Thursday, 31 October 2013

95. Rama meets the Sage Sharabhanga.

             The going was not found to be smooth. It made Rama remark This forest is more impassable than the ones I have come across. As we are not forest inhabitants the going is more tough. Let’s try to walk a bit faster to get quickly to that ascetically rich sage Sharabhanga."
             After some laborious and strenuous walk, they sighted the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga, a sage with a divine effect and the one with a purified soul. All the three exclaimed "Oh!!!" on  seeing a great wonder near the hermitage of Sharabhanga.
            They were seeing a god like person, with a radiant body that had the coupled radiance of Sun and Fire, mounted on a great chariot that did not touch the earth, wearing greatly brilliant ornaments and attired in spotless dress, while the other persons, obviously divinities, were attending, and many more selfsame great-souls were worshipping him. Rama saw that the chariot was yoked with green horses traversing in the firmament, which in its splendour was either like the noontime sun, or a cluster of silver clouds, or like the silver sphere of the moon. Rama correctly guessed that the person on the chariot was Indra, himself.
          Rama then noticed the stainless parasol of Indra, marvelously garlanded and shining forth, and the exemplary and invaluable royal fanning instruments with golden handles, which two most exquisite female celestials were handling and fanning the either side of Indra's head with them.
          And the celestials like gandharvas, amaras(=devas), siddhaas and very many great sages as well were extolling Indra who was abiding in the firmament. The three noticed that Indra was speaking to the sage Sharabhanga. Rama then told his brother  “Lakshmana see this wonderful chariot that includes effulgence and auspiciousness as well, and that abides in the firmament, and highly luminous like the Sun. Don't you remember our teachers telling us about the horses belonging to Indra, the Chief Invitee in Vedic rituals. See these divinely green horses that now abide in the firmament. Definitely these must be Indra’s horses.
             “And look at those hundreds and hundreds of men around Indra looking magnificent, glitzy, splendid and youthful with their ear-ornaments and swords in hands, with wide and broad chests, with club shaped arms, and clad in glimmering red garments, all look like tigers, unapproachable, wearing ornamental chains on their chest-place that are akin to flaring fires, and in their appearance they all bear a look of a twenty-five years old. They must be devas.
           "The age factor of devas remains constant at the age that appears for these nice-looking men, so they say. For devas are immortals and they will look young. Stay for a moment Lakshmana along with Vaidehi, until I know clearly about that resplendent one on that chariot."  Rama then moved towards the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga.
            On seeing Rama approaching them, Indra  bade farewell to the Sage Sharabhanga and then told the devas attending him "Here comes Rama. He cannot talk to me now. I will talk to him at the appropriate time".
            Then Indra vanished with his chariot pulled by the green horses. 
Comment: Vishnu is said to have instructed all the divinities to not to talk to him during his human incarnation on earth as Rama. If any divine being comes into direct contact and conducts a dialogue, Rama's identity as Vishnu will be revealed, and Ravana will comprehend that and then would seek to get his boon modified viz. not to be killed by any divine being or a human. Ravana can be ended only by Rama, but not by others. Hence, Indra departed from there before the arrival of Rama.
End Comment.           
            Seeing that Indra did not care to see him, Rama went back to his wife and brother and all the three proceeded to the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga, whom they saw sitting nearby the altar of fire.
            Entering silently the trio paid  appropriate homage to the Sage Sharabhanga.  As bid by the sage they sat in front of him. Seeing from the expression on the faces of his visitors, the sage told smilingly "Oh! Rama, Indra came to take me to Brahma's abode, where I have made a reservation by my arduous ascesis.  But something in me nudged me that you are coming to see me. I therefore declined to accompany Indra for the time being.
Comment: Sage Sharabhanga, with the power he got from his ascesis came to know that Vishnu(in human guise as Rama) was coming to him. As receiving Rama in his hermitage was more important for him than going to Brahma's abode he declined to accompany Indra. The sage obtained the power to go to the Satyaloka anytime. But seeing Rama, who is now a human incarnate, with his own human eyes was the foremost priority for that Sage. Secondly, ascending to heavens with mortal body is an impracticable affair - Remember the Trisanku episode? - Hence the mortal body is to be cast off here only. If that mortal body is cast off, as per the extant rules, the sage's mortal eyes cannot see Rama. After going to Brahma's abode one (even a sage like Sharabhanga) cannot return as an earthling. Hence seeing and receiving Rama was his topmost priority now.
End Comment.
          "Oh! Rama, I feel so happy to see you. I hereby offer you all that I have achieved by my ascesis and penance. This will be much more gratifying to me than the Brahma's abode achieved by me."
Comment: The sage is dedicating all his achievements of penance unto god, without any ahamtva buddhi , mine-ness. This is called phala samarpaNa. The fruits of pious achievements are to be dedicated in the divine without the concept 'I am the doer thus I shall enjoy...' Even in the daily worship we are supposed to dedicate all that we have done, with oblating water saying ' karomi yad yat sakalam parsmai naaraayaNaayeti samarpayaami... ' i.e. Whatever is done, in all its entirety, I dedicate it unto the Supreme...' And Govindaraja observes, whatever that was acquired by the sage was his wealth. So the heavenly abodes were his only wealth as of now, and they all were surrendered to Rama, as guest-worship.
End Comment.              
              Rama replied with a smile " Thank you Great Saint. I think that I can gain all those worlds myself by doing my duties scrupulously. I now seek a place to dwell here in this forest. I request you to suggest a place for that."
              Sage Sharabhanga replied "I think that you should approach the sage Suteekshna for this purpose." The sage then explained as to how to reach the hermitage of the sage Suteekshna.
             Then the sage looked at Rama and requested him to stay for some more time till he sheds his human body and goes to Satyaloka.
Comment: Sage Sharabhanga actually said, "eSha panthaa naravyaaghraH" meaning that 'this is the only recourse, oh, manly-tiger.' Here Rama asked Sage Sharabhanga to show a place to dwell. Sharabhanga's hermitage itself will now become vacant after the sage's ascension to heavens. But it was not shown to Rama to stay; instead yet another distant place was shown. All these Sages and Saints pointed only one path that Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana had to travel, i.e., towards Ravana, the evil on earth. From here they were directed to Sage Suteekshna's hermitage, there from to Sage Agastya's hermitage, and there from, to still deeper place in forests, called Panchavati. According to Kaikeyi's demand, Rama need not travel this far, but could have resided in some near-about forests of River Ganga. But one after the other, either rakshashas who became celestials or sages who were going to become divinities, all usher Rama southward, i.e., towards the dominions of rakshashas, whom Rama had to eradicate from earth. 'If Rama were to go into Panchavati, a powerful dominion of rakshashas like Khara and Duushana, alleging their loyalties to Ravana, it is definite that an encounter will ensue and Rama will start eradicating one after the other, and ultimately ending with Ravana.' This appears to be the concerted unspoken agreement of all the sages. As such Rama was asked to go on travelling towards the evil side of the earth, for all of the sages know about Rama's destination.
End Comment.             

