Episode 137 – Rama, Sita & Lakshmana enter Sarabhanga Maharishi’s Ashram!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita continue their treacherous journey in their forest towards the southern direction wherein they confront the demon by name Viraadha. Rama & Lakshmana take him on and defeat him as they move on further south. In the meanwhile we also witnessed the geographical location of the “Dhandakaaranya” forest area. We saw that this forest area is located in Central India between the present day Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Now moving on, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita move further south and reach the ashram of Sarabhanga Maharishi. Rama is about to enter the ashram and at this time, a unique incident takes place – Just before Rama, Sita and Lakshmana reach Sarabhanga Maharishi’s ashram, someone had just passed by and enteredThat someone was none other than Indra himself! All of us might know that Indra is the leader of the “Devas” or the “Celestial beings”.

Upon realizing that Indra is in the vicinity, Rama stops mid way and doesn’t proceed further! Rama being the incarnation of Lord Vishnu thinks to himself, “I’m currently in the human form and it’s not appropriate to meet celestial beings with this human body!” Thinking thus, he conveys to Sita and Lakshmana, “Let us wait outside till Indra leaves the ashram and then we can enter!”

After sometime, Indra comes out of the ashram and he too realizes that Rama is in the vicinity! However, he also realized that Rama is not interested in meeting him and hence he left back to the “Swarga Lokha”! Thus, Rama was very straightforward and true to his way of incarnation! However, during the time of the Krishna Avatara, all the Devas used to come down and happily meet Lord Krishna! It is also to be noted that the Devas conveniently come and meet Lord Krishna and also get beaten and bruised by him! 🙂 For instance, Indra himself got into a tangle with Lord Krishna! Lord Brahma too wasn’t an exception in this! All of them wanted to test the power of little Krishna and they were rightly shown their place by him! However, Rama is an embodiment of truth and honesty! He never crosses the line on anything! That’s why even today when we go to Ayodhya or any temple in North India, people address Rama as “Mariyaadhaa Purushottham Raam” which means, “Lord Rama who commands respect amongst all his devotees!”

Thus, after Indra leaves the place, Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana are going to enter the ashram of Sarabhanga Maharishi. The moment when they are about to enter, Rama said to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! We are now entering a Brahmana Maharishi’s ashram and it is not fair on our part to carry this big bow inside! Hence, let us keep our bows and arrows here and enter inside!” Thus we can again see how straightforward and respectful Rama was! He knows how to respect great Maharishis although he is a great and an invincible Kshatrya prince! This is what we need to learn here – Whomever so we may be, we must learn to respect elders and obey their words!

Thus, as Rama arrives, Sarabhanga Maharishi welcomes him and accepts the due respects that Rama & Lakshmana offer to him. While interacting with him, Rama asks if there is a nice place around this area for him to reside with Lakshmana and Sita.

“Aashramam sarabhangasya raaghavo vidhikaamaha!

Sameebhe sarabhangasya darharsha mahathatbhutham!!

Asamprusantham bahudhaan dadqrsha vibudeshwaraam!”

Thus, Valmiki Maharishi through the above slokas describe Rama’s entry into Sarabhanga Maharishi’s ashram and Rama asks him for a nice place to stay. Upon which Sarabhanga Maharishi replies, “Oh Rama! I’m in the process of preparing myself to attain ‘Moksha’ and go to “Vaikunta” after our meeting is over! How can I show you a place? However I’ll tell you one thing – In this direction, go towards the west! You’ll reach Sutheekshna Maharishi’s ashram. You may consult Sutheekshna Maharishi and according to his guidance, you may find a good place to reside!”

Thus, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita acknowledge Sarabhanga Maharishi’s words and thank him for his guidance. With his blessings, the three of them proceed westwards towards Sutheekshna Maharishi’s ashram. We shall also proceed westwards with Rama, Lakshmana and Sita for the whole of today and wait till tomorrow as they reach their next destination! We shall wait till the next episode to find out what Sutheekshna Maharishi is going to say! 🙂

Episode 136 – Entering the “Dhandakaaranya” Forest – Rama & Lakshmana confront Viraadha!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were at Athri-Anasuya Ashram, wherein Athri Bhagawan was interacting with Rama and Anasuya was interacting with Sita. We also witnessed that Anasuya brought some natural flowers and ornaments and decorated Sita with them! Sita was so happy to receive all this from her.

