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Rama entrusts the construction work of a parNa shaala, straw-cottage in Panchavati, nearby river Godavari. Lakshmana with all his expertise constructs a cosy cottage and they enter it after the ritual of house-entering ceremony. Rama admires Lakshmana for his construction work and as a thanksgiving he embraces Lakshmana and expresses his heart felt feeling about Lakshmana's concern towards Rama.
Then on going to Panchavati which is full with many serpents and predators, Rama said to splendidly brilliant Lakshmana.
"We arrived at the place as indicated by the sage, oh, gentle Lakshmana, this region with its flowered forests is Panchavati. In which place we have to situate our hermitage for our liking, for that cast your sight all over the forest, and indeed you are an expert in such matters.
"In which place Vaidehi, likewise you and me too can take delight, where the woodland is scenic and the water is pleasurable, and where a water lake, ritual-firewood, flowers, and the sacred grass are available in proximity, oh, Lakshmana, such a place may be searched out.
Other versions read the jala raamaNyakam as sthala raamaNyakam. Rama desires a place that shall be scenic with flower gardens where Seetha can easily pluck flowers in those gardens. And it shall be a pleasurable garden for him to recline, or take his bath etc., and thirdly it shall contain the ritual paraphernalia within the reach of Lakshmana, so that Lakshmana can provide them to Rama in time, with his obedient service.
When thus said by Rama, Lakshmana adjoined his palms and said this sentence to Rama in the presence of Seetha. "I am but a dependent, as long as you are there, may it be for innumerable years, I am your adherent, Rama, therefore you yourself tell me to build hermitage in such and such delightful place.
Lakshmana is an ever adherent of the Supreme Vishnu as he is the thousand-headed serpent namely aadi sheSha, on which Vishnu reclines. Even in this incarnation of Rama, Lakshmana says he is the same adherent. Thus Lakshmana wants Rama not to say 'you do it your way' but to order 'you do it my way.' Further, Lakshmana is saying this in presence of Seetha, siitaa samakSe, because if she is not going to accept that place, Rama rejects it. Hence, it firstly is the choice of Seetha on which Rama's approval will be automatic. Thus the question of agreeability or disagreeability of Lakshmana does not arise. 'Even in this incarnation in the dynasty of Kakutstha as Rama, I am still subservient to you, as I was in vaikuNTha , as aadi sheSa . And this tvayi varSa shatam sthite : shata is lexically a hundred but also used in its infinitude, thus 'I am anytime servant of yours.' svayam tu ruchire deshe : 'Your choice of place is but my pleasure.' This is to portray the self-denial of Lakshmana, apart from any individual identity let alone the devotee status, total dedication kainkarya, to the Supreme. This is according to Govindaraja.
Adherent nature of Lakshmana is also like that of a younger brother towards his elder brother, for the elder brother becomes father-like after the demise of their father. anenapiturantaram y˜vat jyeÿ÷ho jŸvati t˜vat kaniÿ÷hasya na sv˜tantryam itis¨citam | tath˜ ca manu× piteva p˜layat sut˜n jyeÿ÷ha bhr˜t˜ yavŸyasa×| putravat ca api varteran jyeÿ÷ho bhr˜tari dharmata× || dharm˜k¨tam.
Rama is gladdened by those words of that great resplendent Lakshmana, and he selected a place that comprised of all the attributes. On taking Lakshmana's hand by his hand Rama paced that beautiful place intended for the construction of hermitage up and down and spoke to Soumitri this way.
"This is an evenly and propitious place surrounded with flowered trees and it is apt of you to erect hermitage here, traditionally. This pleasing lake is seen here adjacently, beaming forth with its lotuses that are similar to sun in resplendence, and that are scented fragrantly.
The Lake is beaming with lotuses that have the resplendence of Sun. Sun is Vishnu's another aspect, suurya naaraayaNa , and hence that Vishnu is here in the form of lake. The lotus is the abode of Goddess Lakshmi and the lake is full with such lotuses, which are in the heart of the lake. As such Goddess Lakshmi is in the lotuses, which again are situated in the heart of Vishnu, and hence this is a propitious lake to have Vishnu and Lakshmi together.
"This River Godavari is also seen from here, surrounded by blooming trees, spread over with swans, and beautified with kaarandava, and chakravaaka birds, as that contemplated soul sage Agastya had said. Those soaring mountains are appearing beautiful with many caves, surrounded by flowered trees, flurried by animal herds, sounded by peacocks, and they are neither far-off nor very nearby.
"Here and there are the golden, silvery and coppery ores on the mountains, and they are shining forth like cow-eye ventilators on walls and also like the superb paintings on elephants.
