Rāmāyana in brief by Nārada

Slōka 1 Once Vālmeeki spoke to (questioned as to the following) Nārada thus. Vālmeeki was one who did great penance. Nārada was a supreme sage, always immersed in penance and other holy austerities and was very great among the learned.

        Vālmeeki was a sage who belonged to this world and Nārada was the one belonging to the celestial regions, whose spiritual merit and wisdom was of divine order and proportions. This was a crucial meeting between two great sages and out of this flowed the holy stream of Rāmāyana.

Slōkās 2-4 O great sage! Is there anyone in this world (among the mortals) who is highly virtuous, most powerful, very wise, extremely grateful towards his benefactor, most truthful, most perfectly unwavering in the practice of duty, who is of sterling behaviour, who, loves dearly each and every being on earth, who is most learned, a supremely capable being and the most beloved personality, who is a high souled one, having conquered passion and absolutely free from envy and malice and one with an air of splendour about him and (lastly) one whose dreadful fury in battle strikes terror into the hearts of even the immortals (Dēvās).

Slōka 5 Great sage! I am very much curious to hear about this. You are most competent to know whether such a person really existed in this world. Nārada is not only a divine sage but also one who travels freely and unpolluted throughout all the worlds. The past, present and the future are all within his full cognisance. He is a divine seer.

Slōka 6 Hearing these words from Vālmeeki, Nārada became overjoyed. He was fully congnisant of all the three worlds. Hence he invited Nārada to hear him attentively and spoke thus.

        Vālmeeki questioned Nārada out of doubt as to the existence of such a rare personality. So he was brief in describing what are very rare qualities. Moreover the questioner should be brief and Vālmeeki is noted for his brevity. But Nārada spoke out of his sure knowledge about that personality. So he was more elaborate in describing his qualities than Vālmeeki. He spoke in fine similies and presented a more splendid picture of Rāma, than that conveyed by the querries of Vālmeeki. He was carried away, by his overjoy, at having the occasion and opportunity to describe the supreme Lord in human form to his heart's content. No doubt all that is Vālmeeki's poetry and his version of what Nārada has said.

        Another significant thing is that Nārada described in detail the physical and most auspicious aspects of Rāma. They are most perfectly conforming to the Sāmudrika sāstra. Superficially considering them, it might seem that there is no identifiable individuality of Rāma as regards to those aspects. It is a general description of the features of an ideal being and not of Rāma alone. We meet with the same general description from the mouth of Hanumān when he was speaking to Sita in Asōka vana, to induce belief in her that he was no impostor.

        But the point is whether all the most auspicious features enumerated in the sāstra (Sāmudrika sāstra) in their acme of perfection and in their absolute excellence are actually present in a person. In that case though it be the rarest of the rare one and hence only a single and stray case, that most auspcious personality is identifiable among the millions of the human beings like the Mēru mountain among the other mountains. It is by virtue of this holy and most auspicious combination and confluence of each and every glorious feature of the sāstrās in the person of Rāma, that it can be said that the description of either Vālmeeki or Nārada points to Rāma and Rāma alone and none others. It is not a general and vague description. For the matter of that, a comparison between the description of Rāma and Rāvana will suffice to show the difference between them and justify my observation. Rāvana also was a very grand personality in whom many glorious features found a place. Hanumān was wonder struck and awe struck on seeing him lying sprawled on his couch of gold, when he (Hanumān) was searching for Sita. Yet the impresson conveyed through the description of Rāvana is one of teriffic power and prowess. He appeared like a great serpent (मह नाग) lying coiled round the cliff of the great mount Mandhara. There was seen on his chest the scar left by the blow of the Vajrāyudha of Indra. There were the marks of thrust from the tusks of the mighty Irāvata, Indra's elephant. He bore signs of a sword-thrust from a Dikpdlaka, the guardian deities of the eight corners of the globe of the world or of a blow from the mace of the mighty god or Dānava or giant. With many Purānās many giants are as terrible as Rāvana and even more terrible than he, his brother Kumbhakarna, in this aspect is head and shoulders above him. He lies in his huge manshion dwarfing it by his colossal size. He is like a huge Leviathan whom mariners might mistake for an Island and anchor their ships on it. Yet all of those giants lack the splendour of Rāvana, except perhaps the great Bali, whom Vāmana, an incarnation of Vishnu subdued. (I will deal with this aspect later on). Most of the giants that fell by the fury of Durga (the Goddes Sakti) appear as if all the grizzly terrors of the three worlds have taken such forms. But none has that splendorous aspect of Rāvana about him Still Rāvana is a terrible personality and a Rakshasa at that. On the other hand Rāma appears as if he is an embodiment of all the subha lakshanas (most auspicious qualities) of the Sāmudrika sāstra. Thus the description of Rāvana points to only Rāvana ana Rāvana alone, while that of Rāma refers only to Rāma and Rāma alone. Both are individualised characters and not of the other way. More of this at a later stage.

