Episode 112 – Sumithra to Lakshmana – “Go to the forest with Rama and Sita and serve them”!!

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In the previous couple of episodes we witnessed that Rama was preparing himself to leave for the forest as his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana joins him in the hard pursuit for the next fourteen years. We saw in the previous episode how the people of Ayodhya and specially King Dasharata and Kaushalya (Rama’s mother) were simmering in anger for what had happened! As Kaushalya was fuming on Kaikeyi for her cunning tactics, it was Sumithra (King Dasharata’s third wife and Lakshmana’s mother) who consoles her and takes her away from that place.

It is at this time that Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were about to start to the forest, while Sumithra stops Lakshmana and renders a very important advice.

“Tam mandamaanam rudathi maathaa soumithram abraveeth!

Srashtathvam vana vaasaaya sanurukthassurijjane!!”

Thus Valmiki Maharishi says through the above sloka that Sumithra stops Lakshmana as he proceeds with Rama to the forest. She says,

“Raamam dasharatham viddhi Maam viddhi janakaathmajaa!

Ayodhyaam matavim viddhi gacchathaatha yathaa sukham!!”

Thus Sumithra stops Lakshmana and says to him, “Oh Lakshmana! I’ve been waiting for this day for the past 25 years!” I’m sure that the readers would be aware by now about the split of the “Paayasam” when the children were born. You might remember that Sumithra was the person who had two portions of the “Paayasam” and she wished to have one child – Lakshmana who is a “Raama-Bhaktha” (Devotee of Lord Rama) and the other child – Shathrughna who should be a “Bhaktha-Bhakthaa” (Devotee of the Lord’s Devotee – Bharata).

Thus Sumithra was waiting for this day when Rama would leave for the forest and her son Lakshmana would get the opportunity to be of service to Lord Rama! Thus she continues, Oh Lakshmana! My sole wish of having you as my son is to accompany Rama to the forest! Remember one thing Lakshmana – From today, this Ayodhya is no more a kingdom! It is doomed! Forget King Dasharata! Forget Kaushalya, Sumithra (myself)! From today, the forest would be the kingdom! See your brother Rama as King Dasharata! See Sita as myself! Treat her as your own mother! Treat Rama as your own father! The moment Ayodhya sacrificed Rama as its successor, Ayodhya lost it’s significance! Hence, Lakshmana! Go to the forest now! Serve Rama and Sita!”

Will any mother point to her own son and ask him to go on exile? Sumithra did this to Lakshmana! This is why Sumithra is considered to be special amongst the three wives of King Dasharata! Periyaalwaar brings out this specialty in his following “Paasuram”:

“Maatruthaai sendru vanam poge endru ida!

Eetruthaai pin thodarndhu embiraan endru azha!

Kootrutthaai solla kodiya vanam pona ena!

seetram ilaadhaanai paadippala! seetha manaalanai paadippala!!”

Here, Periyaalwaar refers to the three mothers of Lord RamaKaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumithra as “Eetruthaai, Maatruthaai and Kootruthaai” respectively. Basically, the word “Thaai” in Tamil refers to “Mother”. Subsequently, “Eetru-thaai” means the mother who actually gave birth to Rama, “Maatru-thaai” means, the mother who behaved like a true “step-mother” and acting against the interest of Rama! Finally, “Kootru-thaai” means the mother for whom the “Paaysam” was split into two! (“Kootru” in Tamil means, “to split”).

Thus, the “Maatru-thaai” (Kaikeyi) orders Rama’s exile, “Eetru-thaai” (Kaushalya) cries out of helplessness as her son departs and “Kootru-thaai” (Sumithra) encourages her son Lakshmana to be of service to Rama by accompanying him to the forest!

Thus, as Rama, Sita and Lakshmana come out of the palace, the citizens of Ayodhya came down and stop them from going away! Rama consoles them and appeals for their co-operation so as to keep up his promise to his mother and father! Where did Rama go next? What are the next series of events that unfolded? Let’s wait to find in the next episode!

Episode 111 – King Dasharata laments to Sage Vasishtaachaarya! Kaushalya fumes at Kaikeyi! Ayodhya sinks into distress!!!

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In the previous episode, we witnessed that Lakshmana (Rama’s brother) was ready to accompany Rama and Sita to the forest and to be of service to his brother throughout the tenure of the fourteen years! Here is the demonstration of the quality called “Seshathvam”, for which Lakshmana is an epitome of! I’ve spoken about “Seshathvam” and “Paarathanthryam” in one of the previous episodes, and the reader may be able to recollect them at this stage.

Thus, Rama gets ready with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana for the fourteen-year exile period. By this time the entire city of Ayodhya came to know this unfortunate happening in the Ayodhya palace and everybody were furious! Sage Vasishtaachaarya was equally agitated and furious! King Dasharata is still not able to come out of the state of shock that he is pushed into! By this time, Sage Vasishtaachaarya arrives near King Dasharata who was lying on the floor semi-consciously! He is all in tears and laments to Sage Vasishtaachaarya, “Oh Guru Deva! Look at this irony! Look who is going to the ‘Vaanaprastha’ (Forest)! I should be going there, whereas, my young son is going! Can there be a bigger tragedy than this? I’ve never even heard of this! In fact, I’ve never even sensed this in the wildest of my dreams so far! How can I see Rama in the attire of a “Tapasvi”? Will the people of Ayodhya accept this? Oh Sage Vasishtaachaarya! Why are you mum? Why don’t you do something to stop this unfortunate happening?”

Sage Vasishtaachaarya was equally in frustration and deep anguish and says, “Oh Dasharata! I understand what you’re going through, my son! More than you, I’ve seen this Ikshvaaku Dynasty for generations after generations! Yes! But, I have a suggestion. Let Sita be here in Ayodhya and let Rama go to the forest! The demand is only for Rama to go to the forest, not Sita! Thus, I shall take over the kingdom for the next fourteen years with Sita at the throne!” Thus, Sage Vasishtaachaarya who is a Brahmin Rishi, says to King Dasharata!

