Episode 63 – Entering the “Thaatakaa Vanam”

rama-sita

In the previous episode we witnessed that Sage Vishwaamithra along with Rama and Lakshmana walk through the “Kaamaashramam”, which was once the dwelling place of “Manmathan” and also known for the significance of Lord Shiva doing penance. Sage Vishwaamithra explains all this in detail to the two children and they walk on further. Where did they go next? Let’s witness today!

While waking on, the three of them reach the next important place called “Thaatakaa Vanam”. It is a dense forest area and is very large. Valmiki Maharishi describes it beautifully in the following sloka, along with its’ history:

“Maladaascha karooshaasha deva nirmaana nirmithou!

Pura vrutthavathe raama male na samabhipplutham!!”

Sage Vishwaamithra thus explains the background of that place: “Maladam” and “Karoosham” were two twin cities that were once very popular in that particular place. There was a female demon by name Thaataka, who is the daughter of Yaksha. Yaksha got his daughter Thaataka married to a person by name “Sundhan”. Both being demons, in due course of time, destroyed the beautiful twin cities and made it a useless and an uninhabitable forest. The entire area around this place, along with the saints who live there were all suffering because of this woman, Thaataka. She had two sons by names “Maareecha” and “Subaahu”. Sage Vishwaamithra says that only if this woman, Thaataka is destroyed, the “Yaaga” will take place smoothly without any trouble.

You might all wonder as to why is Sage Vishwaamithra mentions that the mother should be destroyed first, before the two sons. There is an in-depth explanation to this: In this context of demons, the “Mother” is referred to as “Avidhya” (Blemish or Senselessness). These two sons, Maareecha and Shubaahu are nothing but “Kaama” and “Krodha” (Desire and Anger). Why are we always immersed in the “Kaama” and “Krodha”? It is only because of our “Avidhya”, that is, it is only because we’ve lost the ability of our thinking power. We are all living in a world (Kali Yuga) without the “Shaastra-Vaasana” (Knowledge of our Shaastras and Vedas). Thus, it is only because of this “Avidhya” and lack of “Shaastra Vaasana” we are into the “Kaama” (Desire) and “Krodha” (Anger).

Bhagawan Krishna himself says in the Gita, the following:

“Kaama yeshaha krodha yeshaha rajo guna samudhbhavaha!”

Bhagawan Krishna says, “Oh Arjuna! Please note the two biggest enemies of a human being’s life – Kaama and Krodha!” Hence we can understand the significance of the two factors from Lord Krishna himself. This is why, normally Brahmins perform something called as “Aavani Avittam” once every year. It is a ceremony wherein the sacred thread is changed with a new one and there are a few rituals associated with it. One of those important rituals is the chanting of a manthra as follows:

“Kaamo kaarsheedh manyura kaarsheed namo namah!”

I’m sure that this Manthra is familiar to many of us, since we also do this everyday as part of our “Sandhya-Vandanam”. Let’s explore the meaning of this particular manthra. It means that “Whatever mistakes I commit in my day-to-day life, it is only because of this ‘Kaama’ and ‘Krodham’, and oh God! Please do not blame me for them!” In other words, it simply means that whatever mistakes that happen from my side, is because of the “Kaama” and “Krodha”. I’m no way to blame for it! This particular manthra is chanted on this “Aavani Avittam” day as a “Samvatsara praayachitthaartham” (Means, I’m doing it once annually as a compensation of not doing it daily). Ideally, we should have done this everyday, however, if due to unavoidable circumstances, if we are not able to do on certain days, we compensate it once a year on this day by doing the “Samvatsara praayachitthaartham”, and chanting this manthra a thousand times.

To be more upfront, many of us still do not know the reason why do we celebrate this “Aavani Avittam” day and it’s better that we talk about this in a bit more detail. What is the significance of this “Aavani Avittam” day? Why do we do this every year? Let’s wait and answer these important questions in the next episode, before proceeding further into the “Thaataka Vadham”!

 

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