Wednesday, 13 November 2013

101. Rama meets the Sage Agastya.

            Entering the hermitage Lakshmana looked around and noticed one young rishi who obviously seemed to be one of the disciples of the the maharishi Agastya and who seemed to be somewhat free. Lakshmana approached him with due deference and told him "Rama the eldest son of the king named Dasharatha has come along with his wife Seetha to see the maharishi. They are waiting outside. I am his loyal, dedicated, and adherent younger brother named Lakshmana. I wish to see the maharishi, too. Could you please inform him about us?"
             That guy nodded and went in. On hearing the news
from the disciple the maharishi said "O! It is lovely they are here now ! I have been yearning for this, and after a long time it has actually happened. Go immediately and make welcome to Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha, and bring them here pronto. You should have brought them in already."
            Hearing the mild admonition that disciple was perplexed and went out with a sour face. He told the waiting Lakshmana with added politeness "Where is this Rama? All of you are hereby cordially invited straight to the sanctum sanctorum of his holiness.
            Rama, Lakshmana and Seetha entered inside the hermitage and saw therein thsanctums of Brahma, Agni, Vishnu, Indra and various other deities.
                  Then encircled by disciples the maharishi Agastya came out and Rama saw him glowing brilliant. On seeing the brilliantly glowing maharishi, Rama fell prostrate at his feet touching them reverentially. His wife and brother followed suit. The maharishi blessed them and asked them to get up and  take their seats. 
            The maharishi then sat opposite to Rama and received all his three guests in the proper way. He then told Rama "You are the king of all the worlds, the treader in the path of righteousness, great charioteer of probity, the venerable and estimable one and now you now are my dear guest." He then offered them fruits, tubers, flowers and others with ardency.
            When the maharishi was quite satisfied that his guests were well and properly fed, he made a sign to his disciples who brought a bow and some armories. The maharishi offered them to Rama saying "This is a sacred bow which is decorated with gold and diamonds was crafted by the divine architect Vishvakarma for Vishnu, and these arrows equaling sun in their blaze are the gift of Brahma. These two quivers packed with inexhaustible arrows that have the blaze of Ritual-fire, and this sword together with its sheath made up of excellent gold were once given to me by Indra. By this bow, oh, Rama, once Vishnu eliminated the horrible asuras in a war and brought back radiant prosperity to the devas.
            "The bow, these two quivers, arrows, and the sword have been kept for you. Please take them and wield them to triumph over the asuras as Indra would wield Thunderbolt."
           Rama took them, of course.
           The maharishi continued "Rama, I am extremely happy that you, with Seetha and Lakshmana have come to see me.
           "I see that the sojourn in the forest has taken its toll for both Lakshmana and you. The strain is evidently much more for Janaka's daughter, Maithili. She is delicate and not used to such discomfort or distresses. Yet as a dutiful wife she followed you to these highly detrimental forests.
           "Even though it is needless in your case, I as an elderly brahman advise you to ensure that Seetha gets whatever delights her in these foests for the reason that she has done an impossible deed in following you to forests, an impossible deed for womenfolk. In general all wives devote themselves to their men in good fortune, but leave them off in ill fortune.
          "But the wife of yours is devoid of all those stigmas, an exemplary and an estimable lady, like Lady Arundhati.
          "Wherever you, with your brother and wife decide to stay in these forests, that place shall be glorified." 
            Rama replied the maharishi "Sir, I am extremely happy to note that you are pleased with us. I am yet to decide a suitable place to stay in these forest. I will be mightily obliged if you could suggest a suitable place where there is no dearth of water in these forests, where we can reside happily and self-composedly in the hermitage that we will be erecting there." 
            Sage Agastya after pondering over the question for a while said "A most prosperous place called Panchavati will be highly suitable for you. It is about two yojanas away from here. It is abundant with tubers, fruits, water, and many deer. All the three of you will be highly delighted with that place. That apart you will be complying the decreed order of your father, too.
          "There Maithili will be delighted by the River Godavari. And it is very reclusive too. Incidentally you can safeguard the hermits while residing there.
          " You have to proceed north of this great forest of lovely trees you are seeing, and advance towards a banyan tree. Then on climbing up an upland a mountain is seen, that which is also not far away, and that renowned Panchavati is there in an ever blooming forest in the valley of that mountain." 
          Rama thanked the maharishi for the suggestion and left for Panchavati after offering  veneration at the feet of that sage.

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