The wedding of sita
The humbling of Parshurama
Vishwamitra travelled with Rama and Lakshmana towards the northeast from Sage Gauthama ashram and reached Mithila. Mithila was the capital of the king of Videha. Seeradhwaja Janaka Maharaja was the ruler. He was the son of Hraswaroma Janaka. The founder of his dynasty had three names – Videha, Mithi and Janaka. And so every king of the kingdom used to be called Janaka, the kingdom was called Videha and the capital was called Mithila. Janaka was a rajarshi – a king-sage. His wife was Sunayane. Janaka had two daughters – Seetha and Urmila. Janaka younger brother Kushadhwaja, ruled over Sankasha Nagara, on the banks of the Ikshumathi.
At the time Vishwamitra, Rama and Lakshmana arrived in Mithila, King Janaka was engaged in a great sacrifice. Hundreds thronged Mithila because of the sacrifice. Rishis, munis and other religious leaders were in the city. Vishwamitra chose a place near a water source but far from the crowds and camped there.
As soon as Janaka learnt that Sage Vishwamitra was in Mithila he went to his camp with the royal priest Shatananda. He paid his respects and welcomed the sage. After the exchange of courtesies Janaka pointed to Rama and Lakshmana and said, Great Sage, who are these two youths? They look like Ashwinis – the twin gods. They are tall and well-built. Their eyes sparkle. Their faces are attractive and look energetic. Who are these young men, carrying bows and arrows, and moving about like lion cubs?
Vishwamitra told him about Rama and Lakshmana. He narrated how they had killed Tataki and how they had saved his sacrifice from the menace of Maricha and Subahu. He also narrated how Rama had set Ahalya free from the curse and how Gauthama and Ahalya had been reunited.
The royal priest Shatananda was in raptures when he heard what Vishwamitra said. He was the son of Gauthama and Ahalya. He was immensely happy that his mother had been set free from the curse. Again and again he thanked Rama. He made obeisance to Vishwamitra who had once again brought together his parents through, Rama.
Then Shatananda said to Rama, Rama, you redeemed my mother from the curse. Because of you my parents were reunited. I shall ever be in your debt. You are the most virtuous of men. Rama, you are really fortunate that you have a mentor like Vishwamitra. Do not imagine that he is a rishi just like any other. Human endeavour can achieve what seems impossible – and this great sage Vishwamitra is a fine example.
Shatananda then narrated to Rama and Lakshmana the story of Vishwamitra – how the king Kaushika received Sage Vashista hospitality and then coveted the cow of the ashram; how, when Vashista declined the king attempted to seize the cow by force but was thwarted; how by the sheer force of his tapas he first earned the title of rajarshi and then that of a rishi; how he bestowed on Thrishanku a realm equal to heaven there to dwell in his body; how, although once he surrendered to Menaka loveliness and his tapas was thwarted he acquired the strength of will which could spurn even the loveliness of Rambha; how, he gained the status of a maharshi and finally won recognition as Brahmarshi even from Vashishta.
Rama and Lakshmana knew that Vishwamitra was a great sage. But only now that they understood the measure of his greatness. They realized that it was their immense good fortune that had him for their Guru; they eulogized the sage again and again and made obeisance to him. Janaka led all of them to his palace.
Vishwamitra said to Janaka, Maharaja, these princes are eager to see the Shivadhanus which is in your possession. Show it to them and tell them the story of that mighty bow. Janaka said, Princes, the Shivadhanus was made by Vishwakarma. The gods gave it to Shiva at the time of killing of Tripurasura. It is called Sunabha. When Daksha performed a sacrifice he humiliated both his daughter Dakshayini and her husband Shiva. The enraged Shiva contemplated annihilating the entire universe with this bow. The gods then supplicated to him; he overcame his wrath and returned the bow to the gods. One of our ancestors, Devaratha, performed a sacrifice; the gods were pleased and bestowed the bow on our dynasty. Since then it has been in our possession. So strong is the bow that, so far, no one has been able to bend and string it.
