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The most fundamental of Hindu deities, is the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - popular deities include Ganesha, Krishna, Hanuman and goddesses like Lakshmi, Durga,Saraswati.

Lord Ramas Childhood,Youth,Marriage

Long long ago, in the ancient times, at the end of the Treat Yoga, there was a mighty kingdom of Koshala. Situated on the banks of the river Saruya was its capital Ayodhya. Ayodhya means unconquerable not be warred against or irresistible. It was so as very powerful kings in succession and their equally powerful armies defended it. And so none dare to look at hey with greedy eyes.

Ayodhya was famous for its wealth, lofty masions, wonderful palaces, arched gateways, spacious parks and gardens, broad streets, squares and tree-lined avenues Thronged with brave and beautiful people, it excelled in dance, drama, music, literature and such other arts. The people were gentle, god-fearing, religious and virtuous. In this famed city lived the powerful and equally just king Dasharatha of Solar Race. He was full of many qualities both of the head and heart. In his rule over his kingdom and subjects his wise ministers and counselors assisted him. Such was Ayodhya the best of the cities.

The king would have been the most happy man, but he was very unhappy because he was childless. He had no son whom as an heir could inherit the crown after his death. This want did not allow him any rest or happiness. His great guru and sage Vashista knew the king's grief and it cause. Therefore, Vashista advised the king to perform the grand horse- sacrifice in order to obtain sons. Dasharatha readily agree to it, and soon after great preparations, in one delight-ful spring season, the sacrifice began with the chanting of the Vedic hymns.

The devas, who lived high above in the heaven, were much pleased with the sacrificial rites. At the time they were much harassed and terrorized by the demon king Ravana. Ravana had obtained the boon of immunity from being killed by the gods, the demons or the Gandharvas. He had pleased both Shiva and Brahma by his long and difficult taps and austerities and obtained these boons. Ravana spared none. He tortured man, harassed the saints and sages, insulted the kings and routed the gods in the battle. His arrogance and pride knew no bounds. The gods and their king Indra felt helpless against such a ruthless and mighty demon king. However, Ravana did not have immunity against men. He was too proud to ask that as a boon.

The gods found it a fine occasion to rout and get rid of Ravans. They consulted among themselves, and decided to request the Supreme God Vishnu to descend on the earth in a human form. Only an exceptionally brave man could defeat and destroy Ravana. And such a person could be none else but Vishnu in human form.

Vishnu took pity on the helpless gods, and agreed to be born as Rama or Shri Ramachandra, the son of king Dasharatha.

In the meanwhile, there arose from the sacrificial fire a splendid being with a pot of gold in his hands. The pot contained divine milk broth. He gave it to king Dasharatha bidding him to divide it among his three queens.

It made the king's cup of joy brimful. His face radiated with happiness. The sacrifice being over, he gave the child- giving milkfood to his three queens. Soon the queens conceived and were pregnant. In due course of time in the pleasant month of Chaitra queen Kaushalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata and Sumitra, the youngest queen to twins Lakshmana and Shatrughana. The king and the queens were much obliged and thanked the gods. There was much rejoicing all around. The crowds, mad with joy, sang, danced and played on various instruments. Rich gifts were distributed among the people. The gods rejoiced in the heaven; Apsaras danced and played on flutes and drums.

The four princes grew into brave, handsome lads. They mastered Vedas, and got fullness of all knowledge under the wise guru Cashista. They became the delight of all the world. They drove chariots, rode the horses and elephants, hunted in the forest and used all sorts of weapons with such a skill that won admiration of the experts. They were devoted to one another, but blessed Lakshmanan was particularly close to Rama. He did everything that pleased his elder brother Rama, and followed him like his shadow. Lakshmana was as it were, Rama's second self. Shatrughna was specially attached to Bharata. Bharata in turn loved Shatrughna more dearly than his own self.

