The childhood of Rama

On the bank of the Sarayu River stood the beautiful city of Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala. In the city were magnificent palaces decorated with precious stones. The arrows of the great temples stood above the city as if to touch the sky. For protection, the town was surrounded by a large moat. The inhabitants of Ayodhya were peaceful and happy. No one was ignorant or poor. All had faith in God and read the scriptures every day.

Everyone knew their role in society. The Brahmins devoted their lives to the study of sacred texts. The chiefs and warriors governed and protected the city. Farmers and merchants nurtured and dressed the citizens. Yet, things were not going well for Ayodhya. Dasaratha, the king, was unhappy. Although he was very old, he had no son heir to his throne.

One day the king summoned his priest Vasistha. "Vasistha," he said, "I'm getting old. I want a son, a son who will take my place on the throne." The priest knew only too well that his king needed a son. He answered, "Dasaratha, thou shalt have sons: I will execute a sacred rite to please the gods."

Excited by these fantastic news, the king ran to his three wives Sumitra, Kaikeyi and Kausalya, telling them, "I'm going to have sons!". At the same time many gods were increasingly irritated by Ravana, the rakshasas leader, or demons. Ravana was not an ordinary demon. He had ten heads and twenty arms. He also had remarkable powers. But he used his power to prevent the gods and holy men from performing the sacred rites. It was a frightful insult to all the saints.

Learning the acts of Ravana, Vishnu, the protector of the universe, decided it was time to do something. But what ? Years before, Ravana had received a donation. This gift protected him from gods and demons. So how, Vishnu wondered, could Ravana be stopped? Vishnu said to himself, "Ravana, in his arrogance, protected himself only from the beings he thought they could reach, and he did not protect himself from humans and apes." Vishnu decided to be born in the form of a man who could kill Ravana. This decision pleased the gods and the saints. Vishnu sent a messenger to King Dasaratha with a payasam, a sweetness of milk and rice, to which a special potion had been added.

The messenger said, "Give this drink to each of your three wives. It is a blessing that will bring you sons." Then the messenger disappeared. The king gave the drink to each of his wives. Scarcely had they finished that the belly of each was surrounded by a divine light. Great joy spread through the city when four sons were given to the king. Their names were Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. From childhood, everyone noticed that Rama and Lakshmana were inseparable. It was as if a life shared two bodies.

The four sons grew up in intelligence. They learned the sacred scriptures. They devoted themselves to the protection of others. Dasaratha was happy. He loved watching his sons grow up before his eyes. He did not say it, but Rama had a special place in his heart. One day the wise Vishwamitra came to Ayodhya to see the king. The King had great respect for him.

- "Greetings, oh, you wise. What brings you to my kingdom?"

The wise said, "I come to ask you a favor."

- "In what way can I help you? There is no great wish that can not be asked," replied the king.

- "I am delighted to hear these words from your mouth," said Vishwamitra.

- "I try to carry out an important sacred rite which is always interrupted by the demons of Ravana. My wishes prevent me from fighting these demons myself."

The king listened attentively.

- "I pray, Dasaratha, that you will allow me to take Rama with me to protect my sacred rite."

"But Rama is only a child, he's only sixteen, I have a better idea, I'll send you my armies to fight these demons, I'll even come with you. Rama: Without Rama, I could not live, even a few minutes. "

The king began to weep. Vishwamitra understood the pain of the king. But the wise man had no choice either. He knew that Rama was an avatar, or an incarnation of Vishnu on earth. He also knew that only the human form of Vishnu could kill Ravana. The king spoke to Rama of Vishwamitra's request. Rama understood and went of his own free will with the wise man.

"I'll go too, Father," Lakshmana said. The king did not protest. Rama and Lakshmana, armed on the shoulder, followed the wise man along the banks of the Sarayu River. The trip was long. When the three stopped, the wise man took the time to teach the boys to use the mighty weapons of the gods to fight the demons. They traveled until they reached the edge of a frightful forest. They paused. The wise man says:

"There used to be a beautiful and prosperous country, and today the terrible demon, Tataka, lives here, attacking and killing anyone who enters." Neither Rama nor Lakshmana were frightened. The wise man turned to Rama and said, "Now it is time for you to rid this forest of these demons, and in doing so you will give back to the land the prosperity and peace that once reigned."

Rama grabbed her bow and took arrows in her quiver. Rama and Lakshmana followed Vishwamitra into the forest. They heard many strange and frightening noises. At every step they sank deeper into the forest. Suddenly there was an inhuman roar. The three men stopped. From nowhere an enormous rock was thrown from the right sky over Rama. He put an arrow in place and bent his bow. He pulled out just as the rock was about to reach it. The arrow broke the rock in two. The pieces fell to the ground without damaging them. Then, appearing between two trees, Rama had a horrible vision. It was the hideous form of the demon, Tataka. She was enormous. Around his neck was a human skull. She had sharp claws in her hands. She looked at Rama and groaned. Lakshmana decided not to wait any longer. He drew with his bow and severely wounded the demon. A strange look passed over her face as she felt the arrow pierce her flesh. Putting her hands on the wound she moaned, "What mortals have they hurt me?" Then cautiously aiming, Rama shot an arrow in the heart of Tataka, killing her.

