Thursday, 28 November 2013

107. Khara takes his entire army to doom.

                Khara simply could not believe what Shuurpanakha was telling him. "What are you blabbering? I just now commanded those fearless flesh eating rakshashas to fulfill your wish. Those rakshashas are my admirers, adherents and they always remained my well-wishers. They have never failed to execute my commands. Hence there is no question of their non-accomplishment of my orders. Owing to what you are highly bawling by saying, 'haa, lord' and wriggle on the ground like a snake? I would like to know what you are trying to say. Say it calmly and coherently. When I am here to take care of you, why should you needlessly cry out like an uncared for child."
                 Shuurpanakha was greatly assuaged by the patronizing words of Khara. Dabbing her tearful eyes she told Khara "I came to you just a while back with my ears and nose chopped off and wet with gushes of blood, and you too have comforted me. Oh, valiant brother, for my delight you too have sent fourteen mighty rakshashas to eliminate that atrocious Rama along with Lakshmana. But, all of them were killed in a fight with Rama by his arrows that cleaved their vital parts.
                 "I was aghast to see those highly impetuous rakshashas falling on earth in a trice. And seeing the unusual deed of Rama in felling them, I was highly alarmed. Oh me! I am still alarmed, fully frenzied, and even despaired. Oh, Khara, I have therefore come again seeking your refuge.
             "Kill those two, Rama and Lakshmana, as they are just humans. If you are incapable of doing so, then what for are you staying here in Janasthaana with your trivial stamina and trifling sinews like a stupid blemish for our clan. You better get out of this Janasthaana at once along with your cronies and your so called mighty rakshashas.
               "I think that you will completely and quickly be subjugated by that Rama. And, that brother of Rama namely Lakshmana who did this gruesome act on me is a highly vigorous one, too."
               In this manner Shuurpanakha bawled variously at Khara, and then anguished by her own affliction started hitting her paunch with both of her hands, and what is more, she swooned.
             Khara  became highly enraged. He told her "This fury of mine caused by the disgrace brought on you is like the highly bitter salt water that is impossible to contain when ingested. I do not care the valour of that Rama for he is, after all a human with a very short lifespan. Now he is going to give up his life by his own misdoings. Control your tears and cast off your despair too, for I will send Rama to the abode of yama along with his brother.
             "Now, very soon you will swill that Rama's red hot blood when that short-lived one is hewed down to earth with an axe." 
             The assurance of Khara made Shuurpanakha very happy. She told Khara "You are the best among all the rakshashas." Khara was a bit upset when shurpanakha denounced him earlier. Her praise now made Khara jubilant.  He ordered his army commander Duushana to get his entire army of fourteen thousand domineering rakshashas with dark-cloud like complexion immediately. Then looking at Shuurpanakha he said "Those are the adherent followers of my will, and their hustle will be frightful and they do not know the meaning of retreat in combats. The very sight of these black cloud like rakshashas will be terrifying to humans. If the on looking humans are not dead at first sight of these rakshashas  then these rakshashas can pamper themselves in killing those humans."
              He then told Duushana "Position my chariot ready with bows and arrows, amazing swords and diverse sharp power bolts and the other usual arsenal. Oh, Duushana, I am going with the rakshashas." 
                Duushana promptly executed the command. That chariot had a roomy cabin with its rooftop like that of the ridge of Mt. Meru, body embellished in gold, wheels golden, gem-studded yoke-to-carriage shaft, all around encompassed with golden artefacts like fishes, flowers, trees, mountains, sun, moon, and auspicious bird flocks and stars, and also decorated with jingle-bells, endowed with flags, swords, and best horses. Khara embarked on it with all his rancour.
                  After surveying and satisfying with the army and the arsenal, Khara charged all those rakshasha army to "proceed." Then that demonic force with their ghoulish skin shields, weaponry and flags, set off from Janasthaana, blaring blatantly and foraying dashingly.
                 Wielding maces, dart-bolts, and spears, and also razor-sharp axes, swords and discs, and dreadful power-darts and power-bolts that were flashing, iron maces, unusual bows, clubs, scimitars and pounding-shafts, and even thunderbolt like weapons that were calamitous to look at, that army which comprised fourteen thousand fiendish rakshashas that were the followers of Khara's whim, had started from Janasthaana.
                On surveying the army, Khara was quite satisfied with the competence of his frightening and daunting force. Khara's chariot followed them a little later at the rear. Then the charioteer set spurs on those colourful horses that are adorned in polished gold according to the notions of Khara. The impetuous charge of Khara's chariot caused to swell earth's four cardinal quarters and inter-quarters with turbulence.
              He whose voice is thunderous and whose rancour escalated speedily, and who is hastening forward like Yama intending to destroy his enemy, that Khara repeatedly hurried the charioteer shouting at him loudly like a overwhelming cloud that is going to storm stones.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