Princes, for a long time I had no children. I decided to perform a sacrifice in order to have children. Before the sacrifice, I was ploughing, as is customary, with a plough. I then found a girl child. The word Seetha means the mark made by a plough. Because I found her when I was ploughing I called her Seetha. She has grown up and has now come of age. She is exquisitely lovely, and as virtuous as she is beautiful. People say she is like a goddess.
It is my desire that only a strong and valiant man should marry Seetha. And so I have set a challenge.: Any one who wishes to marry Seetha should bend and string the Shivadhanus. But so far no one has succeeded. Any number of princes have made the attempt, but they have not even been able to lift the bow. Gods, Rakshas and mighty monarchs have sought to bend the bow, but in vain. Gandharvas, Kinnaras and Yakshas have shared the same fate. This is such a formidable bow.Rama, you look like a youth of prowess. I shall have the bow brought here. Make an attempt.String the Shivadhanus and marry Seeta; that will make me immensely happy.
Sri Rama breaks Shiva Dhanush
The king servants brought the bow. It had been placed in a huge eight wheeled carriage. It needed the effort of hundreds of servants to draw it. Janaka pointed to the bow and said to Vishwamitra,Great Sage, show this bow to the princes. It is my desire that at least Rama, the son of Dasharatha, should succeed in the test. Vishwamitra said to Rama, Look at this bow, my child.Rama opened the lid and had a good look. He, too, wished to lift and string it. He told the sage so and Vishwamitra acceded.
Rama went up to the box and put his hands inside. Effortlessly he lifted the bow which gods and daithyas had not been able to lift. the spectators were tongue-tied in wonder. Gods assembled in the sky to witness the stunning feat of Rama. He raised the bow and bent in order to string it. But the bow was not equal to his strength and broke in to two, with an ear-shattering noise like that of lightning. All who were present, save Rama, Lakshmana, Vishwamitra, Janaka and Shatananda swooned for a while. When they recovered, they applauded Rama prowess in raptures and jumped and danced in joy.
King Janaka joy knew no bounds. Rama prowess surpassed his imagination. He belonged to the Ikshwaku dynasty. He was handsome beyond the reach of words, and was a treasure-house of virtues. What more could Janaka desire? He invited Rama to marry Seetha. He summoned his principal ministers and said to them, Go at once to Ayodhya. Report to king Dasharatha all that has happened here. Request him, on my behalf, to come to Mithila and receive Seetha as his daughter-in-law. He said to Sage Vishwamitra, Revered Sage, be pleased to stay here and guide us in the celebrations. And he ordered his ministers, Make arrangements for the marriage of Rama and Seetha; make it an event of unprecedented grandeur.
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The Wedding of Sita
The news reached Dasharatha. He was in ecstasies when he heard about the unique feat his son had performed. He considered himself fortunate in this marriage alliance with the king-sage Janaka. He set out for Mithila with his retinue.
Janaka and his priest and ministers as well as the citizens greeted Dasharatha and his retinue at the main entrance of Mithila and gave them a splendid welcome. King Janaka and King Dasharatha embraced and displayed their affection and friendship. Janaka extended the finest hospitality to all of them.
Vashishta, Dasharatha priest and Shathananda, Janaka priest, sat together for consultations.Dasharatha, Janaka and Kushadhwaja – Janaka younger brother and the king of Sankashanagara – also sat with them. At their request, Vishwamitra also joined them. They fixed an auspicious day for the marriage of Rama and Seetha. Janaka made a request to Dasharatha, Accept my other daughter Urmila as Lakshmana bride. Dasharatha gladly consented. Janaka younger brother Kushadhwaja had two daughters- Mandavi and Shrutakeerti. Like Seeta and Urmila, they,too, were beautiful and endowed with many virtues. Vishwamitra suggested that they should marry Bharata and Shatrughna, adding that it would be an excellent alliance. Dasharatha consented and Kushadhwaja was overjoyed.