The demon, scarcely dead, the gods of paradise rained lotus flowers on Rama to bless him. The three continued their journey through the forest. Along the way, Rama and Lakshmana killed many demons. The wise man said to Rama, "You delight me, I will give you even more powerful weapons to defeat the enemies." He knew that Rama's task was far from over. The powerful Ravana was still to be occupied. It was one thing to kill the demons of Ravana, it was another to kill Ravana himself.

The three finally left the forest. They went to Mithila to see King Janaka. Seeing the wise man, Janaka greeted him, saying, "Did I tell you about my daughter?"

"Speak to me of her," replied the sage.

- "A few years ago, part of my land was plowed and I found a divine child in a furrow. I named her Sita and adopted her as my own daughter, she grew up and became a beautiful young woman, many princes desire her hand in marriage. "

"But I want the man who marries my Sita to be a man of great strength and great virtue, and to prove his strength, this man will have to raise and bind the old bow of Shiva. enough strength to only lift that bow. "

The wise man turned to Rama and said,

- "There is an arch belonging to King Janaka that I want you to strip."

Rama entered a long room filled with thousands of people. The bow was so heavy that it required not less than five hundred exceptionally strong men to carry the bow and its case in the room. Several of the princes who had tried to raise the bow looked at Rama approaching the gun. Rama contemplated the bow of Shiva. At first he touched it. He was beautiful. Then, without any effort, he pulled the bow out of his case and began to bind it. At that moment the bow broke in two and fell on the floor of the palace. At first nobody believed it, then everyone stood up and sang, "Rama, Rama."

The king sat on his feet and said, "Sita has found her husband, send a messenger to Ayodhya to inform them of the marriage of Rama and my daughter Sita, and the wedding ceremony took place at the palace. the holy fire began, and the sages recited mantras and prayers, after which King Janaka directed Sita to Rama, placed Sita's hand in Rama's, and said to Rama, "This is Sita my daughter O Rama, she is now your partner for life. Accept her. Take his hand in yours. She will always follow you as your shadow. "

Rama looked at Sita. He had never seen a more beautiful woman. Sita looked at Rama. She had never seen a more graceful man. After the wedding everyone returned to Ayodhya. The whole city acclaimed their arrival. Rama and Sita continued to serve their parents and to charm the gods. Sita and Rama were the perfect husband and wife. They were very devoted to each other. Rama's parents watched him ripen as a young prince. Rama was a perfect young man. He possessed all the noble qualities. He was patient with the mistakes of others but never deceived himself. He enjoyed the company of elders and sages. He was very intelligent and courageous. He was virtuous and good. He was a perfect warrior. He knew when to use violence or not. He was vigorous, strong and handsome. He was very knowledgeable in the scriptures. Rama was a sat-purusa, the ideal man.

The life at Ayodhya

The king had grown old. He noticed the omens warning him that his end was near. "I've lived enough," he thought. "I must be sure that my throne will go to Rama, the most deserving of my sons. What a blessing it would be to see him king before I go to heaven."

"It will be so," Dasaratha concluded, "I will abdicate and Rama will be made king." The king spoke to everyone about his decision. He begged the priests to begin the sacred rites which would enable Rama to ascend the throne of Ayodhya. Kaikeyi, the last and youngest of the king's three wives, had heard of the decision to make Rama the king while Dasaratha was still alive. This decision pleased him. But Manthara, a maidservant, did not want Rama to be the king. If she could convince Kaikeyi in one way or another to change the King's mind, her position in the palace would be assured. In the evening she spoke to Kaikeyi in secret. "If Rama takes the throne, you will lose all your control over the king, and if Rama is crowned, his mother will control the kingdom, and your kingdom will come to an end, wake up, act now, you must convince Dasaratha that he is your son which must become king. "

Kaikeyi believed Manthara. She decided to go and see Dasaratha. She did everything she could to convince Dasaratha to listen.

"Dasaratha," Kaikeyi began, "Do you remember that day when I saved your life in battle? Do you remember how I stopped your packed car?"

"Yes," replied the king.

"And do you remember what you said afterwards?"

Without waiting for an answer, she said:

- "Oh my powerful king and loved husband, you promised me two vows. Hear my vows today so that they can be answered."

The king listened reluctantly to his wife's requests.

"First," she began, "I wish my son Bharata to be placed on the throne of Ayodhya." Secondly, I want Rama to be banished from the kingdom for a period of at least fourteen years.

The king fell on his knees and implored his young wife not to ask him for such atrocious things. As a righteous and virtuous man, he knew he could not reverse his word. Yet he could not imagine asking Rama to renounce the throne and leave for fourteen years. He became pale and speechless. Kaikeyi told Rama the terrible news. Rama consoled her father instead of arguing.

"Father, thy words are law, I will do what thou askest: it is the sacred duty which a son owes to his father."