Sunday, 27 October 2013

94. Rama released Viradha from his curse.

                The reader may be wondering why Rama allowed the rakshasha to carry him and his brother away from Seetha. The episode of Viradha assumes some importance in Hindu mythology. It may be noted that Viradha put down Seetha, lifted and carried Rama and Lakshmana far away from Seetha.  In Aadhyaatma Raamaayana Rama confronted and killed Viradha straight. But in Valmiki Ramayana, Viradha took away Seetha first and then Rama and Lakshmana. The reasons are said to be that i) Rama does not kill or execute anyone in the presence of Seetha, ii) Seetha is the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi who is said to be very benevolent and kind-hearted and as such would not like any killing in her presence, and iii) she would pardon anyone if surrendered in faith at her feet. In Skaanda Purana Viradha's episode is explained as
       On seeing Seetha, Viradha thought, 'She is the Supreme goddess through whom heavens can be obtained by salvation and also release from the bondage [of rakshasha body]. On just seeing Her, relieved is this body cage, so with all my devotion, I steal Her ....etc. Hence vi raadha meant to be verily, devout, like Radha of Krishna. When chased and hurt by Rama and Lakshmana, the rakshasha released Seetha, and carried both the brothers away (for getting killed and get a release from this body).             
                 Seetha was completely stunned seeing Rama and Lakshmana  being carried away like kids by that rakshasha. She shouted at Viradha to carry her instead of them.
               The pitiable cry of agony of Seetha made Rama and Lakshmana  to quickly finish off the Rakshasha. With a mighty blow with his sword Lakshmana severed the left arm of that Rakshasha, while Rama did that for his right arm. This made the Rakshasha dizzy. And he fell onto the ground like a mountain demolished by the Thunderbolt of Indra. The brothers were relentless. They battered him with their fists, hands and feet, and heaving and hurling him again and again and pounded him. Viradha was very much alive despite the fact that he was battered with many arrows, lost both his hands, and was being pounded on the ground. Rama was puzzled. In a few moments he decided the course of action to be taken. Accordingly he placed his right foot firmly on the chest of Viradha to prevent him to make even a very slight move and told Lakshmana "Bro, this creature clings to his life like a very powerful glue. The best course is to bury him deep so that he will stay there, alive or dead, permanently.  Please dig a very deep pit to hold this huge body while I keep him stay put."  
             Suddenly the Rakshasha  spoke. He said "Sir! Sorry I didn't recognize you earlier. I knew you to be Rama, your brother Lakshmana, your mom Kausalya and even Seetha, your goddess like wife.
            "Actually I am a gandharva named Tumburu. Kubera cursed me to become a Rakshasha for the trivial reason that I did not attend to the service he wanted me to. I could not because I was just philandering with the exquisite Ramba (one of the many Apsaras).
            "When I begged his pardon, Kubera relented and said 'You know that a curse is a curse; I cannot take it back. You will get back to your normal body when Dasharatha's eldest son Rama kills you in a fight. 
             ”Oh, Sir, at some distance from here Sage Sharabhanga, a great saint of virtue, and an efficacious sage with sun-like resplendence dwells. I suggest you approach him for advise.  Rama, please go ahead burying me in a pit. This is the age old custom for those rakshashas who lost vitality." 
             When Lakshmana finished digging the pit big enough to hold the body of Viradha, Rama lifted the inert body of the Rakshasha and flung into the pit. And within the pit they have also concealed him with boulders in order to make it a burial chamber to the departed soul. Then both the brothers covered the pit with earth very firmly.
             Then collecting the relieved Seetha they started towards the hermitage of the sage Sharabhanga.

Friday, 25 October 2013

93. A conflict with Viradha.

          Hearing the prattle of Lakshmana, the mighty rakshasha Viradha guffawed making the earth around tremble. Then in his turn that Rakshasha Viradha, with his gruesome voice filling the forest asked "Who are you and where are you going?"
           Repressing his anger Rama told him about his Ikshvaku dynasty. "Know us as Kshatriyas with ennobled bearing, and we are trekking the forest. Now we wish to know about you." 
           Viradha replied "Okay.  I am the son of Java and my mother is Shatahradaa.  All rakshashas on earth call me Viradha. By the boon I got from Brahma, I can neither be cut, nor slit, nor killed with any weapon in this world. Leave off this lady without any yearning for her, and you expeditiously flee away as you have come. Because of the lovely present I got from you I am sparing your lives. Get lost, fast."
           Rama said calmly "I will not go without my dear wife. Release her immediately, else I will kill you." And at the same time, stringing his bow Rama shot some seven very powerful arrows. The arrows dressed with peacock feathers as their fins, flew like infernos and  on piercing the body of Viradha fell on the ground besmirched with blood. The rakshasha then placed Vaidehi down on the ground, hauled up his spear, and very angrily rushed towards daring pair. And holding fast his spear resembling Indra's Flagstaff, he rushed to the brothers. Rama and Lakshmna rained arrows on Viradha.  But that highly horrendous rakshshasha laughed at that shower of arrows, and standing for a while he yawned. And on his yawning and stretching his limbs, those arrows that earlier went speedily into his body, spilled out from his body with the same speed.
               Viradha threw his massive spear towards Rama and Lakshmana. Rama ripped that spear which was akin to the Thunderbolt of Indra, and that which was like a blaze in the sky, apart, with two arrows in the sky itself. Shattered by Rama’s blazing shafts that spear fell on the ground like the boulder mass of Mt. Meru when it was shattered by Indra’s Thunderbolt. Then they quickly upraised their swords and like a pair of up swinging black cobras they rapidly crashed on him, and then started battering him mightily.
            Viradha coolly grabbed the pair in his huge arms and started to go. Rams hissed at his brother "Let him carry us as he wishes."
            The arrogant Viradha lifted Rama and Lakshmana like babies, and placed them on his shoulders as one would place babies. Then he merrily started going deeper into the forest yelling very luridly.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

92. An encounter with Viradha.


           On entering the Dandaka forest Rama saw a zone of clusters of hermitages of sages. Rama saw that the hermitages were glistening forth just by the presence of the holy saints. Rama on seeing those precincts of hermitages that were graced with highly blessed Brahmans, neared it, and unstringing the bowstring of his great bow paid homage to them. Those great sages, the possessors of divine knowledge, were happy to see the trio, moved towards them and rendered Vedic blessings as a welcome.
            The guests stayed at the hermitage provided for them, for that day, and on the next day before sunrise, Rama bade farewell to all the sages, and entered deep into the forest with his wife and brother.

            They noticed that the forest was filled with very many animal herds like bears and tigers, and the trees, creepers, bushes were ruined, water ponds rendered unsightly, birds were not making any cackle, and the swarms of crickets were whistling deafeningly.  They also noticed a lurid voiced man-eater who looked like a mountain-peak, among horrendous animals. That Rakshasa was deep eyed, huge mouthed, horrible with a monstrous belly, hideously misshapen, and a very soaring, and ugly one with an appalling look. Wearing tiger's skin that was smeared with fat and dampened with blood, he was frightening all onlookers as a wide-open mouth of Death. He skewered three lions, four tigers, two wolves, ten spotted deer, and a big head of an elephant with tusks and fat on an iron spear. In short he fouled all his environment.