Slōka 7 Nārada narrates, "O sage Vālmeeki! All the praiseworthy qualities described by you, are of myriad aspects and all of them are very rarely found among men. But after deep thought, I know one person who possessed all of them. So please pay heed to what I say".

Slōka 8 That person is called Rāma, famed among all people. He was born in the line of the great Ikshwāku kings. He is a man of great prowess and whose self is under his full control. He is a lofty soul with great fortitude. There is splendor about his personality.

Slōkās 9-11 He is very wise, virtuous, an excellent speaker and highly auspicious (prosperous). His limbs are well-proportioned, like his broad, strong shoulders, mighty and long arms, beautiful (graceful) conch-like neck, great and powerful cheeks, strong and broad chest, fine head and forehead, large beautiful eyes and with the fairest complexion, all indicating an auspicious and splendorous personality. He holds a mighty bow and is terrible to his foes, for his supreme valour. But his power is very benign he having subdued his internal foes, like Kama, Krodha, etc.

        It seems as if the two great sages, between themselves, are creating the Sāmudrika sāstra for the first time, in this guise. It is significant that there is no mention anywhere (even in the Hanumān's description of Rāma in Sundara Kānda) of auspicious moles, which are highly significant in this sāstra. I think that moles are great pointers so far as worldly prosperity is concerned, but they detract greatly from the spiritual grandeur and the celestial charm of Rāma, intended to be conveyed by the poets and hence omitted.

        The following Slōkās (verses) stand in comparison with any vedic hymn about god or praise . of god with one thousand names (सहरत्र् नाम स्त्रोत्र्) sanctity, coming as they do from the mouth of the divine sage Nārada.

Slōkās 12-19 He knows all dharmās, is fully dedicated to truth, greatly delights in the welfare of humanity, is most famous, very wise, very pure, highly introspective and accessible to one and all. He is on par with Prajāpati Brahma, very charming, (translated thus to avoid a repetition), a supreme dispenser of justice etc., slayer of foes, a great saviour of the people and protector of dharma. He very zealously guards his own dharma and that of his own subjects. He is thoroughly conversant with the Vēdās and the Vēdāngās (the branches of the Vēdās) and also every sāstra and is even more an expert in Dhanurvēda (the Veda about archery and war). He has remarkable memory and is highly talented. Everyone loves him and respects him. He is gentle, magnanimous and a man of great discretion. Good people gather round him, like rivers flowing into the sea. He treats all equally. He has a very attractive aspect. Each and every fine trait, he possesses. He is the son of the queen Koūsalya and is the apple of her eye. He is as profound as the ocean and in bravery and determination as unshakable as the Himālāya mountain. He compares with the Lord Vishnu in might, with the Moon-god in pleasing appearance. Whenever he is furious, he is fury itself and resembles the great elemental fire of the universe (कालग्नि). In patience he is like the mother-earth. He never lags behind Kubēra, the Lord of Wealth in charities and as regards truth, he is prototype of that dharma itself. His is ideal strength, having force and might of truth itself. He is not only virtuous, but also virtuous par-excellence and nonpareil. (Kousalya, is the prime queen-consort of Dasaratha).