Then he turned to his mother Kausalya, and asked, "Make sure that father makes Bharata the crown prince." Rama knelt down and touched his parents' feet with respect. He stood up, turned and left the palace. Lakshmana declared, "I will destroy anyone who opposes your rights to the throne ...". Rama answered:

"No, Lakshmana, you know that it is my sacred duty, my dharma, to fulfill these wishes."

- "My brother, if you have to leave Ayodhya, then I will follow you," said Lakshmana.

Rama tried to convince Sita to stay, but she said sobbing.

"And it is my duty, my dharma, as a woman, to be with you, how can I live without you, I must join you." Rama did everything to convince them to stay but they insisted.

"Then, Sita, come with me," said Rama.

Rama also gave his brother permission to follow them. As soon as the three left the palace, they removed their royal clothes and put on hermit's clothes. The people of Ayodhya wept when Rama, Sita and Lakshmana left the city. As the chariot passed out of sight, Dasaratha shouted, "Rama, Rama, do not leave me." In the long run, Darasatha lost the will to live. His heart simply let go. Ayodhya mourned the loss of her king. In a few days, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita crossed the Ganges in search of a peaceful and isolated land. Soon he reached Chitrakoot, a beautiful place with many trees and streams. It was paradise. They built a small hut near a stream.

Several days passed. Lakshmana, while hunting in the forest, heard the hammering of thousands of hoofs. He climbed a tree to see what army was approaching. To his astonishment, he saw that the headman was carrying the standard of Ayodhya. Bharata had found his brothers. Lakshmana was sure his brother would come to kill them. Lakshmana called Rama

"A great army is approaching led by our brother Bharata, and I will kill him with my own hands."

"Do not be crazy," Rama said. "He is our brother and he is the king, we must welcome him."

Bharata embraced his brothers. He cried.

- "My heart is full of grief and shame, and sorrow for the loss of our noble father." "Shame on having received the throne that came back to you." Return to Ayodhya and be our king.

"It can not be done," Rama said. "I have given my word and I will stay here for fourteen years and not one less, then only I will come back." Nothing could influence Rama.

"Rama, my brother," said Bharata, "as long as you are in exile, no one will be king, so that you can give me your sandals and put them on the throne, and for the next fourteen and if after these fourteen years you do not return, I will walk in the fire and die. "

Bharata took the sandals, got on his horse, and left the forest. In Kosala, Bharata laid the sandals of Rama on the blood and gold throne of Ayodhya.

The life in the forest

Several days passed. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita walked south to reach the Dandaka Forest. Once magnificent, Dandaka was now a barren and desolate land. Scraps of dead tree bark scattered the ground. All that remained of the ancient lush forest was stumps of trees. The sound of the wind seemed to warn anyone approaching. At night, demons fled the moor in search of flesh.

Men of religion who had abandoned the wealth of the world and had become hermits also lived in the forest. They spoke of the horrors which the demons of Ravana had committed. Rama and Lakshmana promised to kill all these demons.

After ten years, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita crossed the Godavari River and reached Panchavati. There was a magnificent forest, inviolated by demons. The air was charged with the smell of flowers. The fruits were all turned into wine. The birds sang happily.

"Let's build a hut here," Rama said.

Not far from there lived the ancient king of the vultures, Jatayu. Jatayu became friends with them and enjoyed protecting Sita while the brothers went hunting. Just beyond the clearing lived Shurpanakha, the demon. She was Ravana's sister. She had a big belly, huge ears, claws at the tips of her fingers and toes, slits in the place of the eyes, and dirty hair. One day she saw Rama in the forest. She let go of the bone she was eating and said, "I want it for husband." Using her magical powers, she transformed herself into a beautiful servant. She asked Rama,

"Why is a strong and gracious man like you in this forest? Who are you?"

Rama told him his story. Seeing Sita, the demon says, "This woman is not good enough for you." Rama answered, "And who, let me ask you, is it?"

- "I can make you happy."

"Perhaps I should introduce you to my brother, Lakshmana," Rama said half-jokingly.

Sensing that she was not interested in Rama, the demon was angry. She resumed her original form and jumped on Sita. In an instant, Lakshmana grabbed her golden knife at her belt and cut off the nose and ears of the demon. She screamed in pain as she ran away. Shurpanaka ran until he met his brothers Khar and Dushan who lived on the edge of the forest. Seeing his sister's bloody face, Khar shouted, "Who did this to you?"

His wounded sister groaned, "A human."

- "A human !" replied Khar, "What man can he do?

- "Take us to him, and we will kill him."

Khar gathered his army of demon warriors and entered the forest. Lakshmana noticed that the sky was darkening. The day seemed to turn into night. He looked again. The sky was filled with flying demons. Seeing this, Rama told Sita to stay in the hut. With Lakshmana at his side, Rama faced Khar's forces. Rama drew his golden arrows to the sky. With each shot, the wounded demons fell to the ground. The fierce battle continued. No magic or weapon could have saved the demons from the divine arms of Rama. In the end, Khar and his 14,000 warriors were killed.

