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.