King Dasharata replies him back, “Oh Guru Deva! Being of a high-order BrahmaRishi, if you get this much of anger and frustration, imagine my condition! As a “Kshathrya” how much of anger would I get? How many wars I would have seen and fought? How many enemies I’ve seen all through my tenure as a king? But here, I didn’t have an alternative! Sita’s argument was so valid and pertaining to the Dharma and thus I had no option but to grant her wish!”

Thus, King Dasharata was crying loudly as he was lamenting! The entire city of Ayodhya sank into sorrow and distress! Frustration and sorrow were written in the face of every citizen of Ayodhya! Everybody in the palace including Kaushalya and Sumithra (King Dasharata’s two other wives apart from Kaikeyi) were crying uncontrollably! All the preparations for Rama’s coronation were halted abruptly! Even the animals including the cows and the cats in Ayodhya sensed something wrong and they started to cry!

Thus, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita come out of the palace now, clad in the dress of a “Tapasvi” (Saint). On one hand, Kaikeyi was rejoicing her victory and on the other, Kaushalya was simmering in anger! She fumes and walks into the chamber of Kaikeyi and gives her banter. She says, “Oh Kaikeyi! I never knew that you would be such a misfortune for this great Ayodhya kingdom! If you had such a wish to coronate your son, Bharata to the throne, why the hell didn’t you express it before itself? Why wait till the last minute and break everybody’s heart? Just because your son has to live a luxurious and a happy life, why should I sacrifice my son Rama? What nonsense is this Kaikeyi? What mistake did poor Rama do to you? He respects you more than anybody in Ayodhya! Was that his only fault? You do not deserve any more right even for a minute to be in this palace of Ayodhya! Get out immediately!

While Kaushalya laments to Kaikeyi, Sumithra rushes in and pulls Kaushalya away from that place and consoles her. Such is the level of distress the palace of Ayodhya sunk into! However, while Sumithra sees Lakshmana getting ready to accompany Rama to the forest, she gives a very important advice to him! This advice given by Sumithra differentiates her from the other two wives of King Dasharata and makes her special!

What was that advice she gave to Lakshmana? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 110 – Lakshmana to accompany Rama and Sita to the forest!!!

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In the last couple of episodes we were witnessing the lengthy argument that Sita had with Rama in order to convince him to go the forest along with him. On one hand, Rama was deeply moved by the unconditional love and affection bestowed by Sita on him, but on the other hand he felt concerned about the safety of his beloved wife. Hence initially he denied Sita’s request. However, Sita won over him by convincing him through her compassionate words of love and finally Rama relented and let her accompany him to the forest. Such is the nature of “Pathi-Vratha” Sita!

Thus Sita finally succeeded in convincing her husband and both of them get ready to leave for the exile. While coming out of their chamber, Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother was ready to accompany both of them to the forest!! Rama was surprised to see Lakshmana in the attire of a “Tapasvi” (Saint) and was all ready to start! Even before Rama opened his mouth, Lakshmana asks Rama, “Shall we start?” 🙂

Rama was stumped over again for the second time – First time was by Sita and now by Lakhsmana! Rama asks back, “Oh Lakshmana! What do you mean by ‘shall we start’? Myself and Sita are the ones going to the forest. We never intend to take you along with us! What are you blabbering Lakshmana?” Lakshmana laughs for a moment and replies back, “No!! I’ve decided to accompany you to the forest!” 🙂

Lakshmana continues, “Oh Rama! I’ve been listening to your ‘lecture’ at both places – To Kaushalya and Sita. At both the places you’ve mentioned that you’re taking me with you!” 🙂 Rama was shocked and thought to himself “When did I talk about Lakshmana to both Kaushalya and Sita?” and replies to him back, “Oh Lakshmana! I’ve never even mentioned your name nor spoken about you to both of them! From where did you find out?”

Now Lakshmana says, “Oh Rama! You were talking with Kaushalya isn’t it? What did you say to her? “Kurusvasthyayanaa vipaha!”, which means, “Please bless us”! You used the term “Us” to her!” 

Many readers might be aware of the “Asmat” Shabdha” in Sanskrit – “Aham Aavaam vayam! Maam maa aavaam mau asmaakam…” It continues this way. Normally a “Shabdha” in Sanskrit denotes the basic parts of speech for nouns, pronouns, adjectives, etc. Just like we have pronouns in English with first person, second person and third person, in Sanskrit we have “Eka Vachanam” (the first person), “Dhuvi Vachanam” (Second person) and “Bahu Vachanam” (Third person). Normally when the “Bahu Vachanam” is employed as the figure of speech, there should be more than two people involved in the context.

Thus while Rama said to Kaushalya, “Please bless us”, he accidentally employed the “Bahu Vachana Prayoga!” Lakshmana spotted this cleanly with his shrewd ears! 🙂 He thus cornered Rama by asking, “Oh Rama!! According to your usage of the pronoun, there should be minimum three people in the context. You were the first, Sita was the second, and who’s the third? It should be me right?” 🙂

Rama was speechless for a moment with laughter and amazement! Rama now tries to justify his usage of the pronoun and replies back to Lakshmana, “No no! Lakshmana! What I meant by using that pronoun was to refer to myself only! Not to anybody else!” However, Rama realized within himself that he was made to look like a fool! 🙂 He wasn’t able to give a proper justification to Lakshmana’s question!

Upon hearing Rama’s reply, Lakshmana cornered him again! He says, “Alright! Leave this! Now answer this from me… You were talking with Sita isn’t it? There too, you had mentioned that you’re taking me along with you! What did you say?

“Bhraathru puthra samoochaabhi praanaihi priyatharau mama!”

“Oh Rama! You said this isn’t it? What does this mean? You said, ‘Bharata would come back to Ayodhya! Oh Sita! Treat him as your own brother! Shathrugna would come back to Ayodhya! Treat him as your own son! Treat Kaushalya as your own mother! Treat Dasharata as your own father!’ Oh Rama!! You mentioned everybody’s name to Sita to be taken care of! However, you never mentioned this Lakshmana’s name anywhere in that! This means that you are going to take care of me directly, isn’t it? This means that this Lakshmana would get an opportunity to be of service to his dear brother Rama for the next fourteen years, isn’t it?”

