Sripad Valmiki Muni

Previously Valmiki, having the name Ratnakara, was living in the forest, and to maintain his family he would kill and rob passers by as they went through the forest. Some days he would come back with not very much, to which his demanding wife would reply to his entrance, "Is that all you've brought?" "Be patient dear, tomorrow a group of rich merchants will pass through the forest and I will relieve them of their wealth, " he would dutifully reply.

One day the seven great sages (Sapta Rishis) passed through the forest. Ratnakara stopped them with his usual demands for their wealth or their lives. The sages replied that they were actually in the renounced order, and did not possess any material wealth. They then asked the robber why he robbed as a profession. Ratnakara replied that he had to maintain his family, and robbery was his only option as a means of livelihood. The sages asked him if his family, who live on the fruits of his sinful activities, would partake of the results of his sins also, that he comited by putting his victims through various ordeals, and told him to go and ask them and then come back with their answer.

 Ratnakara seemed to think they would be with him completely, however when the robber asked his wife and son if they would also share in the resultant reactions to his sins as well as the fruits, they both replied, No! You are the sinner. Why should we share your sins?"

 Devastated at the replies from his so-called loved ones, in tears he returned to the seven great sages. Throwing himself at their feet he begged for their mercy and forgiveness. The sages told Ratnakara to chant the holy name of Rama, but Ratnakara stated that he had always preferred to chant Mara, or death. Anyway, those Saptarishis, who are full of compassion told him to just sit there and recite Mara continuously. As he chanted 'maramaramaramara' continuously like that, the holy name of 'ramaramarama' gradually became manifest. Sitting and chanting in this way in deep absorption on the holy name of the Lord, he sat for months and years, until finally his body became covered over by a 'valmik' (ant hill).

One day, many years later, the seven great sages returned and called to the now reformed robber. Bursting from the ant hill, the pleased sages gave him the new name Valmiki. By the constant and intense devotion of Valmiki Muni, best among the 'Rshis', he had meditated on the holy name of Lord Rama, even at first unknowingly, but the potency of the holy name acts whether chanted knowingly, unknowingly, or even in a mocking way.
 Valmiki, now surcharged with spiritual potency, became respected everywhere by saintly devotees of the Lord. At this time, Narada Muni came to see Valmiki. Valmiki, accepting Narada as his eternal spiritual master, enquired from him as to who among men is the most perfect. Narada Muni said that King Rama, the King of Ayodhya, is the most perfect person, for He is the Personality of Godhead Narayana Himself. Then Narada Muni narrated the full story of the Ramayana - the wonderful life story of Lord Rama, after which he took his leave.

 Valmiki thought of nothing else, for he was always absorbed in thoughts of the saintly Lord Rama.

Once Valmiki, with some of his 'sisyas' (students) headed for the Tamasa River for bathing, as Valmiki described the glories of the Lord's creation - the river, the forest, the animals and birds who have taken shelter of the forest, he saw two kraunch birds in a tree, in courtship.  Then in a second, a hunter pierced the male bird with an arrow and the bird fell to the ground, dead. The female bird, in despair, wailed in grieving tones for her mate.
 Valmiki said, even to his own surprise, to the hunter in perfect rhyme,

    ma nisada pratistham tvam agamah sasvatissamah
      yat krauncamithunad ekam avadhih kamamohitam

"O hunter!  May you ne'er be blest, nor reach the realm of timeless rest, for thou hast rent this kraunch-pari, while they were joined in love most rare."(Valmiki Ramayana 1:2:14.)
 As soon as he said these very poetic words, which were born out of grief ('shoka'), he had realised that a new format of stanza had come about. Later as Valmiki wrote down the Ramayana, the 'Sanskrit shoka' became 'shloka', the poetry of his writing.

 Lord Brahma personally came and instructed Valmiki Muni, who had heard perfectly from Narada Muni the story of Rama, to write down the epic Ramayana.  Empowered by 'guru', he propounded these following pastimes.

More with Valmiki receiving Sita, her sons Lava and Kusa and Valmiki's teaching them the Ramayana to sing before Rama.

.................. in brief, now relish the intensity of the life of Lord Rama, son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, and his queen Kausalya.

The following section is from the book "The Life and Legacy of Sripad Ananda Tirtha - Madhwacharya" JTCd (c) 2000.

 Dasaratha had two other wives of the names Queen Sumitra and Queen Kaikeyi.  Laxman and Satrughna were born to Sumitra and Bharata was born to Kaikeyi.
 This incident is no ordinary thing not only from the view point of these wonderful pastimes of Lord Rama, but from the view of Acarya Madhwa, this incident propounded the living truth of Madhwa's philosophy. He remembered how all the demigods and sages had taken shelter at the Lotus feet of Lord Maha Visnu out of fear of the demoniac threats  and deeds of Ravana. "At that time You agreed to appear on Earth as Rama the greatest king that ever lived, to show an example for all to follow. This Ravan had received some boons from Lord Siva that he could never be killed by any demigod, ghost, or fellow demon. Being caught in his own foolish pride, and thinking the humans and animals too insignificant to bother him they didn't cross his mind. Knowing the heart of all living beings You my Lord at that time, at the request of Your devotees agreed to come and reside amongst the humans as King Ramacandra, and You asked us, Your aids, to take our births' among the monkeys and bears to assist You and relieve the devotees from the burden of the demon Ravan."

