Thursday, 20 June 2013

59. Life in Ayodya sans Rama.

         After the departure of Rama, a great cry of distress erupted from the women of the inner apartments.  They cried "Where is he, who was the path and the protector of the people who are now rendered defenseless, weak and unhappy?  Where is he, who was not angry even when provoked, who resolved every misunderstanding and who propitiated all those who were angry by sharing their suffering?   Where is he, that illustrious and the great-hearted Rama, who treated us with the same reverence he paid to his own mother?  He, the protector of the people and the whole world, driven to the forest by the king, goaded on by Kaikeyi.  Alas! In his folly, the king has banished the virtuous, beloved and the strictly truthful son, Rama to the forest!"
        All the queens lamented and wailed like cows deprived of their calves and in their affliction cried out loudly.  Hearing those terrible crying sounds in the private apartments, the king profoundly afflicted by the departure of his son, became increasingly depressed.
        There were no sacred fires in any household after the departure of Rama to the forest, no housewife prepared food, the people did not do their routine chores and even the sun was eclipsed.   Elephants threw out the morsels of food they had taken into their mouths.  Cows did not suckle their calves.  Mothers did not rejoice in the birth of a son as her very first baby.  Trisanku, Lohintanga, Brihaspati as also Budha and all other planets assumed a menacing aspect and got stayed with the moon.  Stars ceased to twinkle.  Planets lost their splendour.  The stars of Visakha appeared in the heaven, veiled in the mist.  The great oceans rose, as by a speed of a long-lasting tempest.   After Rama left for the forest, that city was shaken as by a terrible earthquake.  All the cardinal points, having been disturbed, were covered by darkness.  Planets did not become visible, nor the stars nor any other thing in heaven.  All the people of the city suddenly became apathetic.  No one was interested in either food or in pastime.  All the people of Ayodhya, afflicted by the grief, heaved profoundly and burning sighs and bewailed about the departure of the Lord of the earth.  The people in the king's way were wearing distressed faces filled with tears.  No one appeared rejoicing.  All were possessed by grief.  The wind was not blowing coolly.  The moon did not appear beneficent.  The sun did not give out warmth to the earth. The entire world was in disorder.  Sons did not ask for their mothers and husbands did not ask for their wives.  Brothers did not inquire about their sisters.  All gave up every thing and thought of Rama and Rama and Rama.  Then, all of Rama's own friends were bewildered in mind and the weight of their agony overwhelmed them. They did not leave their beds.  Afflicted by fear and grief, the earth with its mountains suffered a terrible convulsion, as when it is abandoned by Indra the lord of rain, and a great uproar reigned in the city which was filled with elephants, warriors and horses.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

