creator God) son was Marichi’ and his son was
Kashyapa, Kashyapa’s son Surya, Surya’s son Vaivasvata Manu, Manu’s son
Ikshvaku, Ikskhvakku’s son Kakutstha, Kakutstha’s son Raghu, Raghu’s son
Aja, Aja’s son Dasharatha, Dasharatha’s sons were Rama, Bharata,
Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Since Rama was descended from Kakutstha and
Raghu, he was also called Kakutstha and Raghava. Since his father’s name
was Dasharatha, he was also called Dasharathi. Rama’s story belongs to
the solar line (surya vansha), since one of his ancestors was Surya.
Vishnu himself wished to
destroy Ravana and the other rakshasas (demons). He therefore divided
himself into four parts and was born as Rams, Bharata, Lakshmana and
Shatrughna. Rama was Koushalya’s son, Bharata Kaikeyi’s. Lakshmana and
Shartrughna were the sons of Sumitra.
The sage Vishvamitra came to
Dasharatha and pleaded for Rama’s help in defeating the rakshasas who
were disturbing his yajanas. Rama killed these demons and Vishvamitra
was so pleased that he taught Rama the use of all divine weapons. Rama
broke a bow of Shiv’s that had been in the possession of the king of
Mithila, Janaka. This was the task that had been appointed for marrying
Sita, Janaka’s daughter. Rama married Sita, Lakshmana married urmila,
Bharata married Mandavi and Shatrughna married Shrutakirti. On the way
back to Ayodhya, Rama also beat Parashurama in a duel.
Dasharatha resolved that Rama
should be made yuvaraja, that is, the heir apparent to the kingdom.
But Kaikeyi had a servant
named Manthara who plotted otherwise. When he was young, Rama had pulled
at Manthara’s feet and ever since that day, Manthara had not been kindly
towards Rama. She reminded Kaikeyi of the two; boons that had been
promised to her by King Dasharatha. Years ago, the gods had been
fighting with the demon Shambara and had asked Dasharatha for his help.
In fighting with Shambara, Dasharatha had been injured. He had been
nursed back to health by Kaikeyi. Dasharatha had promised two boons to
Kaikeyi as a reward and Manthara’s suggestion was that Kaikeyi should
now ask for these two boons. By the first boon Rama would be banished to
the forest for fourteen years and by the second boon Bharata would
Kaikeyi listened to Manthara.
At Manthara’s instance, she asked for these two boons. Dasharatha was
very angry, but Rama insisted that he would indeed go to the forest for
fourteen years. Rama, Lakshmana and Sita first went to the banks of the
river Tamasa. From there they went to the kingdom of Guha, the king of
the hunters (nishadas). They crossed the river Jahnavi and arrived in
Prayaga, where the sage Bharadvaja had his hermitage. Their final
destination was the mountain range of Chitrakuta, on the banks of the
Meanwhile, back home in
Ayodhaya, King Dasharatha who could not bear to be parted from Rama,
died. Bharata and Shatrughna had gone on a visit to their uncle’s house
and were recalled. But Bharatha refused to be king. He went to the
forest to try and persuade Rama to return, but Rama insisted that he
would not return before the fourteen years were over. So Bharata brought
back Rama’s sandals. He placed these sandals on the throne as a token of
Rama’s kingship. And he began to rule the kingdom in Rama’s name from
Nandigrama, rather than from Ayodhya.
Rama, Lakshmana and Sita then
went to the forest that is known as the Dandaka forest, dandakaranya.
This forest was on the banks of the river Godavari and there was a
beautiful lgrove inside the forest known as Panchavati. They built a hut
there and resolved to live there.
There was a rakshasa woman
named Shurpanakha. She happened to come to the place where Rama
Lakshmana and Sita had built their hut. Shurpanakha liked Rama so much
that she wanted to marry Rama and eat up Lakshmana and Sita. But
Lakshmana cut off Shurpanakha’s nose and ears with his sword.
Shurpanakha fled to brother
Khara and demanded revenge. Khara and fourteen thousand other demons (rakshasas)
attacked Rama, but they were all killed by Rama. Shurpanakha then went
to her other brother Ravana, the king of Lanka.
Ravana asked the rakshasa
Maricha to adopt the form of a golden deer and roam around in front of
Rama’s hut. Sita was so charmed by the deer that she asked Rama to
capture it for her. Rama was long in returning and Lakshmana went to
look for him. Taking advantage of Rama and Lakshmana’s absence, Ravana
kidnapped Sita. Jatayu, the king of the birds, did try to stop Ravana,
but he met his death at Ravana’s hands.
Rama and Lakshmana were
greatly distressed to find Sita missing and they looked for her
everywhere. Rama made friends with the monkey Sugriva. He killed
Sugriva’s brother Bali and made Sugriva the king of monkeys. The monkeys
were sent off in all the four directions to look for Sita.
The monkeys who had gone
towards the south learnt that Sita was in Lanka, across the ocean. One
of these monkeys was Hanumana. Hanumana leapt over the ocean and arrived
in Lanka. He discovered the lonesome Sita in a grove of ashoka trees,
the ashokavana. Hanumana introduced himself and assured Sita that he
would soon be back with Rama. Hanumana caused some general havoc in
Lanka and was captured by Meghnada or Indrajit, Ravana’s son. Ravana
ordered that Hanumana’s tail should be set on fire. But Hanumana used
his burning tail to set fire to all the houses of Lanka. He then
returned to Rama with the news that Sita had been found.
Rama, Lakshmana and the army
of monkeys arrived at the shores of the ocean. There they built a bridge
over the ocean so that they could cross over into Lanka. There was a
terrible war in which Rama killed the giant Kumbhakarna, Ravana’s
brother. Lakshmana killed Indrajit. Rama killed Ravana with a powerful
divine weapon, the brahmastra.
The fourteen years were by
now over and Rama, Lakshmana and Sita returned to Ayodhya. There Rama
was crowned king and he treated his subjects as his own sons. He
punished the wicked and followed the path of dharma. During Rama’s rule
there was no shortage of foodgrains anywhere and the people were
righteous. No one died an untimely death.
On Rama’s instructions,
Shatrughna killed the asura Lavana and built the city of Mathura in the
place where Lavana’s kingdom had been. Bharata was sent by Rama to kill
a wicked gandharva, a singer of heaven named Shailusha, who lived on the
banks of the river Indus with his sons. Bharata killed them and built
two cities there, Takshashila and Pushkaravati. In Takshashila Bharata
established his son Ataksha as king and in Pushkaravati he made his son
pushkara the king. Rama and Sita had two sons named Kusha and Lava. Rama
ruled for eleven thousand years before he died.
This is the story of the
Ramayana as recounted in the Agni Purana. It was written by the sage
Valmiki after he had heard the story from the sage Narada.