Shurpanakha watched in horror as his brothers and their army were destroyed. She rushed to Lanka to see her brother Ravana.

"Oh, Ravana, Khar and Dushan were killed by humans, all their warriors died too," Shurpanakha mourned.

Ravana rose from his throne. The crowns of his ten heads twinkled. He raised his ten left arms pointing to his disfigured sister and said, "And how many thousands of humans have fought so well?"

"There were only two, my lord," replied Shurpanakha, whimpering.

- "Two!" roared Ravana, his voice resonating in the palace.

"The two princes banished from Ayodhya, they did it alone," said his sister.

- "What gods are on their side?" asked Ravana.

"One more thing," Shurpanakha added. "Rama's wife, Sita, is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen, she would make an excellent queen."

"Sita," Ravana said.

"The one whom Sita embraces like her husband will win the favor of the gods," she added.

"Perhaps there is a way to repair my sister's wounds and avenge the loss of my two brothers," Ravana said to himself. "I could punish Rama in a way he does not expect."

Ravana ordered his magic chariot to be taken and left. He traveled across the vast ocean and the great mountains until he landed at Mareech's lair, the magician. This magician was able to take the form of any human or any beast. Ravana spoke of Rama at Mareech. He also spoke of his desire to take Sita out of the forest, to take her to Lanka and make her her queen.

"I'll do my best to help you," said the magician. He continued:

- "I will go to the Chilrakoot forest where I will turn into golden stag and I will stand near their hut, I will draw Rama away, you will do the rest."

The next day a magnificent deer appeared at the creek of Panchavati. He delighted Sita.

"Please capture that deer for me," Sita asked Rama.

Lakshmana looked carefully at the creature. He said to his brother, "This deer is too good, he's too perfect, I've never seen a deer like that before, brother, approach it with caution."

- "Stay with Sita," said Rama to Lakshmana.

"I will, my lord," replied Lakshmana.

No sooner had Rama taken a step towards the deer than he rushed into the forest. He moved Rama farther and farther from the hut. At the bottom of the forest the stag stopped. Rama approached him. At that time, the deer resumed the form of Mareech. "Lakshmana was right," cried Rama. His heart filled with fear. He ran as fast as he could. He heard a voice that looked exactly like his, "Lakshmana! Help!" Rama knew he had been duped. He hoped his brother would ignore these cries.

"Lakshmana," Sita sighed. "He's your brother, my husband, he's calling for help, you have to go."

"But Rama told me not to leave you."

Sita insisted, "You have to help him."

"I can not," Lakshmana replied.

"Do not you worry about my husband's security, how can you stay here and do nothing, do not you help him because he's only your half- brother or because he is my husband? "

"Then I'll go find him," Sita said.

- "No !" said Lakshmana.

- "If you do not fetch him, Lakshmana, I'll kill myself."

Eventually Lakshmana made his decision. Before leaving, he drew a circle around the entrance to the hut.

- "Sita," he said, "do not cross this magic circle. Inside you will be safe."

Lakshmana grabbed his quiver and ran towards Rama's voice. Hidden behind a tree, Ravana watched his plan unfold as planned. In an instant he changed into Sanyasi, a wise old man, holding a bowl. Seeing this common thing, and knowing that his duty was to feed the poor, Sita offered a fruit to the man. Ravana noticed the magic circle. He knew that as long as she remained inside the circle, he could not have it. He had to attract Sita outside.

"Take this offering," said Sita.

"I am a Sanyasi, I can not enter your house, and to accept your gracious offering you must leave your house."

Sita hesitated. She always helped the poor. How could she ignore this man? Disobeying Lakshmana, Sita crosses the circle. It was then that like a tiger leaping from tall grass, Ravana seized Sita and put her in his chariot. Sita screamed, but it was too late. The tank set off into the sky and accelerated towards Lanka. As Ravana headed south, Jatayu, the great eagle, saw Sita. Jatayu spread his great wings and followed the chariot. "Free Sita," Jatayu said, "or I'll kill you." Ravana ignored the threat. Jatayu opened one of the gates of the chariot. He gently removed Sita from the chariot and laid her down. Caught in a blind fury, Jatayu attacked Ravana's arms and heads. Blood sprang from Ravana's mutilated body. As soon as Ravana lost an arm or a head, he pushed away. Jatayu was exhausted in battle. Feeling this, Ravana pulled out his sword and cut off the wings of Jatayu. The brave bird fell mortally on the ground. Sita caressed Jatayu. She thanked him for trying to save her. In an instant, Ravana handed Sita back into the tank and headed back to Lanka. Once in town, Ravana tried to convince Sita to stay in Lanka and be her queen. But Sita did not listen. She loved only Rama. Hearing this Ravana took Sita outside the palace and into the garden. He had her guard by a hundred demons.

In the forest Lakshmana found Rama safe and sound. Terror fills Lakshmana's heart. He too had been deceived. Back at the hut, Rama cried, "Sita is gone, what am I going to do?" Rama fell on his knees and wept without restraint. "What did she have to endure?" Rama gathered his strength. He said, "This act must not go unpunished, I will kill Ravana and all his family."

