Wednesday, 17 July 2013

63. Rama meets his friend Guha.

          In the meanwhile Rama covered quite a distance before daybreak.  Having worshiped the blissful morning twilight, he neared the boundary of his or rather his father's kingdom.  Seeing villages, whose outskirts have been tilled and the woodlands laden with blossoms and hearing the words of men of the villages, Rama with his companions was proceeding at a leisurely pace in the chariot pulled by the  excellent horses, enjoying the beautiful scenery.
       The villagers were talking "Woe unto the king Dasharatha who fell into the clutches of concupiscence.  Alas!  Kaikeyi the cruel and the sinful one now is still engaged in a cruel game.  She got the prince Rama, the most pious man, the great intellectual and the compassionate who subdued all his senses exiled.  That hot-tempered Kaikeyi is behaving in a rude manner, transgressing all the bounds of propriety.  How Seetha, the venerable lady, the daughter of Janaka, who was delighted always in homely comforts can now experience the hardships in the forest?  What a surprise! The king Dasharatha, having no love for his son, now wants to abandon Rama, who is so beloved to the people and is absolutely faultless."
       Having crossed the auspicious waters of the river  Vedashruti, Rama then stretched forth, facing the quarters occupied by the Sage Agastya.  After traveling a pretty long time from there, Rama crossed the river Gomati, whose banks were adorned with cows.  Reaching the other bank of Gomati river, Rama crossed the river called Syandika which had resounded with the happy and playful cries of peacocks and swans.   Rama showed Seetha  the land of Kosala, the southern boundary of which was defined by Syandika river given long ago by the king Manu to Ikshvaku and which was bounded by many territories.
           When they reached the boundary of the Kosala territory Rama halted the chariot and standing with his face turned towards Ayodhya, with joined palms said "I bid farewell to you, Oh best of the cities, carefully protected by Dasharatha born in Kakutstha dynasty, as well as of the deities who protect you and dwell in you.  After getting relieved from exile in the forest and thus freed from the debt to the emperor, I shall see you again, duly getting united with my mother and father."
       Lifting his right arm and wearing a woeful look, his face covered with tears from his lovely reddish eyes, addressed the people of the countryside  He thanked and asked the people gathered there around the chariot to go and attend to their normal chores.
       Respectfully saluting their beloved prince and going round him clockwise (as a mark of reverence), those men stood rooted here and there, wailing frightfully.  While they were lamenting thus unceasingly,  Rama passed out of their sight, like the sun sinks out of view at nightfall.  Then Rama, in his chariot, crossed Kosala territory.
        Rama reached a happy and prosperous kingdom, abounding in lovely gardens and fit to be enjoyed by kings. There, Rama beheld the celestial and lovely river of Ganga with its three tributaries, carrying clear waters without green moss and frequented by sages. Beholding the river Ganga with its waves covering whirlpools, Rama  told Sumantra the charioteer "We shall halt here itself today.  Not far from the river stands this very large sacred fig tree with its many flowers and shoots.  We shall stay here itself.  I shall see from here the excellent river Ganga, which is auspicious and whose waters deserve to be respected by gods, men, Gandharvas, beasts, reptiles and birds."
        Sumantra then directed the horses to that sacred fig tree.  Rama got down from the chariot along with Seetha and Lakshmana.   Sumantra too dismounted from the chariot, unyoked the horses and then he seated himself near Rama at the foot of the tree. There, a king named Guha was Rama's friend dear to him as his own life.  He was Nishada by birth, a strong man and well known as a ruler of Nishadas.
       Hearing of Rama's arrival to his territory, he approached the prince, escorted by his ministers and relatives.  Seeing from a distance the king of Nishada coming, Rama along with Lakshmana went forth to meet Guha. Closely embracing Rama, Guha who felt disturbed, spoke to him, "This city too is as much as Ayodhya to you.  What can I do for you?   One does not get everyday such an honoured and lovely guest."