106. Rama eliminates the fourteen mighty rakshashas of Khara.

            Due to the excruciating pain caused in her nose and ears, as well as the embarrassment, humiliation, chagrin and ignominy inflicted on her by the lowly humans she was not able to say clearly what she wanted to say. Khara looked down at her with great concern and asked her kindly "Rise up, first tell me clearly, putting away your flurry and fluster, who disfigured your form in this way. Who for sport is poking his fingertip at a venomously fanged black-cobra that has chanced in his close proximity but slouching down inoffensively? Who on harrowing you is heedless now about his gulping a deadly poison, or about the noose of Yama  squeezing around his own neck.
             "You are gifted with boldness and bravery,  a whimsical rover, a guise changer by your wish and Yama to your adversary. By whom have you been driven to this kind of plight? Who is that kind of highly intrepid warper? Is he one from gods, or from devas or from the high-souled rishis who indeed rendered you shapeless? Indeed, I am not aware of anyone who has the audacity to cause any displeasure to me in this world, even among divinities including the thousand eyed Indra.
                "Now, I will take away the lives of that miscreants with my arrows that are terminators of lives. Whose frothy blood is that the earth wishes to quaff when I cut off his crucial organs by my arrows and drop him dead in a combat? Whose body is it from which birds pressing round gladly wish to wring flesh to pieces for eating when I slay him in war? Now, when I haul him easily on the ground in a battle that villain cannot be saved either by gods, celestials, evil spirits, or by rakshashas. It will be apt of you to gather your sensitivity slowly and tell me as to which miscreant attacked and disfigured you in the forest." 
              Shuurpanakha was rancorous and shaking at the humiliation she met with. The kind words of her cousin somewhat mollified her.  She then said with tears flowing like waterfalls from her eyes "This was done by two good-looking humans in adulthood. They are gentle yet greatly mighty, eyes broad like lotuses, dressed in jute-cloths and deerskin, subsisting on fruits and tubers, composed and sagacious. They are the sons of some king Dasharatha, named Rama and Lakshmana.  They have all the requisites of a king. I could not make out whether they are devas or asuras.
              "I have seen a curvaceous lady between those two, a real beauty, rich in comeliness, adorned with lots of ornaments. It was because of her I got into this plight.
               "I wish to drink the frothy blood of that guileful woman Seetha along with that of those two, Rama and Lakshmana, when they are killed in war. I want you to make it possible for me."
                On hearing Shuurpanakha, Khara nodded and vengefully summoned fourteen great mighty rakshashas resembling yama.
               Khara told them "Wielding weapons and wearing jute-cloths and deerskin two humans have got into our forest of Dandaka along with a woman of age. You shall return only after killing those two and also that treacherous woman, and after this cousin of mine drunk their blood.  Go and make the fanciful hearty desire of my cousin fulfilled."
               Shuurpanakha with a glee led the mighty rakshashas to Panchavati.     
               On arriving at Raghava's hermitage that ghastly Shuurpanakha pointed out to the fourteen rakshashas the brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, along with Seetha. Rama was seated in the thatched cottage along with Seetha and Lakshmana attending to him.
               Seeing the arrival of the rakshashas, and the rakshashi Shuurpanakha, Rama told his brother "Oh, Bro! Take care of Seetha until I dispatch the fourteen rakshashas to Yama."
               Then Rama took his bow, stringed it with bowstring and as a forewarning told the rakshashas  "We the sons of Dasharatha are brothers named Rama and Lakshmana, and we entered the forests Dandaka along with my wife Seetha. We are dispassionate and subsist on fruits and tubers and treading in the path of virtue. Like rishis we are residing in Dandaka forest.  I do not understand why you want to kill us. If you start a fight with me, then let me warn you that I have a bow and arrows with which I can retaliate. If you love your lives return immediately."
                 Unaware of the might and valour of Rama, and as they did not have any resistance from any ascetics so far, the fourteen ghoulish rakshashas who were used to slay or harm Brahmans, who used to shrink and cuddle with fear whenever they see any rakshasha, were highly infuriated on hearing the words of the bow wielding ascetic. They shouted back at Rama "You are going to be killed in a jiffy by us for the reason you incited the fury in our highly great souled lord Khara. What you alone can do anything against many of us. We are now going to kill you. Protect yourself, if you can."
                Then they unhesitatingly rushed towards Rama and hurled lances towards that unconquerable Raghava. Rama in turn shredded all of those fourteen lances with as many arrows that are adorned in gold. Next that great resplendent Rama in high wrath took fourteen iron bolt like arrows that were whetted on whetstone and equaling the sun in their dazzle. Then Raghava took up his bow, arched it, and aiming at the targeted rakshashas, released arrows as Indra would release his Thunderbolt.
                And those arrows pierced the hearts of those rakshashas, and then on coming out bedaubed with blood they swiftly penetrated into earth like snakes into snake pit. All the fourteen rakshashas, with busted hearts were stone dead and like the uprooted trees they fell onto the ground.
On seeing the rakshashas falling onto the ground that rakshashi Shuurpanakha was stunned. She just could not believe it. Convulsed in rage, and with a blanched face she rushed to Khara in an agonising manner like a creeper exuding resin on incision, and fell before him as before.
               Then she in the presence of her cousin Khara discharged a great outcry, and with a bloodless face she spilled tears. She then reported to Khara all about the destruction of those rakshashas  in its entirety.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

105. Enter the Dragon.

            In this way Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana comfortably spent their time while being adored by eminent sages when they were with them. While sitting in the hermitage with only Seetha and his brother Lakshmana, they were exchanging pleasantries. One such day Rama was sitting in the hermitage and heartily absorbed in telling narratives, a rakshashi happened to pass through the hermitage, fortuitously. She was the sister of the ten-headed Rakshasha Ravana. Her name was Shuurpanakha. Being rakshashi her face was very unpleasant to look at but she can assume a very pleasant face; she was pot bellied one but can arrogate a slim waist; she was wry-eyed one but can make herself look like a broad-eyed one, was coppery-haired one but can assume the look of a pleasantly tressed one, was very ugly featured one but can make herself look as a charming featured one, brassy voiced one but can simulate the most gentle voice, deplorably oldish one but can assume the look of a young maid, crooked talker with the power to change into a pleasant talker, ill-mannered one but can act as a very well-mannered one, uncouth one but can act as a well-mannered one, abominable one but can act as a charming one.
               On seeing the divine like Rama, she at once madly fell in love with him. She stared at Rama and asked him "Hi! Handsome! You are dressed as an ascetic but you seem to have a wife. And you seem to be handling a bow and arrows. Why have you come to this place which is  frequented by rakshashas?"
              Rama looked at her and told her with a smile "I am the eldest son of the great king named Dasharatha, and people know me by the name Rama. He is Lakshmana by name, my younger brother and a devoted follower of mine, and she is my wife, the daughter of Videha's king, well-known as Seetha. I have come here to this forest to dwell, as enjoined by the directives of the king and my father, and by my mother, as well. Could you please tell me who you are? Whose wife are you? Or, whose daughter are you? What is your name? By the way, you look quite fascinating and an enthralling personality. I, therefore guess that you are a rakshashi." 
I am writing this Ramayanam from the version claimed to be the most authentic of the maharishi Valmiki. Here it is not explained what happened to Jatayu after he accompanied Rama up to Panchavati. However in some other versions there are a few more verses wherein it is stated that 'Jatayu comes to Rama to take leave of him to go and see his relatives and bird-friends, after Rama returns from the river'. Then, knowing that Jatayu is not there Shuurpanakha enters the cottage area with a guise of winsome beauty. No rakshasha or a rakshashi can approach that cottage of Rama, as long as Jatayu was there as he could identify him/her whatever guise he/she may be. It is not clear how Shuurpanakha appeared before Rama. As a beautiful maid or in her natural get up?
       In KambaRamayanam, the great Tamil poet Kamban has stated that Shuurpanakha appeared before Rama in the guise of a beautiful, young and enchanting maid.
End Comment.
             Shuurpanakha replied with a lascivious gleam "I will tell you the truth, Rama, nothing but truth. I am of course a rakshashi named Shuurpanakha. I will be freely moving alone in this forest. My brother is the highly valorous and mighty Ravana, the king of all rakshashas and the son of Vishravasa, if ever you have heard of him. And the mighty Kumbhakarna who will always be in profound sleep is my brother, and the virtue-souled Vibheeshana too is my brother, but he does not behave like a rakshasha. There are a couple of cousins of mine named Khara and Duushana who are renowned for their bravery in war. I can excel all of them by my bravery. Oh, Rama, seeing you I decided to marry you. That is reason I have come to you.
               "I am endowed with such preponderance and as such I can defeat any rakshasha, rakshashi or an animal. Being my dear husband, everyone will fear and respect you. Therefore you become my everlasting husband.  By the way, why did you marry that woman Seetha. Unlovely and unshapely is this Seetha. She is unworthy to be your wife. I am the only one worthy to be your wife. Hence you may treat me as your wife from this moment onwards.
              "Oh! What shall we do with that pint-sized human you have married? Shall I eat up this disfigured, dishonest, diabolical human female with a hallow stomach along with him, that brother of yours to make you free.
               "As my dear husband, you can lustily ramble about Dandaka forest along with me while enjoying yourself on various mountaintops in the sky and in forests on the earth." 
              Hearing the blabber of that Rakshashi, Rama chuckled with amusement. He then told her softly with a smile "Oh, Respectable lady, I am married and this pint-sized woman is my dear wife. I do not want to lose her. It will be distressing for your sort of females to live with a co-wife. My younger brother Lakshmana there is with a good conduct, good looking, a promising and a valiant one. And he does not live with any wife at present. He therefore, may be in need of a wife. You can see for yourself that he is youthful, good-looking. He can become a befitting husband for you, fit enough to your kind of features. I suggest you woo him."
              Shuurpanakha nodded in complete agreement. Dazed in lust, discarding Rama she approached Lakshmana and told him "I with my best complexion will be your deserving wife meetly to you charm. You can happily take a jaunt all over Dandaka forest along with me."
             With great difficulty, Lakshmana suppressed his guffaw. He then smiled sweetly and replied "Do you want to become a female servant by becoming the wife of a servant like me? I am just a vassal of my adorable brother. Oh, Lovely eyed one, befitting to your unmatchable complexion I think that it would be most appropriate for you to become the wife of my brother Rama who is abounding in means. On becoming the younger wife of that adorable one, you too will achieve your means and thus you will go to the peak of happiness. On discarding her who is disfigured, dishonest, diabolically deleterious old wife with a hallow stomach, Rama will surely adore you alone.
          "Oh, Lovely complexioned one with the most lascivious waist! Is there any wiseacre to simply ignore your kind of most desirable personality, indeed, in preference to human females?"
           Suffering with acute carnality, Shuurpanakha simply swallowed those words to be truthful. She then went back to Rama who was with his wife Seetha and told him "You are blindly tenacious of her who is disfigured, dishonest, diabolical, hallow-stomached old wife of yours. As such you do not see how superior I am than her in every way. Now I am going to eat up this human female right before your very eyes, and then I can blithely make merry along with you, without the botheration of a co-wife." Saying thus she rushed towards the deer-eyed Seetha in high exasperation as a great meteor would dash towards Rohini, the brightest star in the sky. Rama swiftly covered Seetha from the attack and shouted at Lakshmana "Punning in any way with the base and brutish is inapposite. Vaidehi is somehow surviving. Teach this paunchy rakshashi a lesson by defacing her." 
              The sudden action of the rakshashi infuriated Lakshmana. He drew his sword and and rushed to that rakshashi with the intention to kill her. But on hearing Rama he merely chopped off her ears and nose. As the action of Lakshmana was very quick and fast, Shuurpanakha did not realise what happened. When she did, she blared highly and fled.
             At the outside of the hermitage Shuurpanakha paused to take stock of the damage. She noticed that blood was exuding from her nose and both ears and those parts were missing, too. That made her make many a blare like a cloud in cloudburst. Then she rushed to her cousin Khara who possessed violent vigour, and was presently surrounded by his band of his hench-rakshashas. Before him she fell onto the ground like a thunderbolt from the sky. Then convulsed in the fluster of fear and her body wet with blood reported to her cousin Khara, all about Rama's arrival in the forest with his wife and Lakshmana, and also about his atrocity to her.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