Lakshmana was almost in tears while saying this to Rama! Rama was so moved by the unconditional love and surrender exhibited by Lakshmana! He couldn’t argue further and just said, “Come! Let’s go!” 🙂

Thus, Rama, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana prepare themselves to start their exile. What happened next? From now we’re going to enter a series of more interesting events and “Dharmas” that are to be elaborated in detail! Let’s wait till the next episode to continue! Stay tuned! 🙂

Episode 109 – Sita gets angry on Rama – Rama accepts her decision to accompany him!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed a fascinating argument between Rama and Sita, wherein Sita expresses her desire and will to accompany Rama wherever he goes. Rama was concerned with Sita’s security and safety and thus in turn advises her to stay back at Ayodhya while he was on exile. However, Sita didn’t relent from her stance. Rama tries to repeatedly console and convince her but is all in vain!

At one point in time when Sita realizes that Rama is not going to stop convincing her, she becomes angry. She wants to clarify the Dharma of a wife to a husband. She says to Rama, “Oh Rama! Till date I was thinking so high of you and I was having high regards for you! But today I feel that I’ve been let down!” Rama was shocked to hear this from Sita and asks, “Oh My dear Sita! What happened? Why are you saying such words?” Now Sita says,

“Kim tvaa manyatha vaidehaha pithaa me mithilaa vipaha!

Raama jaamaatharam praapya sthriyam purusha vigraham!!”

Thus, once Sita realized that Rama is not listening to whatever she is saying, she immediately takes the weapon in her hand – The Emotional weapon! 🙂 She continues to say, “Today I’m realizing that both myself and my father have been cheated right royally!” Rama didn’t understand the meaning of Sita’s statement, so he asks, “Oh my dearest Sita! Please tell me what happened? Why do you have to feel cheated?”

Upon which, Sita replies, “My father got cheated because he has given his daughter in marriage to a ‘girl who is dressed in a boy’s attire’!” In other words, Sita here scolds Rama as a person who is not confident of himself and is setting a bad example of how a prince should behave! Given Rama’s valor, impeccable courage and invincible power, nobody would have such an audacity to tell Rama that he is a “girl dressed in a boy’s attire”! But Sita says this with all her fury and frustration towards Rama!

Rama was speechless and shocked beyond words and asks Sita, “Oh dear Sita! Why do you say like this?” Sita describes in detail, “Yes Rama! My father is ruling Mithilapuri for so many years with his invincibility, valor and Dharma! But now, if he comes to know that his son-in-law (Rama) doesn’t have the courage to protect his daughter (Sita) for just a few years and if he hears that his son-in-law (Rama) had left behind his daughter (Sita) at Ayodhya and gone on exile, your father-in-law (King Janaka) would be very upset! He would feel cheated! What has my dad gained out of getting you as his son-in-law? (“Raama Jaamaatharam” – Here “Jaamaatharam” means son-in-law)”

Thus we’ve to realize a very important point here: Irrespective of to whom we get a good or a bad name in this world, if we get a bad name from our father-in-law, it is very difficult to change it after that! 🙂 So we’ve to be very careful!

Again Rama tries to convince Sita that it’s not this reason why he wants to leave behind her at Ayodhya, but it is for the safety and security of his dear wife and she shouldn’t suffer the difficulties of being in a forest, which she doesn’t deserve! Finally Sita asks Rama a question and says to him, “Oh Rama! Please answer this one question of mine and after that, you do what you want!” Rama says, “Okay! Ask me!”

Sita asks slowly, “Oh Rama! Tell me which is “Svarga” (Heaven) and which is “Naraka” (Hell)?” Rama smiles at Sita and he replies back, Oh Sita! You’re asking me such an easy question? Don’t you know I’m the great student of the great Sage Vasishtaachaarya? Don’t I know what is Heaven and Hell? Heaven (Svarga) is nothing but “Indra-Lokha” wherein all the Devas (Celestial Beings) are present there and it’s a very beautiful place. All those who do good deeds in their life will go there! Whereas, Naraka (Hell) is a place wherein those people who do bad deeds would go there! Punishment is the order of the day there! People would get beaten up for all their wrongdoings!” Rama gave this answer to Sita, even without thinking once! 🙂

Sita breaks out into a big laughter upon hearing this answer from her husband! 🙂 She replies back, “Oh Rama! I’ve never known that you would be such a great fool! You need to give an answer only if you know the answer! If you do not know the answer, you might very well say that you don’t know! Instead, you’re giving the most absurd answers possible!” 🙂 

Rama was stumped over by Sita’s reaction and asks, “Oh!! What is the answer now?” Sita now replies, “Oh Rama! The moment I asked you what is “Svarga” and “Naraka”, you should have stopped me and asked a counter question, “You are asking the “Svarga” and “Naraka” for whom? Because, for every person, “Svarga” and “Naraka” would vary! For instance, if you ask a person who is walking under the hot sun for many hours, he would say, my “Svarga” is to sit under a tree with lot of shade and cool breeze! If you ask musicians like us, what is “Svarga” and “Naraka”, we would say that during a concert, if we have a bad throat, it is “Naraka” and if we have a nice good throat, it is “Svarga”! Thus, for each person the “Svarga” and “Naraka” would vary! But ultimately everybody wants “Svarga” and doesn’t want “Naraka”! There’s no change in that!

Sita continues, “Oh Rama! Do you know what is “Svarga” and “Naraka” for me? Being with you all the time is “Svarga”, irrespective of the place! Being in your absence is “Naraka! Hence, I’m determined to accompany you in the forest! Please realize this!”

Rama mouth was completely shut by this argument from Sita and he couldn’t talk a word more! He finally accepts Sita’s accompaniment to the forest along with him! The moment both of them came out of the chamber after this long conversation, Lakshmana was waiting at the entrance! What did he say? What was his decision? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂

Episode 108 – Rama tries to convince Sita not to accompany him to the forest!!