Dasharatha rejoiced immensely in them, and his cup of happiness was overflowing. By then the four princes had seen sixteen springs and as many winters and rainy seasons. One day, when king Dasharatha was sitting in his court-hall with guru Cashista and discussing the princes marriage, there came the famous Rishi Vishwamitra. He was well known both for his great achievements and bursts of sudden ange. The king rushed at the gate to receive the Rishi and said, "O righteous sage, my respects to you. You have honored me with your blessed presence. Tell me the reason of your coming here. What service I can render you?"

The sage was mightily pleased at these welcome words. In joy his hair stood on ends and he said, "Oh king, these words are worthy of you alone. I am engaged these days in an important sacrifice. But the two Rakshasas Maricha and Subahu disturb my religious rites, and spoil the yajana by throwing flesh, blood and bone on the altar. Thus, all my trouble is gone waste. I myself can destroy them, but I am not supposed to give way to anger or violence on such an auspicious occasion. Therefore, lend me your eldest son Rama of matchless prowess. The demons are no match to high-souled Rama."

On hearing these unexpected words of the sage, the king began to tremble for he could not live without Rama even for a moment. Moreover, Rama was so young, tender and inexperienced to give fight to the demons. The king offered himself to fight the Rakshasas at the head of his vast army. "Take me instead, but not my beloved Rama," he said, "you are my god and guru, I shall fight the demons with my so powerful army for you, but take pity on me and my child Rama."

It displeased Vishwamitra in great measure; he got angry and replied, "You promised to help me, and now you want to go back on you promise. It' totally unworthy of you. I shall retrace my steps and go back; you may live in peace with your son."

Hearing these words of Vishwamitra, said in great anger, the whole court was terrified; even the gods got alarmed and the each rocked. Then the wise sage Vashista intervening allays king's fears and urged Dasharatha to send Rama with Vishwamitra for no harm could come to Rama under him. He said, "It is for your and your son's good that the Rishi is asking for Rama." These words of Vashista set the king's mind at rest, and he sent for his eldest son, Rama.

Immediately there came Rama accompanied by Lakshmana in the court-hall. They paid their respects to all the elders and waited in silence for their father to speak. The king blessed them and then put them in Vishwamitra's hands. The sage walked in front followed first by Rama and then Lakshmana Behind. The princes carried bows and arrows and their faces glowed with divine powers and grace.

When the three reached the banks of the holy ricer Sarayu, Vishwamitra taught them a couple of mantras and spells to overcome all kinds of fatigues, fever, hunger, thirst and weakness. The next day the travelers reached the Ganges and made their salutation to Holy River. There they rested for the night and at daybreak set out at a quicker pace. Soon they arrived at a dark, deep, dense and fearful forest called the Tataka Forest. It abounded with all sorts of animals, beast of prey, birds, insects, reptiles and other wild creatures such as lions, tigers, leopards, bears, bats, owls, vultures, kites, eagles, snakes, crocodiles, etc.

Vishwamitra told the two princes how once that land was a prosperous one and inhabited by happy people, but how a she demon named Tataka with her two fierce and wicked sons destroyed it killing most of the people. Since then the forest was known by that name. Tataka along with her sons still lived there terrorizing all the people in the neighborhood.

The sage asked Rama to defeat and destroys Tataka who continued to devastate and ravage the land, so that the country might be once again free from destruction and the evildoer Rakshasas. "Rama, my boy, kill this wicked woman and grant succour to the world. None else but you in the three worlds can destroy her. And never maid killing a woman for she is the most cruel and ferocious of the demons. Don't be squeamish out of pity for her. It is the duty of a prince to protect his subjects from evil and sin. And Tataka is both sin and evil."

Raghava, the best of men bowed his head in obedience. He raised his bow and twanged it, making the distant areas echo with its fearful sound.

Aroused and provoked Tataka rushed headlong at Rama in blind rage. She was so terrible to look at that her sight was enough to send chill down the spine of the cowards. She came growling and roaring and began to rain stones and boulders with her magic. Rama instantly checked the shower of stones and cut off her arms with a volley of sharp arrows urged by Vishwamitra, Rama soon struck her with a deadly arrow when she rushed upon them like a thunderbolt. Soon she fell down dead.

