Category: Shatashloki Ramayana

Shatashloki 25: Rama breaks Shiva’s bow kept in King Janaka’s court.

Having set right the household of Maharishi Gowtama, Rama, together with Lakshmana and all the other sages, resumed His journey and in a short while set foot into the kingdom of Mithila.

Already by then many great kings and sages had assembled in Mithila to witness the yagna taking place. The entire city was bustling with people. Upon hearing that Maharishi Vishwamitra had arrived into the kingdom, King Janaka together with his chief priest Maharishi Shatananda, arrived personally to welcome them. They offered the sage the customary worship.

Janaka then enquired about the brothers, Rama and Lakshmana and found out their story in detail. He was very happy when he understood that they had come to see Shiva’s bow (dhanus).

Maharishi Shatananda was overjoyed to know of the heroic deeds performed by Rama while on the way to Mithila. Shatananda was the son of Gowtama and Ahalya and hence the news that his mother was relieved from her curse brought him unimaginable joy. Grateful to Vishwamitra for having united his parents through the medium of these two brothers, Maharishi Shatananda joyfully explained to Rama the spiritual greatness of Maharishi Vishwamitra. He told them the story of Trishanku, the method in which the Trishanku Swarga (heaven) was created, the story of Ambarisha, the methods adopted by Vishwamitra to scale up the spiritual ladder and emerge as a Brahmarishi and many other relevant episodes pertaining to Maharishi Vishwamitra.

The next morning Vishwamitra explained to the brothers Rama and Lakshmana, the history and the greatness of the Shiva’s bow. He also told them that King Janaka had vowed to give his daughter Sita in marriage to that person, who could bend and string it.

Rama was eager to see this bow. King Janaka then ordered that the bow immediately be brought forth to the Yaaga shala. His ministers in turn called for many mighty, muscular and able-bodied persons and asked them to collectively fetch the sacred bow. This bow was enclosed in a gigantic iron casket that had 8 wheels. Hundreds of able-bodied persons dragged it and with difficulty managed to bring it.

Showing the bow, King Janaka said to Rama, “This bow has been reverentially worshipped by all my ancestors. No Devata, Yaksha (celestial beings), human nor demon has been able to bend and string it to date. No one had the strength to even bend it”.

The sight of this bow created in Rama, a desire to string it. He expressed the same to Maharishi Vishwamitra. Both Vishwamitra and Janaka happily approved of it. Effortlessly Rama held the bow and lifted it up. The greatest emperors, kings, sages and all those who had assembled there were simply wonder-struck.  In the presence of one and all, Rama easily pulled the rope and stretched it with an aim of stringing the bow. That’s all! All of a sudden, with an ear shattering and deafening noise like that of lightening, the bow broke into two. The earth shuddered violently. All the people present there, barring Rama, Lakshmana, Vishwamitra and Janaka swooned on the spot.

Janaka’s happiness knew no bounds. In great jubilation he said to Vishwamitra, “O Sage, Rama is the only true valorous person in this entire world. I never even imagined that such a gallant hero exists within this creation. I will give my daughter Sita’s hand to him in marriage”.

Janaka called his ministers and immediately sent them to Ayodhya with this auspicious news. Dasharatha was very thrilled to know about Rama’s marriage and together with all his relatives, friends and retinue, eagerly set forth to Mithila.

Dasharatha received a very warm welcome from King Janaka. The learned pundits, the wise great sages as well as the family priests of both the kings assembled and after the due discussions, fixed the date and time for the marriage.

Om Seeta Ramabhyaam namah.

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Shatashloki 24: Rama travels towards Mithila along with Maharishi Vishwamitra

All the sages of Vishwamitra’s ashram desired to visit Mithila accompanied by the brothers Rama and Lakshmana. Conceding to the wishes of the sages, Vishwamitra handed over the Siddha ashram to the Vara Devatas and all of them began the journey to Mithila. Enroute, they explained the story of Shiva dhanus (bow) to the brothers.

For a little distance, the birds and the animals of that land accompanied Rama, who in turn affectionately greeted them all. The sages rested on the banks of River Shona.  Rama sought to know the speciality of this land and hence Vishwamitra explained it in detail.

The next evening they rested on the banks of River Ganga. At that time Rama learnt the story of Mother Ganga. In addition, Vishwamitra also narrated the Skanda Charitra, Emperor Sagara’s story, Baghiratha’s story and the efforts undertaken to bring River Ganga on to earth and way in which River Ganga actually descended to earth. As it was dark by then, they rested there for the night. Early next morning they continued their journey and reached the land of Vishala desa.

