Friday, 9 August 2013

67. Dasharatha - Sin and Retribution.

                 Then, Kausalya, shaking like a leaf, as though possessed by a spirit, and lying on the floor without proper disposition of mind, spoke to Sumantra in a feeble voice "Take me to Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana wherever they are.  Without them, I do not want to live here even for a moment. Take me to the forest of Dandaka, now.  If I do not go to them, I shall enter the Death's abode."
       Sumantra tried to console her by saying "Abandon grief, delusion and haste born of affliction.  Rama can reside in the forest, warding off anguish. Lakshmana too, knowing all  about the righteous conduct, having subdued his senses and serving Rama in the forest does not show any anguish. Seetha, getting a dwelling place resembling a house in the forest, her mind encamped in Rama and being fearless, is acquiring confidence.  Not even a minute depression is seen developed in Seetha.  It appears that Seetha is taking the exile in her stride as if she is used to very many exiles.  Seetha is taking delight in the desolate forest in the same manner as she was earlier enjoying visiting gardens in the city.  Seetha seems to be enjoying the forest like a little girl. Seetha's heart is with Rama. Her life also is dependent on him. Ayodhya without Rama will be a forest to her.  She looked as if she was on an excursion only a couple of miles away from Ayodhya. On seeing villages, towns, movement of rivers, and various types of trees, etc., she enquires Rama or Lakshmana and learns well about them.  I am remembering only these incidents about Seetha. She did not mention anything about Kaikeyi."
         He continued "Seetha's radiance resembling a moon's gleam was not fading away due to her travel in the forest or due to the high velocity of wind or due to the heat of the sun. That face of the altruistic Seetha resembling a lotus flower, and her lustre similar to that of a full moon, did not become changed.  Her feet, which even though no longer painted with vermilion, still looks red as Alakta (red juice obtained from the resin of certain trees), with lustre equal to that of red lotus buds.  Seetha, sporting her tinkling anklets, walks playfully.  Even now, Seetha dons her ornaments, as a mark of her passion towards Rama.  Seetha, who stays in the forest, takes refuge in the arms of Rama and hence was not afraid of anything, including a wild elephant or a lion or a tiger. There is no need to pity them nor us nor the king. This story will thrive in the world forever. Abandoning grief, possessing cheerful minds, settling well in the path followed by great sages, delighted in and enjoying the forest-life and eating fruits of the forest, they are keeping up the promise given to the king."
         In spite of his best efforts to console Kausalya, Sumantra, speaking appropriately well, could not pacify her who was being emaciated by sorrow for her son, could not stop crying, "O, my dear son Rama!" like a parrot.
        On seeing that he could do nothing to abate the sorrow of the king and the queens, Sumantra silently slid out.
          Kausalya who could not contain her sorrow, was weeping and after sometime she was exhausted.   With tearful eyes, she started accusingly asking her husband "Despite the fame in the three worlds of your great glory that Dasharatha is compassionate, bountiful and kind in his words, how your two sons along with Seetha who grew comfortably from birth were sent by you to the forest without any valid reason? How can they, who were used to cosy living only, bear the suffering in the forest and face the numerous hardships?  Can Seetha, who is a young lady in the prime of her youth and very delicate, tolerate heat and cold?  How the large-eyed Seetha can eat a food prepared with wild rice, she having eaten here a good food containing soups and snacks?  How that irreproachable Seetha can hear without any scare the horrid sounds of cruel animals like lions, after hearing the auspicious sounds of singing and music here?  When can I see the face of Rama with the colour of a lotus, framed with marvelous locks of lotus-perfume, with eyes resembling lotus-petals and excellent? There is no doubt that my heart is fully made of the solid-interior of a diamond; otherwise it would have shattered into a thousand pieces.  It was not a kindly act by you that you banished my kith and kin, who are worthy of comforts to wander around in the forest.  