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A gist of the epic Ramayana-part II
The divine marriage!
As promised by Dasaratha, the sage Visvamithra took custody of the two princes Rama and Lakshmana and bid farewell to the King. They proceeded towards the forest which was thick and dark. To avoid fatigue, the sage thought them two powerful chants known as "Manthra" which when chanted will relieve all fatigue and they can march on without any tiredness. The other chant is meant to avoid hunger and thirst during the journey inside the forest. The princess were brought up in luxurious comforts of the palace so far. But now they have to tread the dangerous forest making their way by cutting the shrubs on the way. The sage knew the direction through intuition. Finally they reached the place where Visvamithra stayed. Since the princes Rama and Lakshmana were ready for the task of guarding the great fire ritual, the sage made all preliminary arrangements for the commencement of the ritual. The next day morning, the ritual was commenced with the chanting of appropriate manthras from the Veda!
The demons in the deep forest caught the sniff of the fire ritual and they were ready to disrupt it by some means. A woman demon named Thataka was approaching the venue of the ritual cursing. Rama was aghast at her huge terrorizing form. He was waiting orders from the sage since she was a woman and the scriptures prohibit slaying woman. But the sage told Rama not to delay and slay her since she is a demon and no mercy should be shown else she will stop the ritual by pouring blood and other inauspicious materials on the fire. Rama took his bow and aimed a fierce arrow at her. The arrow pierced her deep and she fell letting out a long wail. Then came her aids and Rama easily drove them away and killing some of them. Thus the fire ritual was performed successfully without any further hindrance from the demons. The sage was happy. The next day, he took both Rama and Lakshma to a nearby Kingdom Mithila where the King has announced the hand of his daughter to any valiant hero who would lift a great bow known as Shiva Dhanush. Elephants were deployed to bring the box containing the bow. It was so strong that none could lift it or even move it.
This episode has a prelude. His daughter Sita while young was playing with her friends with a ball. The ball fell and moved underneath the box where the great bow is kept. But Sita effortlessly moved the box with her small hand and retrieved the ball! The incident was brought to the notice of the King who decided that only a valiant hero who could lift the bow and fix the arrow can wed Sita. When she grew into a lady, King Dasaratha announced publicly that anybody who lift the bow is eligible for the hand of his daughter Sita. Many heroes including the demon King Ravana participated in the event but none could dare to move the bow! It was during the time, the sage brought both the princess to the conference hall of King Janaka. King Janaka welcomed the sage and got him seated in an appropriate seat. When every body was failling in their attempt to lift the bow, Rama saw the sage and the sage immediately allowed Rama to try his hand! The young prince in the garb of a hermit effortlessly lifted the bow from the box, threaded it and pulled it back so as to fix an arrow. The bow broke into two with a thunderous sound. All the assembled kings were frightened by the sound. They could not believe their eyes at the effortless feat of the hermit. King Janaka came forward and offered his daughter to the young hermit. But Rama prayed to the sage and sought his permission to inform his parents and only with their specific permission, he could marry Sita. All agreed to this request and immediately a messanger was sent to Ayodhya to inform Dasaratha of the developments in Mithila and invited the King and his entourage to Mithila for the marriage seeking his permission for the wedding. Dasaratha and his queens and ministers and many important persons from the Royal household accompanied the entourage and reached Mithila after many days of journey. Then the formalities were undergone and the permission of Dasaratha was sought for the impending marriage. Every body agreed for the nice proposal and the marriage of the Divine couple Rama and Sita was performed in a grand manner. Here I have to add that Sri Rama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and mother Sita was Bhumatha, the daughter of mother earth! Rest in part III.