extent as you will throw your staff."
         Winding his loin cloth round his waist hurriedly and twirling his staff, he swiftly threw it with all his might, excited as he was.  Flying away from his hand and crossing across the Sarayu river, that staff fell close to a bull amid a flock of cows numbering in several thousands.  Embracing him, Rama caused to be delivered to Trijata's hermitage the cows up to that bank of Sarayu.  Thereupon, Rama told him "Please do not take me amiss.  I made you to throw your staff for just a joke.  Actually, I only desired to know your strength, which is unfathomable and hence this trial for you.  If you desire any other thing, just ask for it.  I am telling the truth here.  There is no limitation for you.  Whatever riches belonging to me, are indeed for brahmanas.  If the wealth earned by me is given abundantly to you, it will bring me joy and fame."
        Thereupon, Trijata along with his wife accepted that flock of cows and were delighted.  Then, he pronounced on Rama, the blessings to enhance reputation, strength, delight and happiness.  Rama being inspired by the befitting words of honour and having his heart satisfied, immediately bestowed on friendly people, a great wealth earned by righteous might.  At that time in Ayodhya, there was no brahmana, relative, dependant, pauper or mendicant who was not satiated with befittingly deserving honour, gifts and respect.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

52. Lakshmana followed suit.

        Lakshmana who had come there earlier with Rama, was listening the conversation between Seetha and Rama.  He could not contain his tears.  Being unable to bear the anguish, stooping down and tightly holding the feet of his brother with both his hands, he entreated Rama "Oh! My brother!  You cannot go to the forest unless I come with you. I, in front wearing the bow, shall accompany you to the forest.  With me, you will travel in various forests, resonant with sounds of birds and herds of wild animals.  Without you, I do not care the ascendancy to heaven nor desire immortality.  Sovereignty over all the worlds will absolutely have no meaning for me without you."
          Rama tried to dissuade Lakshmana from accompanying him to the forest  through many of his approaches.   After hearing them, Lakshmana retorted "Oh, the faultless man!  I was always accompanying you wherever you were going.   How is it that you are prohibiting me now?  I desire to know the reason for prohibiting me now?"  Thereafter Rama told Lakshmana  "You are so friendly, interested in righteousness, valiant, abiding always in a good path, dear to me as life, obedient, my brother and a companion.  If you come with me to the forest now, who will support Kausalya or the illustrious Sumitra?  That emperor of great splendour, who used to shower blessings on the people as a cloud sends down rain on the earth, stands circumscribed by the cord of love.  That Kaikeyi, daughter of the king Aswapathi, after getting a firm hold of this kingdom, will certainly not accord good treatment to her step-wives, who are in great grief.   Bharata, on acquiring the kingdom will be devoted to Kaikeyi and may not think of the sorrowful Kausalya or Sumitra.  You stay here and support the venerable Kausalya through your own self or by obtaining favour through the king. Thus, your devotion towards me will have been fully demonstrated by you.  By honouring the elders, a great unequaled religious merit will accrue to you.  Do this for my sake.   Our mothers will totally be drowned in their sorrow, if they are left behind by both of us."
           Lakshmana replied in a gentle voice  "Oh, Bro!   Bharata being inspired by your splendour of morality will respect Kausalya and Sumitra.  There is no doubt in this matter.  Kausalya obtained (by grant) one thousand villages, which are dependent on her.  Hence, that venerable Kausalya can maintain even a few thousand people like me.  The illustrious Kausalya is competent not only to maintain herself but also my mother and people like me in addition.  Make me your attendant.  In this, there is no unrighteousness.  Besides, I will be accomplishing my objective.  Your purpose also will be fulfilled.  Taking my bow and arrows and carrying a spade and a basket, I will walk in front of you showing the path.  I will procure for you for all the time the tubers, fruits and other things which are good food stuffs, available in the forest for sages.  You, along with Seetha enjoy yourselves on the mountain-ridges.  I shall do everything while you are waking or sleeping."
         Rama, very much delighted to hear these words, said "Oh, Lakshmana!  Go, take leave of all your friends.  At a grand sacrifice perfomed by Janaka, the Varuna(god of water) personally gave heavenly bows which are dreadful to look at, divine impenetrable pieces of armour, quivers containing an inexhaustible stock of arms, two swords decked with gold and with spotless lustre like that of a sun. All these were kept at the residence of our teacher Vasishta, after paying due reverence. Take all those arms and return soon."
         Lakshmana, who was assured of his sojourn in the forest, after bidding good bye to his friends, approached Vasishta the preceptor of Ikshvaku dynasty and took the excellent arms.  Lakshmana  showed Rama all those arms, which were divine, being worshiped and decorated by garlands.  Rama, after seeing the arms, affectionately spoke to Lakshmana "Oh, Lakshmana, my dear brother!  I  just thought of you and you are here.  Along with you, I want to give all this wealth belonging to me to brahmanas practicing austerities.  I also desire to give to those excellent brahmanas residing here as strong devotees to their preceptors and to all my dependents.  You bring quickly the venerable Suyagna, the son of Vasishta.  After adoring all other cultured brahmanas also, we will go to the forest."

