By Dr. Saroja Ramanujam, M.A.,Ph.D , siromani
10.Rama arrives in Mithila.
When they approached Mithila, Janaka, knowing that Visvamithrahas has come with Rama
and Lakshmana, came to honour him along with Sathanandha who was his purohitha.
Sahanandha was the son of Ahalya and Gouthama.Valmiki says that Janaka showed special
respect to Vivamithra though there were many equally renowned sages who had come for his
yajna. 'rthvijOpi mahAthmAnah thu arghyam Adhaya sathvaram,visvamithrAya
dharmENa dhadhuh manthra puraskrtham.' Commentators intrepret this as the glory of
Visvamithra was not a little enhanced by the company of Rama, who was going to be the
prime performer at the yajna by breaking the bow and marrying Sita.
It is worth digressing a litlle now from Valmiki and enjoy the poetic beauty of Kamban
before Janaka offers seat to Visvamithra in his courthall and Sathanandha narrates the story
of Visvamithra.Valmiki does not mention Sita earlier, before Janaka tells about her to Rama
and others when Visvamithra asks Rama to see the bow, and then the rest of the incidents
leading to the wedding follow. It was left to Kamban to describe the entry of Rama into
Mithila and the chance encounter of Rama with Sita and their respective reactions towards
each other, which forms the most beautiful part of the Balakanda.
The very first verse in the 'mithilaikkAtchippadalam,' when they are nearing the fort of
Janaka, is very beautiful.
"mai aru malarin neengi yAn Sey mAthvatthin vandhu
SeyyavaL irundhAL" enru SezumaNikkodigal ennum
kaigalai neetti andhakkadinagar kamalacchengaN
aiyanai "ollai vA" enru azaippadhu pOnradhu ammA
The flags of the fort of Mithila fluttering, looked like hands waving and saying that Sridevi
has come to reside there leaving her abode of lotus due to the penance done by the
land and its people and as though calling Rama to come there to claim her hand.
Then Rama enters the city and Kamban describes the beauty of Sita who was standing on the
balcony of her palace. Adorned by gold ornaments she shone like thousand
lightning,'sathakOti min sEvikka min arasu ennumpadi ninrAL.'
Rama looked up and she looked down and here comes the famous lines,' kaNNodu kaN iNai
kavvi onrai onru uNNavum nilai perAdhu uNarvum onrida aNNalum nOkkinAn; avaLUm
nokkinAL.' The eyes of Ram and Sita contacted and He looked at her and she looked at him
as though the eyes were swallowing each other and there was a merger of feelings and the
Rama wielding the bow and Sita with her eyes like sword, entered each other's heart,
'varisilai aNNalum vAL-kaNnangaiyum iruvarum mArippukku idhayam eaidhinAr.' Kamban
is not satisfied wirth this and goes on further to say, 'karunkadal paLLiyil kalavi neengippOi
pirindhavar koodinAl pEsalum vEndumO?' They were the two who were united in the big
ocean, meaning the milky ocean, and left it , that is , they are none other than Narayana and
Lakshmi, and hence when the two reunite after separation is there any need for conversation?
Their hearts communicate louder than words.
Here, karum kadal is explained as the great sea, that is pArkadal but a more imaginative
description of the word was given by Madurai TNSeshagopalan in his harikatha on
Kamabaramayanam. He said that the milky ocean which was white sea became karumkadal,
black sea because of the pacchaimAmalai pOl mEni of the Lord Narayana who shines like the
emarald. The test of the quality of an emarald or blue sapphire is to put it in milk which
turns black if the gem is of best quality.The Lord who is the soundarya mudrAmani of the
hue of emarald (paccha mAmalai)i and sapphire(indraneelamani) has given the dark colour to
Now we go back to the royal court of Janaka where Visvamithra, Rama and Lakshman were
seated.accepting the welcome by Janaka, who requested the sage to stay till the end of his
yaga..then Janaka asked Visvamithra about the princes.
This is one if the places where Valmiki the poet overtakes Valmiki the narrator. Janaka says,
imou kumArou badhram the dhEvathulyaparAkramou
gajasimha gathee veerou SArdhoolavrshabhOpamou.
Janaka says that these two boys look valiant like the devas and have the gait of elephant and
the lion and possess tiger-like prowess and strength of the bull.There are four types of gaits
described in the sasthra which are that of an elephant, a lion, a tiger and a bull.The Lord is
ascribed with all the four by the devotees and saints who see Him walking like a lion when
He comes to protect His devotees, resembles an elephant when He walks leisurely, advances
like a tiger towards enemies and walks like bull to show His prowess. Rama is compaed to all
the four to denote His glory, implying His divinity
They have eyes like lotuses, padhmapathravisalAkshou, shine like Asvini devas and
resemble celestial beings in human form. They look like the Lord Skandha himself in their
splendour shining like the fire,and attracting the eyes and the mind of the onlookers.
prAkASyam kulam asmAkam mAm uddharthum ihAgathou
kaTHam padhbhyAm iha prApthou kimarTHam kasya va munE
varAyudhadharou veerou kasya puthrou mahAmune
bhooshayanthou imam dhEsam chandhrasuryou ivAmbaram
Then Janaka asked Visvmaithra who they were, saying "whether they have come here to
give lustre to my clan or to uplift me .How is it that they have come here by walking(since
they seem to be princes) for what purpose and for whose sake?"
