Episode 161 – Rama & Lakshmana reach Pampa Sarovar Lake & Rishyamukha Mountain!!!

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In the previous episode, we witnessed that Rama and Lakshmana are at Sabari’s ashram wherein Rama “approved” Sabari who was ready to attain “Moksha”. In the due course we also witnessed the significance of a “Guru” or an “Aachaarya” and we learnt a very important lesson that a “Guru” has all the qualifications to grant the highest Moksha to his/her disciples, provided the disciples meticulously follow the teachings of the Guru in their lives!

Now moving on further, Rama and Lakshmana walk further southwards as per the guidance given by Kabandha and Sabari and they slowly approach the Pampa Sarovar Lake.

“Thadaa gachadamishyaabaha pampaam thaam priya darshanaam!

Rishyamookho girivyathra naathidhoore prakaashathe!!

Aajagaamaha tathaha pampaam lakshmanena sahafprabhuhu!

Sameekshamaanaha pushpaargyam sarvatho vipuladhruvam!!”

Thus from the above slokas, Valmiki Maharishi describes the beauty of the area surrounding the Pampa Sarovar lake – Dense forest with fast flowing streams, rivers and mountains in the vicinity! In the centre of all this was the beautiful sprawling lake of Pampa Sarovaram with water as clear as crystal! It is to this place did Rama and Lakshmana walk their way into! From the Pampa Sarovar lake, at a certain distance Rama and Lakshmana were able to spot the Rishyamukha mountain as per the guidance given by both Kabandha and Sabari.

Rama says to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! Here is the beautiful Pampa Sarovar Lake. In the vicinity there is the Tungabhadhra River with all its beautiful clear water! In the surrounding areas there are mountains that are rocky in nature and here is the Rishyamukha Mountain with all its glory! But where is Sugriva?” As Rama and Lakshmana were conversing thus, they near the Rishyamukha Mountain!

“Rishyamookha ithighyaathaha chithra pushpitha paadhakaha!

Ithyuvaacha punar vaakyam lakshmanam sathya vikramaha!!

Katham mayaa vinaa seethaa sakhyam lakshmana jeevithum!”

As Rama and Lakshmana near the Rishyamukha Mountain range, they were unable to trace the whereabouts of Sugriva and his people. While they were searching for Sugriva and Co., Rama loses hope and starts weeping bitterly, reminding himself about the unfortunate loss of his dear Sita! He hugs Lakshmana and says, “Oh my dear Saumithri! Here is the Rishyamukha Mountain, but we are now unable to find this person by name Sugriva! Why is everything going against my will? I lost King Dasharata! Subsequently I lost my dearest Sita to a Raakshasa, and then Jataayu Maharaaja! Now Sabari has also attained Moksha! At this time, Sugriva is also not to be found! Who is going to help me in finding my dear Sita? I think we’ve lost her forever!”

Rama continues further, “Oh Lakshmana! I think it’s better that you go back to Ayodhya and start to rule the kingdom along with Bharata! I cannot come to Ayodhya without Sita! I shall live the rest of my life here, thinking of her! You please do not waste your youth because of me! I’m thereby instructing you to go back immediately and leave me alone here!”

Saying thus, Rama weeps bitterly by hugging Lakshmana with him. However, Lakshmana was unfazed in his devotion towards his dearest brother! He is determined to find out the whereabouts of Sugriva and proceed further in search of Sita! What happened next? Did they manage to find Sugriva? Who was that person who helped Rama and Lakshmana find Sugriva? Let’s wait till the next important episode to find out!

Episode 160 – Rama “approves” Moksha for Sabari – Significance of an Aacharya (Guru)!!!

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In the previous episode we had witnessed that Lord Rama and Lakshmana have reached Sabari’s ashram, on their way in pursuit of Sita. We had also seen that Sabari was the disciple of Sage Mathanga. When Sage Mathanga attained “Moksha” he had given a small assignment to Sabari that she should be of service to Rama and Lakshmana who would pass by her ashram, “for some reason”. Accordingly, Sabari was waiting till Rama and Lakshmana arrived.

Once Sabari sees Rama and Lakshmana approaching towards her hamlet, she was overwhelmed with joy that her master’s words have come true atlast! She invites both Rama and Lakshmana inside her hamlet and makes them comfortable. Upon seeing Rama, Sabari has tears of joy in her eyes and says, Oh Rama! The moment I saw your eyes, something within me says that the purpose of my life is fulfilled! I feel that I’m now free from all my sins and you have purified me with just one look! I was waiting to do some service to you! Please accept these fruits that have grown in my garden. I’ve kept all of these for you!”

Thus from the above incident of Sabari, we can learn a very important thing: Once we obtain the grace of Bhagawan or the “Guru” (Aachaarya), all our sins get washed away and all our unwanted doubts in the mind get cleared off at that very moment! We read so much about Ramayana and Mahabharata from various texts, listen to prominent discourses from prominent and eminent speakers! Why do we do all that? The most important reason is that, we should make a conscious attempt to follow and implement the messages that the Ramayana and Mahabharata convey to us! Thus, it is not enough if we just read or listen and just get away. We should make a conscious attempt to put things in practice in our day-to-day life. We need to introspect and keep thinking all what Rama, Sita and Hanuman went through in their lives and should grasp the “Dharma” behind everything.

For putting the principles into practice, we need to recollect again and again all what we have learnt and listened from the textbooks and discourses. It should be remembered that the best way to remember what we have learnt, is to recollect the subject more frequently! It is only if we try and recollect what we’ve learnt, we would be able to remember things for a longer duration of time. If we fail to recollect, chances are high that we would forget the important points over time. For instance, when we learn and by-heart the Vedas, we normally sit and repeat the “Sandhai” of the Veda text minimum fifty times. However, if we fail to recollect the learnt “Sandhai” over time, we would eventually forget all what we had learnt with all the great difficulty! Hence, recollection of the subject is the best way to remember what we had learnt and this should be put in practice by all of us!