            On seeing Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha, yelling with a deafening voice he ran towards them very angrily. He picked up Seetha and said "You two wear cloths like hermits, but handle arrows, bows and swords like warriors. You dared to enter this Dandaka forest with your wife!  Kiss good-bye to your lives. You two seem to have only one common wife! You sinful fellows, dishonest are you ways. Who are you? you insult  sainthood."

             The name of this rakshasha was Viradha [In Sanskrit vi raadha , means without love i.e. a loveless one, and in another context it means that vi = verily, raadha adoring Krishna like Raadha]. He obviously did not comprehend the identity of the visitors. By their physique and carrying the bows and arrows, swords, etc., they looked like warriors. By their dress, hairdo, pendants etc., they looked like sages. He had so far not seen a warring sage, like Bhargava Rama alias Parashu Rama. These two men dressed like sages but looking like warriors and were moving in the deadly forests with a wife. He was said to adore Goddess Lakshmi before he was cursed to become a rakshasha, and finding that goddess in Seetha, he lifted her into his arms, like a baby. He, after admonishing Rama and Lakshmana for flaunting the sainthood, for they were moving with weapons and a wife started introducing himself. 

              "I am a rakshasha named Viradha and I will be on the rove in this forest and eating the flesh of animals and sages. I am keeping this lovely godlike woman with me. And I am going to drink the blood of you two sinful fellows."

Comment: Here Viradha said that Seetha would become his 'bhaaryaa' which [in Sanskrit] would normally means a 'wife'. However, it did not seem so in this instance as Viradha was a devotee of Goddess Lakshmi and therefore, it does not sound congruous for a devotee to say like that. Here, Aascharya Ramayana, another version of Ramayana, defines bhaarya as: bhaa luminous one; aryaaH adorable. Hence his word should mean, "this luminary is my adorable one." Further he handles Seetha like a baby, as in 3-2-16, she is said to be viraadha anka gata, gone into the arm-fold of Viradha as babies would.
End Comment

            Seetha in fear wiggled  like a plantain tree in a whirlwind.  Seeing her plight Rama cried "O, Lakshmana! See that illustrious princess Seetha, the daughter of the emperor Janaka, and who was brought up comfortably in immense comfort, and my auspiciously traditional wife is in the hands of that wretched rakshasha. It looks that what Kaikeyi wanted to happen to me is happening. To me, oh, Soumitri, the grief of others touching my Seetha is more than father's demise or grabbing away my kingdom. I do not know what am I to do now."
           Lakshmana hissing like a forestalled snake said with tears and anger "Oh, Rama, you being the Indra like lord of all beings, and while you are being attended by an adherent like me, what for you worry yourself like a derelict? I will make him fall down with my arrows and send him to Yama. I will make the earth drink his blood. Let me release the anger I contained when Kaikeyi desired the kingdom for Bharata, on Viradha."

Sunday, 20 October 2013

91. Rama leaves for the Dandaka Forest.

            Hearing that great story, Anasuya the knower of piety kissed Seetha's forehead and hugged her in her arms. "It was narrated sweetly and amazingly by you, in clear words and syllables. It has been indeed heard by me how all that Svayamvara, the process of self-choosing marriage took place. O, the sweet speaking Seetha! I am overjoyed hearing your story from your mouth. 
           " Oh! It is now dusk! These ascetics are returning. Though their foliage is sparse, the trees look dense all around. The animals which wander about at night are ranging everywhere. The deer of the hermitage are sleeping around the sacred altars. O, Seetha! The night richly adorned with stars has set well in motion. The moon encircled with light is seen rising in the sky. Go now. I give you leave. Be a female companion to Rama. Your sweet conversation has charmed me.
           "O, Seetha! O, Dear child! Adorn the ornaments and apparel gifted by me before my eyes and cause delight to me in embellishing yourself with heavenly jewels."
           Then Seetha, adorning herself, resembled the daughter of a god, and making obeisance to the feet of Anasuya, went forward to meet Rama. Rama, the most eloquent one, saw Seetha adorned as aforesaid and felt delighted over the charming gifts of the ascetic. Seetha then showed Rama all the affectionate gifts of Anasuya.
            Seeing the respectful treatment received by Seetha, which was very rare among human beings, Rama and Lakshmana felt highly rejoiced. Thereupon, Rama with his face resembling the moon, having been honoured by the holy ascetics, was delighted and spent that auspicious night there.
             When that night passed away, Rama and Lakshmana finished their ablutions and took leave of the ascetics who had just poured oblations into the sacred fire. Those ascetics dwelling in the forest and practising virtue told Rama and Lakshmana about the Dhandaka forest to where they were going, which was infested with rakshashas "O, Rama! Various forms of man-eating rakshashas and beasts drinking the blood are living in this great forest. They devour an ascetic or a celibate, who has not rinsed his mouth after finishing his meal or who is inattentive in this great forest. Please ward them off! O, Rama! Here is the path of the great sages, through which they fetch the fruits in this forest. It is appropriate for you to go by this path to this dangerous forest."
             Thus addressed by those Brahmanas having great asceticism, who, with joined palms paid obedience to him and blessed his journey, Rama the harasser of his foes entered the forest with his consort along with Lakshmana, as sun enters a mass of clouds.

                     End of Ayodhya Kanda.


