PADMA PURANA

Padma

Quick retrospective of Ramas episode till Ravanas extermination

Swayambhu Manu preformed Tapasya to Lord Vishnu for thousand years and when the latter appeared, Manu desired that he would like to have Vishnu as his son. The Lord agreed and said that in fact as a part of the task of Preservation of ‘Dharma’ (Virtue), he would like to appear on Earth from time to time as and when Dharma was threatened and Evil Forces gathered momentum; he said:
Paritranaaya Sadhunaam Vinaasaaya cha Dushkrutaam,
Dharma samsthaapanaarthaaya sambhavaami yuge yugey!

(I shall noDoubt take human birth to revive Dharma and punish Evil from time to time). Aspromised by Vishnu, Swayambhu was born in Raghukula as King Dasaratha and became the father of Shri Rama in Treta Yuga, as Vasudeva in Yadava Kula in DwaparaYuga and one thousand Divya Years hence as Brahmana Harigupta in Samhal Village in KaliYuga. The two brothers Hirankaksha and Hiranyakashipu of the Satya Yuga were bornas Ravana and Kumbhakarna in Treta Yuga. Muni Pulastya’s son was Muni Vishvavaand the latter’s wife was Kaikashi; Ravana and Kumbhakarna were born to Vishvava and Kaikeshi. Kaikeshi also gave birth to Surpanakha and later on to the virtuous devotee of Narayana, Vibhishana. Ravana brothers performed severe Tapasya and secured boons ofinvincibility from Devas, Danavas and Rakshasas and harassed Devad who fled fromSwarga and prayed to Vishnu who assured that he would soon be born to King Dasaratha as Rama and demolish the entire race of Ravana; Vishnu also asked Devas to assume the births of ‘Vanaras’ and assist in this holy task. In the Surya Vamsa, Vaivasvata Munibegot King Ikshvaku and Dasaratha was born to Ikshvaku. Devi Koushalya was born tothe King of Koushalya and was wedded to King Dasaratha at Ayodhya on the banks of River Sarayu.Dasaratha also married Sumitra and Kaikeyi.He became a powerful yetrighteous King with Sage Vasishtha as the Raja Guru and performed the Putra-Kameshthi Yagna. From the ‘Agni Kunda’at the eventful Yagna, Maha Vishnu HimselfGave Darshan to Dasaratha and assured that he would soon be born to him to save theDevoted and kill the Evil. He handed over a’Kheer Patra’ to the three Devis; Kaushalyaand Kaikeyi took half each and gave half of their portions to Sumitra; thus the eldest boywas born to Kaushalya, Bharat was born to Kaikeyi and Lakshmana and Shatrughna wereborn to Sumitra. Sage Vasishtha named the eldest as ‘Shri Rama’ since that was the ‘Swataha Siddha’ name as he was the husband of Sri Devi and the equivalent of Vishnu’sSahasranaamaas, providing salvation to the devotees and since his birth was in Chaitra month dear to Vishnu.

 (Shriyah kamalavaasivya ramaneya Maha Prabhu Tasmaachhari
-Rama ithyasya naamaa siddham puratanam/
Sahasranaamnaam shrishasyatulyam mukti pradam nrunaam,
Vishnumaasi samutpanno Vishnurityabhidheeyatey).

As the boys grew up, Rama and Lakshmana was one pair and Bharata and Shatrughna was another. In the meantime, Bhagavati Lakshmi was materialized as King Janaka found her while digging Earth in Yagna by a plough top called ‘sita’ and thus named Sita and most endearingy brought up as his own daughter. Sage Vishvamitra derised that Rama and Lakshmana should protect one Yagna being organized by him on the banks of Ganga, sine there were always threats of Rakshasas to destroy Yagnas by pouring blood and such other foul material. Very reluctantly, Dasaratha allowed to let them go to protect the Yagna which apparently served many purposes as subtly planned by the Sage: one to let the World  Realize that Rama a mere teen-ager was of Vishnu ‘Amsa’ and introduced Rama to the Rakshasas that they should better beware; Vishwamitra could teach the nuances of Shastra-Astra Vidya to the brothers; to afford an exposure to Rama at Sita Swayamvaraamong the great Kings of the day including a warning to Ravanasura that the Avatar of Vishnu had arrived; and also to consummate the Sacred Wedding of Rama and Sita.    

