Lord Rama is one of the seven incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the supreme cosmic power believed to be in charge of the preservation and protection of the world. Lora Rama is one of the avatar of Lord Vishnu arrived on earth in a human form to reinstate the principles of religion, morality and righteousness whenever an excess of evil threatened the existence of mankind.When Lord Rama was born, human race was experiencing a similar crisis. Lord Rama is the child of Dashratha, the King of Ayodhya, born on the year 5114 BC.
According to the sacred epic Ramayana, King Dashratha had three wives – Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi, none of whom bore a child to him. Even after several years of his marriage, the King was unable to be a father and he decided to hold a sacrificial ritual known as the Puthra Kamesti Yagna to please the gods that they grant him with a male heir. The efforts of the King was rewarded when all three of his wives gave birth to sons.
Lord Rama was born to Kausalya, the eldest wife, who was the princess of the Kosala kingdom. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata while twin sons Lakshmana and Shatrughna were born to the youngest Sumitra. The four brothers grew up with an exceedingly loving bond between them. But while Rama bonded more with Lakshmana, Bharat enjoyed the company of Shatrughna more. Though there was great rapport between the brothers, Kaikeyi feared that Rama might victimize or even harm her son Bharat once he ascended the throne as Bharat was an immediate succesor to Rama.
One day Saint Vishwamitra visited Ayodhya and asked Dashratha to send Ram and Lakshmana with him because the Yakshini (demon) Tarka – with her two sons Mareech and Subahu – were terrifying him and the other saints at his ashram. They were not letting them worship and meditate. Ram went with Lakshmana and Vishwamitra to kill Tarka. On the way to Saint Vishwamitra’s ashram there was a dense forest. When they entered the forest Tarka came to kill them but Ram killed her and her son Subahu with a weapon given to him by Vishwamitra. Ram also shot an arrow at Mareech and threw him 100 yojan far away.
Later Ram went with Saint Vishwamitr to Mithila where the wise King Janak ruled. King Janak had organized a svayamvaraa (an acient custom wherein the bride chose her husband of her own accord from amongst a number of suitors). It was announced that whosoever will bend the bow of Lord Shiva will marry King Janak’s daughter Sita.
Sita was an incarnation of Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.Sage Valmiki described Sita’s extraordinary birth in the Ramayana. Maa Sita was discovered in a groove of ploughed field by King Janaka. So Sita – Daughter of Bhumidevi, who got adopted by Janaka and Sunaya. When King Janaka was ploughing a field to perform Yagna, Sita appeared splitting the earth.The king found her as a baby girl in a goldenbasket. He saw her body all covered with dirt and was amazed. Having no children of his own, he put her affectionately on his lap. Overwhelmed with love for her, King declared her as his own child. Raja Janak was the king of Mithilaa. Janak was his family name. His real name was Seeradhwaj. His wife Rani Sunaya brought up Sita as her own daughter.
This interesting story is mentioned in some Hindu books and folk tales. Legend reveals that Sita is rebirth of Vedavati.Vedavati was a pious woman who wanted to marry Lord Vishnu. To marry him, she gave up worldly life and became a hermit and built an ashram on a riverbank. Once while Vedavati was meditating, Ravana -the demon king, saw her and he was infatuated by her beauty and tried to violate her. To escape from Ravan she jumped into a fire created for yajna.Before dying she cursed Ravaan that in her next birth she will be responsible for his death. In her next birth,Vedavati was born as Ravana’s daughter. Astrologers predicted that she will become the reason for Ravaan’s death.To save his life, Ravana threw the little girl child into the sea. The child fell on the lap of sea-goddess Varuni.Goddess Varuni took the girl child to the shores and gave her to earth-goddess Pirthvi. Goddess Prithvi then gave her to King Janaka. As per Ramayana, Sita was found by King Janaka while ploughing a field.
Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm and possessed the greatest of womanly virtues. When Sita became of marriageable age, the king decided to have a Swayamvara which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the God Shiva. Whoever could wield the bow and string it, could marry Sita.
At the Dhanush Yagya, seeing Rama, all the rakshasas who were present there in disguise of Kings got scared for their future. Soon, Janak called for her daughter Sita. When Sita reached the court where the contest was going to take place, she first saw Rama and could not take her eyes off him.King Janak came to know what was happening between Rama and Sita and therefore announced that the brave heart who breaks the dhanush of Shiva will marry his daughter.After King Janak’s announcement, many princes and Kings tried their hand at the dhanush. However, none of them could break it. King Janak was depressed and said is there no one brave and powerful enough who could break this dhanush. Sage Vishwamitra then asked Rama to go and break the dhanush. Rama obeyed his orders and proceeded towards the dhanush. Seeing Rama coming to break the dhanush, Sita prayed him to be successful. Rama successfully broke Shiva’s bow as he picked it up and was examining the tautness of its bowstring. The young prince’s strength and courage perplexed all the attendees. And with the breaking of the bow, Janaka proposed Sita to Rama in marriage. People started singing holy songs, drums started playing and Sita while blushing put the garland around Rama’s neck. Seeing this, the Gods showered flowers on the most beautiful couple.The nasty kings present their who were unhappy with the marriage started to make mean comments and said that both Rama and Lakshman should be jailed and Sita should come with them. Hearing so, Lakshman got angry and at the same time, Lord Parshuram too came to the palace’s court.Seeing Lord Parshuram, everyone present at the court got scared. Parshuram was raging in anger because his Guru’S (Shiva) dhanush was broken. He went up to King Janak and asked him who was responsible for this. No one including Janak could utter a word out of fear.