Thursday, 17 October 2013

90. Seetha tells Anasuya the story of her marriage.

                   Seetha was very pleased with the tribute  of  Anasuya.  Seetha without any pride but with full of reverence for her, replied Anasuya "It is not a surprise that a venerable lady like you, talk to me like this. I completely agree with you that the husband is the most respectable person for a woman. Even if my husband is without fortune, he should unhesitatingly be obeyed by me. I am very fortunate and I proudly say that my husband is renowned for his virtues, compassionate, master of my heart, ever affectionate, a religious person, the manifestation of the tenderness of a mother and a father to me. The exceedingly strong Rama bears himself to all other Queens, as he exercises his behaviour towards his mother, Kausalya.
            "The valiant and pious Rama who is devoted to Dasharatha and free from all sense of importance treats as his mothers even all those women on whom Dasharatha has  bestowed a single glance on a single occasion. 
            "While departing for the forest, my mother-in-law imparted a great message to me, which I have inscribed in my heart. What my mother taught me when witnessed by the fire, earlier at the time of my marriage with Rama, I shall always remember them. O, virtuous woman! By your words, all that is being renewed. No austerity, other than obedience to one's husband is decreed for a woman.
            "Rohini, the excellent among all women, is not seen without the moon even for a single moment in the sky. Such excellent women, devoted to their husbands, and by their meritorious deeds, are highly honoured in heaven."
             Anasuya was immensely please with the modest reply of Seetha.  She kissed Seetha on the forehead and said "O, Seetha with a bright smile! I am so much happy and pleased with you. Your words are suitable for the occasion and are charming too. I am highly pleased and greatly satisfied. Tell me what good I may do for you. I have the power to grant you a boon and want to grant you one. Please ask what you want."
         Seetha was vastly surprised by the offer of a boon. With a gentle smile she replied "Everything stands fulfilled by your grace."
         Anasuya became more delighted with the reply of Seetha. She said "O, Seetha! Alas! I will create a great joy for you, which will be to your advantage. Here are divine gifts: a garland, an apparel, jewels, a scented cosmetic and a rare body-cream. These are all given by me to adorn your limbs. They will be ever worthy of you and will remain in tact even after constant use.
         "O, Seetha! Your body, anointed with these heavenly cosmetics, will cause your husband to see you as beautiful, as Lakshmi (the goddess of fortune and beauty) the consort of the imperishable Vishnu (the Lord of Preservation)."
         Seetha accepted them as unsurpassed gifts of love. Then Anasuya asked Seetha "O, Seetha!  I want to hear from you as to how you married Rama. I wish to hear that narrative in detail. Hence, tell me that tale in full."
       Then, Seetha said "A king of Mithila kingdom, named Janaka who was valiant and  righteous, was devoted to the duty of his warrior class and was ruling the earth in a fitting manner.
       "While he was furrowing a territory of land, holding a plough in his hand, it is so said that I came forth as a baby, splitting up the land, as a daughter of that king. The king Janaka, who was absorbed in scattering handfuls of seeds was surprised to see me, with all my limbs covered with dust.
Placing me personally on his lap with affection, that childless king Janaka took me as his daughter, and was very fond of me since then. It is said that a voice resembling that of a human being in the air above me rang out saying 'O, King! Let it be so. This divine child without a match is a daughter to you, rightly.'
             "Thereafter, my father the the king of Mithila kingdom was rejoiced in my possession and acquired extensive property. Performing auspicious acts gave me into the care of the chief Queen. She nourished me fondly and with maternal affection.
              "When I grew up to womanhood, my father fell a prey to anxiety like an indigent man feeling miserable by the loss of all his possessions. The father of an unmarried girl, even if he is like Indra himself on earth, suffers indignity in the world from the suitor's men, no matter whether they are equal or inferior to him.
              "For quite some time my dad could not find a suitable match for me. Many suitors offered their hands but my dear dad did not find anyone suitable for me.
              "After reflecting deeply he decided to get me a husband by Svayamvara (a process of self-choosing marriage). Many years ago my dad received with affection from Varuna the rain-god, an excellent bow with two quivers that never lacked arrows.
               "That bow was so heavy in weight that no man could even lift it up. My father stipulated that all the princes who desire to marry me, should lift and string the bow. 
               "Seeing that excellent bow, resembling a mountain in weight, and being unable to lift it up, the princes offered salutation to it and went away.
                "After a very long time, the sage Viswamitra brougt this Rama born in Raghu dynasty with a great splendour possessing a true valour, and his brother Lakshmana to witness a sacrifice. The sage Visvamitra, told to my father
'These two boys, the sons of Dasharatha wish to see that bow. Show that bow, coming from gods, to Rama the prince.' Hearing the words of Viswamitra, Janaka caused the bow to be brought to their presence. The mighty and the valiant Rama bent that bow merely within an instant and immediately stringed the bow with the bow-cord and drew the bow to the full.
             "While Rama was drawing the bow to the full, the bow was broken into two in the middle due to the resultant jerk. The terrific sound then created was like that of a falling thunderbolt. Then and there, my father true to his promise decided to bestow me on Rama, offering him a jar of pure water. But Rama did not consent to accept my hand till the consent of his father, the Lord and the king of Ayodhya was made known to him.
                     "Thereupon, my father-in-law and the king Dasharatha was invited to Mithila by my father and with his approval, I was bestowed on Rama. My younger sister Urmila was given as a consort to Lakshmana. I was given thus to Rama in that Svayamvara, a process of self-choosing marriage. I became devoted, by my good works, to my husband who is excellent among men of strength."

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

89. Rama leaves Chitrakuta.

             A few days after Bharata left him, Rama noticed that the sages there were not quite at ease; they seemed to be perturbed and anxious. He enquired the sage whom others treated as leader "O venerable sage! I fear that the conduct of my forefathers is not seen in me or there is some change for the worse in me, due to which the ascetics seem to feel agitated. Has my younger brother, Lakshmana, through inadvertence, behaved unworthy of him in the presence of the sages? I hope that Seetha, who is serving you does not, I am afraid, behave properly, according to the conduct suitable for women."
             The sage, who was elderly both by age and penance replied "O, dear Rama! What is there for us the ascetics to fear above all from Seetha, who is natural in her disposition and is the follower of virtue?  I have not found anyone who was more courteous, polite and humble than your brother Lakshmana.  It is on account of the rakshashas who, through enmity to you, have begun to oppress us. Alarmed by it, they discussed per se as to how they can best defend themselves.
             "The rakshasha called Khara, Ravana's cousin, who is a boaster, victorious in battle, cruel and eater of human flesh, haughty and sinful, having uprooted all the ascetics who dwell in Janasthana, is unable to endure you, too. From the time you came to dwell in this hermitage the rakshashas started to ill-treat the ascetics.
             "They appear in grotesque, fearful and diverse forms, and possessing ugly and unnatural demeanor. Flinging filthy and inauspicious objects on some of the ascetics, the wicked rakshashas stand in front of them and kill some ascetics too. Getting into the hermitages unnoticed, those evil-minded rakshashas delight themselves in destroying the ascetics there.
               "At the time of pouring oblations into the sacred fire, they scatter the sacrificial vessels, sprinkle the fires with water and break the water-pots.
               "Due to these reasons the ascetics today are urging me to go to another area. O, Rama! Before those wicked beings start doing more harm to the ascetics, we plan to leave this place.
              "Not far from here, there is a colourful grove yielding many roots and fruits. We plan to move over there. Khara, the rakshashasa will behave unjustly with you in the same way. I suggest you come along with us from here. O, Rama! Even though you are highly competent and ever watchful, I am afraid that there a danger for you, too, for the reason you live with your wife. Your stay here is not advisable."
             Shortly afterwords the sage along with a host of others greeted, bidding farewell to Rama, departed. Accompanying them for a distance from that place, bidding farewell to that group of sages, offering his salutation to that ascetic, the leader of the community and taking leave of them, Rama returned to his dwelling. From that moment, Rama did not leave even for a moment that hermitage that had been deserted by the sages. 
             After the departure of the bulk of the sages, Rama, after a very careful consideration came to the conclusion that to remain in that place would not be sagacious for many obvious reasons. He decided to go to that forest which his mother Kaikeyi wanted him to go, to wit Dhandaka forest. Rama along with Seetha and Lakshmana left that place for the Dhandaka forest.
           On the way was the hermitage of the sage Atri. Rama offered salutation to that sage who was very much pleased to see them. He then called his wife Anasuya, who was revered by one and all told her "You welcome Videha's daughter!" and then told Rama "O, Irreproachable Rama! I am unable to resist boasting about the most laudable act done by my wife. When the earth was burnt up by drought without break for ten years, this virtuous woman produced fruit and roots, caused the River Jahnavi to flow here, undergoing a rigid mortification enriched by pious observances, by whom the most severe asceticism was practised for ten thousand years and obstacles were done away with and by whom for the reason of a divine command, in a great hurry ten nights were reduced to one night.* This Anasuya is like a mother to you.

