Bala Kanda – 2: Raja Dasharataha’s desire to have sons
Deepak M R is a professional writer and trainer. He has a rich work experience of more than 25 years in varies fields that include training, education, and consulting.
He is author of the novel Abhimanyu - the warrior prince (Bloomsbury, 2021). He is also once of the contributing authors in the anthologies Unsung Valour and Aryaa and has written Kindle eBook Mahabharata Tales: Justice for Draupadi and other stories.
Having composed the legend of Rama, Valmiki then wondered who should sing this ballad to convey the story to the world. Just then, the princes Lava and Kusha arrived there and greeted the sage. Being the sons of Rama, Valmiki felt it apt that the two twins should sing the ballad.
The two princes then sang the ballad at a public gathering and received praises. Hearing about this, Rama summoned the two princes to his palace to listen to the ballad. He was attracted to the music of the ballad and curious to hear his own tale being rendered by two young ascetics who looked like princes.
Lava and Kusha then began to narrate the Ramayana. They started the narration by describing the city of Ayodhya. The kingdom of Kosala was located on the banks of the Sarayu Rive,r and its capital Ayodhya was built by none other than Manu. The city had well-planned roads and was twelve yojanas in length and three yojanas in width.
(One yojana is around 8 to 10 miles)
The king of Ayodhya was Dasharatha, born in the lineage of Ikshavaku. Well versed in the Vedas, he was a great warrior and was equivalent to Indra and Kubera. Like their king, all the citizens were also virtuous and of good conduct.
The great king had eight able ministers named Dhrishti, Jayantha, Vijaya, Surashtra, Rashtravardhana, Akopa, Dharmapala, and Sumantra to aid him. The great sages Vasishta and Vamadeva, along with Suyajna, Jaabali, Kaashyapa, Gautama, Markandeya, Deerghayu, and Kaatyayana were religious ministers.
The generous king, aided by his able ministers, ruled his kingdom like Indra ruled heaven. But the great king did not have a son to enrich his dynasty. He felt that performing the Ashwamedha yajna or horse sacrifice would help him get a worthy son. He sought the advice of his ministers. Led by Vasishta, they concurred with his views.
Even as preparations began for the sacrifice, Dashratha’s minister and charioteer Sumantra told him what the sage Sanatkumara had said many years ago. The sage Kaashyapa’s son was Vibhandaka, and his son was Rishyashringa. Once there was a great famine in Anga kingdom when Rompada ruled it.
The Brahmins in his kingdom advised Romapada to give his daughter Shanta in marriage to Rishyashringa. He asked his ministers to meet the sage, but they refused since they were scared of his father Vibhandaka. They then thought of an idea to bring the sage to their kingdom.
The ministers told the king that since Rishyshringa was not aware of worldly pleasures, they would use courtesans to lure him to the city. Accordingly, the courtesans went to the sage’s ashrama, and he welcomed them. They offered him sweets, which he had never partaken before, and embraced him before leaving.
The sage was disturbed by their behaviour and was lured to meet them again. They then took the sage to Anga and rain descended on the kingdom the moment the sage arrived. A delighted King Romapada welcomed the sage and offered him the hand of his daughter Shanta. The sage then lived in Anga with his wife.
As per the narration of Sanatkumara, if the sage Rishyshringa performed the Putrakameshti yajna, it would help Dasharatha get sons. After listening to his minister’s story and advice, Dasharatha went to Anga. After staying there for a few days, he requested the king to send his son-in-law and daughter to Ayodhya.
Accordingly, sage Rishyashringa and Shanta went to Ayodhya and accepted Dasharatha’s hospitality. On arrival of the spring season, Dasharatha requested the sage to perform the Putrakameshti yajna to help him get sons. The sage accepted, and then the king after consulting his ministers, ordered that the preparation for the yajna should begin.
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