  As visualised by the Sage, all these and many other events took place: the killing of Rakshasi Tadaki and the Rakshasa called Subahu as also the use of ‘Vayavyastra’ to sweep away demon Maricha to a far off place so that he would have to float again at a later date to assume the role of ‘Maya Golden Deer’ before Devi’s abduction by Ravanasura; the liberation of Devi Ahalya by giving her normal form from a stone due to Sage Gautami-her husband’s curse; the smash of Shiva Dhanush; the wedding of Rama and Sita apart, Lakshmana was married to Urmila, Bharat to Mandvi, and Shatrughna with Shrutikirti; the rupture of Parasurama’s ego by the shatter of Vaishnava Dhanush and his exit from the active life into the Ashram of Nara-Narayana.
Even as the City of Ayodhya was going in euphoria with preparations of Shri Rama’s becoming the Yuva Raja (the Heir Apparent) of the Kingdom, Devi Kaikeyi declared her intention known that Rama should proceed for a fourteen year long spell of ‘Vana Vasa’ (forest life) and Bharata to become the Heir Apparent; this was in the light of a boon that Dasaratha gave to Kaikeyi as she saved him on a war front and she reserved to deman it at this juncture.Bharat was out of station at his maternal uncle’s place and did not know about the demand; Devi Sita insisted accompanying Rama and so did Lakshmana; Dasaratha was in a swoon, followed by death; the entire population of the Kingdom was crest-fallen; Bharata insisted on Rama’s return but on the latter’s refusal took Rama’s footwear kept on the Throne which was worshipped daily and he became a temporary Administrator on behalf of King Rama. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana the reached the mountain of Chitrakoot for a brief stay at the Ashram of Bharadwaja, further on to the Ashram of Atri Muni where the Muni’s wife Devi Anasuya enlightened the regulations of a ‘Pativrata’ anf finally entered the Dandakaranya where they stayed for long with Munis visiting their ‘Panchavati’ (a thatched cottage). One frightful day, demoness Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana and Kumbhakarna, arrived at the Parnashala and proposed to Rama.

Lakshmana cut off her ears and nose and as retaliation two Rakshasas attacked Rama and Lakshmana and the latter killed the domons. Surpanakha approached Ravana who planned the arrtaction of the golden deer disguised as Maricha. Sita was tempted to secure the deer and Rama alone chased the Maya Mriga and killed the demon while the latter shouted loudly the name of Rama to mislead Sita and Lakshmana so that Lakshmana would leave Sita and Ravana could enter the scene. Lakshmana drew a line around Panchavati with Mantras and asked Sita not to go beyond the line. Ravana arrived as a Muni and asked for alms and Sita wanted him to enter the line but Ravana did not and insisted Sita to come out. As soon as she came out, Ravana appeared in his original form and abducted her by his Pushpak Viman. As Sita was sobbing loudly, the giant bird Jatayu, who was a friend of Dasaratha, made desperate attempts to stop Ravana’s Viman but the mighty Ravana slashed the bird’s wings as it fell down in a faint. As Rama and Lakshmana did not find Sita on their return, they frantically searched and the dying Jatayu conveyed that Sita was abducted by Ravana. Having performed obsequies to Jatayu, Rama and Lakshmana reached the Ashram of Devi Shabari a unique devotee of Shri Rama and treated the brothers with fruits and Rama gave her the boon of Vishnu Sayujya. Hanuman met Rama and Lakshmana and assured all kinds of assistance to Rama in finding Sita and eventually to destroy Ravana and his clan. He introduced the fugitive King of Kishkindha named Sugriva, raised confidence to Sugriva in killing his valiant brother Vaali who occupied his throne and after reoccupying his throne sent Hanuman to Lanka in search of Sita.The mighty Hanuman crossed the ocean and spotted Sita in Ashoka Vatika sobbing under an Ashoka tree.Hanuman convinced Sita as a devotee of Rama by showing Rama’s ring and assured her that very soon Rama and Lakshmana would reach Lanka with a huge Vanara Sena (Monkey brigade), kill Ravana and his entire followers and relieve her of bondage.

Hanuman created havoc in the Ashoka vatika by killing all the security personnel, five Senapatis, seven sons of Ravana’s Ministers, and a son of Ravana. Indrajit the elder son of Ravana who also was a reputed warrior having defeated Indra and specialized in wars on the clouds thus securing the epithet of ‘Meghanadha’ encountered Hanuman who feigned Indrajit’s control; Hanuman was face to face with Ravana in the latter’s court and allowed himself to let his tail burn which was extended endlessly and destroyed a large part of Ravana’s City as a warning to him that soon Rama and Lakshmana would arrive at Lanka to destroy Ravana and his entire tribe.

