Highlights from this discourse:
While narrating the story of how Sri Rama and Lakshmana follow Sage Vishwamitra into the forest, Sri Swamiji also shares some lovely insights:
- How is it that the study of India’s ancient scriptures (Vedas, Puranas, Itihasas, etc.) as well as of its arts and sciences like music, dance, sculpting, astrology, ayurveda, siddhavaidhya, and more, have survived and thrived through millennia, even through centuries of foreign rule, without depending on large universities or colleges? It is because of the sacrifice of parents and children who put their faith in a Guru and went to a Gurukula.
- An incident from Sri Mahaperiyava’s life where he was moved to a divine plane by a verse from Thevaram about Lord Thyagaraja of Tiruvarur
- A family from Tiruvarur who gave up their child to a Guru was that of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Read glimpses of his charitram here.
- What can we do when we wake up in the morning? A beautiful prayer for the day.
- Why Sage Vishwamitra gently wakes up the child Rama by using his mother’s name.
- Why do none of the Shiva temples in Kanchipuram have an Ambal sannidhi?
- How Rama killed Tadaka, and Kambar’s beautiful simile describing how long Rama’s arrow stayed inside Tadaka.
Read the translated transcript of the entire discourse below.
Listen to this Bala Kandam Episode 14 discourse (Tamil with English subtitles) on Global Organisation for Divinity Facebook page:
Complete transcript of Sri Swamiji’s live online Srimad Ramayana discourse – Bala Kandam Episode #14
Shriyapati Bhagavan took avatara as the son of Dasaratha, and brought great auspiciousness and wellbeing to all of us in this Rama avatara. We are enjoying and experiencing this Rama avatara as much as we can, everyday.
To protect the yagna he was doing, Sage Vishwamitra, came to Dasaratha’s court, and requested that Sri Rama be sent with him. Hearing that, Dasaratha swooned and fell. Sage Vasishta consoled and gave courage to Dasaratha. He said that sending Rama with Sage Vishwamitra will bring goodness and auspiciousness to both Rama and the world. Dasaratha agreed to send Rama with Sage Vishwamitra.
In Ramayana, we see that Dasaratha sends Rama and Lakshmana behind Sage Vishwamitra, but such a practice is not something that takes place only in Ramayana. We see this practice started by Dasaratha being followed till date in Bharata desha. For a human being, the atma is only important. If atma is not there, he is a mere lifeless corpse. Similarly, what is the atma (soul) of this Bharata desha? The atma of this country is its Vedas, Itihasas and Puranas. Bhagavan Yogi Ramsuratkumar would say that if the Vedas, Itihasas and Puranas disappear from this country, then Bharata desha will become a dead country.
Vedas, Itihasas, Puranas, Upa-Puranas, Thevaram, Divya Prabandham, Sri Kumaraguruparar’s Suktis, Sri Tulasidasji’s Ramayanam, Sangeetham (Art of Music), The Science of Sculptures (Shilpa shastras) Ayurveda, Siddhavaidhya – all of these are available to us even today. How is it that these are available? If we look at the history of Bharata desha, approximately 700 years have been ruled by foreigners. Even during the rule of foreigners, these Vedas, Shastras, Itihasas, Puranas, Music, Astrology, Science of Sculptures, Siddhavaidhya, Ayurveda, to protect all these treasures of Bharata desha, even in the absence of great universities and establishments. Only in the last 50 years or so we find colleges coming up for these studies, but they are also not on a large scale. But today also, I am telling Ramayanam and you are listening. There are thousands of pauranikas to tell Ramayanam, there are thousands of pauranikas to tell Bhagavatam, there are thousands of Sangeetha vidwans, there are thousands who have studied Ayurveda, thousands who practice Siddhavaidhya thousands who have studied the science of sculptures, thousands who have studied Agamas, like that there are people who have studied shastras like Tarka, Mimamsa, etc. There are people who have studied Tamil literature and grammar.
How is it that all these sciences and arts are alive until today? The reason is that, like Dasaratha and Kausalya, many parents have made sacrifices. What sacrifice did they make? They sent a small child to go and learn the Vedas, reposing faith in a Guru. They believed that the Guru will only do good for the child, and sent the child to the patasala or to the Guru’s home. If the child comes to the Guru’s place when he is 6 years old, then the child spends 15 years mostly in the Gurukulam. And that child knows no relationship of father, mother, uncle, aunt, etc. as he goes home only now and then. If a small child is at home, he can ask the mother often, “Please make some snacks for me”,”Buy me some ice-cream” the child can throw tantrums and get what it wants. But in a patasala, he has to eat what they serve. He cannot throw any tantrums here. Parents make an immense sacrifice, and children also make a huge sacrifice. It is only because of such a sacrifice that these Vedas, Shastras, Itihasas, Puranas, or these Siddhavaidhya, or Ayurveda, or Sculpting, or Veda Agamas, or Divya prabandhams, or Thevaram, etc. are available to us until today. Prostrations to such parents! Seeing Dasaratha making such a sacrifice, many parents have been inspired by it, and even today are sending their child to a Guru, placing their faith in him, isn’t it? That is a great sacrifice.