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So far we’ve witnessed the series of events wherein Rama has made a decision of going on an exile after the instruction from Kaikeyi! Accordingly he goes to his mother Kaushalya to inform his decision and take her blessings before leaving to the forest. Upon hearing Rama’s decision, Kaushalya couldn’t take it and she started to cry and lament in anger against this dubious decision of Kaikeyi! She even goes on to say that she would accompany Rama to the forest and be with him for the next fourteen years! Rama gives her a “long lecture”! 🙂 He says, “No no mother! You should not leave your husband alone and come along with me for such a long time! It is against Dharma! You should be with your husband all the time and be of service to him, as he is now in dire need of someone being alongside him! His health has deteriorated and you must be with him to take care of him!” Kaushalya was somewhat convinced by the “lecture” given by her son and atlast she bids farewell with her tearful face!

In yesterday’s episode we also tried to settle a debate on Rama’s age – Particularly at what age did he actually venture out to the forest on exile. We concluded that Rama was 12 years old when he got married to Sita, and for the next 12 years of his life he lived happily with Sita at Ayodhya, and it was during the 25’th year of his life he goes on exile.

Now, after this long conversation with his mother, Rama next goes to Sita’s chamber to bid farewell to her! He was having a sigh of relief that he escaped somehow from his mother but was thoughtful as to what is this next woman going to argue and how to tackle her! 🙂 He starts his conversation with Sita:

“Deva kaaryamsma shaa duthvaa kruthagnyaa bishta chethana!

Avignyaa raja dharmaanaam raja puthri pratheekshathi!!

Chathur dashahi varshaani vasthavyam dhandakemayaa!

Pithraame bharataschaabhi yauvaraajye niyomithaa!!”

Rama says to Sita, “Sita! I’ve come here to convey a news to you!” Sita asked him back, “What news? That too, this early in the morning? Where did you go? What do you want to say to me? Is there any problem?”

When Sita asked him back, Rama tries to compose himself and replies, “No no! I just want to inform you that I’m going to the forest for the next fourteen years!” 🙂

Sita was shocked and asks back, “Ohh!! What are you blabbering? You’re saying as if you’re going to a neighbor’s house so casually! Why should you go to the forest? And that too for fourteen long years? Isn’t your coronation happening tomorrow morning?”

Rama replies, “No! The plan is cancelled! Our mother Kaikeyi has a wish that Bharata should rule Ayodhya henceforth! Our father has also approved it! Oh Sita! Please be happy that our Bharata is going to be the ruler of Ayodhya from tomorrow!”

Sita again replies back, “Yes! I’m very happy about Bharata becoming the king! I don’t have any problems with that! But you said something about you going to the forest… What’s that? Explain in detail!”

Rama replies back, “Yes yes! I’m going to the forest for fourteen years! It’s just fourteen years! I’ll spend it like fourteen days and come back to you as early as possible! You take care of yourself! You’ve to look after everybody in Ayodhya! You’ve to take care of your in-laws. Please don’t think they are in-laws! Treat them as your own mother and father!”

“Bhraatu puthra samoochaabhi drashavyoucha visheshathaha!

Tvayaa bharatha shathrugnou bhraathaihi priyatharaou mama!!”

Rama continues, “Oh Sita! Please treat Bharata and Shathrughna as your own brothers! Hence, my dearest Sita, please take care of everyone till I return back! Take care of yourself too!”

Upon advising Sita this way, Rama starts to leave the place! Now Sita stops him and says, “Oh Rama! I’m going to the forest first! Follow me if you can!” 🙂

Rama was shocked upon hearing this from his wife! He says “Oh Sita!! It’s me who’s going to the forest is it not? I’m not going to take you along with me! If this is the case, how will you go and how will I follow you?”

Sita laughs a bit and replies back, “Oh Rama! A few minutes back, what did you advise your mother Kaushalya? You had said, that she has to be with her husband come what may, and never leave him at any cost! You spoke very well about Dharma to your mother! Doesn’t this same “Dharma” apply to me also? Why this double standard? So wherever you go, I’ll always be with you only!”

“Na vidhaa naathmajo aathmaa na maathaana sakhee janaha!

Ihafprerthacha naareenaam pathirego gathissathaa!!”

Thus Sita continues, Yes Rama! I’ll go in front of you and you will follow me! On your way if there are any thorns or some sharp items on the ground, I’ll pick them up! Oh dear Rama, your feet will not withstand such harsh ground conditions! You’re not used to it!”

Rama was surprised with Sita’s words! He replies back with a laughter, “As if you’ve been used to all this “harsh ground conditions”! Oh my dearest Sita! Do you know what you’re talking? Life in a forest is not that easy as you think my dear! There would be wild animals around! There might not be sufficient food or water for survival! It’s very tough! Oh Sita! I don’t want you to endure all these difficulties with me. I will somehow manage all this by myself and come back! You stay here in the palace with all the comforts!”

Sita replies back, “Oh Rama! Whatever maybe the tough situation! You’re telling me to stay in the palace without your presence? Please realize that even if I’m here with all the comforts, my life would become so lonely without you near me! Moreover, I do not care for all these comforts! You are my only comfort in this world! Hence, even if the going would be tough in the forest, I would be contended and happy with your presence near me! That is more important for me, my dear Rama!”

Rama is moved to tears by Sita’s words! He doesn’t know how to convince her further! However, he is totally against Sita’s idea of accompanying him to the forest! He somehow wants to stop her from doing that! He again tries his best to convince her to stay back in Ayodhya!

At this point when Sita realizes that Rama is not paying heed to her words, she becomes angry and shouts at him! What did Sita tell Rama at this stage with all her fury? How did Rama react to it? Let’s wait to find out in the next episode!

Episode 107 – At what age did Rama leave for the forest? – Beauty of the Sanskrit Language!!

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In the previous episode we continued our discussion about Rama’s exile plans and how Kaikeyi took control of the proceedings at Ayodhya to dictate terms to people. Accordingly she orders that her son Bharata would henceforth rule Ayodhya and Rama go on exile for the next fourteen years! When she conveyed this to Rama, he accepted it with his ever smiling and handsome face without even a drop of blemish or anger on his face! Such is the characteristic of an “Udhaarana Purusha” (An Ideal person) – To take both happy and sad situations with a smile! We then witnessed that Rama goes to Kaushalya to inform his decision of going on exile. Upon hearing this from him, Kaushalya was stunned beyond words and starts to cry profusely! Rama consoles her and explains the whole situation to her.

