Tuesday, 25 December 2012

34. Happy days after marriages.

         Rama turned to his father and saw him in a daze. Rama told his agitated father Dasharatha kindly "Dad, Rama of Jamadagni has gone on his way, you may now order the army to move on towards Ayodhya." 
      On hearing the words of Rama, king Dasharatha hugged his son with both arms, and kissed him on the forehead.  He heaved a sigh of relief and thanked God that no harm was done to his son, and the great son of Jamadagni, Parashu Rama had vanished from the scene.  Then he ordered the legion to move ahead.
      When they reached the fringes of Ayodhya, they found that the royal highways were absolutely clean and was a bit wet with water, sprinkled with bunches of flowers, decorated with banners and flags up above them, and reverberating with high sounding bugle-horns.  Further, those highways were replete with citizens of Ayodhya with all kinds of welcoming kits.
      In his palace king Dasharatha was overjoyed when he was surrounded with his own inmates of palace-chambers, and when his long cherished ambitions have come true, while his queens, Kausalya, Sumitra, and the slender waisted Kaikeyi and other wives were overjoyed in the functions of receiving the four brides.
      Rama and his brothers Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna were by now very highly accomplished persons in weaponry and whose marriages had also come to pass, occupied themselves in the welfare of the kingdom while assisting their father and moving around with good-hearted people.
      After somedays, king Dasharatha called his son, Bharata and told him "This valiant Yudhaajit is your maternal uncle and the son of king of Kekaya.  He came here to take you to Kekaya, and he is staying behind because of your marriage.  Please go with him and please your grand-father."  Dasharatha bade farewell to Bharata.
       Bharata and Shatrughna left with Yudhaajit to Kekaya.
       Rama along with Lakshmana started to square with the plans and programs of of his dear father for an ideal-sovereignty.
      Rama, keeping his father's directives in view, undertook the welfare activities for the people that were agreeable as well as advantageous and good to them.  That apart, he undertook activities to humour motherly affection with his mothers, and educational activities with educators, and in a highly self-disciplined manner he used to review them carefully from time to time.
       Dasharatha was highly  pleased with the deportment and comportment of Rama.  All the citizens of the entire kingdom were extremely pleased with Rama, and he who had high distinction, his truthfulness alone was his vantage point, and whose hallmarks were of higher degree, that Rama had manifested himself to those subjects in the kingdom, and even to all of the living beings in the world, as the Self-Created Brahma.
     Also he permeated into the heart of Seetha and was ensconced in Seetha's heart alone, and he disported for many seasons along with Seetha.
      Everyday Seetha was becoming  more and more beloved of Rama as she was wedded with the assent of his father Dasharatha, and further Rama's love for Seetha burgeoned by virtue of Seetha's own virtues and loveliness.
        Even Rama as her husband made his mark in Seetha's heart twice as good, and they both used to clearly converse about their thoughts in their heart of hearts, just by their hearts.  In her mien Seetha was identical with goddesses, and she was personified Goddess Lakshmi, thus she was the reshaped Divine Prosperity, and as she hailed from the Holy Mithila she was held Holy, and since she was the daughter of Janaka, a loftiest, sagacious and invincible king, she was sagely and stately, besides being shapely, and she, with all these heaps of natural traits and characteristics, was rejoicing the heart of Rama.
      When passionately conjugated with such a princess from the irreproachable king Janaka, Rama, the son of the great king Dasharatha, was enthusiastically shone forth like the God of Gods and the Efficient Cause, namely Vishnu, when He was together with Goddess Lakshmi.

                  End of  Bala Kanda

Friday, 21 December 2012

33. Parashu Rama stripped of his pride

         Dasharatha Rama smiled at Parasu Rama who spoke in a loud and arrogant tone, and replied softly in a courteous but firm tone  "Son of Jamadagni! You have been vengeful because your father was killed by a kshatriya king.  I do not blame you for that.  But you cannot put me down as you have humbled others.  Please give me your bow."
      COMMENT: Up to here both these Rama-s were in close quarters with the other few present there.  After this dialogue, they had moved a little away from the throng and facing each other as true combatants.  A swordsman or an archer needs an arm-length, or sword-length or bow-length, at the least, to swagger his weapon.  This place is to be assumed as an isolated place and no one is seeing or listening.  This scene has an analogy in Maha Bharata where Krishna was teaching Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.  There, it is said, that Krishna froze the time to teach all the eighteen chapters, and none among the two sides of warring factions were aware of Krishna, his teachings, or of Arjuna, excepting Sanjaya, who was placed at a distant place and has seen all with his wisdom-eye.   Here we have to borrow that wisdom-eye of Sanjaya and see at these two Rama-s and their actions.  When their episode was over, the mist cast around them, rather on our eyes, would be cleared, when Rama returns to his father.  This is said in later verses.  Further more, all the people present there were rendered unconscious at the arrival of Bhaargava Rama, and a few like Dasharatha, Vashishta, Rama's brothers were with senses.  So, even if they heard and saw this scene, those listeners or those who were seeing, did no harm by revealing Rama's godhood to the world, in particular to Ravana.
End Comment.
      Rama then coolly  snatched the estimable weapon, namely the longbow of Vishnu, from the hand of Bhaargava Rama, along with the long-arrow that is already fitted on it.
       COMMENT: At the same time Rama was also said to have extricated the essential nature of Bhaargava.  The above said 'distancing' of these two Rama-s has another purpose.  Rama has certain innate nature of making his observers enchanted by his very personality.  Even Ravana looked at him adoringly in the war scene.  This apart, his hands had certain ability to extricate the innate nature of others, should he lay his hand on them.  We rarely saw him touching or patting others, except for Seetha, Lakshmana, Hanuman, a squirrel etc.  So, it is believed that, Rama has now expropriated the essential nature of Vishnu from Bhaargava Rama, while snatching the bow from his hands.  For this 'Padma Puraana' says: iti uktv˜ devŸ vaiÿõavy˜ þakty˜ tad gat˜y˜ saha | jagr˜ha vaiÿõavam c˜pam vinayena ca lŸlay˜ || 'oh, Devi Parvati, saying so Rama took away the Vishnu's  animus from Bhaargava Rama, along with the bow of Vishnu, sportingly and obediently, too...'  Thus, Rama of Dasharatha bade goodbye to his earlier incarnation, Parashu Rama, as two swords cannot be in one sheath.
         On lifting up the bow that is already fitted with an arrow on bowstring, Rama started to take aim with it, but feigned indecisive about the target, told Bhaargava Rama with an ire "Oh, Rama of Bhaargava, despite the fact that you are a Brahman I will have no compunction to  eliminate you, but because of your relationship with Vishwamitra, and because you are a venerable one for me, I am disinclined to release this arrow that could exterminate your life.

      Bhaargava-s are Brahman-s and a Brahman cannot be killed. Then how Rama was prepared to eliminate a Brahman, subjecting himself to the sin called 'Brahman killing...' brahma hatyaa paataka.'  There is no sin in eliminating a Brahman who wields weapons and warring.  'It is no sin to eliminate fathers, grandfathers, teachers, and the like [even if they are Brahman-s,] for they are under an illusion, called war...' So said Bhiishma to Krishna and thereby Panadava-s have eliminated Drona, Kripa, Ashvaddhaama and suchlike weaponed Brahman-s in war, but not in peace.  There are many more such sayings of Bhiishma.  Here Parashu Rama said that he will give a duel to Rama, hence he is no more a Brahman when he raises a weapon.  And he is a blood relation of Vishwamitra, and that corner of mercy is not allowing Rama to release the arrow on Parashu Rama. 
      "However this Vishnu's divine arrow is the conqueror of opponents' citadels, and a vanquisher of their vigour and vainglory, and as such it cannot fall through wastefully.  Oh, Bhaargava Rama, either this motility of yours at the speed of your mind, or even those unparalleled realms of heavens which you have earned by the power of your ascesis, I will eliminate whichever you wish." 
        Gods together with the assemblages of sages had come, keeping the Grandparent Brahma at their fore. Gandharva-s, apsara-s, siddha-s, caarana-s, kinnaraa-s, yaksha-s, sprites and reptilian beings had also come to see Rama who was now wielding the extraordinary longbow of Vishnu, and extremely amazing event that was going to ensue. 
      Then, when Rama was ready to take aim with the arrow on that inscrutable longbow, and when the worlds were being rendered as oblivious,  then that Rama of Jamadagni was rendered absolutely effete and he was simply staring at Rama of Dasharatha in a daze. 

