Rāmāyana | Āraṇya Kaṇḍa | Chapter 11

11. Rāma's Life in Daṇḍakāraṇya

[Rāma stayed in various places in Daṇḍakāraṇya for the first ten years. He happened to see the lake of Five Apsarā maidens. Later he goes back to hermitage of sage Sutīkṣṇa. Sutīkṣṇa directs him to go to sage Agastya’s ashram. On the way to the hermitage of brother of Agastya, Rāma tells about how Agastya destroyed Vātāpi and how under his care the southern side of the country prospers. They reach the hermitage of Agastya.]

Rāma proceeding first followed by the very pretty Sītā who was in the middle, followed by Lakṣmaṇa armed with a bow proceeded further. 11.1

They [Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa] saw many mountains and forests of diverse types and also saw very pretty rivers along with Sītā. 11.2

Seeing those rivers on which cranes and Chakravāka birds moved over the sand banks, they also saw lakes having lotus flowers and water birds. 11.3

They moved watching spotted deer in herds and madly acting large bison as well bear and elephants which were breaking trees. 11.4

They went to a great distance by the time of sun setting and there they saw a charming big lake of one Yojana dimension. It was full of lotus and water lilies and was decorated by large number of elephants and it also had storks, swans and Kadamba water birds. 11.5-11.6

In the enchanting waters of that lake they heard songs played by musical instruments but they were not able to see any one. 11.7

Those great fighters due to curiosity asked about it to the sage called Dharmabrutha who was following them. 11.8

"Oh great sage, after hearing this greatly wonderful music, great inquisitiveness has been created among us and please tell us clearly about it." 11.9

Thus being asked by the soul of Dharma Rāghava, that sage, speedily started telling about the greatness of lake. 11.10

"This is an all season lake called "Five Apsarās" built by a sage called Mandakarni by using his power of penance." 11.11

"That great sage Mandakarni did penance for ten thousand years staying in water and consuming air only." 11.12

"Then the worried devas met with each other and with Agni in the lead, started conversing among themselves." 11.13

"That sage is praying for the position of one of us" Thinking like this, all the dwellers of heaven developed a broken mind." 11.14

"So all those devas decided to cause hindrance to the penance of the sage and sent five important Apsarā maidens who were like lightning." 11.15

"Then those Apsarā maidens, for fulfilling the work of Devas, got that sage who knew about this and the other world, entangled him in the web of passion." 11.16

"Those five Apsarā maidens became his wives and then he created this lake and made them live underneath it." 11.17

"When those Apsarā maidens were leading a pleasant life there, they gratified the sage, who has assumed youthfulness by the power of penance." 11.18

"This delightful melodies are being heard, due to their playing musical instruments mingled with the sound of ornaments when they are engaged in play." 11.19

"The account of the great sage is indeed wonderful" Said Rāghava along with his brother who was very famous. 11.20

When he was talking like this, he saw a group of hermitages circled by cloth made of grass, which was encompassed by solemn chant of Veda and Rāma entered in to it along with Lakṣmaṇa and Vaidehī. 11.21

Then that son of Kākutstha clan stayed in that great cluster of hermitages for some time with pleasure being venerated by saints. Then the great expert in arrows went to visit the sages near whom he had resided earlier, once again. 11.22-11.23

He stayed in one place for ten months, in another place for one year, in another place for four months, somewhere else for five months, yet another place for six months, some other place more than one month, one and half months, three months and eight months in other places. 11.24-11.25

Like that living in hermitages of saints he comfortably lived happily, ten long years elapsed comfortably for him. 11.26

Going round that knower of Dharma Rāghava along with Sītā once again reached the great hermitage of sage Sutīkṣṇa. 11.27

After coming to that hermitage, that destroyer of enemies Rāma, stayed there for some more time, honoured by the sages there. 11.28

Then one day that son of Kākutstha clan with humility said to the great sage Sutīkṣṇa who was sitting nearby. 11.29

