Episodes from the Ramayana – Chapter 4

The Princes

Dasaratha had arranged elaborate banquets for all who attended the ceremony; he filled with joy every one who had come; he offered each one the hospitality and presents that the status of each deserved; he showered enormous gifts as charity and as ritual penance he distributed cows, lands, gold and other valuables to the poor and the needy; he paid attention to the needs of every one, so that no one was discontented or disappointed; and, after the ceremony was over, he gave them leave with due civility to return to their homes.

The children grew fast on the fond care of the mothers. But, one curious thing was noticed early. It was observed very soon that Lakshmana always sought Rama and Satrughna always sought Bharatha! Since the day of his birth, Lakshmana was always wailing! The nurses, the nannies and others tried various remedies and palliatives; but nothing could alleviate his misery or stop his wail. Internal pain was suspected and medicines galore were tried. They were of no avail. So, Sumitra was certain that the child’s pain was beyond the reach of drugs; she sent for the guru Vasishta; she fell at his feet as soon as he entered the room. ‘Master’, she appealed, ‘this Lakshmana is weeping since birth, and clamoring for something I am not able to discover. I have consulted doctors and treated him, as advised. But. the wailing is increasing day by day; he does not relish even mother’s milk! As for sleep, it is totally absent. How can he be healthy and hearty if he goes on like this? Kindly tell me why he is behaving so, and bless him that he may give up this continuous wail’.

Vasishta thought within himself for a while. Then he said: “O Queen! His pain is unique and you are trying to cure it by familiar means and drugs! Do as I tell you and the child will be quiet and happy. The moment you do so, the child will cease wailing and begin playing about with gusto. Take him now and lay him beside Rama, the child of Kausalya”. After this, Vasishta left, leaving his blessings on mother and child. Hearing his words, Sumitra took her child to where the other child was, in its cradle. She laid him by the side of Rama. From that very moment, the wailing stopped! Laughter and play began!

Those who saw this transformation took it as a great wonder! Lakshmana, who was until then suffering, began to prattle aloud in joy, kicking his feet about, waving his hands in glee, as fish do when they are thrown back into water, gliding gleefully along, in quick darts. He was in the presence of Rama, immersed in bliss and aware of the grace Rama showered.

The story of Satrughna was also on similar lines. He was melancholic, averse to food and play. He appeared very weak and tired. Sumitra was worried at this development. So she invited the guru to the palace and inquired from him the reason, Vasishta smiled again; he said, ‘Mother! Your children are not common. They are born to enact a divine drama! Place Satrughna on the same bed as Bharatha! Then his daily routine will be joyful. He will be extremely happy. You need not worry any more’. Vasishta blessed her and left. Sumitra followed his instructions immediately. Since then, Satrughna spent time in the company of Bharatha. The children were in unbounded bliss together; their progress was beyond measure! Like the splendour of the Sun, they grew in intelligence and glory from hour to hour.

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