         Having brought pristine cooked rice of excellent quality and other dishes of various kinds, he then quickly offered Rama water to wash his hands and said "Welcome to you,  my lord!  All this land is yours.  We are your servants. You are the Lord.  Rule over our kingdom in your efficient way.  Here are various kinds of dishes, drinks and syrups as also excellent beds for you to sleep on and food for your horses."
            Rama smiled and replied "We stand honored by you, by your very visit to us on foot, as well as your show of affection and are pleased with you". 
         Pressing gently with his muscular arms, Rama continued  "My dear Guha! Thank heaven that I am seeing you in good health with your relatives.  Is all well with the kingdom, the allies and the treasure?  I know your affection by which all this is extensively well arranged by you.  But I am not in a position to accept it.  Know me as under a vow to be an ascetic, wearing the robes of bark and deerskin and by piety, I am determined to live in the forest by eating roots and fruits only.  I desire nothing but a little forage for the horses.  By being provided with this much at the present moment, I shall be duly satisfied by you.  These horses were cherished by the king Dasharatha, my father.  I shall feel honored if these horses are duly fed."
          Then Guha on that spot commanded his men to bring immediately water, forage etc. for the horses. 
        Having worshipped the evening twilight appearing in the west, Rama then took for food only water brought by Lakshmana himself.  Having washed the feet of Rama who was lying on the ground along with his consort,  Lakshmana then came and stood near a tree.  Guha too along with the charioteer conversed with Lakshmana who was wielding a bow and keeping an alert vigil over Rama.  Lakshmana continued his surveillance till dawn.
Sarga 50
       Distressed with anguish to see Rama and Seetha  lying on the ground, Guha said to Lakshmana, who kept awake, out of sheer love, affection and respect, for the protection of his brother Rama "Here is a comfortable bed made for you, my friend!  Relax comfortably on it.  We are quite used to hardships, whereas you are habituated to comforts.  We shall keep awake this night, for the protection of Rama.  For, none is dearer to me than Rama in this world.  I speak the truth and swear to you by truth.  I hope to acquire abundant acclaim and supreme merit in this world as also full reward of wealth, by the sole grace of Rama.  As such, I along with my kindred shall protect my dear friend Rama who is reposing with Seetha, in every way, with bow in my hand. Nothing is unknown in this forest to me, where I wander continually.  We will be able to withstand even a vast army, comprising of four parts elephants, chariots, cavalry, and infantry."
          Lakshmana thanked and replied "My dear Guha! Being protected by you, who keep your duty alone in view, all of us are fearless in this land.  When Rama, the son of Dasharatha is lying on the ground with Seetha,  how is it possible for me to sleep or to enjoy the pleasures of life? See that Rama, who cannot be vanquished in combat even by the gods and demons combined, is now sleeping profoundly on the grass along with Seetha.  When Rama has been sent to exile, the king will not live long and the earth will become surely widowed forthwith.  Having cried out in a high-pitched tone, the women having exhausted, would have fallen silent and I am sure that a profound stillness reigns in the palace.  I do not expect Kausalya, Dasharatha and my mother to remain alive for this night.  By looking forward to meet Shatrughna, my mother might stay alive.  But it will be painful if Kausalya who has given birth to such an heroic son, dies.  That city of Ayodhya, filled with devoted people, hitherto a source of joy and which brought pleasure to the world,  when seized with agony over the king's death, will perish.  How, in the absence of his magnanimous and the first born son, will the vital airs in the body of the generous king be maintained?  After the death of the king, Kausalya will die.  My mother also will die thereafter. Having failed to install Rama in the kingdom, which was the most cherished wish of his heart, my father will leave this world.  Those who are fortunate will consecrate our deceased father and the king in the course of all funeral rites, when the hour has struck. Will Dasharatha remain alive?  After returning from exile, can we see the king Dasharatha of noble vows again? Can we safely return to Ayodhya, after the completion of the period of exile in the forest along with Rama who is faithful to his promises?" 
        While Lakshmana was thus lamenting, stood on ground, afflicted with anguish as he was, that night rolled away.

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