Thursday, 23 May 2013

51. Seetha determined to follow Rama.

          The words of Rama made Seetha terribly angry.  She shouted at her dear husband (out of sheer love)  "Oh, My Lord!  What nonsense are you talking?  I abhor to hear such ridiculous, absurd and meaningless words which certainly are to be miffed at.  I totally deplore it.  Father, mother, brother, son and daughter enjoy the fruits of their own merits and reap each his or her due.  A wife gets fortune as well as misfortune of her husband only.  In view of that, if you, my husband is exiled to the forest, I, your wife stand exiled, too. As such I too, am destined to dwell in the forest.  To a woman, her father, son, mother or a female companion is not the recourse.  Husband alone is forever the only and the best recourse in this world as well as the one where she goes after her death.  If you set forth now itself to the forest,  I shall walk ahead of you, warding off thorns and grass with long pointed stalks.  There is no fault in me that would warrant you to leave me here.  Protection under the feet of the husband is better than being on the top of a lofty building or in an aerial car moving through the sky.  My mother and father have taught me very well as to how I should conduct myself in different circumstances.  I need not, therefore be told as to what I have to do now.  I shall accompany you to the forest.   If I cannot follow the vow of serving my husband, I will not care even the sovereignty of the three worlds.  Dwelling in the forest with my husband will make me feel as happy as staying in my father's house.  Performing service to you regularly, having the necessary discipline, observing chastity, I would like to stay with you in the forest.  I know very well that your are very capable of protecting any number of people anywhere.  Why then talk about my protection?  I AM coming to the forest along with you.  I shall live on the roots and fruits only, always, no doubt.  I assure you that I shall not create any unpleasantness to you in the forest.   With you as my protector, I do not have to fear anywhere or about anything.  I can enjoy by seeing rivers, mountains, small lakes and grooves.  I shall be very comfortable and happy, by going together with you.  I am very eager to see the  excellently flowered lotus-ponds filled with swans and water-fowls.  Remaining dedicated to you, I shall take bath regularly in those lakes and with full of joy, I shall sport with you.  Thus spending even a hundred thousand years in your company I shall not have even an iota of weariness.  I will spurn, without any second thought, living in heaven if  I have to live there without you.   I would totally despise heaven if we cannot live there in the same residence.  Accompanying you I shall like very much the forest, even if it is not quite accessible.   I will enjoy seeing there monkeys, elephants as well as other animals.  Clinging to your feet alone, I shall enjoy dwelling in the forest as I would in my father's home. Therefore, grant well my prayer and usher me to the forest, without any other thought.  I assure you that I will not be any burden to you in the forest."
          Despite the earnest pleadings of Seetha, Rama was not quite inclined to take Seetha along with him to the forest.  Rama looked kindly at Seetha whose eyes were blemished with tears.   He then told her soothingly "Seetha! My darling! Your are grown up with a high lineage parents ever devoted to righteousness.  Perform your that virtue, which is agreeable to my mind, to wit do whatever I tell you.  I repeat that there are many inconveniences in the forest.  You must have heard that a forest with its wilderness is fraught with many dangers.  I cannot bear even the very thought of something bad or any inconvenience happening to you.  I need not tell you that a life in a forest will be far from comfortable. The sounds created from the waterfalls in the hills and from the lions residing in the mountain caves are unpleasant to hear.  Large wild animals which are fearless and intoxicated sporting in the desolate forest would come forward with fury on seeing me.  Streams or rivers filled with crocodiles would be an horror to cross.  Pathways covered with creepers and thorns, echoed with the noise of wild cocks, are very hard to pass through. One has to sleep in nights on a bed of fallen leaves.  With mind disciplined day and night, one has to necessarily satisfy oneself with fruits fallen from trees.  Fasting is forced to the point of utter exhaustion.  Clothes of bark are to be clad and a mass of matted hair has to be worn on the head.  The celestials, the ancestors and any other guests who may arrive are to be worshiped always according to the prescribed rites.  One has to take bath three times a day at appropriate time by the one moving in the forest, with one's mind kept in restraint.  Offering is to be done with flowers gathered by oneself at the altar, according to the rites prescribed by the sages.  The dwellers of forest are to be satisfied with whatever food is available there.  There would be great storms that would make the forest more dark and fearsome.  Due to non availability of suitable food we may have to go on hungry for days.  Various creeping animals of different forms roam about on the earth with pride.  Snakes dwelling in rivers, moving crookedly like rivers, stay obstructing the pathways.  Flying insects, scorpions, insects including mosquitoes and flies always annoy every one.  Anyone living in a forest has to face various bodily troubles and panics.   Anger and greed are to be abandoned by the dwellers of forest.  Devotion is to be bestowed on asceticism.  What needs to be feared, should not be feared.  Hence, living in a forest is a synonym for suffering.   Therefore, please drop the idea of your coming to the forest.  Forest life is definitely not bearable or suitable for you."
         The more Rama was trying to dissuade her from following him to the forest,  Seetha became more determined and angry.   In exasperation she screamed 
with tears flowing from her eyes "Oh! My dear husband, the very wise one!  Don't you know that all those so called disadvantages you were reeling off about dwelling in the forest will become advantages to me, if only your affection is placed before them.  Antelopes, lions, elephants, tigers, sarabhas(legendary animal with eight legs), birds, yaks and all others which roam in the forest, will run away on seeing your form, since they would never have seen before such a majestic and awesome figure like you.  When there is a cause for fear, who would not have fear?  As per the command of the elders, I should also go along with you.  My life will have to be abandoned here, if I am to be separated from you.  Even Devendra, the Lord of celestials, by his strength, cannot over power me, when in your vicinity.  Verily such a thing was taught to me by you, that a woman disunited from her husband should cease to survive.  Besides, formerly in my father's house I happen to hear from the mouth of brahmanas that I was destined to stay really in a forest.  Ever since I heard such a thing from brahmanas who can interpret the marks on the body, I was always eager to stay in a forest.  That prediction of my dwelling in the forest is being realised now.  It is, therefore destined that I accompany you to the forest; it cannot be otherwise.   I shall be the one who has fulfilled the brahmana's words.  I shall accompany you to the forest.  The time has come for the brahmana's words to come true.  I know that in the forest, sufferings indeed are many and are invariably obtained by men having unformed minds.  When I was an unmarried girl, the prediction about my dwelling in the forest was heard by me in my father's house from also a very good mannered female mendicant having a very good knowledge in such matters, in the presence of my mother.  In the past, you have been really promised for many a time to take me along with you indeed for a tour of a forest, as longed by me.  May all be well with you!  I am waiting for a journey to the forest.  A work-out of adventurist would really be delightful to me.  Following my husband with loving devotion, I shall become sinless; for husband is the supreme deity for me.  Even after my death, I shall stay united with you.  On this subject, the meritorious words of brahmanas are  'In this world, which woman was given away to whom by parents with water according to the moral code binding on them, that woman belongs to him alone even after death.'  By what reason now are you thus not willing to take me, the women having a good conduct, devoted to her husband and belonging to you, from this place?  You ought to take me, who is so devoted to her husband and who is distressed and feels alike in pleasure and pain and shares with her husband joys and sorrows.  I shall take resort to poison or fire or water for dying, if you are not willing to take me, afflicted as I am, as above."