At the end of the previous episode we started a very important discussion pertaining to Rama’s age – The most important question here to be answered is that, at what age did Rama leave to the forest.

We shall find out the exact answer in today’s episode. For our understanding purpose, let’s recall the sloka of Valmiki Maharishi we saw yesterday and take it forward from there:

“Dasha sapthacha varshaani jaathasya thava raaghava!

Adeethaani prakaashanthyaa mayaa dukhka pareekshayam!!”

The above sloka starts with the phrase “Dasha sapthacha varshaani”, which might outwardly mean 10+7 = 17 years. However, the readers might remember that I’ve been telling in various occasions that Rama had gone to the forest only at the age of 24. (The marriage ceremony was when Rama was 12 and for the next subsequent 12 years, Rama and Sita lived happily at Ayodhya!) You might ask me why is this misconception? Why is this controversy here? Now let’s have a closer look at this scenario:

You might also remember that previously when King Dasharata was arguing with Sage Vishwaamithra to not send Rama with him, he says,

“Uuna shodasa varshaha me raamau raajeevalochanaha!”

Here, shodasa means sixteen and “Uuna shodasa varshaha” means Rama is “less than sixteen years” of age! Now going by this explanation, we might immediately have an opinion that if it is less than 16, it might be 15 or 14 or anything else! Now, add this 15 with this 17 which Kaushalya now says.. We might tend to arrive at a conclusion that Rama goes to the forest at the age of 32! Is this right?

To add to this confusion, there is another phrase in the Valmiki Ramayana – At the time when Ravana comes as a “Bikshu” (Saint) to Panchavati wherein Sita was alone, Sita introduces herself to Ravana for the first time and during this she says,

“Mama bharthaa pancha vimshathi varshitaha!”

Here, through the above line Sita explains to Ravana “My husband was at the age of 25 when he was ordered to go to the forest!” (“Pancha Vimshathi” means 25).

Thus, so far we’ve seen three cases:

Case 1: Kaushalya saying that she has waited for 17 years to see Rama going to the forest!

Case 2: Going by King Dasharata’s words and putting a probable arithmetic, we arrive at a conclusion that Rama’s age might have been 32 years old when he goes to the forest!

Case 3: Going by Sita’s words to Ravana, Rama was 25 years old when he went to the forest!

Now which of the three cases are true? The answer here is: The case wherein Sita talks with the “Bikshu” or “Sanyasin” should be the truth! It is because there is a “Raaja-Dharma” that only the truth is to be spoken to Sanyasins or great Saints or Maharishis! Sita knows this Raaja Dharma very well and hence we should come to the conclusion that out of the three cases, Case 3 is the one that is valid!

But it is also important to understand as to why did I reject Case 1 and 2. We shall see the explanations one by one:

With respect to Case 1, I’ve already given the explanation in one of the previous episodes that when King Dasharata says, “Uuna Shodasa Varshaha”, it just means that Rama is not eligible to go on to wage a war since he was a child! It does not have anything to do in particular with Rama’s age. According to the context, the most important aim of King Dasharata was to highlight that Rama is not 16 years old, which was the eligible age for a prince to wage a war. So we shouldn’t confuse this phrase anymore!

However, Case 2 is still tricky! How do we answer this? Here comes the beauty of the Sanskrit Language! What was the phrase again?

“Dasha sapthacha varshaani jaathasya thava raaghava!”

We know that “Dasha” means ten and Saptha means seven. If we look at this phrase closely, it is not “Dasha Saptha Varshaani”. It is “Dasha Saptha Cha Varshaani”! Notice the alphabet “Cha” after “Dasha” and “Saptha”. This makes all the difference! In Sanskrit, this “Cha” is like what we say a “conjunction” in English. These kinds of conjunctions in Sanskrit can give thousands of different meanings for one single phrase! For the case pertaining to numbers, if a “Cha” comes after two numbers, there is a rule in Sanskrit that you need to add the last digit to the entire number once more!

For instance, here we have “Dasha Saptha Cha”. As per the above-explained rule, it should now be, 10+7+7. (Because “Cha” comes after “Dasha” and “Saptha”) Now what happens? 10+7+7 = 24!! Now it’s settled!

Thus, we can understand from this above explanation that Rama was 24 years old and he was in his 25’th year when he leaves to the forest! Now we can see that Cases 2 and 3 match perfectly! This is why we should realize that every alphabet in Sanskrit is important and it has the potential to change the entire meaning of a sentence if it is not placed properly!

Now Rama finally convinces Kaushalya and takes her blessings to leave to the forest. Kaushalya bids her dearest son a tearful farewell. Next, Rama comes to see Sita! What did Sita say? What was the conversation that took place between Rama and Sita? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out! 🙂

Episode 106 – Rama to Kaushalya: “Jana–Raajya” for Bharata and “Vana-Raajya” for me!!

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Yesterday we witnessed that Kaikeyi orders Rama for his exile of fourteen years and her son Bharata would instead be coronated to the throne of Ayodhya! We also saw that Rama was more than happy (rather than shocked and angry) at Kaikeyi’s decision and accepted the exile with all his glee! Such is an example set by Bhagawan for all of us to follow in our lives – Be it good or bad, take it with a smile! Never go against the wishes of our parents! These two important life lessons were discussed at length in the previous episode.

This is exactly what Lord Krishna explains in his Bhagawat Gita:

“Sukha dukhe same kruthva laabha alaabou jaya ajayau!!”

Here, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, “Oh Arjuna! Irrespective of it is good (Sukham) or bad (Dukham), Profit (Laabha) or Loss (Alaabaha), Victory (Jayam) or defeat (Ajayam), you should view it in a balance! You shouldn’t be overjoyed and jumping up and down if you come across something good! At the same time, you shouldn’t be crying a lot and getting depressed if you come across something bad in your life!”