      Vividly: When the aura of Vishnu available in Bhaargava Rama had entered Dasharatha Rama through that inscrutable longbow of Vishnu, Dasharatha Rama's aura dazzled like that of Vishnu, and that dazzlement of Vishnu's aura threw the world in a daze, and then that aura-less, thus vigourless Bhaargava Rama had nothing to do except to stare at Vishnu-like Rama, with upraised eyes. 

          Rama of Jamadagni was rendered enfeebled as his vitality was subdued by the radiance of Rama of Dasharatha, and he spoke to Rama of Dasharatha, slowly and softly   "Once, when I donated the entire earth to the Sage Kashyapa, Kashyapa told me 'uninhabitable is my domain, viz., this earth for you...' thus...

A donor cannot enjoy a gift anymore, once donated to the donee.   And if the donor still clings around that donation, it does not come under the true definition of 'donation.'   Hence, Parashu Rama is asked to depart from this world.   Hence he had gone to the ethereal mountain called Mt. Mahendra.

      "From that moment onwards I do not spend nights on this earth.   I, therefore would not like my motility impaired.   I will depart with the speed of our thoughts to Mt. Mahendra.  But I triumphed over matchless realms of heavens with my ascesis;  you may hash them up with that irreversible arrow.  I have realized your touch of nature as that of the Immutable Supreme Being, God of Gods, the Exterminator of the demon Madhu, namely Vishnu. 

      "All the gods who have come collectively are beholding you and your next move, for you are an unequalled one in your achievements and to whom there is no counter-dueller in conflicts...

Parashu Rama is hastening up Dasharatha Rama to finish business quickly, otherwise the nature of Rama and his incarnation will publicized, not by these two Rama-s, but the game watching gods.  If these spectators stay for a long time in the sky, some airborne demon will let the cat out of the bag.

      "Oh, Kakutstha Rama, you are the lord of the triad of worlds, such as you are, you faced me down, and it is malapropos to say that this is a disgrace to me.  I therefore request you to release that arrow now and I will depart to the ethereal mountain Mt. Mahendra, a point of no return for me." 

      Hearing that, Rama smiled and released that arrow.   And Rama of Jamadagni vanished in a trice to Mt. Mahendra, the heavenly mountain.

      On the departure of Rama of Jamadagni, that most glorious Rama of Dasharatha gave away that longbow of Vishnu into the hand of the inimitable Rain-god.


Friday, 14 December 2012

32. Legends of Shiva and Vishnu bows.

       "Oh, my lad, Rama!  I heard a lot of sensational news about you!  I heard that you smashed effortlessly Shiva's bow, and I also have heard about your other deeds, like elimination of Tataka et cetera.  I agree that smashing of that particular bow of Shiva is quite awesome and even unimaginable.  I have now brought another outranking bow.  This is the catastrophic bow received through my dad Sage Jamadagni.  Try to flex it with an arrow on the bowstring stretching up to your ear.  If you could take aim with this bow, then I grant that you are quite valorous and I would like to have a duel with you."
      On hearing that sentence of Bhaargava Rama, king Dasharatha became nervous, and with a downcast face,  adjoined his shaking palms asked him "Aren't you a Brahman with inviolable ascesis, and whose rancour on Kshatriya-s has calmed down long back?  Why this hostility again?  As my sons are quite young, you should rather award aegis to them rather than fight with them.
Vividly: 'peace is the primary object for Brahman-s... though that was once disturbed in you, you redeemed it after your eradication of the then ruthless Kshatriya-s... thus your rancour was appeased then... and then you peacefully retired for inviolable ascesis and acquired still higher bliss by them... do you now wish to violate your own intrinsic nature of peacefulness being a blissful one, being an all-knower, being an elderly Brahman, that too on mere boys...
      "Aren't you from the bloodline of Bhaargava-s who always conduct themselves in self-study of Vedas and self-principled ways... haven't you readily discarded weapon-wielding on your promise to the Thousand-eyed Indra...
Annex: 'how can you abrogate your own promise of 'astra sanyaasa'  i.e.'reclusion from weaponry...' by wielding a weapon now, and thus becoming yourself a self-critical personality, and thus making the entire Brahman-hood as a self-contradictory class...
      "Such as you were, you on becoming a dedicatee to probity, haven't you given the planet earth to Kashyapa and haven't you repaired to forests, and haven't you flagged yourself on Mt. Mahendra...
      Annex: 'if so, is this for showing the flag or else is it for keeping the flag flying... in anyway, it is inapt of you to eliminate the progeny of your own donee... Kashyapa... and if you say that 'I don't kill you all nonentities, but my target is this Rama...' then my reply will be like this...
      "Or, oh, insurmountable sage, have you chanced upon us for a total annihilation of ours... when Rama is singularized and eliminated, do you think that we all will be living..."
      Annex: 'should you leave off  Rama and eliminate rest of us all, Rama will not live... or, if you leave all of us and eliminate Rama alone, none of us will live... anywise it is an 'anywise' annihilation of ours... for I am still living for my Rama, and my Rama alone...'
      Bhaargava Rama did not care to listen to the ranting of Dasharatha and spoke to Rama
"These are the two strong and sturdy unsurpassed longbows, well-designed by gods and well-crafted by Vishvakarma, the Divine Architect, and these are very important among all bows and well-worshipped by all worlds.  One was broken in your hand, and the other is the one I am now holding in my hand.  Out of the two longbows, gods gave one to restive Trymbaka, God Shiva for a combat with the demon Tripura, the demon.  And you have broken that. This is the second one and the choicest gods gave this to Vishnu, thereby this is named after Him as 'Vishnu's bow...' this is an indestructible and enemy-citadel conquering longbow... and this is identical in its efficacy with Rudra's longbow.
      "Once, all the gods were asking the Grandparent, Brahma, as to who was more powerful between Shiva and Vishnu.  Brahma guessed the intent of the gods viz. to create adversity between those two, Shiva and Vishnu and to instigate a duel between them.  The Grandparent is the best stickler of truthfulness, as truth cannot be demonstrated on hearsay evidence.
     For your eyes only:  It is not quite clear as to how Lord Brahma managed to make Mahadeva and Vishnu fight a duel.  The following legend is, therefore concocted.
Begin Concoction.
      Legend: Brahma thought that it would be better to enact a drama to cleanse the one-sided mentalities of these lesser gods.  So, he produced the following script, and himself becoming the writer-director of that drama. That script is as follows:

