श्री राम अवतार
Sage Narada met sage Valmiki one day. Valmiki asked Narada to tell him about a perfect man in every respect. Narada cited the example of Rama who was then ruling Kosala. He described Rama as an ideal man and also told elaborately about the benevolent reign of Rama and went away.
Subsequently as sage Valmiki was on his way to the river for his ablutions, Brahma, the creator, met him and asked him to write the story of Rama in that particular rhythm that was just then in Valmiki's mind. Brahma granted the sage the mental vision to see things connected with the life of RAMA by himself.
That was how Ramayana was born.
Dasaratha, a descendant of Ishvaku dynasty ruled over Kosala. He ruled the country well without giving room for any criticism. The country was very prosperous. Everyone was happy. Dasaratha has three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi but none had any issues. Dasaratha wanted a son and heir to the throne. On the advice of his family preceptor Vasishta the King performed a special sacrifice and with the result four sons were born to him.
They were Rama, to Kausalya, Lakshmana and Satruguna to Sumitra, and Bharatha to Kaikeyi. They grew well, were brought up well, were educated well both in the vedic lore as well as martial arts.
As Rama attained the marriageable age the king had consultations with Vasishta about the marriage of his son. Just then sage Viswamitra was announced and the king welcomed him with due formalities. At the request of the king, Viswamitra said "O! King Dasaratha! My sacrificial activities are disturbed regularly and wantonly by the Rakshasas and I have come here to take Rama to be of help to me." The King though unwilling at first, accepted to send Rama and his brother Lakshmana with the sage on the advice of his Kulaguru (family preceptor).
On the way to the forest Viswamitra taught Rama several mantras (incantations) and astras (missiles).
On reaching his hermitage the sage instructed the princes as to their work and said that any rakshasa whether a male or female must be put an end to when they appear to disturb and spoil the sacrifice. Rama killed first Thataka, a Rakshasi, then Subhahu. The third was Maaricha whom Rama did not kill but dropped him in the far of sea near Lanka through an Astra. Viswamitra successfully completed his sacrificial work.
These sages perform such sacrifices (Yaga and Yagnas) not with any selfish motive but only for Lokasangraha (solidarity of the world) and Lokakshema (happiness and prosperity for the world).
Mithila was the capital of Videha kingdom ruled by the Rajarishi Janaka. Janaka had a daughter Sita by name. There was a great Bow with Janaka who had proclaimed that whoever was capable of lifting and stringing the bow would be the husband of Sita. Viswamitra knew this. But without telling anything the sage took the brothers to Mithila. King Janaka welcomed Viswamitra and the two young princes. After introducing the two princes as the sons of Dasaratha of Ayodhya, Viswamitra requested Janaka to show the wonderful bow to the princes so that they might see them.
Janaka said, "The bow, you know, I have made a promise that whoever is able to manipulate it, should be the husband of my daughter, Sita. I may mention here that hundreds of Kings and Princes tried to manipulate the bow previously but all of them failed miserably - some not able even to lift it." The bow was brought - carried by number of men. Rama saw it and with the permission of his Guru and King Janaka took it with ease. Everyone there held his breath and looked on with intense expectation.
"But they only saw him take the bow
they only heard it snap".
Rama and Sita were married. On the same day the other brothers too were married to different princesses connected with Janaka's royal family.
The bridal party returned to Ayodhya. On the way ParasuRama challenged Rama. The moment Rama accepted the challenge Parshuram's glory was absorbed into Rama's.
Dasaratha after consulting his preceptors and the elders called for a general council and with the common consent of the Yuvaraj. This was acclaimed by all wholeheartedly. He ordered that the preprations for Cornation of Rama might be begun at once.
As the arrangements were going to Manthara (Kooni) a confidential maid of Kaikeyi went to her queen and said, "O! Queen! Why are you relaxing here so calmly when a big misfortune is going to overtake you?" (Manthara had some grudge against Rama). To the question of Kaikeyi what she meant, Manthara said that Rama was to be installed as the king and from then Kausalya alone would become important and Keikeyi would go the background. Kaikeyi did not like the very idea. She pleased that Rama was the proper person for that post and things were going on according to the rules and regulations of the Solar Race. After a prolonged discussion the queen fell a prey to that evil minded servant maid.