Rama's stay in Kiskindha

Rama and Lakshmana began to search for Sita. They entered Kiskindha, the kingdom of the apes. The Kiskindha was south of Kosala. They soon reached a mountain where Sugriva lived. He was the leader of the monkey kingdom. Hanuman, a devoted disciple of Sugriva, preserved the entrance to the kingdom. Seeing the brothers approach, he commanded them to stop.

- "Who are you ?" asked Hanuman.

"I am Rama, the exiled prince of Ayodhya, and this is my brother, Lakshmana, and we hope to see your king, and I hope he can help us, and my wife Sita was kidnapped by Ravana."

Rama and Lakshmana met Sugriva. They told him their story. Sugriva says:

- "I too am an exile: my brother has taken hold of my kingdom and my wife." Sugriva paused. He was thinking about Rama's story. Then he said,

"Help me to take back my throne, and I will help you to find your wife." Someone of my people saw Sita being taken to Lanka, and as she passed over him, she dropped it.

Rama held out his hand. It was one of Sita's jewels. Tears filled Rama's eyes. Rama and Lakshmana did as they had been asked. They beat the brother of Sugriva and recovered the throne. The rainy season had now arrived. Rama and Lakshmana returned to the forest. They could not begin their search until the rains had stopped in the autumn. Rama was more and more depressed. The rain seemed like the tears of the gods.

Then, when the sun rose again on the ground, Hanuman arrived. Sugriva had kept his promise. The monkey warrior was accompanied by a large army of monkeys. Hanuman divided his troops into four divisions. Each division would go in search of Sita for a month. At the end of the month, three of the four divisions returned without knowing where Sita was. Only the division of Hanuman had not yet returned.

The Tour of Hanuman

One day when Hanuman and his men sought Sita, they saw a great bird on the slopes of a mountain. This bird was the brother of Jatayu. Hanuman spoke of his researches to the bird. Then he asked, "Do you know where Sita is?"

"Yes," said the bird, "it is in the garden of Asoka near the palace of Ravana."

- "How can I get to it?" asked Hanuman.

Hanuman's army marched towards the vast ocean. There was no way to go through this large area of ​awater.

"We have to turn around," said one of the monkey warriors. "How can we go to the other side?"

"I'll cross that ocean and save Sita," Hanuman said in a loud voice. Hanuman prayed with all his strength. He saw the unhappy image of Rama. Hanuman prayed for Rama. Incredibly he began to grow. It became so great that the ground began to tremble.

With a loud cry, "Victory for Rama," Hanuman jumped into the sky. The army of monkeys acclaimed his leader as he crossed the great ocean. The gods smiled, admiring the courage and devotion of Hanuman. Nothing could stop Hanuman. On the horizon he could see Lanka. As he approached the city, he resumed his normal size. Once in Lanka, he set off in search of Sita. He soon arrived at the palace of Ravana. He searched every palace garden, but he could not find Sita. How could he leave without Sita or with a few words about where she was. Then he saw a grove of trees. Under one of the trees was one of the most beautiful women Hanuman had ever seen. She cried and repeated, "Rama, Rama."

"I found it," said Hanuman. "Lord Rama will be so happy."

Hanuman looked around. He noticed that Sita was surrounded by many demoniacs. As Hanuman approached her, he saw Ravana arrive. The king of Lanka sat on the ground near Sita. He said, "Sita, come with me." Come and live in my palace, I will make you my queen, you can have whatever you want. " Hanuman hid himself. Sita said, "How dare you speak to me in this way, you have kidnapped me, I am the wife of Rama, the daughter of King Janaka." Rama will come and get me and he will save you and kill you and all your demons If you let me go, I will try to spare your life. " Ravana seemed wounded by the words of Sita. Anger and sorrow filled Ravana's heart. He knew at that moment that he would never have Sita. "Then you'll stay here," he said as he walked away.

Hanuman did not move a muscle. He waited and waited. The demon who guarded Sita were getting tired. One by one they fell asleep. It was time to talk to Sita. Hanuman approached her and knelt at his feet. "I am Hanuman, the servant and messenger of Rama, he sent me to find you, and he despairs of your return."

"How do you know if you're telling the truth? You may be another demons in disguise," Sita said. Hanuman put his hand in his pocket and pointed to Rama's ring. "There," he said, "That should prove to you that Rama sent me." Sita pressed her hands against his face and wept. "I'm sorry I doubted you, go to Rama and tell him where I am, tell him I'll wait for him to save me." Sita gave Hanuman a jewel. "Bring this to my lord as proof of my love." Suddenly the demons woke up. They attacked Hanuman. He killed them easily. Hanuman was finally taken to the palace. Ravana ordered him to be killed.

One of Ravana's wise men reminded the king, "It is not permissible to kill an emissary."

"Then we will punish him, put his tail in the fire, let him go that way," Ravana said.

