Epic Power

Kausalya Supraja Rama

In part seven, we follow the journey of Ram and Lakshman along the River Sarayu as they are led by Sage Vishvamitra into the foreboding demon forest to fulfill their pledged duty

At dawn, Sage Vishvamitra came closer to Rama and Lakshmana and said, "Fortunate was Kausalya (Kausalya Supraja) to beget you as her son Rama! Get up. As the eastern sunlit is emerging, it is time to perform the morning solemn activity towards gods like Sandhya Vandana". At Vishvamitra behest, both Rama and Lakshmana woke up, bathed in the River Sarayu, observed mouth water rinsing ritual, meditated upon the Gayatri hymn and after completing all the early morning duties, went to Vishvamitra and greeted him. Then they proceeded on their journey and on the way found the meeting-point of River Ganga and Sarayu. On seeing this, Rama and Lakshmana asked Vishvamitra to enlighten them about the place and the hermitage there.

Vishvamitra discourse about the Vanga Province

Sage Vishvamitra smiled at the request and then started his tale, "In the good old ancient days when Lord Shiva was observing penance here, his wife Parvathi was taking care of him. Then the Love-God Manmatha, with his wicked intentions, attempted to disturb the penance of Shiva. Shiva, roaring at Manmatha, opened his third eye and trounced him, burnt him, made all his body parts fall off and turned the body into ashes. Since then Manmatha was known as Ananga, meaning without any body parts. This place where Manmatha's body was given up has come to be known as Anga Province. This is that hermitage. This hermitage belongs to Shiva. Let us stay here tonight and tomorrow we will cross the River Ganga". Later Vishvamitra told pleasant stories to Rama and Lakshmana till they slept.

Vishvamitra tells about River Sarayu to Rama

Next day, early in the morning, Rama and Lakshmana accompanied by sage Vishvamitra arrived at the River Ganga Bank. There, the hermitage sages kept a boat ready for them to cross the River. While crossing the river on board the boat, Vishvamitra told the brothers about the significance, the history, origin and evolution of River Sarayu.

"On Mount Kailash, Lord Brahma created a spectacular lake at his will and named it Manasa Lake. The river that flows out of this lake is known as Sarayu. It touches the city Ayodhya and flows into the River Ganga at this junction. The remarkable noise thus caused is due to the Sarayu colliding with Ganga. This is the reason why this place is called Ganga-Sarayu confluence" said Vishvamitra.

Accompanying Vishvamitra, both Rama and Lakshmana reached the southern bank of the river. There they started their journey through the dreadful and dissolute forest. There Rama asked Vishvamitra as to whose habitat this wretched forest was. In fact, this was the forest occupied by Tataka, a monster.

Vishvamitra tale of Malada, Karoosala

Replying to Rama, the Sage Vishvamitra said, "This was designed by gods and the places were known as Malada and Karoosala. Long ago, when Indra committed the sin by killing monster Vritra, son of Kashyap, he attained the curse known as Brahma Hatya. This resulted in him foregoing the need for defecation and hunger. To get rid of his suffering, Indra was taken to sacred rivers for a holy dip. With this, he was freed from the contamination of Brahma Hatya. Since Indra lost both his hunger and need for excretion here, the place was named as Malada and Karoosala. The people here lived happily. For a long time, this place was highly fertile, affluent with abundant wealth".

Vishvamitra describes Tataka episode

After a lapse of some time, a Yaksha female by the name of Tataka came to be. She married Sunda and gave birth to a monster son, Maricha who equalled the strength and valour of Indra. Maricha was famous for his inhuman activities, terrorising those around him. He and his mother fiendishly left the area as little more than a burial ground. Tataka lives about one and half Yojana (12 miles or 20 kilometres) from here. You should destroy her and make these areas livable again".

Sage Agastya cursing Tataka

Rama on hearing about Tataka from Vishvamitra, expressed doubt as to how an ordinary Yaksha woman could destroy the entire forest and was able to wield the strength of a thousand elephants?

Replying to Rama, Sage Vishvamitra said, "Once upon a time, there lived a formidable, righteous Yaksha with virtuous conduct by the name of Suketu. As he had no children, he performed great penance to appease Lord Brahma. Having been fully satisfied and feeling enormously glad, Brahma awarded him with a boon to give birth to a daughter who will be able to exert a thousand elephant's strength. She was Tataka. Brahma, however, did not concede his request for son. Suketu on seeing his daughter growing up into a youthful beauty, got her married to Sunda. The couple gave birth to an unconquerable son named Maricha who by curse became a monster. Maricha's father Sunda was also cursed by Agastya and died. In the process of revenge, Tataka along with her son Maricha attempted to kill Agastya. On seeing them approaching, Sage Agastya cursed Maricha first to attain monster hood and later cursed Tataka to become a man-eater and her beauty to be distorted with a monstrous shape. Having left with no option Tataka has been destroying this gifted place in which sage Agastya once wandered.

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