Today is the birthday of Sri Rama, an ancient incarnation!
Sri Rama, Lakshmana , Sita and Hanuman!
His story is history!
Today is the birthday of Shri Rama and it is being celebrated all over India and in those countries where Hindus live. The period of birth of Rama is during Treta Yuga which is roughly 5 X 432000 years ago, ie around 21.6 lakhs years ago. It is really a wonder that Sri Rama and Ramayana depicting the life story or Rama is sung throughout India even after 21 lakhs of years. There were no computers or memory cards during those good old days. His story was recorded in palm leaves and the story of Rama survived this long is really a mystery. In many folk songs, the story of Rama is sung. In many countries where Hinduism survived like Indonesia and Cambodia, Rama is worshipped even now. Apart from being a Prince of Ayodhya, why Rama was remembered when there were umpteen numbers of Kings adorned the great Raghuvamsa? It is known to scholars of Ramayana, that Rama was virtuous to the core and he always acted as per the dictates of Dharma or Righteous conduct, whether in personal life or behavior with parents and elders or as a Ruler of the great Raghu dynasty.
It is no wonder many poets and saints have sung the grand story of Ramayana in many languages. Prominent among them is Sri Valmiki, the Divine inspired poet. Once he was a wayfarer and indulged in robbery. He was living in a jungle and attacked the travelers treading the forest. He used to loot their jewels and money and left them in lurch. How he turned into a saint is really an interesting story. Once, seven sages who were treading through the forest caught the attention of Ratnakara, the thief. He wanted to loot them and with this idea he approached them. They said, being recluses they possessed nothing. But they questioned him in order to correct his bad habit. They asked him, “Why you are looting innocent people? He said, he has a family and he has to feed them and take care of them. Do you know that you are incurring sin by looting? He said he is not aware. Whether your family will be ready to face the consequences of the sin committed by you? He thought that they may share the sins. Go and enquire with your family whether they are ready to bear the evil effects of sin? He went to his dwelling and enquired them whether they are ready to bear the consequences of the theft? They flatly refused! When the thief returned and replied the sages, they told him, do not incur more sin for the sake of your family. Sit here silently; repeat the name ‘mara mara continuously. He obeyed them and he sat there itself and repeated the syllables assiduously. In the course of repetition, the syllables jumbled and they resembled, Rama Rama! Though he was a theif, his tenacity of purpose transformed his character and he became a saint and he sang the great epic Ramayana intuitively!
Now I narrate here, a gist of the epic in few words. King Dasaratha was issueless for thousands of years though he married three queens for the purpose of an heir to the great Kingdom. He consulted his preceptor and the preceptor asked the King to perform a fire ritual named Putra Kameshti Yaga, for the purpose of getting progeny. The fire ritual was performed sincerely and at the end, from the fireplace, an angel emerged carrying a golden vessel contained sweet pudding. He directed the King to distribute the sweet pudding equally among the queens. Thus the queens had their ceremonial bath and placed the sweet pudding in gold vessels. They prayed God and was about to take their share. Meanwhile, the middle queen was in terrace drying her hair after bath. She was contemplating her fate. The child that will take birth in the womb of eldest queen become the legitimate heir to the Kingdom! Also the king has promised the youngest queen that her son will become the future King. But in her case, there is no such guarantee. What will become the fate of her child? While she was contemplating thus, a hawk has seized the cup and flew away. Panicked by the sudden turn, she returned to the palace and consulted the other queens. They were considerate about her plight. Hence they shared one half of their sweet pudding with the middle queen. After the event, the queens conceived and delivered beautiful baby boys. The middle queen delivered two boys and the elder and younger got one baby each! The babies grew up quickly and they started learning archery and other skills needed for a king. The King loved the boys and he could not part with them even for a few hours. They became youth and the King was contemplating to retire after coronation of the eldest, Sri Rama. But fate decided otherwise. The youngest queen wanted her son to become a King. Hence she plotted in connivance with her maid and extracted a promise from the King that her son would become King and Rama should leave for the forest for fourteen years. The King unable to bear the rude shock of separation from Rama, fell down in a swoon. Rama was summoned to the presence by the youngest queen, who told him the desires of his father. He should relinquish the Kingdom and make way to his younger brother Baratha!
Rama never questioned the intentions of his step mother. He gladly agreed to proceed to the forest and leave the Kingdom at the custody of his brother. He felt sad for his father who was unconscious. He prostrated before his father, silently left the place and informed the developments to his mother. She was crying piteously. Why fate has dealt a blow on this great dynasty, she was wailing. Rama pacified her and got her blessings. Sita , the wife of Rama wished to accompany Rama to the forest. But Rama refused the proposal. He said that the forest is dangerous. Moreover, I cannot always look after you. It is difficult to live there. You take care of my mother and others in the palace. But she persisted that her life is best lived only in the company of her husband Rama. Lakshmana who never parted with Rama said, he too will accompany him to the forest. They set out for the journey to the deep forest. Unable to bear the separation from his dear son, Dasaratha breathed his last. Since his other two sons were away, the body was kept embalmed to protect it till final rites.
In the forest, lived many wicked demons. One demon in the name of Surpanaka wanted to marry Lakshmana after seeing his ethereal beauty. In the tussle, Lakshmana cut her nose and ears. She was bleeding and crying and reached his brother Ravana and complained about Lakshmana. She told her brother that there is a beautiful lady named Sita. You can usurp her in retaliation of this ignominy. Ravana deputed two of his demons Maricha and Subahu to cheat Rama and Sita. Maricha took the form of a golden deer and came in the vicinity of Sita. She was fascinated by the golden deer and requested Rama to fetch it for keeping as a pet. But the demon gave a slip to Rama and ran deep into the forest. Rama asked Lakshmana to keep an eye on the safety of Sita and chased the deer. After a long time, unable to catch it alive, Rama shot an arrow and the demon died but it was crying in the voice of Rama! Hey Lakshman, Hey Sita! Both of them heard the cry of Rama and Sita asked Lakshmana to go to Rama to help him. But Lakshmana desisted stating that Rama is incapable of defeat. But she started scolding him. Unable to bear the harsh scolding, he rushed away to the place where Rama was calling……(to be continued )