58. Au revoir.

           Then, Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana(who was very miserable), bowed down and touching the feet of the king and went round him clockwise with joined palms.   After taking leave of Dasharatha,  Rama bowed along with Seetha to Kausalya.  Of course, Lakshmana too bowed to Kausalya, then clasped the feet of his mother Sumitra.   Smelling (as a token of affection) the head of Lakshmana, his mother Sumitra weepingly told him  "Being highly fond of your brother Rama, you have been permitted (by me) to dwell in the forest with him.   My son! Do not neglect your brother Rama.  Whether in adversity or in riches, he alone is the refuge to you.  It should become the code of conduct in the world, that an younger brother should be subject to the control of his elder brother.  It is indeed the practice right from ancient times in your race."
         After a pause she continued  "Look upon Rama in the same way you would your father.  Look upon Seetha, the daughter of Janaka as myself.  Consider the forest as Ayodhya and depart happily, my son!" 
      Then, Sumantra, the charioteer told Rama in the same manner as Matali (the charioteer of Indra) would to Indra (the ruler of gods)  "Mount the chariot, Oh! the highly illustrious prince!  May all be well with you!  I shall take you speedily, wherever you direct me to go.  You have to reside in the forest for fourteen years.  Those years, as dictated by the queen, are to be considered as commenced."  
         Having adorned herself with the jewellery and the garments given to her by the King Dasharatha,  Seetha with her comely buttocks, mounted with a delighted mind, that chariot which was shining like the sun.  Thereafter, Rama and Lakshmana  quickly mounted that chariot, which was decked with gold was resplendent like fire. 
          After the departure of Rama, a sense of  blankness, senselessness and stupefaction prevailed in the city.  There was some faintness, a sort of blackout, collapse and unconsciousness in the strength of the people.  The city (of Ayodhya) was filled with some flurry, with its elephants intoxicated in rut and highly excited, and resonant with the tinkling of the ornaments of the agitated horses.  That city, including the youngsters and the old, stricken with extreme agony, ran towards the chariot in which Rama was going, in the same way as one afflicted with the heat of the sun rushes towards water.  Crowding all the sides of the chariot with their faces filled with tears turned towards Rama, all those people said in loud voices to Sumantra  "Hold in the reins of the horses and go slowly, very slowly, Oh! charioteer!  We desire to behold the face of Rama, which would henceforth be difficult to behold by us. The heart of Rama's mother (Kausalya) is surely and undoubtedly made of iron, since it does not get broken when Rama, resembling an offspring of god is going to the forest.  Seetha (the princess of Videha kingdom) has done what ought to be done, by going along with him like a shadow, delighted in virtue as she was and does not leave her husband in the same way as Mount Meru does not leave the effulgence of the sun.  Oh, Lakshmana! You are attending ever to your brother who always speaks affectionately and is equal God.   It is an immense fulfillment for you; it is a tremendous good fortune for you, nay, it is even a means to heaven that you are following this Rama".
       Saying so, those people were not able to restrain their tears flowing like rain and followed Rama, their beloved delight of the Ikshvakus.  Then, the king with the distressed mind, saying that he would behold his beloved son, came out of his palace surrounded by his women who were dejected, too.  In front of him was heard a huge noise of crying women, echoing like the trumpeting of female elephants when a lordly elephant has been pinioned.  At that time, the father of Rama as was well known as the glorious king Dasharatha, looked shrunk, like the full moon overshadowed by an eclipse.  Rama, that glorious son of Dasharatha and one who with inconceivable courage, directed the charioteer to drive the chariot fast.  The people cried to him to stop!  Urged on the passage, the charioteer could not do both.  The dust raised on the road due to the moving out of the chariot carrying the mighty armed Rama, was suppressed by the falling tears of the citizens.  With full of wailing tears, some of the citizens, who could not keep pace with the faster moving chariot, after making loud cries became unconscious with deep agony.  Tears came out of anguish flowed from the eyes of women like (drops of) water falling from lotuses by the commotion of fish.  Seeing the city with singleness of mind, the glorious monarch Dasharatha fell down with agony, like a tree slain at its root.  Thereafter, seeing the king becoming feeble and much distressed, the outcry of the people rose from the rear of Rama.  Some people crying "Oh, Rama!" and some other crying "Oh, Rama's mother!", made the entire women from the gynaeceum to weep.  Looking back, Rama saw the king sorrowful and perplexed in mind, as well as his mother following (him) on the road.  Rama, bound by the bond of righteousness, could not gaze openly at his parents, as a foal caught in a snare would not properly look at its dam.  Seeing them coming by foot, though worthy of a chariot, habituated to comfort and unworthy of suffering, Rama commanded the charioteer  to go faster.
      Rama was not able to bear that plight of his father and his mother.
      Rama's mother (Kausalya) ran towards her son, as a cow fond of her calf and whose calf is tied (in a stall), runs home for her calf.  Rama again and again saw that Kausalya, his mother who was crying, running after that chariot as though dancing, shouting "Oh, Rama, Rama!" "Oh, Seetha!" and "Oh, Lakshmana!"   Tears descending from her eyes for the sake of Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha.  Dasharatha exclaimed saying "Stop!" while Rama called out "Go on, proceed! You can say to the king that you did not hear (his call), when admonished (later).  I no longer am able to see their grieving faces."  The charioteer, doing as per Rama's words, took leave of those citizens and drove the horses more speedily.  The king's people returned after (mentally) going round Rama.  Their minds did not return.  Their flow of tears also did not get reduced.  The ministers advised the king not to go on following chariot.  The king stopped short, gazing along with his wife, at his son Rama, with his whole body perspiring and wearing a dejected look.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

