Sep 01 2017
Agasttyavacanā ccaiva jagrāhaindraṃ śarāsanam
Khaḍgam ca paramaprītah tūṇicāksayasāyakau.
Rama visited Maharishi Agastya who handed over to him, a powerful sword; a bow that had been given to him by Lord Indra and quivers that had the capacity to produce infinite number of arrows. Rama joyfully and reverentially received them.
Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana began to walk towards Maharishi Agastya’s hermitage. They enjoyed the pleasant forests which abounded in greenery and admired the frolicking deer as they entered the hermitage. They also visited the Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Kartikeya dharmasthanas on the way.
Upon knowing that Rama was entering his hermitage, Sage Agastya, in great elation came forward along with his disciples, to receive him. He had been yearning to meet Rama. Sri Rama, fell at the feet of the great sage and held them tightly with profound reverence. Seeta and Lakshmana too prostrated to him reverentially. Maharishi Agastya provided all the required comforts, fruits and roots for his guests.
Each and every chapter of Ramayana has its own specialty. Within every movement and breath of Lord Rama, many deep specialties are hidden.
Addressing Rama, who was seated with his palms joined, Maharishi Agastya said, “Rama, a hermit who undertakes penance (tapas) should worship fire, give water oblations and worship the guests who arrive. In case he behaves contrary to this tradition, then upon reaching the other world, he will have to eat his own flesh”.
Maharishi Agastya’s ashram was a storehouse of all the good traditions. Every person who lived there abided totally by dharma. Even before they had stepped into this sacred hermitage, Rama had informed Seeta and Lakshmana about the prominence of this sage. Great Devatas, Siddhas, Gandharvas as well as the exalted seers, resided within Maharishi Agastya’s ashram practising intense penance (tapas) while consuming very limited food and maintaining absolute control over the senses (indriya nigraha). Even birds, reptiles, Gandharvas and Devatas that reside here abide by dharma. They totally abide by the directions given by this righteous sage and offer their services to him.
Liars, savages, cruel people, cheats, sinners, murderers or those who override the dictates of the scriptures (shastras) cannot reside. Such was his greatness. Many exalted sages after undertaking penance at this hermitage, obtain divine effulgent bodies and depart to heaven. Devatas have blessed many of the upasakas of this hermitage with immortality (amaratva) or with the state of divine celestial yakshas. They have also blessed many with kingship.
Maharishi Agastya has performed many divine extraordinary deeds for the welfare of this universe. He is a Srividya upasaka (worshipper of Srividya).
Such an illustrious and exalted Maharishi, greeted Rama and said, “Rama, you are the king of all these universes. You are worthy of worship. You are a great dharmatma. I have with me a Vishnu bow that was created by Vishwakarma, the celestial architect. This is the bow of the highest order. Lord Brahma gave this to me. Here is a quiver from which will come limitless arrows and also a golden sword. Both of these are gifts received by me from Lord Indra.
Long ago, using this bow, Vishnu annihilated the horrible and atrocious demons and ensured that the kingdom of Heaven was restored to the Devatas. You too should use these weapons towards the destruction of the mighty demons whom you will encounter. Please accept them”.
Rama was mighty pleased that he had secured the most suitable weapons. Gladly he accepted them. Agastya further continued, “Rama, please proceed towards Panchavati and set up your residence there. I know everything about you. Using my power of penance I am able to read your intentions. Understand that Panchavati is a beautiful place with exquisite flower gardens. May auspiciousness befall you”.
With this, the Maharishi bid them farewell. Rama and Lakshmana wore on their bodies this new weaponry received and together with Seeta proceeded towards Panchavati.
Receiving these divine weapons was the purpose behind their visit to Maharishi Agastya’s ashram. It can be said that Agastya returned back to Vishnu, the bow that originally belonged to Him.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha.