           Despite all her entreaties Rama was still not inclined to take Seetha with him to the forest due to the hardship she would be meeting there.  He tried to pacify her explaining again the difficulties that would be met in the forest.  Instead of being pacified, Seetha became more distressed and agitated.  She looked at her husband and said hotly "Oh, Brave man!  Are you afraid to take me to the forest?  In that case do you know what my father, the king of Mithila, would think?  He would think that he got a son-in-law namely, you, a woman in the form of a man.  It is a pity that the people of Ayodhya through ignorance hold the false notion about your excellent valour.   I wonder why you are trying to avoid me, for whom there is no other recourse.  Know me to be as dependent on you as Savitri who was devoted to Satyavan the son of Dyumatsena.  I will not see, even in thought, anyone except you as any other woman bringing disrepute to her family would!  I shall accompany you to the forest.  I am a young girl, lived for a long time with you, a chaste woman and your wife.  How could you, like an actor intend to deliver me to others by your own will?  Be always dutiful and obedient to him, whom you speak of welfare, for whose sake I am being kept back. (But it is improper to ask me to stay obedient to him).  It is not proper for you as such to set out to the forest without taking me.  Any term of austerities or forest or even heaven, it will have to be for me with you only.  To me, who follows you behind, there will be no tiresomeness.  I shall remain in the path without any fatigue, as remaining in a place of recreation or as in a sleep.  While walking with you, blades of kusha grass, shrubs by the name of kaasa, reeds and rushes and plants with prickles which fall in the path will touch my soles like a heap of cotton or soft deerskin.  I shall reckon the dust raised by the strongest wind that will cover my body as sandal dust of highest quality.  While dwelling in the forest, in its midst, I shall lie down on green grass.  Will lying in beds with carpets be more comfortable than that?  Leaves, tubers and fruits either a little or abundant in quantity brought and given by you yourself will be like nectar to me.  Enjoying the flowers and fruits belonging to various seasons there, I shall neither recollect my mother nor father nor my home.  Hence, you are not justified to think of anything unpleasant there.  There will be no annoyance to you because of me.  I will not be difficult to be maintained.  Your companionship will be a heaven to me.  Without you, it will be a hell.  My Darling! By knowing thus my great love, obtain supreme joy with me.  On the contrary, if you do not take me, who is not alarmed of the forest as such, I shall drink poison now itself.  But on no account would I bow to the enemies.  As a result of grief I will not live afterwards when abandoned by you.  Death will surely be my recourse at the time of your relinquishment of me.  I cannot bear this grief even for a moment."
         Seetha, with untold grief, exerted, lamented much piteously, embraced her husband and cried a lot with a loud voice and shedding  tears copiously.  Crystal-like tears oozed from her eyes, like water-drops from two lotus flowers.  Her face with shining brilliance of the moon and having longish eyes, withered with tears as a lotus flower pulled out from water.  Then Rama embraced her, who was depressed and had fainted as it were, told her reassuringly "Oh, Seetha,  my lovely wife! I do not relish even heaven while you are in grief.  There is indeed no fear whatsoever to me, like god Brahma.  Even though I am able to protect you, without knowing your opinion, I do not like to force you to the forest life.  It appears that you are indeed destined to dwell in the forest with me.  Hence, you cannot be left behind by me, like the honour by a man of self-respect.  Earlier, righteousness (like fulfilling the father's command) was practised by good men.  Now, I shall follow that righteousness, like Suvarchala(wife of the sun) following the sun.  I cannot desist from going to forest.  That word of my father, made strong by his truthfulness is taking me to the forest.  Being obedient to father and mother is one's sacred duty.  That is why, I do not wish to survive, in violation of that duty.  My mind was depressed to take you to the forest.  But seeing that you are so determined to follow me, I think that it would be better if I take you to the forest with me.  Follow me and become my help-mate. You adopted a very auspicious resolve, suitable in all ways to me and to your race.  Now itself, begin with duties appropriate for living in exile.  Even heaven will not be heaven without you.  Give valuable gifts to Brahmanas and food to mendicants.  Make them snappy.  Do not delay.  Give to the various classes of your dependents whatever costly ornaments, beautiful and fine articles of wearing apparel, gadgets used for sports, my couches, conveyances and other articles left after satisfying brahmanas."
         Seetha, elated that her husband agreed to take her with him to the forest, quickly set about making gifts and was ready to follow her husband snappily. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

50. Rama informs Seetha the turn of events.

          Seetha, practising austere vows for the smooth coronation ceremony without any hitch, was absolutely ignorant about the latest development.  She was musing about the installation of Rama as the prince Regent in her heart.  As she knew thoroughly the protocol in this regard, she performed the worship of the gods in the way it should be done and was waiting for her prince charming.   Rama, looking at the floor thoughtfully, entered his own palace which was well decorated and was filled with people rejoicing all around.  Seetha sprang up from her seat and trembled to see her husband wearing a sad demeanour showing clearly that his mind was perturbed with anxiety.   After seeing her, Rama could not contain his grief any longer.  Seeing him pale-faced, perspiring and without endurance, Seetha asked him kindly with anxiety and concern "What is this now, my Darling!   I heard that the brahmanas are of the opinion that today's constellation Pushya (which is presided by the sage Brahaspati) is propitious and is very suitable (for the coronation).  You do not look cheerful.  You look very disturbed.  Why?"
