Festival of Ram Navmi
Ram Navmi, is a Hindu festival celebrating birth of Lord Ram.
Ram Navmi, is a Hindu festival celebrating birth of Lord Ram.
Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is normally associated with peace, calmness and patience, but there are instances where this incarnation of Lord Vishnu has been angered. At one hand, these present a message that though above mentioned virtues are sought after, but when it demands, anger should also be exercised.
This incident is well known and documented, just happened after Sita swayamvar. After knowing that someone has broken Shiva’s bow, Parshurama stormed into the scene and demanded to know who has done this. This angered Rama a great deal and he shown his prowess by lifting the another bow and pointed the arrow towards Parshurama and demanded – Where should I release this arrow? Parshurama instantly understood and went away. This is a classic case of dealing with anger which was abated by anger.
In his quest of winning back Sita, Rama and his army of monkeys has to cross the ocean. For this, they wanted to made a bridge which could lead them to Lanka. But the problem was that the sea was not calm to allow such as endeavour. Rama requested Sagar (Sea god) for three days and when it did not relent, Rama decided to dry the sea with the weapon Brahmastra. The Sea god then pleaded for mercy and Rama anger could be subdued.
This is not exactly Rama who got angry with Sugriva, rather Laxman. After getting the throne of Kishkindha back, Sugriva apparently forgotten about his promise to help Rama to search Sita. Rama send Laxman as his messenger to Sugriva. After Laxman gave him a mouthful and Tara also told Sugriva that it is the time to fulfill his promise, Sugriva sends out his most trusted lieutenant Hanumana to search Sita.
During their stay at Chitrakoota, Kakasura, Indra’s son in disguise, had committed an outrage on Sita’s modesty. When Rama came to know of it his anger knew no bounds and he used a blade of grass as the Brahmastra. The offending crow now fled from pillar to post and found that in all the three worlds there was none who could protect it. It came back to Rama and fell at his feet. Rama told the crow that the effect of the Brahmastra could not be taken away and in accordance to the crow’s plea, the right eye became the target to save its life.
Searching for Sita, Rama and Laxman Shabri’s ashram. Shabri offers fruits which have been tested by her so the Lord does not get a bitter fruit.
Shabri advises them to go further southwards to Pampa lake and to Kishkindha where they would get help.
On Shabri’s advise, Rama reached Kishkindha while looking for Sita. Sugriva was sceptical of the two brothers and he asked Hanuman to assess their intentions. Hanuman disguised himself as a brahmin but Rama identified him due to his chain around the neck.
Hanuman fell upon his feet.
He showed them the ornaments and jewels which were thrown by Sita while she was abducted. Rama recognises them of Sita’s.
Hanuman took them to Sugriva. Sugriva was driven out by Vali. Vali also took Sugriva’s wife. Rama befriended Sugriva. Rama promised to help him.
Vali had a boon which made him unconquerable. Sugriva promised that he will help in finding Sita. Ram asks Sugriva to invite Vali for a fight. He also asked him to wear a garland because both brothers looked identical.
Rama kills Vali by piercing an arrow through his heart
Vali accuses Rama of wrongdoing. Rama explains that he has committed the crime of abducting his brother’s wife. And Kishkindha, a state of Bharat’s kingdom, lies in his jurisdiction. His crime was unforgiveable, so he had to execute this task of killing him.
It is said that Rama promised Vali to give him a chance to avenge his unjust murder. Vali is believed to be born as Jara, the hunter, who became the cause of Shri Krishna’s death.
Vali understood and Rama forgives him.
Tara (Vali’s wife) is inconsolable. Tara invokes the power of her chastity and curses Rama so that he will soon lose Sita after he regains her. She declares that Sita will return to the earth. Tara additionally curses Rama that in his next birth, he will be killed by Vali. Rama pacifies her.
Sugriva crowned as king. Angad (Vali’s son) was anointed as the heir.
Rama also taught him nuances of statesmanship.
He advised Sugreev to rule justly. Then Sri Rama along with Laxmana went to live at Pravarshan Mountain.
Few months passed. Sugriva forgot his promise. Rama gets restless and advises Laxman to visit Kishkindha.
Tara asks Sugriva to help Rama and Laxman.
Sugriva instructed Hanumana to send the messenger in all directions and to bring the news of Sita within fifteen days. Angad told sugriva that Hanuman can only find Sita. Sugriva asks Hanuman to search. Hanumana then gathered all the monkeys and went to Sri Rama to seek his permission.
Rama blessed them for successful accomplishment of their mission. He also gave his ring to Hanumana.
Now Hanuman and his army of monkeys moved in search of Sita. They searched Sita in the caves of every mountain but did not find her.
Jambvant consoled Angad saying that Rama was not an ordinary human being. He also said him not to worry, as everything would be resolved by Sri Rama’s blessings.