Upon hearing this, Arjuna laughed at Lord Krishna and replied, “Ah!! All this is good to listen and say! 🙂 Will this be practically possible?” Lord Krishna replies back, “Oh Arjuna! I’m not telling this just by words! I’ve lived by example! During my previous Rama-Avatar, I’ve been practicing this meticulously and that’s why I’m advising you to follow it!” Immediately Arjuna quipped back, “It’s you!! Not me! 🙂 It is only about normal human beings that I’m referring to – Not you! You can do everything possible and impossible in this world! Then Lord Krishna again says, “No Arjuna! I was practicing all this only when I was also born as a normal human being! Arjuna again quips, “Oh my dear Vaasudeva! Those are all gimmicks! We are born in this world as real human beings and are suffering! Everytime you come down to the earth in some form or the other and fool everybody around! 🙂 Anyway, everything is going to happen as per your wish only! Nothing can escape that! So please do not compare your example with ours! Now Lord Krishna smiles and asks, “Then what about the great Aacaaryas and Aalwaars? They are also normal human beings like you! They were an example of all the good qualities, isn’t it?” This is very important, because, Aachaaryas are also normal human beings like us and we can follow their example easily! Bhagawan’s life can just be a role model for all of us, and of course, in our daily lives we might not be able to follow all what he has shown in his life! 🙂

Anyway, coming back to the context, Rama now goes to the chamber of his mother, Kaushalya to inform her about his decision! He enters Kaushalya’s chamber and Kaushalya is all smiles in welcoming Rama! She asks him to sit and comes with a golden vessel containing nice food and says, “Oh future king of Ayodhya! My dear son! I want to feed you with nice food today!”

Thiyagaraja Swami brings this out in his beautiful and famous composition in the “Thodi” Raaga,

“PaalAarakimpave!

Saaramaina dhivyaanamu! Shatrasamula bhakshanamulu!!

Dhaarashodharaadulado! Thyaagaraaja vinutha!!”

In this composition, Thiyagaraja Swami explains the seven different tastes of food (“Shatrasamula Bhakshanamulu”) that is offered to Rama, who has a divine appearance (“Divyaanamu”)! Thus, Kaushalya is all ready with this kind of “Shatrasamula Bhakshanam” and she comes near Rama! Rama stops her mid way, and he proclaims to her, “Oh my dear mother! I’m very happy with your hospitality, but at the moment I do not deserve this! I’m going to go on exile to the forest for the next fourteen years!”

Kaushalya didn’t understand what Rama was saying! She asks him again.. “Oh Rama! What are you saying my son? Can you explain it more clearly?” Upon which Rama says, “Yes mother! Dad has given me an order through mother Kaikeyi – This ‘Jana Raajya’ will henceforth be ruled by Bharata and the ‘Vana Raajya’ is mine! I’m going to be the king for the forest and Bharata would be the king of Ayodhya city!”

On hearing this, Kaushalya was stunned! She didn’t know how to react! She fell down on the floor with tears in her eyes and crying bitterly! Rama comforts her with his beaming smile and lifts her up. Kaushalya looks at Rama and asks, “Oh Rama! You are talking about ‘Jana Raajya’ and ‘Vana Raajya’! Do you think I’m a fool to believe all your ‘marketing terminologies and gimmicks’’? Who is Kaikeyi to send you on exile? What right does she have to do that? She has plotted this and doomed this great Ikshvaaku dynasty into pieces! If she had such a wish that Bharata should rule Ayodhya, why didn’t she express it before? Why now? And why should my son Rama go to the forest and suffer for her son to rule Ayodhya? What nonsense is this!!”

“Yathi puthra na jaaye thaa mama shokhaaya raaghava!

Nasma dhukhamatho bhuyaha pashyeyam aham aprajaaha!!

Dasha sapthacha varshaani jaathasya thava raaghava!

Adeethaani prakaashanthyaa mayaa dukhka pareekshayam!!”

Thus, Kaushalya cries in anguish that Rama is going to leave for the forest and has been cheated upon by Kaikeyi’s wicked plot! Valmiki Maharishi brings this out beautifully and emotionally in the above two slokas.

The second sloka is very important. Kaushalya says, “Dasha sapthacha varshaani jaathasya thava raaghava!” which means, “Oh Raaghava! (Rama) Was I waiting for ten (dasha) plus seven (saptha), seventeen years to see you go to the forest? I was wishing and dreaming to see you as the king of Ayodhya! All my dreams have been shattered in just a minute!” 

Here is a very important and interesting argument that might arise: Kaushalya uses the phrase “Dasha sapthacha varshaani” which might outwardly mean “seventeen”. We’ll get a doubt here regarding Rama’s age: Was Rama seventeen years old when this coronation was announced? In the previous episodes I’ve repeatedly mentioned in various occasions that Rama was 24 years old when this event took place, because, in his 12’th year he gets married to Sita and subsequently at the end of the “Baala Kaanda” we concluded that for the next 12 years, Rama and Sita lived happily together in Ayodhya. Hence, 12+12 = 24. Now why does Kaushalya say that she is waiting for the past 17 years for Rama’s coronation? Isn’t it a discrepancy here? Let’s find out the answer for this in the next episode! 🙂

Episode 105 – “Step-motherly” Kaikeyi orders Rama’s exile!!!

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In the previous few episodes we witnessed shocking events that started to unfold at Ayodhya, with Kaikeyi standing firm and determined in the two boons that she wanted King Dasharata to grant her immediately! However and in whatever way King Dasharata tried to convince her, she was adamant in her stance and refused even a little bit to relent. Unable to bare it any longer, King Dasharata finally grants her the boons just to uphold the truth and majesty of the Ikshvaaku Clan and subsequently falls on the ground unconscious! It is at this point that Kaikeyi summons Rama who was amidst the coronation ceremony that was just starting to happen. Rama rushes inside Kaikeyi’s chamber and sees his father unconscious on the floor! He was utterly shocked beyond belief as to what has happened to his father! He asks Kaikeyi the reason for such a happening, wherein Kaikeyi explains in her own wicked way that King Dasharata wants to convey something to Rama but he’s afraid that Rama would mistake him for that! Rama was all the more shocked to hear such words from Kaikeyi and gives his promise that whatever his father’s wish is, it is his duty to execute that without asking another word!