104. Life at Panchavati.

               They found the locale and the Hermitage quite pleasing. They settled down comfortably and happily there enjoying the forest life. Pleasant Autumn ('hemantha R^itu' in Sanskrit) season set in a few days after Rama and others moves in.
              All the three enjoyed that season. Early morning everyday they used to go to the reiver Godavari for a nice cold bath. On one such day or rather dawn Rama started for the delightful River Godavari for a bath. His brother Saumitri following him humbly with a handy vessel, escorting Seetha. 
Lakshmana started the conversation "We are now in scuh a season which promise a bright new year. And you like this season very much despite the fact that in these days the dew is harsh to the bodies of people, earth is overlaid with crops, water is not quite enjoyable, but fire would be delightful. 
             "On appeasing manes with worships during northern solstice and even on performing solstitial rituals in time, the righteous people are becoming free from evils.
              "This is the season when villagers get a good lot of milch cows and dairy products, and the vanquishing kings make moves to enlarge their kingdoms further. While the sun is steadfastly moving in the direction of Yama, the northern direction is not brilliant like a woman who lost the vermilion mark on her forehead.
Comment. The tilaka is the vermilion mark of sindur, vermilion-red powder specially made out of turmeric and lime juice and other ingredients and called as kunkuma. For a Hindu woman this is sacred and used in daily worships and applied as a mark on  the forehead at a place where the Third Eye, GYaana netra is said to exist. For the women this mark is for their glorification of womanhood by virtue of the existence of her husband. Should she become a widow this mark is made no more and her face will become dull for she is without a husband. So also the sun is such a mark on the forehead of the woman called horizon. Without him no quarters glitter.
End Comment.

                      "Himalayas are the depositories of snow, and presently distanced from the sun they are very obviously snowy true to their name (in Sanskrit 'Hima' means ice and 'alaya' means place or house). Daytime is very much comfortable for sauntering." 
               While talking in this vein Lakshmana suddenly thought of Bharata and how he would then be busy performing the ceremonies appropriate to the month. He said: "Bharata is entitled to live in ease but he has taken on himself a life of hardship because we live a life of hardship in the forest. My heart is full of sorrow for him. Even in this cold weather poor Bharata no doubt eats sparingly and sleeps on the bare floor. In this cold morning he too is probably walking towards the Sarayu. How fortunate we are to have such a noble brother! Pure in mind and speech and conduct, renouncing all pleasures, he lives a life of austerity for our sake. He is exactly like our dear father and quite the opposite of his mother. How could so cruel a woman as Kaikeyi bear so good a son? And ....."
               Rama stopped him, saying: "Talk as much as you like of Bharata and our father, but stop condemning Kaikeyi. All that you say of Bharata is true and my thoughts too today go to him in love. How long yet to see him again? When shall we have that pleasure, Lakshmana? When shall we four brothers live together again? Bharata's loving words are still sweetly ringing in my ears."
             Thus thinking longingly of home and Bharata they bathed in the Godavari on that early morning. After offering oblations to their ancestors and prayers to the sun, Rama rose transfigured like the Lord Siva and returned to the hermitage with Seetha and Lakshmana. Their morning duties over, they sat whiling the hours with wistful talk of old days and tales of long ago.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