Thus Rama comes into Sabari’s hamlet and graces her with his eyes. Once she gets the grace from Bhagawan, all her sins and doubts were washed away completely! Sabari had plucked the best fruits from her garden to offer them to Rama and Lakshmana. It is quite interesting to note that there are two different points of view: One says that Sabari plucked the fruits and offered them directly to Rama, and the other view is that, Sabari plucked the fruits, tasted them and gave Rama. However, Rama doesn’t care about all that. It doesn’t matter for Bhagawan as to what offering we are giving to Him. All what is important for Him is our devotion with which we make the offering.

Sabari thus says to Rama, Oh Rama! My guru, Sage Mathanga had given me this assignment that I should be of service to you and thus I’m offering these fruits to you and Lakshmana!” Upon hearing this from Sabari, Rama happily eats all the fruits one by one! We might have a doubt at this stage: In our previous episodes I had mentioned that when Guha offered food to Rama, he never accepted it! However, when Sabari (who is also basically from a hunter community) offers him with fruits, Rama accepts them happily! Why is this controversy? Why is Rama not accepting from Guha but is accepting the offering from Sabari? Here is the answer for the doubt: In the previous case of Guha, he had voluntarily come forward and offered Rama the fruits and other food items to eat. Whereas, in the case of Sabari, she is offering the fruits to Rama only because her Aachaarya (Guru) had ordered her to do so! Thus we should understand the important point here that, if an “Aachaarya” has given the task of offering something to Bhagawan, He would not deny the offering! In other words, if we voluntarily do an offering to Bhagawan, there are chances that sometimes he would refuse to accept them, whereas, if we offer something to Bhagawan, on the pretext of our Guru, He accepts it immediately! This is the significance of the Guru or Aachaarya or Spiritual Master! If we obey the words of our Guru meticulously, he/she would guide us the way for attaining the highest “Moksha”!

We can see this in the case of Sabari as well. Now, after Rama finises eating all the fruits that she had offered, Rama asks her for guidance to reach Kishkinta. Sabari replies, “Oh Rama! I’m an old woman. I wish I could help you, but unfortunately I do not know much about the topography. However, all I know is that, the lake called “Pampa Sarovar” is not very far from this place. It is near this lake is the Rishyamukha mountain. You go there and meet Sugriva for further details.”

Sabari continues.. “Oh Rama! I’m now preparing myself to attain “Moksha” after you leave this place. My Aachaarya has already granted me the wish to attain Moksha after being of service to both of you! So I’m leaving now as it’s time for me!” Upon hearing this from Sabari, Rama replies, Yes Sabari! You can proceed to Moksha!” We would be again surprised at this point: In the earlier episode, I had mentioned that Rama granted Moksha to Jataayu Maharaja by saying, “I’m permitting you to attain Moksha”. In Sabari’s case, Rama is just approving her for attaining Moksha! Why is Rama not giving her the Moksha? The answer is simple: If a Guru (Aachaarya) has granted permission to attain Moksha, even Bhagawan doesn’t have a say in that! Thus we can learn from this episode that the Guru (Aachaarya) who has an expertise on the “Gnyaana” (Knowledge) and “Vairaagya” (Will power) has the right and power to grant Moksha to his/her disciples, provided if the disciple practises the required discipline (Aachaara-Anushtaana) properly.

Thus Rama and Lakshmana proceed towards Pampa Sarovar Lake as per the guidance of Kabhanda and Sabari. Did they succeed in finding Sugriva? What happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 159 – Rama & Lakshmana reach Sabari’s Ashram!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama and Lakshmana defeat the demon by name Kabandha and it is he who guides them to proceed towards the Rishyamukha mountain and search for Sugriva, the king of the Vaanaraas (Monkeys). Thus, Rama and Lakshmana are now walking towards this Rishyamukha Mountain in the western direction from the place where Kabandha was defeated.

If we look at the present day geography, there is a small cliff near Saketh and Pune, which is called Lonavala. Once we cross this Lonavala Mountain range, we would reach southern India, wherein we would land inside the present day state of Karnataka. It is in this border between Maharashtra, Karnataka and the present-day Andhra Pradesh, is a place called “Hospet/Hampi”. The area around this Hospet/Hampi is the place of Kishkinda, wherein all the Vaanaraas were residing. It is surprising to note that even today if we happen to visit Hospet and Hampi, we would find a huge population of monkeys living there!

Thus, Rama and Lakshmana walk all the way and reach Kishkinda and arrive near the Rishyamukha Mountain, as directed by Kabandha.

“Yesha raamaha shivaf panthaaha yathrairthe pushpithaa dhrumaaha!

Pratheecheem drithamaachruthya prakaasamthe manoramaaha!!

Braartaa nirathaha krudhhena vaalina chakrasoonunaa!

Sooyathaam raama vakshyaami sugreevo naama vaanaraha!!”

Through the above two slokas, Valmiki Maharishi clearly explains the sequence of events wherein Rama and Lakshmana proceed towards Kishkinda in search of the Vanara king by name Sugriva. It is this Sugriva who was chased away by his elder brother Vaali and fearing his life, he was hiding amidst the Rishyamukha Mountain. Sugriva is hiding in this particular mountain because Vaali has a curse that he would die if he comes there! Thus, Rama and Lakshmana near Sage Mathanga’s ashram on the way to this Rishyamuka Mountain.

“Mathanga vanamithyeva vishrutham raghunandana!

Rishyamookasthu pampaayaaha purasthaath pushpithaha dhrumaaha!!”

As Rama and Lakshmana near Sage Mathanga’s ashram, they see a beautiful and a sprawling lake by name “Pampa Sarovar”. It is in the banks of this huge lake, is Sugriva residing amidst the Rishyamukha Mountain. One one side of this Pampa Sarovar lake is the Rishyamukha Mountain and on the other side is another mountain by name “Maalyavaan”. It is in this Maalyavaan Mountain where Rama was residing after he met Sugriva and while the Vaanaraas went to search for Sita. It is near these two mountains are the ashrams of Sage Mathanga and Sabari.