They reach seashore. At the seashore Sampati ( brother of Jatayu) bumped into Hanuman. He told him about Sita and she is in Lanka.
When Hanumana listened to Jambvant he realized his latent strength. His body expanded like a mountain. Hanumana then sought Jambvant advice.
Jambvant instructed him to just return back after seeing Sita in Lanka. He said that the rest would be accomplished by Sri Rama.
Ramayana is one of the most riveting epics from India. This story of Lord Rama has been told and retold in several languages from ancient India and is still relevant. The Ramayana is not only the story of Rama, but this is also a story of other people. For instance, Lakshman, Bharat and Hanuman. We can’t forget Sita, Urmila, Vibheeshana alongwith Kaikeyi and Manthra.
Following are some of the interesting facts from this epic.
1. Author of The Ramayana is Sage Valmiki. There are many more versions of this epic are available by various writers. Valmiki’s version is thus also known as Valmiki Ramayana. Another famous version is by Tulsidas, known as Ramcharitmanas.
2. This great epic is composed of rhyming couplets called ‘shlokas’, employing a complex meter called ‘anustup’. These verses are grouped into individual chapters called ‘sargas’, wherein a specific event or intent is told. The ‘sargas’ are again grouped into books called ‘kands’.
3 The whole story of the Ramayana is written in seven chapters, also known as kands. These are
Bal Kand – Rama’s boyhood.
Ayodhya Kand – Rama’s life in Ayodhya until his banishment.
Aranya Kand – Rama’s life in the forest and his abduction by Ravana.
Kishkindha Kand – Rama’s stay at Kishkindha, the capital of his monkey ally Sugriva.
Sundar Kand – Rama’s journey to Sri Lanka
Yudh Kand or Lanka Kand – Rama’s battle with Ravana, the recovery of Sita and their return to Ayodhya.
Uttar Kand – Rama’s life as king in Ayodhya, the birth of his two sons, Sita’s test of innocence and return to her mother, and Rama’s demise. This kand completes the story of the ramayana.
4 Rama ( the principal character of the ramayana), and his brothers were born as the result of putra-kameshti yagya by Dashratha. At the end of the yagya, a bowl of dessert was given to Dashratha, which was distributed among his wives. Sumitra was fed twice, so she gave birth to twins. Dasharatha was born in the line of Ikshvaku (“the first king of the Ikshvaku dynasty and founder of the Solar Dynasty of Kshatriyas in Vedic civilization in ancient India”).
5. Rama is the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, a dashavatar.
6 In their childhood, Rama and Laxman helped Vishwamitra and took care of Maricha and Subahu. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean
7. Sita is considered to be an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. She is also believed to be the daughter of Bhoomi devi (earth). Sita was also known as Vaidehi. An interesting fact about Sita is that she is also considered to be a reincarnation of Vedvati, whom Ravan had tried to molest while she was under penance, so as to become the consort of Lord Vishnu. She then cursed Ravana to become the cause of his destruction in her next birth.
8. Laxman or Lakshman is an incarnation of Sheshnaag or Adi Shesha. He also accompanied Lord Vishnu as Balrama in the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
9. Laxman never slept during the Rama’s exile. He is also known as Gudakesh, meaning, the one who has defeated “sleep”.
10. Laxman killed three sons of Ravana. While his killing of Meghnaad is more popular, other sons of Ravana were Prahast and Atikay.
11. Lord Shiva explained that Laxman would have escaped Shakti easily, but to respect the weapon, he took this on his chest.
12. The laxmanrekha episode is not mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana. This is mentioned by Mandodri in Lanka kand in Ramcharitamanas.
13. Laxman was the twin brother of Shatrughana. Their mother was Sumitra.
14. Lord Rama left this earth by taking the Jal Samadhi in Sarayu river.
15. During Sita Swayamvara, Rama broken the bow of Shiva to win her hand.
16. Parshurama challenged Rama to string the bow of Vishnu. Which Lord Rama easily did and asked him to tell him to where he should release the arrow. Parshuram realized that Rama is no ordinary man. This is worth noting that both of these warriors were incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
17. The shiva dhanush was easily moved by Sita during her childhood. King Janak observed this and this incident set the condition of Sita swayamvar in the Ramayana.
18. Lord Rama helped Sugriva to get back the kingdom of Kishkindha. He helped Sugriva to defeat his brother, Vali. He later married Tara, Vali’s wife. Tara is one of the Panchkanya. Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, is also a panchkanya from the Ramayana.
19 Rama, Laxman and Sita spent the vanvaas in Dandakaranya forests.
20 Laxman’s wife was Urmila. There is not much written about her, but she also made a supreme sacrifice while staying back in Ayodhya, while Laxman accompanied Rana and Sita for vanvaas. Urmila was Sita’s younger sister. Urmila slept both his and her shares of sleep so that Laxman remained awake protecting Rama and Sita. She slept for the whole period of exile (14 years) and only woke up when Laxmana returned to Ayodhya.