Kaikeyi continues her conversation with Rama. As Rama was looking on, Kaikeyi says, “Oh Rama! Your father is afraid that if he tells this particular thing, he has a doubt whether you would be able to execute it or not!” Upon which, Rama gives his stubborn pledge by saying, “Oh Mother Kaikeyi! I pledge in front of you and dad now! If at all I fail to execute what my father says now, I declare that I would lose all the eligibility to be his son at this very moment! This Rama doesn’t know a second word! My promise is a promise for life! I’ll stand by it! I shall do whatever you want me to do – If you want me to go to the forest forever, I shall do that! If you want me to fall inside a huge ocean, I will do it more happily!”

The moment she listens to the word “forest” from Rama, Kaikeyi now breaks the ice and says, “Oh Rama! You got it right! It is only to this forest that your dad wants you to go for the next fourteen years!”

“Ahothinnaarhathe devi vakthum maameedrusham vachaha!

Priyam tvaa apriyam vakthum vaaneenaascha pravarthathe!!

Thadavashvanthyayaa kaaryam arurena shrutham mama!

Ahamtvi vachanaatraagnyaha apatheyamapi vaavake!!”

Thus Kaikeyi says, “Oh Rama! You needn’t fall into the ocean nor end your life! It is only to that forest you have to go for the next fourteen years of your life! You need to be in exile as my son Bharata will rule Ayodhya happily!”

Upon hearing this shocking instruction, Rama was never unhappy nor shocked! Here is the specialty and the uniqueness of Lord RamaHe takes both happiness and sorrow in the same way with a smile in his face! He continues to reply to Kaikeyi, “Oh Mother! So be it! If this is what he wants me to do, I’m more than happy to execute it! But I have a small doubt here – Is this King Dasharata’s order or yours?

This particular sentence has two meanings: Rama indirectly says to Kaikeyi “I know that my father hasn’t ordered me to do this! I know it is you who is ordering me to go to the forest! Hence, you can very well say that it is your order! Why do you want to invoke Dasharata into this ploy?” Moreover, Rama continues, Irrespective of whether my dad or my mother orders me to do something, it is the same for me! I’m going to execute whatever my parents are instructing me to do! It is my ‘Dharma’! Oh Kaikeyi! I respect you to that extent! Please understand that!”

All these conversations are being half-heard by King Dasharata who is now semi-consciously lying on the floor! Tears of sorrow and helplessness are rolling down from his eyes and he tries to stop Rama from going anywhere!

“Aaviseshanikam phaandam krithva raamaha pradakshinam!

Sanirchigaama saabekshaha drishtim tathraa vichaarayan!!

Nasaarcha mahatheem lashmim raajya naashaha apakarshyathi!

Loka kaantasya kaantathvaat sheetharanmethu tatvathaha!! ”

This is a very important sloka! How should Rama be feeling after hearing this shocking order from Kaikeyi? Was he happy or sad? The answer was “Happy”! We all know that only as the darkness of the nighttime increases, the moon (Chandra) becomes more and more beautiful and visible! Here, whom are we talking about? Rama-Chandra! Just when the darkness called “Raajya Naasa” increases more and more, Rama’s moon-like beautiful face glows with all its beauty!

Thus Rama was very happy with what he had to do! He never had regrets that he is denied the throne of Ayodhya! More than succeeding to the throne, he felt happy that he has got the golden opportunity to fulfill his parents’ wishes! Such is the significance of a great son to his parents!

Rama thus goes to his mother Kaushalya, to inform this decision and to get her blessings to leave for the exile! What was Kaushalya’s reaction? What happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

 

 

 

 

Episode 104 – Lord Rama ‘s pledge to Kaikeyi and King Dasharata!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that King Dasharata was trying his best to convince his wife Kaikeyi. At one point of time, he even went to the extent of falling on her feet to make her relent! But nothing worked out! Kaikeyi was firm in what she wanted! She was very clear in her approach! There was no way that King Dasharata would have won over her!

King Dasharata was in a state of extreme shock and disbelief and as he realizes that it’s all too late now, he declares that he is ready to grant the two boons that Kaikeyi has asked! King Dasharata finally says, “Oh Kaikeyi!! Oh ‘Kula Naasini’ (Destroyer of the entire clan) of Ikshvaaku Dynasty, since I’m a king who is to protect the Dharma and the truth, I bestow upon you, even the toughest of the boons that I can grant!” By saying this, he falls on the floor and becomes unconscious!

By the time this episode between Kaikeyi and King Dasharata comes to an end, it’s almost early morning 4 AM! Kaikeyi is rejoicing within herself for her achievement! At the courtroom all preparations were done and everything was set for the coronation ceremony to commence. People there were curious that King Dasharata hasn’t turned up to the podium yet! There were murmurs doing rounds as to what happened to King Dasharata! Rama and his brothers were concerned as to what was going on! It’s getting late and there was no sign of arrival of King Dasharata to the courtroom!

As time swiftly flies, everybody start losing patience and Sage Vasishtaachaarya is deeply concerned now! His mind and heart started to tell him clearly that something is wrong! At this point of time, Kaikeyi sends a few messengers to call upon one of King Dasharata’s trusted aides, Sumanthra. Accordingly Sumanthra comes into the chamber of Kaikeyi and he was shell shocked to see King Dasharata lying unconscious on the floor and Kaikeyi dressed up like a widow!

Kaikeyi turns towards Sumanthra and says, “Oh Sumanthra! Without wasting anymore time, please go and call Rama and ask him to come here immediately! There are a few instructions that I need to convey to him on behalf of King Dasharata!”

Accordingly, Sumanthra goes and fetches Rama and directs him to go to Kaikeyi’s place. Rama rushes into the chamber and finds his father on the floor! He runs towards his father and tries to lift King Dasharata off the floor! He was in tears on seeing the state in which his dearest father was, and asks Kaikeyi, “Oh Mother!! What happened to dad? Why is he in this state? Normally whenever I come to see him, he used to greet me with a big smile and words of love! But today what happened to him? Is he angry on me? What wrong did I do? My sincere apologies to my dad for my wrongdoings! Why is he not talking to me? Please tell me!”

