King Dasharatha (दशरथ) was a decendant of King Raghu, son of King Aja and Indumati, King of Ayodhya of Ikshvaku Dynasty and Father of Lord Rama.
The The history of his dynasty is elaborated upon by Valmiki in Ramayana.
Dasharatha had three wives. Kausalya was the eldest. She was the simplest, kndest and most understanding of all. Kaikeyi was the second wife, The most beautiful and cunning. She was the one who convinced King Dasharatha to send lord Rama to forest for 14 years (Vanvasa) Sumitra was the third wife. She was the most intelligent and wise of them all.
Dasharatha had 1 daughter and four sons.
1. Shanta: Shanta was a daughter of the Raja Dasharatha and sister of Lord Rama. She was later given in adoption to Raja Romapada, king of Anga. She was well educated in Veda knowledge, Art, Craft and warfare. She was married to Rishyasringa who also performed a putra kameshthi yajna for Dashratha after which Dasharatha was blessed by four sons: Rama, Bharata, and the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
2. Rama: Rama or Ramachandra is a major Hindu diety and the seventh incarnation (Avatar) of lord Vishnu. Rama was born to Kaushalya. Rama was married to Sita, daughter of King Janaka of Videha. He slayed demon king Ravana, the king of Lanka and freed his wife Sita who was kdnapped. He had two sons, Lava and Kusha.
3. Bharat: Bharat or Bharata was born to Kaikeyi. Bharata was the younger brother of Rama, and a symbol of dharma and idealism. Some legends say that While Rama was incarnation of Vishnu, Bharata was an incarnation of Vishnu’s Sudarshana Chakra. Bharat was married to Mandavi,daughter of Kushadhwaja and Chandrabhaga, brother of King Janaka of Mithila and hence a cousin of Sita.
4. Lakshmana: Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, the twins. Lakshman, also known as Lakhan or Soumitra was the closest companion of Lord Rama. When Rama is considered to be the incarnation of Vishnu and Bharat as Sudarshana Chakra, Lakshman is considered to be an avatar of Shesha or Sheshnaag, the 1000 headed serpent. Lakshmana was married to Urmila, Sita’s younger sister.They had two sons-Angad and Chandraketu. He also served Rama and Sita reverently during the exile.
5. Shatrughna: Shatrughna was the youngest brother of Lord Rama and a twin brother of Lakshmana. He was the slayer of Lavanasura the demon King of Mathura, who was a nephew of Ravana. He was married to Princess Shrutakirti, the third daughter of King Kusadhvaja.
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Rama (राम) is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and a king of Ayodhya. Rama is also the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which narrates his supremacy. Rama is one of the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important avatars of Vishnu. In a few Rama-centric sects, he is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar.
Rama was the eldst son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Rama is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. His wife Sita is considered by Hindus to be an avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. He is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human. For the sake of his father’s honour, Ram abandons his claim to Ayodhaya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice a period known as Ram Rajya.
The Ramayana speaks of how the earth goddess Bhudevi, came to the creator-god Brahma begging to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life through bloody wars and evil conduct. The deva (gods) also came to Brahma fearful of the rule of Ravana, the ten-headed rakshasa emperor of Lanka. Ravana had overpowered the devas and now ruled the heavens, the earth and the netherworlds. Although a powerful and noble monarch, he was also arrogant, destructive and a patron of evil doers. He had boons that gave him immense strength and was invulnerable to all living and celestial beings, except man and animals.
Brahma, Bhumidevi and the gods worshipped Vishnu, the Preserver, for deliverance from Ravana’s tyrannical rule. Vishnu promised to kill Ravana by incarnating as a man the eldest son of Kosala’s king Dasharatha. Goddess Lakshmi took birth as Sita in order to accompany her consort Vishnu and was found by king Janaka of Mithila while he was ploughing a field. Vishnu’s eternal companion, the Shesha is said to have incarnated as Lakshmana to stay at his Lord’s side on earth. Throughout his life, no one, except a few select sages (among which are included Vasishta, Sharabhanga, Agastya and Vishwamitra) know of his destiny. Rama is continually revered by the many sages he encounters through his life, but only the most learned and exalted know of his true identity. At the end of the war between Rama and Ravana, just as Sita passes her Agni pariskha, Brahma, Indra and the gods, the celestial sages and Shiva appear out of the sky. They affirm Sita’s purity and ask him to end this terrible test. Thanking the avatar for delivering the universe from the grips of evil, they reveal Rama’s divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.
Another legend narrates that Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers of Vishnu, were cursed by the Four Kumaras to be born on earth three lives; Vishnu took avatars each time to free them of their earthy existence. They as born as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna, who are both killed by Rama.