The three Sangeetha Mummoorthys (Trinity of Carnatic Music) were all born only in Thiruvarur. When singing of Lord Thyagaraja (Shiva) in Thiruvarur, they sing – nilai perumAru eNNudhiyEl nenjE nI vA nittalum em pirAnuDaiya kOyil pukku pularvadanmun alagu ittu mezhukkum ittu pUmAlai punaindEtti pugazhndu pADi talaiyAra kumbiTTu kUttumAdi shankarA sayapOtRi pOtRi yendRum alaipunalsEr senjjadaiyem AdI yendRum ArUrA endRendRE alaRAnillE. A beautiful verse of Thevaram. This Thevaram was a favorite of our Mahaperiyava. What was the reason? “shankarA sayapOtRi pOtRi”. His Guru’s name is there in it! “shankarA sayapOtRi pOtRi yendRum alaipunalsEr senjjadaiyem AdhI yendRum ArUrA endRendRE alaRAnillE.”
When having darshan of Sri Mahaperiyava, some incidents remain fresh in memory even till today. Among these, one instance is this one. From Dharmapuram Adina Matham, there was an “odhuvAr ” murthy (dedicated Saivite devotional singers) called Swaminathan. I was there for the darshan of Periyava that day. Maha Periyava was sitting in darbhAsana.
The odhuvAr was reciting some padigams (Tamil hymns). As he was singing, he started reciting a particular hymn, “…nilai perumAru eNNudhiyEl nenjE…” Just like we sing “Manasa sanchara re”, in this hymn, the Tamil Saivaite poet-saint Appar calls the mind “O mind, come hither. Go to the temple daily!” When? “Before the dawn breaks, come to the temple” What should one do in the temple? “Sweep the temple! Mop the floor!” “Go to the flower garden, pluck the flowers and string them into a garland, sing hymns in the praise of Bhagavan” “talaiyAra kumbiTTu” (prostrate unto Him) “kUtthumADi shankarA sayapOtRi pOtRi” (sing His praises ecstatically) “yenDRum alaipunalsEr senjjadaiyem Adi yendRum ArUrA endRendRE alaRAnillE” Just as the odhuvAr murthy finished reciting the hymn, there was a bunch of darbha grass there, “kOyil pukku pularvadhanmun azhagu iTTu”. He sang that phrase again and again. Periyava had a bhAva-Avesha, and he took the bunch of darbha grass and started sweeping the floor with it. As the hymn was being recited, Periyava was sweeping the floor with the darbha grass. There was an ochre cloth used for wiping hands. As the hymn was being recited, he took the cloth and started mopping the floor; there was a flower garland nearby, Periyava took it, He raised his hands above his head as a salutation The odhuvAr murthy saw what Periyava was doing, and kept repeating the hymn. That day, Periyava’s holy divine body was effulgent like a thousand-crores of suns. “alaipunalsEr senjjaDaiyem Adhi yenDRum ArUrA endRendRE alaRAnillE” This hymn was in praise of Lord Shiva of the Thiruvarur temple. The swami in Thiruvarur is known as Lord Thyagaraja.
One day, Maha Periyava was approached by a devotee from Thiruvarur. Periyava asked the devotee, “What is the name of the Lord in your town?” The devotee replied, “Thyagarajan.” Periyava asked, “What great sacrifice (Thyaga) did he do that he is called Thyagaraja?” (A king among those who do thyaga). The devotee said, “Only Periyava can explain it.” Periyava said, “If one is a good pandit, he can be called Pandita-Raja, a great animal (mriga) is Mriga-Raja, similarly Pakshi-raja etc.” “So only one who has done such a great sacrifice that no one can equal, deserves the name Tyaga-Raja. Do you know what this Swami sacrificed? He sacrificed the I-thought, the ego, the self. Since it is a sacrifice no one can do, this Swami is called Thyagaraja.”
In such a great kshetra of Thiruvarur, Sri Thyagaraja Swami (the mahatma) was also born. It was in this Thiruvarur that Sri Shyama Shastri was also born. It was in this Thiruvarur kshetra that Sri Muthuswami Deekshithar was also born. He was born in 1775, on March 24th. He has composed songs in Telugu, Kannada Sanskrit, and Tamil. Why am I speaking of Sri Muthuswami Deekshitar now? His father also made a great sacrifice.
After being born in Tiruvarur, his family was in a very impoverished state. In Chennai, we have Pachaiyappa College, the Pachaiyappa Trust, which is named after Pachaiyappa Mudaliyar. When he came to Thiruvarur, he saw that this family was struggling to make both ends meet. So he brought this family to Manali, near Chennai. Pachaiyappa Mudaliyar had a chathram (choultry) in Manali. In those days many bairAgis (wandering devotional bards/sadhus) used to travel between Kasi and Rameshvaram. They used to travel by foot. When the travellers come to the choultry, they were offered a place of stay, food, and money for travel expenses. Mudaliyar gave the responsibility of administration of the choultry to Muthuswami Deekshitar’s father.