When Rama comes back in the fifteenth year, it cannot be assumed that Bharata will relinquish the kingdom and the treasury. Even assuming that Bharata offers the kingdom to Rama on his return from exile, he (Rama), like a virtuous brahmin who does not accept any food, even as delicious as ambrosia, if the same is not offered to him first but was given the remains of the same after feeding to the relatives of the host, is not likely to accept anything (including the kingdom) which was enjoyed by someone else. Oblations, clarified butter, leavings of an offering, sacred grass and sacrificial posts made of trunk of Khadira tree, once used, are not put to use again in a sacrifice. Rama will not go through such a dishonour, as a tiger does not tolerate even a mere touch of its tail by anyone.  Even if all the worlds combine together in a great battle, they cannot stir up any fear in him.  The virtuous Rama will provide righteousness to the people with unrighteousness. Rama with great prowess and with his mighty arms can surely burn up all beings and even the ocean itself by his mighty arrows, like at the time of destruction of the world. That excellent lad with a lion's strength and with eyes like those of a bull was screwed up indeed by his own father, like killing its child-fish by the mother fish. A son, who is devoted to righteousness, has been sent to exile by you.  Is it a right thing for you, as seen by scriptures or is it an eternal conduct as practiced by the Twice born? Oh, king! A husband is the chief refuge for a woman.  Her next refuge is her son. The third refuge is her near-relative. There is no fourth one. Among those three refuges, you do not indeed exist.  Rama on his part took refuge in a forest and I do not wish to go there or to any relative.  Thus, I have been screwed up in all ways, by you. This kingdom along with neighboring states has been screwed up by you.  You yourself along with ministers have been screwed up.  I along with my son am screwed up.  Citizens too are screwed up.  Your son Bharata and your wife Kaikeyi only are delighted."
         Hearing Kausalya's cruel words, the king already being distressed became disillusioned, too.  Thereafter, looking back on his own evil act, the great Dasharata was entangled in an uncontrollable grief and lost his consciousness.  Thereafter, that king who was a torment to his enemies regained his consciousness after quite some time.  After regaining his consciousness, he breathed a long and hot sigh and seeing Kausalya by his side, began to worry again.  While he was brooding over, he recalled in his mind, a sinful deed that was done by him unintentionally, long ago, by shooting with an arrow an unseen object by just hearing the sound. The mighty emperor felt distressed through agony caused by that sinful deed and also through the agony caused by the separation from Rama and was tormented by the dual grief.
         That king, tormented by that affliction, was trembling. He bent his head down, joined his palms in salutation, desirous of getting her grace and addressed Kausalya "O, Kausalya! I seek your grace. You are always affectionate towards others and undoubtedly very kind.  For a woman intent on righteousness, her husband whether he is virtuous or worthless, is held as a visible god for her. You, who is ever intent on virtue, knows very well the vicissitudes of human lives in the world, even if grief-stricken, ought not to have spoken such unpleasant and cruel words to me, who is too much in distress." 
           Hearing those miserable words spoken by the very distressed king, Kausalya shed tears, akin to new rain water flowing from a channel.  Kausalya was scared that her harsh words spoken in a hurry without thinking may affect the king very seriously.   She told the king sobbing and in a pacifying manner "Oh! My dear!  I appeal to you with my bowed head. I lie prostrate on the floor. I was so distressed and did not know what I was talking. I entirely agree that it does not qualify me for uttering such things.  In both the worlds, it is ill-becoming of a woman, being propitiated by her husband, who is praise worthy and possessing good disposition, to use harsh words to her husband. Grief ruins courage.  Grief ruins sacred learning, grief ruins everything.  There is no enemy like grief.  A physical blow from an enemy can be tolerated, but it is not possible to withstand even a very small grief suddenly descended.  Even ascetics, who know righteousness, who have learnt sacred texts and who have rent asunder doubts relating to religious merits and wealth, go astray having their minds gripped with grief. Today it is counted as five days since Rama has gone to exile.  It is equal to five years for me, since grief has ruined my happiness. While I think of Rama, this grief in my heart becomes more intense, like water in a great ocean raises with the fast streaming of rivers."
        The consoling words of Kausalya cheered Dasharatha to some extent and he fell into a slumber due to exhaustion.