Slōka 20 Keeping the welfare of his people in view, Rāma's father, king Dasaratha wanted to install him as crown-prince (युवराजा) also being happy to do so, since Rāma was his eldest son, as also very dear to him.

Slōkās 21-23 Seeing the preparation for the crowning ceremony, queen Kaīkeyee, the third consort of Dasaratha, with a desire to frustrate the design of her husband, demanded by way of the two boons promised to her by him long ago, the exile of Rāma and installation of Bharata, her son, as the crown-prince instead of Rāma. Fettered by dharma on account of his promise to her, Dasaratha sent away to forests even his most beloved son, Rāma.

Slōkās 24-28 To the great delight of his step-moth; Kaīkeyee, great Rāma also started for the forests, readily complying with his father's grief-stricken, hence unspoken, order of exile, to honour his father's pledge to Kaīkeyee. His beloved brother, Lakshmana, the highly virtuous son of Sumitra, another queen of Dasaratha, also followed his most beloved brother to the forests. Though he was very dear to his mother, the all-humble Lakshmana doted upon his elder brother Rāma. He is a perfect example of fraternal love and affection and so even at the cost of his mother's distress went to forests. Rāma's most beloved wife and even his very soul, Sita by name, daughter of the king Janaka, possessing every virtue and of celestial beauty, a jewel among woman - she also accompanied Rāma, like the constellation, Rohini, following the Moon. Disappointed and grief-stricken, all the citizens and his father, Dasaratha, accompanied Rāma for a long distance.

Slōkās 29-31 At Srungibhēra, a tribal (Nishādās) settlement on the banks of the Ganga Rāma sent back his charioteer Sumantra and his chariot. There he met the Tribal-chief, Guha, and an excellent person, who became his favourite. In the company of Guha, he acting as the guide, Rāma, Sita and Lakshmana, traversed forest after forest and crossed great rivers, some in floods and reached the mountain Chitrakoota, sanctified by the hermitage of the great sage, Bharadwāja. With his sanction, they built for themselves a pleasant cottage. The royal trio, who can compare with Dēvās and Gandharvās, lived there comfortably, also merrily.

Slōkās 32-34 At this time, king Dasaratha pined away for his son, Rāma and died in great agony for him and entered the celestial abode (swarga). On the death of Dasaratha though, chosen as king by Vasishta and other elders, the great Bharata (mighty and hence fit for the throne) declined the kingship and went to the forest, seeking the grace (and pardon) of Rāma (and to bring him back to Ayōdhya).

Slōkās 35-36 He met his brother, the magnanimous and mighty as truth, Rāma and solicited him thus, with the great humility of a noble soul, "You, alone, are the ruler, you know every dharma and so should have known that my kingship is quite contrary, to dharma, you being our eldest brother and not in any way disqualified for that August position".

Slōka 37 But Rāma declined the throne. He was mighty and famous in the highest degree (and hence was supremely qualified for the throne). He was very magnanimous (and so did not view the conduct of Kaīkeyee in any bad light. He was aware that the whole country was yearning for his reign and he would have readily complied with their wishes in any other circumstances. He looked upon the pledge, given by his late father to Kaīkeyee as sacrosanct and as an irrevocable order to him).

Slōka 38 All the persuasion of Bharata failed. So he begged Rāma for his sandals (पादुका). Rāma gave him his sandals, symbolic of his being on the throne and of his rule in person and goading his dear Bharata again and again, at last, with great difficulty, succeeded in sending him back. Being frustrated in his desire, the noble Bharata (being disgusted with Ayōdhya without Rāma and vowing not to enter it except in the company of Rāma returning from exile) set up his abode at Nandigrama, a petty village not far from the capital and from there ruled the kingdom (most ideally), thirsting for the return of Rāma from exile.

        In worshipping these sacred sandals he deemed himself as serving his great brother.