As per the advice of the maid, Kaikeyi was able to bring round King Dasaratha to her thinking with great difficulty and it was decided that Rama should be exiled for fourteen years and Bharatha to be installed as Yuvaraj. Rama was informed of this by mother Kaikeyi. Rama said without the least change in his face "Mother, I will go to forest immediately. I am not enamoured of regal life. Know me, dear and revered mother, to be equal of sages rooted in Dharma".
Rama at once took permission from everyone and left for the forest in obedience to his parents' words. Sita as the wife of Rama and Lakshmana as his brother and personal attendant would never like to part with Rama. So they too followed Rama to forest.
Bharatha was not in Ayodhya at that time. Soon after the marriage of the four brothers, Bharatha left for his grandfather's country along with his maternal uncle who came to the marriage of the four princes. All these happened in Bharatha's absence.
In the meanwhile, King Dasaratha, not able to bear the separation of his darling son Rama, died.
Immediately Bharatha was sent for. Having understood the facts that led to such a catastrophe in the royal family Bharatha took his mother to task very severely uttering the following words. "O! Enemy of mine, in the guise of a mother! Do thou enter fire or go into the Dandaka forest or hang yourself. No other fate befits thee."
Then, he performed the funeral rites of his father and left for the forest with a large entourage consisting of soldiers, preceptors, elders, the elite of the town and the three queen mothers. On the way he met the good Guha and learnt about Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. Then he met Sage Bharadwaja who advised him not to get emotional. He impressed on Bharatha that what all happened was not due to any human agency but everything took place as destiny would have it. The sage himself showed Bharatha the way to Chitrakoota where Rama was camping at that time.
It was not very difficult for Bharatha to find out the Parnasala of his brother Rama. He saw from at a distance Ram and Sita seated in the hut and Lakshmana standing at the gate with bow in hand. Bharatha ran and fell at the feet of Rama and was able to say 'Brother' and nothing more. Only continuous sobs were heard by Rama. Rama at once helped Bharatha to rise and embracing him asked "Why this ochre dress when you are the king of Kosala? How is father?" Bharatha in the midst of sobs said, "Father is no more." At this Rama swooned and slowly gained his composure.
After everyone calmed down Bharatha said, "O! foremost of men, according to the norms and conventions of our Solar Race primogeniture has been followed strictly till now. So when the eldest is alive no younger brother could become King. Please come back, occupy the throne that is yours and rule the country".
All the sages, ministers, veterans, nobles and even common people entreated Rama to change his mind. But Rama was steadfast.
After prolonged arguments with Rama, Bharatha begged Rama "O! Custodian of Dharma atleast give me your sandals." He could not continue further as his throat become choked with emotion. It was then decided by Vasishta an others that Rama would give his sandals as requested by Bharatha, that Bharatha would be his deputy for fourteen years and after returning from the exile Rama would take charge of the kingdom.
Bharatha brought the holy sandals placed them on the throne and ruled the country in the name of the sandals, not from Ayodhya but from Nandigram a place on the outskirts of the town of Ayodhya.
Rama now planned to leave Chitrakoota and visit various ashrams. He did so. While visiting the ashrams he met many sages. All of them blessed Rama and told him how they were harassed by the unscrupulous rakshasas and requested Rama to save them from their onslaughts. Rama in turn promised them that he would help them willingly.
Hearing such promises made by her husband, Sita one day mildly asked Rama how he was right in killing the rakshasas who had done him no harm. Rama replied that the sages lived and did everything for the sake of humanity and there was no selfishness in them. When such good and virtuous people surrendered and entreated him to save them from the atrocities of the demons he had given word to them. Having given a promise he would be the last man to go back on it. He said, "I am prepared to sacrifice you, Lakshmana and myself too, to fulfill my promise to the selfless sages".
On the way he visited many sages. The great sage Agastya was one of them. Agastya suggested that Panchavati would be an ideal place for Rama's further stay. So Rama did.