Before it seems a few moments, as is Your pastime Rama was sixteen years of age and the sage Visvamitra came to Ayodhya and requested Dasaratha to allow Prince Rama to go to the forest with him. Visvamitra told Dasaratha that 'raksasas', man eating demons, were constantly disturbing the sacrificial fires of the 'brahmins' in the forest. Visvamitra Muni insisted that Rama, though you, was the only one who could perform the task, and so Rama, accompanied by Laxman, his devoted brother, went with Visvamitra to the forest.
 To show to Their devotees that they were independent and superior to even hordes of 'raksasas' and 'raksasis' who had received temporary material boons from various demigods, who in themselves were dependant on the Supreme Lord and who now appeared before them in the form of a 'mortal king'.
 Practically as soon as they entered the forest, Tataka, the 'raksasi' attacked the party.

     tam apatantim vegena vikrantam asanimiva
      sarebirasi vivyadha sa papata mamara ca

"She (Tataka) ran at Rama in a flash like lightning. But Rama sent an arrow into her breast and she fell down dead on the ground."(Valmiki Ramayana 1:25:14.).
 Visvamitra then taught Lord Rama, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, how to master the art of weaponry, using 'mantra astra' weapons of all magical types. Visvamitra, being a great 'brahmin', knew all the Vedas, including the Dhanur Veda, governing warfare and weaponry.
 After desposing of the demons that were causing a disturbance to the sages' sacrifices, Sri Rama, his brother Laxman, and Visvamitra then headed north to the beautiful town of Mithila which was ruled by King Janaka, hearing that there was to be the 'svayamvara' of Janakaraja's impeccable and chaste daughter, the Princess Sita. Sita literally meaning pure, impeccable and of a whitish complexion, or;

    atha me krsatah ksetram langalad utthita mama
     ksetram sodhayata labdha namna siteti visruta

"(King Janaka recalled), 'And as I was tilling the ground, a girl-child came out from under the plough. I gathered her up as I cleared that field, and I have named her 'Sita', after that furrow."(Valmiki Ramayana 1:65:14.)

King Janaka put a challenge out to the many suitors to come and win the lovely Sita Devi's hand as their wife. Janakaraja had stated, "Come to Mithila in the kingdom of Videha, come and string the great bow of Lord Shiva and win the hand of my daughter. Any Prince who can do this surely will be qualified." Princes and Kings from all over came, even Ravana, the king of the demons, but none could even lift the bow individually or collectively, what to speak of stringing the famed Haradhanu of Lord Shiva. That is, none except the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the crest jewel of the Surya Vamsa dynasty, "Raghu Pati" Rama.  Without even the slightest effort, Lord Rama, with one hand, raised that mighty bow that was wheeled into the assembly by five hundred men carriers. Not only did Rama raise the bow, he strung it and then as he flexed the bow string, he broke that bow. Who can imagine the potency of Lord Rama? Upon winning the hand of Sita devi, everyone in the assembly was extremely pleased. Mother Sita then garlanded her Lord and that day their wedding was performed by expert 'brahmins'.
 Lord Rama and Mother Sita returned to Ayodhya where they lived for many years happily. Everyone loved the divine couple and because of their presence, Ayodhya prospered. In due course, Rama's aged father Dasaratha, announced his desire to retire and give up the throne, and that his eldest son, Rama, was to become heir apparent to the throne. All kinds of lavish arrangements were made and the whole of Ayodhya was decorated like a beautiful bride awaiting her husband.
 But fate knew of another plan - the envious hunchback maidservant Manthara, who served Queen Kaikeyi the mother of Bharata, verbally tried to poison Kaikeyi's mind. She suggested to Kaikeyi that actually her son, Bharata, should be King and not Rama. If Rama became King, surely Kaikeyi would be banished or treated like a second class person, and made to serve them hand and foot. Kaikeyi could not believe such things, but with the constant bagging of the wicked Manthara, she became infected and weakened, just as sense gratification ruins a 'brahmins' austerity even though taken in small doses. Becoming covered over by the nagging Manthara, Kaikeyi believed what she said was true, and Manthara manipulated the weakened Kaikeyi into her plot. Manthara said to Kaikeyi,
 "Do you remember the time when Dasaratha was once wounded in battle and you alone saved him from death at the hands of his enemy? For your devotion to him and your valour, he gave you two boons. However you chose not to request those boons until you wanted them Kaikeyi, Now request those boons - ask that Bharata be made King and that Rama be sent to the forest in exile for fourteen years. Do this Kaikeyi and you will be happy."
 Kaikeyi sent a messenger to King Dasaratha and he came to her rooms. She then made her demands. Dasaratha, obliged to fulfil her boons, consented to her wish. Poor Dasaratha then collapsed, almost dead. "O Rama, what have I done?" He remembered the curse of an old couple in the forest when he inadvertently killed their son. Mistaking the gurgling sound of the boy filling his water pot for an elephant drinking at the river, he pierced and killed him. The old blind couple (his parents) cursed Dasaratha that he would also loose his son when he wanted him most.
 "O, the reactions of past deeds eventually catch everyone, for every action has it's concomitant reaction."
 Dasaratha sent for Rama, and on his arrival he heard the words that his father had promised to Kaikeyi - the instructions of going to the forest. Lord Rama, to keep his father's promise intact, prepared himself to go the forest for fourteen years. On hearing this, Sita and Laxman convinced Rama to allow them to go as well, and they all donned tree bark clothing, giving up costly silks and jewels, and took to having matted hair.