Slōkās 39-40 After the departure of Bharata, Rāma, fearing for the interruption of exile, by the possible visits of the citizens of Ayōdhya left Chitrakoota and entered the terrible Dandaka forest. Being one, greatly devoted to truth, he would strictly finish the period of his exile. He could not be tempted by any entreaties of his subjects to return to his kingdom. Glorious Rāma, fearlessly and with single-minded devotion to duty, entered the great Dandakāranya.

Slōka 41 Soon after, Rāma the lotus-eyed, killed the great giant Virādha. He met (and served) great sages like Sarabhanga, Suteeskhna, Agastya and his brother, also a great sage.

Slōka 42 Indra gave to Agastya, celestial weapons like a mighty bow, a sword and an inexhaustible sheath of arrows, to be passed on to Rāma. Rāma was overjoyed to receive them from the sage (being fit to handle them).

Slōkās 43-45 While Rāma was living in that forest among the hermits, all the rishis of the neighbourhood came to implore his protection from the menace of giants and demons (Asurās and Rākshasās). They were great sages and equalled fire (sacrificial fire) in splendour and sanctity. Their abodes were in Dandakarānya, the hot-bed for Rākshasās and evil-doers. Rāma agreed to protect them and also vowed to destroy the Rākshasās in battle.

In battle: In the main story, Vālmeeki introduces a beautiful interlude, wherein Sita prevailed upon Rāma and wrested a promise from him, not to resort to wanton killing of Rākshasās but to slay them only in an unprovoked battle, purely in self-defense. Her (Sita's) Dhārmic susceptibilities would not countenance the slaying of even a Rakshasa. It would equal the sin of killing a brāhmin (ब्रह्म हत्य).

Slōka 46 While Rāma was living there (at Panchavati as fate willed it) a Rākshasa woman, by name Soorpanakha, came against him and hence was disfigured (by her nose and ears being cut off by Lakshmana). She can assume at will any form and was from the neighbouring Janasthāna (where the great Rāvana's garrison was stationed to harass the hermits there).

Slōkās 47-48 Egged on by her, in revenge, the great Rakshasa-chief Khara, Dooshana and Trisira, with all their armies, attacked Rāma, who, single-handed, effortlessly, slew them all in the great battle that ensued. In his sojourn in Dandakāranya thus, Rāma destroyed fourteen thousand mighty giants, infesting Janasthāna.

Slōka 49 (Stunned to hear that his whole garrison of Rākshasās, at Janasthāna, was wiped out in a trice by Rāma) and madly furious at the loss of his kith and kin, Rāvana, the Rākshasa-king, at Lanka, requested his former minister, Māreecha, a mighty Rākshasa and a very crafty one besides, to assist him in carrying off in stealth, Sita to Lanka, thereby wreaking vengeance upon Rāma.

        To the motive of revenge, Vālmeeki adds the amorous motive which seems the prime motive of Vālmeeki in the whole story.

Slōkās 50-51 (On two occasions, the mighty Māreecha had a brush with death at the hands of Rāma). So he repeatedly requested Rāvana to desist from such a course, saying that it would be disastrous for him and his kingdom, to make an enemy of such a powerful personage as Rāma. Impelled by fate, Rāvana did not heed that advice. Then they both reached the hermitage of Rāma.

Slōka 52 By his extraordinary craft (माय), Māreecha (in the form of a golden deer) decoyed the royal brothers to a great distance from the hermitage and (in their absence) Ravana carried off the lonely and helpless Sita, killing in his flight (the mighty bird-king) Jatāyu, who flew to her rescue.

Slōkās 53-54 While searching for Sita, Rāma came upon the mortally wounded Jatāyu, who somehow managed to survive till that time, to tell Rāma, who it was that stole Sita. Rāma was very much moved by the great sacrifice of Jatāyu for his sake and wept bitterly for his death and loss of Sita. Even he, a self controlled personage, could not control himself. With the same, undiminished agony Rāma cremated the great Jatāyu and performed funeral rites for him.