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Sep 01 2017
Pravishya tu mahāraṇyaṃ rāmo rājeevalocanaḥ
Virādhaṃ rākṣasaṃ hatvā Śarabhaṇgaṃ dadarśa ha
Sutīkṣaṇam tāpyaga styañca āgastya bhrātaraṃ tathā
No sooner had the lotus-eyed Rama stepped into the Dandakaranya forest than he killed the terrible demon Viradha. Thereafter he met the Sages Sarabhanga, Sutikshana, Agastya and Agastya’s brother.
We have now entered the chapter Aranya kanda which explains Rama’s life in the forest.
Dandakaranaya, with the hermitages of eminent sages and with the loud recitals of Vedas was akin to Brahma loka (abode of Brahma). It was blissful and delightful. Clusters of hermitages of the various sages adorned the forest. The entire area was reverberating with Vedic hymns.
The sages were delighted to have the presence of Rama amidst them. They offered various kinds of fruits and roots to Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta and honoured them. They requested that as their king, Rama should give them deliverance from the atrocities of the demons. Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta spent that night there itself.
The next morning they recommenced their journey. They were walking through the a thick dense forest, which was the territory of many wild animals, when suddenly they came across a horrible demon. This demon had deep pit-like eyes, was dreadfully large-mouthed, had a horrific, enormous belly that was completely shapeless and was horrendous-looking.
He rushed towards them angrily. Forcefully he seized Seeta and then screamed in a deafening, blaring voice, “My name is Viradha. I am exceedingly hungry. I will kill you all and satiate my hunger”.
Lakshmana, hissing with anger, rushed to attack Viradha. Meanwhile the infuriated Rama adjusted his bow and began to shower arrows upon the demon. This incensed the demon who dropped Seeta and madly rushed towards them. He picked up the two brothers and began to run away in great speed. Rama and Lakshmana started to chop off his arms. With his arms mutilated, the gigantic demon fell down to the ground in a huge thud. Rama and Lakshmana showered multiple blows upon him. Rama then said to Lakshmana that this demon needed to be buried in a deep trench.
Hearing these discussions, demon Viradha realized the true status of Rama. He then explained to them the curse that had caused him to transform into a demon. He also told them that death in the hands of Rama was actually a release from his curse. He suggested that he should be buried and thereafter recommended the brothers to visit the hermitage of Sage Sharabhanga.
Rama and Lakshmana dug up a deep pit and buried Viradha. Then the three of them went to meet Sage Sharabhanga. Sharabhanga joyously welcomed them. Rama addressed the saint and said, “O Sage, I had noticed that just now Indra, the Lord of Heaven was here to meet you”.
The sage replied, “Yes. He had come to take me to Brahma loka (abode of Brahma). But I did not seek to go there without your darshan Rama. Hence I stayed back and sent him away. From here, please visit the hermitage of Sage Suteekshana who will direct you to a place which will be suitable for building your residence”.
While Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta were watching, Sage Sharabhanga created a yogic fire, entered into it. Thus he gave up his body and attained Brahma loka.
Thereafter the saints residing nearby approached Rama and sought relief from the havoc caused by the demons and to restore the forests to their natural tranquility. Rama assured them of his protection and vowed to eliminate the demons. Having granted this assurance, Rama along with Seeta and Lakshmana then reached the hermitage of Maharishi Suteekshana. They rested there that night.
Early next morning, Rama prostrated before the revered sage and said, “All the saints are requesting me to pay a visit to their hermitages. Kindly permit me to leave from here”.
As they were proceeding further from there, Seeta asked a pertinent doubt about the validity of using weapons to destroy the demons without any provocation from their side. Towards this, Rama gives her a rightful and suitable answer and explains to her how this was as per the law of dharma and thus clarifies her doubt totally.
The three of them crossed many mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys and after a long journey neared the precincts of Maharishi Agastya’s hermitage. As they were nearing the ashrama, Rama explained to Seeta and Lakshmana the greatness of Maharishi Agastya and of his great achievements. They rested for that night in the hermitage that belonged to Maharishi Agastya’s brother. They also spotted Agastya Maharishi’s hermitage.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namaha.