The wedding preparations proceeded briskly. The entire city wore a festive and joyous look. Canopies and festoons of green leaves appeared everywhere. Banners fluttered from tall poles. The ground before every house was swept and cleaned with water and decorated with designs drawn with coloured powders. Musical instruments played tunes celebrating an auspicious occasion, in every house, and filled all minds and hearts with joy.
The marriage rites were to be performed in a vast sacrificial hall. It could accommodate any number of guests, no matter how many thousands thronged the venue. The marriage mantap was at a higher level. The hall glowed like the royal court of Lord Indra.
The day of the marriage dawned. Uttaraphalguni was the presiding star of the day. The auspicious rites of the morning were completed. Led by his priests, Dasharatha arrived at the marriage hall with Rama, Lakshamana, Bharata and Shatrughna. Rama and his brothers were wearing the kankanas – auspicious strings worn at the time of marriage. They were wearing magnificent jewels and were splendidly dressed, and shone like gods. The milling crowds gazed upon the princes in great joy. In particular, Rama lovely face, his strong build, his enthralling smile and his modesty that dwelt in his visage held them spellbound.
Seeta and Urmila, wearing dresses signalling an auspicious occasion, shone brightly in the marriage pandal. By their side Mandavi and Shruthakeerthi, the daughters of Kushadhwaja, sparkled in similar dresses. The loveliness of their faces and the effulgence – unusual to this world- bestowed a new luster on the entire hall.
Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna came up to the platform. Janaka requested Vashishta to guide the marriage rituals. Vashista,Vishwamitra and Shatananda together offered worship to the pandal, Ritualistically they prepared the sacrificial pit. They decorated it with flowers. They placed Kalasa – vessels carrying holy waters, conches, bells, sandalwood and other auspicious articles on the platform. As they recited the Vedas they installed holy fire in the sacrificial pit. They poured sacred ghee into the fire.
Bejewelled, Seeta sparkled like a goddess; Janaka guided her to Rama and said, Sri Rama, accept my
daughter Seetha in marriage. She will be your wife and assist you in the practice of Dharma. May good fortune brighten your lives. He then placed Seetha hand in Sri Rama hand, and gave her away in marriage with the prescribed rites. The gods who were watching in the skies rejoiced. Celestial kettledrums sounded and there was a shower of flowers. Joy was writ large on every face.
Then Janaka celebrated the Panigrahana of Lakshmana and Urmila. Panigrahana means taking the bride hand with the Fire God for witness. Kushadhwaja gave his daughter Mandavi to Bharata and Shruthakeerthi to Shathrughna in marriage.
The princes went round the sacred fire, performedSapthapadi – taking seven steps, holding the hands of their brides. They made obeisance to the rishis and munis who had assembled. They paid their respects to their parents and all other elders present there. Once again the heavenly kettledrums sounded. Celestial nymphs danced, gandharvas sang melodiously. The people of Mithila and the relatives, friends and retinue of Dasharatha forgot themselves in their raptures.
The celebrations concluded; Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shathrughna were now married. They returned to the palace in great joy.
The day after the marriage Vishwamitra said to Rama,My child, my mission is accomplished. I shall now go to the banks of Kaushiki at the foot of Himalayas for the pursuits that lie before me. You are yet to accomplish mighty feats. Do not lose heart, no matter what obstacles block your way and whatever trials and tribulations you may encounter. Let the protection of Dharma be your goal. Let the chastisement of the wicked and the protection of the virtuous be your objective. Rama replied with all humility, Holy sage, your advice will be ever green in my memory. Every one bowed respectfully to Vishwamitra. They followed him to the outskirts of Mithila and then took leave of him.
King Dasharatha then made preparations to return to Ayodhya. Janaka presented rich gifts and honourd every one suitably. Dasharatha set out for Ayodhya with his sons, daughters-in-law and his retinue.
