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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