Panchavati may be taken as the starting point for certain developments. This area was occupied by Surpanaka the sister of Ravana of Lanka. Her other two brothers Kara and Dooshana along with their 14,000 followers were also in that area. They were all in all there. Surpanaka one day by chance came to the hermitage where Rama was staying. On seeing these three beautiful human beings she was stunned. She wanted to marry Rama. On his refusal she wanted to devour Sita. Then Lakshmana mutilated her by cutting off her nose and ear. This coupled with her disappointment in her love affair, made her report the matter to her brother Ravana. She said "Brother listen. There are two men and a lady in Janasthana. The two men are very beautiful; they are as valorous as they are beautiful. As soon as Kara and Dooshana saw my condition they ran with the fourteen thousand warriors to wreak vengeance on the two naras (human beings). But the elder, single handed, killed Kara, Dooshana and all the 14,000 rakshasas there. The lady is really superb. Even Rathi Devi will have to hang down her head before her. I tried to bring her to you and you see my nose and ears. This is the result. Is it an insult to me or to you? What you should do now is to go and somehow make her your own." Saying so she wept bitterly.
Ravana without a second thought went straight to Maaricha and ordered him to take the form of a attractive deer and go and play before the parnasala of Rama. Maaricha took the shape of a golden deer and dis so. Of course not willingly, for he was conscious of the power of Rama and he also knew the fool-hardy nature of Ravana. Sita saw the dear and wanted Rama to get it for her to play.
As fate would have it, Rama went behind the deer, of course placing Lakshmana to guard Sita in his absence. After a while they heard the words "Ah Sita, Ah Lakshmana!!" It was exactly in the tone of Rama. This, Maaricha did according to the instructions of Ravana.
Sita was confounded, became highly agitated and asked Lakshmana to go to the help of his brother. But Lakshmana said that she need have no such fear about Rama. Sita was adamant and uttered certain very cruel and poignant words against Lakshmana. Lakshmana could not bear the force of her words and went to save his brother leaving her alone.
As Lakshmana disappeared from the scene, there came a mendicant with the words "Bhavathi Bhikshaam Dhehi".
A Sanyasi should be respected and so Sita respectfully gave him a seat in the hut. After a few minutes she understood it was Ravana and inspite of her protests the cruel Rakshasa picked her up and away went his aerial car (Vimana) with her.
On the way Jatayu the great eagle king saw it and wanted to arrest Ravana's Vimana, but Ravana cut the bird's wing and proceeded. While the aerial car was passing over Rishyamukha Hill Sita saw four Vaanaras on the hill. There she dropped a part of her saree and some of her jwels in the hope they might be useful sometime for Rama and Lakshmana to trace her whereabouts.
The cruel Raksha took her to Lanka and placed her in the Asoka grove (AshokVatika/Asokavanam) under strict vigilance, having failed to make her consent to become his queen.
In the meanwhile Rama was returning after killing Maaricha when he met Lakshmana half way. He was taken aback and when Lakshmana told him the circumstances under which he has to leave Sita alone and go to his help. Rama took his brother to task and hastened to the cottage only to see it empty.
A vigorous search began. They went about the forest to find out Sita. On the way they saw Jatayu. Jatayu was just holding his breath to inform Rama about his encounter with Ravana. He told Rama everything with great difficulty. Then he died. The brothers now knew that Sita was abducted by Ravana. They went on and on and at last came to Rishyamukha mountain, directed by Kabanda, a headless rakshasa to meet Sugreeva who alone would be able to help Rama in finding out Sita. Here Hanuman met the Ikshawaku brothers. Hanuman having heard their story said in turn that his King Sugreeva too was in the same predicament, having lost his wife and having been turned out of the kingdom by his brother the valiant Vaali. Sugreeva was introduced to Rama and they took the vow friendship. Sugreeva said "I saw Ravana carrying a damsel who was crying 'Rama, Lakshmana, save me.' She dropped a piece of garment and some jewels. Shall bring them for your identification". Then he brought them. Rama asked Lakshmana to identify them. But Lakshmana said, "I cannot identify her bracelets nor have I seen her ornaments. I can only recognize her anklets as I have daily saluted her feet".
Just at the same time in the Asoka grove Sita's left eye throbbed suggesting something good. Simultaneously in the Lanka Ravana's left eye throbbed and in Kishkinda Vaali's left eye throbbed violently foreboding evil.
Then according to the mutual understanding arrived at by Sugreeva and Rama, the latter promised to help Sugreeva and make him the King of Kishkinda and also retrieve his wife. In return Sugreeva prompted to help Rama to find out Sita and help him in every effort.
Vaali was killed as promised by Rama. Sugreeva was made the King of Kishkinda.
Now on his part Sugreeva sent four batches of Vaanaras towards east, west, north and south and strictly ordered that they should finish their search for Sita in a month.