21 Tara was an apsara produced from the churning of ocean. During the churning, Vali was from gods side.
22. Jambavantha was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana. During a duel with Ravana, he hit Ravana and Ravana became unconscious. He also reminded Hanuman of his prowess, so he could cross the ocean and visit Lanka.
23. Vali was famous for the boon that he had received, according to which anyone who came before him lost half his strength to Vali, thereby making Vali invulnerable to any enemy.
24. Vali had defeated Ravana as well. Once Ravana called Vali for a fight. He took Ravana in his tail and took him around all the world. Humbled, Ravana called for a truce.
25. Hanuman, because of boons from Surya, laghima and garima, could take various forms. He used them to defeat Sursa, Lankini, Cat in the Ramayana.
26. Lord Hanuman is one of the 7 chiranjeevs. These immortals will live till the beginning of the next Satya Yuga. Hanuman slain the demon Kalanemi, while fetching sanjeevani herb. Kalanemi was sent by Ravana. Hanuman rejected a pearl necklace gifted by to him by Sita saying “I don’t accept anything that does not contain Ram.” To prove his point he ripped his chest to show the presence of Ram in his heart.
27. Hanuman also defied Sun from rising before time as it would have killed Laxman.
28. Hanuman was also shot by Bharat while flying over Ayodhya. Hanuman accepted the arrow as Lord Rama was written over it. Since he was shot on a leg, he had a limp.
29. Shatrughan is supposed to be the incarnation of Vishnu’s conch. Shatrughna was married to Shrutakeerti, the daughter of King Kusadhbojan and his wife. Shrutakeerti was the cousin of Sita, daughter of King Janaka.
30 Shatrughana killed Lavanasura, a demon who was the son of Madhu. It is believed that Madhu is where Mathura is situated today.
31. Bharat was the husband to Mandavi, daughter of King Janaka’s brother Kushadhvaja and thus a cousin of Sita, who was wife of Rama. They had two sons, Taksha and Pushka. Thus, in the Ramayana, wives of all brothers were related.
32. Bharat is considered to be born in the aspect of the Sudarshana Chakra, the most famous of Vishnu’s Panchayudhas.
33. Ravana’s grandfather was Pulastya, one of the seven great sages or Saptarishis. His father was himself a great sage Vishrava. Ravana once broke his arm to construct a musical instrument to sing songs of praise for Shiva. It was called the Ravan Hatta. While Ravan lay dying Ram asked Laxmana to go up to him to learn all that Ravana had to offer since Ravan was a Brahman.
34. His mother was the princess of Daityas. Her name was Kaikesi. Kaikesi father was Sumali. Ravana was half Brahmin and half asura.
35. Kaikesi chose Vishrava as her husband in quest to mother a son who was incomparable.
36. Vishrava was the father of Kubera. Thus Ravana was the half brother of Kubera. Ravana conquered Sri Lanka from Kubera and became the King of Lanka.
37. Ravana was also an excellent veena player and the sign of his flag had a picture of veena on it.
38. Ravana had four brothers. Vibhishana, Kumbhakarna and Ahiravan and Mahiravan. Khara and Dushan are also believed to be his brothers.
39. Kumbhakarna was considered pious, intelligent and brave that Indra was jealous of him. Along with his brothers, Ravana andVibhishana, he performed a major yajnaand penance for Lord Brahma. When the time came for asking a boon (blessing) from Brahma, his tongue was tied by goddess Saraswati (acting on Indra’s request). So instead of asking “Indraasana” (seat of Indra), he asked for “Nidraasana” (bed for sleeping).
40. Kumbhakarna had two sons, Kumbha and Nikumbha, who too fought in the war against Rama and were killed.
41. Ravana also asked for absolute invulnerability from and supremacy over gods, heavenly spirits, other rakshas, serpents, and wild beasts. He did not ask for protection from mortal men, as he did not think that they would cause him any harm.
42. Rama and Laxman were abducted by Ahiravan. Ahiravan was the brother of Ravana and king of patala (netherworld). The two brothers were saved by Hanuman.
43. Following the capture of Lanka, Ravana pleased Shiva with his penance. Shiva said to pinned Ravana with his toe, but he offered his ten heads to appease Shiva. Pleased with his resilience and devotion, Shiva gave to him the divine sword Chandrahas
44. Ravana was cursed by Nandi that Lanka would be destroyed by a monkey. Later Hanuman put Lanka into flames.
45 Hanuman defeated his son Makardhwaj when he was guarding Rama and Laxman and rescued the two brothers.
46. Hanuman killed Ahiravan and Mahiravan by taking his panchroopi form.
47. Ravana did severe penance to appease Brahma. Brahma blessed him with nectar which could keep him alive as long as it lasted.
