Friday, 26 July 2013

65. Rama settles down at Chitrakuta.

                  Sage Bharadwaja gave permission to move after he performed a religious rite for ensuring a safe journey for them.  He accompanied them for a distance, as a father would for his sons.  Before bidding adieu to the trio, Bharadwaja the great sage gave them the precise direction to the Chitrakuta mountain "After approaching the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna, follow the river Yamuna in the direction of west. When you reach the River Yamuna belonging to olden times, you cross the River Yamuna (the daughter of the sun-god) by preparing a raft there.  After crossing the river Yamuna and approaching a large banyan tree named Syama (dark-green) having green leaves and surrounded by many other trees and visited by Siddhas, Seetha should, joining her palms, recite her auspicious prayers to the tree.  Having approached that tree, you can take some rest there, if you so desire.  After going only for two miles from there, you will see a beautiful forest blue in colour with bamboo trees touching upon Yamuna river and interspersed with Sallaka and jujube trees.  It is the way to Chitrakuta.  I visited that place many times.  It is beautiful, endowed with serenity and free from forest-fire."
               Rama then remarked "Lakshmana! We are fortunate that the sage has shown such a compassion towards us."  Then they followed the direction of the sage Bharatwaja and reached the River Yamuna belonging to olden times, running with rapid stream. Rama and Lakshmana prepared a big raft with pieces of timber fastened together, covered with a kind of grass and spread over with dry bamboo canes.  Thereafter, the valiant Lakshmana made for Seetha a comfortable sofa like seat with the chopped branches of reeds and of rose apple trees. Then Rama helped Seetha to mount the raft.  Rama kept her two robes and the jewellry, a shovel and a basket by the side of Seetha in the raft, along with the weapons.  Then the two brothers ferried across the river watchfully.  Having arrived at the middle of Yamuna river, Seetha offered salutation to the river and prayed "Oh, goddess of Yamuna! Adieu! I am crossing you!  May my husband complete his vow! When Rama safely returns again to the city of Ayodhya,  I shall propitiate you by offering a thousand cows and a hundred drinking vessels."  They then reached the southern side of the river.  Then they, marched through the river-forest and reached the banyan tree Syama.  Approaching that banyan tree, Seetha prayed "Oh, great tree! Obeisance to you! Let my husband complete his vow! Let me see again Kausalya and the illustrious Sumitra."  Thus speaking, Seetha circumambulated that tree with joined palms.  
          Seetha, who was walking in the middle of them was like an auspicious female elephant in the middle of two huge male elephants.   Seetha wanted to have them whenever she saw the one or the other tree or a bush or a creeper shining with flowers which she had not seen earlier. Lakshmana dutifully brought her many kinds of beautiful twigs of trees, full of flowers.  
          Seetha very much enjoyed to see the River Yamuna with wonderful sands and waters re-echoing to the cry of swans and cranes.  After some time, the two brothers killed many consecrated deer and ate them in the river-forest.  They strolled in the charming forest, enjoying the scream of a number of peacocks.  They also noticed that the forest was inhabited by elephants and monkeys.  On reaching an agreeable level ground at the bank of the river, they decided take a rest for the night.
             On the following dawn,  Rama gently woke up Lakshmana, who was sleeping, and said "Oh, Lakshmana! Hear the sound of wild animals, resounding beautifully.  It is time we resume our journey.  Let us start."   All of them got up and did all the morning chores, including, of course, bathing in the river.   Then they proceeded towards the path leading to Chitrakuta mountain. 
          On the way Rama was telling Seetha "Seetha! Behold Kimshuka trees with their diadem of flowers blossoming all over, as if they are blazing up, in this winter. Look at these Bhallataka (cashew nut) trees, abounding in flowers and bent down with fruits and leaves, all untouched by men.  We can certainly live here. Lakshmana! Behold in every tree the hanging honeycombs of the size of a water-trough. In this beautiful forest region, dense with a scattered mass of flowers, a Chataka bird is crying and a peacock is responding to it.  See this Chitrakuta mountain with a high and a mighty peak, wide spread with a multitude of elephants and made to resound by a congregation of birds.  Oh, brother! We shall sport in this forest of Chitrakuta, having a level-ground beautifully extensive with many trees and is pure."    
         Rama and Lakshmana along with Seetha traveling on foot, approached the mountain of Chitrakuta, which was pleasant and lovely.  Reaching that mountain, filled with various flocks of birds, with many roots and fruits, lovely and rich in streaming water, Rama said to Lakshmana "It appears to me that this beautiful Chitrakuta mountain yields an easy sustenance, for, it is charmingly filled with various kinds of trees and creepers with different kinds of roots and fruits. High souled sages are also staying on this mountain.  Let this become the dwelling for us, too.  Let us make this our resort."
          After deciding thus, Seetha,  Rama and Lakshmana with joined palms approached a hermitage and offered their salutation to the sage who happened to be the Sage Valmiki. The great sage Valmiki, who knew what is right, full of delight, treated them with honour, offered cordial welcome and requested them to sit.  Then Rama, in accordance with tradition, reported the ascetic all that concerned them and with the approval of the sage, told Lakshmana  "Lakshmana!  Bring strong and choicest timber and construct a dwelling.  My mind is fascinated in living here." 
            Lakshmana brought various kinds of trees and   constructed a leaf-hut, which was firmly built and thatched as well as beautiful to look at.  Rama then asked Lakshmana to bring the the meat of an anteolpe for performing a purification ceremony.
         Lakshmana promptly obeyed the instructions of his brother and told him "This black antelope, with its complete limbs, has been cooked completely by me. Worship the concerned deity, as you are more versatile in that act." 
         Rama,  after taking bath and with subdued mind, briefly chanted all the sacred scripts to be chanted at the end of a purificatinon ceremony.  Worshipping all classes of deities and getting himself purified,  Rama entered their dwelling.  There was a heartfelt joy in Rama, with his limitless splendour. Having taken bath in the river as prescribed, Rama offered oblations to Lord Rudra and Lord Vishnu after offereing tributes to Vaisvadeva. He performed benedictions relating to the purification of house and also a silent prayer as per prescribed rites. He finally offered excellent tributes to the deities, for removing sins.
Comment:  Vaishvadevabalim: A religious ceremony which is to be performed every morning and evening and especially before the mid-day meal, followed by offering of food to the gods especially the god of fire.
End Comment.
          Lakshmana erected altars in all the quarters of the hermitage as was fitting, Chaityas (places for worship of Lord Ganesha and others) and Ayatanas (places for worship of Vishnu and others).  Rama and Lakshmana along with Seetha, having auspicious characteristics, satisfied the spirits by crowns of flowers obtained in the forest, by fruits, roots and cooked meat, by water, by prayers as uttered in the sacred texts (Vedas), by sacred grass, by fuel and Kusa grass and then entered the auspicious leaf-hut.  All of them entered that hut, thatched with leaves of trees, looking beautiful, well constructed at a suitable site and protected from winds, as if entering an assembly hall called Sudharma (in heaven) by a group of celestials.  
           Seetha, Rama and Lakshmana who subdued their senses, very happily strolled in that excellent forest, filled with many classes and multitude of beasts and birds, trees having multi-colored crowns of flowers, and resonating with sounds of elephants in rut and of antelopes. Delighted and joyful to reach the lovely Chitrakuta mountain and the river Mayavati, provided with good descents and frequented by birds and beasts, Seetha, Rama and Lakshmana shed the agony caused by their exile from the City of Ayodhya.

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