On return to Kishkintha, Hanuman conveyed to Rama and others about Sita’s bondage. Rama, Lakshmana and the mammoth Vanara Sena under Sugriva’s leadership arrived on the sea coast to reach Lanka on the other side of the Ocean. Rama prayed to Samudra Deva (the Deity of the Ocean) to reduce the force of the violent tides and when Samudra Deva did not relent was even ready to punish the Deity. Samudra Deva the facilitated the construction of Rama Setu or the Bridge in the name of Rama across the Ocean; huge boulders were thrown into the Ocean with the name of Rama inscribed and the boulders floated enabling the construction of the Bridge.Meanwhile the younger brother of Ravana called Vibhishana, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu approached Rama for refuge and soon became a confidant of Rama about matters related to Ravana and his associates. Having crossed the Rama Setu, the gigantic and mighty Monkey Brigade commenced furious battle with the gallant Rakshasas. Indrajit who was a highly renowned warrior fought and killed thousands of Vanaras and succeeded in tying Rama and Lakshmana with ‘Nagaastra’, when Garuda the Carrier of Vishnu appeared and the snakes withered away. Meanwhile Kumbhakarna, another brother of Ravana who had a giant figure fought recklessly killing tens of thousands of Rama Sena, but finally fell down to the torrential rain-like arrows of Shri Rama. Indrajit attacked Lakshmana and made the latter unconscious when Hanuman brought Sanjeevini Mountain with medicinal shrubs got Lakshmana revived; in the fierce battle that followed, Rama and Lakshmana destroyed Indrajit. In the meantime, Ravana desired to perform an ‘Abhicharatmika’ (Evil-oriented) Yagna out of desperation for Victory, but a few brave Vanaras got scent of it and destroyed the Yagna. Then Ravana rode into the battle with his entire army of massive strength comprising elephants, horses, chariots and infantry and massacred Vanaras. Indra sent his Divya Ratha (Divine Chariot) to Shri Rama with Matangi as the Charioteer and the Greatest Battle of Treta Yuga was fought for seven days and nights, even as all the Devas headed by Indra, besides Brahma and Rudra, watched the Grand Spectacle of Rama-Ravana Yuddha! Rama had systematically smashed Ravana’s ten heads, but the destroyed heads were sprouting again and again and Ravana was thundering world shaking shrieks to show Rama’s helplessness. Lord Shiva gave a boon to Ravana to let the smashed heads were revived again and again. Finally, Rama pulled up his most powerful ‘Brahmastra’ to destroy a stock of ‘Ambrosia’in his belly (as hinted by Vibhishana) and crushed his chest which pierced through Earth and crashed into Rasatala into the nether world. Instantly, Devas who were visioning the proceedings from the Skies went into ecstasy showering rain of scented flowers on Rama; Indra, Brahma and Rudra were relieved; Gandharvas and Kinneras sang tuneful of lyrics of the Lord; Apsaras danced with immense joy; Sanaka and Sanandana brothers who gave a curse to Jaya and Vijaya the Dwarapaalakas of Vaikuntha as they were obstructed entry to vision Vishnu were satisfied that out of three births the first human birth was completed; Maharshis and Siddhas recited Vedas and Scriptures as also hymns extolling Shri Rama.
Rama then appointed Vibhishana as the King of Lanka and blessed him and his progeny to rule till the next Pralaya!

Thereafter Devi Sita was directed to prove her ‘Pativratya’ (Purity) by entering into an ‘Agni Kunda’ since she stayed away for long time in Lanka before a huge gathering of spectators; even Devas, Brahma and Rudra witnessed the scene, let alone Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Yakshas, human beings etc. Agni Devata himself brought back from the Agni Kunda and declared Devi Sita as an ever Pure, Chaste, Blameless and a peerless epitome of Pativratya.

Besides installing Vibhishana as the King, Indra and Devas too were bestowed with their lost glories denied to them for long due to the much-hated Ravana and his clan. The precious possessions of Swarga like Pushpaka Vimana of Kubera Deva were restored to the respective Devas.

Accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana as well as Hanuman, Sugriva, Vibhishana, Vanara Yoddhas (Warriors) including Jambavanta, Nala, Neela, Subhaga, Sharabha, Sushena, and all the survivors among Vanara Sena crossed the Rama Setu, proceeded to the site of ‘Shiva Linga Pratishthana’ at Rameshwara and further on to Ayodhya to join the celebrations of Victory and Rajabhisheka.

On return an anxious Ayodhya awaited the ‘Maryada Purusha’, the Epic Hero and the Most Significant Avatara of Treta Yuga, proving once again that Lord Vishnu would assume human birth again and again as and when Dharma was in jeopardy and Adharma tended to take an upper hand in the Universe.

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