Brahma: Mahadeva, who is the destroyer of Tripura, or say triple-citadels?
Shiva: Why? It is me, of course.
Brahma: Why do you boast that way of yourself?  Is it the long-arrow of your longbow?
Shiva: Yes of course.
Brahma: Then, how is that that Vishnu is said to be the presiding deity of that long-bow?
Shiva: Yes, it is he, but I shot it from my bow.  Hey! Is this a real confusion, or, are you playing like Narada?
Brahma: No Sir.  The other day Vishnu was telling that he alone did that master task.
Shiva: How can it be!  In the triple of doer-deed-instrument, instrument cannot become the doer... has his language gone topsy-turvy, noun is becoming verb and verb is lost to adjective and...
Brahma: Ok, Ok... we do not care much for grammar as we care more for communication;  grammar is PaNini's headache... but what he said was that he alone did it... not you...
Shiva: Then why I am called... why that longbow is given to me... you have got it done by Vishnu... you have unnecessarily spoiled my dance program...
Brahma: Not that... I said what he said... let's not quarrel ourselves...
Shiva: I not only quarrel but wage war, if it comes to my interests and my devotees' interest... how many times I have not done so...
Brahma: That is what Vishnu was telling... every time you gave a boon to every demon, and involved yourself enmeshed, and Vishnu had to come and rescue... 'has he forgotten the episode of Bhasmaasura...' thus Vishnu is saying and asking...
Shiva: Now I don't tolerate... I will take him to task...
Exit Shiva - Enter Vishnu.  Brahma reverses the above dialogue and says that to Vishnu
Vishnu: No, No, highly objectionable... I will take him to task... I will take him to task... 
End Concoction.                                                      
       "The animosity thus created by Brahma triggered a fierce and hair-raising duel between Shiva and Vishnu.
      "The 'hum' sound of Vishnu ruinously overpowered and the longbow of Shiva slipped, and the triple-eyed God, Mahadeva, was frozen.
      "Then gods became apprehensive.  They along with the assemblages of sages and celestial carana-s had come together and appealed to those two for appeasement in the matter of wielding authority, and then those two superior gods, Shiva and Vishnu, reconciled with each other.  On seeing the bow of Shiva rendered inert by the mettlesome Vishnu,  the gods along with the assemblages of sages deemed Vishnu to be the paramount.  Rudra became indignant and handed over that longbow, which was already fitted with unloosened arrow, to the sagely king among Videha kings, namely Devaraata.

      COMMENT: This longbow of Shiva is reported as given after the devastation of the ritual of Daksha Prajaapati, the father of Sati and the father-in-law of Shiva as said earlier: dakSa yaj~na vadhe puurvam dhanuH aayamya viiryavaan | This ritual of Daksha is a composite of many problems.  Shiva, either as god or as the son-in-law of Daksha was not invited to that ritual, Shiva's consort Sati self-immolated herself in  her father's ritual, Viira Bhadra and other deputies of Shiva depredated that ritual, and this shiva keshava yuddha 'duelling of Shiva and Vishnu...' happens... all to show - a single person's disinterestedness ruins even a holy marriage.  Here Daksha was uninterested to give his daughter Sati in marriage to Shiva.
End Comment.

      "Oh, Rama, this one is the longbow of Vishnu, and Vishnu handed over this to Sage Riciika, the son of Bhrigu.  That great-resplendent Sage Riciika on his part  handed over this divine bow to his son who is my father Sage Jamadagni.
       "Adhering to a barbarous mentality Kaartvaviirya Arjuna put my father to death, when the ascetically powerful father of mine had isolated himself from arsenal.  When I came to know of the unregenerate and highly perfidious murdering of my father, I rancorously extirpated Kshatriya-s as and when they are born, that too not for one time, but I did so for thirty-seven times going around the earth... and on getting the entire earth under my control I performed a Vedic-ritual, and at the end of that Vedic-ritual, I gave all that earth to the sage Kashyapa, a sage with divine soul and with pious observances, as a ritualistic-generosity... and I am at present on Mt. Mahendra practising ascesis and thus conjoined are the powers of ascesis in me.
      "On hearing about your breakage of Shiva's longbow, I wanted to meet you and here I am.  Oh, Rama, try to wield this supernatural and superlative longbow of Vishnu, which is passed on to me from my forefathers and my father.  Keep your fealty to Kshatriya-hood in view, and wield this as you have wielded Shiva's longbow. 
      "Take an aim with an arrow that conquers enemy's citadels, fixing it on this supramundane longbow... and  should you be capable of it, I will then give you a duel."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

31. Parashu Rama's arrival.

       Early morning on the next day saint Vishwamitra took leave of the kings Dasharatha and Janaka, and  Rama and Lakshmana and set out to the northern mountains, namely Himalayas.  Shortly after that King Dasharatha took leave of the king Janaka and left for Ayodya with his sons, daughters-in-law and the rest of his people who came to Mithila to attend the marriage of Rama and his brothers.
      It is needless to add that  King Janaka gave a lot of riches in gold, silver, pearls etc. to the brides.  Having given many kinds of bridal gifts and having accompanied his daughters for a distance, Janaka, returned to his own palace in Mithila.
      King Dasharatha, his sons and daughters-in-law and his followers were very happy and in a very high spirits while returning to Ayodya after attending the marriage of Rama and his brothers.  Suddenly  they noticed that all birds in the sky started to screech with startling voice from all around.  Dasharatha  was perplexed and asked Vashishta for a plausible explanation for this.
       The instinctual sage Vashishta said  "I can tell apart the result of these auguries.  The shrieks voiced by the birds are indicative of  the forthcoming providential and perilous trepidation, but their behaviour seems to tell that it can be tempered;  hence, there is no need for any consternation."
      Presently, a whirlwind started to whirligig there, as though to shake the earth and shatter all gigantic trees.  Murkiness enshrouded the sun,  a sandstorm enwrapped that army, by which it has become as though ensorcelled.  All, including Sage Vashista and King Dasharatha were in a daze.
      In that catastrophic darkness, that sand-muffled military of king Dasharatha had seen the son of Sage Jamadagni, namely Bhaargava Rama. He appeared calamitous in his looks by wearing tufted, matted and unruly hair on his head, an unassailable one like Mt. Kailash, an unbearable one like the Epoch-End-Fire, radiant with his own radiance, hence imperceptible for commoners, and such as he is, he clinched an axe on his right shoulder and clasped a bow in his left hand, that in simile is like a congeries of electro-luminescence, and handling an arrow which is as if ready to electrocute, and he vied in his overall look with the devastator of triple cities, namely God Shiva.
      He looked perilous in his propensity and flaming like the Ritual-fire.  Vashishta and the other prominent Brahman-s who were the practisers of meditation and fire-oblations had come together and started to susurrate, up and down.
      "Will he eradicate the race of Kshatriya-s even now as he was once envenomed by the murder of his father, or what... abated is his anger and alleviated is his frenzy previously when he eliminated Kshatriya-s... but is he really intending to eliminate Kshatriya-s once again, or what?" Thus, those Brahmans were talking among themselves.
      An account of Parashu Rama's elimination of Kshatriya clans is given in the 'endnote'.
      After their susurrus, the sages approached him, who in his very looks was like a visitation, with oblational water and addressed him with benign words of greeting like, "oh, Rama, oh, Bhaargava Rama..."
      On receiving the deference paid by the sage Vashishta and the other sages, that inexorable Rama of Jamadagni started to talk to Rama of Dasharatha.
End Note.
Parashu Rama
This Parashu Rama or Bhaargava Rama is believed as the sixth incarnation of Vishnu on earth, prior to Dasharatha Rama. The word parashu 'an axe...' is prefixed to this Rama because he wields a merciless axe.  His father was sage Jamadagni and mother Renuka.  This Jamadagni is the son of Sage Riciika, a Brahman, and he married Satyavati, the sister of Vishwamitra, a Kshatriya.  On a certain occasion Jamadagni doubting his wife Renuka's fidelity, ordered this Parashu Rama to behead her, which he promptly did; but Bhaargava Rama requested his father to bring her back to life.  Sage Jamadagni agreed and brought her back to life.  This is a kind of entrance test to Parashu Rama, and if he can ruthlessly kill his own mother he does not hesitate to kill any, in future.
      During their time, kings were cruel and homicide was rampant to achieve the desires of the throne, however ruthless it might be.  On another occasion when the sons of one Kaartviiryaarjuna sacrificed Sage Jamadagni as a sacrificial human, this Parashu Rama was frenziedly infuriated and started eliminating all of the enthroned Kshatriya bloodlines on earth.  That way he roved over the earth for thirty seven times eliminating Kshatriya-s.  He even cut off the foetuses in wombs of their queens, in order to stop the menacing progeny and offers the blood of the foetus as oblation.  And that blood became five streams called 'shamanta pancaka'.   Bhaargava or Parashu Rama practised insurmountable ascesis and appeased God Shiva, who granted him divine weaponry.  He was indomitable in archery and nothing was unknown to him in the art of archery.  Yet, he resorted to an axe to behead cruel kings, physically and personally, without depending up on a distant shooting arrow.  He is ciranjiivi 'long living being...'  Later when peace was established on earth, this Parashu Rama retired to penance but re-entered here to have a glimpse of Dasharatha Rama.  And the purpose and import of his entry at this place, is recorded in later chapters.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

