Wednesday, 31 July 2013

66.The Aftermath at Ayodhya after Rama left.

                  Now that Rama and co. are settled comfortably at the Chitrakuta mountain, let us go and see what that  all-purpose guy Sumantra is doing and what is happening at Ayodhya.
       That chap Guha was very much attached to Rama.  He therefore, sent some of his best men to follow Rama and co. discretely without their knowledge.  They did so until Mr. and Mrs.Rama and Lakshmana had come to the sage Bharadwaja, stayed with him in Prayaga and departed to Chitrakuta mountain. After learning this, Sumantra rode back to the city of Ayodhya. Sumantra reached Ayodhya on the evening time of the third day and noticed that the city was glum and joyless.
          Seeing Sumantra approaching, thousands of people ran towards him asking, "Where is Rama?" He replied them  "He sent me back when we reached the bank of Ganga."
         On hearing that the people were lamenting "Lost indeed are we, who do not see Rama here! Never again can we see our beloved and the most pious Rama on the occasions of bestowing gifts, sacrificial performances or marriages or in large meetings. The city of Ayodhya was protected by Rama, as by a father, with due regard to what was appropriate and congenial and what brought happiness to its people."
       While driving through bazaars, Sumantra heard the sounds of lamentation of women coming forth from windows, due to intense anguish on account of Rama's exile.
Going through the middle of the royal highway, Sumantra by covering his face reached the house of Dasharatha. Sumantra descended from the chariot, entered quickly the royal palace and traversed the seven inner apartments of the palace filled with a large number of people. Then, seeing  Sumantra from their large mansions, from seven-storied buildings and from royal palaces, the women who had been emaciated in not being able to see Rama, cried "Alas! Alas!".
Those women, extremely confounded with grief with their long and bright eyes filled with a stream of tears, looked at each other imperceptibly.  Sumantra also heard the feeble conversations of Dasharatha's wives absorbed in anguish on account of Rama's exile, from their respective inner apartments. "What will Sumantra reply to the lamenting Kausalya, as he has now returned here without Rama.  It is a wonder that in spite of her son having left Ayodhya, Kausalya continues to survive!"
         Hearing those very credible words of Dasharatha's wives, Sumantra entered the house that appeared to be set ablaze with grief.  Sumantra entered the eighth inner apartment and saw in that white house, King Dasharatha a miserable, sick and an exhausted man on account of the grief for his son.  He approached him, offered his salutation and conveyed Rama's message as he was asked to.  The king heard silently the message of Rama.   Afflicted by the utter grief for his son, he was totally bewildered, fainted and fell down on the ground.  Seeing the king unconscious on the ground, the inmates of the gynaeceum wept, raising their hands in distress.  Kausalya along with Sumitra lifted up their husband from the ground.  Kausalya told the unconscious king  "My darling! Why are you not speaking to this Rama's messenger, who has come from the forest and who has undergone difficult things?  After doing an evil act, you are now feeling shameful.  Rise up!  Let it be a meritorious act for you.  You cannot get any help, if you go on weeping like this.  Are you afraid that Kaikeyi would not like you inquiring Sumantra about the welfare of Rama? That Kaikeyi is not here. Speak fearlessly."
       Kausalya, speaking excitedly in tears and after giving vent to the contempt she felt for the monarch fell down on the floor.  Seeing Kausalya on the floor weeping, all the other wives already crying in loud voice and gazing their husband too lying unconscious, cried louder.  Hearing that crying sound raised in the gynaeceum, all the aged and young men and women on all sides gathered around weeping. 
       On regaining consciousness, the king looked at Sumantra, whose body was covered with dust, his face filled with tears and who was miserable and beckoned him to come near by nodding his head slightly.  When Sumantra came near him, the king said "Oh, Sumantra! Where is Rama taking refuge at the root of a tree?  What that Rama, who enjoyed very many pleasantries, can eat now?  Oh, Sumantra! How can Rama the prince, who was habituated to good beds, sleep with such discomfort on a floor like an orphan? Foot soldiers, Chariots and elephants used to follow whenever Rama was marching ahead.  How such a man can take shelter and stay in a forest bereft of people?  How Seetha, Rama and Lakshmana entered the forest filled with wild animals and black snakes? How those princes with Seetha, the delicate and the poor lady went on foot, after descending from the chariot?  You have seen my sons entering the forest, as though divinities of Aswini had entered the Mountain-range of Mandara.  You are indeed lucky.  After reaching the forest, what words did Rama speak?  Please tell me again without omitting anything. What did Lakshmana say?  What did Seetha say?  Tell me where Rama sat, slept and took food.  By hearing these things, I may survive, as Yayati survived in the company of saints."
Comment: King Yayati, when doomed to fall from heaven requested Indra to cast his lot with saints. He was accordingly sent down to a spot on the earth, where four ascetics- Astaka Pratardana Vasuman and the parva King Sibi had been practicing austerities, and had discourse with them- Mahabharata, Adi Parva.
End Comment.
            Sumantra, in a voice quivering and choked with tears told the king "Your Majesty! Rama, keeping up the prescribed course of conduct, making salutation with joined palms and bowing his head in reverence to you, spoke to me as follows 'Oh, charioteer! Convey my salutations to my father, the one with a remarkable intellect, a mighty soul and the one to be respectfully greeted.  Enquire about the health of all the people in the gynaeceum without any disparity and offer my appropriate salutations to them.  My mother Kausalya is to be told about my welfare, about my offering salutations to her and about my alertness. Tell these words also to her. Dear Ma! Be always righteous and be interested in offering worship and sacrifices at the prescribed timings in the House of Fire worship. Nurture the feet of the Lord Dasharatha, like that of a god. Oh, mother! Behave towards my other mothers, in your normal impeccable way by abandoning self-conceit and indignation.' He also told me to make the venerable Kaikeyi, agreeable to the king.  In respect of Bharata your son, follow a respectable behaviour as with a king.  Kings are indeed sovereign in substance.  Remember the rules relating to kings.  Bharata is to be enquired about his well-being and he is also to be informed as follows  'Follow good behaviour indeed judiciously towards all your mothers.  Being installed in the office of Prince Regent, attend to your father who still stays in the throne.  The king has crossed his age.  But do not depose him on that score.  By proceeding according to the orders of the king, you live as a prince.'
