Ramayana: Rama and Sita

Remember that Rama is an incarnation of the god Vishnu. In this part of the story, you will also hear about the god Shiva, whose mighty bow is part of the marriage test that King Janaka has set for his daughter, Sita. You can read more about the god Shiva at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Ramayana unit. Story source: Indian Myth and Legend by Donald A. Mackenzie (1913).

Rama and Sita

The Bow of Shiva

At length they reached the capital of Janaka,  King of Mithila, who welcomed Vishwamitra and said: "Who are these courageous young men with the majesty of elephants and the fearlessness of tigers? Comely are they as the twin Aswins."

Said the sage: "These are sons of Dasaratha; they are slayers of Rakshasas and desire greatly to behold Shiva's mighty bow."

Then the monarch spake to the nobles and warriors and said: "Bring forth the bow."

His command was immediately obeyed. From an inner hall, many stalwart men hauled the stupendous bow on an eight-wheeled iron chariot into the presence of the monarch of Mithila.

"Behold the bow of Shiva!" cried the warriors.

Said Janaka: "Behold the mighty bow which has been treasured by generations of kings. Many rajahs and warriors have endeavoured in vain to bend it; even Rakshasas and Asuras have failed; the gods themselves quail before it. . . . To the rajah who can bend this mighty weapon I will give in marriage my daughter, the beauteous Sita."

Rama gazed with wonder and then said: "Permit me to lift and bend thy bow."

Wondering greatly at these words, the monarch and many high nobles and strong warriors gathered round about. . . . With smiling face, Rama lifted the bow; then proudly he strung it, whereat those who looked on were all amazed. . . . The prince put forth his strength and bent the bow with resistless force until it snapped in the middle with a terrible noise like to thunder; the earth shook and the mountains echoed aloud. . . . At the loud crash, which resembled the roar of Indra's thunderbolt, all who were present fell down stunned and terrified save Janaka and Vishwamitra and the two sons of Dasaratha.

Rama Marries Sita

Said the monarch: "Now have mine eyes beheld a great wonder. Peerless is Rama, the noble one, and he shall be given for wife my daughter Sita, who is dearer to me than life. . . . Let speedy messengers hasten unto Dasaratha and bid him to come hither."

When Dasaratha reached Janaka's capital, Rama and Sita were wedded amidst great rejoicings.

Image source: Marriage of Rama and Sita

Happy were the lovers together. When they arrived at Ayodhya, the people welcomed them, and Dasaratha's queens embraced and kissed the soft-eyed bride of peerless fame.

It is told that on their honeymoon they loved to wander in the moonlight. On a night of warmth and beauty, they went to the banks of a pond which sparkled with lotus blooms.

Said Rama: "My loved one, graceful art thou as the lotus, thy hair is like silken moss, thine eyes like beautiful bees; fair is thy face as the moon's soft image amidst the waters, thine arms are shapely lotus stalks, and thy bosom is like to buds of sweet lotus, O my peerless bride."

They plunged together into the cool, moon-swept waters, and Rama cast at his bride many fair water blooms. Sita retreated before him until she went beyond her depth; then she clung lovingly to Rama, twining her arms about his neck, nor did he hasten to draw her back, so dearly he loved to be embraced by her.

Hide-and-seek they then played amidst the floating flowers. Rama sank down until his face only was seen, and Sita, who searched for him, knew not whether she saw the face of Rama or a blue lotus bloom on the surface of the pond. Bending down to smell what seemed to be a flower, she touched her lover's lips, and he kissed her sweetly. Then Sita hid herself, and her face was like to a lotus bloom among lotus blooms. Rama kissed her many times ere she moved or smiled. . . . At length they darted merrily from the pond in bright moonlight, their garments dripping sparkling water drops, and then they drank cups of honey; the heart of Sita was intoxicated, and she babbled words of love and sweetness. . . .

Rama and Sita spent happy hours together, sharing supreme joy like to Vishnu and peerless Lakshmi in the bright celestial regions.

The Succession Crisis

The Maharajah Dasaratha was growing old, and his counsellors and the people began to consider who should be appointed Yuvarajah (Young Rajah), to take over the duties of sovereignty and allow the monarch to spend his closing years in preparation for death so that he might secure heaven in the next life.

All the sages and chieftains favoured the choice of Rama, and the heart of Dasaratha was filled with joy. The people rejoiced also when it was told to them that Rama was to become their ruler, and they raised shouts of triumph and gladness. Then Rama was sent for, and the Maharajah blessed him and bade him to spend the night in Vishnu's temple with his wife Sita to prepare for the ceremony of installation on the morrow. That night the city of Ayodhya was illuminated, and the people prepared to decorate the streets with garlands and streamers when the dawn came.

(800 words)

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