Raghuvamsam -7
– Santhipriya –

Dasaratha cursed

Self disciplined Dasaratha who succeeded Ayan,ruled his folks in righteous glory spreading his power far and wide, wisely subduing his foes in the nobler manner. As Ayan’s worthy son, he lead his thunderous army to nooks and corners of the world, expanding the boundaries of his Kingdom and keeping  the folks remain happier everywhere which included the territories conquered by him. At the same time he held no illness to the defeated in heart on them. In the climate of peace,ears rolled over and Dasaratha espoused Kausalya virtuous daughter of King Kosala, Kaikeyi, and Sumithra virtuous daughters of Kings of Kekaya and Magadha, and lead happier life with his partners but fate raised its ugly head in Dasaratha’s life at one point of time.
In the season of spring when new born flowers deck the earth, deeply passionate Kings in hunting spree reach out to the Jungles when stray animals roam in woods which were fresh green, added to the forest trees blossoming and budding amid the whistles of flowing rivers thus adding up nature’s beauty. On one such season, King Dasaratha armed with men, forest dogs and hunter’s net reached out to the jungle in hunters joy. Welcomed and watched by the Gods in jungle, thunderous bowstring of Dasaratha twanged deadly arrows quickly chocking yawning and yelling throats of soft and fierce animals wherever they were spotted. As the enthralled King’s hunting spree continued, for a short while the hunter team rested under a tree, when gurgling sound of an elephant as if it was quenching its thirst drew the attention of Dasaratha sitting far away from the sight of the sound.  Quickly raised Dasaratha, sharp shooter on target and whose skill is unmatched on earth, released an arrow from the bowstring, sharply hitting the target from where the sound came. ‘Oh, father’ rang a cry and grief struck Dasaratha rushed to the site to find its source, a young lad in teens lay bleeding in reeds pierced by his arrow. In faltering tongue, the mortally wounded boy, with a jarful of water lying by his side pleaded with folded hands ‘Oh, King, I am carrying the jar of water to quench the thirst of my blind parents whom I carry on my shoulder as they cannot travel of their own. Please rush to them with this jar of water and quench their thirst’. The boy instantly fell lifeless.
Shocked Dasaratha quickly carried the martyr son along with the jar of water to the blind parents and on behalf of their son offered the jar of water to drink without telling the dreadful hap in which he unwittingly slayed their son. Unconvinced that a stranger, in the absence of their son offered the water, the blind couple were determined not to quench their thirst unless their son appeared there to offer it with his own hand. Unable to convince them, Dasaratha had no option but to reveal his identity and rehearse the dreadful hap in which he unwittingly slayed their son and sought their pardon to the unwitting act. The blind parents broke down and sobbed uncontrollably before breathing last, but not before releasing a vengeance filled curse ‘Oh, King, when age comes on you, like how you have thrust grief on us by slaying our son, so shall you too grieve by your offspring’.  Meekly absorbing the doom, childless then, King Dasaratha paid last tributes to the blind parents and sorrowfully conducted the final rites before retiring back to his palace.
Long ruled the King for sixteen years in fadeless splendor, yet to pay the debt he owed for the curse he gained no son born till then.  As he was left with no issue, he yearned for a worthy son and began the rite ‘Puthrakameshwara Yahya’, a sacrifice done to beget an offspring, lest he shall be doomed to  remain debtor ever for starving  his sires in non performing  annual religious rituals (In Sanskrit it is called ‘Srartha Ceremony) due to them.
When things were underway as thus, there far away in pearl of ocean, flashing his arms and feet bedecked with gems of heaven, the Supreme in radiance, lying on Snake Shesha woke up from sleep on fate of decree to heal agonized Gods in heaven, vexed by an Asura Ravana. ‘Hail Thee Omnipotent’ shouted the demi Gods and prostrated before the Supreme to lament that they were sunk in the wave of Rakshasas from Giant demon Ravan, who not only stilled their supreme sacrifices and austere rites but also choked their hymns and toils, and bent on annihilating the demi gods from heaven. ‘Our torments are monstrous’ yelled the demi Gods before the Supreme, and sought his intervention to annihilate the predators. The Supreme consoled them, his voice rose above the thunderous roar of ocean ‘Demi Gods, dismay no more and resume calm in mind. I am fully aware of the torments of the Rakshasas who disturb, torture and smit down all of your glorious might. In ages past, Ravan won several boons from Lord Brahma who pleased with his austere rites granted one amongst the few  decree given that he shall not fall dead by heavenly race, but shall demise by only the act of a human. It is doomed that I shall have to therefore incarnate as Dasaratha’s son, for he is longing for one right away and performing a Yahya, and once I am born a human from the womb of his spouse, Ravana’s annihilation shall be for sure to happen at my hands.
Soon, there at the Yahya site, the rites which Dasaratha performed to win an offspring reached the end, out from the alter fire appeared a divine form with a pot in hand and proclaimed ‘this nectar drink if your wives drink, your parched longing shall find blossoming trees’. Quick was the response by Dasaratha who received and rushed with the nectar pot to offer it to all three wives, none of whom too wasted time to drink it. In the next ten months in waiting they offered off springs like Rama from Kausalya, Bharatha from Kaikeyi and Lakhman and Sathrughana from Sumithra. While Rama and Lakshman remained natural allies, Bharatha and Sathrughana were the other pair though all the four grew in fostering care of parents revealing in the passing period all kinds of disciplines and self restraint needed for royal kids.

continued /8