         "Shedding tears profusely, Rama told me to tell Bharata  'My mother, who is very much longing for her son, is to be looked after by you as if she is your mother'.  Oh, emperor! Rama's eyes were red due to weeping.  But Lakshmana was very angry and breathing a sigh, spoke to me as follows  'On which offence this prince was expelled from home?  The king took shelter under a wretched decree of Kaikeyi and performed an act not to be done, as though it is a proper deed, for which we are now tormented. Even if this was done for the good pleasure of the king or through the will of God, I do not see any justification for Rama's abandonment.  Rama's exile, an illegal decision undertaken whether due to levity of judgment or due to lack of reflection, will raise countless protests.  I do not consider the emperor as my father.  For me, Rama is the brother, lord, relative and my father. By banishing Rama who is the delight of all the people and who is a virtuous man and by opposing this world, how will you stay as a king?' Oh, King! The wise Seetha for her part with her mind like one possessed and forgetting her own existence, stood sighing and static. The illustrious Seetha having not seen any misfortune earlier could not even speak to me anything, weeping as she was with that uneasiness."
          After hearing  Sumantra, Dashartha asked him to tell the remaining happenings.  Sumantra then said "Your Majesty!  Wearing clothes of bark, those brave princes, matting their hair twisted together, crossed the River Ganga and proceeded towards Prayaga. Escorting Rama, Lakshmana proceeded ahead. With the hope that I shall be called again by Rama, I stayed there along with Guha for three days.
        "Your Majesty! Even trees in your domain have withered, without giving flowers due to Rama's separation. Rivers, pools and lakes were with hot water. Groves and gardens were with their leaves parched up.  Living beings are not moving.  Wild animals too are not roaming around. That forest became silent, predominated by grief towards Rama. Lotus-lakes, with lotus-leaves were hiding under the water pressing themselves closely together, with muddy waters, with parched lotus-flowers and in which fish and water fowls have completely disappeared.  Waterborne flowers and flowers living on dry lands now give very little fragrance and fruits do not have a luscious look or taste as before. The gardens here are empty of men and the birds have vanished. I am not seeing the gardens as charming as before. Nobody greeted me entering Ayodhya City. Having not seen Rama, the people are breathing their sigh of lamentation again and again.  Seeing the royal chariot returning here without Rama, all the people along the royal highway are shedding tears with grief.  Seeing the returned chariot without Rama, women from mansions, seven-storied buildings and royal palaces were crying.  Women, being more sorrowful, are looking at each other indistinctly with their long bright eyes overwhelmed with a flood of tears.  I do not see any distinction in their agony, whether they are non-friends, friends or neutral people. The city of Ayodhya with its joy-less people, with its elephants and horses looking miserable, with sighing exhaustion due to cries of pain, filled with sounds of moaning, cheerless and feeling anguish due to Rama's exile, appears to me, like Queen Kausalya without her son."
       Hearing Sumantra, the king in a voice choked with tears and very much woeful said in a feeble voice "Enjoined by Kaikeyi with her sinful birth and intention, I could not deliberate with people experienced in counsel or with elders beforehand.  This act has been done by me in haste due to infatuation for the sake of a woman, without consulting friends or ministers or with interpreters of sacred texts.  If at all I have done any favour to you, lead me fast to Rama.  My vital spirits are hastening me.  If there is the same unlimited authority of mine even now, let Rama be brought back to Ayodhya.  I cannot survive without Rama even for a moment. Or perhaps Rama, my very dearest son, gone a long way. Make me to ascend the chariot and quickly lead me to Rama.  Where is that Rama having pearl-like teeth and wearing a large bow?  If only I can see him well with Seetha, I can survive.  If I cannot see Rama having red eyes, mighty arms and with ear-rings made of gems, I shall proceed to the world of Death.  What is more distressing to me after getting into this condition, in not seeing  Rama who is a delight to Ikshvaku dynasty? O Rama! Oh, Younger Brother of Rama! Oh, unfortunate Seetha! You do not know that I am dying with grief, like one abandoned."
       King Dasharatha, his mind very much despaired with grief and plunged in an ocean of sorrow, very difficult to be crossed, said "Oh! Queen Kausalya! I am plunged in this ocean of grief.  Its area of sorrow is for Rama. Its waves and huge whirlpools are sighs of anguish.  It is agitated with water and foam as tears. Throwing away of arms is the swarm of fishes.  Its great sounds are cries of lamentation. The scattered hair is its duck-weed.  Kaikeyi is its submarine fire, which is the cause for the rush in my tears. The words of the hump-backed are its huge crocodiles.  Its shores are the boons asked by the cruel Kaikeyi.  Its long stretch is due to sending of Rama to far away place.  I cannot cross this ocean alive, without Rama. What a pity! Though I want to see Rama and Lakshmana now, I am not able to see them here. It is very bad."
        Lamenting thus, the king of great renown soon became unconscious and fell down on his couch.  Hearing his words lamenting as much as twice more pitiably for Rama and the king having fallen unconscious, Kausalya was alarmed once again.

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