Kaikeyi replies to Rama, “Oh Rama! There’s no fault of yours in this! The only thing is that, he wants to tell you something! But he’s concerned that if he tells you, you would mistake him and get angry on him! That’s why he’s hesitant to convey it to you!”

Upon hearing this, Rama becomes more concerned and worried! He again replies, “Oh Mother! Why should I mistake my dad if he wants me to do something? As a son, it is my duty to fulfill whatever my dad says! Here! I’m giving a promise to my father – I shall do whatever he instructs me to do – If he wants me to end my life, I will at this very moment! If he wants me to go on exile to a forest, I shall do that gracefully! If he wants me to end my life by falling into an ocean, I shall do it immediately!”

“Kimidham kaaranam yena mamaagnya prathi vaakhyathe!

Na chaiva samplasukthohya maana yeshu raaghavam!!”

Rama continues to say, “This is my promise! This is my word! This Rama doesn’t know anything else apart from keeping up his word to his parents! I shall sacrifice even my life to keep up the words of my father!”

Kaikeyi looks on as Rama makes the promise! She was even more confirmed and sure now that Rama will obey her wishes and satisfy her demands! She is now going to convey her two wishes to Rama! How did she do that? What cunning methodology did she adopt to do that? How did Rama react to her? Let’s wait and find out in the next episode!

Episode 103 – “Eti Janmam Idi Ha! Oh Rama!” – King Dasharata stands defeated by his own wife Kaikeyi!!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Kaikeyi finally breaks the ice with King Dasharata by asking him the two boons that he had granted her once upon a time. Accordingly, her demands were that, her son Bharata would rule Ayodhya henceforth, and Rama be sent on exile for the next fourteen years! Upon hearing this, King Dasharata couldn’t believe his ears for a moment and subsequently tries to console his dear wife and to make her withdraw this compelling stance! However, Kaikeyi was a strong woman with stiff attitudes and eventually King Dasharata’s consolations didn’t work! She stuck to her stand and refused to bow down!

King Dasharata now becomes extremely furious with Kaikeyi and says the following:

“Kaikeyim abhraveeth krudhhaa nirdhahanniva tejasaa!

Nisamse dukha chaarithre kulasyaascha vinaasine!!”

King Dasharata fumes in anger and says, “Oh Kaikeyi! You wicked woman! You’re a disguise to the entire Ikshvaaku dynasty! (“Kulasyaascha vinaasine”) Do you know whom are you trying to send to the forest? Do you think the people of Ayodhya would let you scot-free? The moment this news goes out of these four walls, you’ll be banged and stoned to death by the people of Ayodhya! So understand the seriousness of what you’re talking and demanding!”

Kaikeyi never seemed to be convinced even with the harsh words of King Dasharata! She replies, I don’t care about if I’ll be alive or dead! I don’t care if the people of Ayodhya hit me or beat me or stone me on the streets! Don’t try to divert the issue and don’t try to blackmail me! Grant the two boons that I had asked for! I don’t want to hear anything else from you!”

“Apasyatasthu me raamam nashtam bhavathi chetanam!

Dristenlokho vinaa suryam sasyam vaa salinam vinaa!!”

King Dasharata still doesn’t want to give up. He now pleads with Kaikeyi with his folded hands! Imagine! An invincible king known for his extraordinary powers and his abilities, bowing with folded hands to an ordinary woman! King Dasharata pleads with Kaikeyi, “Oh Kaikeyi! You asked two boons right? Fine! I’ll grant you one of them! You asked for Bharata’s coronation! I shall grant you that! No problem! Atleast please take back the other one! Please do not send Rama to the forest! What wrong did he do to you? Why are you punishing this child like this?”

King Dasharata breaks into tears and continues further, “Don’t you know Kaikeyi? Rama is our dearest child! I know that you adore and love Rama more than even I do! Yet, why do you want to met this out to him? And you know what? How do you think I would be able to continue my life without seeing Rama’s beautiful handsome face? Do you know how young I am today? I’m not 60,000 years old! Upon seeing Rama’s beauty, I feel that my age is just 30 and I’m a youngster! Oh Kaikeyi! Please do not send Rama to the forest! I cannot live even for a moment without seeing Rama’s face! I feel that my entire birth is a waste without being in the vicinity of Rama!”

Thiyagaraja Swami has brought out this emotion of King Dasharata beautifully through the following famous “Krithi” (Musical Composition):

“Eti janmam idi Ha! Oh Rama!!

Eti janmam idi enduku Galigeno? Entani Sairintu Ha! Oh Rama!!

Saatileni Maara koti laavanyuni! Maati maatiki juchi maatalaaduni taana!!”

The above song is one of Thiyagaraja Swami’s masterpieces, tuned to the Raaga “Varaali”, which in itself a very emotionally touching tune! In the above piece, Thiyagaraja Swami says, “Oh Rama! What is the use of this human birth in this world, if I’m unable to see you, or converse with you? What is this destiny of mine all about, if I’m unable to experience your beauty?” This is how King Dasharata is also now lamenting! He is venting out his distress caused by Kaikeyi! Thus King Dasharata says to Kaikeyi that he would grant one out of the two boons and requests her to take back the other! He further continues to say, “Oh Kaikeyi! Even after listening to your strong words, I’m still alive! This in itself is a miracle! Please pay heeds to this old man! I request you!”

Upon saying this, King Dasharata now falls on the feet of Kaikeyi and prays! However, Kaikeyi was still stubborn in her stance! She just moves away from that place a little bit and reiterates her stance once again!

King Dasharata is now rendered completely helpless! He has tried every possible way in his book to try and convince his wife, but all in vein! Hence, at last King Dasharata accepts his defeat with the heaviest of his hearts and grants her the two boons and eventually falls on the floor unconscious! Kaikeyi sniffs victory and she is overjoyed!

At this sad note, we shall wait till the next episode to find out how Kaikeyi took over the proceedings from this point and to dictate terms!