         Rama looked at his consort and said with a sad smile "M'dear!  My father is sending me to forest in exile.  You have grown up in a great family.  You know perfectly well what is right and and what is virtue.  Two boons were promised to my mother Kaikeyi long ago, by my father Dasharatha who always is true to his promises.   Now that the arrangements initiated by the king for my coronation are getting ready, Kaikeyi came out with that promise of boons, turning the situation to her own advantage on the grounds of morality that I have to dwell in Dandaka forest for fourteen years.  Bharata is being appointed as the vice-regent by my father.  Before setting forth to the forest, I have come to see you.  I like you to remember and follow what I am going to tell you.  I should not be praised at any time in the presence of Bharata.  Men endowed with power and fortune indeed do not tolerate praise of others.  Therefore, my virtues should not be extolled by you in front of Bharata.  You cannot expect to be attended to in a special manner, at any time by him.  The princely kingdom is given to him by the king permanently.  Oh, Seetha ! He is fit to be rendered gracious by you, more so because he is going to be the king.  As for me, keeping up the pledge of my father, I leave for the forest today itself.  Remain courageous.  After I leave for the forest frequented by the sages, you can give yourself up to religious vows and fastings.  You can rise up at the dawn, perform worship of the deities as per the precepts and do salutation to my father, king Dasharatha.  Keeping in front the righteousness alone, you have to respect the aged Kausalya, my mother, who is getting emaciated by grief.  For me all my mothers are equal in point of fondness, love and the way in which they have looked after me (in my childhood).  Hence the rest of my mothers also deserve to be saluted always by you.  You, in particular, should regard Bharata and Satrughna, as your brothers or sons.  Bharata is indeed the king and the master for both the kingdom and for our family.  Hence, you should not do or say anything displeasing to him at any time.  Kings are pleased by one's good character and served by exerting one's self become happy with those ones.  They get angry if it is to the contrary.  Kings abandon even their own sons, if they are antagonistic and accept even other people if they are befitting.  I shall go to the great forest.  You should stay here only, without offending any one."

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

49. Rama gets Kausalya's permission.

               Seeing that Rama was very firm in protecting the promise of his father,  Kausalya, though happy in a way but was choked with grief, poignancy and sadness and thereby she could not utter any word.  She was thinking that "There is absolutely no doubt that Rama is a very righteous person.  He always speaks lovingly and kindly to one and all.  He has not faced any grief until this moment.  How can such a person live in a forest?   While his dependents and  servants are enjoying pleasant foods all the while, how can he eat roots and fruits in the forest?   It is hard to believe that Rama, the beloved and virtuous is being sent to exile by the king."   
      After a while she composed herself, turned to Rama and said  "Oh, Rama!  If you are to go to exile, then it can  certainly be said that everything is controlled by a strong destiny.   After your departure,  the sorrow that will encompass me will be greater than the proverbial hellfire.   Your absence will flare it up like wind.  My lamentation and grief would kindle it like the clarified butter.  My raining tears will be the offerings as an oblation to the fire.  The choking and anxiety will be a great smoke.  The thought that when you would return, will generate more smoke.  Such a fire of grief will make me emaciated completely and  burn like dry wood by fire in winter.  Oh, Son! A cow follows its calf wherever it goes.  Like that, I shall come with you wherever you go."
      Hearing the words of his mother, Rama consoled his highly distressed mother by saying "Kaikeyi has already deceived the king.  He may not live long after I left for the forest.  His death will be accelerated when he comes to know that you left him, too.  To abandon her husband is entirely a cruel act for a woman.  You should not even dream such a gruesomely malapropos thought.  Till Dasharatha, my father and the great king is alive, you should serve him.  It is the eternal justice."
      Kausalya with auspicious appearance, was very much pleased to hear what Rama said and replied with a nod  "What you say it very true; but I do not know how I can live without you."
      Rama, after hearing the words of his very much distressed mother, held her hands and told her kindly "The words of my father are to be followed by you and me.  For all, he is the king, the nourisher, a venerable man, the best among men, the lord and the ruler.  After roaming in the great forest for just fourteen years, I shall come back and very gladly stand by your command."
       Mother Kahusalya said in a weak weeping tone "Oh, Rama! I can not reside in the middle of these step-wives.  If you have made up your mind to go to the forest as per your father's wish, take me, too, like taking a female deer of the forest, to the woods ''
        Suppressing his sorrow, Rama pacified his weeping mother by saying "As long as a woman is alive, her husband is the god and master to her.  Your husband, the King Dasharatha, has authority over you and me even now.  When the king, the lord of the earth and the wise man is there, we are not indeed without a master.  Bharata, who is a righteous person and who speaks lovingly to one and all will be treating you as his own mother.  He is indeed always devoted to righteousness.  In my absence, take care of the king attentively so that he does not get fatigued even a little with grief over me.  Act always soothingly for the well-being of the aged king, seeing that his terrible grief does not destroy him.  Even if a woman is interested in religious vows and observing fast in addition to being excellent in everything, she will become ill-fated if she does not obey her husband!  Even if a woman does not offer salutation to celestials and does not worship the gods, she will attain the highest heaven by service to her husband very dutifully . She has to do service, truly devoted in love and welfare of her husband.  This is seen in the world from the beginning, was heard from ancient texts and mentioned as righteousness.  Oh, Mother! You always worship gods by sacrificial fire and by flowers for my sake.  Look forward for the time of my return in such a manner with restraint, being temperate in food and being devoted in the service of your husband.  After my return, your best desire will be fulfilled if our father is still alive till then."
