Tuesday, 15 October 2013

89. Rama leaves Chitrakuta.

             A few days after Bharata left him, Rama noticed that the sages there were not quite at ease; they seemed to be perturbed and anxious. He enquired the sage whom others treated as leader "O venerable sage! I fear that the conduct of my forefathers is not seen in me or there is some change for the worse in me, due to which the ascetics seem to feel agitated. Has my younger brother, Lakshmana, through inadvertence, behaved unworthy of him in the presence of the sages? I hope that Seetha, who is serving you does not, I am afraid, behave properly, according to the conduct suitable for women."
             The sage, who was elderly both by age and penance replied "O, dear Rama! What is there for us the ascetics to fear above all from Seetha, who is natural in her disposition and is the follower of virtue?  I have not found anyone who was more courteous, polite and humble than your brother Lakshmana.  It is on account of the rakshashas who, through enmity to you, have begun to oppress us. Alarmed by it, they discussed per se as to how they can best defend themselves.
             "The rakshasha called Khara, Ravana's cousin, who is a boaster, victorious in battle, cruel and eater of human flesh, haughty and sinful, having uprooted all the ascetics who dwell in Janasthana, is unable to endure you, too. From the time you came to dwell in this hermitage the rakshashas started to ill-treat the ascetics.
             "They appear in grotesque, fearful and diverse forms, and possessing ugly and unnatural demeanor. Flinging filthy and inauspicious objects on some of the ascetics, the wicked rakshashas stand in front of them and kill some ascetics too. Getting into the hermitages unnoticed, those evil-minded rakshashas delight themselves in destroying the ascetics there.
               "At the time of pouring oblations into the sacred fire, they scatter the sacrificial vessels, sprinkle the fires with water and break the water-pots.
               "Due to these reasons the ascetics today are urging me to go to another area. O, Rama! Before those wicked beings start doing more harm to the ascetics, we plan to leave this place.
              "Not far from here, there is a colourful grove yielding many roots and fruits. We plan to move over there. Khara, the rakshashasa will behave unjustly with you in the same way. I suggest you come along with us from here. O, Rama! Even though you are highly competent and ever watchful, I am afraid that there a danger for you, too, for the reason you live with your wife. Your stay here is not advisable."
             Shortly afterwords the sage along with a host of others greeted, bidding farewell to Rama, departed. Accompanying them for a distance from that place, bidding farewell to that group of sages, offering his salutation to that ascetic, the leader of the community and taking leave of them, Rama returned to his dwelling. From that moment, Rama did not leave even for a moment that hermitage that had been deserted by the sages. 
             After the departure of the bulk of the sages, Rama, after a very careful consideration came to the conclusion that to remain in that place would not be sagacious for many obvious reasons. He decided to go to that forest which his mother Kaikeyi wanted him to go, to wit Dhandaka forest. Rama along with Seetha and Lakshmana left that place for the Dhandaka forest.
           On the way was the hermitage of the sage Atri. Rama offered salutation to that sage who was very much pleased to see them. He then called his wife Anasuya, who was revered by one and all told her "You welcome Videha's daughter!" and then told Rama "O, Irreproachable Rama! I am unable to resist boasting about the most laudable act done by my wife. When the earth was burnt up by drought without break for ten years, this virtuous woman produced fruit and roots, caused the River Jahnavi to flow here, undergoing a rigid mortification enriched by pious observances, by whom the most severe asceticism was practised for ten thousand years and obstacles were done away with and by whom for the reason of a divine command, in a great hurry ten nights were reduced to one night.* This Anasuya is like a mother to you.

*We find in Puranas how sage Mandavya once pronounced a curse against a hermitess, Sandili by name, who was a friend of Anasuya that she would be widowed one morning within the next ten days. The hermitess in her turn pronounced a counter-curse saying that there would be no dawn any more. Alarmed at this, gods approached Anasuya, who by virtue of her asceticism converted the period of ten nights into one and in this way averted the death of the husband of the hermitess, and accomplished the purpose of gods.

              "Let Seetha find refuge with that ascetic, who is revered by one and all, famous as she is and  is ever free from anger."
             Seetha after getting a nod of approval from her dear husband, circumambulated around Anasuya. Seetha coolly and reverently paid homage to that great Anasuya, a devoted and virtuous wife, who was feeble, wrinkled, aged, with her hair turned grey due to old age, and whose frame constantly shook like a banana tree in a storm. Seetha introduced herself, by announcing her name to Anasuya. Saluting the irreproachable ascetic the rejoiced Seetha with joined palms enquired about her well-being. Anasuya told Seetha "Luckily enough, you are attending to righteousness. O, Seetha the beautiful lady! Thank heaven! Leaving your relatives, honour and prosperity, you are accompanying Rama, who is expelled into a forest. Highly fortunate worlds await those women, to whom their husband is dear, no matter whether he lives in a city or in a forest; whether he is sinful or virtuous. To women of noble nature, the husband is the highest deity no mater whether he is ill-behaved or licentious or devoid of riches.
O, Seetha! On a reflection, I perceive none who is a better friend than a husband, who protects his wife in all circumstances, like the imperishable fruit of one's austerities. Those evil women, whose hearts follow their passions and conduct themselves dominating their husband, having no understanding of virtue and vice, do not follow him in the aforesaid manner. O, Seetha! Surely, those evil women, who get into an improper act of authority over their husbands reap infamy and decline in righteousness. Women, like you, on the other hand who are endowed with virtues, who look with detachment on prosperity and adversity in this world, therefore dwell in heaven as those who performed meritorious deeds. Thus devoted to your lord, loyal to your husband, following established rules, you become an honest wife to your husband and obtain merit and renown."


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