Greatly pleased and satisfied at Tataksa's destruction Vshwamitra smelt Rama's head and pressed him to his heart with much affection, and gave him many divine weapons and taught how to invoke and use them efficaciously. They passed night in the forest now freed from the curse of Tataka.Early in the morning they set out of the ashram.

The next day they reached the siddha ashram and guru Vishwamitra began his sacrifice. The two brave princes remained alert and vigilant day and night. Then suddenly there came Maricha and subabu and other demons, and a fierce battle followed, Rama struck down subabu with a deadly missile. Rama aimed another terrible arrow at Maricha and shot it in great anger. And moricha was carried off hundred of miles away on the ocean-land where he fell down unconscious. Peace returned and the sacrifice was completed to the Rishi's entire satisfactions.

Then some of the sages suggested to Rama and Lakshmana accompany them to mithila, the capital city of king Janaka. A might contest was to be held there for the hand of most beautiful princes Janaki. They all set out for mithila let by Vishwamitra.

King Janaka had a mighty bow, given to him by lord Shiva. He had declared to marry his daughter sita or Janaki to the prince who would bend and string that bow. Sita in fact, was an incarnation of lakshmi, Lord Vishnu's wife. She was known as Sita because she had been born of her own sweet would in a field opened up by a plough.

Many kings and princes from far off lands had come to try their luck in the contest. But unfortunately for them, none could even lift the bow let alone bending it. King Janaka felt very sad for not finding a suitable match for Sita. He was in deep despair when Vishwamitra appeared on the scene with the two princes. After formal introduction, the august bow was ordered to be brought for Rama to see.

With due permission of the elders, Rama grasped the bow from the middle, lifting bent and strung it, and while drawing to the full broke it into two. It produced a great din and the earth shook. Most of the princes and kings present there fell down senseless by this great thunder-like noise.

When they came to senses, Janaka expressed his great delight at his vow being fulfilled. Messengers on fast horses were sent to Ayodhya to invite king Dashratha. The happy tidings swelled the king's heart with pride and happiness. He reached Mithila with a large company. Then followed a grand royal marriage ceremony. Rama and Sita looked most beautiful in their bridal costumes. King Janaka placed Sita's hand in that of Rama amidst chanting of mantras. The sacred water was poured over the bride and the groom's heads. Sita's cousins Mandavi, Urmila, and Shrutakirti were married in the same fashion to princes Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna respectively. The wedding being over, the sage Vishwamitra left for the Himalayas to practice more tapas and penance.

King Dashratha too left for Ayodhya with his retinue and family. When they were on the way to Ayodhya, Parshurama appeared suddenly, as if from nowhere. His angry looks and fearful utterances almost paralyzed every one except Rama, Dashratha felt greatly alarmed for his son's safety.

Parshurama in anger said, "O Rama, I know of your breaking of Shiva's bow. Here is another grand one. Draw it and show your power if you can, and then I intend to engage you in a duel."

With a winning smile Rama took the bow from Parshurama and with great ease drew it full and fixed an arrow. The gods from above looked in wonder at Rama armed with that grand bow. Parshurama defeated and humiliated looked at Rama and said humbly,"O Valiant Rama, now I can see that you are the incarnation of supreme God Vishnu. There is none like you in power and glory. My salutations to you. It is not a matter of shame at all that I have been humbled by you."

With these words Parshurama left for the Himalayas to practice penance. Rama discharged the arrow and it flew with the speed of lightning and fel down far away.

Back home in Ayodhya, Rama lived happily with Sita. Sita was ever there in Rama's heart, But Sita read Rama's thoughts much more easily than he did Sita's .In the great warmth of deep love, the couple glowed like the full moon in a cloudless night.

Rama's virtuous and dutiful conduct pleased all. All the people of Ayodhya loved Rama and Sita more than their own life. Meanwhile, Bharata left for Kekaya with his maternal uncle Yudhajit who had come to fetch Bharata. Shatrughna went with him.




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