The citizens of Ayodhya were up in arms, begging Rama, Laxman and Sita to stay. Upon hearing their plea denied, they said then they would also accompany Rama to the forest. Rama however would not let the citizens accompany him into the forest, though the whole city was ready to go. They accompanied the trio to the edge of the forest, but at their night resting place on the far edge of the kingdom, Rama Sita and Laxman slipped away unnoticed. Heading south they crossed the Rivers Tamasa, Vedasruti and Gomati, before finally reaching the Ganges. There Rama, Sita and Laxman met the chief of the hunter tribe by the name Guha, who supplied them with a boat to cross the Ganges. At this time they bade farewell to the chariot driver Sumantra and to Ayodhya.
 In Ayodhya, King Dasaratha, out of intense separation, gave up his very life in constant remembrance of Rama. When Bharata arrived back in Ayodhya after spending some time at his maternal parents' house, he found out what his mother had been a party to. With all of his army he took off to the forest to try to request Rama, Sita and Laxman to return.
 Seeing the forest animals disturbed and a great movement of dust heading their way, Rama could understand that Bharata and his army had come from Ayodhya. Enquiring as to the welfare of his dear father, Bharata made the sad report that their father had passed from this world and had gone to the spiritual world. Bharata stated that he didn't want to be king, and that Rama should come back and take the throne. When Rama declined, Bharata, in great humility, put on tree bark clothing, rubbed the sap of 'bhurja' (a kind a birch tree) into his own hair, and begging at Rama's lotus feet, asked Rama for his 'karam chappels' ('padukas' - wooded peg shoes). Rama stepped out of his peg shoes and Bharata placed them on his own head. "Rama, if you will not come back, then I will rule on your behalf, placing your worshipful shoes on the throne, I Prince Bharata, will report to your 'tadiya' (worshipful paraphernalia) daily, the activities of Ayodhya until your return." Bharata then returned to Ayodhya and for fourteen years ruled Ayodhya in that way.
 Meanwhile, Rama, Sita and Laxman pushed on further south, and met the sage Atri and his good wife Anasurya (the parents of Durvasa Muni). Staying with them for one night, Rama and Sita rejoined Laxman to head further south and into the Dandaka forest.
 Rama protected Sita from the onslaught of the 'raksasa' Viradha, who was really a demigod cursed to roam in the forest, and who would be freed by the touch of Rama. The freed Viradha told Rama, Sita and Laxman to go further into the forest. Doing so, they arrived at the 'ashram' of the sages headed by Sutiksna, who welcomed the party very pleasingly. Rama, Sita and Laxman stayed for some years at the sage's 'ashrama' as their protectors. During Rama's stay, these ascetics knew the peach and tranquillity they constantly sought, living lives of recluse in the forest with their Lord.
 Rama then moved further south with Sita and Laxman to the 'ashrama' of Agastya Muni. The stern and bold Muni bestowed all kinds of mystical weapons upon Rama, and told him of Pancavati just sixteen miles from there. Pancavati is beautiful and abundant with all kinds of natural opulence's, such as fruit bearing trees and bushes, root crops, fresh water, and deer.
 Rama, Sita and Laxman went to that beautiful place, Pancavati, and stayed there happily for quite some time. Many seasons came and went and they all enjoyed their new forest home. From time to time Rama and Sita would explore the forest, enjoying the wonders that nature manifests. All the animals, birds, trees and creepers of the forest were pleased to be there with the Lord and His divine consort, Mother Sita, served and watched over by the protective Laxman.
 Then, one day the sister of the King of the demons came by Pancavati, the ugly, hunch backed demoness, Surpanakha. She saw Rama and immediately wanted him for herself.  Surpanakha, (which means one whose nails resemble a winnowing basket or sieve) lusty and overcome with passion, with copper coloured hair, large belly, deformed eyes and harsh croaking voice, said to Rama, "Wearing matted locks and dressed in the garb of an ascetic, wielding a bow and arrows, and accompanied with your wife, how have you come to this region frequented by ogres? What is the object of your visit? Please tell me why."

