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Valmiki Ramayana - Bala Kanda in Prose Sarga 10


Sumantra, the minister continues his narration to his king Dasharatha, about Rishyashringa's arrival at Anga kingdom of King Romapaada and his marriage with Princess Santha, the daughter of Romapada.




Sumantra thus motivated by King Dasharatha, said these words to king "Oh! King, how and with which idea Sage Rishyasringa is brought by the ministers of Romapada, all that will be spoken... that may please be listened from me along with ministers... "The ministers along with clergyman have spoken this way to King Romapaada, ‘this is a non-harmful pan well thought over by us... Rishyasringa is a forest-dweller absorbed in ascesis and self-study of Vedic scriptures, and he is not aware of women, or of worldly-matters or of even worldly-pleasures...

"With much desired sense-pleasing objects that will be disquieting the minds of men, we wish bring him to the city... Let it be decided quickly... Beautiful and well decorated courtesans will go there to bring him hither by tempting with many a feint, and let the courtesans be given ample gifts...

"Hearing that the King replied the priest, "Let it be so..." and then the priests and ministers have carried out the plan that way...

"On hearing that order of the king those best courtesans have entered that great forest, and they camped not very far from that hermitage, making all the trials for showing themselves off to a glance of that sage.

Any dictionary would give the meaning of courtesan as 'whore' or as 'court mistress'. But in Indian context, the courtesan is not to be taken in such a lowly way as just a prostitute or a whore. They belong to a caste/class of artists. Juxtaposed to the Four-Caste system there was a deva dasi Temple Dancers system, which is the artist's class. On their receiving enough education and skills in the performing arts and as per their capabilities, they will be nominated as Court Dancers or Temple Dancers and the like. Ancients recognized sixty-four arts chatuSaSTi kalaa , which include right from music, dance, and drama, sculpture, painting etc., up to the art of thievery. Kings in their political or sovereign pursuits variedly used these Deva Daasis, the courtesans.

"Always satisfied is sage Rishyasringa to be in hermitage, thus he never stirred out of that hermitage, and thus he has not seen any female, or a male, or even any others objects of pleasure, either of city or of countryside from the time of birth onwards...

Rishyasringa is thus not aware of gender differentiation or exposed to any other object of pleasure, and thus his father conditioned him to achieve some supreme ritual ideal.

"Then at one time Rishyasringa casually arrived at that place, and hasseen those comely females. They the lustful women are amazingly attired and singing melodious tunes, all of them neared the sage's son and spoke these words...

"Who you are? Why you move lonely in these deep and desolate forests, why you conduct yourself like this? Oh! Brahman, we are interested to know... please tell us..."

"Those women are in most desirable form and hitherto he has not seen such forms in that forest, hence a kind of friendship spouted, with which he is inclined to detail about his father... My father is Sage Vibhandaka and I am his true descent son. I am known as Rishyasringa, by my name and by an event on my birth, and thus renowned on earth..."

The birth-event associated with his name is that he is born with a horn on the crown of his head. Thus he is named as Rishyasringa, i.e., R^iSi= the Sage; sR^i~Nga= horn; a Sage with a horn, and this here he recalls his birth time event.

"Our hermitage is here only, oh, august ones, I wish to perform scripturally worship to you all verily there...” thus said the sage to the courtesans. On hearing the words of sage's son, all those courtesans are verily inclined to see the threshold of that hermitage, then all the women went to hermitage. On going there, then the Sage's son performed worship saying "Here is our hand-wash, here is our feet-wash, here are our tuber fruits, here are the juicy fruits of ours... "

This portrays the exclusion of the sage's son from the rest of the world by his father. He worshipped the courtesans, as he would worship some super-natural deities by saying the above words, which will usually be used in ritual worship of Hindu deities. He being a fruitarian has offered the courtesans the tuber fruits like sweet potatoes etc., which are ridiculous to urbanites, that too to the pleasure-taking courtesans.

"All of them have received that kind of worship much enthusiastically, but dread at the arrival of the sage Vibhandaka, they quickly made-up their mind to make away from there.  'Take these important fruits of ours, oh, Brahman, you be safe, oh, holy one... eat them before long....' Said courtesans to Rishyasringa. Then all of the courtesans have embraced him and all of them with a kind of mirthfulness in the offing, presented sweet-balls and other varieties of best sweetmeats to him.

"Having relished the sweets, that resplendent sage supposed them to be fruits only, for he did not taste sweets earlier, as he is always forest-bound.

"Taking leave of the Sage Rishyasringa on pretence that they also have to perform devotional duties, they the courtesans departed from there on the pretext of their daily worship, while they actually feared for the arrival of Rishyasringa's father who may hurl curses on his arrival... After the departure of all them the courtesans, that Brahman Rishyasringa, the grandson of Sage Kaashyapa, is disturbed at heart and even behaved sadly...

"Then on the next day Rishyasringa, son of Vibhandaka and the prosperous sage with ascetic power has arrived at that place where he saw well-decorated and delightful courtesans recollecting in mind repetitively about them alone.  Then on seeing the arrival of that Brahman, the courtesans felt happy at heart, and all of those courtesans on surrounding him said, "oh, gentle one, welcome to the threshold of our hermitage...

"There are excellent tuber fruits and fruits and there will be a very distinctive hospitality... definitely indeed...” So said the courtesans. On hearing the heart-pleasing words of all those courtesans, Rishyasringa made up his mind to go over there, and then those women took him away to their place in Anga Kingdom.

"While that great soul ad Brahman Rishyasringa while being brought into Anga Kingdom, then the Rain-god quickly showered rain in Anga kingdom to the delight of the world. Towards that Brahman Rishyasring who is coming along with rains into his own kingdom Anga Kingdom, the king Romapada has gone towards that sage and bowed his head down, and paid respects touching the ground, and offered water customarily with dedication and the king besought beneficence of the best one, Rishyasringa to save from the fury of his father Sage Vibhandaka, even after knowing the king's pursuit in bringing Rishyasringa to this country...

The salutation in prostration on the ground is usually performed before Gods or Deities, in reverence. It is called saaSTaanga praNaamam = sa aSTa anga praNaamam , i.e., saluting with eight body parts touching the ground, indicating his absolute surrender to the worshipped.

"On entering the palace princess Shanta is given to Rishyasringa in customary marriage, and then that King Romapada obtained rejoice with a peaceful mind.

" Thus that great fulgent Rishyasringa lived in Anga kingdom along with his wife Shanta, and with all his desires fulfilled and also well worshipped" Thus Sumantra said the legend of Rishyasringa to King Dasharatha.



Thus, this is the 10th chapter in Bala Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana,the First Epic poem of India.

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©1999, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised: March, 04]