          After hearing Rama, Kausalya was somewhat mollified.   With the eyes full of tears she responded Rama "Oh, My brave son! I see that it is futile to try to change your determined resolution in the matter of your going to the forest.  Time is inscrutable.  It is certain.  Oh, son! You go undisturbed.  Let there be always auspiciousness to you.  I shall become refreshed, when you return.  You, the illustrious, after accomplishing a purpose, having observed a vow and having attained freedom from debt to your father, after having come again, I shall get the greatest happiness.  The path of the destiny, which extinguishes my words and impels you to go to the forest, is ever not imaginable on this earth.  Go just now and come back safely, when you will rejoice me with your pleasing and tranquilizing words.  How nice it will be, if today is the day of your return from the forest, wearing twisted hair and garment made of bark."
         Having resigned to the fact that Rama was determined to go to the forest, Kausalya pushed away her grief,  sipped water from the palm of the hand, became purified and performed rites conducive to the welfare of Rama.  She then told her son "Oh, Rama!  I see that I cannot make you to stay.  Depart now, return soon.  Abide the footsteps of the virtuous.  Let that righteousness, which you are fostering with courage and discipline, protect you.  May those to whom you will be bowing in salutation at cross-roads and in temples and the great saints you may be meeting, protect you in the forest.  All the arms given by the wise and redoubtable sage Vishwamitra to you, will ever protect you.  Protected by your service to father and to mother as well as to the truthfulness, you will live long.  May the wooden sticks used for feeding the sacred fire, blades of the sacred Kusa grass and rings of Kusa grass (worn on the fourth finger on sacrificial occasions), sacrificial altars, temples and various sites selected by Brahmanas for worship of gods, mountains, trees, bushes, large and deep pools of water, birds, snakes and lions protect you.  May the saadhyas and viswadevas (two different kinds of gods) and the wind-god along with eminent sages ensure your happiness.  May the cosmic person and the creator bring happiness to you.  May the Pusha, Bhaga and Aryama (three of the twelve sons of Aditi) and the guardians of the spheres with Indra as their head do good to you.  May the six seasons, all the fortnights and months, years, nights, days and hours always do good to you.  May Veda, the Smriti texts taken as one body, the resolution and the piety protect you, my son!  May lord Skanda (the younger son of Lord Siva) and the moon god along with the sage Brihaspati (the preceptor of gods), the well known seven sages as well as the Sage Narada, guard you on all sides.  May the four quarters along with the glorious guardians of the four quarters which are eulogized by me may protect you always on all sides in the forest.  Let all the mountains, oceans, Varuna, the king of oceans, heaven and earth, the intermediate space between them, rivers, astrological mansions including gods presiding over them, day and night, the morning and evening twilight may protect you while you reside in the forest.  The six holy seasons, months, years and the measures of time known as Kala (equivalent to one minute) and Kastha (1/30th of Kala or two seconds) bestow you happiness.  Let the heavenly deities and the demons too ever shower happiness on you while you traverse through the large forest, in the guise of a hermit and full of wisdom.  Let there not be fear for you of demons the terrible ones performing cruel deeds, of devilish beings called Pisachas and of all carnivorous animals.  In that impenetrable forest occupied by you, let there be no monkeys, scorpions, gad flies, mosquitoes, snakes or other insects.   Let the great elephants, lions, tigers, bears and the terrible he-buffaloes with horns, not to be hostile to you.  Let the other ferocious man-eaters belonging to animal-species, being worshiped by me here, not hurt you.  May your path-ways be propitious!  Let your valour be powerful!  Go well with all accomplishments!   Let there be security to you against those of your enemies dwelling in the atmosphere.  Oh, Rama! May Venus and the moon as also the sun and Kubera (the god of wealth) and Yama (the god of death) who are being worshiped by me, protect you, while you reside in the forest of Dandaka.  May sacred hymns coming forth from fire, air, vapour and from the mouth of singers of sacred hymns, protect you at the time of taking bath.  Let Siva, the lord of all the spheres, Brahma, the lord of creation, Vishnu, the nourisher of all beings, the sages and the rest of the celestials may protect you during your dwelling in the forest."
         Thus Kausalya blessed her son by worshiping troops of divinities with garlands and sandal paste with befitting hymns of praise.  Duly procuring fire, she caused oblation to be poured into it, as per the direction of a high souled brahmana for the purpose of Rama's well- being.  Kausalya then procured clarified butter, white garlands, ceremonial sticks and white mustard seeds.  She then called the preceptor who performed the ceremony for peace as per the statute as well as without error and carried out propitiatory oblation externally with the remaining sacrificial food left after the main offering.  She then got brahmanas to pronounce blessings with honey, curd, unbroken grains of rice and clarified butter by the repetition of certain hymns and to utter prayers for the well-being of Rama in the forest.
She then blessed her son by saying "Which felicity occurred to Devendra the thousand- eyed, adored by all celestials when a demon called Vritra was destroyed, let that felicity occur to you.  Which blessing was invoked by Vinata to Garuda who was setting off to bring nectar in the past, may that blessing reach you.  Which blessing was bestowed on Devendra, the wielder of the thunderbolt, killing the demons at the time of producing nectar, let that blessing come to you.  Which good fortune occurred to Vishnu who was immensely glorious while making his three strides (in order to measure the three worlds), let that good fortune come to you.  May the seasons, oceans, Dvipas (principal division of earth girdled by oceans), vedas, various spheres and quarters confer blessings with good luck to you."