        These and other things make out Rāma as a hermit out and out and not as a royal person in exile. The elaboration of these rites by Vālmeeki is soul-stirring.

Slōkās 55-56 In the further search for Sita he saw (and was caught by) a great Rākshasa, Kabandha by name. He was hideous and terrible to look at. Rāma, with mighty arms, killed him and cremated him and Kabandha (a celestial under a curse) thereby went to swarga, the abode of celestials. He told Rāma about Sabari, a low class Sahara woman and advised him to go to her hermitage. She was an ascetic and practised all austerities and knew all subtilities of dharma.

Slōkās 57-58 Rāma, of great splendor, then went to her, in spite of her low caste. She recognised, by his grandeur that he was the great Rāma, whom she was waiting for with great devotion, as directed by her departed gurus. She with intense devotion worshipped him. Near Pampa, a lake of eternal beauty, Rāma met Hanuman, a great monkey and through him met Sugreeva, his monkey-chief and made friends with him.

        In this version of Nārada, the meeting of Rāma and Sugreeva appears to be casuai, whereas in the main story of Vālmeeki, Kabandha, when freed from his curse, directs Rāma to Sugreeva. The casual meeting of Rāma with Sugreeva (of course through Hanuman, whom Rāma met casually) is illustrative of the truth that the virtuous always seek the aid of only the virtuous, though the latter are, at the time, as weak, helpless and depressed as the former. Rāma and Sugreeva were very similar in their ill-luck. But the meeting, in the case of Vālmeeki, has a deeper import. While advising Rāma to go to Sugreeva, then a mere non-entity of a monkey-chief Kabandha declared that Sugreeva was a virtuous soul. This encomium concerning Sugreeva, coming as it was from an impartial being and a celestial one, at that, as Kabandha, weighed with Rāma in eliminating Vāli from the earth itself. More to this at a latter stage, but, for the present, it can be explained in this way. Of course, Nārada's version is in the words of Vālmeeki.

        Vālmeeki and Nārada were great sages. Nārada belonged to the celestial regions, while Vālmeeki belonged to this world and hence represented this world and his work is meant for this erring world. In addition to it, Vālmeeki was endowed with poetical genius of the highest order. This made the difference. This will be explained in detail at a latter stage. For the present, it can be assumed, that both the sages, in their spiritual vision, had witnessed the great divine drama (divine comedy) played by Sri Mahā Vishnu in the form of Sri Rāmachandra. Though their spiritual outlook and interpretation might be identical, the poetical genius of Vālmeeki with its mind-boggling sweep, presented the golden treasury, Rāmāyana, in that form and content to the world.

Slōkās 59-60 The mighty Rāma narrated very truthfully to Sugreeva, all his history from the beginning till that moment, with emphasis on the loss of Sita. Hearing that truthful account of Rāma, Sugreeva vowed friendship with him, with sacred fire as witness, rejoicing at this meeting.

        In the context of Sugreeva, being in mortal fear of his brother Vāli, truthful account was essential to remove any lingering doubt in Sugreeva's mind that Rāma might have been sent by Vāli against him, in spite of Hanuman's satisfaction. Sugreeva was a monkey and so was very glad at having friendship with a mighty human being like Rāma.

Slōkās 61-64 Then the monkey-chief, very emotionally told Rāma, everything about how the enemity with his brother Vāli, arose, on hearing which, Rāma vowed to kill Vāli. Then Sugreeva told him about the supreme might of Vāli. Ever since he set his eyes on Rāma, Sugreeva was troubled by a doubt as to his power to subdue Vāli. Therefore, to test Rāma's strength, he pointed to the mountain-like carcass of Dundubhi, a mighty giant, who assumed the form of a huge buffalo and challenged the mighty Vāli to a combat and was killed by Vāli effortlessly.

Slōkās 65-67 The most powerful Rāma, seeing the carcass, though huge, smiled, signifying that the ordeal set by Sugreeva was too low for his strength and without using his mighty arms and using only the big toe, tossed the huge carcass to the full length of tenyōjanās. To convince him further about his invincibility, Rāma, with a single arrow, felled seven huge trees. Further, that mighty shaft, pierced through huge mountains upto Rasatala, the last but one of the nether worlds, to the amazement of even the mighty Sugreeva and wiping out all traces of doubt about Rāma's power, in his mind.

