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."

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