Thus after a few days, they bid farewell to Athri Maharishi and Anasuya and the journey commences again! Rama, along with his wife Sita and Lakshmana start walking towards the southern direction and on the way, they had to confront the first enemy – Viraadha! While walking through their way in the dense forest, Viraadha suddenly appears in front of them with all his might and with a fearful appearance! Within a split of a second, he captures Sita and takes her away, even as Rama and Lashmana look on!

Rama and Lakshmana now muster up their courage and decide to take on Viraadha! A fierce battle followed and eventually Rama and Lakshmana cut off Viraadha’s legs and hands with their sharp and swift arrows! Thus, Viraadha was rendered powerless and Sita is freed from his clutches. Rama and Lakshmana were relieved to a great extent!

Finally Viraadha realizes whom was he fighting with all this long – It was Lord Vishnu Himself! At this moment, Viraadha is grateful to Lord Rama and says, “Oh Rama! A great saint cursed me long back that I would be a demon! Now that you’ve destroyed the demon in me! Thank you for relieving me of my curse of being a demon! Here is your wife Sita! Have a happy time in the forest and I wouldn’t be of any disturbance to you anymore!”

Rama acknowledges Viraadha’s surrender and words and blesses him! From this episode we can know that Lord Rama is compassionate not only towards his Bhaktas (devotees) but also towards his enemies! We’re going to see many more examples like this as we progress further!

We can visit this place of Viraadha even today – When we proceed towards the southern direction and enter the “Dhandakaaranya” forest area, the first stop would be “Viraadha Kundam”! It is even today a complete forest area with lot of wild animals roaming around and is very difficult for human beings like us to access that area!

Now you might all ask me, what is this “Dhandakaaranya”? Where is it located? We shall see the detailed location of this beautiful forest – Imagine the map of India and let us start from “Chitrakoota”. I had already mentioned that “Chitrakoota is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the central part of the country. Let’s keep a dot at this place. Now, let’s move further southwards from Chitrakoota towards the state of Maharashtra – Many of us would be knowing the place called Nagpur. There is a place by name “Raamthek” which is around 60 kilometers north of Nagpur. Let’s keep another dot at this place. All of us know Mumbai, which is the capital of Maharashtra. There is a place called Nashik, around 200 kilometers east of Mumbai. Let’s keep the third dot here.

Now, we have three dots – One at Chtrakoota, the second at “Raamthek”near Nagpur and the third one at Nashik. If we join these three dots, we can form a triangleThe area within this triangle is the “Dhandakaaranya” forest area! The main significance of this “Dhandakaaranya forest” is that, numerous great Maharishis resided here and were doing immense penance! Hence it is a divine area!

Thus after defeating Viraadha, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita continue their journey towards the southern direction and enter inside this “Dhandakaaranya forest”. What did Rama do in this place? Whom did Rama meet next? We shall wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂

Episode 135 – Athri Maharishi & Anasuya interact with Rama & Sita!!!

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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! 🙂

Episode 134 – Commencing of “Aaranya Kaanda” – Rama, Lakshmana & Sita reach Athri-Anasuya’s Ashram

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In the previous episode we witnessed the very important event of “Paadhukaa Pattaabisheka” wherein, Bharata receives the “Paadhuka” (divine footwear) of Bhagawan Rama, takes it to Nandigraam, just outside the city of Ayodhya and coronates it to the throne. Thus, Bharata starts to discharge the duties of the kingdom on the behest of the divine “Paadhuka”. It is thus believed that the “Paadhuka” of Rama ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya till Rama returned back after fourteen years.

With this, we came to the end of the “Ayodhya Kaanda” and it is now time to move on to the next important Kaanda – The “Aaranya Kaanda”. The word “Aranyam” means, “Forest”. Hence, this Kaanda is entirely devoted to the events that took place during the “Vana-Vaasa” period of Lord Rama. In fact, this Aaranya Kaanda can be split into two main parts – The first part would deal with the events that happened before Sita’s abduction by Ravana and the second part would deal with the events that took place after Ravana abducts Sita. We shall thus begin with the first part in today’s episode.

Thus, Bharata and the entire group of people who accompanied him were sent back to Ayodhya and Rama decides to move to a new place. He expresses his opinion to Sita and says, “Oh Sita! I think it’s time for us to move out from here because all the citizens of Ayodhya have come to know the whereabouts of us. If we continue to stay here, people would be coming on and off and that would be a disturbance!” Sita accepts Rama’s decision and thus they commence their long journey in the dense forest!