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Sep 01 2017
Gatetu bharate śrimān satyasandho jitendriyaḥ
Rāmastu punarālakṣyaa nagarasya janasya ca
Tatrāgamana mekāgro daṇḍakān praviveśa ha
After the departure of Bharata, Rama, who was self-controlled and truthful, proceeded deep into the Dandakaranya forests, with a view of preventing the citizens of Ayodhya from approaching him.
After the departure of Bharata, Rama continued to live in Chitrakuta. One day, he noticed some ascetics looking at his direction and whispering something amongst themselves. He noticed the anxiety and distress in their actions. He approached them, joined his palms and politely and asked, “Respected sirs, have I or my family members committed any deed that has harmed you in any way?”
An aged and senior ascetic stepped forward and replied, “Rama, we are not speaking about you. We are discussing about the demon Khara, who is the younger brother of demon Ravana. He has come to know that you are living here. He is not happy at your arrival here. Therefore, from the time you have arrived he has been sending his supporters, who are ruthlessly torturing the saints here.
Khara is a terrible demon who is merciless, cruel and sinful. He is haughty and fiendish. He enjoys eating human flesh. He will arrive here any moment now. He will then ill-treat and harm us. Hence, these ascetics are in a hurry to leave this place and move to a safer place. In the process, they are hurrying me up. Since you are living here, one day you too will have to face his brutal attacks”.
Saying this, the old ascetic hurried away from there. Rama tried his best to instill courage and confidence amongst those saints, but it was of no avail. All the saints vacated their hermitages and very soon the entire place was deserted.
The desertion caused by the departure of the saints and the increased memories caused due to the recent visit of Bharata, the citizens and the ministers drained from Rama all the pleasures of Chitrakuta. Again and again the forlorn faces of his mothers flashed before his eyes. The memories of his brother and of Ayodhya began to cause worry and pain to him.
Rama reflected deeply and decided that it would be wiser to move away from this place. Having decided thus, the three of them left their hut and began walking deeper into the forests.
After some time, they reached the hermitage of Sage Atri. Rama stepped into this hermitage and sought the blessings of Sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Atri received them very warmly. Maharishi Atri explained to Rama the spiritual greatness and achievements of his ascetic wife Anasuya. Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta received the blessings of Mother Anasuya.
Seeta paid reverential respects to Anasuya and enquired about her wellbeing. Anasuya very lovingly treated Seeta and preached to her, “My dear daughter, do not deviate from the path of dharma under any circumstances. Always follow the footsteps of your husband”. Anasuya then brought and gifted Seeta with floral garlands that would never fade, apparel that would never get soiled, and jewellery. Thereafter, she enquired from Seeta and heard from her the entire story of Seeta’s marriage with Rama.
How lucky Anasuya was! She could hear directly from Seeta, in complete detail, the glory of the Seeta-Rama Kalyana (wedding). Atri and Anasuya experienced great thrill as they listened to the events of the marriage.
Mother Anasuya then asked Seeta to wear the clothing and jewellery gifted by her. Seeta duly adorned herself and brought great delight to Anasuya. She prostrated to Mother Anasuya. Seeta then approached Rama and showed him all the gifts received. Rama was also delighted. Having spent the night there, Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta resumed their journey early next morning.
As they were departing, Maharishi Atri said to Rama, “You need to be extremely vigilant in Dandakaranaya. The demons who inhabit this place are treacherous, wicked and exceptionally cruel. They are bloodthirsty demons who enjoy human flesh. Even a slight negligence, can turn the person into their fodder. This is the path that the Maharishis walk when they go to Dandakaranya to fetch the flowers and fruits. It will be safer to proceed on this path”.
Rama, along with Lakshmana and Seeta entered the Dandakaranaya forest.
With this the Ayodhya Kanda of Ramayana comes to an end.