48 Vibheeshana told this about to Rama when in the battlefield, every time Rama cut his head, another head sprang up. On his advise, Rama first dried the nectar using Prasvapana and later killed him. This is important to know that the ramayana puts importance to Vibheeshana, who left his brother and helped the cause of Dharma.
49. Sita remained with Agni when Ravana abducted her. When Ravana came to kidnap mother Sita and she saw him, she took shelter of Agni. The fire-god covered the body of mother Sita, and in this way she was protected from the hands of Ravana. The fire-god, Agni, took away the real Sita and brought her to the place of Parvati, goddess Durga. An illusory form of mother Sita was then delivered to Ravana. The original Sita went to the abode of the fire-god. During Agnipariksha, illusory Sita entered the fire. At that time Agni brought the original Sita from his abode and delivered her to Lord Ramachandra.
50. Sita summoned Bhoomi devi to take her back after completing the Agni pariksha.
51. Rama and all his brothers left their abode by taking Jal samadhi in Sarayu river. This completes the story of the Ramayana.
52. The stripes on the back of squirrels is supposed to be Ram’s caress for their dedication to help construct the bridge to Lanka.
The Ramayana story is told by sage Valmiki in various kandas. This is the story which is told in Ayodhya kand and is primarily around Rama’s vanvaas. Kaikeyi and Manthra were the central characters towards Rama’s vanvaas.
Manthra advising Kaikeyi to ask for Bharat’s ascendance to throne. Kaikeyi had two boons from Dashrath. Dashrath was the king of ayodhya and Kaikeyi’s husband.
She asks Dashrath for two boons. These boons have been given to her when Dashrath was helped by Kaikeyi in Dev Asur sangram. He was wounded in the battle field and Kaikeyi rode her to safety and later, tended him. Pleased with her, Dashrath asked her for two boons. She has now asked for Bharat’s coronation and Rama’s banishment.
Rama is exiled for fourteen years and Bharat becomes the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath dies as he could not cope up with the parting of Rama. Dashrath had a curse earlier because of that he had to leave this world in this manner.
Once while hunting, he accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. Shravan kumar was a dedicated son who was serving his blind parents. When Dashrath told this unfortunate incident to them, they cursed him saying that he would also suffer for his son as they are suffering because of him.
Dashrath’s was inconsolable when Rama, laxman and Sita were preparing to go to the forests.
Rama, alongwith Laxman and Sita go to forest to abide with their father orders.
Bharat requests him to come back. But Rama refused as this was his duty to obey his father’s orders. Bharat then asks for his sandals and he put Rama’s sandals on the throne of Ayodhya. He then conducted the governance in the name of Lord Rama.
In Indian mythology, there are two major epics. The Ramayana, and the Mahabharat. In Treta yuga, the story of Rama and his wife Sita, is the main story around which the Ramayana is written. This epic was written by Sage Valmiki, who himself was a robber, but later mended his ways to become a sage.
King Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya organised yagna with a desire for son. Agni, the god of fire presented him with a bowl of kheer(sweet rice). Upon comsumption of kheer, Dashratha would beget sons.
The Kheer or payasam, thus obtained, was distributed among Dashrath’s three wives, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. Soon enough, these queens have been blessed with sons, Rama, Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughan.
Sage Vasistha was the teacher of four brothers. He taught them all the skills required by them as the princes.
Rama and Laksham helped sage Vishwamitra. Rakshasas were creating problems for him. Sages were unable to perform yagna. Sage asked Dashrath to give Rama and Lakshman to help him. Dashrath was initially worried. Persuaded by Vasistha, he agreed. This helped the princes as Vishwamitra trained them in warfare. Both brothers killed Taraka and Subahu among other demons.
Vishwamitra received invitation from King Janak for Sita’s swayamvar. He asked Rama and Lakshman to accompany him.
Along the way, they came to a place where Ahilya was present in a form of stone. Rama liberated her on advise of sage. She was serving a curse of sage Gautam, who was her husband.
At Mithila, the challenge of Sita swayamvar was to tie the string of Shiva’s bow. Many warriors including Ravana has failed in even moving the bow. However, Rama could easily lift the bow. While trying to string the bow, it broken into two pieces. Sita got Rama as her husband.
However, this brought Lord Parshurama to the ceremony. There was the classic confrontation between two avatars of Vishnu. Rama succeeded in pacifying Parshurama.
Finally, the wedding of Rama and Sita took place. All four brother were married. Lakshman was married with Urmila, Janak’s second daughter and Bharat and Shatrughna with Mandavi and Shrutikirti, the daughters of Janak’s younger brother Kushadhwaj.