To fulfill Rama’s desire, Vishwamitra explained the significance of this land. He said, “Long time ago, during the churning of the milky ocean, the nectar emerged. At that time, a terrible war broke out between Devatas and the demons in which demons were brutally slaughtered. Distraught upon seeing this, Diti, the mother of demons, prayed to her husband Maharishi Kashyapa to bless her with a valorous son who could overpower Indra, the Lord of Heaven.

What a strange twist! After some time Diti was pregnant. Indra who came to know her intentions devised a plan. Finding a suitable time, He entered her womb and cut the foetus into 7 parts. The foetus began to shriek piteously. To console it, Indra said, “maa rudaha” which means ‘do not cry’.

He emerged out of Diti’s womb, paid obeisance to her and said, “Mother, by letting loose your long braid (hair) and sleeping in the wrong direction, your austerity was rendered impious. Your head was positioned in the direction where the legs ought to be. This would render your vrata impure and hence I acted in this manner. Please excuse me. Your seven sons will be the seven wind-gods (presiding deities of cosmic air divisions) who will rule in all the seven periods of time. They will acquire fame and will be known as ‘Sapta Marut’. Being Devatas they will enjoy all the comforts.”

The term ‘seven time periods’ means ‘at all times’. Diti was immeasurably pleased upon hearing this. Indra returned back to his abode. O Rama, this land of Vishala is the province where this incident took place in the past. To the couple Ikshvāku and Alambusa, a highly righteous son by the name Vishāla was born. He constructed this city. Presently, from his lineage, a king by name Sumati is ruling this vast kingdom.

The speciality of this lineage is that all the successive kings enjoy longevity, are extremely righteous and highly valorous”.

Around that time, King Sumati, having heard about the arrival of the great Sage Vishwamitra, came there to extend a warm welcome to him. He learnt about the heroism and lineage of two brothers Rama and Lakshmana and lovingly greeted them.

Having rested there for that night, Vishwamitra, together with Rama and Lakshmana resumed the journey early next morning. As they were walking, they came across a dilapidated hermitage. Rama was curious to know, in complete detail, about this place.

In response to this request from Rama, Vishwamitra detailed the entire story of Maharishi Gowtama and Ahalya and as to how Ahalya was cursed to turn into a rock. He told them that this was the hermitage of Maharishi Gowtama. Vishwamitra said, “Rama, only you can redeem her of her curse. Go ahead and do the needful”.

Rama entered the ashram. With just the darshan of Rama, Ahalya was totally relieved of her curse. She was also completely absolved of all her sins. At that minute Maharishi Gowtama appeared at the ashram. In great elation, he, along with his wife Ahalya, reverentially welcomed Sage Vishwamitra and the brothers Rama and Lakshmana and offered them the due worship. The sound of the divine drumbeats could be heard from Heaven and the Devatas, who were watching this, showered flowers upon Rama.

Om Seeta Ramaabhyaam namah.

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Shatashloki 23: Rama kills Tataka and Subahu while injuring Marica

Vishwamitra continued, “Rama, long ago, due to the grace of Lord Brahma, aYaksha called Suketu was blessed with a daughter Tataka, who had in her the strength of a thousand elephants. She was exquisitely beautiful. She married Sunda and begot a son Maricha.

Once, Sunda harassed Maharishi Agastya. The sage cursed him which led to his instant death. To avenge the death of her husband, the enraged Tataka, along with her son Maricha, rushed to attack the sage. At this, the sage cursed her son, “May you transform into a wicked demon (rakshasa)”. With this Tataka was even further infuriated. At this, the sage cursed her, “Turn into an ugly terrible demoness”.

From then on, Tataka no longer adheres to dharma. Without any reason she destroyed these townships of Malada and Kurusha, terrorized people and mercilessly devoured many innocent persons. Rama, kill this demoness and restore dharma to this land”.

Ever-compassionate Rama began to ponder whether it was appropriate to kill a woman. Sensing his conflict, Vishwamitra clarified to him the subtle aspects of dharma and said, “Tataka is a demoness. She does not have the slightest essence of a woman in her.”

