The Curse of Dandaka
Rama, Lakshman and Sita set up a cottage in the forest of Dandaka, and Rama vows to rid it of demons.
After Rama greets Sage Agastya, he asks him about the demons, and what he can do to help eliminate them. Agastya first advises Rama to go to Panchavati and rid the forest of the curse that had been afflicted on it many years ago by the sage Gautam.
Many years ago, famine struck the Panchavati area, which was located in the forest of DANDAKARANYA. The rishis dwelling there went to Sage Gautam for help, and asked him to accommodate them until the famine passed. Sage Gautam agreed, and with his powers he gave them all they needed. Then, many months later, when the famine had subsided, the sages stated that they would like to return to DANDAKARANYA, but Gautam hesitated to give them permission to leave his hermitage. The rishis were thus a little discontented, and taking advantages of this, some pseudo-rishis, intent on harming the repute of Gautam, came up with a plan. They found an old cow which was on the verge of death, and sent it into the hermitage of Gautam rishi. The rishi tried to drive out the cow, but it didn't pay heed, and when the cow was about to eat a flower, Gautam gave it a shove with his hand. As soon as the cow was shoved in this manner, it dropped dead. Suddenly the rishis stormed into his hermitage and cried out in horror. The fake rishis made a big hue and cry about how Gautam had killed a cow. They condemned him for the sin of go-hathya, and stormed out of the hermitage.
Gautam then, with his powers of meditation, sought to find out if the cow had died an untimely death at his hands, or if the cow's time was indeed up. Meditation revealed to him the trick the pseudo-sadhus had played on him, and he was truly angered and disgusted by their behaviour. As a result, he cursed the forest of DANDAKARANYA, stating that the forest will be the haunt of low-life, demonic rakshasas, will remain barren, and not a leaf will grow until Rama sets foot into the forest.
Another curse too added to the wretchedness of the region. The king of the region, Danda, violated the chastity of the daughter of Bhrgu, his own guru. When Bhrgu heard from his daughter what had happened, he was filled with fury and flooded the region with dust and mud.
Thus, DANDAKARANYA was twice cursed, and it was up to Rama to set things right in this wretched land.
Rama thus, under the guidance of Sage Agasthya, decided to set up an abode in the dry but dense wooded area of Dandaka. As soon as Rama, Laskhman and Sita set foot in the forest, trees started to sprout leaves, the forest suddenly started turning green in front of their eyes and flowers started sprouting in every corner. They arrived at Panchavati, and found a spot by the banks of the river Godavari where they decided to put up a home. When Rama and Lakshman had started building the cottage, the old Eagle Jatayu flew down to pay his respects.
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