        Under the golden touch of Vālmeeki, in the main story, the shaft comes back and reenters the sheath In that age (yuga) this unique feat was possible, next to Rāma, perhaps only to the mighty hero Kārtaveeryājuna, who in a confrontation with mighty Rāvana captured him, sported with and humiliated him, taking him as a grotesque creature, with ten heads and twenty arms.

Slōkās 68-70 Then elated Sugreeva took Rāma to the impenetrable city of Kishkindha of Vāli and roared out a challenge to Vāli. In his exuberance of martial spirits, the monkey-lord Sugreeva was of bright golden and honey-like colour. At this thunderous challenge, Vāli, the king of the monkeys got enraged, but his wife, Tara, became nervous at this unusual daring of Sugreeva and suspected that some mighty person was backing Sugreeva. But Vāli, allayed her fears and came out and met Sugreeva in a mortal combat and was struck down by Raghava with a single arrow. Rāma killed Vāli, when he was on the point of killing his (Rāma's) Sugreeva and installed Sugreeva only, to the exclusion of Vāli's son, Angada, on the throne and kept his word.

        Rāma was the descendant of the king Raghu, one of the most virtuous kings, that ever ruled this globe and who never broke his pledge. So Rāma most worthily kept his word with Sugreeva after thoroughly weighing the pros and cons of slaying of Vāli in the matter of ethics etc. But of this single verse, Vālmeeki wove the most dynamic episode to keep his immortal work from fading in interest and gathering dust in the corridors of time. Generations after generations of people have taken sides either with Rāma or Vāli and Rāma's glory stands undimmed and the perennial stream of Rāmāyana is flowing on pure and undefiled. I think it is a grand poetic device and it will be elaborated in its proper context.

Slōkās 71-73 The newly-made king, Sugreeva, ordered all monkey warriors in his kingdom of Kishkindha and sent them, in all directions in search of Sita, the daughter of the great Janaka. Those, sent south, under the lead of Angada, heard from Sampāti, the King of the Birds and brother of the late Jatayu, that Sita was confined in Lanka. Then the mighty Hanumān, among those hordes, flew across the ocean, the entire length of one hundred yōjanās. He reached Lanka, the celestial city, ruled by the mighty Ravana. After great search, he found Sita in Asōka vana, the great pleasure-garden of Ravana. He saw her ever meditating upon her Lord Rāma.

Slōkās 74-75 He gave her the ring, Rāma gave him as a token. He told her all that happened to Rāma, after her separation and how Rāma and Sugreeva came to be friends. He, then comforted her that she would soon get reunited with Rāma. Then he took leave of her and before returning, he destroyed the splendid arched gate-way of that Asōka vana. Then he slew the five mighty army chiefs and seven still mightier sons of Ravana's ministers and dashed to pieces the mighty Aksha, the great son of Ravana, but submitted to the terrible missile, Brahmastra, from Indrajit, the eldest son of Ravana and the most powerful warrior in the whole of Lanka.

Slōka 76-77 On account of the boon from Brahma, even that fierce missile, Astra, could not destroy Hanumān, but could only stun and fetter him for a short duration. After that ordained period, this Brahmāstra from Indrajit, also left Hanumān free and he was aware of it. Yet he kept quite and submitted to all the rough treatment of the Rākshasās in dragging him to the court of Rāvana, whom he wanted to see and rebuke. There, in lieu of putting him to the sword, Ravana ordered his much cherished tail to be set on fire. The mighty Hanumān, using his burning tail as a convenient torch, reduced to ashes the whole of Lanka, leaving only the place of Sita, the princess of Mithila. Then the great monkey, Hanumān flew back to inform Rāma of the happy news of the discovery of his beloved Sita in Asōka vana in Lanka.

