The Brihaddharma Purana (abridged)

by Syama Charan Banerji | 1915 | 50,976 words

The English translation of the Brihaddharma Purana, one of the several minor or Upa Puranas, and represents an epitome of several important (Major) Puranas. In this book one can observe the attempts made to reconcile the three main forms of Hindu worship, viz. the Shaiva Vaishnava and Tantrika (worship of God in the form of Kali, Durga, Ganga, and ...

Chapter 17 - History of Rama (continued, 2)

In course of time Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to the twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. Lakshmana from his childhood was attached to Rama, and Satrughna was likewise attached to Bharata. All tne four boys were godlike in appearance and character, and were extremely popular among all classes of people.

Once the sage Visvamitra came to Ayodhya and requested King Dasaratha to allow him to take away his son, Rama, for a short time. Dasaratha acceded to his request with reluctance, and Rama, accordingly, bade farewell to his father, and, accompanied by Lakshmana, departed with the sage. On the way, he killed the demoness, Taraka, and Visvamitra was so pleased with this courageous act that he taught him the use of many divine arms and weapons.

In due time they reached the sacrificial ground of Visvamitra which was infested with demons who used to spoil his sacrifices. Here Rama killed Subahu and, with a single arrow hurled Maricha, the son of Taraka, into the sea, eight hundred miles from the place. In a very short space of time he cleared the ground of the demons, and the Munis showered blessings on him. They then took him and Lakshmama to Mithila. On the way he delivered Ahalyadevi from the curse of her husband, Gautama, under which she had been turned into stone because of her having been violated by the god Indra. He restored her to her original human form and brought about a reconciliation between her and her husband.

On arriving at the city of Mithila, Visvamitra introduced Rama and Lakshmana to Janaka, the king of that place. Here Rama heard about the bow known as Sivadhanu which baffled the strength of the gods even, but when it was brought to him at his request, he bent it with such force that it broke into two parts with a deafening sound. The king Janaka, was so highly pleased with this evidence of Rama’s strength that he invited the old king Dasaratha and his other two sons, Bharata and Satrughna, to his city, and gave away his daughters in marriage to the four brothers. Rama was married to Sita, Bharata to Mandavi, Lakshmana to Urmila and Satrughna to Sruta-Kirti. While going back to Ayodhya, Rama encountered the mighty and invincible Parasurama whose pride he subdued to such an extent that he made him a suppliant at his feet.

A few days after the return of the party to Ayodhya, Bharata went to his maternal grandfather’s house, and, during his absence, Dasaratha, with the consent of his subjects, wished to make Rama his heir-apparent. This news was carried to Kaikeyi by her maid-servant, Manthara, and the queen at first felt pleased with it. Manthara, by her evil counsels, however, turned her pleasure into wrath, and the king was coerced into making a promise of leaving his kingdom to Bharata and sending Kama away to the forests as an exile.

Kama, as a dutiful son, proceeded to the forests with his faithful wife, Sita, and his loving brother, Lakshmana, with a cheerful heart.

When the Charioteer, Sumantra, came back to Ayodhya after sending Rama away to exile, Dasaratha was so overpowered with grief that he died.

Kama, after wandering in the forests for a short time, settled at Chitrakuta under the advice of the sage, Bharadvaja. The ministers and priests of state then brought Bharata from his maternal grandfather’s house, and had the obsequies of the dead king performed by him. Bharata censured his mother for her vile conduct, and started with her and the other widows of Dasaratha, and Ratrughna, and the state officials and priests, to Chitrakuta, to pay a visit to Rama whom he and his party attempted to persuade in vain to return to his kingdom. Bharata, therefore, came home with Rama’s sandals which he placed on the throne, and took up the reins of Government as his trustee, making Nandigrama his capital.

Kama, not finding himself secure from interruption at Chitrakuta, removed to the Dandakaranya forest which was more difficult of approach. Here he killed the demon Viradha, son of Danu, and began to live in that part of the forest which was known as Panchavativana, by building a couple of huts there.

While he was here, a demoness, called Surpanakha, approached Rama one day, and offered to become his wife. Lakshmana was so enraged at her conduct that he cut off her nose and ears with arrows, and she ran bleeding and crying to her brothers, Khara, Dushana, and others. Thereupon the brothers attacked Rama with fourteen thousand followers, but Rama killed them all with a single arrow.

