Shanta – Daughter of Dashratha
Few people know that Lord Rama also had a sister, whose name was Shanta. Shanta who was daughter of King Dasharatha and Kausalya. Though Valmiki Ramayan does not mention about Rama’s elder sister. But in Mahabharata, there is a reference that Rompada, King of Anga, who was a close friend of Dasharatha has adopted his daughter.
Rompada adopts Shanta in childhood
Rompada, who was a close friend of Dasharatha was childless. Once he came to meet Dasharatha and expressed his desire to adopt his only daughter Shanta. Kaushalya was surprised to see how could he ask them to give their only daughter in adoption. But, the very next moment she realised that Rompada knew that Dasharatha has 3 wives and he can have many more children.Though Kaushalya was not very happy with the idea of adoption but she felt pity and decided to give her only child in adoption to the king Romapada.
Her childhood is spent at Rompada’s kingdom
Little girl Shanta was very close to Rompada was not able to understand adoption, but was very happy to go and stay with king Romapada.
King Romapada loved her so much that when she grew she forgot about Kausalya and Dasharatha, now she only knew that Romapada was his father and kingdom of Anga was her home.
A brahmin was insulted
One day Romapada was busy talking to his daughter Shanta, a brahmin came to ask for help in cultivation. Rompada did not pay attention to him. Angry brahmin left the kingdom.Lord Indra was very sad to see such insult of his devotee so he gave very little rainfall, due to which there was drought in the kingdom.
Everybody in the kingdom was worried about how to solve the problem. Few people came up with the idea that sage Rishyasringa, son of sage Vibhandaka, is the only person who can resolve the problem. Rompada wondered how? They said that he keeps on meditating all the time because he never had any distraction. His father sage Vibhandaka brought him in a forest near Anga. He has never seen any other human except his father. If he agrees to perform a yagna it would definitely rain.
Rishyashringa meets Rompada and Shanta
King Romapada send his best courtesans to bring sage Rishyasringa to his kingdom. When Rishyasringa saw them he was thrilled to meet them. When his father came to about this he was furious and warned him not to meet them. But he could not resist himself from meeting them. He was so happy that he left the ashram with them. Courtesan’s took him to kingdom of Anga. There he met king Romapada and his daughter Shanta, he was very happy to see them. Romapada offered Rishyasringa his daughter in marriage. He accepted the proposal and decided to stay with her for rest of his life.
Rishyasringa and Shanta performed the yagna, during the recitation of its mantra, it rained heavily and people were very happy and celebrated it like a festival.When sage Vibhandaka came and could not find his son, he could make out that it was the work of King of Anga. He decided to meet his son. Romapada and Shanta were prepared for this. Though Vibhandaka was very angry but when he saw his son with his beautiful and intelligent wife his anger cool down.
In Lalitapur, district of Nepal there is a temple of sage Rishyasringa and goddess Shanta. Whereas in Ayodhya, Dasaratha, father of Shanta had 3 wives but had no children who could carry on kingdom after him.
Dasaratha was so worried that he could not concentrate on the affairs of kingdom. One day he discussed this with his minister Sumantra. Sumantra suggested the name of sage Rishyashringa who was married to his daughter Shanta can help him. He said that he had lot of powers of penance. He also explained him how drought in Anga ended because of his yagna. He suggested that if sage Rishyashringa agreed to performed putrakameshti yagna for him he will definitely be blessed with sons.
Shanta takes part in Dasaratha’s yagna
Dasaratha went to kingdom of Anga. requested his friend to send Shanta and his husband Rishyashringa to perform yagna for him. Both of them gladly came with Dasaratha. As he possessed immense power of penance that he was able to perform the difficult yagna with ease.
Dasaratha is blessed with sons
At the end of the yagna, God of fire emerged and handed a pot of payasam to Dasaratha and said to feed this to his wives. So, that he will have children he always wanted. Dasaratha thanked Shanta and Rishyasringa for their help. After consuming payasam Dasaratha was blessed with four sons Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.