Muthuswami Deekshitar was born by the blessings of Lord Muthukumara Swami (Murugan) of Vaidheeswaran Koil. That was why he was named Muthuswamy. The Lord Muruga in Vaidheeswaran Koil is called “Selva Muthukumaran.” When his father was in Manali, a great mahatma called Chidambaram Yogi came to stay there. Chidambaram Natha Yogi saw the child. As I said yesterday, some mahans, on seeing a person, know if it is a Mahapurusha, they can find it using the aura of the person. When Chidambaram Natha yogi was staying in the Manali choultry, he saw the little Muthuswami and asked the parents if they will send the boy with him. The parents too agreed, without any hesitation or delay, and sent the child with him. He was a mere child, going with a Guru he hardly knew, Chidambaram Natha Yogi was just a traveller who was passing by Manali and was staying there temporarily. They knew nothing else about him. He did not have any family. The parents sent the child with him.
The Yogi took the child with him and went to Kasi. In Kasi, the boy stayed with his Guru, who gave him upadesha of Sri Vidya mantras. The Guru, when his time came, entered into the waters of Ganga and attained Jala Samadhi. Imagine how the child would have felt! He left his parents and was brought by the Guru, who was his only refuge. He was now in a far off place, Kasi. In Kasi, now when the Guru attained Jala Samadhi, the child wondered what was to become of himself. The child prayed, and suddenly a veena appeared! That special veena looks a little different. This veena still exists, in possession with a family in Chennai. Lord Muruga gave the veena to the little boy, and said, “Go straight to Thiruttani.” Imagine where Kasi is and where Thiruttani is! Yet the child made it to Thiruttani, and Lord Muruga appeared before him. Lord Muruga said, “Open your mouth”, the child did so, the Lord put two pieces of sugar candy into the child’s mouth. As a result, the child started composing music spontaneously. This is why in all his Kirtans, we can find the mudra “Guru Guha”. Since he lived in North India with his Guru, we see that many of his songs are set to North Indian ragas. These were not used much in South India. In Srirangam, when he composed a song on Lord Ranganatha, he used the raga Brindavana Saranga. Sri Rangapura Vihara. On the same Lord Ranganatha, he composed a song in raga Nayaki – Ranganayakam bhavayeham. We sing the last syllable “hummm” of the pallavi of this song. If this raga devata called Nayaki, walked with anklets chiming in her feet, it would sound “hummm”.
Once, he was teaching music to a child. The child did not come to the music class one day. Upon enquiry, he learnt that the child had contracted chicken pox (called “Mari Amman”, after the goddess). He went to see the child, and he found that the child’s body was totally covered by the pearl-like pox blisters. The Goddess had affected the child’s body. He made the child sit, and composed the song “Maye Tvam Yahi Mam Pahi” “O Mother Maya! Please leave (this child’s body). Protect me”. In Tamil Nadu, Mariamman is called as “Mahamaye”, Hence “MAyE” – hey Mahamayee! Please leave this body. Immediately, the child was cured of chicken pox.
He has composed many songs. He sings on Krishna beautifully in raga Bhairavi “Bala Gopala…. “pAlaya Ashu mAm” (song) (song) Numerous songs like this are composed by him. Most of them are composed in ragas not used in Tamil Nadu, because he lived in North India. The reason why I spoke about Muthuswami Deekshitar is because – his parents made such a great sacrifice, that is why we have got so many kirtans, all of them composed out of anubhava (direct experience). These kirtans have been composed by achieving siddhi over the respective raga devatas.
Near Sivakasi, there is a town called Sattur. There is a temple for Lord Srinivasa there. When Muthuswami Deekshitar went there, the region was hit by drought as there was no rain. He composed a song on Lord Srinivasa Perumal in raga Amritavarshini, it started raining very heavily, as he had siddhi over the raga devatas.
Yesterday, the children Rama and Lakshmana, who were accompanying Vishwamitra, reached the banks of the river Sarayu. Today, let’s go back a bit in the story. Vishwamitra, Vasishta and others had discussed. Dasharata decided to send the two children with Vishwamitra. He called Kausalya. Kausalya came. At least, she should tell something right? She should ask, “You are sending off these small children in this manner! For war! Along with Vishwamitra! You are sending them for killing demons!” Shouldn’t Kausalya ask thus? Kausalya never contradicted Dasaratha. She lived without an opinion of her own. Such a great Pativrata she was. Sumitra was also like that. Therefore, when Dasaratha said he was going to send them, she agreed (without a word). Won’t he have more concern than even me over his children? Wouldn’t he know what is right and wrong? Wouldn’t he know what was to be done. So, she didn’t utter a word of hesitation. She came with a cheerful and pleasant face.
What did Rama and Lakshmana do then? They prostrated unto Dasaratha. “Father we shall return soon.” Dasaratha was very pleased. Here Valmiki uses a word “mUrdhni” “upAgrAya”
He called Rama, “Come here.” Rama went near and addressed him, “Father!” Embracing him tightly, Dasaratha smelled his forehead. He called, “Lakshmana come here.” Dasaratha thus smelt their forehead, blessed them and sent them off.