103. Rama settles down at Panchavadi.

            On reaching Panchavati they found that that place was infested with serpents and predators. They were not scared or alarmed of them, of course. Rama told his brother "Dear Lakshmana! We have arrived at the place suggested by the sage. As you have now become an expert in such matters, please survey the area and decide which place will be suitable to construct an hermitage of our liking.
            "It is needless for me to say, but I just cannot help mentioning that Vaidehi, you and me take delight where the woodland is scenic and the water is pleasurable, and where a water lake, ritual-firewood, flowers, and the sacred grass are available in proximity."
              Lakshmana was somewhat disconcerted to hear the words of Rama. "Dear Bro! I am but a dependent. As long as you are there, even if it is for innumerable years, I am your adherent. Therefore you yourself tell me where to build the hermitage, after locating such a delightful place."
              On hearing such a response from Lakshmana, Rama smiled and nodded. And he just looked around and found such a place that was comprised of all the desired attributes. Affectionately taking Lakshmana's hand, Rama paced that beautiful place selected for the construction of hermitage up and down and told Lakshmana "This is on an evenly made ground and also a propitious place surrounded with flowered trees and it is apt of you to erect the hermitage here, traditionally. This pleasing lake is seen here adjacently, beaming forth with its lotuses that are similar to sun in resplendence, and that are scented fragrantly.
             "River Godavari is also seen from here, surrounded by blooming trees, spread over with swans, and beautified with kaarandava, and chakravaaka birds, as that contemplated soul maharishi Agastya had said. Those soaring mountains are appearing beautiful with many caves, surrounded by flowered trees, flurried by animal herds, sounded by peacocks, and they are neither far-off nor very nearby.
              "Here and there are the golden, silvery and coppery ores on the mountains, and they are shining forth like cow-eye ventilators on walls and also like the superb paintings on elephants.
Comment. The literal translation of the sanskrit word 'gava aksha' is cow-eye.  What it means here is the cow-eye shaped ventilators of walls. The bhakti is the name for coloured graphical drawings on the body of elephants. Apart from the howdah and other ornamentations, the elephants are richly painted in colours during ceremonial occasions, even today. As such Rama is visualising the ore deposits on the mountains as cow-eye like ventilators on walls, and as superb streaks of paintings on the bodies of elephants.
End Comment.
         "These mountains are bright with trees of Saala, Palmyra, Tamaala, Date Palms, Jackfruit and also with Punnaagaa. With Chuuta - Sweet Mango, Ashoka, Tialaka, Ketaka, Champaka, Syandana, Sandalwood, Niipa, Paarnasa, Lakuch, dhava, Ashwakarna, Khadira, Shamii, Kimshuka and Paatala. They are all entwined with flowered shrubs, and along with climbers, and thus they brighten the mountains. This place looks holy and delightful. And it is with many animals and birds. Dear bro, let us reside here along with this bird Jatayu." 
                 Lakshmana constructed a very spacious straw-cottage there leveling and raising the clay for raised floor of the cottage, strongly pillared with long bamboos, thereupon on those pillars excellent rafters were made, and the branches of Shamii trees were spread out, twined firmly with twines of jute strands, and with the cross-laid bamboos for thatching, and over that blades of Kusha grass and leaves of Kaasha were spread and well over-covered for the roof, and thus that very competent Lakshmana made that best and very spacious straw-cottage with a leveled surface for them. 
                Then with lotuses and fruits Lakshmana made flowery offerings and peace-invocations etc. Then he invited his brother and his sister-in-law to have a look at the hermitage. Rama was immensely pleased with the cottage. He then told Lakshmana "Oh, masterful one, I am very happy about what you have done. Now I am going to give you something special 'a big hugging'. When I am with you I feel that I am with my father."
                 The trio then moved into the hermitage and settled down in it.

Friday, 15 November 2013

102. Rama meets Jatayu.

                  On the way to Panchavati they saw a mammoth bird looking like an eagle. Rama and Lakshmana thought that it was a rakshasha. With a stance of ready retaliation they asked that bird "Who you are?". But to their surprise the bird, with a sweet, soft and a pleasant voice replied "Oh! my lad Rama!  I am one of your father's friends."
            In the absence of any reason to doubt the words of the bird the brothers accepted the statement. Then with all reverence Rama asked its name and other details. The bird then started telling them his genealogy "For you to know me well I will tell you about me from the beginning. Kardama was the first one to be created. And afterwards came Sesha, and later Samshraya. Samshraya was quite a vigorous one and as such he begot many children. Then Sthaanu, Mariichi, Atri, the great mighty one Kratu, Pulasthya, Angira, Pracheta and Pulah came up. And then came Daksha and Vivaswan (who was also called  Arishtanemi). Lastly was the great resplendent Kashyapa, who was a Prajapati.
             "Oh, Rama, I understand that Daksha had sixty renowned daughters. Kashyapa chose as his wives eight daughters of Daksha Prajapati, namely Aditi, Diti, Danu, Kaalakaa, Taamra, Krodhavasha, Manu and, Anala. 
               "Kashyapa told his young wives 'You all shall deliver sons similar to me. And they can sustain the three worlds.Aditi, Diti, Kaalakaa and Danu agreed for that, but the others didn't. Aditi gave birth to thirty-three sons comprising of twelve Adityas (the Sun-gods), eight Vasus (the Terrestrials-gods), eleven Rudraas (the Fury-gods) and two Ashvinis, the medicine-gods. Diti gave birth to well-known Daityas, the so-called Asuras who owned the forests and oceans. And Danu gave birth to a son named Ashvagriiva or also called Hayagriiva, Horse-headed god, and Kaalakaa gave birth to Naraka and Kaalaka.
            "Taamraa gave birth to five world renowned girls namely, Krounchi, Bhaasii, Shyenii, Dhritaraashtrii, and Shukii. And from each of the five daughters of Taamraa in turn emanated are the other avian species, whereas Kraunchii gave birth to Uluukas, the owls, Bhasiis gave birth to Bhaasaas, the vultures, and Shyenii gave birth to very sharp eagles and falcons, and then Dhritaraashtrii gave birth to swans and all other kinds of graceful water-birds.
              "Dhritaraashtrii gave birth to Chakravaaka water-birds, and Shukii gave birth to a daughter Nata, and Nata's daughter is Vinata. Krodhavasha gave birth to ten daughters namely Mrigi, Mrigamanda, Hari, Bhadramanda, Maatangii, Sharduulii, Shweta, Surabhii, Surasa and Kadruva. Mrigi produced all of the the deer, and Mrigamnda's progeny is Rikshas, Bears, a kind of antelope, and like that the Himalayan yak like species.
            "Bhadramanda gave birth to the girl named Iravati and her son is the elephant the great, Airaavata, the protector of the world. And Hari's offspring are lions and sagely/mighty monkeys, while Sharduulii gave birth to baboons and tigers. Then Maatangi's children are elephants, and Shweta gave birth to eight elephants that are at eight quarters of the world, sustaining the world on their heads.
             "Surabhi gave birth to two daughters, one is named as illustrious Rohini, and the other is Gandharvi. Rohini gave birth to cows and other livestock, while Surasa gave birth to Naagaas, viz., many headed serpents, while Kadru gave birth to ordinary serpents. Manu procreated humans.
             "The Brahmans emerged from her face, the Kshatriyas from chest, the Vyasyas from two thighs, and the Shudras from two feet. This is indicated in the Rig Veda Purusha Shuukta.
             "All the merited fruit-bearing trees are given birth by Anala, and now I will narrate about Vinata, the daughter's daughter of Shukii, and about Kadru, the sister of Surasa.
              "Kadru gave birth to a thousand-headed serpent who is the bearer of this earth, and Vinata gave birth to two sons namely Garuda and Aruna.
Comment.   Garuda is the eagle-vehicle of Lord Vishnu, while Aruna, also called Anuuru, for he is a thigh-less being, is the charioteer of Sun's seven-horse chariot. The seven horses of Sun's chariot are the seven colours in vibgyor as in a rainbow. Aruna and Garuda are of avian origination and attributed to be the speediest propellers, and Jatayu and Sampati belong to that lineage.
End Comment.           
             "Oh, Rama, I took birth from that Aruna, the charioteer of Sun, and my elder brother is Sampati.  I am named as Jatayu, the son of Shyenii.
              "Now that you know me as who I am, I can be your helpmate at your residence if you desire so. My lad, this impassable forest is a beloved one to predators and rakshashas. I can take care of Seetha in case both Lakshmana and you happen to be away." 
              Raghava revered Jatayu by affectionately hugging and stood by him with his head bent.
              Then the human trio along with that very mighty bird proceeded to Panchavati.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

