Aranyakand - 99
This Kanda describes about Thirteen years of SriRamas exile. In a nutshell, this Kanda starts at Chitrakoota with the departure of Bharata, describes the Satsangh of SriRama with an array of great Saints and Sages, destruction of Rakshasas like Khara,Dushana, Maricha and a consequent abduction of Sita by Ravana. The purpose of Rama Avatar was to liberate his devotees and to protect Dharma. Sri Krishna in Gita retold the same philosophy,
Parithranaya sadhunam, vinashayacha
And it in this Kanda, Lord starts his divine mission by protecting the Good against the Evil. Sharanagathy and the uncompromising fidelity to righteousness and the right way to lead a life i.e. upholding Dharma at any cost are the key messages from this Kanda.
This Kanda evolves beautifully in such a way that Ramas each meeting with a Sage not only leads him to be in Satsangh with another Sage but also enables him to fulfill his missions.
Now to the Aranya Kanda Sri Rama is haunted by memories of Bharata and so Rama chooses to leave Chitrakoota and they arrive at the hermitage of Sage Atri and Anusuya. Anusuya is a great tapasvini who is pleased with humble Sita for her devotion to her husband and her fully contended life. Then Anusuya gifts Sita with costly ornaments, Clothes and perfumes so as to please Rama and intern Sita humbly accepts the gifts of this tapasvini.
They now proceeded towards the Dandaka forest. And as they moved deeper into the forest they noticed an unfriendly silence. They are caught by a terrible rakshaka by name Viradha who threatened to eat up Sita. Rama and Lakshmana chopped off the Rakhshasas hands who assumes the form of a Gandarva is liberated at the hands of Sri Rama.
Yet another mission of Rama i.e. giving moksha to Viradha is accomplished here and he in turn guides them to the ashram of Sage Sarabanga.
As they reach Sage Sarabangas ashram, they see the Chariot of Indra. The Sage declines to join Indra who had come to take him to come to Swargalog but instead chooses to serve Rama. When the Sage wants to gift all his Tapas, Rama gently declines it saying that each person has to earn his punya by his own conduct. The messages we carry home from this meeting,
'Satsangatvae nissangatvam nissangatvae nirmohatvam
Nirmohatvae nischalatatvam nischalatatvae jeevanmuktihi
At least after knowing its essence, let us not skip our Satsangh on Thursdays and Saturdays under any pretext!
After leaving Sarabangas place, Rama meets many others Rishis who surrender to him and plead for his protection from himsa of Rakshasas like Khara and others. Rama accepts the responsibility and offers protection for the Sages. They now proceed to the ashram of Sage Sutheekshana. Rama declines a similar offer of the results of tapas from Sage Sutheekshana. The Sage advises them to come back the ashram after visiting the all the Sages in the Dandaka forest. As they move along, Rama keeps entertaining Sita by talking to her sweetly and pleasantly so that she overcomes the tiredness of the journey. During the period spent in Dandaka forest, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana appear to enjoy the Fauna and Flora lead a a very peaceful life - a life in perfect harmony with nature forgetting all their misfortune.
We note here that even though they were living in the forest, they were happy and contented. Though we have the best of comforts, we still curse our fate and crave for those things that we don't have. There is a saying,
There is enough in this world for
everyone's need but there is not enough in
During their traverses, Sita asks the Lord on three attitudes to Adarma - What are the 3 things considered as adharma?
a) Utterance of falsehood
She tells Rama,
"I know that
The Lord clarifies Sita's doubt thus:
" As Kshattriya, it is my duty to protect the Good and destroy the Evil even if I am in the grab of a tapasvi. The uncompromising fidelity to righteousness is my Dharma. I will even give up my life, or You or Lakshmana- but never sway from the Truth as it is my swadharma to protect these rishis who have abandoned their homes and worldly pleasures to do tapas."
Ramas mission was to uphold Dharma at any cost whereas, we uphold everything else at the cost of Dharma.
Thus, they spent about Ten years in the Dandaka forest moving from place to place and meeting various Saints and Sages. They reach the ashram of Sage Agasthya. During the meeting, the famed Sage gave SriRama, Vishnus Dhanush, two inexhaustible quivers, a sword used by Lord Narayana himself during a war in Heavens and an Armor that cannot be pierced. Also, he told that Indras Charioteer Matali would bring the Indras Chariot to him at an appropriate time.
If you recall in Bala Kanda, Sage Vishwamitra passes on all his knowledge of astras to Rama. This is yet another example of our scriptural insistence that, knowledge and achievement of lifes objectives can only be acquired either through a Guru or in a Satsangh.
In Bhaja Govindam, Adi Shankara says that if we sit in the boat of Satsangh, we can sail across the ocean of samsara to the shore of eternal bliss.
Now, the sage asks Rama to proceed to Panchavati to spend the rest of the days waiting for the Great events to come. On their way to Panchavati, they meet Jatayu, the Eagle - The son of Aruna, the Charioteer to Sun, the brother of Sampati and a close friend of their father Dasaratha. Jatayu offers to guide them to Panchavati and promises to stay close to them for safety of Sita. At Panchavati, Lakshmana builds a beautiful ashram at the site selected by Rama. (When Rama asks Lakshmana to choose a good location for the ashram, Lakshmana declines to do so. The reason he gives is that he is only a servant of Rama who takes orders and executes. At the same time, we find many instances, When Rama is in deep anguish, he does not hesitate to speak the Satya boldly and console Rama when he is in sorrow. In addition to being an excellent Devotee Lakshmana shows us how a true companion should behave.