30. Seetha's marriage with Rama.

       Dasharatha, after arriving at the visitorial palace made an impressive cow donations and initiatory rites.  He had a surprise visitor on that day.  Yudhaajit turned up.   Yudhaajit was the son of Kekaya king and the brother of Kaikeyi, thus was the direct maternal uncle of Bharata.    
      He told Dasharatha "My dad i.e. the King of kekaya sent me to Ayodhya to enquire about the well-being of all there.  All at kekaya are hale and healthy.  Actually my dad wants to see his grandson i.e. Bharatha and that is the real reason he sent me to Ayodhya.
      "On reaching Ayodhya I learned that you you had gone to Mithila along with your sons for their marriages.  It is but natural that I, the maternal uncle of Bharatha should attend the marriage of Bharatha.  And here I am."     
      King Dasharatha did not dislike Yudhaajit; he rather liked him.  Then on getting up in the next morning after the night rest, and on performing morning-observances, Dasharatha arrived at the hall of Vedic-ritual, keeping the sages in his forefront.
      Of course Rama accompanied his father together with his brothers, keeping sage Vashishta and other eminent-saints ahead of them.  After the usual ceremonies, all the bridegrooms were adorned with jewellery appropriate for the wedding time, and all had performed the auspicious ceremony for marriage-thread, conducted prior to the marriage and, all had thread-bands tied around their wrists, as they all have performed all  auspicious ceremonies antecedent to the marriage ceremony. 
      Then  sage Vashishta went to the marriage hall and told Janaka "Oh,  Janaka, having performed the auspicious marriage-thread ceremony, Dasharatha,  along with his sons is looking forward for the donor.
      "You know very well that in marriages all the puruSaartha-s, the component values of life, namely rightness, riches, revelries, and results of final release will be occurring only if the benefactor and beneficiary meet.  Hence let king Dasharatha come, and then on actualising this best marriage you too will be doing your duty as royal priest."
      Comment: Hindu marriage is not a contractual obligation because it protracts over seven life cycles of that couple. Therefore, it is calculated correctly and celebrated sacredly.
End Comment. 
       Janaka was not just a decidedly valiant king but was a profound knower of probity, too.  As he was also an unreservedly generous king, he had already made all arrangements, and when he was spoken in this way by Vashishta he replied "Sir, who is that doorman who dares to prevent your entry?  Or, for whose orders you all await with a bated breath?   Do you hesitate in your own house?  This kingdom is as good as yours.     
      "Oh, eminent-saint Vashishta, on absolutely performing the auspicious ceremony for the marriage-thread, and thereby tying thread-band at wrists my daughters have already arrived, and they are at the base of the Altar of Fire, like the irradiant jets of flames of radiant fire.  I am already ready and awaiting for you remaining at this Altar of Fire.  Let everything be done indeed without any deterrents.  What for the king Dasharatha is dawdling?"
       On learning the benevolent attitude of Janaka, King Dasharatha started towards marriage hall  along with all his sons, the assemblages of sages and his relatives.  King Janaka then requested Sage Vasishta to start the marriage ceremony.
      Sage Vasishta nodded and embarked on arranging Altar of Fire keeping sages Vishwamitra and  Shataananda afore of him.  He arranged an Altar of Fire in the midpoint of the cool-thatched manorial-marriage-shed, decorating it with sandal paste and flowers.  Then he promptly sanctified variously coloured handy vessels, and lid-like concave earthen vessels, which were full with just sprouted sprigs, and he sanctified other golden vessels, censers with fumes of incenses, conch-shell like vessels, and short handled wooden scoops for scooping oblatory items from vessels for putting it in long-handled scoops, and long-handled wooden scoops to drop those oblatory items into Ritual-fire, and vessels filled with oblatory items like ghee, water, milk etc., and vessels filled with toasted rice-flakes and vessels filled with holy yellow-rice duly treated with turmeric, and he sanctified all articles of wedding ceremony by sprinkling holy-yellow-rice, as a kind of dry-ablution (உலர்-சடங்கோடுகூடிய சுத்தி).
      Sage Vasishta along with the other assembled sages continued the marriage rituals accompanied by vedic Hymns.  King Janaka had the four brides brought to the marriage hall and they were duly married to the four brothers.  Rama married Seetha, Lakshmana married Urmila, Bharata married Maandavi and Shatrughna married  Shrutakiirti.
      There occurred rich and highly dazzling flower showers from firmament, and that ambience was filled with the drumbeats of divine drums and with vocal and instrumental music, and promenades of apsara-s danced, and even the gandharva-s sang tunefully, and because it was the marriage of celebrated bridegrooms from Raghu's dynasty.  In this kind of ongoingness of harmonious music of vocal, instrumental and that of dancers, those great resplendent brothers married their wives on circumambulating the Ritual-fire thrice.
      Then those legatees of Raghu went to their visitatorial-palace with their wives, followed by king Dasharatha along with the assemblages of sages, kinfolks, queens and wives included, and Dasharatha feasted his eyes on his sons and daughter-in-laws.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

29. Marriage alliance to Bharata and Shatrughna.

       On the conclusion of the speech of the king Janaka regarding his lineage, both the the sages Vishwamitra and Vashishta said "The Ikshvaku-s and Videha-s are unimaginably admirable and immeasurably distinguished dynasties.  There is no single king comparable to any one from these two dynasties.  We feel that the  marriage of Seetha with Rama and Urmila with Lakshmana would definitely enhance the  dynastic prestige and even it is befitting to the winsome charms of the brides and bridegrooms.
      "Oh, Your Majesty, we have some suggestion in this regard.  The pair of daughters of your younger brother, king Kushadhvaja are nonpareil in comeliness.   We, therefore, suggest that they may be paired off with Bharata and Shatrughna.  All these four sons of Dasharatha are dashingly handsome and unbelievably youthful looking, and they are equal to the four rulers of the world from four quarters, and their valour vies with the valour of God Vishnu.
       "Oh, Sir, what would be more befitting than the the impeccable dynasties of Ikshvaku-s and yours are  interlocked by these wedlock-s."
       Both King Janaka and his brother agreed to this suggestion.  It was agreed that the pair of Kushdhvaja's daughters, namely Maandavi and Shrutakiirti  were to be married to Bharata and Shatrughna, respectively.
       King Janaka then told the two sages "You two, oh, eminent-saints, have done an excellent and generous act in my respect, and I will ever remain in your debt.  I humbly beg of you to preside over these thrones, that of mine, my brother's, and that of Dasharatha.
      COMMENT: The kind deed done by the two sages, Vishwamitra and Vashishta, was fetching right husbands for his and his brother's daughters.  And this sitting on the three thrones is for assuming symbolic rulership on the three kingdoms, Ayodhya, Mithila and Saankaasya  in getting the marriages performed without a hitch.
End Comment   
       "As to how this city Mithila appertains to Dasharatha, in the same way the city of Ayodhya is mine, and there shall be no hesitancy for you two sages in governance on these three kingdoms, and it will be most appropriate of you to make the marriages happen as aptly as you can." 
      King Dasharatha totally endorsed King Janaka by saying  "Oh, Janaka, I could not have honoured the two sages better than you did.  I am absolutely in agreement with you.
      "Enjoy that blessedness!  Let safe betide you! We now depart to our visitorial palace, and we shall customarily carry out the tributary rituals." 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