Rama told Parshuram that he was responsible for it. To this Parshuram said that whoever has broken his guru’s dhanush is his enemy. Hearing this, Rama calmly went up to Parshuram and said something secretive in his ears that opened his mind.When Parshuram saw Rama’s real face, which was Lord Vishnu, to confirm he asked him to use his dhanush as well. To his shock, Parshuram’s dhanush flew into Rama’s hands on its own. He was sure that Rama was Vishnu and left to meditate in a jungle.This means that everywhere there was an atmosphere of happiness. Rama and Sita got married and people started decorating the entire city.
On the approval of Sage Vishwamitra, Janaka sent his messengers to Ayodhya to convey the message to Dasharatha. Upon hearing the story of how his son Rama not only lifted the bow of Shiva, but also broke it, Dasharatha was overjoyed. He gladly accepted the marriage proposal of Rama and Sita. The next day, King Dasharatha’s delegation traveled to Mithila to carry out the wedding ceremony. Upon reaching there, he received proposals for marriage of his other three sons. Lakshmana was betrothed to Urmila, another daughter of Janaka. Vishwamitra proposed the marriages of Bharata and Shatrughna with the two daughters of Kushadhvaja, the younger brother of Janaka. Thus Bharata was married to Maandavi and Shatrughna to Shrutakeerti.
After returning and living happily in Ayodhya the old King Dashratha decided that it was time to give his kingdom to his beloved son Ram. Dasharatha was proud of his son Rama and his accomplishments. Already his fame was heard all over the land. He thought that it was time for him to give the reins of the kingdom to Rama. There was no need to wait. So he consulted his guru Vashishtha and fixed an auspicious date for Rama’s coronation. All the people of the kingdom were happy at the announcement of the coronation ceremony of Rama. Kausalya was ecstatic and busied herself in the preparations. Rama’s step mothers, Kikeyi and Sumitra, were delighted to see their beloved Rama becoming the king. However, there was a woman named Manthara who was the personal maid of queen Kaikeyi and very close to her. She did not see any reason to celebrate. She saw it as loss of prestige for her and her mistress because her mistress would not be the mother of the king anymore. Her son Bharata would only be subservient to Rama. Her jealousy of Kausalya and her son Rama drove her to approach Kikeyi with some malicious advice. She told Kikeyi that it was not a time to be joyful but a time of distress because her son Bharata is being deprived of his rightful claim to the kingdom. “Just imagine! Not only your son, but his sons and their sons and so on will never hope to become kings because only the eldest son becomes the king. Now is the time to secure the future of Bharata and his future progeny. After all isn’t Bharata, same age as Rama and Kikeyi more beloved to Dasharatha than Kausalya? Bharata deserves to be the king and not Rama.” Kikeyi never thought of her relation to Rama in those terms. She loved Rama as much as she did her own son Bharata. But Manthara’s logic appealed to her motherly instincts. The more Manthara made her case, the less Kikeyi was able to rebut her and more she forgot her love for Rama. Manthara finally succeeded in convincing Kikeyi that she should somehow persuade Dasharatha to exile Rama in to the forest and make Bharata the king instead.
The ceremonial preparations were in full swing but Kaikeyi confined herself to a corner room in her quarters and refused to participate in the jovialities. Dasharatha noticed that her youngest queen was unhappy. He approached her lovingly and asked her why she was unhappy. Kaikeyi replied that she did not feel loved. She accused him of loving his other queens more than her. Dasharatha’s pleadings to the contrary went unheard. Finally he asked her what would make her feel happy and loved. She replied that if only he could deliver on the promise he had made to her sometime ago, she would be happy. Dasharatha had granted Kikeyi two wishes in appreciation of her help which secured his victory over his enemy in one of his many battles with his enemies. Dasharatha told her to claim her two wishes now and that he would not flinch no matter what she asked for. He did not quite fathom Kikeyi’s scheme for he never suspected any ill will or rivalry among his queens. Kikeyi seized the opportunity. She said, “I want Rama exiled to the forest for fourteen years as my first wish. For my second wish, I want my son Bharata made the king in place of Rama.” Dasharatha was devastated. He could not bear the thought of exiling Rama to the forest. The very thought had made him numb. But he could not deny Kikeyi her wishes for that would mean that he did not keep his word. The dynasty of Ikshwakas was known for its fidelity and no one ever went back on a promise made. It had to be done. He conveyed Kikeyi’s wishes to Rama and his inability to deny her because of his prior promise to her. He also summoned Bharata who was in his maternal uncle’s town at that time to return immediately to Ayodhya.