As the king's men wrapped his tail in a linen to put it in the fire, Hanuman made her grow more and more. The more they wrapped around it, the more Hanuman would grow his tail. Eventually Ravana ordered, "Put it in the fire!" With his long tail in the fire, Hanuman flees into the sky. He decided to set fire to the city of Lanka to punish Ravana. He flew over the town and set fire to all the buildings, temples and palaces. The flames rose to the sky. As he flew over Asoka's garden he made sure that Sita was safe. Then, before going home, he dipped his tail into the ocean to extinguish the fire.

The great war

The warriors warmly welcomed Hanuman. They rushed to Rama to announce the good news. Until then, Rama had abandoned all hope of seeing one day Sita alive. When Rama saw Hanuman back, he ran to him.

- "I pray for you to hear from Sita."

Without saying a word, Hanuman handed Sita's jewel to Rama. Rama praised Hanuman for his bravery and said, "You gave me a reason to continue living." During this time in Lanka's palace, Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, was trying to save Sita's life, "Let go," he said, "so we can save our kingdom from the wrath of Rama." Ravana replied violently, "If I send Sita back, I will ridicule myself with gods and demons." Vibhishana again issued a warning, "Do not underestimate the power of Rama." Rama is said to be the incarnation of Vishnu sent to earth to destroy all that is profane, and with his powers he will destroy Lanka. destiny? "

- "I do not fear people," roared Ravana.

- "So," said Vibhishana, "I can not stay any longer in Lanka, save yourself brother."

"Then leave," Ravana yelled. "There is no place in my kingdom for the weak and the shy."

Vibhishana left the palace and flew magically to Rama. When he arrived at his camp, Vibhishana said, "I am Ravana's brother." I tried to convince my brother to send away your wife, but he refused and I left Lanka. sides. " Rama replied, "Vibhishana, you have rejected evil for good. You are welcome here." Henceforth Rama had drawn a plan of battle. Vibhishana told him that Ravana and his cursed son, Indrajit, had great magical powers. His army was composed of millions of demons.

In exchange for his honesty and bravery, Rama promised Vibhishana that he would become the new king of Lanka. Rama advanced to the shore and spoke to the god of the ocean, "Listen to me," he called out, "I am Rama, I have weapons beyond imagination. If you want to escape this fate, show me how to reach Lanka. " The ocean says, "Rama, there is Nala, son of the great builder, he will build you a bridge over these waters, and I will support this bridge." With the help of the monkey army, Nala built a bridge made of wood, rocks and stones. All the creatures brought their help each in their own way. It took five days to complete the bridge to Lanka. Rama, Hanuman and the Monkey Army crossed the bridge at night. As soon as they reached Lanka, they shouted, "Victory to Rama!"

Hanuman's army surrounded the city. Rama knew that Sita would soon be saved. Ravana called two of his demons, "Change into monkeys, infiltrate into the monkey army and find out what you can." The demons entered the camp and Vibhishana recognized them. They were brought before Rama. He decided not to punish them. He said, "Bring a message to your king. Tell him that I came to save my wife and kill him." Ravana was furious at his inability to learn more about Rama's plans. Enraged he called one of his demons.

"Give me an exact copy of Rama's head, and then bring it to me," he said.

Ravana brought Sita's head. "Sama," he said, "Rama failed in his attempt to save you, his army was destroyed, it is the end of your hope, it is time to change your mind and become my queen." Sita looked at Ravana and said, "I do not believe any of this." Ravana replied, "I thought you would say that, so I brought you the head of your husband, soaked in blood and sand, to prove my words." Sita collapsed, groaning, "Alas, O Rama, you have followed your dharma, but I have become a widow, widowhood is a terrible tragedy in the life of a woman devoted to dharma. O Rama, you are happy now You have joined your father in paradise But what am I going to do O Rama I am the ugly woman responsible for all this I pray that you also take me Take me with you my love. "

Furious at the devotion of Sita to Rama, Ravana let out his anger in the garden. On his return to the palace, he ordered his troops to march towards the gates of the city. For four days the two armies faced each other. On the morning of the fifth day the great battle began. Each side suffered heavy losses. Blood filled the streets of Lanka. Everywhere there were bodies of warriors killed. Rama and Lakshmana fought with courage.

Hanuman was wounded in a duel. Vibhishana showed great value. Indrajit, son of Ravana, rained poisoned arrows on Rama and Lakshmana. They were so overwhelmed by this attack that the two brothers suffered many wounds. "I will send the house of death on you two," cried Indrajit. Rama and Lakshmana bled abundantly, but they continued to fight. Indrajit threw other weapons even more powerful on them. Each weapon carried away its new batch of dead. Rama and Lakshmana fell to the inanimate ground. Vibhishana prayed to the gods for their safeguard. "Protect Rama and Lakshmana while they are hurt."