101. Rama meets the Sage Agastya.

            Entering the hermitage Lakshmana looked around and noticed one young rishi who obviously seemed to be one of the disciples of the the maharishi Agastya and who seemed to be somewhat free. Lakshmana approached him with due deference and told him "Rama the eldest son of the king named Dasharatha has come along with his wife Seetha to see the maharishi. They are waiting outside. I am his loyal, dedicated, and adherent younger brother named Lakshmana. I wish to see the maharishi, too. Could you please inform him about us?"
             That guy nodded and went in. On hearing the news
from the disciple the maharishi said "O! It is lovely they are here now ! I have been yearning for this, and after a long time it has actually happened. Go immediately and make welcome to Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha, and bring them here pronto. You should have brought them in already."
            Hearing the mild admonition that disciple was perplexed and went out with a sour face. He told the waiting Lakshmana with added politeness "Where is this Rama? All of you are hereby cordially invited straight to the sanctum sanctorum of his holiness.
            Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha entered inside the hermitage and saw therein thsanctums of Brahma, Agni, Vishnu, Indra and various other deities.
                  Then encircled by disciples the maharishi Agastya came out and Rama saw him glowing brilliant. On seeing the brilliantly glowing maharishi, Rama fell prostrate at his feet touching them reverentially. His wife and brother followed suit. The maharishi blessed them and asked them to get up and  take their seats. 
            The maharishi then sat opposite to Rama and received all his three guests in the proper way. He then told Rama "You are the king of all the worlds, the treader in the path of righteousness, great charioteer of probity, the venerable and estimable one and now you now are my dear guest." He then offered them fruits, tubers, flowers and others with ardency.
            When the maharishi was quite satisfied that his guests were well and properly fed, he made a sign to his disciples who brought a bow and some armories. The maharishi offered them to Rama saying "This is a sacred bow which is decorated with gold and diamonds was crafted by the divine architect Vishvakarma for Vishnu, and these arrows equaling sun in their blaze are the gift of Brahma. These two quivers packed with inexhaustible arrows that have the blaze of Ritual-fire, and this sword together with its sheath made up of excellent gold were once given to me by Indra. By this bow, oh, Rama, once Vishnu eliminated the horrible asuras in a war and brought back radiant prosperity to the devas.
            "The bow, these two quivers, arrows, and the sword have been kept for you. Please take them and wield them to triumph over the asuras as Indra would wield Thunderbolt."
           Rama took them, of course.
           The maharishi continued "Rama, I am extremely happy that you, with Seetha and Lakshmana have come to see me.
           "I see that the sojourn in the forest has taken its toll for both Lakshmana and you. The strain is evidently much more for Janaka's daughter, Maithili. She is delicate and not used to such discomfort or distresses. Yet as a dutiful wife she followed you to these highly detrimental forests.
           "Even though it is needless in your case, I as an elderly brahman advise you to ensure that Seetha gets whatever delights her in these foests for the reason that she has done an impossible deed in following you to forests, an impossible deed for womenfolk. In general all wives devote themselves to their men in good fortune, but leave them off in ill fortune.
          "But the wife of yours is devoid of all those stigmas, an exemplary and an estimable lady, like Lady Arundhati.
          "Wherever you, with your brother and wife decide to stay in these forests, that place shall be glorified." 
            Rama replied the maharishi "Sir, I am extremely happy to note that you are pleased with us. I am yet to decide a suitable place to stay in these forest. I will be mightily obliged if you could suggest a suitable place where there is no dearth of water in these forests, where we can reside happily and self-composedly in the hermitage that we will be erecting there." 
            Sage Agastya after pondering over the question for a while said "A most prosperous place called Panchavati will be highly suitable for you. It is about two yojanas away from here. It is abundant with tubers, fruits, water, and many deer. All the three of you will be highly delighted with that place. That apart you will be complying the decreed order of your father, too.
          "There Maithili will be delighted by the River Godavari. And it is very reclusive too. Incidentally you can safeguard the hermits while residing there.
          " You have to proceed north of this great forest of lovely trees you are seeing, and advance towards a banyan tree. Then on climbing up an upland a mountain is seen, that which is also not far away, and that renowned Panchavati is there in an ever blooming forest in the valley of that mountain." 
          Rama thanked the maharishi for the suggestion and left for Panchavati after offering  veneration at the feet of that sage.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