After prostrating to their parents the children prostrated to Sage Vasishta. When they prostrated unto Vasishta, what did he do? Many bhagya suktas are there in Vedas which give auspiciousness. He took such blessings from the Vedas, chanted it, and taking some akshada, blessed the children who reverently bowed to him, “Go comfortably and come back soon. You will get all good benefits. You will not have any obstacles. No shortcomings will befall you.”
He continued, “Listen to Vishwamitra’s words and do as he says. He will always do only good for you. As I’m sending you with him, I’m not worried at all. Your father and I have given you to a good person. Don’t be scared of rakshasas. You are a Mahapurusha. You have the capability to kill them. I know this well.”
Saying such encouraging words and Mangala suktas, he sent off the children. Vishwamitra walked majestically. He has long hands. Behind him, how are the children walking? Like Mahaganapathy and Subramaniya swami following Lord Parameshwara or like Aswini kumaras or like Skandha and Visakan, these two children started off.
Vishwamitra, when he saw Rama and Lakshmana, in the assembly hall, in front of hundreds of people thought, “At that time he said kAkapakshadharam veeram.” Now he is seeing them very nearby no one else is there. For a second he thought, “Dasaratha got scared due to my threats! Now he has sent them with me. I never believed that he will send them!” Thus he was pleased with himself.
Vishwamitra walked fast. He was afraid that Dasaratha may change his mind and call them back. Dasaratha had said earlier, “I’ll come if you want. I’ll send the armies if you want.” “Now he could have come along right? Why did he send off the children by themselves?”, he thought thus.
The next second he thought, “Dasaratha said, ‘O Maharishi! my children are less than 16 years old’. He may have thought the children may have leg pain, and could have sent a chariot.” He didn’t send even that. Vishwamitra thinks “All of this is my good fortune”, because if a chariot was sent then a charioteer will come along. If the army came, a thousand people will come along. He would not have gotten an ekanta satsang with Rama and Lakshmana, therefore he walked fast. He walked quickly for one and half yojana.
As he walked Vishwamitra turned back and called “Rama!” Rama ran forward quickly. Again he called “Rama”, Rama speedily ran forward. Again he called “Rama!” Rama again came fast forward.
Rama looked at Lakshmana and said, “We are walking fast only, aren’t we?Wh y is he calling repeatedly ‘Rama’ ‘Rama’ ‘Rama’?” Rama could not understand this, but Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, understood this. The reason was this Rama nama.
“O Rama! How sweet is your Name? Is it grapes or a tasty sweet?”, Bhadrachala Ramadasar sang later on only. But on that day itself, the divine name of Rama danced on Viswamitra’s tongue. As the taste of Rama Nama had caught on to him, what happened to him? “Rama Rama Rama”. Whether Rama came slowly or quickly he kept chanting the Rama nama. Thus chanting they reached the south bank of River Sarayu.
On reaching the south bank of River Sarayu Vishwamitra said, “Let us stay here for tonight. We shall continue our journey in the morning.” What will Rama say? For everything he will only say “Alright, yes, as you say”. Rama and Laskhmana said the same.
The children needed to be fed. Dinner has to be given and then milk should be given. On waking up in the morning, he should get up and decide what to cook. And then vegetables should be bought. The stove should be lit. The daily problem of humans is, as soon as we wake up in the morning, “What should be cooked today? What is the menu for today?”
Where will Vishwamitra go for all this? He was a Rishi. But he had one thing. He said, “Rama I have two mantras ‘bala’ and ‘atibala’ I shall give you these mantras take this mantra. Do you know what will happen if you chant this mantra? Firstly you won’t get knee pain, leg pain, arm pain. Your mind will always be enthusiastic. You won’t have any hunger or thirst. Whenever you are weak or sleeping, asuras cannot attack you with arrows. These mantras will protect you thus. These mantras are very powerful. Brahma’s daughters are the atidevatA for these mantras I have obtained these mantras after much difficulty and severe penance. I should give this to the right person, because if one does not teach the knowledge gained or mantras obtained to someone else, he will be born as Brahmarakshasa, say the shastras. Therefore I was looking for the right, most eligible person. You are such a person. This is right only for you. So I shall give you these ‘bala’ ‘atibala’ mantras.”
Rama asks, “What should I do?” Go to River Sarayu and do Achamana. Rama goes to River Sarayu and does Achamana. He said the sankalpa, anganyasam, karanyasam, etc. He gives initiation of the ‘bala’, ‘atibala’ mantras. As soon as the mantras were given, Valmiki says like the sun in Sharath kala shines like a thousand suns, at that time Rama shone with a radiance that was never seen before. After getting the mantras Rama didn’t leave immediately. He got up. In a kamandalu he brought water from River Sarayu and he gave arghya pAdyam to the Mahatma, His Guru, who had done upadesa of the mantras to him. Whatever Rama thinks he need not even utter it, Lakshmana will do it as such, immediately. Rama saw the holy divine feet of Vishwamitra. He wished to offer flowers unto the holy feet. Thinking thus, he turned and Lakshmana was standing with several lotuses plucked from somewhere placed in leaf. Seeing this Rama showed his happiness with his eyes to Lakshmana. He placed the flowers on the feet of Guru. The two children circumambulated Vishwamitra and prostrated unto him. Vishwamitra was pleasantly surprised.