Rama told Surpanakha the whole story so far. Surpanakha then glorified her own lineage - her father Visrava, her demoniac brothers Ravana, Kumbakarna, Khara and Dusana, and Vibhisana who was not really an ogre at all, being of a pious nature. Then Surpanakha glorified herself saying how she surpassed all of them. "O Rama, ever since I set eyes on you I wanted you for my husband. I am richly endowed with power, therefore be my husband. Forget this Sita. What can you accomplish with her? She is ugly and deformed too, she is not worthy of you."
 Rama, laughing replied, "I am already married and for you to be a co-wife would be most painful. But here is my younger brother Laxman, glorious and brave, strong, handsome and unmarried. Accept him as your husband charming lady."
 Surpanakha spoke to Laxman, "Come with me. I shall be your wife. Possessed as I am with nice complexion, let us wander through the Dandaka forest together and enjoy bodily delights."
 Laxman replied, "I am just a servant of Rama. How could you want to become a maidservant. You should insist that Rama accept you as his wife."
 "Yes" said Surpanakha. "Why Rama do you cling to this hideous human lady, deformed with a sunken belly. I will devour her today then you will marry me, Rama."
 As the demoness ran at Sita to devour her, Laxman drew his sword and cut off Surpanakha's nose and ears. Yelling and cursing, the demoness covered in her own blood, ran into the forest screaming. See how the faithful Laxman was always ready to serve the divine couple in a selfless manner.
 Surpanakha returned to her brothers Khara and Dusana, who then, with their entire armies attacked Rama. Killing all of their fourteen thousand 'raksasas' with the mystical weapons given by Agastya, Rama emerged victorious. Hearing of this, Ravana planned to go to Pancavati. With red eyes full of lust and anger, the demon Ravana took advice from the demon Akampana and desired revenge for his sister and brothers.
 When Ravan approached Pancavati to distract Lord Rama from the 'ashrama', he sent Marica the magician, the son of Tataka, disguised in the form of a golden deer with silver spots. Sita, wanting that deer, asked Rama to get it for her. Laxman feared a trick, for it was too attractive a deer to be real. Rama went to the forest and with a magic arrow poised to bring back the deer for Sita. The fake deer let out cries of Laxman, come help me," before it died, revealing it's true form as Marica.

Laxman was reluctant to leave Sita alone for fear of 'raksasa' tricks. Sita, however, forced Laxman to go to Rama even though Rama had told Laxman not to leave her. Sita suggested to Laxman that the real reason he didn't want to go to see if Rama was alright was that really all these years Laxman had been waiting for the opportune moment to himself take Sita. Laxman was bitterly hurt by this. Sita called him an ignoble and merciless enemy of his righteous brother. Bereft of her Rama, Sita was ready to throw herself into the Godavari River or even hang herself. Somehow or other casting off her bodily circumstances or even drinking strong poison or enter into fire. Never would she consider another partner other than Rama.(Aranya Kanda, Canto 45:35-37., Valmiki Ramayana.).
 Laxman, unable to bear Sita's torment any longer, conceded to go and look for Rama.

Soon after Laxman's leaving the 'ashrama', the demon Ravana, the younger half brother of the 'yaksa' treasurer, Kuvera, came by as per plan dressed as a mendicant. He was dressed in saffron robes, wearing 'sikha' and carrying an umbrella on his right shoulder. In his left hand he was carrying a sannyasi danda and a kamandalu fashioned from a coconut shell for carrying water. At the sight of the ten headed Ravan dressed as a wandering mendicant trying to trick Sita, even the sacred Godavari River which has a swift current, slowed and in places ran backwards out of fear. Ravana chanting 'Vedic mantra' to induce Sita to think he was saintly, then approached her with lust in his heart.
 "O lady, you possess a beautiful countenance. Decorated in gold and silver and dressed in yellow silk, your eyes, hands and feet are like lotuses. Are you Hri (the goddess residing over modesty), Sri (the goddess of elegance) or Kirti (the goddess of fame). Are you Laxmi (the goddess of fortune), Bhuti (the goddess of mystic powers) or Rati (the goddess of bodily love, the consort of Kamadeva-Cupid). Your smooth white teeth like jasmine buds, and your large clear eyes tinged at the edges with red and large dark pupils.  Your broad and fleshy hips............ etc., etc.," the observant, lusty rascal continued.(Aranya Khanda Valmiki Ramayana Canto 45:15-28.).