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The humbling of Parshurama
As Dasharatha and his party continued their journey unfavourable omens appeared. Dasharatha was perturbed. He was apprehensive, not knowing what misfortune would befall them. He said to Vashishta, Guruji, these bad omens upset me. Vashishta said, Fear not. It is certain that we shall encounter some grave danger, but it will have a fortunate conclusion. Therefore do not be troubled.
Just then a terrible storm burst on them. The earth seemed to tremble. Even gigantic trees were felled. All of a sudden dark clouds hid the sun. They were all blinded. A person emerged from the enveloping darkness. He was walking fast and was awesome to behold. His hair was matted; he carried an axe in his right hand. A bow rested on his left shoulder. And he seemed to be hastening towards Dasharatha party in flaming wrath.
The man who thus charged the atmosphere with fear was named Rama. He belonged to the Brighu family. He was the son of a great sage Jamadagni. Jamadagni was the son of Vishwamitra sister, Sathyavathi. This son of Jamadagni, who appeared before Dasharatha party always carried a parashu – an axe – in his hand and therefore came to be known as Parashurama.
Parashurama was a man of rare valour and a fiercetapaswi. His feet were endowed with such rare power that he could traverse any distance in the twinkling of an eye. He never transgressed the instruction of an elder. Once Jamadagni was furious with his wife who had done something unworthy.He called Parashurama and said, Cut off the head of your mother. Without reflecting for a moment, Parashurama obeyed his father. Jamadagni said,I am pleased with your obedience. Seek what boon you will. Parashurama answered, Father, may my mother whom I killed come back to life.And may no trace of this bitter event linger in her memory. Jamadagni said,So be it. Renuka came back to life.
The earth was over crowded with kshatriyas in those days. They formed small groups and were always fighting with one another. They were arrogant and ill treated the people. Their harassment made the people wretched. Once when Jamadagni was engaged in tapas, a king called Karthaviryarjuna came their hunting. He killed Jamadgni. When Parashurama learnt the news he was in volcanic rage. He took a vow: The arrogance of these kshathriyas knows no limits. I am not Parashurama if I do not subdue them. With his chosen weapon, the axe, he set forth to exterminate the Kshatriyas. Twenty one times he went round the earth, and made mincemeat of the kshatriyas he encountered. Many kings fled in fear. So the entire earth was his. Parashurama then performed a sacrifice; and the entire earth he gifted away to Sage Kashyapa who had presided over the sacrifice. He then retired to Mount Mahendra and engaged in tapas.
When Dasharatha himself a kashtriya – saw this quick tempered Parashurama he was in a panic. Is
Parashurama still enraged with the kshatriyas? What will now be the fate of my sons? he asked himself, severely shaken. But he managed to greet the sage Parashurama with a smile, make obeisance and make respectful enquiries.
Parashurama did not even through a glance at Dasharatha. He said to Rama, Rama, I have heard of your prowess. It seems you broke the Shivadhanus in Janaka court. That is truly a great feat. Rama, look at this Vishnudhanus I have. Both this bow and the Shivadhanus which you broke were made by Vishwakarma. He gave one of these to Shiva and so it came to be known as Shivadhanus and the other which he gave to Vishnu came to be known as Vishnudhanus. Vishnu gave his bow to my grandfather Richika. Since then it has been in the keeping of my family. It was Shivadhanus which you broke. I have the Vishnudhanus here with me. If you are really a man of great prowess fix an arrow to this Vishnudhanus. I shall then concede that you are powerful.
Rama heard what Parashurama said. The arrogance, the provocative tone, the challenge – all enraged him. But yet he thought it would be disrespectful to exhibit his anger before his father. So he spoke in a gentle tone and expressed his feelings in these words: Parashurama, I, too, have heard of your prowess. May be you have overcome some kings. But that does not justify your assuming that all the kshatriyas are weak, and provoking them in this fashion. Parashurama, do not imagine that I am a weakling. Do you wish to witness my prowess? Look then. At once he seized the Vishnudhanus from Parashurama hand and as if it was just a game, he fixed an arrow.
