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The Ramayana - II


Read about Rama's journey in the forest with Vishwamitra,


Vishwamitra and the young Rama set off for the forest along with Lakshman, who insisted on accompanying his beloved brother. They journeyed for many days and every time they stopped to rest awhile, Vishwamitra took the opportunity to discuss the sacred weapons with Rama. They continued uneventfully on the journey until they reached the foot of a dark and demonic forest filled with demons of prey.


Tataka or Taraka

Tataka was an enormous she-demon and mother of Marich, who terrorized the forest. Rama, Lakshmana and Vishwamitra entered the forest and with each step they kept going deeper and deeper until suddenly the monstrous Tataka appeared before them. She was huge, repulsive, and wore a necklace of skulls around her neck. When she accosted Rama and Lakshman, she sent off a shower of stones hurtling towards them, which they combated with arrows. Vishwamitra told Rama to "be safe, and be victorious". This, in a way, was an ambiguous order, as Rama was not directly commanded to kill her. Had he received a direct order to kill her, he would have done so since his father had told him that he was to obey Vishwamitra at all times.

Although Rama still could have killed her using his own discretion, he was faced with an enigma since she was female and Rama's principles would not allow him to kill a female. Thus, Rama shot two arrows, cutting off her arms. Tataka then started shrieking and wailing loudly, causing Lakshman to fire arrows and cut off her nose and ears. By way of sorcery she then became invisible and continued assailing the three with huge boulders, but Rama and Lakshmana combated the boulders with their arrows, causing the boulders to split into harmless stones. Vishwamitra then told Rama to set aside his compassion and clearly commanded him to kill her before the sun sets since after dusk and until dawn demons are invincible. Then Rama, guided by sound alone, killed her with a powerful arrow. Vishwamitra and the Gods in heaven were overjoyed and the forest, free from Tataka's hold, became a beautiful and heavenly abode once again.


Mareech and Subahu

After Rama slayed Tataka, Vishwamitra handed the divine weapons over to Rama. They then continued on their journey. A few days later they came across another picturesque forest, which is haunted by Mareech, Subahu and other demons. They guarded Vishwamitra as he performed his rituals for six days and six nights, until the demons arrived to disturb the rituals. Rama shot Mareech with the Manava missile, hurling him a distance of a hundred 'yojans', into the ocean. However, he did not kill Mareech. (Mareech then later on tries to dissuade Ravana from his plans of kidnapping Sita, and agrees to assume the form of a deer to lure Rama away from Sita.) Rama killed Subahu, who was the more vicious of the demons and proceed to destroy the accompanying rakshasas. By doing this Rama endeared himself to all the Sadhus, who were now free to perform their rituals without any hindrances by the demons.

Next: Rama meets Ahilya


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