     Saying so, Kausalya placed some unbroken rice grains on her son's head, smeared varieties of sandal pastes over his body, fastened about his wrist by way of an amulet, a herb called Visalyakarani (so called because it helps in painlessly extracting an arrow stuck into one's body) which is efficacious and auspicious and muttered sacred hymns in order to enhance its virtue.  Though filled with grief inside, she appeared to be over-joyed outside and with faltering words, was speaking with only mouth and not with her heart.
        She then embraced Rama, smelling his head by bending it and said "Rama, my son! Go with ease with accomplishment of purpose, as you are.  Oh, son! With all your purposes fulfilled and with good health, I shall see you returning to Ayodhya happily and taking over the reins of the kingdom.  All my thoughts of grief having been expunged  and my face shining with joy, I shall behold you returning from the forest like the full moon rising from the horizon.  Oh, Rama! I shall behold you returning here from your sojourn in the forest, having fulfilled your father's word and installed on the splendid throne.  Having come here from your sojourn in the forest, you will be familiar with auspicious things and will ever be augmenting the desires of my daughter-in-law and of mine.  Depart now, Oh, Rama!  Worshiped by me, let the hosts of gods headed by Siva, the Supreme Being, the great sages, spirits, the chief of evil spirits, the celestial serpents and the (four)quarters wish well of you, who are setting forth to forest."
      Having so said and having completed the rite of invoking blessings befittingly, Kausalya, whose eyes were overflowing with tears, further went clockwise around Rama and having pressed close to him, embraced him again and again.
      After circumambulating his dear and pious mother Kausalya,  Rama pressed his mother's feet (as a token of reverence) again and again, shining as he was by his own splendour, and then proceeded to Seetha's apartments.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

48. Say not the struggle not availeth.

             Lakshmana could not bear the sight of the utter grief and the misery of the Queen Kausalya.   He cried in fury  "Oh, Ma!  I do not at all like Rama agreeing to to go to the forest, leaving this his rightful kingdom, on the words of Kaikeyi.  The king has become perverted due to old age, and thereby seems to have outraged by sensual enjoyments and possessed of an intense passion can, prompted by Kaikeyi, talk any thing.  I cannot see any offence or cause for blame or for any other reason for which Rama can be expelled from the state.  I have not seen or even heard any person, whether an enemy or an expelled,  speaking ill of Rama, even indirectly.  Can any ethical person with a sound mind would, without any reasonable cause, get rid of a son who is equal to god, honest, self-restrained and is affectionate even towards adversaries?  Which son, knowing royal usage, can agree to the words of this king who is behaving as an imbecile or a recalcitrant child?" 
       Then looking at Rama he continued  "Even before others get to know about this matter, make this kingdom your own.  I am here to help you, even by giving up my life, if necessary.  Oh, brother! While I am standing by your side  armed with this bow, looking like Yama, the God of Death to our enemies, protecting you, who will have moral or physical courage to have an encounter with me or is capable of exhibiting greater valour?  If the city of Ayodhya turns against you, I shall make it desolate of men with sharp arrows.  I shall kill all those who are siding Bharata, and are favorable to him.   If our father with a senile mind behaves like our enemy with instigation by Kaikeyi, I shall keep him imprisoned without any personal attachment or if necessary, kill him.  Even a venerable person is to be punished, if he becomes arrogant, if he does not know good and evil actions and if he takes to a wrong route.  On what strength or reason he has to give away this kingdom which rightfully  belongs to you to Kaikeyi?   Where is the power or authority for him to give the kingdom to Bharata? Oh! My brother Rama!  I am swearing an oath to you by truth, by my bow, by the act of giving and by the act of sacrifice.   Oh, queen!  If Rama enters a blazing fire, you certainly will see me as having already entered the same.  I shall alleviate your grief, by showing my valour like the rising sun alleviates darkness.  Let Rama and yourself see my valour."
         The words of Lakshmana made Kausalya more anguish and she told Rama weepingly  "Oh, son! Did you hear the words of Lakshmana?   Agree to what he suggests, immediately.  It is not proper for you to go away from here, leaving me afflicted with grief, after hearing the unjust words spoken by my co-wife.  Oh, Rama! You are a righteous man.  If you desire to practise virtue, be a virtuous man and stay here serving me, thereby practising the best morality in the form of serving your mother.  Don't you know that Kasyapa was staying in his own house itself with self restraint, performed great austerity by serving his mother and went to heaven?  Just as the king, by respectable feeling to you is worthy of worship, so also being your mother, I am worthy of worship by you.  Hence, do not go to the forest.  Without you, I have no use of this life or the comforts.  Oh, son! If I fast myself to death for your sake, you will attain the universally infamous hell, like the god of the ocean obtaining trouble because of his unrighteous behaviour, towards the sage called Pippalada, resulting in the latter's wrath."
         Rama then told his mother kindly "Maa! I just could not violate my father's wish.  I am bowing my head and asking your favour.  I shall have to go to the forest.  A sage called Kandu, who knew righteousness, who performed religious vows and who was a learned man, killed even a cow, acting as per his father's words.  Previously, the sons of Sagara belonging to our race, were bitterly digging up the earth, as commanded by their father.  Parasurama, the son of Jamadagni slayed his mother Renuka with an axe as per his father's words.  Oh, mother! These and many others who were equivalent to gods, did not make their father's words go waste.  I also shall do what is desired by my father.  Oh, mother! I am not the only person to act according to one's father's wishes.  Those I have mentioned to you hitherto also complied with their father's desire.  I am definitely not setting any new contradictory and undesirable precedence for your sake.   I am adhering to the way intended and followed by the ancient.  I cannot do otherwise than acting in accordance with my father's wish, the prevalent practice on earth.  There is no deprivation indeed for anyone who complies with his father's commands or wishes."
