Monday, 30 April 2012

4. Viswamitra drops a bombshell

     When Viswamitra was only a few feet from the gate, King Dasaratha ran to him and fell at his feet (probably saying Abivadhaye) and welcomed him very effusively.  Then the king led his most distinguished guest to the special chamber reserved for such persons.  All the cabinet ministers and his guru Vasishtha were already there.  When everyone were seated comfortably, refreshments and drinks were served.  After finishing the eats and drinks, that highly righteous sage Vishvamitra enquired the king after the well-being of city, exchequer, rural areas, friends and relatives.  Sage Vishvamitra then asked Dasharatha, "Are all of the provincial kings acquiescent to you, and all your enemies conquered?  Are you properly performing the devotional and social works?"  These formal enquiries made the king feel better.  The sage was not angry with him!  It was quite a relief! 
     king Dasharatha replied  "My answer is YES for all your questions, Sir.  I would like to add that I am indeed blessed among men. Your coming can only be due to the merit of my ancestors.  Like the morning sun that dispels the darkness of night, your face brings joy to my sight. My heart is full.  Born a king, you have become through tapas a BrahmaRishi.   I am sure that you have not come to me for enquiring about me and my kingdom!   Whatever you require from me, Sir, the answer is 'double yes'.   Please, therefore, command me.  I will be immensely pleased to obey."
     Viswamitra nodded and replied with a smile "O King, your words are worthy of you.  Born in the Ikshvaku line, with Vasishtha for your Guru, what else could you say?  You have said 'yes' before I asked.  This fills my heart with joy."  After placing a lot of ice on the head of the king, he straightway explained the purpose of his visit.
     That was a real bombshell.  King Dasharatha was stunned and seemed completely paralysed. 
     What Viswamitra said was "I am engaged in performing a sacrifice. As it nears completion, two powerful Rakshasas, Maricha and Subahu, defile it.  They shower unclean blood and flesh on the sacred fire.  Sure we have the power and authority to curse and destroy them.  But that would be a waste of all our tapas-battery.  
     "We need a real hero to fight these Rakshasas and kill them.  Rama, the eldest of your warlike sons fits the bill splendidly.  Under my care, he will grow further in princely stature.  He will surely defeat these Rakshasas and his name will gather lustre.  Entrust Rama to my care only for a few days.  As you have already promised to fulfill my need, you cannot refuse to send Rama with me now.  Of Rama's safety you need have no anxiety. You will earn undying fame in the three worlds.  Vasishtha and your ministers will agree to what I say".
     It was a bolt from the blue for Dasaratha.  He could not breathe.  He begot his sons after so many years and with so much difficulty.  All his sons were darlings for him, and Rama was the darling of darlings.  I thought this guy Viswamitra will ask some money or something like that.  I never thought that he will ask Rama to go with him to fight Rakshashas.  My God!  What am I to do now?  Let me try my best.  He said "Sir, Rama is after all a boy of less than sixteen years of age.  He does not have any real fighting experience.  How can he fight with Rakshasas?  Of what use is it to send him with you?  What does he know of the wiles of Rakshasas?  All the worlds will laugh at me if I send a mere lad to fight them.  Instead, my entire army is at your disposal for fighting the Rakshasas.  You know, Sir, I have a lot of experience in fighting against other kings and Rakshasas.  If you so desire, I personally can come with you, with my entire army, to fight and kill the Rakshasas."
      "My dear chap, do you take me for an idiot?  Do you think that I do not know that Rama was not yet sixteen?  You know very well that I was a king myself and I was very competent and experienced in fighting enemies, humans as well as rakshashas, quite successfully.  Did it not occur to you that there is some solid reason for asking Rama for this purpose?   You have already promised to give me what I want.  Are you going go back to your promise?"
     Dasaratha begged Viswamitra with folded hands not to ask for Rama.  "Other than that I will do anything you want" he said.
     "Is this your final word?" demanded the sage.
     Dasaratha nodded nervously.
     Despite his white beard, Viswamitra's face was seen to become red.  Everyone in the hall felt the tremor of the earth.  Viswamitra said calmly with a steely voice "This conduct is unworthy of your lineage. Tell me if this is your final word, I shall go back the way I came. Long may you live with your kith and kin, having swerved from the path of Truth!"
     Vasishtha now decided that it is time for him to intercede.  He, therefore, turned to the kind and spoke gently: "It ill becomes you, King, to refuse having promised once.  Born in the Ikshvaku line, you cannot do it.  Having once said, 'I will do', you have no option but to do it. Failing, you will lose the merit of all your great gifts and deeds.  Send Rama with the sage, and send his alter ego brother Lakshmana too. You need have no fear for their safety. When they are protected by Viswamitra, no Rakshasa or anybody can hurt them.  You have no idea of Viswamitra's power;  he is tapas in human form.  Bravest of the brave and wisest of the wise, he is master of every weapon.  In the three worlds there is not, and there will never be, any to equal him in martial or spiritual prowess.  When he was king he obtained from the gods mastery of all weapons.  He beholds the past, the present and the future.  Then why does he want the princes, you may wonder.  He can well take care himself of his yaga; but it is for the good of your sons that he has come here and appears to seek your help.  My guess is, he is doing this at the behest of Gods.  Do not hesitate. Send your sons with him."
     After listening to Vasishtha, Dasaratha agreed half-heartedly to send his sons Rama and Lakshmana with Viswamitra.
     The two princes and the concerned two queen-mothers were sent for and informed of the decision.  The princes quickly prepared for the journey.  With the blessings of their parents, guru Vasishtha and all elders they started with Viswamitra to have some training, under the tutelage of the Sage Viswamitra on the actual fight with enemies.  bonne chance.

1 comment:

  1. Not much twist and your humor this time! Where do you get those beautiful pictures?