Episode 29: Lord Rama listens to his own Charithra!

rama-sita

In the previous episode we saw how the slokas in the Valmiki Ramayana are musically aesthetic and so pleasing for the ears of a person to listen to. Also, we saw that Lava and Kusha start singing the Ramayana and Valmiki Maharishi had made sure that the children by-hearted all the 24,000 slokas. In today’s episode we shall move on and see how the Ramayana was propagated to the world and how did Lord Rama himself get to listen to His own life story!

“Prasanno valkalam kaschith baddhoudaabhyaam mahaayashaaha!

Preethaha kaschin munisthaabhyaam samsthithah kalasam dadhou!!”

The above sloka says that these two children, Lava and Kusha start to sing the Ramayana charitha (story) to all the rishis (saints) by going to their ashrams one by one. Each and every rishi is deeply moved by the way these children sing and also by the significance of the Ramayana story and thus all of them bless the children – One rishi had five rupees with him, and he gave it as blessing to these children. Another rishi had just one deer’s skin (normally in those days, rishis do their meditation by sitting on the deer’s skin, spread on the floor), and he gave it as a blessing to them. Another rishi had nothing with him at all! But after these children sang the Ramayana to him, he blessed “Oh dear children, this story will be listened by none other than Lord Rama himself, in a very short while from now!” The children were extremely happy after listening to these words from the rishi – If Rama himself would listen to it, what more do we need in life after that? Similarly, another rishi blessed them saying that, “Oh children… Your music would spread across to every nook and corner of this world!” Thus, with all such blessings from various great saints of those times, the Ramayana was successfully propagated to the entire world!

While these children were singing and walking on the streets of Ayodhya, it was Bharata (Rama’s brother) who sees them first! Valmiki mentions this episode beautifully in the following sloka:

“Radhyaasu raja maargeshu dadarsha bharathaagrajaha!

Sva veshmacha aaneeya tatho bhraatharaucha kushee lavau!!”

Bharata, upon seeing these two kids singing so beautifully, becomes so moved and he thinks for a moment that these kids have the exact looks of Lord Rama himself, and in that way, Bharata wanted Rama to listen to their beautiful singing of the Ramayana. Hence, out of love and affection, he brings these two kids into the palace.

“Uvaacha lakshmanam raamaha chathrugnam bharatham tathaa!

Shuuyatha medhadhaadkhyaanam anayor deva varchasoho!!”

Bharata goes to Rama and tells him that he should listen to these two kids singing so beautifully. But Rama asks him back, “Do you think we have time to listen to stories?” Bharata immediately replies to him, “You first listen, and then let’s see if we really have time or not!” Rama is convinced with Bharata’s answer and thus he accepts Bharata’s wish. The two children are called into the courtroom of Lord Rama and thus they’re asked to sing. While these kids were singing, all the people who were in Rama’s court were so mesmerized and are lost completely in the divinity of these children’s singing – Lord Rama is no exception here! He is completely moved to tears upon listening to the children singing his own life story!

It is to be noted at this point that, Lord Rama had already sent away Sita Devi and He is in a state wherein he terribly misses her presence with him. When He listens to his story from these two children, He remembers all his past and all those happy moments that he spent with Sita and Lakshmana in the forest and is completely moved to tears. At this time, Lord Rama has a feeling that he should no longer sit in his “Simhaasana” (The king’s throne), but go and sit amidst the audience in the court, so as to listen more deeply and immensely to these kids. Valmiki Maharishi brings out this emotional moment of Lord Rama beautifully in the following sloka:

“Sachaabhi raamaha parishadgathasshanaihi vubhooshayaa saapthamanaa babhoova ha!”

This is again a “half-sloka”. It may be recalled that we saw one more “half-sloka” like this when Valmiki Maharishi cursed the hunter. In this sloka, at the end we would find the word “Ha!” It signifies that even Valmiki Maharishi was so moved by what’s happening to Lord Rama and for a moment he’s unable to write further! So, whenever he comes across such moving and emotional situations he just stops at that point by saying “Ha”, which means, he’s exclaiming! What happened here is that, Rama slowly got up from his seat and silently without the knowledge of anybody in the court, came down and sat amongst the audience! (Sachaabhi raamaha parishadgathasshanaihi”) He had to do it silently for one more reason: If the king gets up from the throne in front of the audience, it means that the court session is over. He didn’t want that to happen and hence he came down while the audience was so engrossed with the singing of these children, that nobody saw him getting up! When the slokas were over, it was only then the people saw that the throne was empty!! People were shocked to see the empty throne and started shouting, “Where is Rama???” He’s nowhere, but within all of us!! Thus, Lord Rama himself was so moved by listening to his story!

It can be seen interestingly here that, in the Rama-Avataar, Lord Rama himself listened to his own story, and also during the Krishna-Avataar, Lord Krishna also listened to his own story in the “Vishnu Sahasranaama” authored by Bhishma, towards the end of the great Mahabharata war! This seems to be a good coincidence between both the incarnations of Lord Vishnu!

Thus with this, we come to the end of the introductory part of the Valmiki Ramayana. Starting from the next episode, we shall commence looking into each incident of the Ramayana in detail, starting from the significance of the city of Ayodhya, King Dasharata, how was Lord Rama born, etc.

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