In the previous two episodes we have been witnessing that Sage Vishwaamithra enters Ayodhya at a time when king Dasharata was pondering over with his ministers about the marriage plans of his four sons. Upon the arrival of the great Sage, king Dasharata is extremely happy and welcomes him inside the palace. Sage Vishwaamithra explains the purpose of his visit to the city and king Dasharata is very happy to help him out for whatever he needs! However suddenly Sage Vishwaamithra’s eyes fall upon the handsome looking Rama and his three brothers and all of a sudden asks for Rama, Dasharata’s eldest son to accompany him to his ashram (hamlet). What happened next? Did Dasharata send Rama straightaway as promised? Let’s see today!
Let’s relook the sloka that we saw yesterday and move forward with that.
“Kaaka paksha dharam veeram jeshtam me dhaathum arhasi!”
As I had explained in the previous episode, “Kaaka paksha dharam veeram” means, the child with the beautiful hair tied behind his head. Thus here, Sage Vishwaamithra asks Dasharata to send the child with the beautiful hair, which is tied behind his head! For a moment, king Dasharata did not understand what was going on! He casts a look at his four sons – All four have their hair tied behind their heads and for a moment, king Dasharata did not understand which of the four sons is Sage Vishwaamithra asking for! Now Sage Vishwaamithra continues, “Jeshtam me dhaathum arhasi!” – He now asks for the eldest son (Jeshtaha) amongst the four who has the beautiful hair.
In Tamil, Kambanaadar explains this scene even more beautifully! All the four sons are standing in the courtroom. Sage Vishwaamithra has to now ask for the eldest son. What did he ask? Kambar says,
“Nin makkalul kariya semmal oruthanai tharughi…”
Here, Kambar says “Kariya semmal oruthanai”, which implies that just with these three words, Vishwaamithra straightaway rejects Lakshmana and Shathrughna. “Kariya Semmal” means the child who is blackish in color. Whereas, Lakshmana and Shathrughna were reddish in color, it is Rama and Bharata who were blackish in appearance. Hence, he asks “Kariya semmal oruthanai tharughi”, meaning, the eldest child who is blackish in color, is to be sent along with him to the forest!
Upon hearing this, king Dasharata was all the more shocked! How can Sage Vishwaamithra ask for a small child to accompany him to fight the “Raakshasaas” (Demons) in the forest? Isn’t it a danger for the child’s life? Moreover, it is to be remembered here that king Dasharata is overtaken completely by “Puthra-Vaatsalyam” (Meaning, excessive attachment towards his son. I shall detail about this a bit later when the apt context arrives!) King Dasharata replies,
“Ahamthe prathijaanaami hathouthou viddhi raakshasau!
Aham vedmi mahaathmaanam raamam sathya paraakaramam!!
Now, Sage Vishwaamithra looks at the sad face of king Dasharata and tries to convince him to send Rama along. He says, “Aham vedmi mahaathmaanam raamam sathya paraakaramam”. Let’s look into it word by word. “Aham vedmi” means “I know”, “Raamam mahaathmaanam” means, “Your son Rama is a ‘Mahaathma’ (a highly spiritually realized soul)”, “Raamam sathya paraakaramam” means, “Your son Rama is such an invincible person that nobody can win over him”. Lets’ now combine all the three phrases together. Sage Vishwaamithra says to king Dasharata, “Oh Dasharata! I know that your son Rama is a “Mahathma” and is such an invincible person that it is impossible for anyone to win over him! Hence do not worry about him and please send him along with me for a few days!” Dasharata looks on to Sage Vishwaamithra with astonishment – He thinks to himself, “I’m the father of Rama and I know about my son more than anybody else. Whereas this Sage Vishwaamithra is coming from somewhere else and he is teaching me about my own son! How ridiculous is this!”
To understand this context much deeper, let’s look into some commentary works that were done by “Aachaaryas” who came later on. There was an “Aachaarya” by name “Periyavaachaan Pillai”. He was the person who wrote extensive commentaries for the “Naalayira Dhivyaprabhandhams” sung by the twelve Aalwaars. Apart form this, he has written a book by name “Raamayana Thani Slokam” wherein he has taken important events in the Ramayana story and written his comments on all of those! When this context arrives he has given a very interesting description as follows:
Sage Vishwaamithra comes to king Dasharata and talks with him, “Oh Dasharata! Please do not think that you know about your son Rama – It is me who knows him better!” King Dasharata asks back “Oh Sage Vishwaamithra! I’m the father of Rama and hence I would know more than anybody else in this world about him! How do you know more?” For this, Vishwaamithra replies, “I’ll tell you why and how I know Rama better than you! Firstly, you are a Kshathriya warrior and a king! You have seen Rama only in that perspective. Whereas, I’m a “Brahmana Rishi” (Saint) and I can understand Rama better! You are sitting at the top in your throne! Whereas I sit on the floor in close proximity to Bhagawan’s throne! You are in a state of “Maya” (Illusion), whereas I’m apart from the “Maya” and I’m en-route the “Moksha Saamraajya” (Path of reaching Bhagawan’s feet) and thus I know that Rama is none other than Bhagawan himself! I’ll tell you one more thing Dasharata – You are under the impression that Rama is your child! But, what I understand is that, the entire world is the child of Rama!”
Thus by saying all this, Sage Vishwaamithra tries to convince king Dasharata to send Rama along with him to the forest. Did king Dasharata budge by now? Was he convinced with this explanation? Let’s find out in the next episode!