Thus Rama, Lakshmana and Sita start walking towards the southern direction from the banks of river Mandaahini. Their first stop was at the ashram of Athri Maharishi. This is the place wherein Athri Maharishi was living with his wife Anasuya. We can worship this place even today – When we take a detour towards the southern direction from Chithrakoota, the first stop that we would encounter would be Athri-Anasuya Ashram. The three of them reach this place and Rama pays the due respects to Athri Maharishi and in turn, Athri Maharishi and Anasuya welcome Rama, Sita and Lakshmana inside. Thus, the five of them sit and start talking leisurely! Now Rama is completely free of everything – No kingdom, no people, no responsibility! All they need to do is to sit and gossip! 🙂

There are a few commentaries of the Ramayana that even mention the reason why Rama and Sita went away to the forest, on a lighter note – It seems that Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi were not very satisfied being in the “Vaikunta” due to the constant disturbance of numerous Devas and other celestial beings who come and visit them regularly! Hence, Goddess Lakshmi suggests to Lord Vishnu that they go down and be born on the earth as ordinary people and live happy and relaxed! Lord Vishnu accepts her suggestion and accordingly they take birth as Sita and Rama! After twelve years of waiting, they get married too and started their life together at Ayodhya. However, Sita had 365 mother-in-laws!! 🙂 How can they be free and relaxed? Hence Sita says to Rama, “Oh Rama! I think we’ve made a mistake somewhere! I thought that we would be happy and relaxed when we’re on the earth! Let’s do one thing! Let’s go to the forest and relax there!” Rama too accepts Sita’s proposal and this is why he had to stage all this drama! 🙂

However, on a serious note, it is believed widely that Rama wanted to meet various great Rishis’ and take their advice before starting to rule Ayodhya and this is the reason he had come to the forest! Thus, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana walk their way and reach Athri-Anasuya Ashram. Let the three of them rest for today after their long walk! We shall wait till tomorrow to see what did they do here and how did they move forward! 🙂

Episode 133 – Bharata requests Rama to return to Ayodhya – Coronation of Rama’s “Paadhuka”

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama comes to know of King Dasharata’s death and subsequently he does the divine offerings for his late father on the banks of the river Mandaahini. The four brothers were in uncontrollable grief as they hug each other and cry aloud! The three mothers were in grief too! Sage Vasishtaachaarya was also moved to tears on seeing this situation. Once all of them calm down a bit, Bharata puts up the request to Rama, asking him to return back to Ayodhya and take over the kingdom as per the tradition of the Ikshvaaku Dynasty. Bharata falls on Rama’s feet and begs him to come back and rule Ayodhya.

Rama acknowledges Bharata’s unconditional surrender, lifts him and hugs him with all his love and affection towards his little brother! He consoles him with his ever-beautiful smile and replies, “Oh Bharata! I’ve given a promise to our father and our mother Kaikeyi that I’ll be on exile for the next fourteen years and I shall not take up the kingdom until this period ends!”

Upon hearing this from Rama, Bharata was totally upset! Seeing all this, Jaabaali, one of the revered Maharishis in King Dasharata’s court stood up and spoke, “Oh Rama! What are you blabbering? There is nothing in this world called “promise”! There is nothing in this world called “Naraka” (Hell) or “Swarga” (Heaven)! We’ve to live as we wish and as we please! We can do whatever we feel like! We can eat whatever we desire to! If you don’t have money to eat, borrow money from someone and fulfil your desires! After borrowing money, you needn’t even repay it, because there’s no Naraka and you can do all what you wish to!”

From this, we can understand one thing very clearly – If we borrow money from someone, we never need to repay it back! 🙂 If we borrow some money, there is somebody else who is repaying our money isn’t it? What a “beautiful” situation!!! 🙂 🙂

Upon hearing these stupid words from Jaabaali, Rama got frustrated and scolds him, “Oh! What kind of words are you talking? Being a revered Maharishi in King Dasharata’s court, you should be ashamed to talk such things!” Sage Vasishtaachaarya gets up and consoles Rama and says, “Oh Dear Rama! He is not of this type actually! He is a very kind hearted person by nature! He is talking all these just out of frustration that you’ve left Ayodhya! Now tell him that you’re coming back to Ayodhya and I’ll ask him to prove his good nature!” Rama was more furious in hearing this from Sage Vasishtaachaarya and replies back, “Irrespective of me coming back or not, it is not nice of him to use such words! He is not living up to the reputation of the great Ikshvaaku Dynasty!”