Sita received her guest well and offered him some nice foodstuffs. Over the meal Ravana enquired all about her. He then asked Sita to become his principle queen. Ravana glorified himself as the king of the demons. Sita rebuked the approaches of Ravana and tried to get away, but Ravana captured her. Returning to his normal form with ten heads, he summoned his chariot, drawn by donkeys. Sita still verbally challenged him as she was carried away. Saying, "It may be possible to survive after the abduction of Sacchi the consort of Indra, but to try to do this to the consort of Rama, you will never find peace."
 "Just as a tiger seizes unprotected sheep when the shepherd is absent, Ravana kidnapped Sitadevi the daughter of the King of Videha. Lord Ramacandra wandered in the forest with his brother Laxman as if they were very much distressed due to separation from Rama's wife. Thus he showed by his personal example the condition of a person attached to women."(Srimad Bhagavatam 9:10:11.)  Thus was His pastime.

When Ravana kidnapped Sitadevi he was obstructed by Jatayu the eagle friend of King Dasaratha, but the powerful Ravana cut off the valiant Jatayu's wings and claws in a fight that knocked Ravana from his flying chariot and left him bleeding from the attack of Jatayu.
 When Rama came by that area later, he almost mistook the dying Jatayu for a demon. Rama could see that a fight had taken place and then Jatayu revealed who he was, what had happened, and who had take mother Sita. Lord Rama then performed the funeral rites ('antyesthi') for Jatayu.

As Ravan flew through the sky with mother Sita, she saw five monkey chiefs, and threw a small bundle of jewels in their direction, hoping that they may get word to Rama of what was happening to her. As they passed by the Pampa lake region, Ravana, delighted with himself, carried in his arms his own death personified, Sita. Finally they reached his island kingdom of Tripura (Lanka) and placed Sitadevi in his own rooms and again approached her to become his queen. The pure hearted Sita refused again, and was then escorted to the Ashoka garden by ugly and demoniac ogresses on the order of Ravana.

In the meantime, while Rama and Laxman looked in the forest for Sita, Rama killed the demon Kabandha, who, after revealing his true identity and how he was cursed to roam the forest, told Rama and Laxman to make friends with Sugreeva. Reaching the area of the vana (forest) where the Vanaras (a race of forest dwelling monkeys) live, he made friends with Sugreeva and other chiefs, and then killed Vali the brother and enemy of Sugreeva, the monkey king.
 Lord Rama, with the aid of the monkeys, planned how to recover Sita from the king of the demons. Staying the four months of the rainy season at Kishkinda (Vijaynagar, known in the present day as Hampi, Karnataka), on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the rainy seasons called caturmasya came and went. After the autumnal month of Kartik, which is the fourth month of the rainy season, water cascades in the rivers and the hills are lush and green. This is the time for the Vanaras to go further south and turn upside down every place until they find where Ravana has hidden Sita.

The intoxicated Sugreeva needed to be reminded of his promise. Hanuman urged Surgeeva to collect his army to search out Rama's Sita. Laxman prepared to kill Sugreeva for breaking his promise, but was pacified by Rama. He then cast his angry eyes upon Prince Angada, who dragged out the intoxicated Sugreeva by his feet. He had been sleeping with Ruma (the aunt of Angada) and Angada's mother, Tara. Hanuman told Sugreeva to pacify Laxman and start the search for Sita.
 When Sugriva commanded the Vanaras to go in different directions to look for Sita, they each disclosed their capacities to jump across the sea, thus proving that all living entities are not one and the same for even the monkey soldiers had their limitations ('Tamekam matram param samartaha'), but Hanuman who has the biggest jumping power proved his supremacy over the others and flew through the air towards Lanka. Hanuman was the last to arrive back and amazingly, with good news. He had met Sitadevi, and she was safe and well, yet in deep separation from Rama. Upon hearing this Rama wanted to confer all kinds of boons upon the gallant Hanuman, but Hanuman only asked, "Let me be blessed that at every moment of my life it be filled with devotion for You without terms or conditions, this is my desire and let that only increase." This was the pure devotion of Hanuman.

The fact that Lord Rama controlled the masses of Vanaras, who normally were fidgety and easily distracted proves not only that He is the well wisher of all living entities, but also the natural dependency of all living entities on the Lord. Lord Rama prepared the Vanara armies and went to the farthest tip of land in the southern direction. Fasting for three days at that place, Dhanuskoti, Rama awaited Samudra, the ocean personified, to come before him. When Samudra did not come, the Lord exhibited his pastime of anger, and simply glancing over the ocean all the living entities within the ocean were struck with fear. Then Samudra, in a fearful state, approached Lord Rama Candra. Worshipping him with sweet words and paraphernalia, Samudra said to Rama that he and his Vanara army may cross to the abode of that demoniac person who is a source of disturbance and cause of crying for the three worlds, Ravana, by name and nature. Hearing the descriptions of Mother Sita, Samudra continued by urging Rama to go now and kill the demons and reclaim his beloved wife, who was none other than an expansion of Varunas' daughter Laxmidevi.