The parties that went to the east, west and north returned empty handed. Rama and Lakshmana became downhearted and lost their balance. Sugreeva comforted them saying they should wait until the party from the South returned.
The party that wen south searched every nook and corner of the land, forests, mountains, villages and towns but could not find any trace of Sita. Proceeding further in this work they reached the Southern tip of our great land and sat on the shore. All were down-hearted. Angada, the son of Vaali was the leader of the party while Hanuman and the great bear Jambavan were also members of the party. Now Angada spoke, "Friends we have done our work thoroughly and sincerely. We have miserably failed. I, as the leader of the party, am not prepared to go back to Kishkinda empty handed. In fact I would like to kill myself here and now. Are we in anyway inferior to Jatayu the king of eagles who had sacrificed his very life for our Rama? All the others began to speak something when they heard someone calling them, "Friends". They turned round and saw a big eagle slowly crawling towards them. The eagle said, "Friends, I heard the word Jatayu being mentioned. May I know how you came to know of my Jatayu?" Then Angada told everything to this bird. The bird, now continued. "My name is Sampaathi. We eagles are bestowed with very keen eyesight. We are capable of pinpointing things at great distance. If what my brother told in Lanka". So saying he slowly crawled up a small hill and from its top looked keenly towards Lanka for some time. Then he came with great joy and told them. "Matha Sita is there in the Asoka Vana alive, sitting with head bent down, in a most sorrowful mood, with a while but dirty dress, with her hair disheveled and her lips moving as if muttering something. Don't waste time. Someone of you go to Lanka and surely you will come out successful".
As the great bird finished saying this his legs and big wings grew up to the wonder of all the monkey there. Sampaathi took leave and left.
Now the great problem how to cross the vast sheet of water and reach Lanka arose. It was not a short distance. It was nearly 800 miles of water. No one was found fit for this hazardous work. The experienced brain of the great bear Jambavan came to the rescue. He went to Aanjaneya who was sitting a little away from the crowd in a very sorrowful and pensive mood.
Jambavan said, "Aanjaneya you are the son of Vaayu, the Wind God. You alone have the capacity to fly across this vast ocean. You do not know your prowess. If You are sincere to Raama, go up that mountain and from there jump towards Lanka. You will see what happens. Rise up, my boy, throw away your despondency and set briskly".
This was a sort of fillip to Hanuman. He became brisk, took permission from his leader Aangada, went up the hill, paid obeisance to his father the wind god, again paid obeisance to Sita Devi mentally and gave a jump. To the wonder of all he was flying in the air towards Lanka.
He reached Lanka when it was dark. He waited for sometime having contracted himself to an ordinary monkey. Just at midnight he slowly moved into the city. He had not moved a few steps when a huge monster-like rakshasi obstructed him saying "I am Lankini, the guardian goddess of Lanka - Fight before you enter the city". Aanjaneya just gave her a blow with his left hand and she fell. She accepted defeat and said "I have been told long ago that when a monkey defeats me the reign of Ravana would end. So you can now have your way".
Again Aanjaneya contracted himself into a smaller shape and went in quest of Sita. He sought for her in the palaces, in the harems and even in Ravana"s private chamber. No where he could find Sita.
He became dejected, went and set on compound wall. There he began muttering the 'Ram Ram'. Suddenly he saw in the faint moonlight some lady sitting under a Simsupa tree in the middle of the grove. He now diminished himself into the size of a cat and without making noise went near, climbed up the tree and hid himself safely among the bushy leaves. He saw a dozen rakshasis sitting round Sita. He felt highly agitated at the fate of his Lord's wife.
Some time passed and when all the rakshasis were asleep Sita stood up and prepared to hang herself. Just then Aanjaneya in a low voice uttered the word 'Ram Ram'. Sita became alert. Just then Hanuman jumped down and whispered he was the servant of Rama. He gave her the Signet-Ring of Ram in proof of the same which Rama had given when he started for the search. At once Sita Devi told Hanuman that Rama should free her as quickly as possible. Otherwise she would commit suicide. Hanuman assured Matha Sita that he would inform Rama so. Also he said that everything was ready and Rama would put an end to Ravana and take her back as early as possible. He requested her to be bold for some more time. He asked for some token from her and she gave her Choodamani.