It was the sixth night at mid-night after Rama was sent into exile to the forest. The worried king could not, however sleep for long.  He woke up after some time, with his mind afflicted with grief, and got into an anxious thinking. The banishing of Rama was a great calamity for Dasharatha who was equal in strength to Indra. As the leaden hours crept slowly on, Dasharatha could not stop thinking about something very bad that had happened long ago and it aggravated the anguish of his heart. He felt an urge in his heart that he should share that awful incident with Kausalya.  He, therefore, turned to Kausalya and said "Are you still here, my dear? The fruit of one's action can never be escaped. I now endure the result of a great sin that I committed in the days that are gone. Men in their ignorance sometimes do great evils for the sake of some slight momentary pleasure. Then when the time comes, the price has to be paid. I acquired the skill to use my bow and arrow against unseen targets by merely hearing the sound, when I was quite young. For the pleasure of exercising this skill, I once inadvertently killed an innocent man and thereby committed a great sin. Now I want to share with you that sad misadventure. It was before you came to me. One night I went out in my chariot to hunt on the banks of the Sarayu. It had been raining heavily and from the mountainsides the streams were running dyed with the rich colors of minerals and fresh soil. The birds were silent. The forest seemed asleep. I could take the aim by the ear and shoot, without seeing, anything that might come to slake its thirst in the stream. It was dense darkness. I waited for some wild animal to come. Then I heard a gurgling sound as of an elephant drinking water. At once I aimed an arrow in the direction and shot. Like a venomous serpent, swish went my dart and hit the object. But I was shocked to hear a human voice exclaiming 'Alas! I am dead!' I heard the man cry again piteously 'Who can be my enemy? Never have I done any harm to anyone. Who then could want to kill me thus as I was filling my pitcher with water? What could he gain by this? Why should anyone bear hate against one living his innocent hermit life in the forest? What is to happen to my old blind parents now, with none to look after them? O, misery!' Horror-struck, I stood trembling in every limb. My bow slipped from my hands. I approached the place from where the voice came and found a young ascetic lying on the ground with disheveled hair, covered all over with blood and sand. Beside him lay an upturned pitcher. The look of his eyes was as fire. When he saw me, he cried, 'O, Sinner, you have killed me! Why did you aim your arrow at me who was taking water from the stream? My old blind parents are thirsty and are waiting for me in the ashrama, thinking that I would return with water in the pitcher for them to drink.
         'I do not worry that much of my death. I worry for both my mother and father. How they can live without me, as they are very old and blind.'
          "I was absolutely aghast. I stood terrified and sick in mind. He continued  'O, king!  By killing me, you have virtually killed both my parents, who are blind and aged. Both of them, weak blind and thirsty, must have contained their thirst with difficulty and waited with expectation of my arrival since long.  I am sure.  Please therefore, immediately go to them and tell them what you have done to me, so that my father will not scorch you by his anger. This foot-path will lead you to my father's hermitage. After going there, seek his graciousness, lest he should get angry and curse you. Before you go, please extract this arrow-head from my body. This sharp arrow torments me terribly.’
            “I was hesitating to extract the arrow as he was likely to die immediately when the arrow is extracted from his body; otherwise he may live.  Seeing my hesitation he said 'Yes! I may die if the arrow is removed from by body; but I simply could not bear the pain it is causing me.  If you are thinking that you have killed a Brahmana, let me tell you that I am not a Brahmana.  Let there be no agony in your mind in this regard.  I am born through a Sudra woman by a Vysya.’
          "With a heavy heart I drew out that arrow from him. That sage looked up towards me in pain and fear (of death) and relinquished his life.  O, my dear Kausalya!  Seeing his dead body drenched in water, his face contorted by the pain caused by the arrow, lying down inert on the ford of the River Sarayu, I became very much grief-stricken.”