Everyone helped to construct a floating bridge across the ocean, which was made of the peaks of mountains and huge stone carried by the monkeys. Actually even the lesser physically endowed animals, and even insects, helped like the spider. All came to render service to Rama. At one stage Hanuman ridiculed the spider for him rolling small stones to help construct the bridge, but Rama rebuked this saying that his devotional service was just as valuable as that of the monkeys and bears who carried mountain peaks and logs.

After Vibhisana, Ravana's pious brother, tried to convince Ravana to give up Sita, and admit he had made a mistake, thus stopping the foredooming destruction of Lanka and the dynasty of the demons. Ravana, full of materialistic false pride and arrogance, stubbornly maintained that he was right becoming angry at the good advice given by Vibhisana. Vibhisana flew through the sky across the ocean and joined Rama.
 With the inside help given by Vibhisana, Rama, Laxman and the Vanara army headed by Sugreeva, Nila and Hanuman, entered Ravana's kingdom which had previously been devastated by fires set by Hanuman, the son of Vayu and a great battle ensued.
 When Ravana saw the disturbance created by the monkey soldiers, he called for Nikumba, Kumbha, Dhumraksa, Durmukha, Surantaka, Narantaka and other 'raksasas', and also his son, Indrajit. He then called for Prahasta, Atikaya, Vikampana and finally the giant Kumbhakarna, but one by one they were all vanquished by the army led by Rama and Laxman. Even thought the 'raksasas' were materially very powerful, because their leader had done the worst thing of taking Mother Sita, they were all doomed.
 Finally Ravana tried to attack Rama mounted on his aircraft, which was decorated with flowers. He rushed at Rama, but with his arrows Rama took off the demon's ten heads one by one, but another head would simultaneously grow back. Rama smashed Ravana for seven days continuously. It seemed that the 'raksasa' could not be killed, but then Vibhisana reminded Rama of where to get Ravana. Loading his bow with an especially powerful arrow given by Agastya Muni, Rama pierced deep into the 'raksasa' king's heart like a thunderbolt.  Ravana' vomiting blood from his ten mouths, fell from his aeroplane.
 Mandodari, the chase and faithful wife of Ravana, rushed to his side and collapsed at the sight of his dead body. Vibhisana looked on sorrowfully at the devastated Mandodari, but what could now be said. Vibhisana tried his utmost to warn Ravana and all of his dead accomplices, but they would not listen. Determined to fulfil his lusty materialistic desires for sense gratification and try to enjoy the property of the Lord, Ravana brought this catastrophe upon himself.
 Vibhisana then approached and took shelter of Rama, who gave his approval to perform the funeral rites for the whole of the raksasa clan. Afterwards Vibhisana released Sitadevi and reunited her with Rama.

Sita was thin, aggrieved out of separation from her Lord, and Rama, seeing her in that condition, was compassionate though still a little distant due to her being away from home for some time in another man's house. Sita swore in a quavering voice that her purity of body and her chastity of heart were never touched by any of the 'raksasas'. Distressed at Rama's doubt, Sita opted to enter into fire to prove her point.
 Madhwacarya always recognises the exclusive rites of 'Swatantra' (the Personality of Godhead), and quotes Skanda Purana to clarify his point. "It was actaully impossible for Ravana to take away Sita. The form taken away by Ravana was an illusory representation of Mother Sita - Maya Sita. When Sita was tested in the fire, this Maya-Sita was burnt up and the real Sita came out of the fire."(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. SB 9:10:11. purport). No demon can approach the Lord, or His associates, or bring harm to them in any way. When it appears to happen it should be understood to be part of the Lord's drama, 'lila vicitra'.
 Agnideva personally carried out Sita unscathed from the fire and she resumed her place with Rama. As the real Sitadevi reappeared from the blazing fire dressed in fine yellow silken 'sari', Rama greeted her saying that he never for one moment doubted her purity or chastity, but that this whole ordeal was arranged to remove the doubts of the general populous.
 Srimati Sita devi is definitely the most chaste 'uttama patni' (first class chaste wife), for she only had thoughts for Rama - no other person entered her thoughts for even a second. In the four types of chaste women, the 'adama' (fourth class), even though she has desires to associate with other men, she has no opportunity. Obviously this is not Mother Sita, for the demon Ravana gave her every opportunity, but she had no interest in anyone other than Rama. It is not either, as in the case of 'nikrist' or the third class chaste women, who, out of fear of her husband, remains faithful to him. Rama is the most kind and compassionate husband who saw to Sita's every need. She didn't live in perpetual fear. In the 'nikrsit' stage, social etiquette and prestige may also play an important restrictive role. But this is not Sita Devi's situation for who other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Raghupati Rama, could offer an alternative, higher in value, to her, and in the forest where was the question of prestige?
 In the second class 'madhyama', the woman or wife sees every man other than her husband as either father, brother or son, and so who is that person to whom the chaste 'madhyama' will go to - no-one. Still even this is not Mother Sita, for no other consideration was there. She has no other desire or thought. Her humility supreme, alone in the forest full of danger, and on the island of Lanka surrounded by 'raksasis', but she is so chaste that not for a second did she become separated from Rama. Her love was instead transferred in the mood of separation, intense and pure, and only for Rama.