          Rama, then turned to Lakshmana and told him "Oh, Lakshmana!  I know your highest affection towards me, your heroic valour, your strength and your unassailable splendour.  My mother is feeling a great and unequalled sorrow, by not remembering the secret of truth and tranquility.   Righteousness is the best of all the qualities in the world.  Truth is established in righteousness.  One who follows righteousness, does not waste his promise given to one's father or mother or a Brahmana.  I cannot transgress my father's command or wish.  On the word given by my father only,  Kaikeyi told me to go to the forest.  Hence, leave this mean mentality of military heroism.  Observe righteousness and not rudeness.  Follow my resolution (of carrying out the royal and paternal command)."
        Rama then patted  his brother on the shoulder affectionately, bowed to his mother and with folded hands, spoke again to Kausalya  "Oh, mother! I have decided to go to the forest.  Please give me permission.  I am swearing to you on my life.  Please bless me.  As the sage king Yayati in olden times left the heaven and got back to the heaven again, I shall be back to the city from the forest, after fulfilling my promise.  Oh, mother!  Please do not grieve.  Bear it well in your heart.  I shall come back here again from the forest after fulfilling the father's command.   Seetha, Lakshmana, Sumintra, you and I should follow father's directions.  This is an eternal custom.  Oh mother! Please approve my righteous intention of going to the forest, duly withdrawing preparations for my coronation and keeping in check the sorrow in your heart."
       Kausalya heard the most virtuous, cool and steady words of Rama and rose, as though regained life once more after death, looked at Rama and spoke to him "Oh, son! I am also as respectable a person as your father, in my own right.  I do not give permission to you.  You cannot thus go away, leaving me in great sorrow.  What is the use of my living in this world without you?  What is the use of the other world or the oblation of food offered to the deceased ancestors or the nectar of immortality?  Your proximity even for a moment is better than that of the entire world of living beings."
       After hearing the pathetic lamentation of his mother, Rama was highly anguished, as a lordly elephant when removed from its way by men with flames of fire.  Rama, who was established in righteousness said  "Oh, Lakshmana!  I always know your devotion towards me as well as your strength.  But now, you are joining with mother in afflicting much trouble to me without looking at my point of view.   Oh, Lakshmana!  In obtaining the fruit of good works in the world, righteousness, utility and free will are given the top importance.   Only Good work will yield a wife the things like obedient and beloved wife with good sons she wants to be.   Only such an action, which is righteous (alone) is to be undertaken, abstaining that in which wealth, desire and righteousness do not find any scope altogether.  One who is interested in wealth alone becomes indeed fit to be hated in the world.   So also the one whose very essence is desire, cannot indeed be considered as good.  When father, who is venerable, a king and very aged, commands an action either by anger or by extreme joy or by even desire, which right person would refuse to perform it?  Only a person who chooses to be cruel will disregard it.  I cannot avoid fulfilling father's command.  For both of us, he is an important person and has every right to command us.  To mother Kausalya also, he is the husband, the resource person and the personified law.  While the righteous king Dasharatha is alive and especially when he is following his own righteous path, how mother Kausalya can go out with me from here leaving the city like any other widowed woman?  Oh, Ma! Permit me to go to the forest.   As Yayati returned to heaven by the power of truth, give me your power of blessings so that I can return here after completion of the exile.  I cannot keep back reputation and glory for the sake of kingdom. Through unrighteousness today, I am not going to accept in any case the trivial ruler-ship of the earth, the life being of a short duration."
      Rama decided to go to the Dandaka forest fearlessly with his prowess, consoled his mother, taught Lakshmana, his younger brother his own thinking about morality and heartily moved clockwise round his mother  
       Rama then approached his affectionate brother Lakshmana who was distressed with agony and was very much angry like an hissing king cobra, with his eyes dilated with wrath.   He held his brother Lakshmana by his shoulders and told "Hold back grief and anger.  Forget this insult, by taking refuge in courage alone.  Be cheerful, always!  Abandon all these arrangements made today for my coronation and immediately take up action that is faultless.  Show the same zeal now in terminating my coronation as shown earlier in its preparations.  Mother Kaikeyi may still have some pangs about the question of my coronation. Behave in such a way that no apprehension comes to her mind on this matter.  Oh, Lakshmana! I do not wish to disregard any such painful doubt lingering in her mind even for a moment.  I do not remember to have done even a small disagreeable thing here at any time to any of my mothers or to my father, even unintentionally.  Let the promise made by my father, who is truthful, truly mighty and afraid of the fear of the other world, become true.  Let him be free from any such apprehension.  His distress will cause  me pain.  Oh, Lakshmana! For that reason, I wish to go to the forest immediately, withdrawing from these coronation arrangements.  Soon after my departure to the forest, mother Kaikeyi, with a sense of achievement will have her son's coronation.   After my leaving for the forest, wearing deer skin, rags and with my hair twisted together, etc.  Kaikeyi will have an absolute mental peace.  I do not want to create trouble to my father, who has taken this hard decision.  Hence, I will go to the forest at once.  Oh, Lakshmana!  Look at it as destiny which has taken back the kingdom offered to me and is sending me to exile.  If it is not the destiny which has created such a thought in the mind of Kaikeyi, how come she resolved to harass me?  You know that I have no discrimination between my own mother and Kaikeyi;  also had and still have no discrimination between myself and her son Bharata.   I do not perceive any reason other than fate that made Kaikeyi to cancel my coronation, to send me to exile, and to speak very harsh words, not to be talked about or even to think about.  If it is not God's will, then how Kaikeyi who is of a perfect temperament and who is born in a highly reputed royal family can speak like a common woman to her husband to create trouble for me?  The influence of destiny is fathomless.   No living being can counteract its influence.  An adverse fate has befallen on me and on her.  It is quite clear now.  Oh, Lakshmana! There is no means whatsoever to abstain from it otherwise than to follow the course of destiny.  Who will be able to fight against the destiny?