During their stay in Panchavati, there comes accidentally, Surpanaga, an ugly woman, a Kami and the Sister of Ravana. Being a Kami, she immediately falls in love with Rama. Rama, in one of his rare lighter moments, tells her to approach Lakshmana as he is single. Immediately she goes to Lakshmana and expresses her love. Now it is Lakshmanas turn to send her back to Rama saying that as a full time servant he has no time for woman. Frustrated by their responses, she gets upset and decides to eat up Sita. Now Rama tells Lakshmana to restrain Surpanaga from attacking Sita and he promptly maims her by chopping her ears and nose.
Humiliated Surpanaga rushes to her brother Khara for help who promptly dispatches 14 valiant men to defeat Rama. On their destruction, he himself goes to attack Rama with an army of 14,000 Rakshasas. Rama asks Lakshmana to take Sita away to safety and faces the huge army alone. SriRama stood like MahaDeva and destroyed Khara and his army to protect the Rishis of Dandakaranya.
By slaying rakshasa Khara Rama upholds his vow on protection of Dharma-by killing Khara. Now, Akampana, a Rakhshasa from Janastana escapes alive and manages to reach Ravanas court and briefs him of the misfortune to his brothers and other Rakshasas. Ravana decides to attack Rama in retaliation. Akampana warns Ravana that Rama cannot be conquered and hence suggests stealing Sita so that Rama will die of separation. Ravana arrives at the ashram of Maricha, his uncle who is now an Ascetic and asks for his help in the abduction of Sita. Maricha is scared as he has already experienced the power of Ramas arrows when he tried to disturb Sage Vishwamitras yagna in Bala Kanda. Maricha managed to convince Ravana that getting on the wrong side of Rama is not in the best interest of Ravana.
Although Ravana was not scared of ( the valour as he is yet to be poisoned by Surpanaka) Rama, he respected his uncles judgement and goes back to Lanka. Meanwhile Surpanaga lands up in Ravanas court and projects herself as a victim of Rama. She claimed that her only sin was that she tried to abduct Sita, the beautiful woman in the Universe for Ravanas sake, and in the bargain got maimed and insulted. Further, Rama has eliminated his brothers and other Rakshasas in Janastana thereby Rishis are freely roaming around in the Dandaka forest. Hence, she said Kill Rama & Lakshmana, protect your race, possess Sita as your wife and avenge the death of Rakshasas in Janastana. Ravana lands up in Marichas ashram again with a firm intention to abduct Sita and orders Maricha to accomplish his goal. Being pushed to a corner, it is a no-win situation for Maricha. He agrees to lure Sita as a Golden Deer and draw Rama and Lakshmana away from Sita so that Ravana can abduct Sita.
Vaisebi marne ka hai, Bhagavan ke
haath se marenge na,
It is better I get killed by the Lord rather than by Ravana said Maricha. Sita falling for the Golden Deer symbolises that,
Even good people, in their bad times, fail to see the truth as they are trapped by maya.
Thats why as Rama is drawn away from Sita and as Maricha falls to the arrows of Lord and shouts for Sita and Lakshmana in a fake RAMA'S voice it is Sita who again makes the mistake of insisting that Lakshmana leave immediately.
Lakshmana represents the Viveka the alert Adisesha- he alerted Rama that Golden Deer is a Mayavi. Lakshmana alerts Sita that the SOS heard are also from a Mayavi. But, fate has it that Viveka has to leave the scene to be replaced by kama, Lakshmana the viveki exits and Ravana the kami enters-all as per the master plane of the Lord.
Sita abuses Lakshmana, questioning his integrity and warns to kill herself if he doesnt rush to Ramas help. Lakshmana leaves the ashram unwillingly at the behest of Sita and Ravana abducts Sita in the disguise of a Sanyasi. When she was being carried away, Jatayu heard her cry for help and fought valiantly with Ravana until he was fatally injured in the unequal combat.
Look at the culture of Vulture. Its time we checked our falling values. How many times, we have seen Adarma and quality turned our eyes away?
While Sita was being carried away, she saw
five monkeys sitting on a hillock. She bundled her jewels and threw at them as an
indication of the direction of her travel.
Finally Ravana lands in Lanka, carrying his own death warrant in Sita and gives her !2 months to consent to marry him. Back in Panchavati, Rama questions Lakshmana the wisdom of leaving Sita alone. Rama starts lamenting about the safety of Sita. When Rama finds Sita missing, he becomes inconsolable in grief and Lakshmana assumes the role of Counselor and brings him back to senses. They come across the dying Jatayu who briefs them on Ravanas abduction of Sita.
- Lord does last
rites of Jatayu with his own hands and gives him Moksha This shows how he had
compassion for even the birds & beasts.
Back to Aranya Kanda, Rama tells Lakshmana that death and sacrifice of Jatayu has driven the sorrow out of his mind. As they proceeded in southern direction, Kabandha, a Gandarva in the form of Rakhshasa by curse, captured them. Rama gave moksha to Kabandha and he guided them to Rishyamukh Parvath and the ashram of Sabari. They arrive in Mathangavana and meet Sabari. Sabari, as a child gave up marriage, when her mother told that all her pet birds would become feasts for guests. She symbolizes the word Prateeksha patience in waiting Her Guru told her that her Lord Rama will come, wait for Him. She waited for that day and he did turn up. She served Rama and attained Brahmaloka.
The funny thing is we only want to wait for Trains and Buses for tickets in queues for cinema halls and cricket matches. But we don't wait for Lord. So how will he ever come, unless we genuinely wait for Him?
This unique quality of Sabari made Rama feel that meeting her was more important to him than meeting Sugreeva in the quest of Sita. They start their journey towards Rishyamukha to meet the monkey King Sugreeva that would bring in the great Rama Bakta - Shri Hanumanji who is a complete person full of Wisdom, Valor, Viveka, Vinayam, Devotion, Courage and Seva into Ramayana.
SRI RAMA JAYAM
Last Updated on 07/05/03