"I have heard from narratives of others that the very great and godly sage Agastya is staying in our forest." 11.30

"Due to the forest being very large I do not find that place. Where is his holy hermitage of the great sage situated?." 11.31

"I want to meet that godly sage for requesting his blessings along with my younger brother and Sītā, and wish to approach that sage and introduce myself." 11.32

"To visit that great sage is my desire and keeps on occurring again and again, and I want to serve that great sage myself." 11.33

Hearing these words of Rāma that sage Sutīkṣṇa who is the soul of Dharma replied Rāma, gladdening his heart. 11.34

"I also desired to tell you that Rāma along with Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa should approach that great sage Agastya." 11.35

"By luck you yourself have talked to me about this subject and now I will tell you where that great sage lives." 11.36

"After you go four Yojanas [8 miles] from here, on the south you would find the hermitage of the brother of sage Agastya." 11.37

"When you reach that place you would see a shining forest of Pipal trees, which is full of flowers and fruits and echoes with sound of various type of birds." 11.38

"There are many lakes there with peaceful waters, teeming with partridges and swans and shining with Chakravāka birds. Oh Rāma spend one night there and proceed from there next day." 11.39

"Within a Yojana distance from there on the southern direction, on the side of the forest clump is the hermitage of Agastya." 11.40

"In that pretty forest with many shining trees, you, Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā would enjoy much, for is it not forest with many trees?" 11.41-11.42

"Suppose you have made up your mind to see the great sage Agastya, then take a decision to go today itself." 11.43

When Rāma heard this, along with his brother he saluted the sage and immediately started to see Agastya along with his brother and Sītā. 11.44

Seeing the pretty forests, cloud like mountains, lakes, rivers and walking along the pathway as per the advice of Sutīkṣṇa travelled comfortably and told Lakṣmaṇa the following with great joy. 11.45-11.46

"This is definitely the hermitage of the brother of Agastya who has done blessed deeds and who is a great soul." 11.47

"I think it because, in the forest by its side, I see thousands of trees which are bending under the weight of flowers and fruits." 11.48

"I perceive that the smell of the fruits of Pipal fruits is wafting from there, as the wind is carrying the sour smell of that fruit." 11.49

"Here and there I see the collection of firewood and I also the snipped Durba shining like a gem." 11.50

"From the middle of the forest, and from the top of the hermitage, I am able to see the tip of the smoke and it looks like, the vertex of a black thick cloud." 11.51

"The Brahmins are taking bath in several sacred waters and then make an offering of flowers using the flowers collected by them." 11.52

"Oh simple one, from the words of Sutīkṣṇa that I heard, this is the hermitage of the brother of Agastya." 11.53

"Agastya destroyed the aridity of this region, wishing for the welfare of all and made this place liveable and this hermitage is of his brother." 11.54

"Once upon a time two cruel brothers named Vātāpi and Ilwala and they were great asuras who used to kill Brahmins." 11.55

"Ilwala used to dress as a Brahmin and used to speak civilized tongue and he would invite Brahmins without pity saying that it was Sradham [annual ceremony for manes]." 11.56

"Making his brother in to the form of a ram, Ilwala used to cook his brother and feed the Brahmins according to rituals of Śraddhā." 11.57

"When the Brahmin has eaten that food, Ilwala used to say in a very loud done, "Vātāpi come out " 11.58

"Hearing the words of his brother that Vātāpi, bleating like a ram, slowly and slowly tearing the body of the Brahmin, used to come out." 11.59

"Those people who could assume any form they want, used to this way killed in thousands, Brahmins, who were greedy for meat." 11.60

"Devas then prayed to the great sage Agastya and when he was invited, he also ate that great asura." 11.61

"Then with ritual was over, Ilwala giving the saint a sip of water at the end, started calling his brother to come out." 11.62

"Then the great one among sages, Agastya mockingly told that killer of Brahmins who was talking to his brother." 11.63