While the monkey warriors stood there overwhelmed with grief, the battle raged even without Rama and Lakshmana. Ravana's demons made themselves invisible and attacked the heart of the monkey army. Ravana's forces were merciless. Thousands were killed by invisible assailants. Seeing his forces retreat, Hanuman charged with a loud cry. "Victory to Rama, Death to Ravana!" With his remarkable strength, Hanuman cut off all the skulls of visible enemies. He defied all the men of Ravana who were advancing. Seeing the great courage of Hanuman, the monkey army rallied behind its leader and fought fiercer. Ravana's army was losing its advantage. Dissatisfied with this news, Ravana decided to join the battle. He climbed into his chariot and rose above Lanka in search of Rama.

Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana, having regained consciousness but still stunned, had returned to battle. Ravana looked at the battlefield from the clouds. Then he saw Lakshmana. He cocked his magic bow and fired. The arrow split the air and struck Rama's brother in the chest. He collapsed. Hanuman rushed to Lakshmana's side. He gently took the wounded prince in his arms and kept him safe. Just as things began to improve for Rama's warriors, Indrajit returned to battle. He was then invisible. All the monkey soldiers could hear the mocking laugh of Indrajit as he rose above them. The weapons of Indrajit caused enormous losses in the monkeys. By the time he returned to the palace, all the monkeys were either wounded or killed. Only Rama, Hanuman and Vibhishana remained standing. Rama looked around and said, "The battle is lost."

Then, in a weak voice, Jambuvan, one of the army chiefs, said, "No, Rama, we still have a way to regain the advantage and beat Ravana, tell Hanuman to go on Mount Kailasa. There he will see a flamboyant hill of medicinal herbs. He will bring these herbs back before sunset and our army will be saved. " Hanuman rose above the ground and flew at high speed. When he reached the mountain, he saw the hill that Jambuvan had described. But he could not find the herbs. Realizing that time was running out, he snatched the entire hill to take him to Lanka. Hanuman flew with the hill in one hand. When he arrived in Lanka, the monkey warriors began to inhale the healthy air cleared by the grass. One by one they put themselves on their feet and recovered their strength. Even Lakshmana recovered from his almost deadly wound. Hanuman set out to restore the hill to its original place.

Rama kissed Hanuman and said, "I do not know anyone who has your worth and devotion." On this, Hanuman shouted, "Victory to Rama!"

Using all their weapons, Rama, Lakshamana, Vibhishana and Hanuman eventually defeated Indrajit. Ravana's son had fought long and hard, but he was dead now. Learning of his son's death, Ravana decided that it was now time to kill Rama and put an end to this bloodbath. Armed with his most powerful weapons, Ravana left the palace of Lanka. He saw Rama taking the army of the apes to the gates of the city. Ravana drew a magic arrow on Rama. Seeing the arrow, Rama cut it with one of his own arrows. Ravana did everything to defeat his enemy. But each time, Rama had a riposte. The fight lasted two days. Rama felt his strength leave him. He turned to one of his wise men and said, "My mind is almost gone, my arms and legs hurt, my heart wants to continue, but my body can not respond."

The wise man said to Rama, "Listen carefully to this secret: it is the heart of the sun that will bring you victory over Ravana, pray the sun, O Rama, protect all beings. As Ravana reloaded his weapons, Rama knelt down to pray the sun. The wise man then said, "Rama, you will defeat Ravana."

After watching the sun, Rama felt his strength return. His heart was filled with joy. Ravana attacked again. The two armies looked. Rama seized his most powerful weapon, the Brahma missile, destined to be used only when all had failed. He took her in his hands. At that moment the earth trembled. All the warriors covered their eyes and threw themselves on the ground.

Rama was calm. He aimed Ravana. He shot. The projectile hit Ravana's chest and exploded. Ravana fell dead. "Victory to Rama!" cried his men. The gods praised Rama. The earth recovered its composure. The wind blew gently. The sun shone stronger than ever. Vibhishana knelt by the body of his deceased brother and began to cry. "Why did not you listen to my words? Why did you succumb to Sita and power?"

Rama touched Vibhishana's shoulder and said, "Our elders say that you should not weep a mighty warrior fallen on the battlefield, victory is no one's monopoly, do not cry for the one who is no longer "Standing, because we still have work to do." Vibhishana prepared the funeral rites for his brother. "My brother was so wicked, that people will try to prevent me from giving him an honorable funeral." Rama replied, "No one will stop this ritual, the hostilities have ceased with death, he is your brother and he is mine too, and you must honor him with this rite." At the end of the funeral rite, Rama made Vibhishana the new king of Lanka. The wife of Vibhishana and the servants went to look for Sita in the garden. She was dressed in a magnificent sari. The jewels made her brilliant. A red dot adorned his forehead. Sita could not wait until she saw her victorious husband again. Rama entered the palace and bowed to his feet. He felt love and pain for his wife. "We'll have to go back to Ayodhya," he said.

The period after the coronation

When he returned to Ayodhya, Rama seemed troubled. Many people expressed doubts about Sita's fidelity while she was in Lanka. One day a messenger came to see Rama and said, "I fear that the people of our kingdom have lost faith in the virtue of your wife." Ravana, they say, made her unworthy of being your queen. "How can Rama forget that Sita lived with another man?" "Rama went to the window of his room and looked at Ayodhya. Sorrow filled his heart.

