by Hari Prasad Shastri | 1952 | 527,382 words | ISBN-10: 9333119590 | ISBN-13: 9789333119597
This page is entitled “shri rama greets the queens” and represents Chapter 103 of the Ayodhya-kanda of the Ramayana (English translation by Hari Prasad Shastri). The Ramayana narrates the legend of Rama and Sita and her abduction by Ravana, the king of Lanka. It contains 24,000 verses divided into seven sections [viz., Ayodhya-kanda].
Shri Vasishtha, preceded by the widowed queens of King Dasaratha, proceeding towards Shri Rama’s hermitage, beheld the slow-moving Mandakini and the holy place frequented by Rama. Afflicted with grief, Queen Kaushalya wept and then said to Sumitra and the other Queens: “O see! here is the place where the defenceless Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, deprived by Kaikeyi of their kingdom, come to bathe. O Sumitra, here meseems your son Lakshmana unwearyingly brings water for my son. Though engaged in this menial service, a kind office performed for an elder brother is an honourable act! Though the carrying of water is a humble occupation, when Shri Ramacandra, persuaded by Bharata, returns to the capital, then your son, worthy of every comfort, will abandon these laborious duties.”
Queen Kaushalya of large eyes, now perceived the funeral cake offered by Shri Rama in memory of his father. She beheld how the sorrow-stricken Rama had laid the flour ball on the ground in his great sire’s remembrance, and she then addressed the widows of the departed king, saying: “See how this has been offered by Raghava in memory of the great king of the House of Ikshvaku. I do not consider this flour ball mixed with the juice of the Ingudi fruit to be worthy of the Mahatma Dasaratha, who was equal to a god 1 How should the sovereign of the earth enclosed between the four seas, find this cake of Ingudi pulp acceptable? Nothing is more painful to me than this, that the illustrious Rama should offer this paltry flour ball to his deceased father 1 Why does my heart not break into a thousand fragments, seeing this poor offering? It is a common saying among men that the food eaten by a man is the food of his god and his ancestors.”
The consorts of the king consoled the chief queen and proceeding onwards, reached the hermitage where they beheld Shri Rama seated like a god descended from heaven. Seeing Shri Rama withdrawn from every pleasure, they were deeply distressed and wept bitterly.
Shri Rama, the Devotee of Truth, rose up and touched the feet of his mothers, and the large-eyed queens with their tender hands took the dust from his feet. Shri Lakshmana, distressed to see their grief, offered salutations to them with deep affection and they, wiping the dust from the feet of Shri Rama, manifested the same love to Prince Lakshmana, since he, too, was the son of King Dasaratha. Sita also, full of grief, her eyes suffused with tears, stood before the queens touching their feet.
Kaushalya, embracing Shri Sita who was emaciated through the privations of her exile, addressed her as a mother her daughter and said: “Alas! Alas! the daughter of King Videha, the daughter-in-law of King Dasaratha, and the consort of Shri Ramacandra, has undergone great privations in the forest. O Janaki, I burn with the fire of grief when I behold your countenance scorched by the sun like the faded crimson water lilies, or gold defiled with dust, or the moon obscured by clouds. I am being consumed by the pain arising from this, like a piece of wood1 slowly consumed by fire.”
While Queen Kaushalya was thus lamenting, Shri Ramacandra approached the Holy Vasishtha and touched his lotus feet. Having touched the feet of the great ascetic, who was as resplendent as fire, like Indra offering salutations to the feet of Brihaspati, Shri Rama sat down near him.
Then the pious Bharata accompanied by his counsellors, the chief people of the city, and his generals, approached Shri Rama and occupied a lower seat.
The heroic Bharata, with joined palms, seated by his elder brother who was attired in ascetic’s garb, appeared like Prajapati seated before Brahma! At that moment, the principal citizens present were filled with curiosity to know what Shri Bharata would say to Raghava. The ever-truthful and valiant Rama, seated with Bharata and Lakshmana, together resembled three ritual fires in the place of sacrifice.