Now, Rama and Lakshmana pass through Sabari’s ashram and they enter inside to meet this old woman by name “Sabari”. Sabari is an ordinary hunter woman who lives amidst the dense forest. Sage Mathanga was the guru of Sabari. While Sage Mathanga was preparing himself to attain salvation (Moksha), Sabari was also willing to accompany him. But Sage Mathanga had given her a small assignment – To be of a little service to Rama and Lakshmana who would pass through for some reason! Sage Mathanga had instructed her that once this assignment is over, she can also attain “Moksha”. It is for this reason that Sabari is waiting in her small hamlet!

As Rama and Lakshmana pass through, Sabari welcomes both of them inside her hamlet and make them comfortable. What happened next? What was the conversation between Rama and Sabari? What is the significance of an “Aachaarya” or a “Guru”? Let us wait till the next episode to find important answers for these questions!

Episode 158 – Rama & Lakshmana defeat Kabhanda and proceed towards Kishkinta!!!

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“Lakshmyaasaha rishikeshaha devyaa kaarunya roopayaa!

Rakshaha sarva siddhaanthe vedaanthe vija geeyathe!!”

From the above sloka, we can understand that Bhagawan Shriman Narayana protects this entire world along with Goddess Mahalakshmi who is embedded in his heart. As Bhagawan takes the incarnation of Lord Rama, Goddess Mahalakshmi incarnated in this world as Sita Devi. Thus, Sita and Rama are always together and they protect all of us in this world! However, when both of them were living peacefully in the forest, the Raakshasa king, Ravana separated them and fled away with Sita to Lanka. We have been seeing the in-depth details of it till the previous episode. Ravana at Lanka imprisoned Sita for ten months! Valmiki Maharishi brings this out beautifully in the following sloka:

“Sundari raghunaathasya surastree dukha shaantaye!

Dashaananasya bhavane dasha maasaam uvaachaha!!”

Now comes the important in-depth analysis of why should Sita be imprisoned in Lanka! If we look at the deeper meaning of this entire event, it is said that, in order to release all the wives of the Devas (Celestial beings) from the imprisonment of Ravana in Lanka, Sita voluntarily got herself imprisoned too! It is to be recollected from the first few episodes that Ravana had waged battles with all the Devas, humiliated them and abducted all their wives to his Lanka! It is only to release all of them Goddess Sita is entering Lanka. Hence, instead of saying that Ravana abducted Sita, it would be wise enough for all of us to say that, Ravana was carried by Sita to Lanka to meet his downfall! Valmiki Maharishi indirectly brings out this in-depth meaning in one of his slokas in “Sundara Kaanda”:

“Tathoo raavana neethaayaaha seethaayaaha chathru karshana!”

Here, when Valmiki Maharishi says “Tathoo raavana neethaayaaha”, the outward meaning might appear as if Ravana carries Sita with him to Lanka! However, it is to be understood here that Valmiki Maharishi indirectly means Sita carried Ravana along with her and voluntarily imprisons herself in Lanka, so as to liberate the wives of the Devas who were in imprisonment.

One can immediately ask a question as to why should Sita go into the prison and liberate the others? Why can’t she do that by staying outside itself? For instance, if a person falls into a deep well, initially we put a long rope and ask him/her to hold it and try to climb up. If this is not working out, the next alternative solution is that we also jump inside the well and bring that person along with us! Similarly, the wives of the Devas, were entangled in a situation wherein they cannot be liberated from outside. Hence, Goddess Sita had to enter inside Lanka so as to liberate them from the clutches of Ravana.

Thus, Sita was in the prison in Lanka and she was suffering due to the separation from her beloved Rama. Rama in turn was suffering due to the separation from his beloved Sita! Thus, Rama searches his way towards the southern direction and on his way, meets Jataayu Mahaaraaja who was badly injured by Ravana. We witnessed in the previous episode that Rama granted the highest “Moksha” for Jataayu Mahaaraaja for his selfless service.

According to the guidance given by Jataayu Mahaaraaja, Rama proceeds further in the southern direction in search of Sita and Lanka. Enroute his search, the first hurdle that Rama and Lakshmana have to face now is the demon by name “Kabandha”. Upon seeing Rama and Lakshmana walking through the dense forest area, Kabandha takes a huge and a fearful form and appears in front of both of them!

“Chithaam aadeepayaamaasa saa prajwaala sankrakaha!

Tath shareeram kabandhasya drutha pindopamam mahath!”

From the above sloka, Valmiki Maharishi explains how Kabandha comes in the way of Rama and Lakshmana with his ferocious body and form. His head was in the place of his stomach! If he stretches both of his hands he can encapsulate all the animals, human beings, etc. within a huge distance of 10 yojanas, and eat them up! (It is to be recollected that 1 yojana approximately equals 13 kilometers). It was with this ferocity Kabandha appeared in front of Rama and Lakshmana!

As he came near them, due to his power, he lifted both Rama and Lakshmana in his hands and was ready to eat up both of them at one stroke! Rama and Lakshmana initially try to neutralise Kabandha with their sharp pointed arrows, but in vein! Kabandha was unperturbed! At one stage, Rama loses hope and says to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! Please try to save yourself and don’t worry about me! I’m going to be killed by this raakshasa! You go back to the kingdom and lead a happy life and forget me and Sita!”

Hearing these words from his brother, Lakshmana becomes furious at Kabandha and decides to employ powerful “Asthras” (missiles) to counter him. Thus the plan was made and with the help of the asthras, Lakshmana succeeds in cutting off the shoulders of Kabandha! Thus Rama and Lakshmana are now finally free from his clutches! In turn, Kabandha too is freed from his curse that he had previously acquired.