57. Kausalya's advice to Seetha.

             Hearing Rama's words and seeing him clad in a garb of an hermit, king Dasharatha and all his wives save Kaikeyi,  became extremely grief-stricken.   As he was wretchedly agonized, king Dasharatha just could not even glance at Rama.  Dasharatha was semi-conscious for quite some time.  When his distressed and repented mind cleared to some extent, his mind was thinking of Rama and only Rama.  His mind wandered and started thinking like "I think that in my younger days many people were separated from their children by me or in any case many living beings were killed. Hence, this (calamity) has befallen me.  Life does not decamp from the body surely not before the appointed time.  That must be the reason why Death does not claim me, even being tormented by Kaikeyi and even though I behold my son, effluent as fire, standing before me clad in the robes of an ascetic having cast off his fine garments.  All these people are suffering on account of only Kaikeyi, who sought refuge in chicanery, with an implicit intent of selfishness."
      Then he said "Oh, Rama!" only once.  He was not able to speak any more, as his vocal chord was completely choked with grief.  When his mind cleared after some time, the king, with his eyes filled with tears, told Sumantra "You come with my best chariot, yoked with the best horses and take these highly distinguished princes and the princess beyond this territory.  Since a pious and a valiant son is being sent to exile by father and mother,  I think such is said to be the reward of virtues for the virtuous."
      Sumantra went out immediately and quickly returned there with a chariot duly decorated and fitted with the best set of horses available. The charioteer told the prince with joined palms about that chariot decorated by gold, fitted with superb horses.  The king, who knew what should be done at a proper place and time and was clear by all means, quickly called the officer placed in charge of the treasury and ordered him in a decisive tone  "Quickly bring for Seetha, clothing of great worth and ornaments of high quality, taking into consideration all the years (that Seetha has to spend in exile)."  The order was obeyed promptly without any undue delay.  Setting out as she was to the forest, Seetha adorned her beautiful limbs with those lovely jewels.  Seetha, beautifully adorned as she was, illumined that palace, as the sky in a morning is illuminated by a rising sun.  Embracing (Seetha) in her arms kausalya, who never behaved in self-pity, and smelling her head(as a token of affection) said "Throughout this world, a dishonest woman, even though adored all the time by her husband, cease to esteem her husband when he comes to fall into evil days.  Having enjoyed happiness in the past, she becomes spoiled and even desert her husband, on his getting into even the least misfortune; such is the nature of (bad) women. Young women, who are vicious and untruthful in their disposition, are affected by passion and their essence, incomprehensible. They get aversion within a moment.  Neither a noble descent, nor an accomplishment, nor learning, nor a gift nor even entertainment can capture the heart of women. They are unstable of their heart indeed!  But, for women established in good conduct, truthfulness, sacred learning and mental quietness, their husband alone is the most sacred entity, the best of all.  My son who is being sent to the forest should not be despised by you.  Even if he is invested with riches or without riches, let him be a deity to you."
      Seetha replied  "I shall do just all that, as your venerable self wants me to.  I know how I should behave towards my husband.  I have also heard about it earlier. Your venerable self is not worthy of equating me with evil women.  I just cannot deviate from virtue, even as a moon from the moonlight.  Vina (Indian lute) does not resonate without chords.  Chariot does not move without wheels.  How can a wife bereft of her husband, even if blessed with hundred children, will lie happily in comfort?  A father indeed gives happiness a limited extent, a mother in a limited measure and a son in moderation.  Which woman, then, would not adore her husband, the bestowed of  the limitless!  Having heard about the special and ordinary duties of a wife from the most excellent women, how can I, as such, despise my husband, Oh venerable lady?  Husband is indeed a deity to women."
      Hearing Seetha's words, which touched her heart, Kausalya of pure mind suddenly started shedding tears born of agony and delight.  Rama joining his palms, approached his mother and said "Oh, mother! You do not grieve. You look after my father. The end of exile will come rather soon. Fourteen years will elapse, while you are asleep.  You as such, will see me, duly arrived here in my entire being, surrounded by my well-wishers."
      Uttering the aforesaid words of such quality and appropriate meaning to his mother, Rama thought once again and gazed at his three hundred and fifty step-mothers. Rama joined his palms and saluted those step mothers also, who were too distressed in the same way and said  "Please excuse me, if I have done any mistake either because of our living together or due to ignorance on my part. I now take leave of you all."  All those women, whose minds were overpowered with grief, heard the aforesaid cool submission of Rama, which was in consonance with righteousness.  While Rama was speaking thus, an outcry, resembling the wail of female cranes arose from those wives of Dasharatha. His palace, which was earlier resounding with tom toms, large drums and Meghas( musical instruments which sound like rumbling of clouds) was now filled with wails and cries and fallen on evil days.

