Indian Mythology (by ApamNapat)

Vishwamitra Visits Ayodhya

Ramayana


This chapter is from [Rama:1.18-1.21].

The four princes were brought up with all material comforts by their fond parents. When the time came, the sacred thread ceremony was performed for all of them and their education began. In addition to learning the Vedas and scriptures, they were also taught the use of weapons, riding horses, riding elephants and driving chariots. Rama became very proficient in horse-riding and in the art of conducting war elephants. He was also a first rate charioteer. His skill in archery was also unrivaled in the kingdom.

Laxmana also became very proficient in arms, and his defining characteristic was his great devotion to his elder brother Rama. These two brothers became inseparable, as one soul in two different bodies. Similarly Shatrughna attached himself to Bharata, and in return Bharata held him dearer than his own life. Seeing their children live in such amity, King Dasharatha and his three queens were exceedingly glad.

Soon, the princes became young adults, and the King began to contemplate suitable matrimonial alliances for them amongst his allies. While he was still searching for suitable brides, the great sage Vishwamitra arrived at his court. The King immediately stood up from his throne and offered the Rishi suitable worship. Pleased with his welcome, the sage uttered a benediction on the clan of Dasharatha and enquired after the welfare of his family. After the customary enquiries were completed, the sage was offered a seat of honor in the court, and everyone sat down.

Dasharatha said, "I deem your arrival as highly fortunate for my kingdom O Rishi! Your arrival is like the mortals attaining ambrosia, rainfall in a land plagued by draught, a barren father begetting his first son! You have the appearance of one who has come from a long pilgrimage, tell me, what could I do for you? Ask and it shall be done."

Pleased with the address of the King, sage Vishwamitra said, "O King, you have spoken words befitting the your great lineage. I have indeed returned from a long pilgrimage. I have a favor to ask of you. I am planning to conduct a great Vedic ritual, a great Yagna. You already know that the Rakshasas are always on the lookout to disrupt such rituals conducted by us Brahmanas. If I am to complete this sacrifice successfully, I require protection from their ravages. I can certainly destroy them myself, but when I am conducting the ritual, I cannot be distracted. Two Asuras named Maricha and Subahu have developed a habit of disrupting the sacrifice by throwing unclean meat and blood into the oblation fire. I need someone to slay them if they attempt their foul deeds this time. I think that your sons Rama and Laxmana will be ideal protectors for my sacrifice. I shall teach them the use of many divine missiles, with which they will be able to take care of these Asuras."

Dasharatha was so shocked at this request of the sage that he swooned away. When he regained consciousness he said, "Sire! Do consider what you are asking of me! How can these two children take on two hardened Asuras. Indeed, Rama and Laxmana have never even been in any battles yet. Let me come to protect your ritual, accompanied by the bravest of my army. Please do not ask me to send my sons."

Vishwamitra replied, "O King, I know very well what I am asking. You consider your sons mere children. I know what great deeds they are destined for. They have taken birth to exterminate the vile Rakshasas from the face of the earth. You need not take my word for it, ask your perceptor Vasishta if these two princes can handle the two Asuras. Only if your Guru and your counsellors agree must you send the two young princes with me. I shall teach them the use of many divine missiles. With me to aid them, they shall achieve undying fame. Return an answer quickly."

Dasharatha said, "O sage, I have been childless for sixty-thousand (?) years. In my old age, I have been blessed with children, all of whom are dear to me. Of all my children, Rama, being the eldest, is dearer to me than my own life. How can I send him into danger? I have heard that the demons are skilled in the art of magical warfare, how can this child of sixteen years confront them. Let me and my army go instead. Indeed, I am not certain that even we will be able to defeat those Asuras. Pray tell me more about them."

Vishwamitra said, "Ravana, the king of the Asuras has been born in the dynasty of Pulastya. He has obtained many boons from Lord Brahma and has become exceedingly strong. While he does not directly interfere in the rituals, he sends his two powerful kinsmen Subahu and Maricha to disrupt these rituals. This Ravana is half-brother to the mighty Kubera, but has succeeded in defeating him and rules over the kingdom of Lanka." // Hearing about the prowess of Ravana, Dasharatha became more frightened. He said, "O Rishi, When I myself cannot defeat Ravana, how can you ask me to send my children against his henchmen. They will be slaughtered. Please release me from my promise. I will be happy to help you in person, but do not ask me to sacrifice my children."

Vishwamitra grew exceeding angry. He said, "Fie on you O King! It is a sad day indeed that one born in the dynasty of Ikshvaku is rengeging on his promise. I did not ask you to come in person. Send your children, or accept that your promises meant nothing!"

Seeing the anger of Vishwamitra, sage Vasishta grew worried. He judged it time to intervene. He said to Dasharatha, "Dear King, You have promised to help sage Vishwamitra. It does not behoove your dignity to now refuse to help him. He is a great man, eminently capable of slaying those demons himself. He has asked you to send Rama and Laxmana with him, for the sole purpose of bestowing great benefits upon him. Do not fear for their safety, for they will be protected by the ascetic merit of this Scion of the Kaushika dynasty. All the missiles known to this sage are the sons of Krishasva (कृशाश्व) Prajapati (and his wives Jaya and Suprabha, the daughters of Daksha), and were given to Vishwamitra by Lord Shiva. In addition to these missiles, this sage is capable of conjuring up more powerful weapons by the power of his ascesis. Fear not, and send the princes with this sage."

Hearing the words of his perceptor Vasishta, Dasharatha's mind was settled. He gladly consented to sending Rama and Laxmana with sage Vishwamitra to guard the Vedic ritual.

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Last Modified At: Thu Nov 25 16:57:57 2004