He now takes his normal form and talks to both Rama and Lakshmana, “Oh princes! I’m thankful to both of you for releasing me from my curse! I would like to help you in some way I can. I shall help you with a way to find Sita. However, I do not know where is Sita currently, but my advice to you is to go westwards from this location. You would reach an ashram, which of Sage Mathanga. There would be a big mountain near that ashram. The mountain is called “Rishyamookha Parvatha”. Once you reach that place, you would find a huge group of “Vaanaraas” (monkeys) under the leadership of Sugriva. You can make friendship with Sugriva and with his help you may be able to find out where Sita is!”

Thus, Rama and Lakshmana listen carefully to Kabandha’s advice and accordingly walk their way towards the western direction. We shall also walk along with Rama and Lakshmana for today and wait till the next episode to find where exactly did both of them go to next!

Episode 157 – Lord Rama grants “Moksha” to Jataayu – Significance of “Selfless Service”!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Rama and Lakshmana make their way through the southern direction from Panchavati, in search of Sita. Rama is so aggrieved that he wasn’t even able to walk properly and Lakshmana had to support and comfort him often! In due course, we also saw that river Godavari missed a golden opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama and hence it is believed to have lost its purity! This is an important lesson for us in terms of our selfless service towards Bhagawan! From this episode it is evident that if we fail in our duty towards Bhagwan, we tend to lose our purity and moreover, we tend to miss out on a golden opportunity to get close to Him! Today we are going to see another case wherein Bhagwan glorifies his devotee who is selfless in his service towards Him! This devotee is none other than Jataayu Mahaaraaja himself!

Thus, Rama and Lakshmana walk almost 50-60 kilometers in the southern direction from Panchavati. For a moment, let us glance into some geographical details given by Valmiki Maharishi in this context. I had already mentioned that Panchavati is situated very close to the city of Nashik in Maharashtra. Many of us might know that Nashik is located some 200-250 kilometers east of Mumbai. Now, Rama and Lakshmana are walking towards the southern direction from Nashik. If we draw a straight line from Nashik towards south, we would reach the city of Pune. From Pune, if we go towards the southwestern direction we would reach a town by name “Igathpuri”. Enroute to Igathpuri, if we travel a distance of 60-70 kilometers, we would reach a place called “Saaketh”. This town by name Saaketh is the “Jataayu Moksha Sthala”, that is, the place where Jataayu Mahaaraaja attained heaven!

It was at this place where Jataayu Maharaaja fought the battle with Ravana and was hit by his powerful sword. Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja is waiting for the arrival of Rama at this particular place.

“Kruddho raama sharam ghoram sanghaaya dhanu shikshuram!

Tathaha parvathaha mootaabham mahaapaapam vijoktharam!!

Dadarsha pathitham bhoomou kshadadaartham jataayuham!

Tham dristhva dhrusimhaavam raamo lakshmanamabhraveeth!!”

Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja was lying at Saaketh, in the verge of death, amdist heavy injuries inflicted by Ravana! While Rama and Lakshmana were passing through that place, Rama hears Jataayu Mahaaraaja’s cry! Upon seeing the condition of Jataayu Mahaaraaja, Rama runs towards him and comes closer to him! Rama takes Jataayu Mahaaraaja on his lap and tries to comfort him. Rama asks with a worried tone, “Oh Jataayu Mahaaraja! What happened to you? Why are you in this condition? Please tell me!”

As Bhagawan Rama asks with lot of concern, instead of answering him what happened, Jataayu Mahaaraaja starts singing in praise of Rama! Look at the amount of devotion Jataayu Mahaaraaja has for Rama! His life is under great threat and he is on his deathbed and yet, he still manages to muster his little bit of strength he has to sing in praise of Bhagawan!

“Yaa moshadhiva aayushman anveshathi mahaavane!

Chaadeveem mamachaha praanaa raavanena ubhayam drutham!!

Seethaamabhavannoham raavanascharane prabho!

Seethaa maathaaya vaidehim pushpa paada vihaayasam!!”

Now Jataayu Mahaaraaja narrates the incidents that happened a while back. He narrates how Ravana abducted Sita and carried her in his “Pushpaka Vimana” in the southern direction and how he fought with Ravana to somehow save Sita from him and how he was badly injured by Ravana’s sword! Jataayu Mahaaraaja guides Rama and Lakshmana – “Oh Rama! Please do not delay further! Hurry your way towards the southern direction and protect Sita! Please enquire the location with someone as you proceed and go as quickly as you can!”

Upon hearing these words from Jataayu Mahaaraja, Rama was grieved further! He sank uncontrollably into tears and hugs Lakshmana and says, “Oh Lakshmana! Look at what is happening! I thought I could spend quality time with my great father, King Dasharata at Ayodhya, however I was chased out of the kingdom and I came to the forest! Atleast in the forest, I thought I can live peacefully, however, I had to loose my beloved wife! Even if that is the case, I thought that I have Jataayu Mahaaraaja in place of my father and I can spend quality time with him! Now look at the condition of my father-like Jataayu! He is also about to die! I don’t know what kind of a sin I’ve committed in my previous births! Why is everything going so bad like this in my life?” Saying this, Rama is weeping uncontrollably!

While Rama was sobbing bitterly, Jataayu Mahaaraaja again tries to console him. He says, “Oh Bhagawan! Please do not worry about me. I’m happy that I’m with you at the last stage of my life! Now please get up and hurry up towards the southern direction! I saw Ravana carrying Sita in that direction only! My eyes are that of an eagle and my eyes are capable of viewing long distances. However, because of my old age I couldn’t see after a certain distance. But I’m sure that he had gone in the southern direction only! Please hurry up now and save Sita!”