Monday, 10 June 2013

56. Dasharatha proposes, Kaikeyi disposes.

                 Seeing that Kaikeyi stuck to her guns in her resolve to get Rama sent to the forest, Dasharatha resigned to the fact that squeezed by his own promise in the matter of sending Rama to exile,  was thinking very hard to do something in the matter.  Ah! He got that something.  Sighing heavily with tears he told Sumantra with a weak smile "Oh, Sumantra! Let a military body consisting of (all) the four limbs of the arms, filled with the best of its kind, be arranged immediately.  Let courtesans well versed in speaking and merchants with great riches having exposure for extension of sales bestow elegance to the forces of the Prince.  Appoint in this contingent those too, by giving abundant money to them, who were dependent on Rama and on whom he took delight in gallantry.  Let important weapons, chiefs of police and vehicles, hunters knowing the secrets of forest accompany Rama.  Killing deer and elephants, drinking forest-honey, seeing various rivers, he would not remember of sovereignty.  Let the granary and the treasury belonging to me be sent to Rama residing in the uninhabited forest.  He can spend his exile happily, by performing sacrificial rites in holy places and disbursing appropriate gifts, along with sages living in the forest.  The mighty armed Bharata may rule Ayodhya.  Let Rama be sent along with all objects of enjoyment."
         Kaikeyi was horrified, stunned, appalled, astonished and startled to hear what Dasharatha was saying.   She was thinking very hard some way to stop this.  "How my dear Manthara would counter this?" she was thinking.  Ah! Something flashed in her mind.  She thought she was advised by telepathy by her dear hunch-back Manthara.    "Stop this rigmarole!" she boomed.  Then she looked around triumphantly and continued with a wry smile   "Bharata will not and cannot accept the kingdom, which will become uninhabited, hollow and which will be absolutely unenjoyable like wine, shorn of its spirituous part, Oh! noble soul!" 
         While Kaikeyi  was brazenly uttering the most brutal, shameless, ruthless, callous, sadistic, inhumane etc. words, King Dasharatha stared at her and mildly told her "I have granted the boons you demanded.  I am just carrying out the same, now.  You had not stipulated any condition as to how Rama should be sent to the forest.  While asking the boons you did not  specify that Rama should not be allowed to take anything with him or troupes etc. should not be sent with him."
          Doubly enraged on hearing this clever, smart, sensible and rational retort by Dasharatha, Kaikeyi countered "In your dynasty itself, Sagara just cast away his eldest son Asamanja without any paraphernalia, whatsoever.  Likewise, Rama, too should go without anything to bank upon."   Hearing that, king Dasharatha uttered only one word "Shame!".  The entire people there nodded in complete agreement.  But Kaikeyi, being shameless, did not perceive it, or pretended.
There, the aged and the upright chief minister Siddhartha by name who was highly esteemed by all, explained to Kaikeyi "Asamanja, an hardcore sadist with an evil-mind, was catching hold of children playing in the street and throwing them in the waters of the Saryu river, just to satisfy his sadistic pleasure.  By watching him, all the citizens were horrified and highly enraged and represented to the king 'choose either to keep yourself Asamanja alone or to preserve us'.  Thereupon the king asked them the reason and the people told him 'He obtains incomparable delight by throwing our playing children in the Sarayu river in a whirled state of mind.'  This made the king abandon the son repugnant to his subjects, in a bid to do good to them.  Arranging immediately to place him along with his wife together with the paraphernalia (like utensils, implements etc) in a vehicle, the king exiled him for life.  Roaming in all directions, he ransacked mountain passes, by taking a basket and a shovel.  The highly righteous King Sagara abandoned Asamanja for the perpetration of sinful deeds as explained above.  But, what sin Rama has done, for which he is to be debarred in this way?  We do not indeed perceive any fault in Rama.  It is as difficult to find a taint in him as in a new moon.  Or if you see any fault in Rama, Oh Kaikeyi please tell us about it now.  Then, Rama will be exiled.  As it is contradictory to righteousness to abandon one who is guilty and who is devoted only to a good path,  it would consume the splendour of even Indra (the ruler of gods).  Hence, there is no need of impeding the royal fortune of Rama.  Oh, lady with a charming face!  Even blame from the public should be taken care of by you."
          Seeing the supercilious look on the face of Kaykeyi, Dasharatha said "Oh, the sinful being!  You do not seem to agree with the learned Siddhartha.  By resorting to the path of the deplorable persons, you are not fit to be my wife.  I am, therefore accompanying Rama now, by abandoning my kingdom, happiness and wealth.  You enjoy the kingdom for a long time, happily together with Bharata as the King."
         Rama who was a silent onlooker until now, decided to break his silence and told Dasharatha  "Sir, I am to live in the forest for fourteen years.  I, therefore, have decided to live as a pious and holy person viz. like an ascetic and an hermit;  I am taking all my personal weapons and my dear brother Lakshmana comes with me, with all his personal weapons, for support.  We have decided to enjoy the forest life for the fourteen years and also help and protect the other holy men there doing yagnas, penance etc.  As such I do not require army accompanying me.  Who, after giving away a first-class elephant, will fancy the rope with which it is tied?  What use is there for him through attachment to the rope after abandoning the excellent elephant?  So also, what use is there for me by the army, Sir, when I am giving away absolutely all.  Let the dresses of a holy  man be brought to me."
          Thereupon, Kaikeyi said to Rama "Well said! Rama!  That is my son.  I have brought these specially for all the three of you.  Put them on"  Taking a few pieces of bark (as loin cloth and cover) from kaikeyi and discarding his clothing of fine yarn, Rama put on the garb of ascetics.  Lakshmana too there itself before his father put on the clothing of ascetics, by discarding his beautiful raiment.   Then, Seetha who wore silken clothing, by seeing the piece of bark intended to be worn by her, felt alarming as a deer would on seeing a snare(set for entrapping).  Feeling abashed while taking the apparel made of Kusa grass and greatly troubled in mind, Seetha who bore auspicious marks knew what is righteousness and who was an illustration of righteousness, asked her husband who looked like Chitraratha(the king of Gandharvas), with her eyes filled with tears "How ascetics residing in the forest wear these pieces of bark?"  Seetha who was not adept in wearing the bark of trees, erred again and again(in her attempt to wear it).  Keeping one piece of bark on her neck as well as holding it with her hand, Seetha stood abashed, not adept as she was in wearing it.  Rama, the foremost of those upholding virtue, quickly came and personally fastened that bark over the sliding garment of Seetha.  Seeing Rama fastening the bark to Seetha in that manner, all the wives of Dasharatha (save Kaikeyi, of course) present there became highly distressed and shed tears.  They entreated Rama " Dear child!  Seetha is not fit to reside in the forest.  Please leave her with us and we will take utmost care of her.  Oh Rama! let her sight be a reward to us till your return.  You go to the forest along with Lakshmana as your companion,  Seetha the beautiful girl is not fit to reside in a forest like an ascetic. Accept our prayer, Oh son!  Let Seetha the most beautiful young lady stay here."
          Rama heard their kind entreaty and he simply smiled and continued to fasten that piece of bark to Seetha.  Seeing Seetha accepting the piece of bark, Vasistha the king's preceptor said to Kaikeyi "Oh the evil minded Kaikeyi, You have exceeded your limits, and have brought disgrace to your family!  You are not establishing justifiable standard and you misled the king.  Seetha, the princess shall not proceed to the forest.  She will occupy the throne, which was awarded to Rama.  A wife is very self to one, who constantly cares for his wife.  As Seetha is Rama's self, she can rule the earth.  Or rather, if Seetha goes to the forest together with Rama, we also will follow suit.  This city too will go. The frontier guards and the State including its patrons, as well as this city with its goods and chattels will go wherever Rama and his wife are.  Wearing pieces of bark, Bharata along with Shatrughna will also go to Rama, their brother residing in the forest and moving in the forest.  Thereafter, singly you alone with bad conduct, rule this earth which is bereft of people and desolate, with its trees alone remaining.  Where Rama is not a king, that place will not indeed become a kingdom.  That forest, where Rama will be living, can become a kingdom.  Though Bharata is one of the dear sons of the king Dasharatha, he is not fit to rule the earth that is not being offered by his father nor to live as a son in your case.  Even if you can jump from the surface of the earth to the sky, Bharata who knows the record of his father's dynasty will not do as you wish him to do.  Therefore, an unfriendly act(alone) has been done by you, even though you are covetous towards his well-being.  There is none indeed in this world who is not devoted to Rama. 
      "Oh, Kaikeyi! You will see now itself that beasts, elephants, deer and birds going with Rama and trees also turning their faces towards Rama.  Moreover, putting aside the bark of trees, give excellent jewellery  to your daughter-in-law, the bark of trees is not ordained for her.  It was solicited by you, the dwelling in the forest of Rama only.  Let Seetha, to be decorated daily, be adorned with ornaments and live in the forest along with Rama.  Let Seetha go with excellent conveyances, well accompanied by attendants, with all costumes and useful accessories.  Her exile was not indeed solicited by you, while asking for boons". 
      Kaikeyi did not deign to reply despite the fact that  Vasishta, the preceptor of the king, had an influence beyond compare and the best of Brahmans and merely wore a glum face.  Seetha did not change her resolution to follow the ways of her beloved husband.

