Tuesday, January 5, 2010

PDE Ramayana: Valmiki's Hermitage

Reading Guide. Rama's coronation is not the end of the story, at least not according to the Uttara Kanda, the seventh book of Valmiki's Ramayana. The story will surprise you: Sita now goes into exile again, and this time it is Rama himself who sends her into exile.

Image: In the illustration, you can see Hanuman and Rama, both defeated by Rama's own sons, and you can also see the horse that Rama has let loose in accordance with the ashwamedha (horse sacrifice).

Source. Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913). [300 words]

Rama Crowned King | 78. Valmiki's Hermitage | Sita Departs

Time went past, but the sorrows of Sita were not ended. The people whispered against the fair queen, doubting her virtue because that she had been taken away by Ravana, and they wondered Rama had received her back.

At length her husband, yielding to the wishes of his subjects, banished the innocent queen from the kingdom. The faithful Lakshmana conducted her towards the southern jungles, and abandoned her nigh to the hermitage of Valmiki, counseling her with tears to take refuge with the saintly poet.

Valmiki received her with pity, and soon afterwards she gave birth to two sons, who were named Lava and Kusha.

Sixteen years went past, and Rama's mind was troubled because that he had slain Ravana, who was the son of Pulastya, the rishi. So he resolved to perform the Ashwamedha , the horse sacrifice, to cleanse his soul of sin.

The horse was sent forth to wander through the land, and when it approached the hermitage of Valmiki, Lava and Kusha, the sons of Rama and Sita, took possession of it. They defeated the royal army and wounded Shatrughna. Lakshmana hastened forth with another army, but he was also grievously wounded and defeated by the young heroes.

Then Rama himself went southward to wage war and recapture the horse. When his sons came forth against him, Rama wondered to find that they were so like to himself in countenance and bearing; his heart was filled with tenderness, and he asked them, “Whose children are you?”

Lava and Kusha greeted him with reverence, and said, “Sita is our mother, but we know not the name of our sire.”

Rama Crowned King | Valmiki's Hermitage | Sita Departs

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