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A gist of Ramayana-Part VII
The chasing of 'golden deer"
Rama and Sita along with Lakshmana were moving further on in the forest. On the way, they used to find some hermitage. They will invariably visit the hermitage and meet the sage who founded the Ashram. The sages were in fact, waiting for the arrival of the Lord in the form of Rama. They had intuition and they heard that Rama has already started his forest life. They were eagerly praying for His arrival. Rama could gauge the inner feelings of such saintly persons. He too was attracted to their love. Hence he could easily reach their hermitage. It is a kind of mutual attraction. The lord towards his devotees! Rama used to spend a day or two at the hermitage. Usually the hermits will be longing to here the words of wisdom Rama teaches. Though he was young, His knowledge was full and perfect. He was well versed in the knowledge of the Self and hence he could treat coronation and forest life with equal fortitude. He never desired the Kingdom. He never resisted the difficult forest life. Both are one and the same to him.
He used to communicate eternal wisdom to them for hours together. The disciples of sages too were interested in the knowledge of Self and hence they used to ask their doubts to Rama. He will patiently clear their doubts. They were all happy and they longed to have Rama in their Ashram for many more days. But Rama always left the Ashrams in search of some more heritage. He had come with a task assigned to him. Hence during his stay in the forest he was keen to fulfill all his duties. They travelled further and one day Rama asked Lakshmana to select a place for their stay. On hearing this, Lakshmana broke into tears. Rama could not find any reason. He asked his brother, "Why you are crying? What i have uttered which has offended you? Lakshmana replied, Oh brother! when we had embarked on this forest life, i left all my will. I will obey your commands. I have no will of my own? How you can ask me to select a place?
Immediately, Rama embraced his brother Lakshmana and told him, " I just told you casually, why do you take it to heart. Well, this spot is suitable for constructing the cottage. He indicated a level ground. Immediately Lakshmana plunged into action. He collected the branches of trees to be fixed deep in the ground. Over that he fixed cross pieces of branches. He collected large quantity of wild grass to spread over the roof to protect from sun and rain. Rama and Sita too helped Lakshmana in the process and before evening, a beautiful cottage with private spaces was built in a beautiful manner. Rama and Sita appreciated the handwork of Lakshmana and his skills.
They have decided to stay there for some time. Lakshmana was always on guard. He never slept a wink when his brother and Sita were resting in the night. For full fourteen years, he kept his vigil on Rama and Sita. Many poets now acclaim Lakshmana as the flag post on which the flag Rama majestically is hoisted.
One day it so happened that the demon Maricha and Subahu were planning to take revenge on Rama and Lakshmana to avenge the death of demons Tataka and many of her sons during the fire rituals. Hence Maricha changed himself to a golden deer and he was hiding and moving near the cottage when Sita was watching with amusement the golden deer. She requested Rama to catch the deer so that she can keep it as her pet. Rama surmised foul play. Oh Sita! No deer will exhibit such golden hue on its skin. This seems to be the work of demons. We must be cautious. But Sita was persisting for the deer. Hence Rama cautioned Lakshmana to keep vigil and not to leave Sita alone! Meanwhile Maricha in the form of golden deer was running ahead of Rama who was pursuing it in haste to catch it. It was playing hide and seek. It took Rama to the deep forest. Unable to contain any more, Rama sent an arrow. It hit the demon Maricha who fell down clutching his chest. He disguised his voice as Rama's and let out a call, "Oh Lakshmana! Oh Sita!. Hearing the voice of Rama, Sita pleaded with Lakshmana to go and find out what happened. But he has to obey the command of Rama! Rest in next Part.