28. Janaka's lineage detailed.

       On hearing the Sage Vashishta's naration about the lineage of the king Dasharatha, Janaka reverentially and unpretentiously replied with  folded palms  "oh, sage, I already have heard about the lineage of the great King Dasharatha; but it was quite more impressive when heard from your mouth.  Now let me tell you all about our lineage which, you will find, is not less distinguished than that of the King Dasharatha.
      "Sir, you know that it is the normal custom that he who is born in a particular noble lineage has to inform about his parentage in its entirety, especially when he offers a bride.  With your permission let me tell about our lineage.
      "Once there was an emperor called Nimi, who was renowned in all the three worlds by his own accomplishments.  And his son was named as Mithi, and Janaka (the first one to be named as Janaka) was Mithi's son who begot Udaavasu.  From Udaavasu it is Nandivardhana, and Nandivardhana's son is named as Suketu.  From Suketu, Devaraata was born, and from Devaraata, it is Brihadratha who took birth. 
      "From Brihadratha it is the highly brave, courageous and valiant Mahaaviira, and the bold and truth-valiant Sudhriti from Mahaaviira.  From Sudhriti, the right-minded and highly generous Dhristaketu took birth, and from Dhristaketu it is highly renowned Haryashva.   Haryashva's son is Maru, and Maru's son is Pratiindhaka, and the son of Pratiindhaka's is the noble-souled king Kiirtiratha. The son of Kiirtiratha is remembered as Devamiidha, and the son of Devamiidha is Vibudha, and Vibudha's son is Mahiidraka.  Mahiidraka's son is the great mighty king Kiirtiraata, and the son born to the king Kiirtiraata is Mahaaroma.  From Mahaaroma it is the virtue-souled Swarnaroma, and from Swarnaroma it is Hrasvaroma.
      "Two sons were born to Hrasvaroma.  I am the elder, and my younger brother is this brave Kushadhvaja.  My father Hrasvaroma anointed me in the kingdom as I am the elder, and vesting the duty of looking after Kushadhvaja in me, he departed to forests. 
      "On the departure of our aged father to heaven, I have been looking after my very dear brother Kushadhvaja with greater fondness.  Then, after sometime, a king named Sudhanva came from his city Saankaasya with his mighty army to Mithila demanding 'The unexcelled bow of Shiva' along with my most dearest daughter, Seetha.
       "I refused both and he started a war with me.  He lost the war and his life.  I have anointed my brother Kushadhvaja in the kingdom of Saankaasya   I offer my elder daughter  Seetha to Rama, and Urmila, my second daughter to Lakshmana in marriage.
      "My daughter Seetha is the bounty for bravery and in simile she is the daughter of the divine Providence, and thus the second one Urmila too. 
      "Oh, king Dasharatha, let the preceding ritual of marriage be started."     

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

27. Ikshvaaku's lineage detailed.

       On the next morning King Janaka told his royal priest(ராஜகுரு) sage Shataananda  "My younger brother  Kushadhvaja is ruling from the auspicious city  Saankaasya, which, you know is a  city surrounded by the River Ikshumati as a natural moat, where an army of able soldiers are stationed and guarding all around.  My brother presides over that city as if he is sitting in the Pushpaka Viman of the richly-rich god Kubera.  The waters of the River Ikshumati would taste like the sweet sugarcane juice. That apart, the city is surrounded by the plantations of citrus grapefruits that are famous for health keeping.
      "I wish to see him, as he is the nominated benefactor of this Vedic-ritual of mine, and he too shall become a rejoicer in partaking the joyousness of this marriage"
       Comment: Kushadhvaja supplied a whole lot of paraphernalia for this Vedic-ritual of Janaka from his auspicious city Saankaasya, and hence he was the benefactor of the ritual.
End Comment.
        On hearing that, Shataananda summoned some competent envoys whom Janaka briefed suitably and ordered to proceed to his brother's place.
      On arriving in the city Saankaasya those envoys went to the  king Kushadhvaja and informed him of  what happened at Mithila about Rama's breaking of Shiva's bow. Then they conveyed  the point of view of Janaka regarding marriages of four daughters.
     COMMENT: The viewpoint of Janaka was to offset the problem of marriages of both the daughters of his brother Kushadhvaja.  Dasharatha had four sons and Janaka conceived  a quadruple alliance with him, where Janaka had two daughters and his brother Kushadhvaja had two.
End Comment.
       King Kushadhvaja proceeded pronto to Mithila as desired by his brother Janaka.  Both the brothers with unlimited refulgence, after assuming their high seats at the court of the King Janaka, sent for Sudaamana, one of the distinguished ministers and told him "Oh, minister plenipotentiary, please proceed immediately to the king Dasharatha,  and invite him, his sons and his Vedic-celebrants to come over here."   Accordingly Sudaamana went to the King Dasharatha and told him "Your Majesty, His Majesty,  the sovereign of Mithila from the heritage of Videha kings is poised for seeking an audience with your Majesty with all your sons and with your Majesty's  royal-priest Vashishta and other mentors."
      King Dasharatha, along with his kinsmen and the assemblages of sages came to the place where Janaka was.  He then addressed the King Janaka  "Oh, exalted king Janaka, you already appreciated that this godly sage Vashishta is godlike to the bloodline of Ikshvaku-s, and in all our affairs he is our friend, philosopher and guide.  If the Sage Vishwamitra, along with all the other great sages present here give their assent, this equanimous Vashishta will narrate about my bloodline, lineally."  And, to the nod of Vishwamitra, Dasharatha fell silent and then the godly and sententious sage Vashishta started to chronicle the bloodline 
      "The timeless, changeless and imperishable God Brahma, begot  Mariichi, and Kaashyapa was the son of Mariichi, and the Sun was begotten from Kaashyapa, and Manu is said to be the son of the Sun.
      "Manu is the earliest Prajaapati and Ikshvaaku was the son of Manu, and that Ikshvaaku was the first king of Ayodhya.  The son of Ikshvaaku was the legendary Kukshi, and the famous Vikukshi  was the son of Kukshi.  From that most brilliant and courageous Vikukshi, Baana emerged as son, and the highly refulgent and valinat Anaranya was the son of Baana. Pruthu was the son of Anaranya, and Trishanku was Pruthu's son, and the highly renowned Dhundumaara happened to be the son of Trishanku.  Dhundumaara begot a highly glorious and a speediest charioteer Yuvanaashva as son, and Mandhaata emerged as the son of Yuvanaashva.
      Comment: Some read the name Yuvanaashva or Yavanaashva as a title of Dhundumaara.
End Comment.      
      "Maandhaata engendered the highly noble Susandhi as son, and Susandhi fathered two sons, namely Dhruvasandhi and Prasenajit.  From Dhruvasandhi, an illustrious one named as Bharata was begotten, and Bharata begot a highly effulgent son named as Asita.  Kings like Haihaya-s, Taalajanghaa-s, and the valiant Shashabindu-s have become adversaries  and kings in hostility to Asita, and  he had to wage a war with them.
      "Unfortunately Asita was defeated and dethroned and then he reached Himalayas along with his two wives.  Asita, with his meagre forces in Himalayas drew nigh of his Time there.  At the time of his demise both  his wives were pregnant, and one of the two wives administered toxic food to the other for abortion; it is however, not clear who poisoned whom.
      "There was a saint named Cyavana, the heir of Sage Bhrigu, who in fascination with the best and the beautiful mountains of the Himalayas, took shelter there.  One of the two wives of Asita came there desirous of a best son, and reverenced the sage who was godly in his glow.  Another queen Kaalindi had  also come to the sage, and she too reverenced him.  That sage spoke to her who received poison from her co-wife regarding the birth of her son.
      COMMENT: There are variations in reading these lines.  While some say that Kaalindi is one who 'gave' toxic food to her sister, while some others say that Kaalindi is the one who 'received' the poisoned food. Here taking the kaalindi ca 'Kaalindi also...' it is said that 'Kaalindi is one who administered poison...' Since she is also pregnant, coupled with the guilt of poisoning, hence the use of ca, she too came to the sage.
End Comment.
      " 'Oh, highly fortunate lady, a very good and a very mighty son is there in your womb.  Soon you will give birth to a highly vigorous and refulgent son and that illustrious one will take birth with toxicity, but there is no need to worry.'  On reverencing Sage Cyavana, that queen gave birth to a son who became Sagara, the emperor.
      Parable: When king Asita passed away, his queen and this Sagara's mother wanted to commit self-immolation, but this Sage Cyavana dissuaded her from it, and took her to his hermitage.  When she gave birth to Sagara, Sage Cyavana reared him up and taught him all of the archery (aagneya astra Fire-missile etc.), kingcraft and scriptures.  When Sagara asked for the details about his father, Cyavana told him all the legends of Asita and his conflicts with yavana-s, and shaka-s.  Sagara became furious at Haihaya-s, Taalajanghaa-s, and the valiant Shashabindu-s, warred  with them and drove them out of the country.  While doing so, Sagara made yavana-s tonsured, shaka-s or so-called Scythians, as half-tonsured, and paarada-s as shaggy haired ones, thus stripping of their Kshatriya-hood.  Taking the nearness of name paarada to Persia, it is said that the kings repulsed by Sagara taken domicile in the Middle East and a aaryan or a aa riaan is Airan or present day Iran, and age-old are Indo-Iranian links.  Further, the word Asia has its own nearness to the name of king Asita.
      "From Sagara it is Asamanja and from Asamanja it is Amshuman, and from Amshuman it is Diliipa, and the son of Diliipa is Bhageeratha.  From Bhageeratha it is Kakutstha, from Kakutstha it is Raghu, and Raghu's son is the great resplendent Pravriddha, who was reduced to a human flesh eater, and he is also known as Kalmashapaada;  and from him, i.e. Pravriddha, Shankana was born.
     COMMENT: This Pravriddha was really a great king in this lineage, but somewhat arrogant.  So, at one time he was subjected to the fury of Vashishta and became a man-eating demon.  But he too got his mystic powers.  When he was trying to issue a counter-curse to Vashishta, by taking water into his hand, his wife Madayanti dissuaded him to not to counter the all-powerful Vashishta.  He, on listening to his wife, dropped that water taken for cursing, onto his own feet.  Then his accursed water blemished him via his feet.  Hence, he is also termed as Kalmashapaada.
End Comment.
      "Shankana's son is Sudarshana, and from Sudarshana it is Agnivarsna.  And Shiigraga was the son of Agnivarsna, and Shiighraga's son was Maru and from Maru it was Prashushruka, and Ambariisha was the son of Prashushruka.  Ambariisha's son was Nahusha, the emperor and Yayaati is the son of Nahusha, and Naabhaaga was born to Yayaati.
     COMMENT: These names Nahusha and Yayaati also occur in other Puraana-s, indicating them in earlier eras to Ramayana period.
End Comment.
      "Aja was Naabhaaga's son and from Aja, this Dasharatha is manifest, and from this Dasharatha, these brothers, Rama and Lakshmana are born.
      "Oh, King Janaka, it is thus evident that from the beginning this bloodline of Ikshvaaku-s is spotlessly immaculate, immensely impeccable, indomitable, and irreproachable, and in respect of these kings born in this line of blood, oh, king Janaka, I espouse that it will be meetly of you to offer your seemly daughters to this seemly pair of Rama and Lakshmana." 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