         Seeing Seetha wearing bark of trees like a beggar, even though protected by her very powerful husband, all the people there loudly cried out "Fie upon you, Dasharatha!" Pained by that loud cry there, King Dasharatha lost interest in his life, religious merit and esteem.  Dasharatha with a long sigh, spoke to Kaikeyi "Oh, Kaikeyi!  Seetha does not deserve to go with a robe made of Kusa grass.  My preceptor truly says that Seetha, who is delicate, young and ever habituated to comforts, is not fit for forest-life.  Has this pitiable daughter of Janaka, done any harm to any one because of which she, having obtained a bark of trees is standing like a hermit and dumbfounded in the midst of men?  Seetha, the daughter of Janaka need not wear these barks of trees.  No such pledge was given by me.  Hence, let this princess go to the forest happily fully provided with all the valuable possessions.  A cruel pledge has been made on oath by me, who does not deserve to survive.  This (providing robes of hermits to Seetha initiated by you) is immature, silly, foolish, trifling, frivolous, infantile and puerile.  That will consume me, as by its own flower a bamboo.  Even supposing a little offence was done by Rama to you, what harm was displayed to you by Seetha? Oh, mean woman! What harm on earth can be done to you by Seetha, who has blooming eyes like those of a female deer, soft in disposition?  Sending Rama to exile thus indeed is enough for you.  What use is there for you in further doing these wretched, sinful acts, too.  Hearing the speech you gave to Rama who came here for coronation, only that much was acceded by me.  Transgressing all that, you somehow or other wish to go to hell, by perceiving Seetha also clad in bark of trees."
         The highly grieved king thus lamenting, did not see any ending to that sorrow.  Drenched as he was in excessive devotion to his son and having been hurt very much, he sagged into his chair.  Rama, who was setting out to the forest, told his father "Oh, Sir, My mother Kausalya, here is aged.  She is not of base nature and will not accuse you.   You are worthy of amply respecting her, who is deprived of me, and who is immersed in an ocean of sorrow and who has not seen such an affliction earlier.  Having been honoured by you, the venerable man, she the pitiable woman will not get such a grief for her son, and thinking of me alone she will draw consolation from you.  You must see that my mother, who has high affection for me, will not depart to the house of Yama the God of Death, by abandoning her life by getting emaciated by grief after my departure to the forest."