100. Stories of Sages Mandakarani and Agastya.

          After successfully convincing Seetha about his resolve vis-a-vis his protection of the sages by eliminating the oppressive rakshashas, Rama walked ahead happily followed by Seetha and Lakshmana deep into the Dandaka forest.
               In the evening they noticed a charming lake of about one yojana width fully overloaded with red and white lotuses, overspread with sporting elephants, and with waterfowls like saarasa birds, kaadamba birds, swans and with others kinds too. Out of the tranquil and enchanting waters of that lake came melodies of singing and playing of musical instruments. They could not, however, see any one singing or playing a musical instrument.
         Then Rama asked the sage Dharmabhrita whether he could throw any light on that strange phenomenon. The learned sage nodded and said "Oh, Rama, this is an all-time lake built by the ascetic power of the sage Mandakarni, known as Five Apsara Lake. Saint Mandakarni practiced rigorous ascesis for ten thousand years staying in the waters of this lake consuming air alone. Then all the gods were worried because they thought that the sage planned to replace one of them (but they could not fathom who exactly) and hence they discussed inter se on this issue. Accoding to the consensus arrived at that meeting five selected Apsaras were ordered to make the sage to give up his ascesis by employing any means they could think of. The five beauties succeeded in the task assigned to them, to wit those five celestial beauties had led that sage astray. 
            "The five apsaras became the wives of that sage, and for them he built a house in there, concealed inside that lake.
And they were gratifying that sage who turned his body as a youth with his power of asceticism. These musical sounds we hear are emerging out as played on their instruments, mingled with the tinkling of their ornaments, and mixed with their delightful singing of melodies." 
          While thanking the sage for this extraordinary information, Rama noticed a cluster of hermitages nearby, encircled with sacred grass, jute cloths, and also encompassed with Vedic solemness.  
          Rama with his wife and brother happily stayed for some time in that august cluster of hermitages duly venerated by the great saints residing there. Then the trio went to the hermitages of those sages with whom they stayed earlier, for another round. Rama stayed there for nearly ten months at some place, elsewhere for one year, at somewhere else for four months, and for five, and six months at elsewhere, even at somewhere else for more than a month, and for more than one and half months elsewhere.
         Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana thus spent ten years by staying with different groups of sages.
             Then they went to the hermitage of Sage Suteekshna again and resided there for some time. One day while chatting with the sage Suteekshna Rama became inquisitive and asked the sage  "Sir, I understand that the godly and eminent sage Agastya is residing in this forest. We very much like to see him and get his blessings. Unfortunately I do not know where exactly his hermitage is."
          Sage Suteekshna  replied "Oh, Raghava, I myself, was thinking of suggesting you to see that great sage. At four yojanas from this hermitage you will find on the southern side the hermitage of Agastya's brother. That hermitage is built on a plateau in a spectacular place of that forest which is adorned with many flowers and fruits, thickets of long pepper, and reechoed with the callings of various birds. There are diverse lakes that are receptacles for tranquil waters, that are teeming with swans and partridges, beautified with ruddy geese. I suggest that you stay there for a night.
           "On the next morning at one yojana beyond, taking the southward course on the side of the forest clump you will find Agastya's hermitage. Seetha and Lakshmana will enjoy those woodlands adorned with diverse pleasant trees, as the woodlands abounding with diverse trees will naturally be delightful.
              "If you are well determined to see that great sage Agastya, I suggest you start today itself." 
              Rama with his wife and brother started almost immediately. After trudging about four yojanas in the direction as indicated by the sage Suteekshna Rama noticed all the landmarks indicated by the sage Suteekshna about the hermitage of the sage Agastya's brother. He remarked 
"Lakashmana! I am sure that the hermitage we see there is the hermitage of Sage Agastya's brother. See thousands of trees are bowing under the weight of flowers and fruit on the pathway. Therefore that has to be the hermitage of Agastya's bother. Upraised by the wind the sour-smell of pippali fruits is suddenly coming closer from the forest.
             "See those well heaped heaps of firewood, and all over appearing is the sacred grass snipped at its top. From inside the hermitage in the midst of this forest the vertex of smoke from ritual fire is clearly visible as high as the vertex of a black rainy cloud.
             "Now I have absolutely no doubt that this hermitage definitely is that of Sage Agastya's brother. 
             "Lakshmana! Seetha! I just now remembered an amusing anecdote I have heard about the sage Agastya. Once upon a time two terribly cruel rakshasha brothers called Vaataapi and Ilvala were here together. They relished killing brahmans in a cruel way.  Disguising as a Bhraman and speaking like a brahman that Ilvala used to invite a Brahman for the purpose of obsequial ceremonies, where that Brahman was fed after the usual (fake) ceremony to appease their manes.
                   "Ilvala used to change his brother Vaataapi into a ram, cook that ram's meat into deliciously cooked food, and used to feed the Brahman according to obsequial rites and deeds. After that Brahman completed eating that ram's delicious meat, Ilvala would shout loudly, 'oh, Vaataapi, you may come out now.'  Vaataapi would then become a full live ram inside the stomach of the hapless brahman and lunge out bleating like a ram, tearing and rending the body of the Brahman. In this way they killed numerous brahmans and ate their raw flesh with enjoyment.
             "Sage Agastya decided to end this diabolical menace when he was invited by Ilvala. Agastya ate the delicious ram meat with enjoyment. When Ilvala called his brother to come out, Sage Agastya asked him whom he was calling. With a happy smile Ilvala said that he was calling his brother Vathaapi. Then the sage asked him 'Where is the energy for that ram shaped brother of yours to come out as I digested and sent him to Yama?'
                  "He looked at the sage sceptically. He called again and again his brother to come out. Only loud belch came out of the sage's mouth every time Ilvala's call for his brother. When Ilvala realised that his brother was really dead, he started furiously to assault the sage.
           "Sage Agastya killed him by his look."
           Along with the conclusion of the narration by Rama, day concluded too giving way to dusk. Worshipping sunset along with his brother as per custom, the trio entered that hermitage. The sage there received them well and all dined on tubers and fruits. Raghava and co. spent that night there and in the next morning Rama bid goodbye to the sage saying "Sir, we stayed in the night very comfortably. Please now allow us to leave. As I told you yesterday night I wish to proceed to see your mentor and elder brother Agastya."
The name of this brother of Agastya is Sudarshana. But he was always called and referred to as Agastya's brother. Agastya's brother gave them permission and the guests left for the hermitage of the sage Agastya.
            After a journey for about a yojana Rama remarked "Lakshmana! See those trees are appearing with velvety leaves, and the animals and birds appear unwearied. I therefore, guess that the hermitage of the sage Agastya is not very far from here. He got the name Agastya because he stopped the mountain.
           "And from the time the sage Agastya came to live in this quarter, the rakshashas calmed down and remained without feud. This very worthy southern quarter is known in the name of that godly saint Agastya and this remained unapproachable to the rakshashas with cruel deeds in mind.
            "As per his directive, Mt. Vindhya ceased to grow taller in order not to obstruct the path of the sun. It is no wonder that this glorious hermitage is adored by well-behaved animals and humans as well.
The name Agastya is derived from a famous act of this Sage. Mt. Meru was the highest peak on earth. By its nature it was growing everyday. After some period of time it became the first to be saluted by the rising sun in east every day. Jealous of this Mt. Meru, Mt. Vindhya started to rise to exceed the height of Mt. Meru, thereby obstructing the sun's path. It did achieve that in due course. Then the day changed for night and the travel of Sun and Moon, the performance of Vedic rituals, which are bound by the solar lunar movement, went topsy-turvy. Then all gods prayed Agastya to do something to decrease the height of Mt. Vindhya.  He agreed. Then Agastya accompanied by his wife came to Mt. Vindhya and requested the mountain "Oh, Mountain King Vindhya, I am going southward with my wife, and we are not able to climb this much height. Kindly lower yourself, so that we can go to the other side." Mt. Vindhya in deference to the sage immediately lowered his height, so that the old couple need not climb but just walk over him. Agastya and his wife on coming to the southern side of the mountain again requested Mt. Vindhya to be at this height only until they return. Mt. Vindhya readily agreed for that also, and it is lying like that even today. Because Agastya did not return to north Mt. Vindhya is still believed to be at that level. Thus the solar and lunar movements, seasons' revolve, Vedic calendars etc. were again put to normalcy. Thus the name Agastya(in Sanskrit), aga stha mountain, stopper, agam sthaasyati or, stabhnaati iti agastyaH. He is said to have played an important role in uplifting southern regions of India, namely Dravidian cultures. His wife is Lopaamudra, the saintly lady will be quoted in Lalitha Sahasra Naamaavali. The thousand name of Mother Universe.
End Comment.
             "He is highly esteemed by one and all in all the worlds, and for us when we approach him he will accord beneficence. Lakshmana, I wish to worship that great saint Agastya there in that hermitage, and thinking of spending the rest of our exile here only. There gods, gandharvas, siddhas, exalted sages and many others will be worshiping Agastya who is self-regulating self-disciplinary. A liar, savage, a deceiver, a torturer or some one with sinful behaviour cannot stay in his hermitage.
                 "There the gods, celestials, reptiles and birds live together wishing to worship the Absolute with self-discipline. There the best and great souls of accomplished ascesis rode to heavens by aircrafts similar to sun in resplendence, on relinquishing their mortal bodies here and on obtaining new bodies. There gods will endow the state of celestials or immortals, or many realms of divine living to those auspicious beings that worship them.
                  "We arrived at the threshold of the hermitage, oh, Soumitri, you enter firstly and submit to Sage Agastya about my arrival at this place along with Seetha."