*We find in Puranas how sage Mandavya once pronounced a curse against a hermitess, Sandili by name, who was a friend of Anasuya that she would be widowed one morning within the next ten days. The hermitess in her turn pronounced a counter-curse saying that there would be no dawn any more. Alarmed at this, gods approached Anasuya, who by virtue of her asceticism converted the period of ten nights into one and in this way averted the death of the husband of the hermitess, and accomplished the purpose of gods.

              "Let Seetha find refuge with that ascetic, who is revered by one and all, famous as she is and  is ever free from anger."
             Seetha after getting a nod of approval from her dear husband, circumambulated around Anasuya. Seetha coolly and reverently paid homage to that great Anasuya, a devoted and virtuous wife, who was feeble, wrinkled, aged, with her hair turned grey due to old age, and whose frame constantly shook like a banana tree in a storm. Seetha introduced herself, by announcing her name to Anasuya. Saluting the irreproachable ascetic the rejoiced Seetha with joined palms enquired about her well-being. Anasuya told Seetha "Luckily enough, you are attending to righteousness. O, Seetha the beautiful lady! Thank heaven! Leaving your relatives, honour and prosperity, you are accompanying Rama, who is expelled into a forest. Highly fortunate worlds await those women, to whom their husband is dear, no matter whether he lives in a city or in a forest; whether he is sinful or virtuous. To women of noble nature, the husband is the highest deity no mater whether he is ill-behaved or licentious or devoid of riches.
O, Seetha! On a reflection, I perceive none who is a better friend than a husband, who protects his wife in all circumstances, like the imperishable fruit of one's austerities. Those evil women, whose hearts follow their passions and conduct themselves dominating their husband, having no understanding of virtue and vice, do not follow him in the aforesaid manner. O, Seetha! Surely, those evil women, who get into an improper act of authority over their husbands reap infamy and decline in righteousness. Women, like you, on the other hand who are endowed with virtues, who look with detachment on prosperity and adversity in this world, therefore dwell in heaven as those who performed meritorious deeds. Thus devoted to your lord, loyal to your husband, following established rules, you become an honest wife to your husband and obtain merit and renown."


Sunday, 13 October 2013

88. Bharata moves to Nandigama village.

             Bharata did not feel quite at ease at Ayodhya. After carefully thinking over the matter he came to a conclusion and told Vasishta and the other elders "I am moving out to Nandigrama village. I take leave of all of you. There, I hope that I shall be able to endure all this woe caused by Rama's absence. The king Dasharatha went to heaven. My elder brother is in the forest. I shall await for Rama to return to the kingdom as the celebrated Lord of Ayodhya."
            All without any exception agreed. Then Bharata, feeling very happy and having offered salutation to all his mothers, entered his chariot along with Shatrughna. Keeping the sandals of Rama on his head, Bharata commanded the charioteer to move. All the ministers and family-priests followed them. The army too, abounding in elephants, horses, chariots etc. followed unbidden. The residents of the city also followed suit.
          On reaching Nandigrama, before alighting from his chariot, Bharata addressed his preceptors "My brother, Rama has given me this kingdom as a trust. These sandals, embellished with gold represent Rama the virtual monarch of this kingdom."
        Having dedicated the sacred trust to the wooden sandals, Bharata told his followers "Hold the state canopy pronto over these wooden sandals, which are the accepted symbols of the feet of Rama, my noble brother. By the presence of these wooden sandals of my brother here, a piety has been established in the kingdom. As a mark of compassion, this trust has been placed at my disposal, by my brother. This trust will be preserved till his return.
         "After restoring these wooden sandals personally to Rama's feet immediately on his return, I shall be beholding those feet of Rama along with these sandals. Restoring the kingdom to my elder brother, I shall then assume the role of a servant of my elder brother.
          "After restoring these excellent wooden sandals, the symbols of trust, this kingdom, as well as the City of Ayodhya to Rama, I shall be washed of all my sins. When Rama is installed as the monarch, all the subjects of this kingdom will be immensely happy. It will be a four-fold more fame and happiness for me than that having obtained from the kingdom."
          Donning bark robes and matted locks in the guise of an ascetic, Bharata living in Nandigrama and coronating the wooden sandals on the throne ruled the kingdom on behalf of Rama. All affairs of the state, big or small came up or whenever a high-valued gift was offered, Bharata used to report that matter to the wooden sandals and then only dealt with it in the appropriate way afterwards.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

87. Bharata returns to Ayodhya.

                   Thereafter, keeping the sandals on his head, Bharata thoughtfully ascended his chariot along with Shatrughna. Bharata and all others who came with him including Vashishta and other brahmanas and his troops left for Ayodhya. On the way Bharata saw the hermitage where the sage Bharadwaja was residing. Bharata halted near that hermitage and descended from his chariot and bowed down at the feet of Bharadwaja in salutation.
             Bharadwaja enquired "O, dear prince! Has your purpose been accomplished? Have you met Rama?" Bharata told the sage what happened at the Chitrakuda Mountain and concluded by saying "Sir, now, I am proceeding to Ayodhya along with the sandals on my head."
           Sage Bharadwaja complimented him for his efforts and blessed him. After the usual reverence to the sage, Bharata proceeded to Ayodhya along with his ministers and others.
          Beholding the City of Ayodhya, which was bereft of his father and brother, Bharata tormented with grief, cried
"God! Ayodhya city now looks ruined, with a vacant look, joyless and miserable. 
           "How is it that the deep and intensified sound of vocal and instrumental music is not heard as before in Ayodhya today? The intoxicating odour of spirituous liquor or the fragrance of floral garlands or the aroma of sandal and aloe-wood fumes, which used to be spread once on all sides, are not being wafted.
           "I do not hear, as before, the sound of the horses, the sound of the intoxicating elephants and the clattering of the great chariots in this city now. Rama, having left Ayodhya, the distressful youth are not making use of the perfumes like sandal-wood, aloe wood as also the most admirable and fresh floral garlands. .........."
            Thus wailing, lamenting and grieving in many ways, Bharata entered his father's house, which resembled a cave bereft of a lion. Bharata, though a composed man himself, shed tears by seeing that entire empty gynaecium, looking like a day with the sun who has relinquished his radiance.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