Here we can see the selflessness of Jataayu Maharaaja! A very important lesson for all of us to learn here is that, if we dedicate ourselves completely to Bhagawan, in terms of every action that we do, Bhagawan will recognize it and his heart would melt in happiness! This is what we are currently seeing too – Lord Rama’s heart is melting towards Jataayu’s selfless service! In fact, Jataayu Mahaaraaja has gone one step further to even sacrifice his life for the sake of Sita and Rama! Moved by this selfless act, Rama says, “Oh Jataayu Mahaaraaja! I’m so greatful to you for what you’ve done for Sita and me! At this moment I do not have anything to give you in return at this moment, however, I’m giving you the highest reward ever possible – Moksha!! Now I’m declaring that you are entitled to attain the “Moksha Saamraajya” (Heaven)!”

Hearing this, Jataayu Mahaaraaja was overwhelmed with happiness as Rama hugs him! Thus, Jataayu Maharaaja’s body slows down gradually and eventually he passes away! Thus, we’ve learnt an extremely important lesson today in terms of selfless service! Let’s wait till the next episode to find out what happened next!

Episode 156 – River Godavari fails to help Rama & Lakshmana!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed the important event wherein Jataayu Mahaaraaja fought a relentless battle with Ravana, to somehow protect Sita from being abducted by him! Eventually due to his old age and physical weakness, Jataayu Mahaaraaja wasn’t able to withstand the valour of the wicked Ravana and thus his wings were cut off as he fell to the ground! It was a sad moment as Jataayu Maharaaja tried his level best but yet, couldn’t save Sita from Ravana!

What can we learn from this episode of Jataayu Maharaaja? The important lesson for all of us is that, we should never give up our efforts, even though we understand that the going is tough. Moreover, if we perform our actions with dedication and surrender to Bhagawan’s feet, we are directly going to be recognized by Him! This is what happens in the case of Jataayu Maharaaja too! Later on, we are going to see how Lord Rama runs and comes to acknowledge Jataayu Maharaja’s selfless service! If Bhagawan is happy and moved by our actions what more do we need in this world? Let’s think about it! 🙂

Moving on, we’ve seen one side of the events wherein Ravana imprisons Sita in Lanka, as Soorpanaka looks on with a sigh of relief! She has finally achieved her revenge against Rama and Sita! Now looking at the other side, let’s see what happened to Rama and Lakshmana. After killing Maareecha, when Rama was about to return to the hamlet, to his surprise he sees Lakshmana coming towards him with a tensed face! Rama is utterly shocked and asks Lakshmana why did he come there, leaving Sita alone. Lakshmana was speechless for a moment and later conveyed what had happened after Rama had left the hamlet! Now both of them realize that they were tricked into a huge trap! Rama had a deep dear in his mind that something would have happened to Sita!

“Nanoonam raama jaanaasi mahyascha samaathmanaa!

Ayam hi krupayaa raama maam thraathumiha sangrathaha!!”

By the time, both Rama and Lakshmana were hurrying back to their hamlet, all kinds of bad omens started appearing in front of them! Rama was becoming certain that his beloved Sita is in a deep trouble! As they reach the hamlet, to their utter grief, Sita was not to be seen! Rama searches for Sita all over the place but in vein! Sita is lost! The moment Rama realizes what had happened within just a fraction of a few minutes, Rama sinks in utter grief! He is in uncontrollable tears and so is Lakshmana! Thus, Rama and Lakshmana helplessly start roaming in and around that area, hoping to find Sita somewhere. Alas! Sita wasn’t to be found anywhere in the vicinity! As Rama was walking along his way, due to his uncontrollable grief, his feet were burning, as he wasn’t able to take one foot forward and walk on! Lakshmana makes Rama sit at a place and he quickly brings a heap full of dry leaves, spreads them on the ground and takes Rama along the path! Such was Rama’s grief on separation from his beloved Sita!

As Rama and Lakshmana were nearing the banks of the river Godaavari, they helplessly ask each tree, plant, animal and finally river Godavari herself, as to where is Sita! Nobody responded to Rama’s question and this sank Rama further into deeper pain, sorrow and misery!

As mentioned in the previous episode, Sita had requested mother Godaavari to let Rama know what was happening to her, but when Rama comes and asks, Godaavari remains silent, due to the fear of Ravana! Thus, it is said that because mother Godaavari had lost the golden opportunity to involve in the “Raama – Kainkarya” (Service to Lord Rama), her purity was also lost!

Many of us might know this “Paasuram” that comes in the famous “Thiruppaavai” of Aandaal in Tamil, which goes like this:

“…Thooya peru neer Yamunathuravanai! Aayar kulathinil thondrum ani vilakkai…”

Here, Aandaal employs the phrase “Thooya peru neer Yamunathuravanai”, wherein she describes Lord Krishna as the one who glorified the river Yamuna, which was so pure! This is because, river Yamuna involved herself in the “Krishna-Kainkarya” by giving way to Vasudeva while he was carrying little Krishna in his hands! Although the Yamuna was flowing very close to where the demon Kamsa was residing, she was not scared to give way for Vasudeva and baby Krishna to pass by! Hence, it is said that river Yamuna has attained the highest status of being pure, because of its service to Lord Krishna! Whereas, here we see the river Godaavari loses the opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama and hence it is believed that the river Godaavari had lost its purity and sanctity!

However much later after the Ramayana period, Swami Vedaantha Desika composed his famous work called “Godhaastuthi”. In this text, he conveys a beautiful message: Because Aandaal was also referred by another name called “Goodhaa”, the river Godaavari had compensated for what it has missed previously, and now the purity is regained! In other words, yes, the river Godaavari had lost its purity, but now, since Aandaal (who is considered as an incarnation of Goddess Bhoomaadevi) had half it’s name (Godhaa), the purity is regained!

Thus, Rama and Lakshmana wander around, seeking to know the whereabouts of Sita, but unfortunately none of them around were ready to let them know! Now, slowly Rama and Lakshmana walk their way towards the southern direction. We shall also move along with Rama and Lakshmana for today. Let us share Rama’s grief for now and wait till the next episode to find out what happened next!

Episode 155 – Jataayu Mahaaraaja tries to save Sita from Ravana!!!