26. King Janaka seeks the consent of King Dasharatha for the alliance.

     Those envoys sent by the King Janaka, entered the city of Ayodhya in the shortest possible time.  On reaching the palace they were permitted an audience with the king Dasharatha, and when they were conducted into his chambers they saw the elderly king Dasharatha gleaming like a god.  Seeing such a godly Dasharatha, the angst of all the ministers (of King Janaka) completely evaporated; and all of them adjoining palms in reverence saluted him.
     COMMENT:Because Dasharatha was caught in the tomfoolery of Kaikeyi, he should not be estimated as an inane personality.  It was their domestic cold war.  He was famous for his achievements and he fought wars on behalf of  gods. Though Valmiki does not narrate Dasharatha's exploits, other scripts say a lot about them.  Hence, whenever Rama's daring, dashing, swashbuckling are to be pictured, he is normally referred to as 'Dasharatha's son.  That is the reason why the angst of the envoys is said in this verse as 'vanished' just by a glimpse of that godly personality, which hitherto haunted them as to how to countenance such a powerful personality they had heard about so much.
End Comment.
      They then addressed the King conveying the compliments of the King Janaka, who directed them to enquire his wellbeing etc.  Then they informed him about the arrival of the Sage Viswamitra at Mithila, with Rama and Lakshmna; Rama's braking of the Siva's Bow.  They described how Rama wrecked that divine bow at its central point before a grand assembly of people, that Seetha was the bounty for bravery, etc.  They informed Dasharatha that their king asked them to seek, on his behalf, his (i.e. Dasharatha's) consent for the alliance.  They also informed that keeping his royal priest Vashishta and other teachers ahead of him, invited him to come apace to Mithila.  They further added "Thus the sovereign of Videha kingdom said these endearing words, abiding by the counsel of the Sage Shataananda.  We have further been directed to inform Your Majesty that Sage Vishwamitra is in full  agreement to the proposal."
      King Dasharatha was highly pleased on hearing that message from the delegates.  It was then decided to leave for Mithila the very next day.       
      On the following dawn, king Dasharatha in the presence of his teachers and relatives told his minister Sumantra  "Now let the chancellors of exchequers draw ample riches, gems and numerous other items that are used in the marriage from bridegroom's side, all-inclusively, and let them travel in advance and let them be well-prepared for any exigency.  Let the quadruple forces start off in a trice from everywhere at my order, and others shall start with excellent vehicles like palanquins, sedan chairs, litters etc., and with those that can be yoked with horses, like cabin-coaches and horse-carriages.
     COMMENT: The fourfold army is generally taken as horses, elephants, chariots, and foot soldiers for the word 'chaturanga balam', while some say such an army is moved only when a massive combat is contemplated, but not when going to marriages.  However, some say though army is moved, it is as much as required.  But this word also qualifies as chaturanga balam= dhana, kanaka, vastu, vaahana sampatti, the quadruple opulence, namely 'riches, gold, equipage, and vehicles...' where opulence will be the only show in Indian marriages, either of poor or rich. R. C. Dutt comes near to this when telling in his poetic version: 'Ride in front with royal riches, gold and gems in bright array'.
End Comment.  
      "Let our prominent and celebrated Bhrahmans Vashishta, Vaamadeva, Jaabaali and Kaashyapa, and the long-lived Maarkandeya, and Sage Kaatyaayana...  travel in forefront,  and let horses be yoked to my royal-cariole.  As the messengers of Janaka are hastening me, arrange for the travel in a trice without any time lapse."
       Then the party moved.
       Dasharatha reached the fringes of Videha kingdom, with all pomp,  and on hearing this, the king Janaka arranged for appropriate welcome ceremonies at the outskirts of the city.

