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By: Lakshmi Ramachandran
Dasaratha was the king of Kosala. The river sarayu flowed on the outskirts of the country. Ayodhya was the capital of Kosala. It was created by Manu. Dasaratha came under the scion of the Ishvakus. He was known for his wiseness, he has performed all the yagnas, and was a king loved by all.
Dasaratha has eight ministers who were all well versed in the art of advising the king in matters of importance. They were highly intelligent and were always interested in the well being of their king and his subjects. The ministers were Dhriti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Siddhartha, Arthasadaka, asoka, mantrapala and sumantra. The king has many priests to advise him on the matters pertaining to religion and religious rites and rituals. The chief of them were Vasishta and vamadeva. All the people in the kingdom were very happy and treasury of the kingdom was ever full and so was the granary.
Dasaratha was such a great king , but he was not at all happy. He had no son to make him happy. As he grew older, he was very much worried whether the line of Ishvakus will terminate after his death. At this time he thought of doing a Yaga by the name Ashwamedha. So he called for his able ministers and sent sumantra to call all the rishis and Acharyas like, Vasishta, Vamadeva Kashyapa etc. The king told them about his performing the Yaga and they also approved of his suggestion. The King told the ministers to take the advice of the rishis as to where the yaga is to be conducted. The yagnasala was to be built on the northern side of the river Sarayu.
Sumantra remembered that the famous rishi Sanatkumara had spoken about the birth of four sons to the king Dasaratha. He told the King to invite the sage Rishyashringa to preside over the yaga. Sage Rishyashringa was married to the daughter of Anga, whose name is Romapada. Dasaratha requested the king to allow his daughter and her husband (the great rishi) to come to his kingdom for the yaga. Very soon the seaon vasantha came, the rishi told the king to start the procedings of the yaga and to send the sacrificial horse for its sojourn around the Bharatvarsha. Dasaratha took the dust of the feet of sage Vasistha and prayed him to make the yaga a success. The king requested the sage Rishyashringa to perform the yaga by name of putrakama. The sage blessed him by performing the putrakama yaga as it is mentioned in the Atharva Veda.
When the Ahwamedha yaga was going on, the Devas led by Indra went to Brahmaji the creator. They complained to him about the troubles and harassment done by Ravana. They complained to Brahmaji that your boons have made him very very powerful . He has frightened all the three worlds and he has threatened to insult me in my Amravathi. Because of his boons , the sun god is afraid to glows brightly and vayu does not blow hard, even the sea is frightened of him. Because of his boons he cannot be killed by any of the devas.
Brahmaji listened to them and said , Yes, Ravana cannot be killed by any devas, or danavasor gandharvas, or yaksha, or any rakshasas. However because of his arrogance he forgot to get immunity to be killed by a man. And that his how he will be killed said , Brahmaji.
While they were talking thus, Lord Narayana came there with his shankha , chakra , he was seated on Garuda. Brahmaji requested to him to be born as a son to the king Dasaratha and also told that four sons will be born to the king. He requested Lord narayana let all the four sons be the Amsas of you. Your avatara will be of immense help to the mankind and also for us.
Lord Narayana listened to the words of Brahmaji, and said that I have decided to be born in the world of men and I will destroy Ravana and his entire clan . After killing him, I will rule the world for 11,000 yrs. To assist me in this avatara, he told the devas that they will also be born in the world of men as Monkeys as ravana had forgotten to ask for immunity of death from monkeys.
The Putrakama yaga came to an end . From the fire came a divine form. The divine form held in his hands a bowl with a silver covering. It said , I am a messenger from Brahmaji. I have been commanded to hand over this payasa to you. Give it to your queens and your wish for sons will be fulfilled. The king prostrated before the divine form and took the payasa. The yaga came to a glorious end and the king took the blessings of all the rishis and came to the inner chambers of his palace and gave half the payasa to his eldest queen, kausalya, and then gave half of what was left to Sumitra, and again half of what was left to Kaikeyi, and when some more was left he gave it to sumitra again.
The king dasaratha was very happy and the month of chaitra was approaching and the vasanta rutu was nearing. The month was Chaitra and it wasShukla paksha , it was ninth day of the new moon, all the five planets were in the auspious position, the lagna was karkata and the planet Guru was rising with the moon. The star was Punarvasu. The Lord Narayana was being born in the world of mankind as a man for the benefit of mankind. When the next star pushya appeared under the Meena Lagna a son was born to the queen kaikeyi. Sumitra gave birth to twins when the star Ashlesha was born. All the four sons of Dasaratha were the amsas of the Lord and kausalyas son Rama was Lord Narayana himself. There was so much joy in the whole of kosala and king Dasaratha was the most happiest man . The children grew up like the moon in the shukla paksha . Right from their childhood Lakshmana was very very attached to Rama. He was always with Rama and Shatrugna was attached to Bharata.