Slōkās 78-80 Hanumān, the great soul, drew near to Rāma and making a Pradakshina (going round a holy person in devotion) to that grand soul, Rāma, told him truly that he had actually seen and spoken to Sita and gave Rāma the token, the head-jewel, Sita gave to Hanumān. Then Rāma, along with Sugreeva and all his mighty hordes of monkey-warriors, set forth and reached the great ocean. Seeing the turbulent ocean, Rāma meditated upon the sea-god for full three days and nights for pacifying him, so that his mighty army could cross'over to the other side without any untoward event. Seeing that the ocean did not show any signs of abatement of its turbulance, Rāma became furious and to teach the sea-god a lesson, discharged upon the vast ocean terrific arrows, each arrow being equal in radiance to the Sun. The whole ocean was put in tremendous elemental commotion. In great fear, the sea-god, the Lord of Rivers, showed himself, before Rāma. According to his instructions, Rāma got a mighty and marvelous bridge (Sētu) across the ocean, built by Nala, a monkey-chief and son of Viswakarma, the great architect of the Dēvās.

        Māya was the supreme architect on the side of the Dānavas. His architecture had, in addition, some deceptive aspects, as the great hall in Mahābhārata.

Slōkās 81-82 Then Rāma, with his mighty hosts of monkeys and bears, crossed to the other side and made an assault on the impregnable Lanka and in the terrible battles that ensued, killed the great Ravana and destroyed to the last warrior, armies upon armies of dreadful Rākshasās. Though he got back his lost Sita, he felt great compunction of conscience. He became very sensitive about public opinion regarding her long stay with Rākshasās though under duress. When Sita, the chastiest lady the world has ever seen, was coming, escorted by Vibheeshana and others from Asōka vana, the place of her confinement to meet her Lord Rāma, he not only gave her a cold welcome but also a rough one in unbecoming speech in the presence of all. The jewel among the women and a very sensitive soul too, she was touched to the quick by this and ordering a flaming fire to be set up for the supreme ordeal by fire, entered the flame, to the utter stupefaction of all.

Slōka 83 Fire dared not scathe her. The Fire-God declared her holiness. All gods assembled there and worshiped Rāma. They knew him to be great Vishnu. But Rāma did not know this, clogged as he was with the human body and the mortal coil, he had chosen to undergo according to the divine plane. Thinking, therefore, that Sita got freed from all her blemishes, through this ordeal, Rāma became overjoyed and accepted her.

Slōkās 84-86 By that mighty deed of the destruction of Ravana by the most magnanimous Rāma, all the three worlds, the celestials and their great sages became happy and joyful, because they were very much plagued by Ravana and his tribe. Then Rāma installed Vibheeshana as the king of the Rākshasās on the throne of Lanka. Being freed from all worry that tormented him previously very much and having fulfilled every promise he had made, Rāma's joy knew no bounds. At his request, the gods brought back to life all the monkeys slain in the battle. Along with his great friends, Sugreeva, Vibheeshana, etc., and all the host of monkeys, Rāma started for Ayōdhya in that wonder of virnānās, Pushpaka.

Slōka 87 The Satyaparākrama, Rāma (only a सत्य पराक्रम् can do all these exploits), then reached and halted at the hermitage of the great sage, Bharadwāja and sent before him Hanumān to Bharata in Nandigrāma. This small hint of Hanumān being sent before him is very magnificently elaborated by Vālmeeki, a masterstroke of his genius.

Slōkās 88 and 89 Again getting into the Pushpaka, with Sugreeva and others and narrating to them all that befell him prior to meeting them, Rāma reached NandigRāma. There he and his brothers, Bharata and Lakshmana discarded their matted locks and other ascetic attire. Sita also gave up her forest dress. Thus Rāma got back his Sita and his throne.

