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Author Topic: HINDUISM - THE RAMAYANA  (Read 1115 times)
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« on: July 05, 2007, 01:33:56 pm »

There Was A King

There is an ancient city of Ayodhya on the banks of broad-bosomed river Saryu in the Utter Pradesh State of India. There lived a king called Raghu, so powerful, that he was invited by even Indra of Swargaloka to help him in his battles against the demons. Swargaloka is heaven, but interpreted these days as a land lying somewhere in the North amidst the hoary heights of the Himalayas and Indra, according to this reading, must have been a powerful king enjoying all the luxuries of life but constantly threatened by some other kings who were equally affluent and brave. The arts and sciences of that age are not well-known now. The elixir of youth, the devas—Indra was their lord—had discovered is treated now as a myth. Their adversaries, the Asuras or demons, were anxious to get hold of the prescription of the elixir.

In war there are descriptions of many weapons which could cause fire like modern Napalm bomb, or whirlwind and a storm which are not known today. There were mnemonic formulae which were recited to invoke supernatural powers to help one party to harm the other. These formulae called mantras are also mostly on way out and have not been preserved in the original form. There are descriptions of aerial cars, horse-driven golden chariots and palaces of gold and silver.

A scion descended from this king was Dasaratha, king of Ayodhya. Dasaratha had everything that nature could bestow, but he had no progeny. Therefore he performed a sacrifice and was given the essence of that sacrifice to be distributed among his queens. This was divided by Dasaratha in three parts for his three queens, Kausalya the eldest, Kaikeyi the second and Sumitra the youngest. It so happened that the last one ate double the share. In course of time Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Among the queens, Kaikeyi who came from the Kingdom of Kekaya (supposed to be the area near the Caucasus mountains by moderns) was the most beautiful and well versed in the art of war. She often accompanied the king to battle and once when the king’s chariot was disabled due to a broken axle, Kaikeyi put her arm in the wheel to support the chariot so that the King could fight undisturbed. When the king discovered the kind of courage and determination displayed by her, he was very pleased and offered to grant her two boons. It is also said in some Ramayanas that the king of Caucasus had agreed to marry his daughter on the condition that the son born of her would be the crown-prince. Years rolled on and one day when Dasaratha discovered that his hair was turning grey, he decided to enthrone his eldest son, Rama, as the king. Rama was very obedient, loyal and handsome, dear to all the three mothers and the public of Ayodhya. The declaration was greeted with joy, but Manthara, the maidservant of Kaikeyi, became a fly in the ointment and she reminded the queen, of the king’s promise that her son would be enthroned as king. Kaikeyi became wild with rage and dismissed her insinuations with contempt, but persistent persuasion of the cunning Manthara had the desired effect.

When the king visited her in the evening, she expressed her desire to reclaim the boons to which the king agreed. The first boon Kaikeyi asked for was that Bharata and not Rama, should be made the king. Secondly, she asked for the banishment of Rama from the kingdom for 14 years. The king, after painful reluctance, agreed to grant the first boon but could not bear the separation of Rama for such a long period. The queen, however stuck to her stand and Dasaratha kept his word. When Rama left for the forest, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana also insisted upon accompanying him. After their separation the king died of a broken heart.

When Bharata who had been sent away to his maternal uncle, returned to Ayodhya and became aware of the developments. He reprimanded his mother. He went to Chitrakuta, where Rama with Sita and Lakshmana was staying, in order to bring back Lord Rama and enthrone him as king. After great persuasion by Rama, taking it as a command of the Lord, he agreed to rule the kingdom only as a representative of Lord Rama, his elder brother.
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