Giving the kingdom of Lanka over to Vibhisana, Lord Rama placed Mother Sita upon his flower decorated aeroplane, 'puspaka', and accompanied by his intimate followers, Rama, his brother Laxman, Hanuman and Sugreeva returned to Ayodhya.
 Upon his return, Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, heard that his brother Bharata, in his absence, was eating only barley cooked in the urine of a cow, living dressed in tree bark, sporting matted hair of an ascetic, and lying on a mattress of 'kusa' grass.
 "When Bharata understood that Lord Ramacandra was returning to the capital, Ayodhya, he immediately took upon his own head Lord Ramacandra's wooden shoes and came out from his camp at Nadigrama. Bharata was accompanied by ministers, priests and other respectable citizens, by professional musicians vibrating pleasing musical sounds, and by learned 'brahmanas' loudly chanting Vedic hymns. Following in the procession were chariots drawn by beautiful horses with harnesses of golden rope. These chariots were decorated by flags with golden embroidery and by other flags of various sizes and patterns. There were soldiers bedecked with golden armour, servants bearing betel nut, and many well-known and beautiful prostitutes. Many servants followed on foot, bearing umbrellas, whisks, different grades of precious jewels, and other paraphernalia befitting a royal reception. Accompanied in this way, Bharata, his heart softened in ecstacy and his eyes full of tears, approached Lord Ramacandra and fell at his lotus feet with great ecstatic love.
 "After offering the wooden shoes before Lord Rama, Bharata stood with folded hands, his eyes full of tears, and Rama bathed Bharata with his own tears while embracing him with both arms for a long time. Accompanied by Mother Sita and Laxman, Rama then offered his respectful obeisances unto the learned 'brahmanas' and the elderly persons in the family, and all the citizens of Ayodhya offered their respectful obeisances unto the Lord."
 "The citizens of Ayodhya, upon seeing their king return after a long absence, offered him flower garlands, waved their upper cloths, and danced in great jubilation.
 "Bharata carried Lord Rama's wooden shoes, Sugreeva and Vibhisana carried a whisk and an excellent peacock fan, Hanuman carried a white umbrella, Satrughna carried a bow and two quivers, and Sitadevi carried a water pot filled with water from all the holy places. Angada carried a sword, and Jambavan, king of the Rksas carried a golden shield."  (Srimad Bhagavatam 9:10:35-44.)

Vashistha Muni, the 'purohit' (priest) of the family, had Lord Rama clean shaven ready for the coronation installation. With the assistance of the elders of the family, the 'abhisheka', bathing ceremony, was performed with water from the four seas just as it was performed for King Indra. Clean shaven and dressed in fresh cloth and decorated with ornaments and garlands, being blessed by the full surrender and loving submission of Bharata, Lord Rama accepted the throne of state.

During the time when Rama ruled the kingdom there were no shortages of anything.  Everyone was free of all bodily and mental suffering, old age, disease, fear, in fact, all inauspicious things had gone. No woman became a widow, lifespans stretched to one thousand years, families had many sons, rains fell in just the right amounts, just when they were needed, and neither a wild beast nor foreign enemy threatened the peace of the kingdom. Everyone in the kingdom lived very happily according to the tenants of 'shastra', thus absorbed in every aspect of the personification of the Lord, His name, fame, attributes, kingdom, law, and pastimes, though they lived on earth, they lived in Vaikuntha.

Lord Rama took a vow of 'ekapatni' - only to accept one wife, even though as a 'kshatriya' king he had no other connection with any other woman. By the character of Mother Sita, her submissiveness, shyness, chastity and faithfulness to Rama, She was always free from demands and materialistic desires for accumulating mundane possessions like ordinary women due to her understanding attitude of her ideal husband. Her loving service mood attracted the mind of the Lord, Sitadevi being the ideal wife.
 Lord Rama and his younger brothers performed various Vedic sacrifices by which He worshipped Himself, and at the end of the 'yajna' he gave land to the 'hota', 'adhvaryu', 'udgata' and 'brahma' priests. Respectively He gave them the eastern, western, northern and southern directions according to their Veda, and the balance He gave to the 'acarya'. Lord Rama's faith in the 'brahmins' and affection for his servants was observed by all the 'brahmins' who offered their prayers to the Lord, and returned whatever they had taken from Him. They regarded the enlightenment given to them by the Lord within the core of their hearts as a sufficient contribution. Lord Rama then dressed himself like an ordinary person and began wandering within Ayodhya to understand what impression the citizens had of Him. By chance one night Rama heard a man talking to his wife who had gone to another man's house. In the course of rebuking his wife, the man spoke detrimentally about the character of Sita devi, saying that he (the husband) is not like Rama who allows his wife to come back after staying at another's house. Rama immediately returned home, and fearing such rumours, he externally decided to give up the company of Sita devi. He sent her away to the 'ashrama' of Valmiki Muni. Sita, who was pregnant at the time, later gave birth to twin sons named Lava and Kusa.