Some people, after getting mantra upadesa won’t realize that we should bow down to the Guru. The Guru Himself will say, “Prostrate!” There are some people who go away like that right?
So Vishwamitra thought, “Where did these children learn all this? They are doing it so beautifully!” And became very happy.
He said, “You already have auspicious qualities, and have shreyas.”
“Even so, after getting these mantras you will forever be with fame in this world.”
“Everyone in this world will salute you as long as the sun and moon exists.” Saying thus he became very happy.
That night, as I said yesterday, he made a bedding out of grass and made Rama and Lakshmana sleep on it. Vishwamitra did not sleep at night. Till the children slept he told them many good moral stories. As he was telling these moral stories the children fell asleep. Vishwamitra sat there without sleeping. As soon as the sun rose in the morning he woke up the children.
When children are woken up, good auspicious words should be used. As we wake up, we may look in the mirror. As we wake up in the morning, we may see cows. As we wake up in the morning, we may see sumangali ladies. As we wake up in the morning, we may see young auspicious girls. As we wake up in the morning, we may see gold. As all these are ‘mangala draviyas’ (auspicious things), they are supposed to be seen daily.
If we are unable to see them daily, we see them at least on the first day of new year. And that is the reason behind the custom in places like Kerala, to keep gold, fruits, flowers, Lord Krishna, and many other ‘mangala dravyas’ (holy things) in front of the mirror and view them early in the morning of new year, and to first see them that morning. With the perspective that let this year be full of goodness. This custom is called ‘kani kAnrathu’ on the day of Vishu. During the prAna pradhishta of the deity in a temple, the deity’s eyes should be closed for some time. After closing the eyes, everyone should move away, and when the deity’s eyes are first opened, there should be in front a number of mangala draviyas’ (holy things) such as a lighted lamp, gold, betel leaves & nuts (thamboolam), fruits, flowers, young girls (kanya), married woman (sumangali), cow along with its calf. The deity’s sight should first fall on these mangala draviyas. Even today this is what is said in Agama shastras.
What should we do when we wake up in the morning? Leave aside brushing teeth, taking bath, etc. We can make a simple prayer to God heartily. Let this day be a good one. Let me hear good news from all four sides of the world. Let me have good sense today. Let me not be lazy today. Let my heart be optimistic. Let me not have any bad qualities or bad intent or thoughts. Let things that are bad for me move away from me. Like I have been born anew today, let me do many good deeds with good efforts. Let this day of my life not go waste in any way. Let us do such prayers, speaking heart to heart, with Bhagavan, rather than knowing stotras. Because sometimes we may not know the meanings of stotras, but when we do prayer as a prose, we mean it, right! If we are unable to search for gold or cow, we can see our right palm daily in the morning. ‘hari enDra pEraravam kETTilaiyo pEi peNNE’ as told by Andal in Nacchiyar Tirumozhi. As soon as we wake up in the morning, chant ‘Hari Hari’ 7 times. Only by saying this our day should dawn. Only when we wake up enthusiastically the entire day will be enthusiastic.
Swami Vivekananda says that he wakes up passionately every morning telling to himself “I am strong; I am fit and healthy; I will succeed in all my endeavours today” Swami Vivekananda says that he wakes up passionately every morning telling to himself, “I am strong; I am fit and healthy; I will succeed in all my endeavours today” This is how we should also learn to wake up with enthusiasm.
All these were taught by our Rishis (sages). Leaving their parents, these children have come trusting me, felt Sage Vishwamithra. Waking up children with pessimistic words is not right. Sage Vishwamithra teaches us beautifully how to wake up children. The very first word that gives happiness to children is the mother’s name. Every child on waking up, calls out “Amma….” The child searches for its mother. That is why here he says “Kausalya!”
Any father may let the child go, but will the mother? “Shouldn’t I thank mother Kausalya for having given me the fortune to wake up these children Rama and Lakshmana? What great fortune has she done, that she carried Lord Rama in her womb for 12 months! It is not only me; not only today; Rama will be celebrated as ‘Kausalya’s son’ until this universe exists. Wake up, the sun is rising up. Sandhya kaalam is getting over. wake up – “uthishta..” Why should I get up in the morning? Don’t you want to wake up early, brush teeth, take bath, do the daily rites of aachamanam , argyam and japa? Don’t you want to wake up early, brush teeth, take bath, do the daily rites of aachamanam, argyam and japam?”
At this point, Rama should be rightfully asking, “You said aham vedmi. You said you know that I am Bhagavan. Why does Bhagavan have to do argyam, aachamanam, japam, dhyanam,….. ?” Vishwamitra would then say, “I also know that Rama. Though you are Bhagavan Himself, you want to claim yourself as an ordinary man (nara). That is why I am asking you to do so.”
