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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