Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Birth of Lord Srirama

It is not an everyday occurrence that God takes birth on the earth. If Lord Vishnu was to be born in his next avatar, it was an event which had to be ushered in after a long wait and initiated by a man who was the purest!

It all began with Rishi Kashyap undertaking a penance towards the Sun God. The end of his meditation saw the birth of Vibhandaka. Kashyap was known as the prajapati or the one who could create from his thoughts. As the Rishi Kashyap was meditating, in his thoughts rose a form this was given life and became Vibhandaka.
Vibhandaka learnt the life of a sage from his father and meditated with perseverance and focus. Lord Indra became insecure and requested the danseuse, Urvashi to disturb the penance of Vibhandaka. Urvashi tried her best to gain Vibhandaka’s attention, but she could not change the rishi’s mind. 

Finally Urvashi pleaded with Vibhandaka to give her an off spring. Vibhandaka gave her a magical potion that would help her produce an off-spring. So saying Vibhandaka went back to deep meditation. Urvashi’s purpose remained unfulfilled and she had an additional burden of Vibhandaka’s boon. 
Just then she saw a deer pass by and impregnated the deer and left for her celestial abode. The deer gave birth to a human child with the horns of a deer. The rishi, Vibhandaka was woken by the cries of his new born son.
He became furious when he realised what Urvashi had done and his hatred for women became very strong.  He decided to take care of his son and bring him up without him knowing about the existence of women.

Rishyashringa (the name translates to ‘man with a deer horn’) was born and grew up to be an obedient son. He followed his father’s words and was unaware of the existence of women.

It was during this period that the kingdom of Angadesha was ruled by Romapada. Romapada had requested Dasaratha to give his daughter Shanta in adoption and Dasaratha also obliged. Just as soon as the daughter entered the kingdom, there was severe famine. The rains completely stopped and the King wondered what the reason could be. He realised that in an earlier Yagna that he performed he had cheated the Brahmin who had performed the Yagna. He had replaced a valuable diamond with a lesser quality diamond and just on receiving the bag the Brahmin had found it out and cursed him. When the Brahmins of his kingdom came to know of this, they all had left the kingdom.

Now the learned people of the kingdom advised the King to get his daughter married to Rishyashringa. This would make the Brahmins re-enter the kingdom. Romapada sent some Devakannis to fetch Rishyashringa.
Meanwhile Vibhandaka went out to save a Rishi who was stuck in an elephant’s mouth. The Devakannis utilised this opportunity and lured Rishyashringa into their temporary ashram. The ashram was built on a boat and they took him to Angadesha. The very minute that Rishyashringa set foot on the Kingdom, it started raining. The King was pleased and gave his daughter Shanta in marriage to Rishyashringa. Hearing this, Vibhandaka became furious and came in search of his son. When he reached the Kingdom, Romapada apologised to Vibhandaka and explained his position to him.
Vibhandaka realised that any curse would go against his son as now, he was the ruler of Angadesha. Vibhandaka realised that his son was fulfilling the duties of his birth and he has no power to stop him. But he requested his son to return to the ashram once his duties were over.

Meanwhile Dasaratha heard of Rishyashringa and realised that only a man as pure as him can help him with his penance to give birth to male off springs and set out to visit him. He reached Angadesha and requested Rishyashringa to help him in performing the putra-kameshti Yagna. Along with the ashwamedha Yagna, Rishyashringa performed the putra-kameshti Yagna.  From the fire there came the Yagna purusha or the God of the Yagna. He gave a pot containing sweetened rice. Dasaratha gave half of the rice to his first queen Kousalya. He distributed the remaining to Kaikeyi and Sumitra.
Kousalya gave birth to Rama who was the avatar of Lord Vishnu. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata. Bharata was given life by the Sudharshana Chakra. Sankarshana became Lakshmana and Panchajanya, the conch shell became Shatrughna.
The events leading to the birth of Lord Rama is the treasure house of knowledge and learning. For an event as humongous as the birth of an avatar, so many forces come together. 

The way Rishyashringa was raised and when the appropriate moment arrived, the way he left behind the comfort zone and shouldered the responsibility that he was destined to, show us that there is always an inner calling that we are powerless against.
Even when Vibhandaka realised that he had been duped, he did not shy away from his responsibility of raising his son all alone. When he knew his son had become the King he withdrew his curse and allowed his son to follow his destined path, proving to be a great lesson in parenting!