Raghunandana Rama!

Coronation of Rama after return from forest.

Rama, the embodiment of 'righteousness'

Many in the West, might have heard about Sri Rama of the famous epic Ramayana. He was born in the dynasty of great King "Raghu". Hence he was also called "Raghunandana" meaning the descent of Raghu. Many illustrious kings ruled Ayodhya, which was unconquerable by all standards. King Dasaratha, father of Rama had no issues for a long time even after marrying three queens. In those days and age, the longevity of people was much more than our present generation. History talk that Dasaratha was ruling Ayodhya for thousands of years. The people were around fourteen feet tall and this was the standard during the "Treta Yuga", more than twelve lakhs of years ago. Many may not believe this. In each succeeding age, the height of the people were reduced much and today six feet is considered as tall!

In spite of ruling the great Kingdom, King Dasaratha was heart broken since he had no issues from any of the queens. He consulted the preceptor, who suggested a fire sacrifice ritual for the sake of progeny. After invoking the fire god, many auspicious materials are poured in the fire including silk materials, gems etc in addition to many herbs. Scriptures talk about the way each such ritual has to be performed. After the ritual was consecrated, a Divine person holding a golden vessel containing a sweet pudding emerged and handed over the vessel to the head preceptor with instructions to give the sweet pudding to the three queens in equal share. King Dasaratha reverentially received the vessel from the preceptor and promptly gave it to the queens who shared them in equal measure. After taking ritual bath and worship of deities, they kept the shares of vessel in front of the deity. The custom is that the eldest son born in the dynasty is the legal heir to the King. Kausalya is the eldest queen. The youngest one Kaikeyi was married to the King with a condition. The child that is born to her will get the right to rule the Kingdom. The queen in the middle can not claim any such rights. Hence she kept the vessel on the parapet of the terrace, brooding over her fate.

Suddenly, a hawk came from nowhere, snatched the vessel and flew away. Bewildered, the queen ran to the senior queen and explained the mishap. Both the elder and youngest queens were prepared to give a share of their pudding to the middle queen Sumitra. Thus all the queens partook the blessed sweet pudding. As foretold in the scriptures, they all conceived and Rama was born first to the eldest queen Kausalya, Lakshmana and Satrukun were born to the queen Sumitra and Bharata was born to the youngest queen Kaikeyi. The reason for two babies to the queen Sumitra is that she got one share each from the Senior queen and the youngest queen. As the King was issue less for a long time, he celebrated the event in a grand style and the entire Kingdom was fed with sumptuous feasts.

Rama was not an ordinary child and He was a Divine incarnation. But only a handful knew about his birth and mission. He lived virtuous life, never aspired for the throne and he was obedient to his parents and preceptor. He loved his younger brothers and took care of them. Lakshmana was shadow like Rama and he never parted his company. Likewise Baratha and Satruguna always stayed together. Though Rama was of Divine origin, he behaved like an ordinary human being. He never exhibited his divinity except to a few hermits who lived in thick jungles. Others thought that Rama was a bright and intelligent child. As the brothers grew up, they went to the hermitage of Sage Vashista and learned all that has to be learned by the young students. Sage Vashista too was aware of the Divine nature of Rama but still he tried his best to teach him all that is known to him. Rama excelled in archery and arts of war since he is going to be the next King. But fate decides ultimately.

The youngest queen Kaikeyi was fond of Rama more than her own son and loved him much. But a servant maid in the queen's palace was not liking Rama from the beginning. She thought about various ways to bring Baratha to the throne instead of Rama. She conceived a treacherous plan and poisoned the mind of Kaikeyi insisting that Baratha should occupy the throne after Dasaratha. But Kaikeyi never listened to the prattle of the maid. One day King Dasaratha found that his hair is turning while and his fingers are shaking. He went to the preceptor and shared his concern for the Kingdom. He told the preceptor that his eldest son Rama should be anointed as the younger King so that he can take retirement from the onerous task of ruling the Empire. Once this news was heard by the servant maid, she rushed to her queen Kaikeyi and put forward many arguments to thwart the plan of the King. She asked her to utilize two boons, the King granted long ago for saving his life. Slowly, the words entered the mind of the queen and at an appropriate time, she requested the King to heed her words. She asked that her son "Baratha' should be anointed as King and Rama should be banished to the forest for fourteen years since he may claim the kingdom!

When Dasaratha heard the spear like words of Kaikeyi, he swooned to the ground, pleading her to desist from such stupidity. She never relented and at last when the King was unconscious, she summoned Rama to her Presence and commanded him to leave for forest for fourteen years and give way to Baratha to be made as the King. Rama never disobeyed in his life. Kaikeyi said, this is the wish of your father. Unable to face you, he is unconscious. Without a whisper, Rama left to his mother palace to inform the decision of the King conveyed through Kaikeyi. Every one lamented due to the turn of fate. What happened ultimately is that 'neither Baratha agreed for the throne, he too donned ochre robes like a hermit waiting for fourteen years on the outskirts of the Kingdom. Dasaratha died soon after Rama left to the forest along his wife and brother. It is a big story how he killed the demons and ogres in the forest and killed the King of Demons Ravana. Throughout his illustrious life, he never deviated from 'righteousness' and he was a true example for all the humans to follow!

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