Thus, the gimmicks of Jaabaali too failed to convince Rama to come back to Ayodhya! Thus, after all these deliberations, Bharata finally asks Rama for his “Paadhukka” (Footwear). He tells Rama, “Oh Rama! If you are not coming back now, it’s fine! But atleast bless me with your divine “Paadhuka”! I shall coronate this footwear of yours and rule the kingdom on behalf of you! Please accept this request of mine!”

Rama accepts this request of Bharata, removes his footwear and keeps it on the head of Bharata as a blessing to him. Now Bharata says to Rama, “Oh Rama! This Paadhuka will rule Ayodhya from today! Please note that you have to come back compulsorily after fourteen years for sure! Please keep in mind that If you get late even by one day, you would not see this Bharata alive anymore from that moment!”

Rama acknowledges Bharata’s words, while Bharata carefully takes Rama’s “Paadhuka” in his head and the entire group of people returns back to Ayodhya! Bharata stays back at a place called “Nandigraam” just outside the city of Ayodhya and from there, coronates Rama’s footwear and starts to discharge the duties of the kingdom! Thus, we can see that Bharata is a person who is in service to Bhagawan, but according to Bhagawan’s wish (Bhagawath Paarathanthriyam)! Here, we can see that Rama wanted Bharata to rule the kingdom till he returns to Ayodhya after fourteen years, and Bharata accepts Rama’s instruction as his duty!

Thus, Bharata reaches Nandigraam and starts to discharge the duties of the kingdom from there. This marks the end of the “Ayodhya Kaanda” and we shall wait till the next episode to move on with the “Aaranya Kaanda”!

Episode 132 – Rama performs the last duties for King Dasharata!!!

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In the previous episode, we witnessed the arrival of Bharata at Chitrakoota and as he arrives, he straightaway fell on the feet of Lord Rama with all his tears of agony and sorrow! Rama, as magnanimous as ever, lifts Bharata, makes him sit on his lap and comforts him. Meanwhile we also saw that Rama uses this opportunity to teach Lakshmana a lesson! This harsh lesson for Lakshmana is also an important life lesson for all of us – We should behave carefully with Bhagawan’s ardent devotees, else we are going to make ourselves the victims of Bhagawan’s anger! Hence, we should mind our words and language when we interact with Bhaktas and Bhaagawathaas!

Once Bharata is comforted, Rama asks him a slew of questions: “My dearest Bharata! How are you doing? How did your coronation ceremony go? How is Ayodhya? How are the people of Ayodhya? Are you taking care of them properly as a king? Are you collecting all the taxes properly and managing all the accounts correctly?” – For all these questions, Bharata never lifted his head up to answer Rama! It is to be noted here that at this stage Rama doesn’t know that Bharata hasn’t become the king of Ayodhya yet! He just assumes that Bharata is the king and he asks all these above questions. From these questions of Rama to Bharata, we can also understand the important roles and duties of an effective administrator!

With Bharata not answering any of the above questions, (He needn’t answer any of the above questions, because he hasn’t become the king yet – Rather, he doesn’t intend to!) now Rama asks the all-important question – “Oh Bharata! Are you meticulously following the footsteps laid by our great ancestors of the Ikshvaaku Dynasty?” Upon hearing this question, Bharata slowly lifts up his head and looks at Rama and replies, “Oh Rama! Of all the questions that you asked till now, I’ll just answer the last question that you asked! What did you ask just now? Are you following the footsteps laid by our great ancestors of Ikshvaaku Dynasty? Now I shall reply to this question – You’ve tried to act against the footsteps laid by our ancestors and I’ve come here to correct you to the right path!”

Rama didn’t understand what Bharata was trying to say. Now Bharata says, “Oh Rama! The footsteps laid by our ancestors is that, the eldest son of the king should be the successor! Now you’ve disobeyed this important rule and I’ve come here to correct you! Here’s the kingdom of Ayodhya! You’ve to rule Ayodhya and not me! Please come back!”

Rama was so impressed with Bharata’s “Sharanaagathi Dharma” (Complete surrender to the Lord), and at the same time, his eyes fell on the three mothers who were dressed like widows! Rama was concerned and asks Bharata about King Dasharata’s health condition. Upon which, Bharata broke the ice and says, “Oh Rama! Our dear father has passed away!” Hearing this, Rama is totally dejected and shocked beyond words! He is almost going to faint! All the four brothers hug each other and cry aloud, as the three mothers and Sage Vasishtaachaarya look on with grief!