Hearing the words of this sage, Rama instantly readied his weapon and pulled its string. Hearing the loud thunderous twang, which echoed across the vast forest, Tataka trembled. In mad rage, she rushed in the direction of the sound, creating a dust storm as she ran. The entire path was covered in dust. She saw Rama and Lakshmana and showered a rain of huge rocks upon them. In anger, Rama used his arrows too chop both her hands. Lakshmana chopped off her nose and ears. Undeterred, Tataka made herself invisible, resorted to sorcery and continued to attack the brothers. She continued to rain gigantic rocks upon them. Standing amidst this rock shower, Rama steadied his bow and hit her with his powerful arrow which caused her instant death.

All the Devatas accompanied by Lord Indra arrived there and showered praises upon Rama. Lord Indra saluted Maharishi Vishwamitra and said, “O great sage, Rama has to carry out a very specific divine deed. Hence please impart to him the knowledge of weaponry in entirety”. Saying so Indra disappeared.

Agreeing to the command of the Lord, early next morning, Vishwamitra imparted to Rama this knowledge of weaponry in totality.  Thereafter they resumed their journey and soon afterwards sighted the Siddha ashrama. Vishwamitra said, “This is the ashram of Vamana murti. After gifting away the three planes (worlds) to Indra, Lord Vamana resided here for sometime. This is the place where I am conducting my yagna. The demons Maricha and Subahu are creating obstacles for my yagna. You please kill them and thus ensure the success of my yagna.”

Rama and Lakshmana rested for that day. Early next morning, the yagna commenced. The smoke of the homa enveloped the entire place and began to spread in all directions. The sight of this smoke incensed the demons Maricha and Subahu and they rushed to the homa place. With their bows readied, Rama and Lakshmana were awaiting the arrival of these demons. The demons began to shower large quantities of blood into the sacrificial altar.

Angered at this, Rama fired his manavastra (weapon) at Maricha. At unimaginable speed the arrow took Maricha and threw him 100 yojanas away into the ocean. Maricha did not die. He was swirled round and round in the skies and forcefully thrown into the ocean. To Maricha, it was as if he had lost his life itself. He could not even return from here. After hitting Maricha, the next instant, Rama picked the weapon Agneya astra and attacked Subahu with it. Subahu was instantaneously killed.

The hordes of demons who witnessed this, dispersed in different directions. Using the powerful and extra-ordinary weapon Vayuvya astra Rama killed them all. In this manner, Vishwamitra’s yagna was successfully conducted. Vishwamitra praised Rama profusely.


Om Seetaramabhyaam namaha.

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Shatashloki 22: Rama and Lakshmana accompany Maharishi Vishwamitra; the story of Tataka

Right from infancy Rama and Lakshmana were inseparable. Similarly, Bharata and Shatrughna were inseparable. These boys mastered all the Shastras taught to them. When the boys reached the appropriate age, Dasharatha decided to get them married.

Just around that time Maharishi Vishwamitra paid a visit and said, “O King! You are a very righteous ruler who rules under the able guidance of Maharishi Vashistha. You protect your vow of truthfulness (satya vrata) very zealously. I have undertaken a Yagna with the objective of attaining certain specific results. Two demons however are causing obstacles in my mission. Kindly send your eldest born Rama with me. He is a great fearless warrior. He can help me. In return, I shall teach him deeper knowledge of weaponry (Astra Vidya). I will ensure that he will acquire fame in all the three worlds. I seek to keep him with me for just 10 days. That’s all. Have faith and send him with me.”

Hearing these words, it is said that Dasharatha fainted. He thereafter pleaded with Vishwamitra in various ways. Observing the situation going out of hand, Maharishi Vashistha intervened and said, “O King, Vishwamitra has in him the ability to destroy all the demons in this universe. Maintaining apprehensions with respect to him is uncalled for. Without any delay, please send Rama”.

The words of his Guru filled the king with immense confidence and he immediately sent Rama and Lakshmana along with Maharishi Vishwamitra. While they were travelling, Maharishi Vishwamitra taught Rama the knowledge of Bala and Atibala. Soon they reached the Anga desha (region). There they sighted an ashram. Explaining to them about this ashram, Vishwamitra said, “this is the ashram of Shiva. For having disturbed Shiva’s meditation, Manmatha was reduced to ashes at this place. For this reason, this place has acquired the name ‘Anga desha’.”

The next day while crossing the Ganga in a boat, they heard a thunderous noise. Maharishi Vishwamitra explained, “Manasa sarovara is a lake created by the sankalpa (intent) of Lord Brahma. River Sarayu, which flows past Ayodhya, is its branch. This thunderous noise that you hear is on account of the merger of Sarayu with Ganga”.

