In the previous episode we witnessed the arrival of Sage Vishwaamithra at Ayodhya and meeting king Dasharata, and king Dasharata was extremely happy in receiving the great sage. Upon giving Sage Vishwaamithra all the due respects, king Dasharata promises that he would offer anything according to the Sage’s wish! What did Sage Vishwaamithra ask for? Let’s find out today!
Sage Vishwaamithra was about to do a grand “Yaaga” (Offering) at his ashram located at a place called “Siddhaashrama” along the banks of the river Ganges. (Even today we can worship this “Siddhaashrama” at a place called Buxar, in the present-day state of Bihar in north India). It was at this place where Sage Vishwaamithra did the “Yaaga” for six continuous days. But the unfortunate thing was that, whenever he sat down to perform the Yaaga, there were a few “Raakshasaas” (Demons) who were regularly visiting the place and doing something so as to stop the proceeding of the Yaaga in a smooth way. Sage Vishwaamithra also tries his best to perform the Yaaga but however he couldn’t complete it successfully. Hence, he wanted the help of someone to protect this Yaaga and destroy the demons that were disturbing it. It was for this purpose he visits Ayodhya and to seek the help of Dasharata. In fact, Sage Vishwaamithra could have himself self-protected the Yaaga with his extremely high “Tapas” power. Of course, if he had cursed the demons, the very next moment they would have died. However he continues to say that if he sits to perform the “Yaaga” he should not give place for “Krodha” (Anger) and there is a chance that the “Yaaga” might become ineffective. And this is the reason why he needs someone’s help to protect the Yaaga while he is performing it.
“Tasya vignyakarau dvouthu raakshasau kaamaroopinau!
Vrathethu bahusashcheerne samaapyaam raakshasaabimou!
Maareechascha shubhaahuscha veeryavanthau sutheekshithau!!”
The above sloka lines signify the fact that the “Raakshasas” (Demons) were able to assume different forms (Raakshasau kaamaroopinau) and it is very difficult to judge which form will they take and when! Moreover, there are two main “Raakshasas” by the names “Maareecha” and “Shubaahu” who were captaining the entire team in destroying the Yaaga. Hence they should be destroyed for the Yaaga to continue smoothly. Sage Vishwaamithra says, “Oh King Dasharata! I do not know how to destroy these two demons and that’s why I came to you seeking help!”
Upon hearing this, king Dasharata was very happy and he was about to say that he was ready to accompany Sage Vishwaamithra to his Siddhashrama for the Yaaga. However, before Dasharata uttered a word, Sage Vishwaamithra’s eyes fell upon the 12-year-old Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shathrugna who were standing near their father in the courtroom. It is at this point when Sage Vishwaamithra thinks that it would be wise enough to take Rama with him and not anybody else and thus he requests king Dasharata to send Rama along with him.
“Kaaka paksha dharam veeram jeshtam me dhaathum arhasi!
Chakshohyesha maya guptaha divyena svenatejasaa!!”
Here Valmiki Maharishi beautifully describes the way in which Sage Vishwaamithra asks for Lord Rama. “Kaaka Paksha Dharam Veeram” – “Kaaka Paksham” means the long black hair of the child is tied together onto his head (in Tamil we say “Kudumi”). The kids are just 12 years old and thus their hair is not very long still, but yet, their hair was pulled tight and tied to their head! King Dasharata upon hearing this, also turns towards his four sons and at this point Sage Vishwaamithra says “Jeshtam me dhaathumarhasi”, which means, “Send your eldest son along with me!”
Upon hearing this, Dasharata was shell-shocked! How can he send a 12-year old child for fighting the evil demons? He didn’t know how to react! What did Sage Vishwaamithra say at this point? How did he convince king Dasharatha? Let’s look into it in the next episode!