     COMMENT: These formalities are still prevalent in marriage functions, in one way or the other, in India, esp. rural India. The bridegroom's party will be received at the outskirts of the bride's place, esp. if it were to be a village, then a small function/ceremony will be held laudatory to the bridegroom, and then they are invited into that place of bride like, 'meet a party halfway...' type protocol. This is other than baraat 'matrimonial pageantry...'
End Comment.     
      The delighted, gratified and happy king Janaka  welcomed the King Dasharatha by saying "oh, king, a hearty welcome to you.  Your arrival to my city is just by my providence.  You will now get delectation on seeing your sons who won accolades just by their valorousness in the act of raising and breaking Shiva's bow...

      COMMENT: Though Rama alone broke the bow of Shiva, both Rama and Lakshmana are said to have done it. This is a common unified laudation used for both of them, in view of their inseparable brotherhood, and such a sort of commingling both, for one person's action, can be heard often.  For e.g., when Lakshmana misshapes Shuurpanakha, Rama is said to have done it, and even both are said to have done that act.
End Comment.
      "Providentially bechanced is the arrival of this great-resplendent and godly sage Vashishta, who arrived here with all these eminent Brahmans, is like Indra himself with all gods.
      "Providentially my hindrances are overcome by the arrival of godlike sages, and providentially my lineage too is gloried owing to this hymeneal engagement with Rama, who is the most valorous among all the valorous people...
      "Because you are born in the first and foremost Ikshvaku dynasty, you are the Indra of Indra-like kings on earth... and hence, it will be apt of you to initiate the celebrations of marriage tomorrow, and the marriage itself after the culmination of the Vedic-ritual in three or four days, and the date and time for the marriage, that which is agreeable to the best sages can be decided, and you can get it performed on that date, through those great sages."
      King Dasharatha replied "Whatever you say, for you are the knower of probity and nothing goes amiss in your astute thinking."
      King Janaka was very pleased to hear that. 
      COMMENT: Usually the bridegroom's party will be stiff-necked at least till the marriage is over, which has become a nuisance practice in Indian marriages. Here Dasharatha was telling the opposite, by which his words were viewed as agreeable to righteousness of marriages etc., and for which Janaka was surprised.
Eng Comment.    
      Then  Rama, following Vishwamitra, and strutting in step with Lakshmana, strutted to touch the feet of  his father Dasharatha.  On seeing his two sons, King Dasharatha was highly rejoiced and he stayed in Mithila with a high contentment, for the reverence of Janaka was that high.
      Even the great-resplendent Janaka on performing ritual acts according to scriptures for the Vedic-ritual on hand, and the preparatory rituals for handing out both of his daughters in marriage, went into the sleep of the just, with his palm on his chest.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

25. Rama handled Siva's bow.

        On listening to the words of Janaka, Vishwamitra told the king "let the bow be displayed to Rama."  Then king Janaka ordered his men to bring the bow.
       An eight-wheeled coffer in which the bow of Shiva was ensconced, was being tugged by five thousand tall men of illimitable energy.  They somehow tugged it with great difficulty and positioned the same in front of the king and his illustrious guests.
       King Janaka addressed the Sage "Here is that exquisite bow, oh, Brahman, which is held as a time honoured bow by the lineage of Videha kings.  So far, no king or prince or anyone from the assemblages of gods, inclusive of demigods, demons, gandharva-s, yaksha-s, kinnaraa-s, or reptilian demigods, is capable enough to handle this bow.  They could not even lift it!
      "Oh, eminent-saint, such as it is, this nonpareil bow among all bows is now brought in, as desired by you.   The two princes can have a look at it."
      On hearing these words, Vishwamitra looked at the King and smiled.  Then he turned to Rama and said "oh, boy Rama!  You may see the bow."
      Rama went to the box and opened the lid, and saw the bow.  Then he turned to Viswamitra and said  "Sir, I wish to get a feel of this supreme bow."
     "Go ahead" said the saint and the king to Rama in chorus.  Rama then bend a little, grasping the bow at the middle hand-grip, playfully grabbed the bow and lifted it as if it was a kid's bow.
      Then Rama tied the bowstring for the bow effortlessly to the utter astonishment of thousands of men witnessing it.
     COMMENT: A bow has a definite height and it has a measure of length, from ages and at least up to the period of  Kautilya, who gave many accounts for its weight and measure, in his 'Artha Shaastra' a Penguin re-publication.  Four aratni-s cubits are one dhanu, a bow-length, where one aratni is about 18 inches, thus a bow-length would at least be 6 feet and a little above, taking the standard height of a archer as six-feet.  The bow's height is the height of the archer plus one measure of his head's height, as the upper end has to tower over the archer's head.  That being so, as this bow belongs to Shiva, its height should be more than the human measure of 6 feet;  it must be some 8 to 10 feet.  And 'Rama was a no crane-legged boy, as his physique is said to be of 'medium' size, and then how a boy of say, about five and a half feet tall, could catch the upper end of 8-10 feet bow to bend it.'  This has become a point for debate.  One explanation is as follows: an archer has to stand the bow on ground, clutch its lower end under big toe, and with one hand, he has to bend it, and with the other he takes the bowstring to string the other end;  he is not supposed to handle it like a holdall or a briefcase;  for this point of view, it is explained in a way that the poet is using the adjective mahaatmaa to Rama, ' an unfathomable one with an equally unfathomable soul... inasmuch as his duty is concerned...';  the minute he touched the bow, it became a spongy stick and it obeyed him and bent as he wished. Q.E.D. It can also be argued that  Rama was an ambidextrous archer and furthered  his skill by his acquisition of some divine missiles from Vishwamitra.  Hence, his dexterity was multiplied and he can handle any divine or human bow 'effortlessly...'  Double QED.
End Comment.
        When he started to stretch it (i.e. bowstring) up to his ear to examine its tautness, the bow broke in the middle.
      COMMENT: The bow was not broken by itself because of its oldness or dryness; it can be assumed that it was a deliberate action by Rama for breaking it, just like any young boy who is apt to damage/break any toy while playing with it.  He stretched the bowstring so long until it broke. The bow was broken in the middle, not at either end, but at handgrip.  This shows the strength of his palm to handgrip.  Probably Rama wanted to show all as to how strong he was.
End Comment.
      When the bow was breaking, it produced an explosive sound of a thunder, and the earth trembled like that happens when a mountain was exploding. 
      Hearing that raucous sound produced when the bow was braking, all the people, save Vishwamitra, king Janaka,  Rama and Lakshmana, swooned.  While the people were being recovering from the shock, king Janaka, with surprise, confusion and embarrassment addressed the Sage Vishwamitra with a reverent palm-fold "Oh, godly sage, the gallantry of  Rama is evidently seen... and the whys of this boy and wherefores of his stringing that massive bow are unimaginable to me!  More so, a human lifting it!  How so?  And breaking it! This is a highly amazing, awesome, miraculous, staggering, stunning, surprising and marvelous experience for me... My daughter Seetha on getting Dasharatha's Rama as her husband, will bring celebrity to the lineage of Janaka-s...     
       "Oh, Kaushika, my commitment that she is the bounty of bravery has also come true... and my daughter Seetha is a worthy bride for Rama... Sir, if you agree,  my ministers will go immediately to Ayodhya  and seek, on my behalf, the consent of the King Dashratha and others, for this matrimony...

      [It appears that the King Janaka was thinking that  'This boy appears to be straight from the shoulder type, and he may now say  "no, no, I just wanted to see and feel the bow, but that poor old bow is broken in my hand, but I have never said that I will marry your daughter without the consent of my father... and I am supposed to marry whomsoever my father ties down my neck..." knowing him to be such, I want to send proposals to Dasharatha at Ayodhya, that too if you say yes...']