The moment Rama was about to loose himself, Sita runs towards Rama and comforts him! She gives him the courage and says, “Oh my dear husband! You are the eldest son of all and if you are going to get dejected like this, how will you console the other three brothers of yours? Please regain your mental strength! I know it is a tough moment, but my dear, I request you to control your emotions!” Rama acknowledges Sita’s words and tries to console his brothers who were weeping bitterly!

Now Rama, accompanied by the others, walks towards the banks of river Mandaahini, which is not very far from that place. Rama, being the eldest son has to do the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” (A kind of Divine Offering done to his late father). There was a tree called “Ingudha”. Rama plucks the fruits from this tree and offers them to the river Mandaahini as the divine offering to his late father!

Normally we do the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” with rice. But since Rama was in the forest, there was no source of getting rice. Moreover, he had also made a promise to Kaikeyi that he would not consume any food item that contains rice in it and that he would consume only food that is taken by saints and tapasvis’ in the forest! Thus, while giving just these fruits of the “Ingudha” tree, Kaushalya couldn’t control her tears! She laments aloud by saying, “Ohh! What a great King, Dasharata was! And look at the situation right now! He doesn’t even deserve to get even a proper divine offering even after his death! What sin did Dasharata commit to be this unfortunate? Was giving Rama to this world his greatest sin?” Thus, looking at this unfortunate situation, the entire set of people gathered there were crying aloud!

After all this was over, Bharata repeats his request to Rama and asks him to come back to Ayodhya and take over the kingdom! Did Rama accept Bharata’s request? What was Rama’s reply? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 131 – Bharata falls on Rama’s feet in total surrender, as Rama gets angry on Lakshmana!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Bharata was advancing towards Rama as he has a feeling that Rama was somewhere around that particular place near Chithrakoota. As he advances further, he sees Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in their hamlet. Bharata was overwhelmed on seeing Rama and in the meanwhile Lakshmana was furious to see Bharata approaching as he mistakes that Bharata is coming to kill Rama and Sita! However, Rama checks Lakshmana’s anger and they wait for Bharata to come closer.

Bharata sees Rama, Lakshmana and Sita closer as he approaches their hamlet. On the contrary to what Lakshmana expected, Bharata was all in tears as he approaches Rama and straightaway fell on his feet, crying like a child! Once he fell on Rama’s feet, he never stood up after that. He was crying, crying and crying to his heart’s content! This is a very emotional moment for all the four brothers as Rama tries to console Bharata and lifts him up with his long arms and makes him sit on his lap.

Now Rama has a look at Lakshmana who is already embarrassed that he had committed a huge mistake! Rama says to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! You were saying that Bharata was coming to hunt me down! Now look at him! He’s just in tears and came with all his noble and pure heart in search of me!” Lakshmana is now all the more embarrassed upon hearing this from Rama! He bends his head down in shame and sorrow at the same time!

However, Rama didn’t relent in his talk now. He now gives a fitting reply in a harsher tone, which Lakshmana never expected! Valmiki Maharishi brings it out in the following sloka:

“Yathi raajyasya hethosthvam imaam vaacham prabhaashase!

Vaksyaami bharatham drishtvaa raajyamasmai pradheeyathaam!!”

From the above sloka Rama continues to say, “Oh Lakshmana! Till now I never knew that you might have a desire to rule the kingdom of Ayodhya! I think it has been proved now! (“Yathi raajyasya hethosthvam imaam vaacham prabhaashase!) If this was the case, you could have expressed this desire to me much before! Even now it is not too late. Tell me if you have a desire to rule Ayodhya! You can always wish to do it! I shall immediately convey this to Bharata and get the kingdom for you! You can go back to Ayodhya and live happily in the palace as a king! I shall go to the forest with my dearest Bharata! My Bharata would never say a ‘no’ for this plan!”

Upon hearing this from Rama, Lakshmana was shell-shocked as he sank into deeper embarrassment! He started to weep bitterly as he realized his great folly that he had committed! We might wonder why Rama was suddenly so harsh towards Lakshmana!

Lakshmana replies to Rama now with tears, “Oh My dear Rama! I do not want a kingdom! I do not want a Vaikuntam! I do not want anything else in this world but your lotus feet! Please do not let me off! I’m apologizing for what I’ve done!”

