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Epic Power

Sage Vishvamitra's encounter with Dasharatha

In part six, we see Sage Vishvamitra come to Dasharatha with an urgent request for Ram’s help, how Dasharatha hesitates due to a father’s love and how how he is finally convinced

One day when King Dasharatha was among his ministers and priests discussing among other things, the marriage plans of his children, the great learned sage Vishvamitra came to see him. His arrival and his standing at the doorstep were brought to the notice of Dasharatha. On hearing this message, Dasharatha rushed towards Vishvamitra along with his Royal Priests and completed all customary hospitalities. Being satisfied with Dasharatha's hospitality, Vishvamitra enquired about the well-being and welfare of the king and his family. Later, both of them entered the palace and occupied their seats as per decorum.

In due course, Dasharatha enquired about the reason behind Vishvamitra's visit. Welcoming him, Dasharatha asked thus, "Oh! Great Brahman! Your arrival at my place brought happiness to me. Please tell me the work that I can accomplish so that I can fulfill your purpose here. As a result of your arrival, I feel blessed. I will see that whatever you ask for is done".

The reason for Vishvamitra's coming

Sage Vishvamitra was thrilled and reassured by King Dasharatha's words and asked him to send Rama to safeguard the Vedic ritual that is being performed by him, from the monsters that were constantly disrupting it. Vishvamitra said that two ghastly monsters, namely Maricha and Subhahu, are soaking the Altar of Fire with meat and blood, leaving Vishvamitra perturbed with no option except to depart from the place. And hence, said the sage, that, it would be apt if the king spared the services of his eldest son Rama to eradicate the monsters. The sage asserted to King Dasharatha that he and the other sages in Dasharatha's court knew about the capabilities of Rama and though Rama was in his teenage years, he could easily kill monsters. Vishvamitra further said that in case he sends Rama, he will be accorded many more benefits that would make him even more prominent in all the three worlds. Vishvamitra also said that only ten more days are left to complete the rituals and as such Dasharatha should consent to send his son at once.

Dasharatha unable to decide on sending Rama

Dasharatha was, however, upset at this request of Vishvamitra. The king stood mute for a while upon hearing the proposal of sage Vishvamitra and subsequently, became unconscious. On regaining his senses, Dasharatha said that he will not be able to send Rama with the sage. He said, "My Rama who is just sixteen years of age is not yet capable of handling monsters. Vishvamitra! I will protect your ritual instead. I have a full-fledged battalion with which I shall encounter the monsters. My army is appropriate to counter the monsters but taking Rama, a child is discourteous of you".

Dasharatha elicits information of monsters sabotaging ritual

Then king Dasharatha enquired about the monsters. Replying to his question, Vishvamitra said, "Dasharatha! I hope you heard about Kubera's brother and son of sage Vishravasu Ravana. This extremely mighty and brave monster King Ravana acquired several boons from Lord Brahma and has used this strength to torture all the three worlds. He is aided by his companions. Under his instructions and instigated by him are two mighty monsters who are sons of Tataka, namely, Maricha and Subhahu who are causing hindrance to various rituals including mine".

The anger of Sage Vishvamitra over Dasharatha's refusal

Dasharatha was terrified the moment he heard the names of Tataki's sons, Maricha and Subhahu. He told the sage to please let his son be free of such arduous responsibility. He stated unequivocally that he cannot part with his son for this request. Dasharatha's inappropriate words fostered no doubt from immense paternal affection for Rama, resulted in Sage Vishvamitra being moved to extreme anger.

The anger of Sage Vishvamitra was directed at King Dasharatha. To appease Sage Vishvamitra, Royal Chief Priest, Sage Vasishta intervened and convinced king Dasharatha to send Rama with sage Vishvamitra. While doing so, sage Vasishta described the capabilities of Sage Vishvamitra and his knowledge of weaponry. Vasishta also suggested that all those weapons and armaments will be given to Rama if Rama was to be sent with Vishvamitra. At last, Dasharatha assented to the request, moved by Vasishta's words of solace.

Dasharatha sends Rama and Lakshmana with Vishvamitra

Having agreed to send Rama with Vishvamitra, King Dasharatha personally called Rama and Lakshmana. The king informed Rama and Lakshmana of his decision. This was preceded by Dasharatha kissing his son Rama and entrusting him along with Lakshmana to Sage Vishvamitra. With Sage Vishvamitra leading the way and with Lakshmana guarding his back, Rama made his way into the forest.

Vishvamitra imparts Bala and Athi Bala knowledge to Rama

After traveling one and a half Yojana (nearly 12 miles or 20 kilometers) and after crossing river Sarayu and on reaching its southern bank, Vishvamitra told Rama, "Oh! Ramachandra! I will impart to you two secret knowledge hymns, namely, Bala and Athi Bala, which when you recite, will drive away tiredness, hunger, and even thirst. Even as you sleep, unaware of surroundings, monsters can do you no harm due to the potency of these hymns. None can be your equal in skill and none can be similar to you in the entire universe. You are the most eligible one to receive these hymns". On hearing Vishvamitra's words, Rama touched the water, purified himself and received those two hymns from Vishvamitra. Rama performed all his duties as a student. Later, both the brothers fell asleep on the river-bank, lulled by the relaxing words of Vishvamitra.

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