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Today is the sacred birthday of Shri Rama, an incarnation!
Gift of sweet Pudding from God!
Rama's sacred birth in Ayodhya!
It was “Treta Yuga”. Emperor Dasaratha, who ruled Ayodhya with illustrious fame, the scion of Ishvaku dynasty, was suffering from a deep anguish! His reign was illustrious and the citizens were happy and peaceful under his guidance and guard. He was issueless. His eldest queen Kausalya could not bear him a child, or the middle one “Sumithra”. With the intention of continuance of the clan and dynasty, he had married a third queen, “Kaikeyi”. But Kaikeyi’s father was cautious. He extracted a promise from the Emperor that the son born to his daughter shall rule the Kingdom after him! Emperor Dasaratha readily agreed since none of his queens could bore him a child! He was very anxious that the Ishvaku dynasty should not end with him. Even with Kaikeyi, he could not realize his wish! Now it is time to propitiate the gods for favor. He consulted his preceptor, Sage Vashista” and poured his heart to him. Vashista after deep meditation offered a solution. There was a fire sacrifice known as “Puthra Kameshti Yaga” which should be conducted by a pure sage presiding over the ceremony. After search from far and near, they found that a ‘celibate son of a sage was living in the forest without contact with any women so far! In fact, he has not seen any women in his life.
Birth of Rama and his brothers!
The birth of Rama was gift from Gods!
Arrangements were made to invite the son of the sage to preside over the great yagna! Beautiful maidens were sent to bring him to the Kingdom accompanied by Royal guards. The young sage saw a retinue of pleasant looking ladies is nearing his Ashram. He came outside and he was astonished to look at those beautiful women with flowers and perfumes, adored by grand dresses. The chief among them prostrated at the feet of the young sage and gave him the invitation by the Emperor! He read it and accepted their request to accompany them. He obtained the permission from his father! He was taken to the Kingdom after travelling through pleasure boats and palanquins. The young sage was quiet new to such type of hospitality! The King and his ministers invited him at the fortress and he was led to the quarters where he will stay. Elaborate arrangements were made by the Emperor to commence the Yagna at a sanctified place. Thousands of Vedic Pundits assembled there with their disciples. All the Kings and nobles were invited for this great Yagna. The rituals were performed as per the rules laid down and at the end of the yagna, a Divine being manifested from the fire pit. He was holding a golden vessel containing sweet pudding. Even the very aroma lifted the spirits of everyone there. He told the King to equally apportion the sweet pudding among his three wives and blessed that illustrious progeny will take birth in the wombs of his queens. All the three queens took bath, wore new dresses and wore flowers and jewels befitting their royal status! The sweet pudding was equally apportioned in three gold cups. The middle queen “Sumitra” was however remorse! She thought, the son born to the eldest queen Kausalya will become Yuvaraja as a natural heir. Also, the emperor has promised Kaikeyi’s father that the son born to her will inherit the kingdom. But what will happen to her son? With this thought, she placed her cup on the parapet and she was drying her hair! All of a sudden, a hawk came from nowhere and seized her golden cup with the pudding! She feared heavy punishment for her negligence. She started crying and reached the inner apartment of other queens Kausalya and Kaikeyi and narrated her woes!
Baratha receives sandals from Rama in the forest!
How Sumitra lost her cup of Divine pudding?
They pacified her and told her to bring another empty cup. Both the elder and younger queen poured half of their share in the cup brought by Sumitra. Then they prayed their deities and ceremoniously drank the sweet pudding! As promised by the Divine being, all the three conceived and on a day of most auspicious month of “Chitra”, on the ninth thithi in the star of “Punarvasu”, A baby boy was born to the eldest queen Kausalya! Pecularly, Sumitra gave birth to two children, both baby boys. The last queen Kaikeyi finally gave birth to a baby boy! The Preceptor and King were informed of this glad tidings and the entire Kingdom started celebrating the birth of four boys. The emperor made elaborate arrangements for naming ceremony and all the nearby Kings, Emperors and feudal kings and dignitaries were invited for the grand ceremony! The Vedic Pundits again assembled there and performed elaborate fire rituals inviting the blessings of all gods on the four princes and they were aptly named as “Ramachandra, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrukuna! The middle queen bore Lakshmana and Satrukuna and Bharata was born to Kaikeyi! They were placed in separate golden cradles but Lakshmana and Satrukuna was crying endlessly. None could find the reason. But the preceptor told the queens to keep Lakshmana in the cradle of Rama and Satrukuna in the cradle of Bharata! After that, they were all giggling with joy and no more crying! Because the sweet pudding of Kausalya was shared with Sumitra, it was the pair Rama and Lakshmana, and that of Barata and Satrukuna since Kaikeyi too shared her pudding with Sumitra! Thus, all the three queens vied with each other and were caressing the babies. In fact, Rama was the cynosure of all queens.
War between Rama and Ravana!
The Princes grew and the plot evolves!
Time passed very quickly and all the four princes grew into valiant young lads and they all learned all their skills and training in the Ashram of the preceptor Vashista! Emperor Dasaratha was noticing grey hair, wrinkles on his skins. He summoned the preceptor and consulted with him. Since he is becoming old, it is wise to anoint “Rama”, being the eldest as the heir apparent for the Kingdom. Everyone rejoiced at the selection. But Fate is cruel. The youngest queen had a maid named “Kooni” since she had an hump on her back. When all the children were young, they used to play pranks with the maid. She had a grudge with Rama who used to aim clay balls at the hunch back and enjoy it. This maid, finding a grand opportunity started polluting the mind of her queen Kaikeyi. Dasaratha had a soft corner for his young queen and he had also promised her two boons since she saved him during a war. When Dasaratha told her to ask two boons, she said that she will ask the boons at an appropriate time. The Kooni told the queen, “This is the most appropriate time”. Stake your son for heir apparent! Let Rama be sent to the forest for fourteen years! The queen Kaikeyi was fond of Rama but the seed of poison was planted on her mind by the maid! The happenings subsequent to this are most tragic and everyone may be aware of the later part of Ramayana! It was the will of Rama to destroy the demons and he accomplished it by all the above drama!
Rama's coronation after return from forest!
How the plot of maid turned differently?
Thus Kaikeyi demanded kingdom for her son and asked her husband to banish Rama to the forest. King Dasaratha succumbed since Rama departed for the forest. But prince Baratha was noble. He never accepted the Kingdom. He went to the forest and begged Rama to come back and rule Ayodhya. But Rama obeyed his father’s words like his own life. Hence, he handed over his ‘sandals’ and asked Baratha to rule on his behalf. But Baratha never entered the city and led a hermit life. He kept Rama’s sandal on the throne and ruled incognito from the outskirts for full fourteen years. He made a terrible vow! If Rama doesn’t return, he will immolate himself in the fire at the end of fourteen years. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana remained in the forest for fourteen years. Meanwhile the demon king Ravana usurped Sita when both Rama and Lakshmana were away due to some ploy. With the help of monkey King Sugriva and his aid Hanuman, Rama fought a terrible war in SriLanka, killed Ravana, restored Sita and returned to Ayodhya at the exact time when Barata was about to enter in fire. Barata and Lakshmana were like life breath for Rama. All the four brothers returned to Ayodhya and finally the ascension of the throne by Rama was accomplished and he ruled the kingdom righteously for many hundred years and it was known as “Rama Rajya”, a kingdom of righteousness and Justice! TODAY IS THE DAY OF BIRTH OF RAMA, and it is celebrated all over India as Rama Navami! May the Lord shower his blessings on entire humanity forever!