Raghuvamsam -8
– Santhipriya –

Vishwamithra holds Yagya and Rama attends Sita’s Swayamvara

So the years rolled on and the young charming lads with dark curls on head grew well, remaining dissevered from each, learning all arts and crafts of the Kingdom under perfect masters, when on one fine morning Raja guru Viswamithra reached Dasaratha with a request. His sacrificial rite was marred by demons and he prevented from performing an important Yahya, and therefore to guard the Yahya site from the predators he needed the assistance of Rama and Lakhman, the mighty warrior young pair to guard his site. Shocking was the plea for Dasaratha whose longing for an heir apparent fructified only after many years of torturous sacrificial rites, and harm if befell on the young lads during surveillance on the site shall cast doom on him again for the curse of the blind couple still hanged above his head like demon’s sword. Hesitant Dasaratha offered instead royal force to guard the site, but Raja guru declined the substitutes and rose from his seat to bid farewell to the offer of the King which tantamount to refusal to his plea for dispatch of Rama and Lakshman. Placid Saint sage Vashishta, quickly realizing the deeds of the invidious offer, counseled Dasaratha to allow the archer boys to go with Raja guru as demanded and a reluctant Dasaratha, eyes bedewed with tears had no option but to bow to the advice of Saintly sage.
The barefooted archer boys then walked untired behind the glorious saint, stepping into rough terrain, even though they trode only on smooth and well laid floors till then. Then they entered Taraka’s land where the ferocious, tyrannic and ugly looking demon maid waylaid them. As she swooped, and rushed fiercely pushing the wayside trees with gruesome screech, for a moment Rama was hesitant to slay a maid when Sage Viswamithra had to amplify the treacherous character of the maid to the warrior heroes, and lamented that their (Rama and Lakshman) marching with him shall be farce if the demon maid be left non slayed. Thence Rama wasted no time to fly his shaft that cleft her body in a whisper, pushing down her on to the earth, motionless. The demon maid’s slaying shook Ravana’s Kingdom and her horrified brethren Maricha and Swagu came rushing with their magic art and weapons with a huge force to crush the Princely boys, but they too bit the dust in quick response by their prowess of the two lads. Thus ended the halls of resistance as the Princely boys stood firm to their ground to guard the sacrificial site from all disturbing foes and to let the sage perform his sacred sacrifice unimpeded.
When the sacred rites thus performed unimpeded, Raja guru solemnly blessed the hero boys and in a simultaneous coincidence, the King of Mithila bade the sage to bless the occasion on the great sacrifice performed by him, a convention to engage wed lock for his daughter. His daughter Sita shall hold the hand of one who lift and bend the mighty Sivadunus (Bowstring given by lord Siva) he possessed. Mithila King pleaded for the august presence of the saintly sage to bless him to perform the sacrifice in perfection and peace. Yielding to the King’s plea, Viswamithra the saintly sage began his march to the site accompanied by the warrior Princes who were too young and non invites, but accompanied the sage as his disciples.
On way they marched, the curse on Agalya, spouse of Sage Gowthama was also released by the accidental touch of Rama’s feet and the sage amplified the cause of her curse to Rama. So said the sage to Rama ‘The maid re birthed was spouse of sage Gowthama, who caused the curse in anger when he chanced observed his wife’s modesty stained, when in a moment of flicker she faltered on the beauty of lord Indira. Absorbing the curse Agalya turned into a stone and doomed to regain her form only after ages when the dust of your feet fall on her and thus Agalya’s curse erased today with dust of your feet’. Her forms reversed, Agalya, prostrated at their feet and profusely thanked them, but she left not alone and ensured safe passage to rejoin with her lord, sage Gowthama by the accompanying princes with the sage. Thence from sage Gowthama’s dwelling began their intent march to Mithila.
When King Janaka heard of the saint marching to Mithila, he met them on road, extended warm welcome paying due honour. On way to the Palace hall, the sage hailing the mighty velour of Rama simply said ‘King you shall see proof of his valor upon performing the magic on the mighty bowstring kept in are-show (displayed)’ and the King pleased to hear the proclamation of the sage lost no time in extending his invitation to Rama to take part in sacrifice.
Even before Rama acknowledged the invite, his guardian sage Viswamithra on behalf of Rama declared ‘yes King, Rama shall test and try’. Intent not held in lips, the sage indeed accompanied Rama to the scene. There in the hall, anxious looking assemblage heard in rapt attention Janaka’s declaration ‘My salutations to all assembled, noble Kings and Princes. The sacred bow and arrow, gift of mighty lord Siva shall select the suitor to hold my daughter’s hand, who was not born on earth, but gifted to me during ploughing, and she shall be the prize catch to the thews and sinews that lift and bend the sacred bowstring are-showed.

continued /9