In one instance, even the highly intellectual scholars in dharma shastras got baffled. They had to call upon a meeting of such scholars to solve that problem. When Lord Sri Narasimha emerged from pillar, being half-human he is bound to do ‘karma-anushtanam’, and being half-lion he need not. That said, should Sri Narasimha do ‘sandhya vandhanam’ and then kill hiranyakashipu? Is sandhya vandhanam required or not, became the matter of dharma sankatam. “Thankfully, with respect to you, I do not have such doubts. Because you have come in human form”, (thought Sage Vishvamitra).
Then the children Rama and Lakshmana ran to the banks of river Sarayu. They brushed their teeth, took bath, did the daily rites of aachamanam, argyam, japam, as gracefully as it should be done. Next to prostrate the Guru, they brought lovely flowers, fruits, holy water (thirtham). Sage Vishwamithra was sitting on the shades of a tree, just like Lord Dakshinamoorthi. They offered holy water and flowers at the holy feet of the Guru. They also offered delightful fruits to him, circumambulated him and prostrated before him by chanting the ‘abhivadhya’. Sage Vishwamithra felt moved and happy with them.
He asked, “Rama, shall we start from here?”
Rama replied, “Let us do whatever you wish!”
Sage Vishwamitra started walking from there. The children accompanied him along the banks of river Sarayu. On the way, there was an ashram. Rama inquired about the ashram.
Vishwamithra said, “Kailasapathi, Lord Siva did penance (tapas) here. Manmatha tried to disturb the penance. Lord Siva, the Parameshwara, was angered because of this and burnt Manmatha to ashes by a ‘hunkaram’. Manmatha lost his physical body. He lost his body because Parameshwaran burnt him. The place where the burnt parts of Manmatha’s physical body fell came to be known as anga desam.”
This is the sthala puranam of Kanchipuram as well. There are so many Siva temples in and around Kanchipuram. There is no Ambal (Lord Siva’s consort) Sannadhi (sanctum) in any of these Siva temples. There is no Goddess Ambal sannadhi in Ekambareshwarar temple. If we go to Kailasanathar temple, there is no Ambal sannidhi. Kachapeshwarar temple has no Ambal sannidhi. Nor does Ona Kantheeswarar temple. Upto a particular distance around Kanchi, none of the Siva temples has Ambal sannidhi. Only Lord Siva resides. Moreover, this place where there is Kanchi mutt is called as ‘Kama koshtam’. In the temple of Sri Kamakshi Amman, there is no sannidhi for Lord Siva. Goddess Kamakshi resides there alone.”
It was to disturb Lord Siva’s penance that Manmatha shot his floral arrows. He became one without form. As soon as he became formless, it seems his wife Rathi prayed to Lord Siva. Then He blessed that even though Manmatha was formless, he was still capable of inducing kama (desire) in the minds of all. He has that power with him. To test that, the powers of all the Devis of all of Lord Siva’s temples were drawn to one place, which is Kamakshi, known as “kama koshtam”.
Even today, in the sannadhi of Goddess Vadivudai Amman in Thiruvotriyur, we get the oldest inscription which reads ‘kamakottathu nacchiyar’. In the temple of Chidambaram, in the sannadhi of Goddess Sivagama Sundari, there is an inscription stating ‘kamakottathu nacchiyar’. On having the darshan of Goddess Kamakshi, we get the merits of having had darshan of all Goddesses of all the Siva temples. This is because the entire powers of all Devis were attracted and installed in the Sannadhi of Kamakshi Amman, Kamakoshtam.
So here, Sage Vishwamitra told them that this place that they were in, was where Manmatha burnt by Lord Siva, and that that was how the name Anga desa came to existence. There were many rishis (sages) doing penance there. Sage Vishwamitra said, ‘It is evening.’
They had been walking since morning and reached the ashram by evening. There was a river nearby. We are not supposed to enter an ashram without proper cleanliness. “Let us take bath, do japam and then enter the ashram” Saying so, they went to bathe in the River Sarayu.
The sages with their divine power knew that Rama and Lakshmana had come with Sage Vishwamitra. The sages came outside their ashram and waited for them to finish their bath. They invited them to the ashrama. They offered hospitality and did athithi sathkara. They praised Sage Vishwamitra.
Sage Vishwamitra then decided to spend that evening in that ashram itself. That night they stayed in the place where Lord Shiva did penance and reduced Manmatha to ashes. Next day, early morning, after performing their daily rituals, the sages there say that, “Many demons roam in this place, so it is better not to stay here for a long time. We will arrange a boat. And, you all can leave this place by boat”.
They climbed on the boat. On one side was River Ganga and on the other side River Sarayu. The boat went fast, and Sage Vishwamitra along with Rama and Lakshmana travelled by this boat. They could hear a loud roaring noise, in the place where the waters of River Ganga and River Sarayu joined.
As Rama was a young child, he asked Vishwamitra, “O Maharishi! What is the cause of this tumultous noise?”
