Ikṣvākuvamśa prabhavo rāmo nāma janai śrśutaḥ
Niyatātmā mahāvīryo dyutimān dhŗtimān vaśī
Meaning- A very famous person named Rāma, has been born in the Ikshvāku dynasty. He possesses extreme self-control, is exceptionally valourous and has a bright illumination. He has complete control over his senses.
It is common knowledge that Lord Rama belongs to the solar dynasty (Surya vamsa). Why then is He being referred to as belonging to the Ikshvaaku dynasty?
There is a secret behind the usage of this term by Maharishi Narada. Vaivasvata Manu is Lord Sun’s son. Ikshvaaku was the eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu. Being an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, Ikshvaaku pleased Srihari through rigorous penance. The Supreme Lord appeared before Ikshvaaku and asked him to choose any boon. To this, Ikshvaaku requested, “O Lord, Please remain as a worshipful idol in my house, in this eternally auspicious form of yours. In this divine form please accept the daily worship that I shall offer to you”.
From then on, the Supreme Lord Srihari remained as a worshipful idol in their house and was being reverentially worshipped by all the members of this Solar dynasty. For having pleased the Supreme Lord Himself and for having secured Him as a worshipful idol, Ikshvaaku undoubtedly became the greatest in the Solar dynasty. Hence, Narada Maharishi began the Ramayana with reference to the dynasty of Ikshvaaku.
The Supreme Lord is very fond of his true devotee and is very partial towards him at all times. Also keeping this in mind, Narada Maharishi began the Ramayana by referring to the devotee ‘Ikshvaaku’. He further said that in this dynasty, a king by the name Rāma was born, who attained great fame and who is living amongst its citizens.
Yet another fact is that the Supreme Lord loves the Sun very dearly. As such He decided to incarnate in this Solar dynasty.
Why did the Supreme Lord choose to incarnate in the family of kings? Let us delve into the reason behind this. The Supreme Lord in His incarnation as Parashurama wiped away Kshatriyas (warrior clan) from earth. The next incarnation of the Supreme Lord was that of Rama. He now took birth within the same clan and caused a growth in it. He established the rules of righteousness to be followed by this warrior clan.
When the meaning contained within the name ‘Rāma’ is thoroughly understood, then His greatness will automatically be understood. It will also be clear as to why people choose to listen about Him.
‘ramaya teeti rāmaha’ – He who causes everyone to be blissful is Rāma. ‘rāmo ramayatām varaha’ – he who is adept in showering bliss upon others is Rāma. Great yogis relentlessly chant His name to enjoy the subsequent bliss. Just listening to this name ‘Rāma’ showers bliss upon the person. Such is the greatness contained within this name!
Rama has been described as ‘niyatātma’. It means that He is self-controlled and is devoid of change (nirvikara) i.e. under no circumstances will any change be visible in Him. Such changelessness is the characteristic of Parabrahma. Sri Raamachandra Parabrahmane namaha- salutations to Ramachandra Parabrahma!
‘Mahaaviryo’ suggests that His prowess and might are beyond all forms of comparison.
Narada Maharishi is describing the incarnation of Rama and through this he is detailing the story of Ramayana. In this Shata shloki Ramayana the entire story is explained in a concise manner and hence it is essential to delve into the story that is hidden behind each word.
Through the usage of the words ‘ikshvaaku vamsa prabhavah’, it is implied that the Supreme Lord has incarnated as King Rama of the Ikshvaaku dynasty.
Among those emperors who had conquered the earth and ruled it successfully, were many emperors who belonged to the Ikshvaaku dynasty. Their kingdom was on the banks of River Sarayu with Ayodhya as the capital. It was the land of Kosala.
The city of Ayodhya was initially built by Vaivasvata Manu. Emperor Dasharatha brought to Ayodhya, the grandeur that was equivalent of Lord Indra’s capital Amaravati. Emperor Dasharatha was extremely righteous person who sincerely abided by the rules of righteousness. He had acquired great renown in all the three worlds. He was so valorous that even the most powerful heroes and emperors could not conquer Ayodhya during his rule.
As the king, so are his people. Under the leadership of Emperor Dasharatha, all the citizens of Ayodhya perfectly abided by the rules of dharma. Each citizen diligently discharged all the designated duties at the designated hour, based on dharma, without fail. In short, they lived a life of dharma, artha (material prosperity) and kaama.
To this righteous Emperor Dasharatha, Maharishis Vashistha and Vamadeva were priests. Dhriti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Siddhartha, Arthasaadaka, Asoka, Mantrapala and Sumantra were his 8 ministers. All these 8 were well versed and highly efficient.
Emperor Dasharatha had 3 wives Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. However he did not have any progeny. Upon the advice of his ministers, the emperor decided to perform the Ashwamedha Yaaga. At that point of time, Minister Sumantra very greatly praised Sage Rishyasringa. Hearing the praises being showered upon this great sage, Emperor Dasharatha invited the Sage Rishyashringa along with his wife Shanta Devi to Ayodhya. With the help of the priests, Emperor Dasharatha majestically performed the Putrakameshti yaaga (for begetting progeny) along with the Ashwamedha yaaga.
Exactly at that time, in heaven discussions about demon Ravana and of his destruction took place. They arrived at a conclusion and as a part of the plan, many Gods incarnated as Vanaras.
The Fire God (Agni) was pleased with the rituals being performed by Emperor Dasharatha. He offered a cup of payasam (a traditional dish akin to milk pudding) and asked the queens to consume it. Dasharatha divided the dish and gave it to his wives who happily partook it.
On a very auspicious day, Dasharatha was blessed with 4 sons- Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
Narada Maharishi had this long story of the birth of Lord Rama, in mind, which he explained in a concise manner through the usage of the term ‘ikshvaaku vamsa prabhavah’. However much we speak about Rama and his traits, it always falls short.
Om SeetaRaamaabhyaam namaha