Saturday, 8 June 2013

55. A vain attempt by Sumantra.

           Sumantra, the charioteer, minister and a confidant of the king Dasharatha, could not bear the sight of the king, who was then shaking his head and sighing again and again, rubbing his hands, grinding his teeth, turning here and there with his eyes red with anger, shedding the normal complexion of his skin, overwhelmed with wrath, suddenly getting the uncontrollable evil grief.  Carefully reading Dasharatha's actions, Sumantra, eager to relieve the agony of the king, decided to do something in the matter.  He conceived some arguments which, he thought would shake Kaikeyi's heart as with sharp arrows, and the actual words, he was sure would be a thunderbolt piercing all her vitals.  Looking at Kaikeyi, he bravely started shooting  "There is nothing on earth which is more disgraceful for you by whom your husband, the king Dasharatha, the supporter of the entire creation, both the unmoving and the moving, is betrayed.  King Dasharatha is unconquerable as the great Indra, unshakable as a mountain and imperturbable as a great ocean.  By tormenting him with your nasty actions, you are considered by me as a murderess of your husband and ultimately the exterminator of your race too.  Do not despise Dasharatha, the supporter, the bestower of boons and your husband.  For women, will of the husband is superior to millions of sons.  After the death of a king, kingdoms are conferred as per the age of the princes.  But, you want to deviate from this norm in the case of Rama.  Let your son Bharata become the king and rule the earth.  Wherever Rama goes, we (on our part) shall also go there with him.  Now no brahmana can indeed dwell in your kingdom as now you want to do such a mean and disgraceful act, transgressing the the bounds of decency.   Certainly, all of us will proceed in the path followed by Rama.  Oh, queen Kaikeyi! What pleasure will be derived through the attainment of sovereignty, when your relatives, all brahmanas and pious souls desert you forever?  Now, you want to do such an act of impropriety.  I am greatly surprised  why the earth has not yet rent asunder, while you conduct yourself with such a base act.  It is also surprising why the fiery and fearful rods of reproaching words uttered by the great brahmana sages are not killing you, who is bent on sending Rama to exile.  Who will nurture a neem tree, cutting down a mango tree with an axe?  And, a neem tree will not turn sweet for him who nourishes it with milk.  I think, by birth your nature is as exactly as that of your mother.   A proverb is quoted in the world saying that honey does not ooze from a neem tree.  We all know your mother's conduct of evil satisfaction.  Someone capable of giving boons, granted a great boon to your father.  By that boon he could identify the languages of all moving beings lower to man.  The talk of those beings belonging to sub human species was well understood by him.  One night, on hearing the  sound made by an ant called Jrimbha near his bed he uncontrollably laughed over it repeatedly, because the meaning of that sound was deciphered by your exceedingly brilliant father.  Your mother asked the reason for his mirthful laughter.  The king replied  'Oh, royal lady!  If I tell you the reason of my laughter, my death will immediately follow thereafter.  There is no doubt about it.'  But your mother insisted that your father tell her the reason for his laughter and she did not care if he dies in revealing the same.  Hearing such an audacious demand, the said king of the Kekayas on his part correctly reported the matter to the sage who granted the boon to him.  Then the sage told the king 'Oh, lord of the earth!  Let her die or ruin.  Do not reveal the reason to her.'  The king took the advice and exiled your mother and lived happily like Kubera, the Lord of riches.  Oh, Kaikeyi,  You, too, thus following the path trodden by wicked men and women, are making this bad resolution by ignorance.  The popular saying that males are born conforming to their fathers and females to their mothers, appears to be true.  Do not conform to the traits of your mother.  Understand that which is said by the king.  Following the desire of your husband, be a protector to these people here.   Incited by the evil minded, do not put before the public an improper course of conduct of your husband whose splendour is equal to that of  Devendra, the protector of this world.  Oh, Kaikeyi!  Dasharatha, the faultless man, the majesty, the lotus-eyed man and the king cannot indeed belie the promise given to you. Hence, you alone have to revoke your demand.  Let Rama the eldest(of the sons) who is generous, strong, skilled and capable of protecting the world of living beings, be installed on the throne of Ayodhya.  A great accusation will surely roam about you in the world, if Rama leaving his royal father goes to the forest.  Let you be free from distress.  There is none other than Rama living in your excellent city who is more competent to rule this Ayodhya.  In the event of Rama being installed in the office of the prince Regent, King Dasharatha  will surely have recourse to the forest, cherishingly recollecting the conduct of his forebears."
          The valiant effort of Sumantra did not evoke any reaction from kaikayi, whose face continued to be as stony as before.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