              After a pause the King Dasharatha continued " I was absolutely nonplussed in seeing the dead body of the young sage whose death was caused by me. Though I did that great sin inadvertently, my senses were confounded and I being alone, I thought of using my reason of what best can be done. Taking water fully in that pitcher, I went to that hermitage by the path as indicated by the young sage. There I saw the frail, blind and aged parents of the young sage. They were without any guide to support them, as birds whose wings were cut-off. Hearing the sound of my foot-steps, that sage hailed 'Oh!, son! Why are you so late? Give me some water quickly.  Your mother is unhappy in your playing in the water in this manner.  We being helpless, you are our only refuge.  We being blind, you are our eyes.  Our lives are encircled around you.  Why are you not talking?' I was really very scared to see that ascetic.  I spoke to him in a tone which was indistinct, inarticulate and without some consonants.   With a great difficulty I set aside the fear in my mind and I started telling him of his son's death.  I said 'I am Dasharatha, belonging to a warrior- class.  I am not your son.' 
        "After pausing a moment to recover from the scare I felt, I continued 'Oh! venerable sage! I came to the bank of Sarayu River for hunting a wild elephant or some other animal like tiger which may come for drinking water. Then when I heard the sound of an elephant drinking water from the river I, without seeing hit it with an arrow.  I learned the ability to hit an object with an arrow by hearing the sound alone. When I heard the cry of a human voice in pain, I rushed and saw an ascetic lying on the ground, with the arrow pierced into his heart. I learned from him that it was your son. At his request I took out the arrow  from his vital part. Soon after taking out the arrow, he was very much concerned about your wife and yourself, lamenting that you were blind. Before dying he told me where to find you two. Unknowingly and unexpectedly and unfortunately your son was killed by me. Sir, please command me what I should do now.'
          "Hearing that cruel confession from me, that venerable sage could not control his severe anger. That sage with great splendor, whose face was filled with tears and troubled by sorrow, said 'If you have not told me about this shameful deed yourself, Oh! king, your head would have burst instantly into a hundred thousand pieces. A premeditated killing by a warrior and in particular of a hermit, would expel even Indra from his post.  It has been ordained that the head of the killer in such cases would burst into several pieces. Your head is still in one piece because you have done it unknowingly. Not only you, but the entire Ikshvaaku dynasty would have gone into obscurity and disappear from the face of the earth, if it is otherwise.  
        'Oh, king! Now we want to feel the body of our son drenched in blood.  Take both of us to that place.' 
         "Taking both of them, who were weeping profusely, to that place, and made that sage and his wife to touch the body of their son.  The miserable couple touched their son's body and fell on it. Then, the father cried 'My dear boy! You are not offering salutation to me, nor do you talk to me. Why are you sleeping on the floor?  Are you angry?  Am I not beloved to you? Otherwise, see your mother.  Why are you not embracing us, my son?  Utter some words.  Whose sweet and heart touching voice, reciting one sacred text or the other, in particular at the end of the night, shall I hear from now?  Oh, son! Who after taking bath, worshiping the goddess of dawn, and offering oblations in fire, will be sitting beside me and talking confidently looking at me, as I was afflicted with grief and fear?  Who will feed me, like a beloved guest is fed, with roots and fruits while I am sitting without any work, without fetching anything and without having any guide making me to walk?  How can I support your mother, who is blind, aged and a poor woman in a pitiable condition, longing for her son? Oh, son! Come to a halt.  Do not go to Yama's abode.  You can proceed tomorrow with me and with your mother.  Bereft of you, afflicted with grief, without any protection in the forest and poor, both of us also will come along with you to Yama's abode.
           'Thereafter, seeing Yama, I shall tell him. 'O, Yama! Excuse me. Let this boy nourish his parents. The most glorious and high souled Yama, the guardian of the world will be obliged to give this solitary imperishable boon in the form of fearlessness to me. Oh! son! This criminal killed you.  As it is true that you were sinless, you will soon obtain the realms as reached by those who die fighting with weapons. Move on to that which is the highest state, which is obtained by warriors, who do not return even while being killed, from the direction facing their enemies in battles. Obtain the destiny which was obtained by Sagara, Saibya, Dilipa, Janamejeya, Nahusha and Dundumara.  Obtain that destiny, which is obtained by all the sages, by those who studied scriptures, by an act of austerity, by a gift of the land, by him who has maintained sacred fire, who has taken a vow of marrying a single wife, who gifts a thousand cows, who are owed to the service of the preceptor and that which is obtained by those who have abandoned their body (by journeying to Himalayan Mountains, or drowning themselves in water or leaping into the flames). The one born in the race of sages will not obtain an unsafe destiny. The person, who killed you, my son, will obtain a very bad destiny.'