Lakshmana came to see her brother. Rama turned to him and asked, "What is a king?" Kings can not be blamed or ridiculed, they are above all other men, they are beyond doubt.

"I see what you are talking about," his brother replied. "I heard the slanderous rumors and lies."

- "I have tried to think about a way to deal with this problem, I can not lead Ayodhya and I do not have the respect of my people for my queen, so with great grief and great will, Before the dawn of tomorrow you and Sumantra will take Sita into the forest, leave her there and come back. "

- "But she will die."

"This is the nature of the world," said Rama. "That's what I have to do."

Lakshmana said sadly, "The law of Dharma is difficult to understand and sometimes even more difficult to follow, and this act is evil, and Sita would not have disobeyed you or would have done what the people say. . "

"Do what I said, my brother." Before sunrise, Ayodhya was plunged into a dense fog. It seemed as though the sun refused to show itself as a fatal day. Sumantra, Lakshmana and Sita crossed the river in a small fishing boat. Lakshmana was sitting next to Sita. Sita could see him crying.

- "What is it ?" She asked.

- "My brother, your husband listened too long and too well what the people of Ayodhya said, and they said that you were unfaithful to Rama, and to avoid a greater disgrace, our king asked me to escort into the forest. " Sita turned to Sumantra. "Do not look for reason here," he said. "This act is beyond human comprehension. Rama will live alone now."

- "Why should this be done?" cried Sita. Sumantra continued: "The whole universe is a sign to be read correctly, war and peace, love and separation are doors that we must pass through to the other worlds. what most people think or say, Sita, you will come back to Rama only when you enter this forest, this world is like a breath on a mirror, it does not last. Sumantra and Lakshmana brought Sita back into the forest. Sita smiled and said, "Good-bye, Sumantra, you touched my heart with your wise words and you gave me new hope." Good-bye Lakshmana, my brother-in-law.

Sita stood by the river while the boat of Sumantra and Lakshmana crossed the river. Then she heard the gentle voice of the river goddess say, "Let life go away, Sita, do not survive life, come to my house, come to me, dive into me." Sita was about to enter the river when she heard the voice of an old man.

"Do not go into the river," he said. Sita looked at the hairy old man and asked, "Who are you?"

- "I am Valmiki, a poet and a hermit, I live in the forest, let my dwelling be yours."

He took Sita to his house in the forest. There Sita gave birth to the twin sons of Rama, Kusa and Lava. For the next twelve years she and her sons lived with Valkimi. Meanwhile, Valkimi composed a poem called the Ramayana. When he had finished, he learned the poem from the boys line by line. He taught them how to sing the poem while he played the flute and the drum. The boys learned quickly. In Ayodhya, King Rama decided to organize a large public festival. He invited all his kingdom to participate. There would be music, stories and songs.

Kusa and Lava went to Ayodhya to recite what Valkimi called the first poem of the earth. On the first day of the festival, the boys began to sing the story. Rama heard of this magnificent poem and came to listen to it. After hearing only a few lines, Rama asked:

- "What is the name of this beautiful song?"

"Ramayana," Kusa said. Rama looked at the twins. His heart burned with emotion.

- "These are my sons!" said he.

He sent a messenger to find Sita and convince her to return to Ayodhya. The next day Sita returned. She was dressed in red and gold. Rama was filled with joy. Sita approached Rama and said,

- "Let me prove my innocence before you once and for all."

"I give you permission," replied Rama. Sita stepped back and said,

- "Mother Earth, if I have been faithful to my husband, take me." The ground growled. The ground undulated and moved under the feet of Sita. In a loud noise the floor opened and took Sita. The earth shook again and closed again. During this time, in everything in the universe, reigned harmony.

- "I will never see Sita again as long as I live on earth," said Rama.

- "It is a short life that is given to us." Rama reigned over Ayodhya for a thousand years. One day Rama thought, "Where is my life, and where am I?" I want to go home now, I was born of the god Vishnu, and it's time for me to come back to him. Rama left the palace and went out into the crowded streets of Ayodhya. All were at peace with the King. Rama continued to walk to the banks of the Sarayu River. He touched the water with his feet. All the gods looked at him. Even Brahma, the Creator, came in person to see Rama. He said to Rama, "Come, O Vishnu, join your brothers, Lakshmana, Satrughna and Bharata." Return to Vishnu.

On hearing the words of Brahma, Rama smiled and walked into the river. All the disciples of Rama entered the river after him, and all went to heaven. Rama was at home. The Ramayana was loved and prayed by all. The gods were happy.

Lava and Kusa traveled all over India to sing the glorious poem of Valkimi on their father.

Wherever they went, they said, "The men who will listen to the Ramayana will have a long life, they will be freed from sins and have many sons, and the women who listen to the Ramayana will have the happiness of having sons like Rama and All those who listen to Rama delight, this is the glory of this story: May all those who recite it or listen to it find love, wisdom and power.

Adaptation by Larry Tominberg.

See also:


Religions of India

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