Here one cannot help remembering the same queston asked by Thyagaraja,'evarikai
avatharme,' and asks Rama 'avani ki rammani pilachina maharaju evvado ,' meaning, "for
whose sake you have taken the incarnation and who is that great soul who has requested you
to come to earth?"
Visvamithra informed Janaka about Rama and Lakshmana and told him who they were and
why they came with the sage and said that they have come to see the big bow of Janaka.
Hearing about all that had happened in the forest Sathanandha asked Visavamithra whether
his mother was released from her curse and joined with his father.the words used by him to
describe his mother shows that Valmiki did not mean that Ahalya was turned into a stone.
api thE muniSArdhoola mama mAthA yaSasvinee
dharSithA rAjaputhrAya thapO dheerGham upAgathA
Sathanandha asked Visvamithra whether his mother was shown by the sage to Rama.He
described his mother as yasasvinee, one of fame and thapo dheergham upAgathA, one who
had undergone long penance, meaning that she was living like a stone, invisible, without food
or water lying on the ground like a stone.Visvamithra told Sathanandha that Ahalya rejoined
her husband like Renuka, mother of Parasurama whom he killed by the order of his father
Jamadagni, rejoined her husband, thereby indicating that the sin had been destroyed in both
cases through punishment.
11.The legend of Visvamithra
Sathanandha spoke to Rama 'svAghathamthE naraSrEshata dhishtyA prApthosi
raghava,' welcoming him and saying that he has come there by the divine will.Ramavathara
was for the sake of dhushtanigraha and sishtaparipalana , punishing the wicked and protecting
the good and both functions of the incarnation have started already by killing Thataka and
others and redeeming Ahalya.Now for the fulfilment of the main purpose of avathara , that is,
Ravanavadha he has come to Mithila to be united with the divine mother.The glance of Sri
has already fallen on him to ensure success in all his doings starting from the breaking of the
bow ending with Ravanavadha. Without Sri the Lord will not be Srinivasa and
lakshmikataksha is as necessary for Him as for other beings.SIta looked at Sugriva and he got
his kingdom and she must have looked at Vibheeshana when he travelled through the sky
over asokavana to approach Rama (heard in the harikatha of Madurai TNSeshagopalan),and
hence he got the kingdom of Lanka. for the same reason Rama showed Sita the kishkindha
and sringiberapura while they were coming back to Ayodhya in the celestial chariot to ensure
that the regions will be prosperous.again this was why Sita, while speaking to Ravana in
asokavana, never looked at him but placed a blade of grass in between .
Then Sathanandha started relating the story of Visvamithra and his exploits to Rama.He said
that Visvamithra was 'achinthyakarmA thapasa brahmarshih athulaprabhah,' He has
achieved through his thapas powers beyond comprehension, becoming brahmarshi through
thapas alone. Rama, said Sathanandha, has been singularly blessed to have Visvamithra as his
guru. It is really delightful to see the soulabhya of the L:ord in His incarnations when He
acted the role that is expected of Him, as Vedantadesika puts it in
Yadhavabhyudhaya,'namyasya namathaH kshudhrAn, varadhasya
varArThinah;puthraiH pithrmathaH kreedA kaTHam thE kEna varnyathE.' He bows
down to people who worship Him, requests favours from those whom He bestows His grace
and treats His own children as His parents.His leela is thus indescribable!
Visavamithra was the descendent of Brahma himself and was a king who incurred the wrath
of Vasishta, trying to confiscate his celestial cow Kamadhenu and was vanquished by him
through his brahmathejas before which all the asthras and sathras Visvamithra got through
penance became futile. Then he wanted to become a brahmarshi like vasisihta to equal him
in power and had to undergo great difficulties to accomplish that. Being a kshathriya he had
the qualities normal to a king, such as desire, anger and arrogance. He had to conquer each of
these undergoing trials and tribulations.
Visvamithra went to forest with his wife and did penance and obtained the title of rajarshi
from Brahma. But he was not satisfied and wanted to become brahmarshi.and started to do
penance again when he took pity on Trisanku, a king of Ikshvaku clan who wished to go to
heaven with his physical body and wanted to do a yajna for that purpose. Visvamithra
wasted his power in creating a heaven for him with stars and all but stopped by the devas
who made him to see reason.
Then he started to do penance again and attained the state of rshi but was tempted by
Menaka, a celestial damsel and lived with her for sometime but realised his mistake and
continued his penance again at the end of which Brahma gave him the title of maharshi and
said since he had not conquered his senses he could not become brahmarshi. Not put out
by this Visvamithre did severe penance again and Indra frightened by it sent Rambha
another apsara who was cursed by Visvamithra to become a stone.
Thus eventhough he was not tempted by her, having conquered kAma, he found that he had
yet to control his anger to become the master of his senses and then contuinued to do very
severe penace by which the whole universe was agitated and Brahma appeared before him
and conferred the title of Brahmarshi. Visvamithra said 'brAhmaNyam yadhi mE prAptham
dheergham AyuH thaTHaiva cha;OmkArascha vashatkarO vedhAScha varayanthu mAm.'
That is, he asked the boon that the vedas, Omkara and vashatkAra should come to him. This
means that he should have the right to do veda adhayayana and to act as a priest in
sacrifices.Further he asked the devas and Brahma to make Vasishta confirm his title of
brahamrshi.. Vasishta also came there and did like wise.Thus the story of Visvamithra
illustrates that anything can be achieved by strenous and persistent effort and also that to
attain any eminence there would certainly be obstacles and trials whcih should be