In the previous episode, we had the divine opportunity to commence the “Aaranya Kaanda”, which is the third out of the seven “Kaandaas” (Parts) of the Ramayana text. We started to witness Lord Rama’s long journey in the forest with his beloved wife Sita Devi and his brother Lakshmana. All three of them set to walk towards the southern direction from Chithrakoota and their first destination is the ashram of Athri Maharishi. Rama pays his respect to Athri Maharrishi as he weclomes the three of them inside his hamlet. Thus for the next thirteen years, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana spend their time in the hamlets of numerous great Rishis (Saints), interacting with them and seeking their valuable advice. This is thus a beautiful phase in the life of Sita and Rama! Let us witness the next series of events one by one.
Now, Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana are at the Athri-Anasuya Ashram, wherein Athri Bhagawan is talking with Rama and his wife Anasuya is talking with Sita. It is very interesting to note that at this point, Valmiki Maharishi has described the Sita-Rama wedding in more detail! In this context, Anasuya asks Sita to describe the marriage event in detail and Sita explains to her in intricate detail, the entire event of the auspicious wedding ceremony.
“Pathneemcha kalaf praarthaam vruddha maamanthri tatvruthaam!
Anasuyaam mahaabhaagaam thaapaseem dharmachaarineem!!”
Here, Valmiki Maharishi describes the significance of Anasuya – The wife of Athri Maharishi. In Sanskrit, “Asuya” means jealousy, and “Anasuya” means, “Nobody can feel jealous about her!” Such an embodiment of chastity and noble character was Anasuya! Thus, while her talking with Sita was going on, Anasuya was so impressed with the beauty of Sita and she wanted to decorate her beautiful face with a few ornaments. Anasuya says to Sita, “Oh my dear Sita! Here are some natural flowers from this forest area. I’m going to decorate you with these flowers! Keep these as valuable ornaments! I’m going to decorate you with some natural jewelry! Keep them as precious ornaments! You know something? When you wear these ornaments in your body, even if you do not bathe for ten months continuously, you’ll always be shining and fresh!”
Sita was surprised to hear this from Anasuya as she received those precious ornaments. However, as Anasuya rightly said, during her ten months of stay at Sri Lanka under the siege of Ravana, Sita was wearing exactly the same ornaments that Anasuya had given her! Thus, Sita never felt dull and she was shining as bright as ever! It is to be noted that Sita had never taken bath even once, during those ten months of imprisonment at Lanka! Such is the significance of the ornaments offered by Anasuya to Sita!
Thus, even today if we happen to visit the Athri – Anasuya ashram, we can see numerous small shops selling similar ornaments! If we go near those shops, the vendors would keep saying, “Please buy these ornaments! These were the exact ornaments that Anasuya gave Sita!” 🙂
It might sound funny for all of us on hearing this and we might start investigating if it is true or false! We should understand an important point here – If we start investigating on all these things, we are never going to realize “Rama Bhakthi”! (Devotion to Lord Rama!) We should firmly believe within ourselves that the place of Athri-Anasuya ashram is divine! Athri Bhagawan is a great Saint! Anasuya is an embodiment of divinity! The river Mandaahini that flows by the side is also divine! All this divinity exists even today! If all these are divine, even the small ornaments that those poor vendors keep selling are also divine! We should develop this firm belief in all of us and only then our devotion towards Rama and Sita would grow! Else, if we start investigating everything, our “Bhakthi” (Devotion) is never going to grow! Hence, the lesson from this episode at “Athri-Anasuya Ashram” is that, let us not waste time in unwanted investigations and engage ourselves in “Rama Bhakthi”!
Also, we should realize that if we want to investigate the truth behind our scriptures, one lifetime is not enough! There are enough and more “Vidwaans”, “Bhaagawathaas” and “Aachaaryaas” to debate with! But at the end of our life, all these debates are not going to help! What did Aadi Shankara Bhagawath Paada say? He says,
“Bhaja Govindam Bhaja Govindam! Govindam Bhaja moodamathe!
Samsaare sannihithe kaale! Nahi nahi rakshathi dukrunkarane!!
Punarapi jananam punarapi maranam! Punarapi janani jathare shayanam!!”
From the above verses, Aadi Shankara says, “Oh Moodamathe! (Senseless human being!) Please chant the ‘Govinda Naamaa’ (Lord Govinda’s divine names)! It is only this Govinda Naamaa that is going to help you attain salvation and nothing else! All these useless investigations and debates are not going to help you to liberate your soul! (“Nahi nahi rakshathi dukrunkarane!”) We are taking numerous births (“Punarapi Jananam”) and experiencing numerous deaths (“Punarapi Maranam”)! If we’ve to free ourselves from this vicious cycle of birth and death, the only solution is to chant Bhagawan’s name and completely surrender at His feet!”
Thus we need to realize this ardent and an important message and try to incorporate it in our daily lives! For today, let us sink into the beauty of the “Athri-Anasuya Ashram” and wait till tomorrow to find out the next series of events! 🙂