Sage Vishwamitra replied, “Surrounding Ayodhya, the holy river Sarayu flows. Do you know what that(river) is? On Mount Kailasa, Brahma by the power of his thought created a lake named Manasa Saras, a branch of this Manasa Saras is only this Sarayu river. As the river Sarayu joins river Ganga here, this loud sound is produced at the confluence.”
They reached the other side of the riverbank. There was a big forest and in that forest, there were many trees, peacocks, and lots of noises but still it looked like a dilapidated forest. Just like a dilapidated house, dilapidated city, dilapidated village, that forest looked very dilapidated.
Immediately, Sri Rama asks Sage Vishwamitra, “Why is this forest dilapidated?” The sage replied, “O Rama! I narrated Srimad Bhagavatham, do you remember? In that Indra killed a demon named Vritrasura. As he killed Vritrasura, Indra was affected by the sin of slaying a brahmana (brahmahathi dosha). He was distressed and roamed here and there. He could not sleep and did not have hunger. If someone spoke to him, he would speak unrelated things. Indra, who was affected by this sin, was brought to this place and the sages chanted Vedas and by pouring jars of holy water charged with mantras over him. By doing so, the sages washed off Indra’s sin. Indra was pleased by this. This is that place where Indra was freed from the sin of brahmahathi. This is the story behind this forest.”
“After the forest became like this (and his sin was removed) Indra became very happy. If kings become pleased, they would establish a couple towns or villages and donate them. So, Indra too established 2 cities. One city was named as Maladha. Other city was named as Karusha. This place had many roads, shops, parks and gardens. This was once a beautiful city and people lived happily here. This way Indra established 2 cities.”
Immediately, Sri Rama asked, “You mentioned that he established two cities but this looks like a dilapidated forest.”
(So Vishwamitra replied) “Sage Agastya was doing penance here. He planted many trees useful for his Shiva puja. Flowers from trees like Champak (shenbagam in Tamil), bullet wood (maghizham in Tamil), paadiripushpam (a flower that grows on trees). Using these flowers, he would worship Lord Shiva.
During the time, when he was worshipping Lord Siva like this, a yaksha lived here by the name Suketu. That yaksha Suketu did penance praying to Lord Brahma for a son (putra). Brahma blessed him and a daughter (putri) was born. So, he thought, “I did penance praying for a son but I am blessed with a daughter.”
Brahma told him, “Worry not! Your daughter will have the strength of 1000 elephants.” She is none other than Tadaka, a yakshini. Suketu was a Yaksha, so Yaksha’s daughter is Yakshini. Isn’t it? So, Tadaka was a Yakshini. Jamban was also a Yaksha. Jamba’s son was Sundan, who was also a Yaksha. Sundan and Tadaka were married to each other. After that, Subahu and Maricha, 2 Yakshas, were born as their children. Sundan naughtily played in the gardens maintained by Sage Agastya. This irritated Agastya and so he reduced Sundan to ashes. Seeing this, Tadaka got furious. So, Tadaka, Maricha and Subahu, all 3 of them went to swallow Sage Agastya. Agastya saw this.”
A curse is generally given based on the nature of the receiver. Nalakubera and Manigreeva drank liquor and drinking liquor is a Tamas quality. Trees are also Tamasic in nature. So, they were cursed to become trees by Sage Narada. A (gandharva) pulled the legs of a Sage literally and pulling the legs is the nature of a crocodile so the sage cursed him to become a crocodile. Despite seeing Sage Agastya, he (the king Indradyumna) ignored the sage as he was filled with pride and ego. To be filled with pride and ego is the very quality of elephants so the sage cursed him to be an elephant.
A curse is given in line with the nature of the receiver. Here Tadaka, Subahu, Maricha, all 3 of them opened their mouth to swallow Agastya. So, Sage Agastya cursed them, “Cha! Become a man-eater!”
“From that day onwards, Subahu, Maricha, Tadaka became Rakshasas even though they were born as Yakshas, they are living in this forest by eating human flesh! We should kill that Tadaka only. As they occupied this forest, humans could no longer live in this forest without any fear, so they left this place and hence this place became dilapidated.”, said Vishvamitra
There was indeed no movement of people! “We should also enter this forest with utmost care. O Rama!” All these were narrated by Sage Vishwamitra as they entered.
As they entered, strong winds started blowing. The dusts from the winds started flying and even shook people. No one could make out who was standing nearby and who was not. When Rama and Lakshmana turned, it looked as though it was a rainfall of dust. Just as the rainfall of dust stopped, stone rains started. Seeing beyond this dust rain and stone rain, when they saw who it was, the terrible Tadaka was coming towards them in Tadakavana.
Seeing Tadaka, Vishwamitra did a hoonkara and cautioned Rama and Lakshmana. He then told them, “She is Tadaka. Slay her!” Do not hesitate to kill her as she is a woman. A hunter does not see any partiality while hunting between lion and lioness. Even in ancient times, Mahans have slayed women demons if they were evil. So, there is already precedence for this. Don’t fear, don’t hesitate! Immediately Rama thinks, “We should listen to the words of Maharishi without any delay. Did he think that I am hesitating?”