The children grew up learning from their guru Sri Vasishta. They were well versed in the art of fighting like all the Kshatriyas and they were humble and softspoken . They were all liked by everybody and Rama was the darling of everybody. Of the four , Rama was the favourite of his father. The children were now of 16 years of age and Dasaratha was thinking in his mind about their marriage. At this time Sage Vishwamitra arrived at his palace. Dasaratha welcomed him with all shraddha and bhakti and with great humulity asked the sage about the purpose of his visit. Sage Vishvamitra told the king about the Yaga he was performing and the troubles he has to suffer from the rakshasas who could take any form any time. I cannot curse them because there is no place for anger when I am doing this yaga. Dasaratha asked what help do you need from me? I am willing to do anything to help in your yaga. When the king spoke like that, Sage Vishvamitra asked him to send rama with him . He said don"t worry about him and about his safety . He will be famed in the three worlds because of these good deeds . Dasaratha was worried now. He did not want to send rama with the sage. In his eyes rama was just a child and how can a child kill all the rakshasas? He pleaded with the sage , and even offered to go himself along with the sage and said I can fight the rakshasas . The king said my son is not even 16, and has not yet finished his education and then how can he help you? I cannot live a moment without seeing my beloved son rama. Rama is my very life and of all the four sons he is the most dearest to me. By now sage Vishvamitra patience was running out, He was very angry with the king who offered all the help and now he is going back on his words.The sage told the king that I am going back and you can live happily with all your kith and kins but you will be remembered as aking who did not keep his word and the you will be discredited by the world . The earth trembled when the sage spoke like this. Blinded as he was by his love for his son king dasaratha did not realise what he was doing. Sage Vasistha who was the kula guru then spoke to dasaratha, made him realise his mistake , he spoke about the prowess of the sage, thepowers of the sage and told him to get out of the delusion called Putrasneha. Finally the king realised his mistakes and fell at the feet of the sage and asked for forgiveness. He told the sage the Lakshmana is always with rama and they are always together. So Rama and Lakshmana went with sage Vishvamitra.
When they reached the southern bank of the river Sarayu, sage Vishvamitra told rama to take water in his palms and he taught him the mantras Bala and Prabala. They are the daughters of Brahmaji, the creator. You will never feel tired nor hunger will trouble you nor thirst will trouble you. That night they rested and next day before dawn they were woken up by sage Vishvamitra. They reached the spot where river sarayu joins river ganga. There were many Ashramas and many rishis were performing all sorts of tapas. They crossed the river ganga and the forest that they saw was very very dense but there was no sign of any habitation there. Sage Vishvamitra told them that a terrible rakshasi by the name of Tataka lives here and she has been terrorising everybody. Sage Vishvamitra told rama to kill tataka and rama obliged him by killing her and the forest was freed from tataka. Vishvamitra blessed rama and gave all the divine astras of his to him and taught him as to how to use it and told him to teach lakshmana .
Finally they reached the place where the yaga was to take place . Many rishis had gathered there . Rama and lakshmana paid obeisance to all of them. The rishis told them that the yaga will last for 6 days and sage Vishvamitra will observe vow of silence and they told them to guard the place very very carefully. The yaga proceeded with out any troubles for the first five days. But on the sixth day all of the sudden there was a lot of common . R and L knew that these are the works of the rakshasas. Rama took up the astra by the name manavastra and aimed it at the rakshasa by the name Marichi. The astra struck marichi and threw him about hundred yojanas in to the sea but it did not kill him . Rama then took up the other astra by the name Agneyastra and it killed subahu and the other rakshasas.
After the yaga was over, Rama asked the sage as to what they should do now ? Sage Vishvamitra told rama and lak , we will go from here to the kingom of Janaka , Mithila. The famed bow of Mahadeva is in Mithila and till date nobdy has been able to lift it. They reached the kingdom of Mithila and the king on knowing about the arrival of sage Vishvamitra welcomed him with all honour and respect. He also asked about the purpose of his visiit.
The sage introduced the two princes to the king and told the king that they both are great archers and they are impatient to see the bow of Mahadeva and asked the king to make arrangement to bring the bow.
King Janaka narrated as to how the bow came to be with him , and he also spoke about his daughter Sita, who was found as a beautiful child from the mother earth, when he was preparing the earth for doing a yaga. That is why she is named Sita, and whoever is able to lift the bow, Sita will be their bride.
Janaka made arrangements to bring the bow, and rama with the blessing of sage Vishvamitra lifted the bow as though it were just a sport. Rama held the bow straight with his left hand and he bent the bow with his right hand . The earth trembled at the noise, and many people fell doen unconscious. King janaka was very very happy that Sita will be ramas bride and she will be the bride of the house of Ishvakus. He made arrangements and send messengers to Kosala about the impending marriage of Rama and Sita. Dasaratha was very very happy and they all left for Mithila. King janaka told king Dasaratha, please accept my 2nd daughter for your son Lakshmana. At this time Sage Vishvamitra spoke to the king Janaka, about his brothers daughters and asked the king to get the two daughters to be given in marriage to Bharata and Shatrugna.
When the star is in Uttara Phalguni let the marriage be performed.
November 12, 1999 06:08 PM