HERITAGE SHELF: RAMAYANA

The Conception


invulnerable and invincible against Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas and other such beings. In his arrogance, Raavana did not care to ask for security against mankind. As Brahma revealed this fateful omission all the Gods rejoiced and turned to Vishnu. 
Absolutely surrendering themselves to Hari, the Devas begged him to be born as a man and put an end to Raavana and his atrocities. Hari agreed and assured the Devas that he would be born as four sons of King Dasaratha who was then performing a sacrifice for progeny. 
As the ghee was poured into the fire and the flames shot up to meet it, from out of the flames came a majestic figure, resplendent like the noonday sun, holding a bowl of gold. Calling King Dasaratha by his name, the figure said: "The Devas are pleased with you and are answering your prayer. Here is paayasam sent by the gods for your wives. You will be blessed with sons if they drink this divine beverage."
With joy unbounded, Dasaratha received the bowl as he would receive a child and distributed the paayasam to his three wives, Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. He asked Kausalya to drink a half of the paayasam and he gave a half of what remained to Sumitra. Half of what was then left was drunk by Kaikeyi, and what remained was given to Sumitra again.
Dasaratha's wives were happy, even as a beggar suddenly coming upon buried treasure. And in due course all of them were expectant mothers.






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CHAPTER II
SAGE VISWAAMITRA

IN course of time, Dasaratha's sons were born, Raama of Kausalya and Bharata of Kaikeyi. Sumitra gave birth to twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna, she having drunk the divine paayasam twice. 
In proportion to the quantity of paayasam drunk by the respective mothers, the sons are traditionally considered to be parts of Vishnu. Raama was thus half-Vishnu. 
But such calculations have no meaning as it is impossible to measure the Infinite arithmetically. Sruti tells us that even a fraction of the Supreme Being is whole and complete by itself. 
"Om Poornamadah Poornamidam Poornaat Poornamudachyate Poornasya Poornamaadaaya Poornamevaavasishyate." 
“What is whole; this is whole; what has come out of the whole is also whole. When the whole is taken out of the whole, the whole still remains whole."
Dasaratha's four sons were given all the training prescribed for princes. Raama and Lakshmana were specially devoted to each other, and so were Bharata and Satrughna. We can imagine that this special attachment arose out of the way the divine paayasam was divided among the King's wives. Dasaratha was happy to see his four sons grow up strong, virtuous, brave and lovable and with all other princely qualities. 
One day as the King was contemplating his sons' matrimony, ushers rushed in to announce that the great Sage Viswaamitra had arrived to see him.

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