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In the previous episode we’ve witnessed that Rama is on the pursuit of Maareecha – the golden deer. As Rama realizes that he has been tricked into a trap, he gets furious and kills Maareecha with his sharp arrows! However, Maareecha tricks Rama further by shouting aloud-alike Rama that stunned him even further! Upon hearing the “Cry of “Rama” Sita gets terrified and asks Lakshmana to check out what had happened to her dear husband. As Lakshmana sets out of the hamlet, Ravana sees his chance when Sita is alone and finally abducts her and takes her to Lanka!

While Ravana was abducting Sita, Sita has a terrified look at the ground as she sees river Godavari! It is to be noted that even today, Panchavati is situated in the banks of the river Godavari. While Ravana’s “Pushpaka Vimana” crosses the river Godavari, Sita prays to the river,

“Hamsadhaarandavaakeernaam vande godaavareem nadhim!

Kshipram raamaaya samsathvam seethaam bharathi raavanaha!!”

Thus through the above sloka, Sita cries aloud – “Oh Mother Godavari! This wicked Ravana is abducting me! My husband Rama will come searching for me in a short while from now! When Rama comes along, will you please let him know that I’m being taken away by this Ravana to Lanka?”

At that point, interestingly Mother Godaavari acknowledges Sita’s request and promised to inform Rama! However, later when Rama and Lakshmana came along searching for Sita, Godaavari remained silent! Due to the fear for Ravana, she did not disclose the truth that he had abducted Sita! Thus, it is said that the river Godavari has lost its purity because she had missed an opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama!

It was at this moment that Ravana crosses the place where Jataayu Mahaaraaja was residing! Upon hearing the cry of Sita, Jataayu senses that something has gone wrong! The moment he looks up the sky, he sees Ravana abducting Sita in a flash! Jataayu was stunned to see this and at the same moment he flies towards Ravana to stop him from proceeding further! Seeing Jataayu flying towards her, Sita folds her hands and prays to him, “Oh Jataayu!! Please rescue me!” Jataayu gets the message from Sita and flies towards Ravana.

“Anena raakshasendrena karunam papa karmanaa!

Tham shabdhamava sukthasthu jataayuradha sishrupe!!”

Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja hears the cry of Sita Devi and immediately comes for the rescue!

“Dahsagreevasthitho dharme punye saptha samshravaaha!

Braathastham nindhitham karma sakshunaartithi saampradham!!”

Jataayu Mahaaraaja warns Ravana by saying, “Oh Ravana! Stop! Don’t proceed further! Please realize that you are a responsible king! Please do not do this blunder! Do not detrack yourself from the Dharma! You might be a youngster and I might be an old man! Even then, I won’t allow you to proceed further! Fight and win over me and if that happens, you can proceed further!”

However, as we all know, Ravana doesn’t pay heed to anybody and here too is a classic case of the display of his arrogance! Here we can see an important management lesson as to how not to be a leader! It is to be understood that if someone is conveying an information or a piece of warning, a leader should have the patience to pay heed, think and then take a decision to move forward or not! We can see that Ravana is failing miserably as a leader in this aspect! We’re going to see many more cases like this in the future episodes too!

Upon seeing Ravana proceeding further without paying heed to him, Jataayu Mahaaraaja once again warns him! He says,

“Shashti varsha sahasraani jaathasya mama raavana!

Pithru vaithaamaham raajyam yathaava dhanu sishtithaaha!!”

Jataayu says, “Oh Ravana! I’m repeating my warning again! Please do not commit this huge sin! You might be young and I might be 60,000 years old! But still, I have the power of the “Raama Naamaa” with me and I can win over you easily with that one power! Don’t dare to proceed further!”

Thus, Jataayu engages with a fierce war with Ravana! He attacks Ravana with his wings and sharp beak! However, due to his old age and physical weakness, Jataayu couldn’t match the valour of Ravana! Now Ravana pulls out his sword by name “Chandrahaasa” and with the sword, he cuts away the wings of Jataayu Mahaaraaja! Wounded heavily and bleeding profusely, Jataayu Mahaaraaja falls on the ground!

“Tathoo muhurtham sangramaha babhoovaam athuraveeryayoho!

Raakshasaanaanthu mukyasya pakshinaam prabavarshyasa!!”

Thus, Jataayu Mahaaraaja falls on the ground and is at the verge of death. However, he is waiting and holding his breath till Rama comes along! He wants to convey to Rama that Ravana is abducting Sita! 

Enraged by his victory over Jataayu, Ravana now proceeds further with all his pride and arrogance and finally reaches Lanka. He drags Sita along with him and as Soorpanaka and others in the palace witness, Ravana imprisons Sita at Lanka! All Sita can do now is to sober and sober! She is in uncontrollable misery of being separated from her dear Rama and Lakshmana!

As Ravana imprisons Sita on one side, Rama is about to return back to the hamlet at Panchavati, however when he just started to walk his way back, he realizes that Lakshmana is coming towards him! It is to be recollected that Rama had instructed Lakshmana to stay back and not let Sita alone! However when Rama sees Lakshmana coming towards him, he was shell-shocked! What happened next? Why did Lakshmana come along, leaving Sita alone in the hamlet? Let’s wait and witness the further proceedings in the next episode!

Episode 154 – Ravana takes the form of a “Sanyaasin” and abducts Sita!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed a very important twist in the entire Ramayana epic wherein Maareecha and Ravana plan the plot to abduct Sita from Rama. According to the plan, Maareecha takes the form of a “golden deer” and tries to tempt Sita with the beauty of the deer. Eventually we also witnessed that Sita falls into the trap and gets Rama to go and bring it to her! Accordingly Rama sets out in pursuit of the deer despite Lakshmana warning him not to do that!

