Bal Kanda 4 - The Gift of Brahmastra
The angry Vishwamitra accused Dasharatha of not keeping his promise. He told the king to keep his word and send Rama with him. Vasishta then assured the king that Vishwamitra, the son of Kushika was a great ascetic and well-versed in the use of powerful weapons. Rama would be safe with Vishwamitra.
Vasishta’s words reassured the king, and he summoned Rama and Lakshmana. The two princes were then sent with Vishwamitra. After travelling for half a yojana, Vishamitra gave Rama the skills of Bala and Atibala. With these gifts, the two princes would experience no fatigue. The sage told Rama that none in the three worlds could equal him.
The sage then took them past the origin of the Sarayu Lake that descended from the Manasa sarovara (lake) in Brahma Loka. He took them to a terrible forest and told them that Maricha’s mother and the wife of Sunda, the dreaded Tataka lived there. On being asked by Rama, Vishwamitra explained why Tataka had become a demoness.
The sage Agastya had killed Tataka’s husband Sunda. When the angry Tataka had tried to attack Agastya, the sage cursed her to become a deformed eater of men. Rama then expressed his apprehension of killing a woman. Vishwamitra then told Rama how Vishnu had killed Bhrigu’s wife when she tried to remove Indra.
Rama then bowed to the sage and twanged his bow. The angry Tataka heard the sound and charged at Rama, who used his arrows to cut off her ears and tip of nose. He did this to make her withdraw since he did not want to kill a woman. But Tataka continued to charge. Rama then shot arrows at her and killed her.
After spending the night in the forest, the next day, Vishwamitra decided to gift celestial weapons to Rama since he was delighted by the way he had killed Tataka. Vishwamitra gave Rama the discuses Dharmachakra, Dandachakra, Kalachakra, Vishnu’s chakra, and Indra’s chakra.
The sage then gave Rama the Brahmashiraastra, Brahmastra, and Aishika astra. He then gave the maces Modaki and Shikhara along with the nooses Dharma Pasha, Yama pasha, and Kala pasha. He then gave Rama the missiles Shushka, Airdra, Pinaka, Narayana, Shikhari the tower, Prathama of Agni, and Vayu.
Rama then received the sword Nandana and the astras Mohana that can stun, Prasvana that causes sleep, Prashamana that pacifies anger, Varshana that rains, Shoshana that dries, Vilapana that causes weeping, Mohana that stupefies, and Manava of the Gandharvas.
Vishwamitra gave many other astras including Tamasa, Saumana, Maya, Teja prabha, Shishira, Sudamana, and the Manaava of Manu. The sage chanted the hymns and the weapons manifested themselves, and accepted Rama as their master.
The sage then showed the ashrama of Vamana to the two princes. He narrated the tale of how the good king Bali had conquered the Gods. The Gods then went to Vishnu, who manifested himself as a Brahmana dwarf Vamana. Bali granted Vamana the land he could cover in 3 foot strides. Assuming a large form, Vamana covered earth and heaven in two strides. On Bali’s request, he placed his foot on the king’s head and pushed him to the netherworlds in the third stride.
After seeing Vamana’s ashrama, the sage took Rama to the Siddhashrama where the inhabitants welcomed the princes. The sage started his austerities while the two brothers protected the ashrama. They stayed awake for six days and nights. On the sixth day, there was a booming sound heard. The two terrible demons Maricha and Subahu attacked the ashrama along with their hordes.
….. to be continued