We might have a question whether Rama doesn’t know to talk politely or not! Why is he talking so harshly to Lakshmana although he is always with him and of service to him? Here is an important message for all of us: If we misbehave with Bhagawan, even then he might not get angry on us! Whereas, if we misbehave with a Bhaktha (Ardent devotee) of Bhagawan, he gets extremely angry on us! Here too we can witness the same thing: The moment Lakshmana misbehaves and scolds Bharata, who is an ardent devotee, Rama gets extremely angry and even doesn’t mind giving a banter to Lakshmana too!

We can witness this same situation during the “Yuddha Kaanda” when Ravana attacked Rama multiple times he never got angry! However, when Ravana decided to attack Hanuman (who is an ardent devotee of Rama), at that moment, Rama decided to teach Ravana a lesson and to show him what Rama’s fury is all about!

Thus Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shathrugna hug each other and are in tears of joy in seeing each other! Let us also sink into this joyous moment for today and wait till tomorrow to witness the next important happening! 🙂

Episode 130 – Lakshmana gets ready to fight Bharata & Co.!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed Bharata’s meeting with Sage Bharadwaaja and as per the directions given by him, Bharata and his people advance further and reach Chithrakoota where Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were residing. Upon looking around the beauty of the place, Bharata had a feeling that Rama should be residing here somewhere, and thus he advances deeper into the forest area in search of his dear brother.

As Bharata’s army of people advance towards Rama’s hamlet, it was Lakshmana who spotted this – He is sitting on a small treetop so as to keep a vigil of the surroundings, in order to protect Rama and Sita from the potential attack by an enemy. Upon seeing Bharata advancing further, Lakshmana was shocked! He didn’t expect Bharata to come and find out the place of Rama. Bharata, as we all know is all in tears of sorrow and was so eager to worship Rama’s divine face and surrender to his feet and give back the kingdom of Ayodhya to him! However, Lakshmana without understanding any of these immediately jumps down from the treetop with all his fury and runs towards the “Aayudha-Shaala” (The place where the weapons are stored) to take his bow and arrows!) Here we can see that Lakshmana is the next person who mistakes Bharata’s good intentions!

“Yaavanna sharanau braathuhu paarthivavvyanjanaan vithou!

Shirasaa praharishyaami name shaanthir bhavishyathi!!”

Thus, Bharata is approaching Rama to submit the kingdom of Ayodhya and ask for forgiveness at his lotus feet! But, without understanding all this, Lakshmana is getting ready to fight Bharata and kill him and the entire army of people who are following him! Upon seeing Lakshmana going swiftly with the bow and arrow, Rama intercepts him and asks him the reason of his sudden anger! Now Lakshmana answers Rama in a furious tone“Yes! I’m going! I saw Bharata advancing towards us with a huge army from Ayodhya! I’m going to finish them all at once, although it is our own army! How dare can he come near you with such wicked thoughts? I’m going to finish him off today and Bharata is going to be history from tomorrow!” Kamba Naadar brings out Lakshmana’s fury beautifully in the following “Paasuram”:

“Kudhitthezhan kudhithanan paaredai kuvadu neerezha!!”

Kamba Naadar says that when Lakshmana jumped on the ground from the treetop with all his fury, it seems that the entire world shook for a moment! (“Kudhithanan paaredai kuvadu neerezha”) The water level in the oceans rose up to sky-high levels, unable to bare the pressure! (It is very interesting to note here that people knew the concept of a “Tsunami” even at that age and time!) It is to be remembered that Lakshmana is the incarnation of the great Aadisesha (The Lord of the serpents) and his fury was unable to be borne even by Mother Earth! Upon seeing Lakshmana’s fury, Rama replies to him,

“Ilakkuva! Oru ezhum mezum nee kalakkuvai!”

Rama says to Lakshmana, “Oh my dear Lakshmana! I know that with your strength you can conquer the whole world at ease! However, you should have some intelligence at times too! Although you have infinite strength, you should also be calm and have some level of patience. You should realize that Bharata is not coming to fight with me – Instead, he is coming to me with all his Bhakthi and love for me. Please realize that Bharata is coming to me to surrender at my feet! Please wait for five minutes!”

Lakshmana is not in a state to listen to all these from Rama. He is all ready to go and wage a fierce battle and win over Bharata! Lakshmana asks Rama, “Oh Rama! How can we wait for five long minutes? Every minute is crucial in a war isn’t it? What if your intention is wrong? What if Bharata suddenly comes near you and attacks you?”

Rama continues to reply to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! Assuming that Bharata is coming to fight with me, you would not find this Rama alive like this!” Upon hearing these words, Lakshmana was shell-shocked! He didn’t understand the meaning of Rama’s words!

