In the previous episode we witnessed the interesting historical significance of the “Shiva Dhanush” and how did it transcend through the six generations of king Janaka. In due course, we also witnessed that King Janaka had taken a wow that he would give his daughter Sita in marriage to that person who is able to lift that Shiva Dhanush in his hands with ease!
Accordingly, King Janaka had arranged for a “Syamvara” for Sita’s marriage. Here we should note that “Syamvara” means, there would be numerous kings invited from numerous kingdoms and a challenge would be posed to all the kings. Everybody would be given a fair chance to attempt the challenge and that person who succeed the challenge within the set rules and regulations, would be declared the winner and this winner would be the person who will marry the daughter of the king who would conduct this “Syamvara” event. Such was the custom and tradition in those days to marry off a king’s daughter! (Of course it is a debatable topic if it fits within women rights or not! But we are not interested in this debate right now!) 🙂 As per this custom, King Janaka had invited numerous kings/princes from different kingdoms around Mithilapuri. It was at this time that Rama and Lakshmana were also part of the big group, along with Sage Vishwaamithra.
As all the kings/princes reach the venue, King Janaka and the entire Mithila kingdom welcomes all of them. At this point, the big “Shiva Dhanush” was brought to the venue in a vehicle comprising of sixteen wheels, pushed by around 500 people. Sita is all dressed up in beautiful attire like a bride and is waiting with the garland in her hands! She is waiting eagerly to see who would be that special person who is going to lift the Shiva Dhanush and enter into her life!
At this moment, while glancing at all the kings/princes assembled there, Sita’s eyes fall on Rama for the first time! This beautiful moment is brought out extremely well by Kambanaadar in his Ramayana text in Tamil.
“Sezhimani kodigalennil kaigalai neeti andha kadi nagar
“Kollai kamala chengan ayyanai ollai vaa endru azhaippana pondradhamma!!”
Kamba-Ramayanam in Tamil is extremely beautiful in terms of descriptions of each event of the Ramayana story. Of course we are now looking at Valmiki Ramayana in every episode. At important points, I shall elucidate some “paasurams” from Kamba-Ramayanam also, so as to add more beauty to the context! Thus, Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit and Kamba-Ramayanam in Tamil are both like two eyes for us! We should make a sincere attempt to learn both these languages, so as to understand and experience the deeper meanings! Of course we are currently doing it in English, however, we should understand that the original text is in Sanskrit and Tamil. How much ever we try, it might not be possible for us to experience the beauty of the text completely in English, since English is after all a foreign language. Hence, it is important for all of us to make a conscious attempt to learn Sanskrit little by little and this would open up a new way of looking at this Ramayana text altogether!
Thus in the above “Paasuram”, Kamba Naadar describes the entry of Rama into Mithilapuri and into the palace of king Janaka! He says that while Rama enters the city, all the trees that were aligned on the way, were shaking their branches and their leaves and it seems like conveying the message that, “Oh Rama! Welcome to Mithilapuri wherein you are going to make an entirely new beginning in your life, upon entering this kingdom!”
For those readers who know Tamil, can also relate this similar kind of context in a book called “Silappadhikaaram” written by the famous Tamil poet Elangovadigal! In this context we can see that Elangovadigal uses a similar approach of trees shaking it’s branches and leaves, but tries to convey the message to Kovalan who is trying to enter the city of Madurai that, “Oh Kovalan! Please do not come inside Madurai! You have danger waiting for you! Please go back!” This kind of a description is called as “Thar-kurippetra Ani” in Tamil grammar (Also called “Alankaar Shaastra). It simply means that a poet takes an event happening normally in nature (In this context, the trees shaking it’s branches and leaves during a windy time) and tries to convey a message or views regarding the story context through this natural happening!
Anyway, coming back to the context, Kamba Naadar continues in his description of this beautiful situation: Sita is peeping out from a small window and trying to look at who is coming for the “Syamvara”, and the moment she sees Rama approaching:
“Annalum nokkinaar avalum nokkinaal… Aavi varuvana pondradhamma!!”
The moment Sita sees Rama and Rama sees Sita, both of them were speechless for sometime! Kamba Naadar says that Rama’s emotions ran into Sita and Sita’s emotions ran into Rama and they were lost into each other! Twelve years after coming down from Vaikunta, it is at this point that both of them are seeing each other! We can imagine the significance of this moment!
Thus, as both Sita and Rama are looking at each other, King Janaka shows this “Shiva Dhanush” to Sage Vishwaamithra. King Janaka tells, “Oh Brahma-Rishi! This is the great Shiva Dhanush from Lord Shiva! Please have a look at it!” Upon hearing this from King Janaka, Sage Viswaamithra immediately quips, “Oh Janaka! You need not show me the Shiva Dhanush! The person who is entitled to see this Dhanush is this boy, Rama! You show it to him!”
With this, the “Syamvara” is all about to commence! All the kings/princes have taken their places allotted to them. What happened next? What are the next series of events that unfolded? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!