The deer takes Rama to a far-off location from their hamlet and eventually Rama realizes that he was being tricked into something here! Hence he sends his sharp arrow onto the golden deer and kills it! The golden deer was none other than the demon by name Maareecha! While being hit by the arrow, Maareecha shouts in the tone of Rama, saying “Haa Sita!! Haa Lakshmana!” Upon hearing this, Sita gets shocked and requests Lakshmana to go and find out what happened to Rama!

However, Lakshmana tries to calm down Sita by consoling her that nothing would happen to Rama and he is safe! As Lakshmana tries consoling her, Sita is in no mood to listen to all this! She says to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! You’re claiming to be the brother of Rama and at the end you’re standing here with a wrong intention!” Hearing this from Sita, the shell-shocked Lakshmana sets out immediately to search for Rama! Thus the plot has worked very well for Ravana! Sita has perfectly fallen into a huge trap!

It might be of interest to note at this point that some versions of the Ramayana claim that before leaving the hamlet, Lakshmana “draws a line” with the power of his “Asthras” so as to protect Sita. However, such things are not mentioned in the original Valmiki Ramayana text! There is nothing in the Valmiki Ramayana that Lakshmana had instructed Sita not to cross this particular line! Maybe it is there in our modern day called “Lakshman Rekha”, which we use for killing ants! 🙂 But there is nothing like “Lakshman Rekha” and stuff in the Valmiki Ramayana text!

It is at this time when Sita is alone in the hamlet; Ravana comes in the form of a “Sanyaasin” (Saint).

“Upatatthecha vaidehim bikshu roopena raavanaha!

Abhavyo bhavya roopena bharthaaram anu shodhitham!!

Raavanenathu vaidehi tathaa pushpaa jiheershunaa!

Vinipaa janakasyaaham mythilasya mahaathmanaha!!

Seethaam naam naasmin bhadhramthe raamasya mahishee priyaa!”

Thus Ravana comes to Sita’s hamlet and asks about her! Sita was a step more honest than Rama! 🙂 In the previous episodes we’ve witnessed how Rama narrated his entire story to Soorpanaka! Similarly, Sita does the same thing here – She says, “Oh Sanyaasin! I’m Sita, daughter of King Janaka! Until my age of six I was at my hometown and after that my father fixed a “Syamvara” wherein Rama came and married me! After that I was in Ayodhya with Rama for the next 12 years! Eventually we had to come to the forest upon the order of Rama’s stepmother Kaikeyi! We spent time in numerous ashrams of numerous saints at Dhandakaaranya and finally we are here at Panchavati for the last part of our exile period!”

Ravana was highly impressed as Sita is narrating her entire story and was waiting till she comes out of the hamlet to offer him the food that he had asked for! The moment Sita steps out of the hamlet, Ravana takes his original form and forcefully lifts her in his arms as Sita shouts aloud for help! The trap perfectly worked for Ravana as he abducts her at the time when she was alone in the hamlet!

As Ravana carries her to his Pushpaka Vimana, Sita cries aloud for help, but alas! Rama and Lakshmana weren’t there near her! She had realized by now, her folly of sending Lakshmana after Rama and that, she had perfectly fallen into the trap laid by the wicked Ravana! But it is too late!! He now takes off from Panchavati and proceeds in the southern direction towards Lanka! Sita was gone!

It was at this time, Rama realizes that Lakshmana has come in search of him! Rama is shell-shocked on seeing Lakshmana approaching him with fear! What happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 153 – Maareecha takes the form of a “Golden deer” – Sita falls into the trap!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Maareecha gives valuable advice to Ravana, warning him of the invincible valour of Lord Rama. He narrates his past experience of his war with Rama and how Shubaahu was killed and Maareecha was pushed and thrown into the deep ocean and how he managed to escape out with great difficulty! However, all this advice didn’t matter to Ravana as he was steadfast in his aim to somehow abduct Sita and take revenge for what happened to his sister Soorpanaka!

At one stage, Ravana gained the upper hand and instructed Maareecha to take the form of a golden deer and roam around near the hamlet of Rama and Sita. The trap was laid! Accordingly Maareecha obeys Ravana and starts to roam around the hamlet where Rama and Sita are staying! As per the plan, the golden deer captures the attention of Sita and she is so surprised to see such an unusual breed of deer! She’s so happy and she wants to have it with her and play with it every day! Hence Sita requests Rama to go and bring that deer into the hamlet for her! Upon seeing the golden deer, Rama is also equally impressed and surprised! He also gets interested in it and prepares himself to go and bring the deer inside the hamlet.

At this point when Rama was about to leave the hamlet in pursuit of the golden deer, Lakshmana stops him!

“Aahuya aahuyacha punaf punastha mrigam saadhumikshathe!

Aagacchaagaccha sheekramvai aarya puthra sahaanuja!!

Thamayavaivineham vanye maareecham raakshasam mrigam!

Changamaanasthu tham drishtvaa lakshmano vaakyam abhraveeth!!

Charantho mrigayaa drishtaaha paapena upaadhinaa vane!

Asya maayaavidho maayaa mriga roopam idham kritham!!”

From the above slokas, Lakshmana conveys to Rama, “Oh Rama! Listen to me! I’ve never seen a golden deer ever in my life in any part of the world! It might perhaps be a “Maya” or a trap laid by someone! Let’s not go behind this animal! Look at one more thing – All the other normal deers are coming closer, sniff and then move away in fear! Hence I feel that this deer is an illusion and is not a real deer! Let’s not fall into the trap!”

Upon hearing Lakshmana, Rama thinks within himself, “Oh! This Lakshmana is trying every means to stop pursuing my mission of this birth! Already we are running short of time! If he stops me like this every time, then how do I go and kill Ravana?” 🙂 Thinking thus, Rama replies to Lakshmana, “Oh Lakshmana! Perhaps we might not know certain secrets of celestial beings! Maybe this is one such thing! You wait here and take care of Sita. I shall go and find out what is it exactly!”

