Thursday, 31 October 2013

95. Rama meets the Sage Sharabhanga.

             The going was not found to be smooth. It made Rama remark This forest is more impassable than the ones I have come across. As we are not forest inhabitants the going is more tough. Let’s try to walk a bit faster to get quickly to that ascetically rich sage Sharabhanga."
             After some laborious and strenuous walk, they sighted the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga, a sage with a divine effect and the one with a purified soul. All the three exclaimed "Oh!!!" on  seeing a great wonder near the hermitage of Sharabhanga.
            They were seeing a god like person, with a radiant body that had the coupled radiance of Sun and Fire, mounted on a great chariot that did not touch the earth, wearing greatly brilliant ornaments and attired in spotless dress, while the other persons, obviously divinities, were attending, and many more selfsame great-souls were worshipping him. Rama saw that the chariot was yoked with green horses traversing in the firmament, which in its splendour was either like the noontime sun, or a cluster of silver clouds, or like the silver sphere of the moon. Rama correctly guessed that the person on the chariot was Indra, himself.
          Rama then noticed the stainless parasol of Indra, marvelously garlanded and shining forth, and the exemplary and invaluable royal fanning instruments with golden handles, which two most exquisite female celestials were handling and fanning the either side of Indra's head with them.
          And the celestials like gandharvas, amaras(=devas), siddhaas and very many great sages as well were extolling Indra who was abiding in the firmament. The three noticed that Indra was speaking to the sage Sharabhanga. Rama then told his brother  “Lakshmana see this wonderful chariot that includes effulgence and auspiciousness as well, and that abides in the firmament, and highly luminous like the Sun. Don't you remember our teachers telling us about the horses belonging to Indra, the Chief Invitee in Vedic rituals. See these divinely green horses that now abide in the firmament. Definitely these must be Indra’s horses.
             “And look at those hundreds and hundreds of men around Indra looking magnificent, glitzy, splendid and youthful with their ear-ornaments and swords in hands, with wide and broad chests, with club shaped arms, and clad in glimmering red garments, all look like tigers, unapproachable, wearing ornamental chains on their chest-place that are akin to flaring fires, and in their appearance they all bear a look of a twenty-five years old. They must be devas.
           "The age factor of devas remains constant at the age that appears for these nice-looking men, so they say. For devas are immortals and they will look young. Stay for a moment Lakshmana along with Vaidehi, until I know clearly about that resplendent one on that chariot."  Rama then moved towards the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga.
            On seeing Rama approaching them, Indra  bade farewell to the Sage Sharabhanga and then told the devas attending him "Here comes Rama. He cannot talk to me now. I will talk to him at the appropriate time".
            Then Indra vanished with his chariot pulled by the green horses. 
Comment: Vishnu is said to have instructed all the divinities to not to talk to him during his human incarnation on earth as Rama. If any divine being comes into direct contact and conducts a dialogue, Rama's identity as Vishnu will be revealed, and Ravana will comprehend that and then would seek to get his boon modified viz. not to be killed by any divine being or a human. Ravana can be ended only by Rama, but not by others. Hence, Indra departed from there before the arrival of Rama.
End Comment.           
            Seeing that Indra did not care to see him, Rama went back to his wife and brother and all the three proceeded to the hermitage of the Sage Sharabhanga, whom they saw sitting nearby the altar of fire.
            Entering silently the trio paid  appropriate homage to the Sage Sharabhanga.  As bid by the sage they sat in front of him. Seeing from the expression on the faces of his visitors, the sage told smilingly "Oh! Rama, Indra came to take me to Brahma's abode, where I have made a reservation by my arduous ascesis.  But something in me nudged me that you are coming to see me. I therefore declined to accompany Indra for the time being.
Comment: Sage Sharabhanga, with the power he got from his ascesis came to know that Vishnu(in human guise as Rama) was coming to him. As receiving Rama in his hermitage was more important for him than going to Brahma's abode he declined to accompany Indra. The sage obtained the power to go to the Satyaloka anytime. But seeing Rama, who is now a human incarnate, with his own human eyes was the foremost priority for that Sage. Secondly, ascending to heavens with mortal body is an impracticable affair - Remember the Trisanku episode? - Hence the mortal body is to be cast off here only. If that mortal body is cast off, as per the extant rules, the sage's mortal eyes cannot see Rama. After going to Brahma's abode one (even a sage like Sharabhanga) cannot return as an earthling. Hence seeing and receiving Rama was his topmost priority now.
End Comment.
          "Oh! Rama, I feel so happy to see you. I hereby offer you all that I have achieved by my ascesis and penance. This will be much more gratifying to me than the Brahma's abode achieved by me."
Comment: The sage is dedicating all his achievements of penance unto god, without any ahamtva buddhi , mine-ness. This is called phala samarpaNa. The fruits of pious achievements are to be dedicated in the divine without the concept 'I am the doer thus I shall enjoy...' Even in the daily worship we are supposed to dedicate all that we have done, with oblating water saying ' karomi yad yat sakalam parsmai naaraayaNaayeti samarpayaami... ' i.e. Whatever is done, in all its entirety, I dedicate it unto the Supreme...' And Govindaraja observes, whatever that was acquired by the sage was his wealth. So the heavenly abodes were his only wealth as of now, and they all were surrendered to Rama, as guest-worship.
End Comment.              
              Rama replied with a smile " Thank you Great Saint. I think that I can gain all those worlds myself by doing my duties scrupulously. I now seek a place to dwell here in this forest. I request you to suggest a place for that."
              Sage Sharabhanga replied "I think that you should approach the sage Suteekshna for this purpose." The sage then explained as to how to reach the hermitage of the sage Suteekshna.
             Then the sage looked at Rama and requested him to stay for some more time till he sheds his human body and goes to Satyaloka.
Comment: Sage Sharabhanga actually said, "eSha panthaa naravyaaghraH" meaning that 'this is the only recourse, oh, manly-tiger.' Here Rama asked Sage Sharabhanga to show a place to dwell. Sharabhanga's hermitage itself will now become vacant after the sage's ascension to heavens. But it was not shown to Rama to stay; instead yet another distant place was shown. All these Sages and Saints pointed only one path that Rama, Seetha and Lakshmana had to travel, i.e., towards Ravana, the evil on earth. From here they were directed to Sage Suteekshna's hermitage, there from to Sage Agastya's hermitage, and there from, to still deeper place in forests, called Panchavati. According to Kaikeyi's demand, Rama need not travel this far, but could have resided in some near-about forests of River Ganga. But one after the other, either rakshashas who became celestials or sages who were going to become divinities, all usher Rama southward, i.e., towards the dominions of rakshashas, whom Rama had to eradicate from earth. 'If Rama were to go into Panchavati, a powerful dominion of rakshashas like Khara and Duushana, alleging their loyalties to Ravana, it is definite that an encounter will ensue and Rama will start eradicating one after the other, and ultimately ending with Ravana.' This appears to be the concerted unspoken agreement of all the sages. As such Rama was asked to go on travelling towards the evil side of the earth, for all of the sages know about Rama's destination.
End Comment.             

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