Episode 52 – King Dasharata replies to Sage Vishwaamithra


In the last few episodes we have been witnessing the event of Sage Vishwaamithra’s arrival at Ayodhya and thereafter he explains his purpose of his visit – A divine “Yaaga” (offering) was to be conducted by him at his ashram (hamlet) and the “Raakshasas” were a big hinderance to his offering. Hence he wanted someone to help him kill the raakshasas and protect the offering from them. Thus when his eyes fell upon the beautiful, charming and handsome Rama, he was so impressed and wanted Rama to accompany him. Accordingly he requests king Dasharata for his permission. However, king Dasharata is wary to send his dearest son to the forest along with Sage Vishwaamithra, although the great Sage tries his best to convince him. In today’s episode, we shall see the reply given by king Dasharata to Sage Vishwaamithra and subsequently a lot of in-depth meanings to his reply in subsequent episodes!

We know now that King Dasharata was in no mood to relent and send his son Rama with Sage Vishwaamithra. He says the following:

“Uuna shodasa varshaha mey raamaha raajeeva lochanaha!

Na uddha yogyathaamasya pashyaami saha raakshasaihi!!”

Again, let us split the above sloka into smaller parts and look into the meaning of what king Dasharata says. “Shodasa varshaha” means sixteen years (Shodasa in Sanskrit means sixteen) and “Uuna” means “Less than”. Now, combining these two, “Uuna shodasa varshaha”, meaning, “Less than sixteen years”. Here, king Dasharata says that his son Rama is less than sixteen years of age! One might immediately ask a question here: Why doesn’t Dasharata say “Dvaadasa” (Meaning, “Twelve”), which was the actual age of Rama at that time? Why does he say some number called “Shodasa” (Sixteen) and that too, “Less than sixteen”? Why is he giving such a complex description to a simple thing? For this, there is a reason: In those days, the eligibility age for a kshathriya prince to go for war was sixteen. Here, king Dasharata was forced to use the number sixteen because his main aim in this context was to convey to Sage Vishwaamithra that Rama is not eligible to fight a war because of his young age and is less than the prescribed age of sixteen! This is the reason he prefers to stress on the number sixteen, rather than twelve!

King Dasharata continues further. Uuna shodasa varshaha.. Mey Raamaha!” – Here “Mey Raamaha” means, “My son, Raama” – Here, Periyavaachaan pillai gives a very beautiful commentary. Dasharata says “My Rama”. According to the commentary, it goes like this: King Dasharata anticipates Sage Vishwaamithra to ask the counter question here – “Let it be the fact that Rama might be your son. But it is him that I’m asking for now!” For which, king Dasharata replies, “Oh Sage Vishwaamithra! I think you’ve come in search of Parasuraama – The man with a ferocious character. I think you’ve come to the wrong address, in search of Parasuraama! You’ve unfortunately knocked the doors of “Dasharata Rama”, instead of going to “Bhaargava Raama”!

Moving on further, “Raajeeva Lochanaha!” means, “Having eyes which are like a beautiful lotus flower”. One might wonder, why is king Dasharata stressing on so many things that might seem out of context in lot of ways. But there is significance behind all this. I shall reserve it for now, and talk about it in detail in tomorrow’s episode.

Let us now move forward with the second line of the sloka. King Dasharata says, “Na uddha yogyathaamasya”, which means, “My son Rama is unfit to fight a war”. “Pashyaami saha raakshasaihi” And that too with whom are you wanting my son to fight with? The “Raakshasaas”! He asks Sage Vishwaamithra whether he doesn’t realize how powerful the “Raakshasaas” are, and how can a small child counter such a powerful evil force.

Such is king Dasharata’s reply to Sage Vishwaamithra. I had just mentioned in the previous paragraph that there are a few in-depth meanings attached to king Dasharata’s reply! What are they? Let’s wait till the next episode!


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