In the previous episode we witnessed that Sage Vishwaamithra took Rama and Lakshmana along northwards via Vishaala city and are about to enter into Mithilapuri. On the way, they pass through Sage Gautama’s ashram wherein his wife Ahalyaa Devi was lying as a stone. Lord Rama granted her relief from the curse and she retook the form of a living woman. After this episode, the three of them proceed further towards Mithilapuri.
From today’s episode we are going to witness the build up for the auspicious event of Sita-Rama wedding!
Thus after a strenuous journey, Sage Vishwaamithra, Rama and Lakshmana reach Mithilapuri, the kingdom of the great King Janaka. They march towards the palace of King Janaka. At the entry point, they come across Sage Shataananda, who is the “Kula-Guru” of King Janaka. (Just how Sage Vashishtaachaarya is the “Kula-Guru” of King Dasharata). Sage Vishwaamithra tries to introduce the children Rama and Lakshmana to Sage Shataananda. He lists one by one – The son of the great King of Ayodhya, Dasharata, an expert in the artillery of bow and arrow, etc. Sage Shataananda never seemed to show interest in all these! At the end, Sage Vishwaamithra says, “It is he who granted relief to your mother from her curse!” (It is to be noted that Ahalyaa Devi is the mother of Sage Shataananda). Upon hearing this, Sage Shataananda was stunned and looked at Rama for the first time! He was extremely happy on hearing this from Sage Vishwaamithra and immediately took them to King Janaka inside the palace. King Janaka also meanwhile sent an invitation to the three of them, upon hearing the arrival of Sage Vishwaamithra!
We’ve seen in one of the previous episodes, the purpose of Sage Vishwaamithra’s visit to Mithilapuri – King Janaka had invited him for performing a “Dhanur-Yaaga” Here, the “Dhanur-Yaaga” is a special kind of a spiritual offering done for the “Dhanush” (Means, Bow). I’ll try and explain the history of this “Dhanush” very soon. King Janaka is so happy and tells Sage Vishwaamithra, “Oh Brahma-Rishi! I’m extremely overwhelmed at your arrival here! I know the reason for which you’ve come here!”
As I had mentioned, “Dhanush” is nothing but a big bow. This Bow is long and heavy and was once in the hands of Lord Shiva. (It is because of being in Lord Shiva’s hands, this “Dhanush” is referred to as the “Shiva Dhanush” or “Shiva Chaapa”). This “Shiva Dhanush” is in the palace of King Janaka for a long time now – In fact for the past six generations! King Janaka had taken a vow that he would marry his daughter Sita to the person who lifts this “Shiva Dhanush” and breaks it! King Janaka conveys this to Sage Vishwaamithra through the following slokas:
“Prathyuvaacha munishreshtaha vaakyam vaakya vichaarathaha!
Drashtu kaamau dhanussreshtam yadedathvayi drishtathi!!
Yetad darshaya bhadramthe kritha kaamau nupaagrajau!
Darshana tasya dhanushaha yadeshtam pratheeyaashruthaha!!”
King Janaka continues to narrate the history of how he was born and how this “Shiva Dhanush” came to Mithilapuri.
“Devaraatha ithignyaathaha nime jeshto mahee pathihi!”
I shall narrate the story in brief: There was once a king by name “Nimi”. This King Nimi was the great ancestor of Sita – before six generations. This king Nimi wanted to perform a “Puthra-Kaameshti Yaaga” for the want of a son and requested Sage Vashishtaachaarya for it. Sage Vasishtaachaarya accepts his invitation to come, but says that he has already committed to Indra (The leader of the Devas) for another Yaaga, and thus he would come after completing that commitment. King Nimi thought that Sage Vasishtaachaarya would come within a day or two and accepted his words! However, the time taken to perform the Yaaga for Indra was 500 years! King Nimi waited and waited, and at a point he lost patience. Thus he went ahead with some other maharishis and performed the Yaaga! After 500 years, Sage Vasishtaachaarya comes to Nimi’s palace and learns that the king had already performed the Yaaga. Upon hearing this, Sage Vasishtaachaarya became angry for the reason of being “cheated” and cursed King Nimi that he would lose his physical body forever! Thus, King Nimi became formless. (Also called “Vi-deha” in Sanskrit. “Deha” means body, “Vi-deha” means formless or “Without a body”).
However, the maharishis who had performed the Yaaga for King Nimi became angry on Sage Vasishtaachaarya because, they felt that it was only after consulting him and his delay that the king went ahead with the Yaaga with the other sages and they started to try and retrieve Nimi’s lost body! King Nimi was frustrated with the competition and revenge between the sages and confessed to them that he doesn’t want to live anymore, however he had just one wish – That is, King Nimi prayed to the rishis that he should always be present in between the two eyelids of every human being! It is only because of this reason that the time taken by a human being to wink his/her eye is called “Nimisham”! However, in the present day we address the word “Nimisham” to 60 seconds (with respect to the measurement of time), but in the Sanskrit literature, the word “Nimisham” refers to the wink of an eye! Thus, since King Nimi resides between the two eyelids, the term “Nimisham” is used to refer to the wink of the eye, wherein the eyelids close and open within a fraction of a second!
Thus, King Nimi was granted his wish! However, the kingdom needed a king to continue, because of the unfortunate and the untimely death of King Nimi. Hence, all the maharishis started to dig and excavate his dead body with the help of a “Math” (Can be equated to a spade or something like this). Here, “Mathanam” or “Manthanam” in Sanskrit means, “To explore” or “To excavate”. Thus, while excavating his body, the next king by name “Devaraatha” took birth and the sixth successor of King Devaraatha was King Janaka.
Now we’ve seen the background of King Janaka. We shall wait till the next episode to witness the interesting story behind the city of Mithilapuri and also the “Shiva Dhanush”! Stay tuned!