"Under what power would that Rākṣasa who has been digested me, come out, for your brother who took the form of a ram has gone to Yama." 11.64

"Then he after hearing the news of the death of his brother, that night walker started assaulting the sage in great anger." 11.65

"When he rushed towards him, that king of Brahmins, who had the shine of penance, burnt him with the fire in his eyes and thus sent him to death." 11.66

"This hermitage which shines with forests and lakes belongs to the brother of Sage Agastya, who has performed this impossible act out of compassion to Brahmins. 11.67

When Rāma completed his narration to Lakṣmaṇa, the sun went down and the dusk was initiated. 11.68

Then according to rules those brothers worshipped the dusk in the west, and then entered in to the hermitage and were greeted by the sage. 11.69

Rāma was well received by the sage and they ate fruits and roots and spent one night there in that hermitage. 11.70

After spending the night there, when the rose up, the sons of the Raghu clan took leave from the brother of Agastya. 11.71

"Oh Godly sage, we salute you. We have spent the night comfortably and we are bidding you farewell because we would like to go to see Agasthya who is your teacher as well as brother." 11.72

When the saint said "you may go", the son of Raghu clan started from there and proceeded through the path indicated earlier by Sutīkṣṇa." 11.73

He travelled further seeing Neevara trees, Jack fruit trees, Sāla trees, Asoka trees, lemon trees, Bilva trees, Madhūka trees and Tinduka trees. 11.74

Rāma saw hundreds of flowering trees hit by elephant's trunk, shining with presence of monkeys, with hundreds of lusty birds, fully flowers and enriched by the whirling climbing plants. 11.75-11.76

Then the lotus eyed Rāma told to the valorous and glorious Lakṣmaṇa who was closely following him. 11.77

"Seeing the trees with velvety leaves and animals and birds which do not look tired, I think that the hermitage of that greatly contemplative saint is not very far from here." 11.78

"I am able to see the hermitage of him who is famous as Agastya in this world only because of his own deeds and it seems to cure all tiresomeness." 11.79

"It is covered with huge smoke and cloths made of grass are hanging there; it is overcrowded with peaceful deer and overloaded with sounds of birds." 11.80

"Agastya destroyed the aridity of this region, wishing for the welfare of all and made this place livable and this hermitage is of his brother." 11.81

"Agastya, by whose association the Rākṣasas dare not even see the southern direction or prepared to live there, lives here." 11.82

"From the time that Agastya of pious deeds started living in the Sothern direction, all those who walk at night remained calm and without enmity." 11.83

"This southern side is also known by the name of saint Agastya in all the three worlds and people there found it hard to do cruel deeds." 11.84

"The Vindhya mountain which due to its constant growth was preventing Sun God's travel across the globe, obeyed his message and stopped from growing and he is long lived, famous in the world for his great deeds and he is adored by well-behaved animals." 11.85-11.86

"He is worshipped by the world, gentle, takes care of the interests of good people and when we go and meet him, his blessing would be beneficial." 11.87

"Oh Lakṣmaṇa, I wish to worship that saint Agastya, who is a great sage and oh gentle one, I wish to spend our rest of the time in the forest, here." 11.88

"There devas, Gandharvas, Sidhas and great sages would always be worshipping that sage Agastya, who is self-disciplined and self-regulated." 11.89

"There a liar, a cruel person nor an adamant one nor one who tortures men can live due to the nature of this sage." 11.90

"There devas, Yakṣas, serpents and birds live together wishing to worship that personification of Dharma with disciplined food habits." 11.91

"There the great souls and Sidhas, travelling in planes shining like Sun, after leaving their mortal body, blessed by that sage go to heaven." 11.92

"There, to those who worship the sage, gods grant the position of Yakṣas or devas or grant them different kingdoms." 11.93

"We have arrived at the hermitage and so Oh son of Sumitrā, enter in to it first and tell the sage that me and Sītā have arrived." 11.94

This is the end of Eleventh Sarga of Āraṇya Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.