Friday, 8 November 2013

99. Rama explains his point of view.

          On hearing the unusually long speech by his dear wife, Vaidehi, Rama stopped and looked at her in wonderment. He then smilingly replied "Vaidehi! You waxed eloquence! I have not seen this side of you earlier! Oh, lady, now you proved to the hilt that you are the daughter of the most virtuous Janaka. 
          "Now let me explain my side. What more shall I say, oh, lady, since it is said that 'a kshathria handles a bow so that misery's tears cease to flow...' and this saying is iterated even by you. Oh! Seetha, those sages of Dandaka forest approached me on their own sought protection from the rakshashas, and thereby they came into my refuge. Subsisting on fruits and tubers, living at all the time in forests those sages are not getting quietude, as they are scared by the acts of the rakshashas.
           "Many of the sages dwelling in the Dandaka forest are being eaten away by the fiendish rakshashas who subsist on human flesh, and while being eaten away like that those eminent Brahmans requested me to protect them from those rakshashas.  
            "They told me that many of the guise changing rakshashas are out-rightly torturing them. They added 'Those resistless carnivorous rakshashas would descend exactly at the time of fire oblations, or on such propitious times like full or new moons to persecute us. We the ascetics being assaulted thus are aggrieved, and when we were searching for a recourse you came to us. We by the efficacy of our ascesis are surely capable to eradicate those demons, but we do not wish to dwindle the effect of our long earned merit of ascesis. Many hurdles are always there in our practice of ascesis, and sometimes even the ascesis have become impracticable. Oh, Raghava, thus though being eaten away by the rakshashas, we are not issuing any curse. In view of this, you along with your brother protect us from the rakshashas dwelling in the Dandaka forest, as you alone are the protector of ours in these forests.' 
             "On hearing the earnest submission of the sages, oh, Seetha, I did what a kshathria should do. I am not only a kshathria but the son of the great king Dasharatha, too and as such it is my duty to protect anyone who seeks protection from me. I, therefore promised complete protection to the sages of Dandaka forests. Having promised to the sages, you will agree that it will be impossible for me to revoke it. You know that truth is dearer to me than anything else.
              "I can forfeit my life, forgo Lakshmana, or even forsake you but not a promise, that too especially made to Brahmans, and having promised I can never go back. By that reason, oh, Seetha, safeguarding the sages is definitely my responsibility. Don't you agree, now?"
              Seetha smiled and nodded in the affirmative.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

98. Seetha is troubled in mind.

                     Rama along with Seetha and Soumitri (meaning Sumitra's son = Lakshmana), well revered by the Sage Suteekhsna, spent that night there. On the following morning, after completing their usual morning chores, Rama told the sage Suteekhsna "We stayed here happily and comfortably.  We now have come to ask your permission to leave. We like to see the habitats of hermitages in their entirety, and also wish to see the sages living in the Dandaka forest. We wish to proceed before sun attains an intolerable glare, like an unworthy person of unworthy lineage attains wealth in an improper way with much glare." Saying so Rama with Seetha and Lakshmana fell prostrate at the feet of that sage Suteekshna seeking his blessing.
         That eminent sage blessed them and said "Proceed in an invulnerable way, Rama, along with Lakshmana, and with this Seetha while she follows you closely like a shadow. See the pleasant thresholds of the hermitages of the dwellers in the forests of Dandaka. See the well-flowered woodlands with well-grown fruits and tubers, with herds of best animals and peaceful bird flocks. You may go now but come again after seeing all of them."
          Rama and Lakshmana tied their quivers well on their backs, and took the twangy bows and exited along with Seetha from that hermitage. A Sage named Dharmabhrita accompanied them as a sort of guide.
          On the way Seetha was thinking. She was not happy about her dear hubby's aegis to the sages against their tormenting rakshashas.  Seeing her pensive mood, Rama asked her "A penny for your thoughts, Seetha." Looking at her darling fondly she replied "Wielding weaponry you are entering into an area where the rakshashas are abound. To protect the sages you have to fight and kill the rakshashas. During that process we two may get separated, which in turn is intolerable to you as well as to me. So leave the weapons back at hermitage and go to forests to see sages. 
                     "I am not at all happy about your going towards Dandaka forest. Let me explain. When you with your brother wielding bow and arrows, walk deep into the forest and meet some rakshashas, you now will fight with them and kill them or make them run away. This will surely result in their coming back with an enhanced strength in number and weapons.
              "Let me tell you the sad story of the hermit who was pious and true worded, doing ascesis. Indra did not like that, as usual. Then Indra came to that hermitage in the guise of a soldier. He gave his sword to the hermit requesting him to keep it safe for him and he will take it back when his work was finished.
             "To ensure that the sword is not lost, the sage moved about the forest, always carrying the sword. Wherever that dedicated guardian of that entrustment goes, even to obtain tubers or fruits, he was carrying that sword. Carrying that sword always, that hermit slowly made his own faculty infuriated, loosing determination in ascesis. Then with the constant association of that weapon that sage gradually became inadvertent, and smitten by vice he went to hell.
              "This story clearly demonstrates the imprudence of flaunting a weapon constantly. The sequel of constant association with a weapon is as good as constant association with fire. Please do not think that I am teaching you or trying to impose my views on you. I am mighty concerned about you. I am telling you out of my love for you all this and with respect I am reminding but not tutoring you. I strongly feel that your wielding  your bow to kill the rakshashas in the Dandaka forest without any enmity is undesirable.
                "We have come here to live like hermits. Then why should you carry any weapon?  Donning like hermits, living in a forest and carrying a weapon is inconsistent. l suggest that you may follow the tenets of Kshatriyas on going back to Ayodhya. 
           "Everlasting satisfaction will be there to my father-in-law and mothers-in-laws, on your becoming a devout sage after your forfeiture of the kingdom. From virtuousness prosperity emanates, from righteousness happiness, and by honourableness all are achieved, and this universe is the essence of probity. Experts will make efforts to exhaust their own selves with those and those principles, thus they realise sublimity; unachievable is the pleasure by pleasuring alone.
            "Always tread along the righteousness with a pure mind, and specially in these sagely forests. You know everything in all the three worlds, in all its nuances. I cite all this with my womanly waver. And I know very well that no one can argue with you and win a point over you about dharma. However, I earnestly request you to ponder mindfully along with your brother, and what that is appropriate, you do it; but not belatedly."
Sheetha's dilemma
This particular chapter is an interesting juncture in Ramayana, where Seetha reminds about the question of triggering cause for Rama's waging a war against the rakshashas. She is inquisitive to know why Rama alone shall raise the bow and arrows against some rakshashas hurting some sages. These sages are having super powers and Indra like celestial chiefs are coming to these sages to take them to heaven. Can't they eliminate these demons? But these super hermits are requesting Rama to protect them from rakshashas.  And Rama obligingly started to wage this unilateral war, where any war requires a triggering point. Can't the super sages eliminate these demons, with their powers acquired by their penances? This is the question of Seetha. For this, Rama replies so convincingly in the next chapter, saying that the sages cannot issue forth a curse at the demons, in the course of their penance.
Sage Vishvamitra, though being a furious sage, once sought the help of Rama to counter the rakshashi Tataka. See chapter 5. Rama's character and valour revealedAnd Rama rendered it. Now also these sages do not waste their powers at the mischievous demons, but ask Rama to safeguard their interests, for Rama is the king, whether he may be in his capital or in a forest.
Secondly, Rama was subjected to the throne of Ayodhya, now being held by his brother Bharata, and as a loyalist to that throne, Ram should act in accordance with the rules of his kingdom. This area Dandaka forests was under the ambit of their own kingdom. So Rama had to perform the deeds suitable to their kingdom. On killing Vali, Rama replied Vali "all this area is under our kingdom, now held by Bharata, and it is my duty to act in accordance with the decree of that throne..."
 Seetha's doubt comes true and she alone becomes the ultimate cause for Rama, to wage war with Ravana.
End Comment.