The demoness then went to Ravana and told him every thing. She also extolled Sita’s beauty so much that Ravana became enamoured of her from the description, and resolved to make her his own. With this end in view, he went to Taraka’s son Maricha to seek his aid. Maricha tried his best to dissuade him from his purpose but in vain. When Maricha saw that if he disobeyed Ravana he would be killed by him, while if he obeyed him he would be killed by Rama for trying to injure him, he thought the latter death better of the two, and decided to help Ravana. He assumed the form of a golden stag and began to graze on a meadow in front of Sita, to attract her attention. Sita, as soon as she saw the stag, requested Rama to catch it alive, and Rama at once ran after it, how in hand, leaving Lakshmana behind with orders to take care of Sita.

Rama ran after the golden stag a long distance, but, at last he gave up the idea of catching it alive and killed it with an arrow.

When dying, Maricha imitating the voice of Rama, cried out “O Lakshmana, O Lakshmana” .

This voice reached Sita’s ears, and she thought her husband was in danger. She said to Lakshmana,

“O Lakshmana, do you not hear your brother is calling you? He must have been attacked by demons. Why are you tarrying? Go at once and save him. If you do not go, I shall take poison and die”

Lakshmana, thereupon, went away reluctantly; and, as soon as she was left alone, Ravana approached her in the guise of a mendicant, and lifting her in his flying-car flew up in the air. He then reassumed his own form, and, when Sita found herself in the clutches of a demon, she began to cry aloud saying, “O Rama, O Lakshmana” and to throw down her ornaments on the earth.

The mighty but old bird, Jatayu, who was a great friend of Dasaratha, happening to hear her cries, came to her rescue, and had a great fight with Ravana in the air, but was unfortunately defeated and hurled to the ground.

Sita was carried away by Ravana to Lanka where she was kept in an Asoka[1] grove among demonesses who mounted guard on her. Here she passed her days in misery, pining for her beloved husband, Rama. The god, Indra, by Brahma’s orders gave her Charu[2] to eat, the effect of which was that she felt neither hungry nor thirsty as long as she was a captive.

Hama, after his adventure with Maricha, came back to find that Sita was not in the huts. He went out in search of her, and met a demon, Kabandha by name, in the way, whom he killed. Proceeding onward he saw the dying bird, Jatayu, who was gasping for breath, and who as soon as he saw Rama and Lakshmana, uttered with difficulty the words “Ravana has carried away Sita,” and died. Thereafter Hama met Sabari whom he sent to heaven, and proceeded towards Rishyamukha mountain which was presided over by Sugriva, the king of monkeys. Here he met the great king seated with his ministers, Hanumana, Nala, Nila and Tara, and found him in great mental anxiety because his wife also had been carried away by Bali. Hama established friendship with Sugriva, and, after performing various acts of valour, killed Bali and restored the kingdom of Kiskindhya to Sugriva. Sugriva promised to help Rama in recovering his wife, but the rainy season having come on they had to wait till it was over.

When the month of Kartika came, Sugriva waited upon Rama and said,

“My lord, these bears and monkeys with Jambabana and Angada at their head, are here awaiting your commands. They are ten lakhs, eleven thousand and one hundred crores, forty-seven lakhs and ten-thousand in number. They are all possessed of great strength. They will proceed to every quarter of the world and bring news of Sita within a month.”

Accordingly, the bears and monkeys were despatched on all sides. Hanumana and other monkeys failing to find any trace of Sita, and seeing that the time allowed for search was nearly over, resolved upon committing suicide, but the mighty bird,

Sampati, whose wings had been burnt before, hearing the name of Rama uttered by these monkeys was restored to perfect condition, and he told them that Sita was in Lanka where she had been carried away by Ravana. They all rejoiced to hear this news and proceeded towards the sea, but, reaching there, all, except Hanumana, gave up the idea of crossing it. The latter alone jumped up, and, ascending in the air, reached the opposite coast

Footnotes and references:


Name of a tree with red flowers.


For the meaning of Charu, see footnote at page 48.

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