Initial days of Rama:
Sage Vishwamitra takes the two princes, Rama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needs Rama’s help in slaying several Rakshasas that have been harassing him and several other sages living in the area. Rama’s first encounter is with a Rakshasi named Taataka, who is a celestial nymph cursed to take the form of a demoness. Vishwamitra explains that she has polluted much of the habitat where the sages reside and there will not be any contentment until she is destroyed. Rama has some reservations about killing a woman, but since Taataka poses such a big threat to the Rishis and he is expected to follow their word, he fights with Taataka and kills her with an arrow. After her death, the surrounding forest becomes greener and cleaner.
Killing Maricha and Subahu:
Vishwamitra presents Rama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that will be of use to him in the future, and Rama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. Vishwamitra then tells Rama and Lakshmana that soon, he along with some of his disciples, will perform a yagna for seven days and nights that will be of great benefit to the world, and the two princes must keep close watch for the two sons of Taadaka, Mareecha and Subahu, who will try to defile the yagna at all costs. The princes therefore keep a strong vigil for all of the days, and on the seventh day they spot Maricha and Subahu coming with a whole host of Raakshasas ready to pour bones and blood into the fire. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean. Rama deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully.
Sage Vishwamitra then takes the two princes to the Swayamvara a wedding ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva and shoot an arrow from it. This task is considered impossible for any ordinary king or living being, as this is the personal weapon of Shiva, more powerful, holy and of divine creation than conceivable. While attempting to string the bow, Rama breaks it in two. This feat of strength spreads his fame across the worlds and seals his marriage to Sita, celebrated as Vivaha Panchami.
14 years exile:
King Dasaratha announces to Ayodhya that he plans to crown Rama, his eldest child the Yuvaraja (crown prince). While the news is welcomed by everyone in the kingdom, the mind of queen Kaikeyi is poisoned by her wicked maid-servant, Manthara. Kaikeyi, who is initially pleased for Rama, is made to fear for the safety and future of her son Bharata. Fearing that Rama would ignore or possibly victimize his younger brother for the sake of power, Kaikeyi demands that Dasaratha banish Rama to a forest exile for fourteen years, and that Bharata be crowned in Rama’s place.
Rama being Maryada Purshottam, agreed to this and he leaves for 14 years exile. Lakshmana and Sita accompanied him.
Ravana kidnapped Sita:
Many pastimes took place while Lord Rama lived in the forest; however, nothing compared to when the Rakshasa king Ravana kidnapped His dear wife Sita Devi, whom He loved with all His heart. Laksman and Rama looked everywhere for Sita but could not find her. Rama thought of her constantly and His mind was distracted by grief due to her separation. He could not eat and hardly slept.
While searching for Sita, Rama and Laksman saved the life of Sugriva, a great monkey king who was being hunted by his demoniac brother Vali. After that, Lord Rama enlisted Sugriva along with his mighty monkey general Hanuman and all the monkey tribes, in the search for His missing Sita.
With building a bridge over the sea, Rama with his vanaar sena crossed the sea to reach Lanka. There was a fierced battle between Rama and the Demon King Ravana. The brutal battle went on for many days and nights. At one point Rama and Laksman were paralyzed by Ravana’s son Indrajit’s poisonous arrows. Hanuman was dispatched to retrieve a special herb to heal them, but when he flew to the Himalaya Mountains he found that the herbs had hidden themselves from view. Undeterred, Hanuman lifted the whole mountaintop into the sky and carried it to the battlefield. There the herbs were discovered and administered to Rama and Laksman, who recovered miraculously from all their wounds. Shortly thereafter, Ravana himself entered the battle and was defeated by Lord Rama.
Finally Sita Devi was released and great celebrations followed. However, to prove her chastity, Sita Devi entered into fire. Agni Dev, the god of fire himself, carried Sita Devi from within the fire back to Lord Rama, proclaiming to everyone her purity and chastity. Now the fourteen years of exile had ended and they all returned to Ayodyha, where Lord Rama ruled for many, many years.
Rama as per Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Finally, a society is evolved out of needs of humans to live, eat and co-exist. The society has rules, and is God-fearing and abiding. It is important to follow rules, rage and unsocial behaviour is cut down. Fellow humans are respected and people abide to law and order.
Rama, the complete man would be the Avatar that could be called as the perfect social human being. Rama respected and followed rules of the society. He would also respect the saints and kill those who would torment the sages and the oppressed ones.
Lion on the battlefield
Rama is often depicted as a very soft-natured person but on the battlefield his shourya-parakrama are unbeatable. He is truly a warrior at heart. After Shoorpanaka’s episode, 14000 warriors march past to attack Rama. Instead of seeking help from Lakshmana in the war, he gently asks Lakshmana to take Seetha and relax in the nearby cave. Seetha on the other hand is quite stunned, for she has never seen Rama’s dexterity at war. With enemies all around him, he fights the whole war himself standing at the center with 1 : 14,000 ratio, while Seetha who watches all this from the cave eventually realizes that her husband is a one-man-army, One has to read the Ramayana to understand the beauty of this episode.