Rama further explains to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! Bharata is also my dear brother! Accordingly I’ve set a framework as to how Bharata would behave and conduct himself with me! It is only because of this that this Rama is alive still! But if Bharata comes and misbehaves in front of me, yes, you might fight with him and win over him! But what is the use Lakshmana? Your Rama would be useless and dead in front of Bharata, the moment Rama comes to know that Bharata has crossed the line! Oh Lakshmana! Please keep in mind that Rama is alive only because of the love and affection of Bharata! The moment I come to know that Bharata has turned against this Rama, then you would never find Rama alive from that very moment itself!”

Thus Lakshmana was somewhat convinced by this detailed explanation given by Rama and hence the three of them eagerly await the arrival of Bharata! We shall also eagerly wait till the next episode to witness the arrival of Bharata and to see what is going to happen next! 🙂

Episode 129 – Sage Bharadwaaja too mistakes Bharata’s devotion!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Bharata and his people are all set to sail across the river Ganges with the help and the guidance given by Guha. While boarding the raft, we also saw that Bharata introduces his three mothers one by one to Guha and explains their significance. We witnessed the beautiful “Paasuram” of Kamba Ramayana in this effect.

Now moving on further, the entire caravan boards the raft provided by Guha and thus all of them sail across and reach the other bank of the river Ganges and start their march towards Chitrakoota. It should be remembered that Guha had given them ample guidance on the direction that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita walked after crossing the river. According to the given directions, Bharata and the other people march on, and reach the ashram of Sage Bharadwaaja. It should be remembered that Rama, Lakshmana and Sita also passed by Sage Bharadwaaja’s ashram and only with his guidance did they found this place where they were currently residing.

Upon reaching Sage Bharadwaaja’s ashram, Bharata falls on his feet and pays the due respects to the great Sage.

“Kaschinna tasyaa paapasya paapam tharthumiheshyasi!

Akhantakam bhokthamanaa raajyam tasyaanujasyacha!!

Yevamukthvaa bharadwaajam bharathaha prathyuvaachaha!

Paryaschu nayano dukhaan vaachaa sandyajyamaanayaa!!”

Sage Bharadwaaja, upon seeing the arrival of Bharata says to him, “Oh Bharata! You’ve come with an intention to do a sin to a person (Rama) who cannot be affected by any kind of a sin in this world! You’ve got what you wanted and now why are you coming here to further add to the woes of Rama?”

Upon hearing these harsh words from a Sage of the stature of the Great Bharadwaaja, Bharata was shocked and for a moment, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! Bharata falls down on his feet with tears in his eyes and replies, “Oh Great Sage! Even if you’ve mistook my intentions, then there is nobody else in this world for whom I’ve to live for! You are a Sage who knows everything through the power of your deep penance! If Kaushalya scolds me, she is a mother who has sacrificed her son and I can understand what she’s going through! If Guha mistakes me, I can still understand because he’s afterall a hunter! Even if Sage Vasishtaachaarya mistakes me, I can understand because he is our “Kula Guru” and he has the responsibility of ruling the kingdom effectively! What about you? In what way did I hurt you? If even you’ve to mistake me, then I’m shattered beyond words! I thought atleast you would understand me well, however now I think that I’ve been murdered mentally and emotionally! There is no point of me living in this world anymore!”

Upon seeing Bharata cry out his misery, Sage Bharadwaaja lifts him with happiness and says, “Oh Bharata! I know very well that you’ve done no fault! I know very well that you are an epitome of Bhakthi towards Rama! However, I had to ask that harsh question to you, just to make sure that tomorrow the society would believe that Bharata is a good person! Only if I make you cry like this, I can also substantiate to the world that you are a person with a kind heart!”

Bharata on hearing Sage Bharadwaaja’s explanation replies back, “Oh Sage Bharadawaaja! Thank you for your explanation! I do not need the certificate of approval from anybody that I’m a good person. All what is important is that you understand me well! That is more than enough for me! Please guide me with the way in which Rama went. I’m so desperate to see him, Lakshmana and Sita Devi.”

Sage Bharadwaaja was so impressed with the unconditional surrender from Bharata and guides him with the directions where Rama traversed. Thus, Bharata follows the instructions of Sage Bharadwaaja and after a while, the entire set of people are now nearing Chithrakoota wherein Rama, Lakshmana and Sita were residing. Upon witnessing the scenic beauty around that place, Bharata senses that Rama is somewhere in the vicinity. Hence, he searches his way through and walks on as he finds Rama sitting at some distance from where he was!