Om Seeta Ramabhayam namaha
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Sep 01 2017
Sa kāma manavāpyaiva rāmapādāvupaspŗśan
Nandigrāme karodrājyaṃ rāmāgamanakāṇkṣayā
Meaning: Bharata who could not succeed in bringing Rama back to Ayodhya, decided to reside in Nandigrama, a place near Ayodhya. Keeping the Padukas on the throne, offering his prayerful prostrations to them, praying for the safe return of Rama, Bharata began to rule his kingdom.
Bharata reverentially retained Rama’s paadukas on his head and together with Shatrughna boarded the chariot. They advanced in the form of offering a circumambulation to the Mountain Chitrakuta. They reached the hermitage of Sage Bharadwaja. Bharadwaja asked Bharata, “Were you successful in your mission? Did you meet Rama?”
Bharata politely replied, “Revered Sage! All of us were blessed to receive his divine darshan. In many ways I begged him to take back the kingdom. But he was very firm about his decision. He insisted upon completing his entire period of exile in the forest. As per the advice of Maharishi Vashistha, I have taken His golden padukas and am now heading back to Ayodhya”.
Bharadwaja Maharishi profusely praised his noble traits and his virtues. Taking leave of the sage, Bharata continued his journey. They crossed the River Ganga and passed by Sringiberapuram and entered Ayodhya.
The city of Ayodhya, devoid of the presence of Rama, Lakshmana and Seeta appeared dilapidated, lifeless and lusterless. Movement of people could not be seen. Owls could be found flying everywhere. In the place of men, cats were moving about everywhere. Ayodhya appeared like the smoky and empty fire pit (homa kunda) that exists after the completion of the homa. Lack of business had caused all the shops to shut down. The absence of Rama from Ayodhya had robbed the city of its splendour. Bharata expressed to his charioteer all his feelings and sentiments.
They neared the palaces and Bharata ensured the queens were dropped safely to their homes. Thereafter he addressed Vashistha and other eminent people and said, “I find it impossible to live in my royal palace. To tell you the truth, I do not seek to stay in this city of Ayodhya itself. I have no need of these luxuries. Separation from my brother Rama and the death of my father haunt me. Until Rama returns, I will stay in Nandigrama”.
Vashistha appreciated the greatness of Bharata’s character and his devotion to his brother. All the elders agreed to his request. Having offered his prostrations to all the elders present there, Bharata kept Rama’s padukas on his head and along with Shatrughna boarded the chariot. Even after seating himself in the chariot he did not place Rama’s sandals at any place beside him. He continued to keep them on his head.
The citizens followed Bharata to Nandigrama. Addressing the crowds, Bharata said, “My dear citizens. These are the sandals of my dear brother Rama. From now on, these sandals will be ruling you. Only they are deserving of the royal shelter upon them. I will be ruling under the orders from these padukas”
Bharata then placed the sandals on the throne and conducted the coronation to them. He changed into the attire of a hermit. From then on, he lived in Nandigrama and ruled as a representative of his brother’s paadukas. Very diligently he abided by his vow. Every minute and every second he awaited the return of Rama. He read out to the paadukas all the royal commands, the assignments and the administrative duties completed. All the royal gifts received were offered to them.
Om Seeta Ramabhyaam Namaha.
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Sep 01 2017
“Śreyasām iha sarveṣāṁ jñānaṁ niḥśreyasaṁ param
Sukhaṁ tarati duṣpāraṁ jñāna-naur vyasanārṇavam
Obtaining Self-knowledge is the ultimate auspiciousness that can be obtained in this world! It is the highest and best! The person who seeks refuge in the boat called Self-knowledge will easily cross this ocean of sorrows which otherwise is impossible to cross.
Worshipping Srihari is not an easy task. Nevertheless, the person who, with absolute dedication, chants this hymn sung by me now will easily worship Srihari. By chanting this hymn he will accomplish the otherwise impossible task.
With an absolute firm mind I have chanted this hymn. Srihari is the repository of every form of auspiciousness. He will be extremely pleased with the person who extols him through this hymn. He will fulfill all the desires of such devotee.