        "Pleasure and pain, fear and anger, gain and loss, birth and death and such other things are all the acts of destiny.  Even sages, who performed severe penance, having been harassed by destiny leave aside restraint and got ruined by lust and anger.  It is indeed an act of destiny which suddenly and unimaginably obstructs an action, undertaken in the world, at the starting point itself.   Although my coronation is obstructed, I have no grief since I have restrained the self  by myself with real consciousness.  Hence, you also, like me, get the arrangements for the coronation withdrawn immediately without any anguish.  Let all these very pots of water arranged for the coronation be used by me for my bath after completing the religious vow of asceticism.  Otherwise, why to me this water in these pots which is the royal property?  The water drawn out by myself, will be used for my bath after completing the religious vow.  Do not repent about this perverseness of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth.  When you talk of kingdom or dwelling in the forest, the latter, in my opinion will be more superior, under the present circumstances. 
      "Oh, Lakshmana! Do not curse our mother Kaikeyi for obstructing my coronation ceremony.  She is doing this under the influence of the destiny.  Surely you are aware of this destiny, which has such an unfailing power."
        Lakshmana  could not bring himself to agree with Rama.  He told Rama with tears in his eyes "You are telling all these with a view to veil the great suspicion in the minds of people.  Can such a person like you, who can surmount the destiny,  speak thus of the ineffectual destiny?  Why are you speaking about this weak and pitiable destiny?  Why are you not doubting the sinful Kaikeyi and Dasharatha?   Don't you know that both of them are smoothly deceiving in the name of righteousness with an intent to keep away your good conduct, with selfish motive and by dishonest means.  Oh, My dear brother!  If it was not indeed an earlier decision taken long ago by both of them, the boon must have been given naturally even long ago.  Enthroning any one other than you will not be liked by the people.  I cannot tolerate this cunning act that is enacted.  Excuse me in this matter.  I do not at all like this righteousness by which your intellect got disunited and by which indulgence, you are stupefied.  You are very capable to retaliate.  How can you act on the reprehensible word which is unjustified of your father who is surrendering obediently to the will of Kaikeyi?  Though they are doing this treachery with a sinful intent, I regret that you are not grasping it.  Such a conduct is to be censured.  Both of them, acting on their own free evil-will, never cared your welfare.  They are enemies in the name of parents.  It is not proper even to think of fulfilling their desire.  I do not agree to your opinion that their action is influenced by mere destiny.  Only a confused and cowardly person surrenders to destiny.  Brave men with self-respect, like you do not honour the destiny of this nature.
      "That person who is capable of keeping off destiny by his skillful efforts, does not have a regret in the sense of not being failed by destiny.  Today, all can see how much prowess is there in destiny and in man.  This day, the distinction between man and the destiny will be clearly perceived.  By which destiny, your coronation is seen crushed, I shall crush that destiny by my prowess as a warrior.  Let all people see it!  By my prowess, I shall turn back this destiny, as framing back an elephant which is not caring a hook and which is fiercely running with violent force.  Neither all the guardians of this world nor the three worlds put together can withhold my brother Rama's coronation today.  Why then to talk about father?  Those who are secretly advocating your living in a forest for fourteen years, will have to reside in the forest themselves for fourteen years in that manner.
        "That is why, I shall bring to naught the hope of father and of Kaikeyi, which is directed towards the kingdom to her son by creating obstacles for your coronation.  The strength of destiny cannot create that much pain as that which my terrific prowess will create to those who are opposed to my strength.  At the end of some thousand years of your ruling the kingdom, you having gone to the forest, your sons will govern the kingdom.  It is the natural practice for ancient kings to go to the forest when they committed the people to the care of their sons,  for being protected as their children.  If you think that you do not want the kingdom because of your doubt that the kingdom will get disturbed due to the unstable mind of the king Dasharatha, you need not fear.  I solemnly promise you that I shall protect the kingdom as a sea coast protects the sea.  If not, I will not obtain the heroic world of heaven.  You become engaged in getting  Coroneted with auspicious things.  I for one is competent to ward off the kings by force.  My arms are not meant for handsomeness alone.  Bow is not a decoration.  Sword is not for tying around one's waist.  Arrows are not for staying immobile.  All these four are intended for subduing enemies.  I do not wish to tolerate too much the one who is considered as an enemy to me.  By wearing a sword with sharp edges which is moving bright like lightening, I do not care any enemy, even be he Indra.  This earth will be rendered impassable with heads, hands and thighs of elephants, horses and men crushed, having been hit by my sword.  Now, my enemies will fall down on earth, being hit by my sword, like mountains in blaze, like clouds charged with flashes of lightening.   As I stand holding a bow with fingers wound with shields made of alligator skin, how any man can fancy himself a hero among men?  While I overpower one with many arrows and many with a single arrow, I pierce my arrows at the vitals of men, horses and elephants.  Oh, Lord! Today, the strength of my excellent arrows is capable of making you the sovereign and making Dasharatha devoid of power.  Oh, Lord Rama! Today the effect of my weapons will remove the power from the king Dasharatha and give the lordship to you.  Oh, Rama! These arms of mine are not only worthy of wearing sandalwood essence and bracelets but also for bestowing riches and for protection of friends.  It can today do every action to prevent the agents who want to obstruct your coronation.  Tell me now itself which enemy of yours is to be made deprived of life, honour and friendship, by me.  Command me!  This earth will become your dominion.  I am your servant."
      Then, Rama looked at Lakshmana kindly, consoling him by wiping off his tears and told him "Oh, Lakshmana!  I stand by the words of our father. This indeed is the right path which alone I will follow.  No further arguments or discussions in this regard."