Saying thus, Rama leaves the hamlet and goes after this golden deer! He tries to catch the golden deer but however, the deer was smart enough to escape from Rama and run away! After a certain point of time, the golden deer runs away to a long distance as Rama chases it!

“Jagaama manasaam sitaam lakshmanascha vachaha smaran!

Maareechasyathu maayeshaa poorvotthaa lakshmanenathu!!”

Thus, as Rama was chasing the deer, he suddenly recollected Lakshmana’s words and realizes that it was just an illusionary deer! It was none other than Maareecha and he has taken the form of a golden deer to cheat on Rama! The plan was to pull out Rama from the hamlet, eventually pull out Lakshmana after a while, and Sita would be alone in the hamlet, wherein Ravana can come and abduct her! While Rama was realizing this, he got angry, took his bow and fired a sharp arrow at Maareecha!

Surprisingly for Rama, while Maareecha was falling on the ground after being hit by the arrow, he shouts exactly in the voice of Rama – “Haaa Sita! Haa Lakshmana!” The sound of the shout reaches the hamlet where Sita and Lakshmana were staying and hearing this, Sita gets stunned and immediately asks Lakshmana to go and check out what happened to Rama!

Thus, for Ravana, the foil was working perfectly as he thought to be! Sita was slowly falling into his trap! What happened next? Did Lakshmana go out and see what happened to Rama? Let’s wait curiously till the next episode to find out!

Episode 152 – “Vinaasha kaale vibhareetha buddhi!” – Ravana fails to listen to Maareecha’s advice!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Ravana comes to know the condition of Soorpanaka and is shell-shocked! Eventually he vows to take revenge on the perpetuators and thus makes a plan in his mind. Meanwhile, Soorpanaka provokes him by explaining the beauty of Sita and that, Ravana should target Sita to defeat Rama and Lakshmana easily. Finally, Ravana became interested and focused on Sita and how to abduct and marry her! The plan was made!

Thus Ravana sets out immediately from Lanka in his “Pushpaka Vimaana” (it’s very interesting to note that the concept of an aircraft was known even in those days!) and reach a place, which is at some distance from Panchavati and Janasthaana. He straightaway goes to meet Maareecha, who is one of his uncles. It should be remembered by the readers at this point that it was this Maareecha whom Rama chased and pushed into the ocean while killing Shubaahu. It might be remembered that this incident had happened when Rama and Lakshmana were with Sage Vishwaamithra on the way to Mithilapuri. Thus, this same Maareecha manages to escape and make his way out of the ocean after a few years and is living in close vicinity to Panchavati. However, he had learnt his lesson from the drubbing he had received from Rama and thus started living a saintly life.

Ravana now approaches Maareecha for seeking his help for achieving his mission. Maareecha welcomes Ravana into his hamlet. In due course of the conversation, Ravana explains his mission to Maareecha. Upon hearing this weird mission, Maareecha was shocked! He tries to educate Ravana and make him aware of whom is he trying to fight with!

“Apprameyam hi tathveshaha yasyasaa janakaathmajaa!!”

Maareecha warns Ravana by saying, Oh Ravana! You don’t seem to understand to whom are you seeking revenge upon! Please do not commit this sin to Sita and Rama! You do not know their significance! Let me explain you their uniqueness!” Ravana immediately quipped, “How do you know about these two people?” Maareecha now explains, “Yes Ravana! I know it and that’s why I’m advising you accordingly! I saw Rama when he was a twelve-year-old child! When he had come with Sage Vishwaamithra to protect his “Yagna”, Shubaahu and myself went and attacked him. The drubbing that I had received at that time is still fresh in my mind! Shubaahu was killed and I was blown and chased away by his arrows into the ocean!”

There is a popular phrase in Sanskrit that goes to say, “Rakaaraadhi naamaani”. It signifies that, if we like someone so much from our heart, we’ll be able to remember and see him or her all the time around us. Similarly, if we have a fear towards someone, we would be able to remember him or her even when we are asleep! 🙂 Thus Maareecha adds on, “Oh Ravana! Even if someone opens their mouth and utters the alphabet “Raa”, I start shivering within myself, upon thinking what I’ve gone through! Your name is Ravana. Even if I’ve to utter your name, since it starts with “Raa”, I feel so scared! Hence, I’m advising you to go back to Lanka! Just forget what has happened! Oh Ravana! Please realize that Soorpanaka committed a mistake and hence she was punished accordingly! There ends the matter! Please do not blow this up further and get into trouble! Please pay heed to my advice! Make sure that you don’t get yourself into unwanted trouble with Sita and Rama!”

Upon hearing this, instead of coming to terms with the reality, Ravana gets even angrier! This is where we say, Vinaasha kaale vibhareetha buddhi! Wherein, if the bad times arrive, our mind would go into the wrong direction and even if someone tries their best to advise and mend ways, it becomes futile! Similar is the case of Ravana here! His “Vinaasha Kaala” (Bad times) is fast approaching and thus, his mind is now channelized in a wrong direction (“Vibhareetha Buddhi”). Ravana replies back to Maareecha, “Oh Uncle! You’re talking such things even after knowing that I’m an invincible person on this earth! Nobody in this world has the guts to come and stand in front of me in a war! You’re talking about Rama, who is afterall a powerless saint-like human being! Can he even think in his wildest dreams to take on this mighty Ravana? He has had the audacity to insult my sister in the worst way possible! I will definitely seek revenge on him and his life is going to be finished only by this mighty Ravana! Thus, Maareecha! Go to the place of Rama and Sita and roam around by taking the form of a beautiful golden colored deer! Try and attract Sita’s attention! All the other things would automatically fall in place! Do as I said!”

Maareecha, thus failing to convince Ravana, gives into his order and takes the form of a beautiful golden coloured deer. He goes near the hamlet of Rama and Sita and roams around, seeking the attention of Sita who was sitting there! What happened next? Did Sita fall into the trap? What did Rama and Lakshmana do? Let’s wait eagerly to find out in the next episode!