Epic Power

Divine intervention

In the fourth part of this epic retelling, we witness a gathering of gods, united in order to bless the birth of the virtuous Rama who would rid them of the tyranny of the demon king Ravana

Dasharatha decided to perform the Vedic ritual, Ashvamedha Yagam. Dasharatha also wanted to perform the Putra Kameshti ritual to beget children. As a prelude to Putra Kameshti, he wanted to perform Ashvamedha first. King Dasharatha requested sage Rushyasrung to conduct the Vedic ritual on his behalf as he wished to beget offspring for preserving his family lineage. Rushyasrung replied that the necessary material for the ritual could be gathered and the ritual horse could be released as a rite. Brahman scholar and sage, Vasishta applauded King Dasharatha for keeping Rushyasrung at the helm of affairs. They also blessed him so that his wish to beget sons through Vedic rituals would be fulfilled and he would get four sons with great qualities.

Vasishta commencing works related to Ritual

On completion of one full year and on arrival of another spring, King Dasharatha came to Vasishta and informed him that the horse had returned successfully. The performer of such rituals is expected to perform the preliminary ritual for a period of one year which had now been completed. Dasharatha bade Vasishta perform the ritual as swiftly and precisely as possible. Vasishta assured the king of his continued support and confirmed that his wishes would be materialised.

Vasishta nominates Sumantra for inviting kings

Vasishta told Sumantra about the activities that he needed to attend to on his own for the ritual. Vasishta requested Sumantra to invite all the kings on the earth. He also told him to extend this invitation to Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras in large numbers. On hearing the words of Vasishta, Sumantra expeditiously ordered sincere emissaries to invite all those kings to their kingdom. Kings from different parts of the earth arrived in Ayodhya, responding to the invitation from Dasharatha. They came with rich gifts in keeping with their standing and on knowing this Dasharatha was pleased.

Ashvamedha Yagam commences

Then, after the completion of one year and on retrieval of the ritual horse, Dasharatha commenced the Vedic ritual Ashvamedha Yagam on the northern banks of River Sarayu. Knowledgeable performers of Vedic rituals called Ritwiks started works relating to ritual as per standards and conducted them traditionally and customarily. All these preparations were performed under the leadership of Rushyasrung. Dasharatha inhaled the smoke produced by the ritual as per procedure in order to cleanse his own sins. On completing the ritual, Dasharatha justifiably donated those lands to the Ritwiks.

Dasharatha commences Putra Kameshti

Next, Rushyasrung commenced the Putra Kameshti, offering the necessary oblations into the sacred fire. When this was done, the heavenly divinities alongside the celestial beings like Gandharvas, Siddhas, Devatas, esteemed sages, etc., came along with Lord Brahma and assembled there to receive their part of the oblations from the ritual of Dasharatha.

Gods and goddesses pleading Brahma to save them from Ravana

The heavenly divinities, the gods and goddesses who assembled there in the congregation pleaded to Brahma, "Oh Lord Brahma! With your benedictions and blessings, the monster king Ravana is brazenly torturing us all with the confidence that nothing may harm him. We are incapable of controlling him. You gave him a boon that protects him from death at the hands of heavenly bodies like Devatas and with due respect to your boons, we are tolerating all his acts and not killing him. He is torturing not only us, the celestial beings but also all the three worlds. His desire is to dethrone Lord Indra from heaven. Under the guise of your boons, he is indiscriminately harassing the Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Brahmins and so on".

In reply to them, Brahma said, "Ravana was granted a boon that protects him from Yakshas, Gandharvas, Asuras, Gods and other demons but in his hubris, he did not mention humans and monkeys as part of the deal. This was why he was fated to die by mortal hands. The assembled Devatas and celestial beings were pleased with the assurance of Brahma.

The arrival of Lord Vishnu in front of Devatas

Meanwhile, Lord Vishnu arrived at the site of the congregation on his Eagle chariot, Garatmanth, in front of the Devatas to assure them that he would protect them. On his arrival and on his standing to the side of Lord Brahma, all the gods and goddesses offered prayers to him. Later they expressed their grievances to Vishnu in detail.

The plea of the Devatas to Lord Vishnu

The assembled divinities told Lord Vishnu about their plights, "Oh Vishnu! The Leader of the entire universe! Please take birth as a human being through the wives of King Dasharatha and eliminate Ravana and his threat to all existence. Ravana has been torturing all of us alongside the sages and saints, Gandharvas, Siddhas and other celestial beings. He knocks down the chariots of Gandharvas and Asuras as well as other Gods while they were on their journey from place to place. We are all here to request you to annihilate Ravana, the monster king.

Vishnu's assurance to Devatas

When Lord Vishnu was requested to this way by the Devatas, he told them to be rid of their fears first. Vishnu assured them that he will kill the cruel and evil-minded demon king, Ravana alongside those who support him. Subsequently, Vishnu started giving a thought about founding a base for his birth as a human being. Vishnu finally decided to manifest himself in four forms. Having understood the thought process of Lord Vishnu, all the celestial bodies including Lord Shiva and Brahma praised Vishnu and offered prayers with a request to eliminate Ravana.

A discussion of strategy

Vishnu elicited the view and idea of Devatas as to how he should incarnate himself and what strategy he should adopt to kill Ravana. They all informed him of Ravana's vulnerabilities and told him, "Ravana performed ascesis, severe penance, for several years with which Lord Brahma became very glad. Having become fully satisfied with Ravana's penance, Brahma gave a boon to him that he shall not have fear of death from anyone except human beings and monkeys as Ravana had dubbed them as inferiors. Having got this unequivocal boon from Brahma, Ravana became extremely arrogant and started torturing the three worlds. Hence, his annihilation lies in the hands of humanity alone". On hearing this from the gods, Lord Vishnu decided to choose Dasharatha as his father in the human world.

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