Monday, 4 November 2013

97. Rama meets the Sage Suteekshna.

                   Rama, with Lakshmana, Seetha and the sages traveled quite a distance to reach the hermitage of the Sage Suteekshna. At last they located the hermitage in a reclusive place adorned with rows of jute cloths as though garlanding it. Rama entered the hermitage and saw the ascetically rich Sage Suteekshna sitting in yogic posture with his body bearing lotus-like blotches of soil.
Comment. Here it is said the soil on the sage's body had taken lotus-like blotches. Certain yogic methods do not care outward bathing of body. Usually the bath is prescribed three times a day, but hermits of a sort leave away that bodily bathing, because the sweat and soil recurs immediately after each bath on this impure body. So they stop taking outward bath and concentrate on cleansing the inner space.
End Comment.
           Rama waited for the sage to open his eyes. When he did and looked at Rama questioningly, Rama said "Oh! godly sage, My name is Rama. I have come to see you. I want something from you.  Hence oh, Sir, please talk to me..." Before Rama could finish the sentence, recognition dawned on the sage. He got up and embraced him with both his hands, and said "Welcome to you Rama, the best of Raghu dynasty and the best patron of truth, I am awaiting you. I have heard that you have arrived at Chitrakuta after leaving Ayodhya.
             "The king of suras and the chief invitee in hundred sacrifices, Indra commented that I conquered all the worlds by my meritorious deeds. I now bequeath those worlds that are cherished by gods and sages alike, but which are won over by me by my ascesis, to you."
Comment. This sage Suteekshna too was dedicating all his merit accrued by his penance at the feet of Vishnu. This is the same effort of dedication, which the Sage Sharabhanga offered to Rama at 3-5-33 of this canto. Anything accrued by human effort and energy, if dedicated at the feet of god, is doubly meritorious and establishes a selflessness of the devotee. Even in any daily worship it will be concluded with a saying
  "Kayena vacha manasendriyair va, buddhyatmana va, prakriteh svabhavat
        Karomi yadyat, sakalam parasmai, narayanayeti samarpayami"
This means
I dedicate to the Supreme person Narayana all that I do by means of the body, words, mind, the organs of action, the organs of knowledge and by the impulsion of nature.

End Comment.
              Rama replied the radiant sage "Sir, Thanks! But I myself can gain all those worlds and hence please keep those hard earned worlds with yourself. I now seek a place to dwell here in this forest. Sage Sharabhanga of Sage Gautama's dynasty told me that you are an expert in all affairs, and you are interested in the welfare of all beings and asked me to approach you in this regard." 
             Sage Suteekshna nodded and said pleasantly "You can stay in this good featured hermitage. Groups of sages will always be moving here, and this always contains tubers and fruits.
            "But herds of very large animals will also be coming to this hermitage; they return after scaring us, of course without killing or harming anyone. But they fear none."
            Ram told the sage " I too fear none. I can eradicate them. But I gather that you are quite interested in those animals and you do not seem to approve their destruction. Hence I do not propose to stay here for long."
            After worshipping the westward vesperal time, Rama arranged a stay for himself along with Seetha and Lakshmana, there in that delightful hermitage of Sage Suteekshna.
            Then the Sage Suteekshna on completing his evening rituals, he himself courteously served food that was auspicious and worthy of sages, to Rama and Lakshmana.
Comment. It is presumed that Seetha served herself the food after Rama and Lakshmana finished theirs.
End Comment.

End Note.
In Aascharya Raamayana, another traditional rendering of this epic, it is said that Rama, while staying at this hermitage went out of the hermitage at about midnight, and killed all those very big and blaring animals. The thrust of his arrows made the carcasses of those massive animals fell before the rakshasha Kabandha. Kabandha was a cursed angel and was to be released of his curse later by Rama. This Kabandha had no body parts below his chest, but has long hands with which he captured his prey that came within the ambit of his long and strong hands. Kabandha was thus fed upon the kill of Rama, because Kabandha was a keynote character in giving information to Rama, and he was to be kept alive till such time. But all this was unknown to other in-mates of the hermitage, including Seetha. The next morning Rama, in a personal conversation with Seetha, revealed what he had done during the previous night, to her surprise and praise.