From here they entered a very thick, deadly and fearful forest. Surprised, Rama sought to know the details of the forest. Vishwamitra Maharishi explained, “For having killed Vrittasura, Lord Indra was tainted with a terrible sin called brahma hatya paapa. In this region, he was absolved of his sin. As such, great saints and Devatas constructed two provinces called Malada and Kurusha here.

After some period of time a Yakshini named Tataka arrived here and destroyed both the cities. This demoness kills anyone who enters this land. Rama, you need to kill her and alleviate the suffering of the people in this vicinity. You should also restore these provinces to their earlier glory”. Thus Vishwamitra prepared the ground for the destruction of the demoness.

Om Seeta Raamabhyaam namaha.

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Shatashloki 21: The origin of Ramayana and its composition by Maharishi Valmiki

We have so far completed the Bala Kanda of the Shata Shloki Ramayana. In this, Narada Maharishi while explaining the traits of Rama, has subtly explained the birth and the story of Rama. We shall now seek to understand those subtle details.

One day, Valmiki who had heard the complete story of Ramayana from Narada Maharishi, went to the River Tāmasa. There he saw a couple of birds engaged in playful sports. All of a sudden, a hunter mercilessly killed the male bird. Distraught, Valmiki Maharishi instantaneously cursed the hunter. Much to the saints astonishment, the curse which came from his mouth was in the form of a hymn.

Exactly at that minute Lord Brahma appeared before him and said, “O great sage! It was I who got that hymn uttered by you. Please compose the entire story of Ramayana in hymns of this similar pattern. You will come to understand thoroughly the secretive and hidden messages within them. There will be no error of any kind in your composition. Your composition will remain on earth for as long as mountains and rivers exist on earth. In earth and in other planetary systems, as long as your composition of Ramayana exists, you will live”. Saying so, Brahma disappeared.

Abiding by the orders of Lord Brahma, Valmiki began to compose Ramayana. As he sat with his palms joined and focused his attention, the entire story flashed before his mind in minute detail. He could see King Dasharatha, his conversation with his queens, Rama and Sita, their exile, and their movements completely. What more can be said of his fortune!

It was during the period of Rama’s rule, that Valmiki Maharishi composed the Ramayana.  The future story was composed under the heading ‘Uttara Kanda’. He even taught this entire story to the twins Kusha-Lava, who were growing up there. He made them render the entire composition in the form of a song.

With the permission of their Guru Valmiki, these twins began singing and spreading the story of Rama in all directions. Rama, who came to know of this fact, invited the twins to the palace and together with his brothers, sat to listen to their rendition. Mesmerized by their song, Rama got up from his throne, came down and sat on the floor amidst all the citizens and began to listen attentively to it.

This is how the story of Ramayana was born.

Among the greatest rulers of the earth were the kings who belonged to the Ikshvaku dynasty. They ruled the kingdom of Kosala with Ayodhya as their capital. This city was built by Manu and developed by Dasharatha.  Dasharatha was childless for a very long time. When he was about to begin the Ashwamedha yaaga, his minister Sumantra spoke to him about Sage Rishyashringa and his greatness. Dasharatha invited the great sage to his palace and also conducted the Putra Kameshti yaaga (ritual conducted for begetting children) under the able guidance of the sage. The Gods were pleased and from the homa fire, Dasharatha received a bowl of payasam (a type of Indian milk pudding) with instructions that it should be consumed by the queens.

Exactly at this time, the Gods had assembled in front of Vishnu and prayed to Him, “O Lord, the atrocities of Demon Ravana are beyond tolerance. This demon has procured the most difficult boons which have made it impossible to slay him. He who considers humans as insignificant, has sought a boon that his end should be at the hands of a human being. So we request you to kindly incarnate as the son of Emperor Dasharatha”.

When Srihari obliged, the Devatas who were thrilled immediately incarnated as Vanaras. On an auspicious day, the three queens of Dasharatha gave birth to 4 sons. Vashistha Maharishi named the eldest amongst them, the son of Kaushalya, as Srirama. The son of Kaikeyi was named Bharata. Sumitra had twins- the eldest amongst them was named Lakshmana and the youngest was Shatrughna. This is the story of Ramayana contained in the Bala Kanda.

Om Seeta raamabhyaam namaha.

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