86. Bharata relents, takes gold adorned sandals mounted by Rama.

           All including the sage Vasishta and other great sages hearing the dialog between Rama and Bharata were thrilled, amazed and astonished. The assemblies of ascetics and great saints present there and the distinguished sages who stood invisible in space, applauded both Rama and Bharata, the magnanimous brothers, murmuring to themselves "That Dasharatha, who begot these two sons, who know righteousness and whose strength is justice, was fortunate. The debate between these two princes was quite delightful."
Thereafter, that assembly of sages, who wished to see an early destruction of Ravana, came together and told Bharata 
"O Bharata born in a noble race, highly intelligent, having a superior conduct and a great repute! If you have regard for your father, Rama's words are to be accepted. We wish to see Rama absolved of all obligations forever to his father Dasharatha, who honoured his pledge to Kaikeyi, before leaving for heaven."
              Rama looked radiant and worshiped those sages with a joyful countenance. Bharata however, did not have the heart to leave without Rama. Though it seemed absolutely futile to make Rama to return to Ayodhya, Bharata made another attempt by appealing to Rama, with trembling limbs and brimming tears in his eyes in a strangled voice "O, Rama! Keeping in view the continuance of our royal custom and the custom and procedure followed by our race, you ought to yield to the entreaties of mine and those of your mother. I am not able to rule this vast empire alone to the satisfaction of the beloved inhabitants of town and country!
              "Our kith and king, soldiers, companions and allies are waiting for you indeed, as farmers wait for the rainy clouds. Return to the kingdom and keep it in order. You alone have the competence to save the world."
             Rama embraced his weeping brother Bharata and told him "O, my dear brother! You are very much competent to rule the earth, by the intellect you obtained both inherently and by training. Take counsel with your ministers, companions and intelligent counsellors and get all activities done, even if they are gigantic. Light may go off from the moon; Himalayan mountain may shake off its snows; the sea may transgress its shores, but I will never be false to my father's vow! My dear brother! Your mother acted thus for your sake, out of her affection or ambition. It should not be carried out in your mind. You ought to obey her as your mother."
           Then Bharata told Rama "O, noble brother! Pray mount with your feet on these wooden sandals adorned with gold! Surely, these will bestow, gain and security to all the people!" Rama readily agreed and placing his feet on the sandals and leaving them, gave them to Bharata.
          Bowing before the sandals, Bharata told Rama: "O, Rama! For fourteen years, I shall wear matted locks and robes of bark, live on fruits and roots, and live outside the city, offering the ruling of the kingdom to your sandals. O, Rama! If I do not see you on the day following the conclusion of fourteenth years, I shall enter into fire once and for all."
          "So be it" agreed Rama, embracing Bharata with affection, took Shatrughna also in his arms and  said
"O Bharata! Protect your mother, Kaikeyi. Do not get angry with her. You are taken vow thus by me and by Seetha." Then, Rama with his eyes filled with tears, bade farewell to his brothers. Bharata, who knew righteousness worshipped those sandals which were well-decorated made a circumambulation to Rama and kept the sandals on the head of an excellent elephant.
             Rama, being firm as a Himalayan rock in abiding in his own righteousness, greeted those men, in accord with their rank, the host of his preceptors, ministers, subjects and his brothers and bade farewell to all of them. His mothers, their voices choked with tears due to sorrow, were unable to bid farewell verbally to Rama. However, Rama himself offered his salutations to all his mothers and entered his hermitage, weeping.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