 Lord Rama continued to perform many sacrifices during his ruling Ayodhya. At one such sacrifice, some fifteen years later, two boys came into the arena of the sacrifice while Rama was sitting on his 'asana'. Valmiki had taught the boys the whole poem of the Ramayana and had put the story to a very beautiful and melodious 'swara', tune. Valmiki, accompanying the two boys, asked Rama's permission so the boys could recite his poem.  Rama gave permission, and the boys commenced in perfect unison.

Sri Ramacandra Bhagavan was deeply stirred by the depth of the knowledge of him and his pastime. Night after night the recital continued until it came to Sita's abandonment to Valmiki's 'ashrama'. Rama was then convinced they were his very own sons born to Mother Sita. He sent word to Valmiki that he should come with Sita and vouch for her purity and faithfulness. If Sita was willing to come before the assembly and give proof of her innocence, she could resume her rightful place at her Lord's side.
 Everyone agreed and the next day Srimati Sitadevi came. Everyone was touched at the sight of her, her head and eyes downcast, tears running down her beautiful face, her long hair chastely adorning her back.

     iyam dasarathe sita suvrata dharmacarini
        apapa te oparityakta mamasramasamipatah

     lakopavadabhitasya tava rama mahavarata
       pratyayam dasyate sita tamanujnatumarhasi

Valmiki Muni respectfully approached Sri Rama saying, "O son of Dasaratha, here is your wife Sita. She has been staying in my 'ashrama' since you abandoned her, performing austerities. She is completely without blame and is pure and innocent. Due to your position as King you played the part that you feared public opinion may be detrimental for you, and so you have also performed severe austerities. However, it is now proper that your impeccable wife be allowed to prove her own innocence." (Valmiki Ramayana Uttara Khanda 7:87:14-15.)

 Sita stood in silence, her eyes transfixed on the ground without blinking. With folded hands she said, "If Rama has always been foremost in my heart, then may my Mother Earth (Bhumi) herself deliver me. If I have been only true to him, wholly, mind, body and soul, then may my Mother Earth deliver me. If I have loved none but him, then let my Mother Earth deliver me."

As she spoke, the earth rumbled, shook and cracked open where Sita stood. Srimati Bhumi devi (Mother Earth personified) then appeared, seated on a throne of incredible natural earthly opulence, surrounded by 'nagas' (snakes), and she invited Sita to take her seat along side her.

Sita, entrusting her children to Valmiki, ascended the throne supported by 'nagas' adorned with fiery eyes and jewels on their heads. There, seated besides her mother, Bhumi and Sita disappeared from sight. The earth closed up leaving not even so much as a furrow on the surface as thought nothing had happened.

 Sripad Madhwacarya's Mahabharata Tatparaynirnaya 9:40., he relates,

     pravisya bhumau sa devi loke drstyanusaratah
       reme ramenavi yukta bhaskarena prabha yatha

"That beautiful Sita devi seemingly entered into the earth though actually she always remains with Lord Rama, just as the sun's rays are always with the sun."

Remembering Sri Rama, true to his vow of 'ekapatni', never accepted another woman other than Sita. Next to him on his 'asana' he kept a golden deity of Sitadevi for some time, performing sacrifices for thirteen thousand years.
 At the end of this period, Agastya Muni and many demigods and sages approached the Lord and reminded him that his pastimes on earth had now been fulfilled and he should now return to Vaikuntha. Lord Rama performed 'acaman', sipping water and reciting 'mantras', once, twice, thrice, then he resumed his form of Visnu, for it is from that seat of Visnu that his pastimes became manifest.
 "Lord Ramacandra returned to his abode, to which 'bhakti yogis' are promoted. This is the place to which all the inhabitants of Ayodhya went after they served the Lord in his manifest pastimes by offering him obeisance's, touching his lotus feet, fully observing him as a father like king, sitting or lying down with him like equals, or even just accompanying him."(Srimad Bhagavatam 9:11:22.)

As Lord Rama thus appeared the Vedas personified appeared as the Ramayana.

             Veda vedye pare pumsi tate Dasarta Atmaje
                  Vedaha prachetasat asit sakshat Ramayanat manaha.

Bala kanda of the Valmiki Ramayan
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