Embodiment of Dharma – Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmaha!
He is a manifestation of dharma. He knows not just the code of conduct but also the dharma-sookshmas (subtleties of dharma). He quotes them many a times to various people,
While leaving Ayodhya, Kausalya requests him in various ways to stay back. With lot of affection, she even tries to take advantage of his nature of adhering to dharma by saying that it is the son’s duty according to dharma to fulfill the wishes of his mother. In this manner, she asks him that isn’t it against dharma for Rama to leave Ayodhya? Rama replies detailing further dharma that it is certainly one’s duty to fulfill his mother’s wishes but dharma also has it that when there is a contradiction between mother’s wish and father’s wish, the son must follow the father’s wish. This is a dharma sookshma.
Shot by arrows in chest, Vali questions, “Rama! You are renowned as the embodiment of dharma. How is it that you being such a great warrior have failed to follow the conduct of dharma and shot me from behind the bushes?” Rama explains so, “My dear Vali! Let me give you the reasoning behind it. Firstly, you acted against dharma. As a righteous kshatriya, I have acted against evil which is my foremost duty. Secondly, In accordance with my dharma as a friend to Sugreeva, who has taken refuge in me, I lived up to my promise I made to him and thus fulfilled dharma again. Most importantly, you are the king of monkeys. As per the rules of dharma, it is not unrighteous for a Kshatriya to hunt and kill an animal either straight ahead or from behind. So, punishing you is totally justifiable according to dharma, more so because your conduct is against the tenets of laws.”
During the initial days of exile, Seetha asks Rama detailing the dharma of exile. She tells, “During the time of exile one has to conduct himself peacefully like an ascetic, So is it not against dharma that you carry your bows and arrows during exile?” Rama replies with further insights into the dharma of exile, “Seetha! One’s swadharma (own dharma) takes higher priority than the dharma that has to be followed according to the situation. My foremost duty (swadharma) is to protect people and dharma as a kshatriya, so according to the tenets of dharma, this takes the top most priority in spite of the fact that we are in exile. In fact, I am even ready to give up on you, who are my most beloved, but I will never give up on my swadharmanushtana. Such is my adherence to dharma. So it is not incorrect for me to carry bows and arrows in spite of being in exile.” This episode happened during the vanvas. These words of Rama show his steadfast devotion to dharma. They also give us an insight into what could have been Rama’s mental state when he was forced to place his duty as a king even higher than his duty as a husband (i.e during the times of agnipareeksha and Seetha’s exile later) as per the rules of dharma.These are some instances in Ramayana that depict that Rama’s every single move was taken after considering all the subtleties of dharma which is often obscure and misunderstood by most of the people.
Embodiment of Compassion
Even when Vibheeshana took refuge in Rama, Some of the vanaras were so hot blooded that they insisted Rama to kill Vibheeshana because he was from the enemy side. Rama sternly replied back to them, “I will never forsake the one who has taken refuge in me! Forget Vibheeshana! I will even save Ravana if he takes refuge in me.” (And thus follows the quote, Sree Raama Raksha, Sarva Jagath Raksha)
Rama was deeply in love with Seetha by heart, mind and soul. Despite having the option to marry again, he chose to remain with her forever. He was so in love with Seetha that when she was kidnapped by Ravana, he writhed in pain wailing Seethaa Seethaa falling on ground crying like a mad man even in front of the vanaras totally forgetting all his stature as a king. In fact, In Ramayana it is mentioned many times that Rama often shed so many tears for Seetha that he lost all his strength in crying and often fell down unconscious.
Finally, Efficacy of Rama Nama
It is said that chanting the name of Rama burns away the sins and confers peace. There is also a hidden mystic meaning behind this connotation. According to mantra shastra, Ra is an Agni beeja which embeds within it the fire principle when uttered burns (sins) and Ma corresponds to the Soma principle which when uttered cools (confers peace).
Chanting Rama nama accounts to chanting the whole Vishnu Sahasranama (1000 names of Vishnu). According to Sanskrit scriptures, there is a principle in which sounds and letters are associated with their corresponding numbers. According to it,
Ra denotes number 2 (Ya – 1, Ra – 2, La – 3, Va – 4 … )
Ma denotes number 5 (Pa – 1, Pha – 2, ba – 3, Bha – 4, Ma – 5)
And hence it is said, रामरामेतिरामेतिरमेरामेमनोरमे । सहस्रनामतत्तुल्यंरामनामवरानने ॥
Translation: “Sri Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame, Sahasranama Tat tulyam, Rama Nama Varaanane.”
Meaning: The Name of Rama is as Great as the Thousand Names of God (Vishnu Sahasranama).
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