He then aimed the arrow at Parashurama. He said,Watch, Parashurama, I have fixed an arrow. You are the grand son of the sister of my Guru, Vishwamitra. I cannot kill anyone who is related to my Guru. But the arrow I shoot cannot be in vain. Tell me, Shall I destroy all thepunya – spiritual merit – you have earned, or shall I take away your power of travelling like lightening?
Parashurama was now subdued. His arrogance withered. He turned to Rama and said, Rama, I am now cured of my arrogance. That you are the great master of bow is beyond question. Dasharathi, may good fortune follow in your footsteps. I cannot surrender my power of travelling to your arrow. The reason is that, when, long ago, I gifted this land to sage Kashyapa, I had vowed that I would not spend a night in the territory I had given away. So, in a moment, I have to be back in the Mahendra region, where I perform tapas. So take away the power of mytapas with your arrow, if you will. Accordingly, Rama shot the arrow. Parashurama lost the power of his tapas. At once Parashurama, with the special endowment of his feet, hastened towards Mount Mahendra.
It was as if pitch darkness had lifted and light had returned. They who had shrunk in fear at the approach of Parashurama now shouted in joy. Dasharatha drew Rama to him and embraced him. Every one was happy. They continued their journey with a carefree mind.
There was glad excitement everywhere in Ayodhya. The entire population of the city rejoiced to hear that Dasharatha was returning to Ayodhya with his sons and daughters-in-law and prepared to welcome them. They decorated the city with banners and festoons. Arches of welcome appeared everywhere. Flags also began to flutter from tall poles. Songs glorifying Rama valour were composed. Musical instruments of auspiciousness welcomed the party at the main gate of the city.The party was taken to the palace in a huge procession. It was formally welcomed at a grand ceremony. Everyone acclaimed the Rama-Seetha couple as well as the other couples. The people of the city sang and danced and blessed the newly wed couples. And the couples now began a new wife.
Rama and Seeta were a most happily suited pair. They were like a single soul in two bodies. They loved each other deeply. They never forgot any duty enjoined on them by Dharma. They ardently assisted elders in the duties of Dharma. They were all reverence towards their Gurus and elders. They were affectionate towards those younger than they. They acted as they thought. Their conduct reflected their innermost thoughts. They treated one and all as their kith and kin, so magnanimous were they. Their ideal life delighted every heart.
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Examination on Lesson – 6
Choose answers to all the questions. All the best !!
Q1. The name Sita was given to King Janaka’s daughter because -
Ans: a)She was beautiful b)She was found while he was ploughing the land c)She was the first daughter d)She was obtained due to performing sacrifices
Q2. The Shivadhanusha with King Janaka was made by -
Ans: a)Vishwakarma b) Lord Shiva c)Daksha d)His great grand father
Q3 How was Sage Parashurama related to Sage Vishwamitra ?
Ans: a)Sage Parashurama was Sage Vishwamitras sister’s son b)Sage Parashurama was Sage Vishwamitras nephew c)Sage Parashurama was not related to Sage Vishwamitra d)Sage Parashurama was Sage Vishwamitras Sister’s grand son
Q4. Why did king Janaka gave his daughter Sita in marriage to Shri Rama ?
Ans: a)Because he was a valiant prince b) Because he had won the challenge of bending and stringing the Shivadhanush c)Because Shri Rama was son of the famous King Dasaratha d)Because Sage Vishwamitra told him to do so
Q5. Who killed Sage Parashuram’s father Sage Jamadagni ?
Ans: a) Kartaviryarjun b)Indra c)He died of old age
Correct Answers below
Examination – 6
Q. 1 Ans (b),
Q. 2 Ans (a),
Q. 3 Ans (d),
Q.4 Ans (b),
Q. 5 Ans (a)