Slōkās 90-94 The whole world rejoiced at this. All the people were contended. They prospered and were righteous. The country was free from diseases, famines and any worry or fear. There were no unnatural deaths, like a father surviving his son, there were no widows. All women were chaste. There was no fear from the elements - fire, water, wind etc. There was no starvation, there were no thieves. There was plenty and prosperity everywhere, in the towns and in the country. All this is the very syndrome of Kruta yuga, the Golden Age in the great cycle of time. It was as if, the time has flowed back and Kruta yuga had dawned again.

        All these Slokās constitute, as it were the grand definition of Rāmardjya, the greatest Utopian kingdom ever lived in by man. The concept of Rāmarājya connotes not mere material prosperity but the absence of all such phenomena as premature deaths, widowhood, floods, and cyclones and earthquakes etc. Our rishis said that these phenomena stalk the land whenever an unkindly king is on the throne.

Slōka 95-End These Slōkās being in future tense show that this narration of Vālmeeki was before the advent of Rāma on the earth.

        Rāma will acquire unique fame by performing hundreds of Aswamēdha sacrifices involving huge amounts of gold. In that connection thousands upon thousands of cows will be gifted and money beyond reckoning will be spent, by him in charities to brāhmins. He will establish many ruling Dynasty on par with his ancestral- Raghu fine. He will give effect to all the canons governing the four castes and see to it that each one performs his own dharma or Duty. Rāma will go to Brahmalōka after reigning over his objects with complete dedication to dharma, welfare of his people for eleven thousand years.

        After the victories of war of Rāma, these verses enumerate his victories of dharma and peace. With these sacrifices as a pretext, he distributed all the wealth lying idle in his treasury, to his people for their welfare. Performing so many horse-sacrifices (अन्र्मेथ्) is as unique as destroying Rāvana. Only Rāma, the Satyaparākrāma, could do them both. Aswamēdha is a martial trial with all sacrificial rites, to the capacity of a king for Lordship over other rulers, who would naturally resist it, except in the case of a mighty king resulting in great bloodshed. It is almost a succession of battles. It entails great spiritual merit, in addition, of course, to glory. Rāma performed, hundreds of such sacrifices, since his writ of authority is as extensive as that of Mahā Vishnu himself (विश्नुतुल्य पराक्रम्)

         It is repeatedly said in two Slōkās that, at the end of his reign on earth, Rāma will go to Brahmalōka. It is not by virtue of the merit acquired by Rāma through these sacrifices of for establishing dharma on this earth on a permanent basis, that Rāma will enter Brahmalōka. He is Mahā Vishnu himself and came down to earth from Vishnulōka on a mission and having fulfilled it, returned to it. It was his home-coming. His home is Vaīkuntha, far above Brahmalōka anf of a far more glorious order of heavens.

        It is not only edifying to read the story of the life of such a grand personage, but also such a reading with devotion, will ensure prosperity and happiness in this world and in the world beyond. This is what the last three Slōkās emphasise, since the narrator is the great sage Nārada.

        Most of the significance of this Sarga lies in the queries put to Nārada by Valmeeki those queries and their answers by Nārada constitute the gist of what Rāma is. With that back-drop, Rāma played his part on the stage of the world. Any deviation, noticed from the parameters, as it were, signified by the qualities enumerated in the querries, cannot but be due to the grand sweep of the poetic genius of Vālmeeki. Vālmeeki is the fountain head of poetry. The first Slōka came from his mouth, most of the poetic devices found in our country's literature, are all his legacy. For instance , if the hero is shoum in some apparently low profile as it were, it might be to emphasise the vicissitude of fortune he had entered upon, or to enhance the beauty, dignity or some speciality of the person or the situation by the poetic device of contrast. It might again be to emphasise some truth or lesson about human conduct and human affairs or the dead-weight of the mortal frame clogging even great souls, not even Rāma being excepted. Rāma acted throughout as a human being. Even his birth, though through yagna (Putra Kāmēshti), has all the traits of a human birth. That is the only way, by which to make an assault upon Rāvana. Any superhuman trait or behaviour on the part of Rāma, will close upto the heel of Achilles, regarding Rāvana and make him invincible to the detriment and confusion of even the divine plan. More of this in due course.