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A gist of the great epic "Ramayana"
The beautiful story of Lord Rama!
This is one of my favorite deity. The great epic Ramayana was penned by the sage Valmiki. He was once a thief named "Ratnakara". His modus operandi was to hide himself in thick jungles and loot the wayfarers. He had no idea of sin or merit until one day he met seven great sages passing through the thick jungle. It was his fortune that he met them. They could delve in his past and his immoral acts of looting innocent wayfarers. Instead of getting angry, they showered their benign grace upon him. First they made him to realize that looting the innocent is a great sin. They asked him whether his family will share the sin. He went to his hiding where his family lived enjoying the bounty of his looting. He asked them whether they are ready to share his sins? They flatly refused to share his sins. In fact, he was doing all this for the family's sake. He returned to the sages and told them their refusal to share the sins. The seven sages advised him to sit quiet and repeat a word 'mara mara' continuously. As the thief was remaining in a jungle he knew the name of the tree 'mara'. It was easier for him to repeat the name of the tree. He was steady and listened to the advise of sages and sat motionless repeating the word 'mara mara'. In course of time, the syllables jumbled with each other and without his knowledge he was repeating a very holy name "Rama Rama". It went for many years. He never bothered about his body or its needs. An ant hill developed over his body completely hiding him. Only those who go near the anthill can hear the holy name Rama emanating from it. The repetition of the name Rama removed all his sins and one day he emerged from the anthill as the renowned sage Valmiki!
King Dasaratha was the father of Rama. He was issue less for many years though he married three queens. None could bear a child for him. He was aged and worried that the great Kingdom will become a orphan without a dynasty king. He consulted the preceptors and they advised him to perform one fire sacrifice known as "Putra Kameshti Yaga"(performed for obtaining progeny). It went through well and at the end a glowing demigod rose from the fire, handing over a container with a sweet payasam(a liquid with aroma and sweetness). It vanished from the fire after handing over it to the king. The king called his three queens and divided the gift from the demigod in three equal parts and asked them to take bath and worship God and partake the payasam. The first queens son would be eligible for the Kingdom as the eldest son. The last queen got a right over the kingdom as per the promise made by the king to her father. The second queen had no option like the other queens. Her son can only assist the King! She went to the terrace and she was brooding over her fate. Suddenly a hawk snatched the container kept on the terrace wall!. She lost her share. Frightened due to the loss, she rushed to the inner chamber and narrated the entire story to the elder queen. The elder queen and the youngest one pitied her condition and they were ready to share from their portion one half from each. Now each one drank their share and within a year, four babies were born. The elder queen gave birth to Rama, the youngest gave birth to Baratha and the second queen gave birth to two babies named as Lakshmana and Satrukuna. It was strange that Lakshmana loved to be in the company of Rama and Satrukuna was peaceful with Baratha. They all grew up, learned the arts of all knowledge worth learning by a King. They imbibed their lessons well and excelled in all of them.
One fine morning a sage named Viswamitra came to the palace and he was welcomed with all traditional rituals and seated in the hall. He told the King, that he is engaged in a great Yagna in the forest. But the demons living there thwart his rituals with unholy things like corpses of animals and blood and skulls. He could never complete it peacefully. Hence he wanted Rama and Lakshmana to guard his yagna from demons so that he will fulfill his vow. But King Dasaratha was reluctant to send his dear sons to the forest since they are quite new to the forests and demons. If some demon inflict injuries to his son, what will happen? Hence he politely told the sage to bear with him. Instead King Dasaratha told the sage that he would come to the forest to guard the great Yagna ritual. The sage was angry at the impertinence of the King. He retorted, " Oh King, you have promised to fulfill the wish of mine as I entered the palace. But you are now refusing. Fearing the consequences of disobeying the sage, finally King Dasaratha relented. Rest in Part II.