85. Vasishta intervenes.

                  Seeing that Rama was very angry and Jabali was somewhat embarrassed, Vashishta decided to intervene. He told Rama "Even Jabali is aware of the comings and goings of this world. He spoke in this manner because of his desire that you should return. Let me tell you about the creation of the world! In the beginning all was only water from which element the earth was formed. After that, the self-existent Brahma with all the gods came into existence. Thereafter, that Brahma, assuming the form of boar, caused the earth to rise from water and with his sons, created the entire world. The eternal, changeless and imperishable Brahma was begotten from NOWHERE and HE begot Marichi. Marichi's son was Kashyapa. From Kashyapa, Vivasvan (sun-god) was born. Manu was the son of Vivasvan. Manu for his part, was formerly the lord of creation. Ikshvaku was Manu's son. The entire fertile earth was given by Manu to Ikshvaku and know that Ikshvaku was thus the first king of Ayodhya! Ikshvaku's son was known as Kukshi, the illustrious king. Then, Kukshi's son was the valiant Vikukshi. To Vikukshi was born the most splendid and powerful son, Bana. To Bana was born Anaranya the mighty armed and the most illustrious son. While this King Anaranya, the most excellent among beings was reigning, there was neither dearth of rain nor a drought. No one was a thief. From Anaranya was born the mighty armed king Prithu. From Prithu was born the Emperor Trishanku. That valiant man ascended to heaven along with his mortal body, because of his truthfulness.  Dhundumaara was the son of Trishanku.  Dhundumaara begot a highly glorious and a speediest charioteer Yuvanaashva as son, and Mandhaata emerged as the son of Yuvanaashva. To Mandhata was born the hero, Susandhi. There were two sons Dhruvasandhi and Prasenajit to Susandhi. From Dhruvasandhi was born the illustrious Bharata, the annihilator of enemies. From the mighty armed Bharata was born a son named Asita, for whom his royal adversaries, Haihayas, Talajanghas and the valiant Shashibindavas became the enemies. Having drawn out his battle-array against all those kings in a combat, the king Asita was driven away. Asita then took asylum in an excellent and charming mountain. Asita's two wives became pregnant. It is a hearsay that one of his wives gave poison to the other co-wife in order to destroy her fetus. A sage called Chyavana, belonging to Bhrign race was staying in a Himalayan mountain. Kalindi (Asita's wife) approached that sage and offered her salutation. That Brahmana told her 'O, Queen! A son, who will be world-famous, righteous, with good conduct, a perpetuator of the race and an annihilator of enemies will be born to you.' The delighted Queen Kalindi circumambulated that sage, took permission from him to leave and thereafter on reaching home, had delivered a son, having eyes resembling lotus-leaves and having a radiance like that of Brahama the Lord of creation. Poison was given earlier by her co-wife with an intention to kill her fetus. Born with that poison itself, he became to be known as Sagara (a man with poison). It was king Sagara who excavated the ocean and who, by his sacrifice, on the day of the full moon, by his energy, frightened the people here by the speed of his digging. Asamanja was Sagara's son. There was a hearsay that on account of his wicked deeds, Asamanja was banished by his father even during his life time. A valiant son called Amshuman was born to Asamanja. Dilipa was Amshuman's son. Bhagiratha was Dilipa's son. Of Bhagiratha was born kakutstha, from whom the dynasty Kakutsthas take their name. To Kakutstha was born a son called Raghu, from whom sprang Raghavas. From Raghu was born a renowned son named Pravriddha, known in the world under the names Purushadaka, Kalmashapada and Soudasa. Kalmashapada's son was renowned as Shankhana.
               "The fortunate Sudarshana was the son of Shankhana. Sudarshana's son was Agnivarna; and of Agnivarna was born Shighraga. Shighraga begot Maru and Maru's son was Prashushruva. Prashushruva's son was Ambarisha. To Ambarisha was born a son named Nahusha who was full of valour. Nahusha's son was Nabhaga of outstanding virtues. Aja and Suvrata were the two sons of Nabhaga and it was Aja who begot the virtuous King Dashartha.
                "You are the eldest son of that Dasharatha, very well-known as Rama, the heir who has the right over the inheritance. O, King! Hence, take over your kingdom and look after your people there.
              "The eldest son only becomes the king in the entire Ikshvaku race. When the eldest son exists, the younger son does not become a king. The eldest son only is anointed to the crown. O, the celebrated one! This is the eternal tradition of your race, those born in Raghu dynasty and ought not to be violated by you. Rule over the earth, this vast kingdom abundant with precious metals, as did your father."
           Seeing that what he said did not seem to have any impact on Rama, Vasishta  continued with "O, Kakutstha, From birth, the three spiritual instructors of a man are his teacher, his father and his mother. O, excellent among men! The teacher instructs him  wisdom and therefore the teacher is said to be superior to the other two.
          "O, Rama! I am the spiritual Preceptor to your father and to you, too. In obeying my words, you will not transgress the path of the virtuous. O, dear prince! These subjects, the traders, the other categories of people and Brahmanas are, after all, your people. In fulfilling your duty to them, you will not be transgressing your righteous path. You ought not to be lacking in reverence to your mother who is aged and possessing a noble conduct. By carrying out her words, you will not deviate from the path of the virtuous. By fulfilling the words of the beseeching Bharata, you will not be false to yourself."
               Rama smilingly replied "The good, which a father and mother do, by giving whatever they can, to their son constantly, by putting him to sleep, rubbing his body with oil etc., by speaking kindly to him every moment, and by nourishing him, can never be wholly requited. The command imposed upon me by the king Dasharatha, my father, who begot me, cannot therefore be disregarded."
              Hearing Rama's words, Bharata felt very much anguished and told Sumantra the charioteer who was standing nearby "O, charioteer! Spread quickly some Kusha grass on the ground here for me. I shall remain facing my illustrious brother till he gets propitiated and grant my request. I shall remain lying down in front of Rama's hut without food or drink and depriving myself of light until he returns to Ayodhya, like a Brahman who is a destitute lies down at the door of his creditor." 
Comment: Satyagraha seems to exit earlier to Rama's period. Mahathama Gandhi therefore, did not invent but adopted it.
             Seeing Sumantra who was gazing at Rama was not inclined to obey his order, the low-spirited Bharata, on his own, brought a heap of Kusha grass and spread it on the floor. Seeing this Rama said "O Bharata my dear brother! What wrong have I done that you lie down before me? A Brahmana may lie down on one side in order to obstruct a willful debtor in this world. But, it is not befitting for a warrior-class. O Bharata! Giving up this formidable resolve, rise up and proceed speedily to Ayodhya."
            Still sitting in the same posture, Bharata looked at the citizens and rural folk around on all sides and asked them why they were not entreating his venerable brother to return.
Those people replied "We know Rama very well. He is speaking rightly. This Rama of exalted merit is indeed standing on his father's words. Hence, we are not able to convince him to return to Ayodhya."
             Hearing their words, Rama said to Bharata "Reflect on the words of your companions, who see rightly. Having listened to their testimony and mine, reflect on the matter carefully. Rise and touch me and drink water (not a cool-drink or milk)."
            Thereafter, Bharata rose, touched water  and said "Let the audience, including ministers and the guild of traders hear me also. I never asked my father for the kingdom, nor did I counsel my mother to enthrone me. I never gave my approval for the exile of Rama, the venerable hero, who knows his duty very well. If it is absolutely essential that one of us should remain here and the command of our father be executed, then it is I who will reside in the forest for fourteen years."
             Rama was amazed  by the sincere words of his brother and by looking at the inhabitants of town and said
"The pledge of our father cannot be broken either by me or by Bharata. I cannot accede to the substitution which is highly distasteful. What was advised by Kaikeyi was proper and what was done by my father was a righteous deed.
I am aware that Bharata has necessary patience and due devotion for elders. All will be propitious in the case of Bharata, who is true to his promise. After returning from the forest, I shall rule the earth, assisted by my virtuous brothers. The king Dasharatha was indeed solicited for a boon by Kaikeyi. That word of the king has been fulfilled by me. Hence, relieve our father, the emperor from the blame."