Idaṁ yaḥ kalya utthāya prāñjaliḥ śraddhayānvitaḥ
Śṛṇuyāc chrāvayen martyo mucyate karma-bandhanaiḥ
The person who, soon upon waking up, folds his hands listens to this hymn with absolute dedication or explains it to others will be freed from these repeated cycles of births and deaths i.e. worldly bondages.
O princes! Srihari is the supreme Parabrahma. He resides within the individual in the form of the Self. Meditating upon this hymn sung now by me, undertake your austerities with absolute dedication and concentration. When your penance fructifies, Srihari will fulfill your desire” said Rudra.
With this the twenty fourth chapter of the fourth canto comes to an end.
Fourth Canto Chapter Twenty-five
In this chapter, in accordance to Rudra’s initiation the Pracetās get ready to undertake penance; Maharishi Nārada visits their father Prācinabarhi and Puranjanopākhyanam has been explained.
Maitreya Maharishi said to Vidura, “Lord Shiva thus initiated Pracetās, the sons of Emperor Barhiśat. As they were watching, he vanished from there.
Meditating upon the mantra taught to them by Shiva, Pracetās stood in the waters of the ocean for 10,000 years and worshipped Lord Srihari. Meanwhile the ever-compassionate Maharishi Nārada observed that their father Emperor Barhiśat was totally engrossed in performing fruitive actions. He decided that the king should undergo spiritual awakening.
The Self-realized Maharishi Nārada approached Emperor Barhiśat and preached as follows,
“O emperor! You are walking on the path of fruitive action. What is it that you seek as a result of your actions? The welfare of the person takes place only when sorrows are dispelled leading to a surge in happiness. Learned scholars do not agree with the theory that such welfare can be obtained through the path of action. Are you not aware of this fact?”
Emperor Barhiśat replied, “O great saint, I am actually fed up with performance of fruitive actions. Because of this total involvement in fruitive actions I have not actually understood about liberation. It is my great fortune that you have come here to bless me. Please initiate me into that knowledge which is free from every form of impurity and thereby please dispel my ignorance. Please relieve me from fruitive actions.
Gṛheṣu kūṭa-dharmeṣu putra-dāra-dhanārtha-dhīḥ
Na paraṁ vindate mūḍho bhrāmyan saṁsāra-vartmasu
A house-holder assumes that his wife, children property etc. are the only aims of life. Hence he sinks into the mire called delusion. Such person engages in performance of worthless fruitive actions which only further worldly bondages and lead to more re-births (samsāra). Thus he continues to endlessly rotate in this cycle of repeated births and deaths. Such person can never attain liberation from these re-births”.
Maharishi Nārada said, “O Prajāpati, you have conducted Yagnas without any compassion towards other living beings. For the purposes of these Yagnas you have killed and sacrificed innumerable goats and other animals. Recollect the various animal sacrifices you have performed so far.
All those animals remember the horrible treatment you have meted out to them. In great fury they are eagerly waiting for your death so that they can, with their iron horns, rip you apart. In this connection I will narrate to you the ancient story of Puranjana. Listen to me attentively.
O king, there lived a king in the ancient past who became famous by the name Puranjana. He had a dear friend named Avijnāta. Avijnāta means whose name is unknown or the secretive one. Just as the name indicated, Avijnāta’s activities were totally secretive.
King Puranjana once travelled across the entire earth searching a suitable residence. However, he could not find a suitable place that he liked. With this he was agitated. He felt dejected and depressed.
Although the earth was filled with innumerable towns and cities, this king, who had innumerable desires, could not find a suitable location. His desires were endless. None of the places he visited were adequately equipped to fulfill all his limitless sensory desires.
The king did not give up this search for a suitable residence. While he was thus travelling, once he came across a beautiful city located in the southern side of the Himalayas. With 9 gates and many other auspicious signs, this city was extraordinarily beautiful. It was glowing with exquisite gardens, boundary walls and towers. The tall buildings in this city, which resembled huge towers, were made of gold, silver and iron. Each house had many doors and windows.
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