The Ramayana - I
Are your children familiar with the Ramayana? Introduce them to India's favourite legend, one step at a time. After letting them know a little of the story, have a discussion centered around the Ramayana to find out how much they have learned, and the qualities they have imbibed. The Ramayana is rich with examples of model behavior such as devotion to parents, love for siblings, the importance of keeping a promise and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. In our Ramayana series we will be providing you with snippets of information to brush up your own memory and help you better narrate the story to your children.
Rama was born to King Dashratha, ruler of Ayodhya. The King, who had three wives, was issueless for many, many years. He sought the advice of Sage Vashishtha, who counseled the King to perform a Yagya. Dashratha performed a huge Yagya under the guidance of the learned Sage Shringi. Lord Agni, the god of fire, appeared in the sacred fire with a bowl of kheer in his hand, and gave it to Dashratha, telling him to feed the kheer to his wives and they will bear children.
King Dashratha's wives
King Dashratha had three wives: Kaushalya, Kaikayee, and Sumitra. The King gave half the kheer to Kaushalya and half to Kaikayee, each of who gave half of their share to Sumitra. Months later, Kaushalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikayee gave birth to Bharat and Sumitra gave birth to the twins, Lakshman and Shatrughan.
The brothers were very close and loved each other a lot. In fact, their love was so strong that they could even sacrifice their lives for each other.
Once, when King Dashratha was in the battlefield with Kaikayee by his side, a nail fitted in the axis of his chariot wheel, came off. Kaikayee saw this and inserted her little finger in the space to make sure the wheel does not fall off. As a result, Dashratha could continue the battle uninterrupted, and emerged victorious. When he saw how Kaikayee had aided him, he promised to grant her any two boons she desired.
Ravana, the demon king with the ten heads, had been persecuting humanity for a long time. As a result of years of rigorous penance, Sage Vishwamitra had acquired divine weapons which could be used by the incarnation of Vishnu to kill Ravana. It had been prophesised that Ravana would die by the hands of the firstborn of Dashratha. Sage Vishwamitra thus set out to bestow Rama with the weapons. When he reached Ayodhya, Dashratha welcomed him and sent Rama and Lakshman, although with much hesitation, to accompany Vishwamitra into the forest to fight some demons who were disturbing Vishwamitra's presence. Vishwamitra requested that Rama accompany him because he wanted to first ensure that Rama was indeed the savior, before handing the weapons over to him.
More on the demons slayed by Rama, next week.
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