“My father, my Guru – Sage Vasishta, both of them had given us in your hands. They have advised us to listen to your words. Whatever you tell me, I am bound to do it. I have no second thoughts about that.”, saidRama.
Kambanattu Azhwar beautifully captures this in Tamil. Whatever a Guru tells, one should follow it. Irrespective of whether it is in shastras or not, irrespective of whether it is dharma or not. Following the words of the Guru is only dharma. Just like how one should follow whatever is given in Vedas without analyzing.
That Tadaka then came closer and closer. As she came closer, Rama saw her and thought, “Let me not kill her in the beginning itself. Let me cut her nose or ears and let her go and live elsewhere”.
As Rama was thinking so, she kept coming again and again and it was getting late. She carried stones and caused stone rains there. Suddenly she appeared and disappeared. She appeared in one place, then there and did maaya(magic) war. When one exclaimed, “See Tadaka is there”, she would disappear and appear elsewhere. When someone shouted “See Tadaka! She is there right up!” and then one would turn, she would make a noise from behind.
On one side, there was stone rain, on the other side it was dust, terrible sound, etc. Whenever Tadaka came near these 3 people – Rama, Lakshmana and Vishwamitra, Vishwamitra would shoo her away with some mantra and hoonkara. He encouraged Rama. Initially, Rama wanted to only cut her nose or ears. But seeing the terrible fight she put up, Vishwamitra again told Rama, “Do not hesitate. It is evening already. In the night, it will become difficult to slay Tadaka. They are all referred to as Nishichara (those who roam in the night). They have more power in the night than during the day. So don’t hesitate. Kill her.” Rama took one final arrow and aimed it on Tadaka.
What happened was – Kambar extolled Rama beautifully as “Kariya semmal” He uses the same phrase while Rama is also dark complexioned and Tadaka is also dark . So, Kambar uses the phrase, “Kariya semmal” and for Tadaka, “Alvukkum Nirathinaal.” “Alvukkum Nirathinaal” means a dense darkness. One would be terrified seeing that darkness. Rama is also dark complexioned and Tadaka is also dark . Tadaka is dark like darkness and Rama is dark like the clouds. (And then Kambar proceeds,) How did that arrow pierce her? Just like how a Maharishis curse, that one word, that curse would trouble the receiver births after births, That curse will show its effect that moment itself.
Even in Tadaka’s life, this was true. When she was cursed, “Become a man-eater!” She did not become so the next day, it happened that very second. How was she? If there is something that is very difficult to break, that is a diamond rock. That is why they say “Vajrakavasa” (diamond shield) and it is difficult to shatter a Vajrakavasa. And so her heart is like that of a diamond rock. And here, how did Rama’s arrow pierce her? Later, when narrating the slaying of Vali, Rama’s arrow hits Vali and just stays there in his body. And Vali was going to take that arrow and look at it. Here, did that arrow pierce and stay in Tadaka’s body? No, it just went in and came out.
Kamban is known for Uvamai, similes. Here also, Kamban gives a simile. The arrow did not stay (inside Tadaka) for even a fraction of a second. It went passed through her body so quickly. It did not go slowly, not in slow motion, it went very fast. So, to describe that, Kamban searched for a simile. Then he said, “The arrow stayed inside Tadaka for the duration that a piece of advice given to a fool would stay with him!” One cannot search for a better example than this!
Tadaka was finally killed. Devas showered flowers and played instruments. Sage Vishwamitra was very pleased. Devas like Indra were also happy seeing Tadaka being killed. All the Devas including Indra approached Vishwamitra and said, “You have many divine weapons which you obtained after doing great penance. Why do you need those weapons? You are a Brahmarishi. You need to hand it over to a suitable person, right? He (Rama) is the right, eligible recipient. So give those weapons to him. If those weapons are with him, it will do good to the world. Indeed this is the right time and opportunity, so give the weapons to him.” Thus suggested Indra and all Devas. Viswamitra was also pleased by this suggestion and decided to give the weapons. In the next sarga (chapter) fully, Sage Valmiki describes the weapons given by Sage Vishwamitra to Sri Rama.
Then, in the next sarga, Rama asks Sage Vishwamitra, “You taught me how to aim it. Please teach me how to take it back also.” So, in the next sarga fully, Sage Vishwamitra is going to describe how to get back the released weapons. When King Dasharatha bid farewell to these boys, we mentioned that the king embraced them and smelled their foreheads. The same scene is again described here. Sage Vishwamitra could not contain his happiness. He was immensely pleased by the killing of Tadaka, and the sage embraced Rama and smelled his forehead. And then told, “Due to killing of Tadaka, you are going to be blessed with a great fortune. It is a great blessing for the whole world itself. You have done a great help for Devas.”
The Devas then prayed, “You have many weapons given by Prajapathi’s son, Prasaswan. Please do upadesa of those weapons to these children.”
Janaki kantha smaranam… Jai Jai Rama Rama
Sadgurunatha Maharaj ki Jai
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
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