54. Rama goes to see his father (for the last time).

                  Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana, after disbursing all their movable properties, decided to see and get the blessings of the king Dasharatha before leaving for the forest.  The weapons held by Rama and Lakshmana were tied on with garlands very elegantly by Seetha.  The weapons thus decorated were shining brilliantly and were fearsome to look at.  To get a good look at the triple before they go away for fourteen long years, people ascended the lofty palatial mansions, large buildings and tops of palaces of even seven stories high and saw them spiritlessly and sadly.  The streets became difficult to walk due to the congestion created by the people, who were very eager to have a look at Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha before they go away.  That apart, they were very much in distress at the very thought that they would not be seeing them for fourteen long years.  In order to have a good look at Rama, they braved themselves by ascending lofty palatial buildings, mindless of the risk of falling and getting hurt or even killed.  
      Then, by seeing Rama as a pedestrian without even an umbrella, the people with their hearts struck by grief and their eyes brimming with tears, were thinking aloud.  Their thoughts were something like the following.
       "The same Sri Rama who was followed by a strong four wings of army(comprising elephants, chariots, cavalry and infantry), is now walking lonely with Seetha, followed by Lakshmana."
        "Rama knew the taste of sovereignty.  He can grant desires to the desirous.  Even then, because of his respect for virtue, he is careful not to belie his father's words.  Even commoners like me, walking on the road are able to see Seetha, who could not earlier be seen by any commoner, even by going through the air.  Rain, heat and cold will quickly wane pallor to Seetha, who is fond of applying suitable cosmetics and red sandal her body.  Today, certainly Dasharatha is talking due to being possessed by some evil spirit.  The king is certainly not entitled to send his affectionate son to exile.  Which father will have the heart to banish even a son who is absolutely devoid of any virtue?Why to tell further of whom, this world is conquered merely by his mode of conduct?"       
       "Harmlessness, compassion, learning, good nature, self-control and tranquility - on date all these six virtues are adorn only by Rama making him the best of men.  Therefore, it is no wonder that the other people like me, are extremely painful for the injury done to him, as aquatic beings in summer are afflicted because of depletion of water."
       "The entire world felt afflicted by the hardship inflicted on this protector of the world, as a tree that is always giving plenty of flowers and fruits is damaged by the injury caused to its root.  This Rama, the essence of virtue possessing great lustre, is indeed the root of the tree of humanity.  All other men are his flowers, fruits and branches.  We, along with our wives and relatives at once will follow Rama in the same way as Lakshmana is going with the departing Rama.        Abandoning gardens, fields and houses, we shall follow Rama the righteous man, and share his joys and sorrows.  Let Kaikeyi have the houses deserted with their treasures unearthed by us, their court-yards in ruined state, their wealth and food grains removed, their best parts robbed off from all sides, covered by dust, deserted by the deities(presiding them), overrun by mice, coming out of their holes and turning around here and there, without water and smoke, unswept, the rites of offering oblations to all creatures as well as the sacred fire, worship of gods, the chanting of sacred texts and muttering of prayers having altogether ceased, as though dilapidated by adverse times and scattered with broken vessels.   As Rama is going away to the forest, that forest will become a city and this city deserted by us will become a forest.  Scared of us, all the snakes in the forest will abandon their holes.  Elephants and the lions will leave the forest itself.   They will leave the region going to be inhabited by us and reach the city of Ayodhya.   Let Kaikeyi with her son along with her relatives inhabit the region where ferocious animals and vultures live with grass, meat and fruits.  Let us all (on the other hand) live happily in the forest along with Rama."
       Rama heard the various kinds of loud thoughts made on the lines indicated above by the people.  But  Rama's face did not show any emotion.  He was just  walking with the strides of an elephant, approached his father's palace, which from a distance glowed like a peak of the Kailasa mountain.  After entering the royal palace, he noticed that the people were highly disturbed.  However, he appeared unmoved and smiling, intending to fulfill his father's behest and went on to see his father.  He saw, among others, Sumantra standing dejected not far from the palace and told him "Inform my arrival to the king."
      The charioteer did not seem to have heard Rama.  He was just staring stupidly at Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana.  Thereafter, the lotus-eyes Rama, who was dark-brown in complexion and great beyond compare, went near to him and tapped on his back and spoke loudly to him, "Please go and tell my father that I am here to see him."   Sumantra then seemed to have woken up from a reverie and nodded and then quickly entering inside saw the sighing king, whose senses were disturbed by grief.  He saw the king resembling an eclipsed sun, like fire covered by ash, as a lake without water. The charioteer saw Dasharatha repenting with his mind greatly agitated,  He approached the king hesitatingly with joined palms.  The charioteer, first tried to inspire the king with blessings of triumph, and then in a slow and sweet voice, overcome with fear, told him "Your Majesty!  Your son, Rama, having given away all his wealth to brahmanas and dependents, is waiting at the gate.   May auspiciousness betide you!  Let that Rama, who is unfailingly brave, see you.  After bidding farewell to all his friends, he wants to see you now  to take leave of you before setting out to the forest.  See him who is resembling a sun with rays of light, displaying all the royal qualities."
       On hearing Sumantra the king Dasharatha smiled weakly and told the charioteer in a barely audible voice "Oh, Sumantra! bring all my wives, who are here.  Surrounded by all of them, I want to see my most dear son, the virtuous Rama."   Sumantra, after entering the gynaeceum, told the ladies "Oh, venerable ladies! The king is calling you, all.  Go there immediately."  All those women, informed thus by Sumantra of the king's orders, started for his palace.   Encircling Kausalya, three hundred fifty women, steadfast in their vow(of devotion to their husband), with their eyes reddened, went there slowly.  After seeing his wives, king Dasharatha  told Sumantra "Oh, Sumantra! Bring my son here."  The charioteer promptly executed the command of his master.