Sunday, 6 October 2013

84. Jabali made an effort.

                A Brahmana called Jabali decided to do something in the matter. Like all others he too wanted Rama back at Ayodhya as the king. He stood up and addressed Rama "Enough, O Rama! Let not your wisdom be rendered void like  that of a common man. You are distinguished and far superior than others for your intelligence and virtue. Who is related to whom? What is there to be obtained by anything and by whom? Every creature is born alone and dies alone. O, Rama! He who clings to another, saying, 'This is my father, this is my mother' should be considered as one who has lost his wits. There is none who belongs to another.
            "O, Rama! A traveler stays in a strange village at night and the next day leaves it and continues his journey. Like that mother, father, home and possessions are quite strange to a human when he was born; they are but a resting place. The wise, like you, do not get attached to them. You as such should not abandon your father's kingdom in order to dwell in a lonely forest. Get yourself crowned in the prosperous kingdom of Ayodhya. That city is waiting for you.
            "O, prince among princes! Enjoy the royal luxuries worthy of you. Move around in Ayodhya as Indra the Lord of Devas does in heaven! Dasharatha is none to you nor you in anyway to him. That king is another and your are another. The father is only the seed of a being. The sperm and the ovum blend at the right time in the mother's womb, so that a mortal is born in this world. The king has gone, where he had to go. This is the fate of all being. You are unnecessarily frustrated over the matter. I pity all those whosoever, devoted to wealth and religious merit, and endorse those who are devoted to sense and enjoyment.
            "These people say, 'The eighth day should be given up to sacrifices for the spirits of our ancestors.' See the waste of food. What will a dead man eat? If food eaten by one here, reaches another's body, then let a sacrifice be offered for those who are setting out on a distant journey. Will it not become a food on their path? 'Perform sacrifices, distribute gifts, consecrate yourselves, practise austerity and renunciation' - These writings are composed by learned men for the sake of inducing others to give. O, the highly wise! Arrive at a sensible and fair conclusion that there is nothing beyond this Universe. Give precedence to that which meets the eye and turn your back on what is beyond our knowledge. Honour the judgment of the wise and regarding that which is approved by all, accept the kingdom as propounded by Bharata."
            Rama looked at Jabali with a smile and said mildly
"Sir, what you counselled is not possible even though it appears to be possible. It is like a forbidden food which may look appetizingly tasty. He who is unruly, fully infested with ill-conduct, having a bad reputation and seeing differences in everything, does not gain respect from honest men. One's conduct itself explains whether one belongs to a good family or a bad family, valiant or arrogant and chaste or unchaste. What a sensible man, able to discern what is just and what is unjust, in this world, would respect me if I am ignoble resembling as noble, bereft of honesty, impure, having no good qualities but appearing like the one having good qualities, ill-behaved but appearing as well-behaved, abandoning righteousness and getting hold of unrighteousness in the guise of piety, creating confusion in the world and disregarding rules of conduct.
           "If I behave in this manner faithlessly, everyone will lose faith in me in due course. How could I attain heaven? This entire world would follow its own whims, for, whatever the conduct of the kings may be, such will be the conduct of their subjects.
            "The eternal royal governance is indeed a conglomeration of truth and hence not cruel. Hence, the kingship has the Truth as its essence. The world is established in Truth. Even sages and divine being have respected truthfulness alone. The one who speaks truth obtains the highest position in this world.
            "People will be scared of a person, who speaks untruth. Truth is the highest virtue and is stated to be the origin of heaven. Truth is god and all other virtues follow truth. All are rooted in truth and there is nothing higher than truth.
            "Gift, sacrifice, oblation, austerities performed and the scriptural texts have the foundation in Truth. Hence, one should thoroughly surrender to truth which rules over the world. Truth develops a race. Untruth sinks into hell. One rises high to heaven according to one's degree of truthfulness practiced. I am true to my promise. Why should I not fulfill the command of my father, who was a devotee of truth?
            "Neither covetousness nor forgetfulness nor pride would cause me to destroy the bond of morality. I shall honour the vow made to my father. Neither gods nor the manes will accept the offerings of those who are wanting in truth, unsteady and unstable in their minds. This is what is taught to us.
            "I perceive this virtue in the form of truthfulness as a universal permeation of spirit. That is why, this burden, observed as a vow, has been honoured by good men. I renounce the so-called duty of a warrior, it is injustice under the name of justice, it is practised by petty, cruel and  men of evil deeds.
            "Sin is committed by the body and falsehood is spoken with the tongue after it has been conceived by the mind. Thus, the degrading act is embraced by the body, the mind and the tongue. The earth, fame, prosperity and fortune indeed woo a man of truth. They constantly oblige the truth; truth should therefore be strictly observed!
            "Having promised before my father about my exile to the forest, how can I fulfill Bharata's words now, abandoning the father's words? A firm promise has been made by me in the presence of my father, when Queen Kaikeyi too became rejoiced. I will proceed in this manner for the rest of my life. I, therefore accepted this dwelling in the forest, remaining pure in body and mind, having controlled my diet, by feasting the Gods and Ancestors with pure roots, flowers and fruits, with all my five senses fully sated, without any deceit, fully devout and discriminative of what ought to be done and what ought not to be done.
               "Having reached this terrestrial globe (the realm of action), only a virtuous act is to be undertaken. The god of fire, the wind-god and the moon-god reap the fruits of their acts. Having performed a hundred sacrifices, Indra the Lord of devas went to heaven. Having practised severe austerities, the great sages went to heaven.
               "The virtuous say that truth, piety, valour, compassion for all beings, polite speech and worship of Brahmanas, gods and unexpected guests are the paths to heaven. Therefore the learned, well-instructed in what is to be their greatest advantage, follow their purpose resolutely and fulfill their duty in its entirety properly and attentively, seeking to attain the highest realms.
               "I very much regret now the act done by my father in taking into his service, you with your misleading intelligence, a firm atheist fallen from the true path. It is an exact state of the case that a mere intellection deserves to be punished as it were a thief and know an atheist to be on par with a mere intellectual. Therefore, he is the most suspected and should be punished in the interest of the people. In no case should a wise man consort with an atheist.
               "Men who lived before you have performed many auspicious acts, not expecting any reward in this world or in the next. Therefore, Brahmanas offer oblations in the sacred fire and practise noble deeds. The sages who are devoted to righteousness, associating with men of virtue, endowed with spiritual splendour, practising abundant charity, harmless and washed free of all taints, are honoured in the world."
            The reply of Rama was somewhat disconcerting to Jabali. After thinking for a moment to collect his thoughts, Jabali formulated a reply in a fitting manner in words that were beneficial and truthful, which showed his belief in the authority of Vedas, the other world and so on. He said, with tears in his eyes "I am not speaking the words of a non- believer. I am not an atheist, nor is it a fact that nothing exists whatsoever. Perceiving the time, I have become a believer. When the time comes, I will become again just a non-believer. O, Rama! That and this time too came gradually. I spoke like a non-believer for your sake, to pacify you and to persuade you to return to Ayodhya."


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

83. Rama gives additional reasons.

          Seeing the action of Bharata and the reaction of others, Rama decided to mollify them from a different angle. He said "My dear Bharata, I fully understand and appreciate your point of view. Let me tell you that there is one more very important reason why I could not agree to your earnest request. Long ago, when our father married your mother, he promised your maternal grandfather that he would confer his kingdom to the first son of his daughter as an exceptional marriage-dowry. Thereafter, in a conflict between devas and asuras, your mother received the promise of two boons from the King Dasharatha, as a token of his joy and gratitude.
           "Your illustrious mother of beautiful complexion consequently demanded from our father these two boons viz. throne for you and exile to the forest for me. I too, have been enjoined by our father to live here in the forest for fourteen years, in accord with the granting of the boon.
            "I therefore, have come to this forest accompanied by Lakshmana and Seetha in order to carry out the promise given by our father. You too ought, likewise, to make our father, as a person having given a true promise by getting yourself anointed to the crown without any delay. For my sake relieve the mighty king from his vow and make both our mother and father happy. 
            "My dear brother! Formerly, an illustrious king named Gaya, while performing a sacrifice in a place called Gaya in honour of his ancestors, chanted the following verse: 
      पुम् नाम्ना नरकाद् यस्मात् पितरम् त्रायते सुतः |
तस्मात् पुत्र इति प्रोक्तः पितृऋन् यत् पाति वा सुतः ||
एष्टव्या बहवः पुत्रा गुणवन्तो बहु श्रुताः |
तेषाम् वै समवेतानाम् अपि कश्चिद् गयाम् व्रजेत् ||
(The meaning of the above is:
Since a son saves his father from going to the place of torment (hell) called 'Put', he is named as 'Putra' ie. He who saves his ancestors from all dangers (of going to Hell)'
'To have many virtuous and learned sons is to be desired, since one, atleast among them, who is intimately connected will come to Gaya to perform a sacrifice.')
          "Dear Bro! This is the conviction of all the royal sages. Therefore, save our father from hell. Bharata! Go to Ayodhya along with Shatrughna and all the Brahmanas and give joy to the people there.
           "I too, without delay, will proceed to Dandaka forest along with Seetha and Lakshmana. Dear Bharata! You become the Lord of men. I will become the emperor of the wild beasts of the forest! Return now to the excellent city of Ayodhya full of joy and I also with joy will enter Dankada Forest!
            "O, Bharata! Let the royal white umbrella provide a cool shadow for your head, repulsing the rays of sunlight. I will take shelter comfortably under the abundant shadow of these forest-trees. The wise Shatrughna will be helpful to you. Lakshmana is known to be an outstanding friend for me. We, the four excellent sons, will ultimately make the king true to his promise. Do not get disappointed."