Aanjaneya took leave of Sita aand began destroying the fine parks and gardens. He was caught by Indrajit, son fo Ravana and brought before Ravana. There was altercation between Ravana and Hanuman. Ravana wanted to kill Aanjaneya but by the wise interference of his brother Vibhishana Hanuman's life was spared (Vibhishana having described Hanuman as messenger of peace). But still Ravana ordered that the monkey's tail be set fire to. It was done and Aanjaneya used that splendid opportunity to burn most part of Sri Lanka.
Then Aanjaneya returned to the mainland where his friends were waiting. All jumped with joy on hearing the good news. They all at once started for Kishkinda. Rama, Lakshmana, Sugreeva and others were very happy.
They army was mobilized in no time. It started with greated discipline under the guidance of Rama and Sugreeva towards the south. As they reached the southern tip of our land where the three great seas join they were flabbergasted. They did not lose heart and they decided to build a bridge across the sea and really a bridge was build in just five days with the co-operation of the ocean king. Simultaneously in Lanka Ravana convened the war council and discussed about the war. Everyone took things very lightly and said they could annihilate the enemey's force in no time, for these two reasons; one - the army was led by two human beings (naras) and the other - the enemy's army contained only monkeys and animals.
Only Vibishana (Ravana's brother) warned his brother Ravana in the following words:
"Brother, first of all we do not know the strength of the enemies. All of you have treated them so lightly. Remember single handed Rama disposed of Thataka, Subahu, Maricha, our brothers Kara and Dooshana along with their fourteen thousand rakshasa warriors. Again what is the wrong that rama has done to you? Whereas you have abducted his wife when she was unprotected. You have done Rama the greatest injustice and you want to kill him at the same time. On what grounds? Are you right in thinking so? Please brother, even now it is not too late. Return his wife and beg his pardon. From what all I hear about him you can't find a broad-minded man better than Rama". He stopped.
Ravana became extremely angry and asked him to get out of Lanka. He said he spared his life because he was his brother. This was the last straw on the camel's back. Vibhishana straightaway, from the council hall, came to Rama and took refuge under him. Rama accepted Vibhishana in the midst of stiff opposition from Sugreeva and others except Aanjaneya.
The inevitable war began. There was great loss on both the sides. Indrajit, son of Ravana known for his ability and valour and who got this name because he conquered Indra once, was killed by Lakshmana. All the other sons, commanders, warriors and hordes of rakshasas were killed in the battle. Ravana was there eager to have a single combat or a duel with Rama and kill him. That chance also came. They both fought the like of which no one had seen - not even gods. A stage came when Ravana's chariot was shattered, his horses killed and Ravana's bow broken by Rama.
Raama stopped fighting and said to Raavana "It is cowardice to kill a weaponless man. So, Ravana go home now - take sufficient rest. You gave me a very good fight. I am happy and congratulate you. Come tomorrow well-equipped. The fight shall go on".
Ravana went home head hunging in shame. The next day the fight was really very serious. But in the end Rama killed Ravana to the great relief of the three worlds.
Immediately Vibhishana was crowned king of Lanka. Rama ordered Sita to be brought. She came and stood before Rama. Contrary to the expectations of all, Rama said "Vaidehi, you have lived long in Ravana's evil house. You have been taken by Ravana on his lap. If I take you back, your innocence unproved, it will be setting up a bad example to others. So you can go wherever you like". All appeals of Sita fell on deaf ears. She requested Lakshmana to make a funeral pyre. She said boldly "It is the only antidote for this disaster".
Then she went round the fire circumambulating, and said with folded hands, "O! Agni Deva - you are a perfect witness. Protect me and prove to all that I am stainless". Saying so she entered the roaring flames. Now a miracle happened. The God of fire holding Sita in his hand came out of the flames and said "Rama, here is your spouse, Vaidehi, no sin or impurity has touched her. Take her back and may good betide thee".
Thus Rama and Sita were united.
Hanuman was sent in advance to inform Bharatha of the glad news. On hearing it Bharatha become overwhelmed with joy and said.
Kalyaanee batha gaatheyam
Loukikee prathi bhaathi me
Naram varsha sataadapi.
"Verily, the saying of the people appears to me to be true, that though after a hundred years, joy comes to a man if he but lives".
The party then reached Ayodhya by the Pushpaka Vimana. Bharatha was waiting for the return of his brother at Nandigrama. Immediately the cornation took place, Rama became the king of Kosala.
Rama ruled the country for a long time and well. The regin like that the world had never known.
That was Rama Raajya