            "The sage was thus ranting and raving there pitiably. Then he, along with his wife, started the ceremony of offering water to his demised son.  The pious son of the sage on his part, soon seen ascending the Heaven, wearing a wonderful form along with Indra, the king of celestials, as a result of his own pious acts.  That son of the sage who was together with Indra, talked to his parents. In conclusion he told his parents 'I obtained this supreme state because of my service to both of you. You will also come to my vicinity, very soon'. The son of the sage, whose senses were subdued, thus spoke and by a wonderful aeroplane with a beautiful form, quickly reached Heaven. That ascetic with great splendor along with his wife soon performed the ceremony offering water to his dead son and spoke to me, who was standing near him with folded hands. 'Oh! king! You have made me without a son, by killing my one and the only son. I am suffering from agony because of the loss of my son. I curse you that in the same manner you will also die due to the agony caused by the loss of your son.'
          "After pronouncing the curse, that couple wept and wept pitiably, fell down inert and proceeded to heaven.  Oh! Kausalya! The sin I  committed through inadvertence on that day, by hitting an invisible object by hearing the sound alone, I remember it now on reflection over it.  As a disease comes sometime after eating a nutriment mixed with forbidden things, this present occurrence came as a result of the sinful act by me long ago. Oh! my dear lady! Those words of that noble sage, saying that I shall end my life due to grief for the loss of my son, have come true to me now.  I am not able to see you with my eyes. Touch me well."
         King Dasharatha, terribly weeping continued "Oh! queen! The wrong that was done by me in respect of Rama was not befitting of me.  But the good that was done by Rama in my case was worthy only of him.  Which wise man on this earth can abandon his son, even if he is of a bad conduct?  Which son, even if he is sent to an exile, cannot become angry with his father?  Can Rama now touch me or approach me forth with?  Men who attained the world of Yama (god of death) cannot even see their kith and kin.  I am not able to see you with my eyes.  My memory- power is fading away.  Messengers of Yama (god of death) are hastening me to come.  What can be more sorrowful than the fact I am not able to see Rama, who knows righteousness and who is a truly a brave man, at the time of my death? The grief arising out of non-appearance of that son, who performs unparalleled actions, is parching up my life, as sun- shine dries up a water drop.  The fortunate can see the face of Rama, looking like a moon, with the eyes resembling lotus leaves, with beautiful eye brows, with a comely row of teeth and a charming nose.  Fortunate are they, who can see the sweet smiling face of Rama, resembling the autumnal moon and also a full- blown lotus.  Happy ones can see Rama, who having finished his exile, would be coming to Ayodhya like the planet Venus coming from a journey. Oh! Kausalya! My heart is sinking down by delusion of mind.  I am not able to grasp the related sound, touch and the smell.  All of my senses are getting scared away due to mental break down, as rays of light of a lamp whose oil is exhausted, starts splattering.  This grief caused by my own self is collapsing me, who is helpless and insensible, like a river bank being collapsed by the floods of a river stream.  O, mighty armed! O, Rama! O, annihilator of my grief! Alas! O, darling of your father! O, my protector! O, my son! Where have you gone? O, Kausalya! O, Sumitra, O, Kaikeyi, the cruel one! My enemy! The disgrace of my family! I am going to die."
          King Dasharatha weeping and ranting thus, reached the end of his life in the presence of Kausalya and Sumitra. King Dasharatha of noble appearance, who was already miserable and distressed for sending his son to exile, felt afflicted with extreme grief, heaved his last breath shortly after midnight.

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