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.

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