           King Dasharatha surrounded by his women, saw from a distance his son coming with folded hands.  So distressed as he was, the king rose swiftly from his seat and ran towards his sons and daughter-in-law.  But before reaching them, he fell flat on the floor senseless, afflicted as he was with a very deep sorrow.  Then, Rama and Lakshmana quickly approached  the unconscious king.  Sounds of thousands of crying "Alas! Alas! Oh Rama!", mixed with the sound of tinkling ornaments generated all at once from the royal palace.  Holding Dasharatha in their arms and crying, both Rama and Lakshmana along with Seetha laid him on a couch.  Then, Rama with folded hands spoke to the king who became  conscious by that time but was inundated in a sea of sorrow, "Oh, Sir! I take leave of you, who are the lord of all of us.  See auspiciously towards me, who is about to leave for the Dandaka forest.  Permit Lakshmana and Seetha too, who are accompanying me to the forest.   I tried to persuade them against it on many true reasons, but they are very adamant in not agreeing to stay behind.
      "Give up your grief, Sir, and grant leave to all of us, as Brahma(the lord of creation) did to his sons (sanaka and his three brothers who intended to go to the forest for practising austerities)."
       Gazing at Rama who was standing there unruffled, awaiting permission of the king for proceeding to the forest, the king Dasharatha spoke "Oh, Rama!  I was stupefied by Kaikeyi through a boon.  Now, by confining me, you take-over the kingdom of Kosala."  Rama replied "Oh, Sir! You be the ruler of the earth for thousand more years.  But, I for my part, will stay in the forest.  For my sake, do not generate untruth about you.  Having strolled in the forest for fourteen years, I shall clasp your feet once more after fulfilling my promise."   Prompted secretly by Kaikeyi, the distressed king, tied up by fetters of truth, said weeping to that beloved son, "Proceed for welfare, for advancement and for coming again.  Let your path of travel be auspicious, undistracted and fearless from any quarter.  Truthful as you are by nature and your mind being given to righteousness, your decision cannot be reversed.  Do not leave in any case today, now at night time.  Even by seeing you for one day, I may live happily.  Looking at your mother and myself, stay at least for this night today.   Satiated by all the desired objects, you may leave tomorrow at dawn.  An incorrigible thing is being done by you since for my pleasure you are going to the forest, leaving beloved ones.  Your exile is not agreeable to me.  I was cheated by Kaikeyi who had concealed intentions and resembled fire concealed with ashes.  Incited by Kaikeyi who has destroyed established customs, you wish to redeem my deceit, derived by me from her.  It is not a great surprise, my son, that you my eldest son should seek to make your father as one who does not have false promises."
            Rama and Lakshmana were very much upset to hear their father's words.  Then Rama consoled his father by saying "Even if these worldly pleasures are obtained today, who will offer those things to me tomorrow?  Therefore I desire only to get away in lieu of all these enjoyments.  This earth being relinquished by me, which included various provinces, filled with people, imbued with riches and food grains, may be given to Bharata.   I cannot budge now from my decision made about my stay in the forest.  You were pleased to give a boon to Kaikeyi and let it be fulfilled completely.   You should remain to be a truthful man.  I, as promised, fulfilling your command, shall live in the forest along with forest-dwellers for fourteen years.  Do not have any hesitation in offering the kingdom to Bharata.  I am not enamoured of this kingdom or any earthly happiness.  What is dear to me is only to execute your command as directed.  Let your sorrow disappear!  Do not be overwhelmed with tears. The ocean, the lord of rivers who is difficult to be assailed, indeed does not get agitated.  I do not crave for kingdom or happiness nor again for Seetha nor even all these enjoyments nor for heaven nor even for life.  I wish you to be a truthful man, not a fallacious man.  I swear to you in your presence by truth and by virtue.  It is not possible for me, Oh! father, to stay on even for a moment.  Therefore, contain this grief, Oh! Lord, for there is no going back upon my word.  I was indeed asked by Kaikeyi to go to the forest today itself.  It was also promised by me that I would do so.  I shall redeem that pledge.  Do not feel anxious.  We shall sport in the forest, flocked with peaceful deer and rendered noisy by birds of various types.  It was indeed said that even for celestials, father is the god.  Therefore, I shall carry out the father's word, considering it as divine.  You will see me, when I come back after fourteen years.  Let this grief be given up.  It is you who is to console all these people bathed in tears.  If you are perturbed, then who will console these people?  Let this city, province and the whole of this earth left by me, be given to Bharata.  I for one following your instructions, shall proceed to the forest to dwell in it for the stipulated period.  Oh, king! Let this earth with multitude of mountains, comprising of cities with their gardens relinquished by me, be ruled over, within the bounds of righteousness by Bharata.  Let the word of honour given by you(to Kaikeyi) come true.  My mind is not directed on haughty physical enjoyments or sensuous pleasures as to carrying out your command which is approved by the wise.  Let your agony for my sake disappear.  Therefore, now associating you with untruth,  I just do not desire for the kingdom, nor all the sensual enjoyments, nor happiness nor existence nor even Seetha.  Let your pledge(given to Kaikeyi) prove true.  I shall be happy, entering the forest filled with wonderful trees, eating fruits and tubers as well as seeing mountains, rivers and lakes in the forest.  Let there be satisfaction for you."
      Embracing his son, Dasharatha, who had thus fallen on evil days, was tormented with grief and distress, fainted, fully losing his consciousness and not moving even a little. Then, all the queens assembled there except Kaikeyi began to cry.  Sumantra also fell into a swoon, while weeping.  Everything there became loud lamenting.
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