      "With their observant submissions those ministers will narrate in detail about the sincere endowment of Seetha as bravery's bounty to Rama, and they will lead king Dasharatha into my city that observantly... Those ministers will also tell the king Dasharatha that both the Kakutstha-s, Rama and Lakshmana, are under the aegis of saint Vishwamitra, and thus gladdening that king they will expeditiously usher in king Dasharatha for marriage..."
      Vishwamitra agreed, of course.

Monday, 8 October 2012

24. Legend of Shiva's bow.

     The following morning King Janaka, after finishing his morning time rites, came to Viswamitra and asked him whether he would like him to do anything in particular for him.
     Viswamitra replied "These two sons of Dasharatha are eager to see that marvellous bow.  You may show the same to them.  After seeing that bow these two princes will leave this place." 
      Janaka replied Vishwamitra "Firstly, let me tell you as to how that  bow came to my possession.  There was a king renowned as Devaraata, sixth one from Nimi, the originator of our lineage, and this bow was handed down to him for custodial care by none other than the God of All Gods, viz. Shiva.
     "Once, after the devastation of the Vedic-ritual of Daksha Prajapati, the mettlesome god Rudra, outstretching the bowstring of this bow, said with rancour to all gods, superciliously...
      " 'Oh, gods, whereby you have not apportioned my portion of oblations in the Vedic-ritual s, as I too, am quite eligible for such portion, thereby I intent to shred the highly revered heads of all of you with this bow.' 
     "Then all gods were mightily dismayed, and on their earnest supplication, Shiva, the God of Gods relented and gave that bow to all the gods.  They in turn gave it to our ancestor Devaraata, for custodial care.
     "Later, when I was ploughing the ritual field then raised by the plough from the furrow was a baby girl.  Since she was gained while consecrating the ritual-field, she is named as Seetha.
     "Hers is a non-uterine birth as she surfaced from the surface of the earth.  I fostered her as my own soul-born girl and I determined to giver her in marriage to a bridegroom whose boldness is the only bounty I will receive in that marriage.
Comment: 'Dowry is property or money brought by a bride to her husband' and this is prevalent throughout the world.  In ancient India, there was a counterpart custom to this, called kanyaa shulkam meaning 'some bounty, property or money offered by a bridegroom's family to the bride's family' since they are getting a worthy bride, coming into their family, not just as a mere wife of the bridegroom, but to upkeep and promote that family and its progeny.  And this dowry or its counterpart is not compulsorily be paid in hard cash, but it may be any kind of gifts mutually exchanged, which has slowly developed into a mega havoc in the present days.  Here Janaka wants the 'valour' of his prospective son-in-law as bounty due to him in the marriage of Seetha.
End Comment.
      "When my daughter Seetha  grew up to a very beautiful girl, many kings, having heard the beauty of  Seetha,  had besought her.   But I strictly told them all, that she would be given for a bounty of boldness alone.  Then all the kings convoked and arrived Mithila and wanted to know how I was going to judge the calibre of the bounty.  I told them that whoever can string the bowstring of Shiva's bow can marry my daughter.
     "The bow of Shiva was brought for them, but none of them was able to joggle it, or even to catch hold of it.
      Comment: This bow of Shiva had to be transported on a wheeled casket-cart with eight wheels and drawn by five thousand robust persons.  This is narrated in next chapter. 'It is drawn by five hundred bulls...' 'aananda raamayana' says so.  In other versions of Ramayana, it is said that many people will pull that casket-cart, as one or two persons cannot haul it.  Once, when Seetha was playing with other girls, their flowery ball of girl's rugby goes under this cart.  None of her girlfriends was dare enough to go near this bow-casket-cart, since it was a reverential casket-cart.  But Seetha goes there and pushes that casket-cart aside with her left hand, as though it is a garland, and retrieves that flower ball.  This capability of Seetha in easily handling of Shiva's bow, becomes a bane to her, when one among the wives of sapta R^iSi 'Seven Sages...' issues a curse to Seetha, saying that 'Seetha will be separated from her husband for some time, of course, for the good of people...' So says the tradition.
End Comment.
      "I declined to give my daughter's hand to any one of them.  They, in a blind fury, thought it was a calculated insult to them.
      "They surmised  that they were brushed off  by me, and as such with a high rancour, siege and try to strangle the City of Mithila with their army.  That continued for over a year and the situation was very grim for me and all my subjects and all of us were anguished.
     "Then I prayed the assemblages of gods by my ascesis and they were very pleased and gave me fourfold forces.
Comment: The four components of army are foot soldiers, cavalry, elephant-squadrons, and chariot-warriors.
End Comment.
      "Then their army could not match the one sent by the gods; their army was broken, and they beat a hasty retreat.  Oh, Sir, this is that supremely radiant bow, and oh, saint of sacred vows, I will show it, even to Rama and Lakshmana.
      Comment: Here by the use of the words 'even'  Janaka was reckoning Rama and/or Lakshmana on par with other kings who had tried their hand in lifting it.   As of now, Janaka was not admitting any supremeness or super-humanness to them.  In Janaka's asking at verse 4 'what can I do next...' etc., Janaka was wondering as to why this Vishwamitra brought some boys on this long a route, that too by foot.  But he was not yet self-assured of Rama's capability or otherwise.  Hence, the next verse starts with the clause 'if'.
End Comment.  
      "If Rama twangs the bowstring of that bow, I will offer my daughter, to Dasharatha's Rama."
        'Aananda RaamaayaNa' has an interesting story about the birth of Seetha.  Once there was a king named Padmaaksha who wanted Lakshmi as his daughter.  On performing Tapas, Vishnu appeared and gave him a fruit called maatulunga phala, and a girl emerged from out of that fruit, and she was named as Padma.  She was so beautiful that all kings wanted to possess her.  All of them waged a war with Padmaaksha and ruined his entire family.  Padma, however jumped into fire and self immolated herself.   But, Vishnu's maaya came out of the altar of fire and started  meditating.   Ravana saw her and wanted to abduct her.  Of course, she is otherwise said to be Vedavati in other texts.   But again, she entered the fire altar and reduced herself to ashes.  Even then, Ravana searched in those ashes for her.  In there, he got five diamonds of high quality.  He returned to Lanka and kept those diamonds in a casket and jovially presented them to his wife, Mandodari.  When Mandodari could not lift the casket, Ravana lifted it and opened its lid, as he lifted Mt. Kailash.  When the casket was opened, Mandodari found a baby girl in it and recognised her to be Goddess Lakshmi.  Then they consulted their teachers about that baby's arrival.  Those teaches wishing good for Ravana, advised to get rid off this girl immediately, for she was Goddess Lakshmi, arrived here only to end Ravana and his dynasty.  Then Mandodari ordered his servants to carry away this baby in a casket by an aircraft and get rid of it.
      But Ravana rushed after the girl with a sword.  Mandodari pacified him and told him "Why purchase a later time death now itself at the hands of this baby... let that casket be buried..." Ravana agreed.  Mandodari also cursed this girl saying, "this faithless girl, [for wealth is unfaithful,] will thrive only in a house, where the householder has his senses conquered, and who being an emperor lives like a perfect hermit, and who though wealthy and supreme by himself, will care nothing for the riches but view whole of the world and people as his own soul, with an impartial attitude..."  Thus this casket is buried in the fields of King Janaka's empire by demons, clandestinely.  Mandodari thought that such a person is an impossibility to take birth in this mortal world, to foster this buried girl, and thus presumed her curse to be twisty.  But there is King Janaka with all the above attributes.  A king without ego, wealthy but living simple, childless, yet does not crave for one, like King Dasharatha.  Hence, he is called raajarSi a saintly king.  Seetha's birth is to be limitedly understood, as said by Janaka in this chapter.  Otherwise, the nuances about the birth of Seetha are to be viewed through the viewfinders of mythologies, legends, and above all, through the viewfinders of tradition... but not in the vast of epical poetry, as Valmiki himself has undocumented it...