The gava aksha is cow-eye, meaning the cow-eye shaped ventilators of walls. The bhakti is the name for coloured graphical drawings on the body of elephants. Apart from the howdah and other ornamentations, the elephants are richly painted in colours during ceremonial occasions, even today. As such Rama is visualising the ore deposits on the mountains as cow-eye like ventilators on walls, and as superb streaks of paintings on the bodies of elephants.
"These mountains are brightening with trees of Saala, Palmyra, Tamaala, Date Palms, Jackfruit and also thus with Punnaagaa. With Chuuta - Sweet Mango; Ashoka, Tialaka, even with Ketaka, Champaka trees, And even with Syandana, Sandalwood, Niipa, Paarnasa, Lakuch, dhava, Ashwakarna, Khadira, Shamii, Kimshuka, Paatala trees, and entwined are those and those trees with flowered shrubs, and along with climbers, and thus they brighten the mountains. This place is holy, this is delightful and this is with many animals and birds, hence Soumitri, let us reside here along with this bird Jatayu." Thus said Rama to Lakshmana.
Thus said by Rama to that remover of foe's valour and one with very great might, namely Lakshmana, he briskly erected a hermitage for his brother.
Lakshmana built a very spacious straw-cottage there levelling and raising the clay for raised floor of the cottage, strongly pillared with long bamboos, thereupon on those pillars excellent rafters are made, and the branches of Shamii trees are spread out, twined firmly with twines of jute strands, and with the cross-laid bamboos for thatching, and over that blades of Kusha grass and leaves of Kaasha are spread and well over-covered for the roof, and thus that very great mighty Lakshmana made that best and very spacious straw-cottage with a levelled surface for residence of Raghava in the interests of Raghava alone, and it resulted as a feast to the eye.
On his going to River Godavari that noble Lakshmana bathed and on gathering lotuses and fruits he returned to the cottage. Then making flowery offerings and peace-invocations also procedural to gR^iha pravesha , entering a new house,] started to show the constructed hermitage to Rama.
On seeing the beautifully constructed hermitage along with Seetha, Rama is highly gladdened in respect that straw-cottage. Then Rama very highly gladdened Rama embraced Lakshmana tightly by both of his hands, and spoke these friendly words to him.
"Oh, masterful one, I am very happy about you for you have done a great deed, for that reason I am giving what I have to give to you – a hugging. You are the knower of others feelings, knower of many skills, and the knower of what is right and honest, oh, Lakshmana, such as you are, being with you I deem that my virtue-souled father is not gone and forgotten.
The word bhaavaj~naH means here as the knower of other's feelings. Lakshmana is well aware of such things while talking with sages, his brothers, his mothers and his ministers like Hanuma and other subjects. Here also Lakshmana knew the feelings of Rama as to how the cottage is envisioned by Rama, with due privacy to Rama and Seetha, with a porch, worship-room, and an accommodation for himself. kR^itaj~na is masterly craftsmanship and flair for doing all deeds of sublime nature, but not 'faithful' in routine sense. dharmaj~naH is knower of honesty. Though he himself is a prince, Lakshmana did not construct the cottage for his comfort, but the convenience of Rama and Seetha are counted firstly. The word dharmaatmaa , virtue souled one, can also be prefixed to Dasharatha like dharmaatmaa mama pitaa virtue-souled, my, father, meaning that 'the virtue-souled Dasharatha has left you behind him for my sake, because you are arranging all the things for me, as a father would naturally do for his son.' The word sam vR^ittaH in the observation of Dr. Satya Vrat in his book 'The Ramayana - A Linguistic Study is – This word has been found used in a rather remarkable sense [in Ramayana.] It is 'to die'. sam vR^ittaH means dead. Ordinarily samvR^ittaH has quite the opposite sense, viz., 'born', i.e., father Dasharatha took rebirth as Lakshmana, to provide for the needs of Rama.
And Dharmaakuutam says that, anena m®te api pit˜dh˜rmikeõa putreõa am®ta iti s¨citam | tath˜ ca v˜jasaneya br˜hmaõaÕ-- 'saputreõa eva asmin loke pratitiÿ÷hati -- ' iti | sa ca pit˜ svayam m®te apidh˜rmiksya putrasy þarŸreõa eva asmin loke yath˜ þ˜stram karma kurvan tiÿ÷hatiiti artham|| dham˜k¨tam Hence Rama said in this concept also that - 'my father is though 'dead', but 'born' again in you, Lakshmana.'
On saying thus to Lakshmana, Raghava, the enhancer of magnificence comfortably resided in that province which is with many a fruit.
The last word sukhii is read as vashii in other mms meaning that Rama 'with his senses controlled' lived there. That is to suggest the overcoming of the enchantment of Suurpanakha.
While Seetha and Lakshmana devoted themselves to that righteous Rama, he resided in Panchavati like a Divinity in heavenly world for sometime to come.
Thus, this is the 15th chapter in Aranya Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.
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© 2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, [Revised : March 04]