In the previous episode we witnessed that Lord Vishnu, upon the request of the Devas and Lord Brahma decides to incarnate again in this world in order to restore the “Dharma” (Righteousness) amongst the people. We also saw how He planned to incarnate – In the form of four sons to King Dasharata along with Goddess Mahalakshmi who was to be born as Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka in Mithila Puri (Present day country of Nepal). Today let’s see what happened next and the interesting episode of the arrival of the divine “Paayasam” and how it was split amongst Dasharata’s three wives!
As the “Puthra-Kaameshti” Yaaga was in full progress, there arouse a divine celestial being from the middle of the “Homa-Kunda” (The place where the fire is lit and the offerings as part of the ritual are given to the fire). The divine celestial being had a big golden vessel with the “Paayasam” in it.
“Krishnam rakthaambhara dharam rakthaasyam dundhubhisswaram!
Snigdhahar yakshadharam yasmashruf parama moorthajam!!
Shubha lakshana sampannam divyaabharana bhooshitham!
Shaila shinga samudhyetham vrutha shaadhoola vikramam!!
Divya paayasa sampoornaam paathneem pathneemivappriyaam!
Pravrusya vipulaam dohyaam svayam maayaa maheemiva!!”
Through the above slokas, Valmiki Maharishi beautifully explains the scene of the arrival of the “Paayasam”. The divine celestial being that arouse from the middle of the ritual says to King Dasharata, “Oh Dasharata! I’m very happy with the way you’ve performed the Puthra-Kaameshti Yaaga. And I’m presenting you this vessel containing the ‘Paayasam’. You can split it amongst your three wives and thus you would be blessed with highly respectable sons!”
“Idanthu nrupashaardhoola paayasam deva nirmitham!
Prajaakaram grihaanathvam dhanyam aarogya varthanam!!
Bhaaryaanaam anuroopaanaam asthitethi prayachyavai!
Thaasuktham labhayte puthranaam yathartham yajasenrupa!!”
The above slokas are the continuations of the beautiful descriptions of Valmiki Maharishi, pertaining to the scene of the arrival of the “Paaysam”. From here, once the divine celestial being vanishes after handing over the “Paaysam” to king Dasharata, now it’s upto him to split it and give it to his three wives. He could have split it into three equal parts and given one part to each of them. However, he didn’t do that! Let’s see the interesting way in which the “Paayasam” was split! Vaalmiki Maharishi beautifully portrays this in the following way:
“Kausalyaayai narapathihi paayasaardham dadau thadhaa!”
Here, the reader should be very careful in interpreting: As the first step, King Dasharata splits the entire paayasam into two equal halves. He now has two halves of paayasams – One half in one hand and the other half in the other. The one half that he has in his right hand (“Paayasa – ardham”: Ardham means half), Dasharata gives it to his first wife, Kaushalya. Accordingly, Kaushalya being his first wife drank the portion of the paaysam that was given to her.
“Ardhaardham darauchaapi sumithraayai naraadhipaha!
Kaikeyischa avashistaardham dadhau puthraarthaka!!”
Now, the second step: The remaining half of the paaysam which is still in Dasharata’s other hand, was again split into two equal quarters (Half, when split into two, becomes two quarters). Hence now, he has two quarters in his hands, of which, he gives one of the quarter portions to his third wife, Sumithra. An interesting point here: Why did Dasharata go to his third wife Sumithra, instead of his second wife, Kaikeyi? It’s because, Sumithra was a very pious woman and had great knowledge of the “Shaastraas” (Shaastra-Gnyaana). Now, Sumithra after getting this quarter portion of the paayasam, should have consumed it, but she didn’t. She decided to wait and watch what happens further and how much is Kaikeyi going to get!
Now, the third step: Now Dasharata has one-quarter portion of the paayasam with him. This portion was again split into two equal parts – Two half-quarters. The first half-quarter portion was given to his second wife Kaikeyi. (It is to be noted here that Kaikeyi hadn’t got the payasam yet). Once Kaikeyi gets this portion of the paaysam, she thinks “Anyway, since Kaushalya has already consumed her share of the paayasam she would be delivering the first son. However, Sumithra has not yet consumed her share of the paayasam. So, if I consume my share before she does hers, I’ll be delivering the second son, who would be entitled to be the deputy king of Ayodhya!” and with this thought in her mind, consumes her share of the paayasam.
“Prappadhou prapadouscha avashishtaardham paayasasya amrithopamam!
Anuchintya sumithraayai punareva maheepathihi!!”
Now, king Dasharata has the last portion of the paayasam in his hand. He was thinking as to whom should he give it to – Kaushalya has already got the major portion of it, since she is his first wife and hence it is enough for her. For Kaikeyi, whatever is given already is enough, and she’s unfit to get more! So, it’s Sumithra who is very pious and full of “Shaastra-Gnyaana”, and hence after lot of thinking, King Dasharata hands the last portion of the paayasam again to Sumithra. Now, Sumithra has two portions of the paayasam in her hands. Hence now, she has to deliver two kids – One child who would be the ardent “Bhakta” (Devotee) of Kaushalya’s son and the other child who is the ardent “Bhakta” of Kaikeyi’s son. That is, one child would be the “Bhagawat Bhakta” (Devotee of the Lord) and the other child would be the “Bhaagawata Bhakta” (Devotee of the Lord’s ardent devotee). Upon this noble thought in Sumithra’s mind, she consumed both the portions of the paayasam together, and this is how she delivered twin children!
There’s further in-depth meaning for this paayasam split. What is that? Let’s see in the next episode!