Before Rama sees Bharata approaching, it was Lakshmana who saw Bharata first! Lakshmana sees a huge crowd of people advancing towards their hamlet, with the flag of Ayodhya flying high in the air! What was Lakshmana’s reaction? What did he do? Was he happy to see his brother Bharata? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 128 – Bharata introduces Kaushalya, Kaikeyi & Sumithra to Guha!!!

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In the previous episode, we witnessed a very important aspect of the Bharata-Guha conversation wherein both Bharata and Guha express their deep love and devotion towards Rama during their talk with each other! Now all of them are set to get on to the boat that was arranged by Guha to cross the river Ganges. Everybody started to board the boat with Bharata leading the way along with Sage Vasishtaachaarya.

While everybody were boarding the boat one by one, Guha’s eyes fell upon the people who were boarding the boat by the side of Bharata – especially the three mothers, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra. Guha asks Bharata, who are they and why have they accompanied him. Now Bharata has to introduce the three mothers to Guha. Here is how he did it.

Bharata starts with introducing mother Kaushalya first. Kamba Naadar in his Ramayanam in Tamil explains this introduction beautifully in the following “paasuram”. I’m splitting the paasuram into three different parts for easy understanding. In the first part, Kamba Naadar explains the introduction of Kaushalya:

“Kokkal veihi muthatthaan mudhal devi!

Moondru ulagam eendraanai mun eendraanai petrathaal – Perum petrai

Yaam pirandadhaal izhandha periyaal!”

Here, the phrase “Mudhal Devi” means, “First Mother”, which is directly referred to Kaushalya. Bharata thus describes Kaushalya as the supreme mother and the first wife of King Dasharata (“Kokkal veihi muthatthaan mudhal devi”). Her unique significance is that she had the opportunity of bearing the Lord of the three worlds (Surface, Sky and Water) in her womb for twelve months! (“Moondru ulagam eendraanai mun eendraanai petrathaal”) In simpler words, Kaushalya is the most significant of all the three mothers because she protected Rama, (who himself is the protector of this entire world) in her womb for twelve months! Bharata doesn’t stop here. He continues to describe that, Kaushalya, although being this significant has lost all of that because of the birth of an unfortunate and a sinful person called Bharata! (“Perum petrai Yaam pirandadhaal izhandha periyaal”)!! Thus, Bharata introduces Kaushalya to Guha.

Now comes the next mother, Kaikeyi. Bharata, for obvious reasons, avoided even looking at her face and talking about her! Guha couldn’t understand why Bharata is not talking about Kaikeyi, as he straight went near Sumithra. Now Bharata starts introducing Sumithra to Guha. He says,

“Yaavarkkum thozhudhalamaam raaman pinbu pirandhaalum ulan ennai piriyaadhaan thannai payandha periyaal!!”

Here, Bharata says that “For Rama who is worshipped by everyone in this world, there is someone called a brother! This mother is the one who was blessed with that Lakshmana, who is the true brother of Rama! Oh Guha! I’ve failed in my duty as a brother to Rama! I feel ashamed of it! If I would have been a brother, I should have accompanied Rama for his exile, however I failed to do it! Hence, I’ve lost that status of being a brother to Rama! Thus, Lakshmana fulfilled the duty of going with Rama and being of service to him! Hence, it was this mother by name Sumithra, who is the mother of Lakshmana, the ‘true brother’ of Rama!”

Thus, after the introduction of Sumithra, Bharata slowly and unwillingly walks up to Kaikeyi, who is his own mother! He introduces Kaikeyi and says,

“Than paartha paavi kudalile nedungaalam kidandherkum innindraai – Yennai eendraal!”

Now Bharata says, “Oh Guha! This is the woman in whose womb I was unfortunate to reside for ten months, before I was born! By far, what I know is that both of us are sinners! But I don’t know if I’m a sinner because I’m born to her or she is a sinner because I was born to her! Ultimately, whatever maybe the fact, I’m a dumb and useless person! It is only because of myself and my mother, Kaikeyi, Rama left to the forest on exile!”

While Bharata was weeping profusely and uncontrollably, Guha hugs Bharata and says, “Oh Bharata! Please do not scold Mother Kaikeyi like this!” Bharata was surprised on hearing this statement from Guha! He wondered on what basis Guha was making this statement! What was the thought process behind Guha consoling Bharata this way? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!