Rāmāyana | Ayodhyā Kaṇḍa | Chapter 37

37. Rāma Wears Bark Cloth

[Rāma refuses all those accompaniments. Kaikeyi brings bark cloths for him. Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa wear it. Grass cloth is brought for Sītā and she does not know how to wear it. Vasiṣṭha becomes furious on Kaikeyi.]

Hearing the speech of the minister Rāma told the following great words with humility to Daśaratha. 37.1

"Oh king, I would be living in the forest with what is available there, after giving up all pleasures. What is the use of all these accompaniments to me who has given up all attachments." 37.2

"Having given up the elephant, would I be interested in the rope that was used to tie it, for when you do not want the best of elephants, why love towards its rope." 37.3

"Oh best amongst all people, Oh king, what is the use of army to me, as I am giving up everything and I only need a bark." 37.4

"I would be going to the forest with nothing but a crowbar and a basket as I am going to live there for fourteen years." 37.5

Then Kaikeyi, in the midst of all people without any shame brought the bark robes and told Rāma, "Wear them." 37.6

The tiger among men Rāma, after receiving the bark robes from Kaikeyi removed all his fine cloths and after wearing the bark robes attained the position of an ascetic." 37.7

Lakṣmaṇa also removed his auspicious fine cloths and in the presence of his father wore the bark robes. 37.8

Then Sītā who was wearing silk cloths, having seen the bark cloth, which she was supposed to wear, was frightened like a doe having seen the snare of the hunter. 37.9

Sītā who was auspicious but distressed, who observed Dharma and who knew her Dharma, after receiving the cloths made of Kuśa grass from Kaikeyi, with a thorough feeling of shame and with her eyes filled with tears, addressed her husband who was like A Gandharva king and spoke these words. 37.10-37.11

"How do the sages who live in the forest wear this dress made of grass?" asked Sītā who did not know how to wear it and again and again saw Rāma. 37.12

Sītā with one hand holding one end of the grass cloth to her neck and holding the other end in her hands and not knowing what to do looked embarrassed. 37.13

Seeing that Rāma, the foremost among those who follow Dharma, quickly came forward and fastened the grass garment over the silk garment that she was wearing. 37.14

Seeing that Rāma was tying that excellent grass cloth on Sītā, all the women of the private apartment who were standing there cried by shedding tears from their eyes. 37.15

All of them greatly distressed addressing Rāma who had great lustre told him, "No one has ordered the very dear Sītā to live in the forest." 37.16

"From the time you are going to the forest obeying the words of your father, till you come back, let her fruitful presence be available to us." 37.17

"Oh little son, live in the forest with the assistance of Lakṣmaṇa as this auspicious lady is not fit to live in the forest as an ascetic." 37.18

"Oh son, please fulfil our humble request and let the pretty Sītā remain here and since you are faithful to your duty, you would not like to remain here." 37.19

Though spoken to, this way, that son of Daśaratha, while listening fastened the grass robe tightly on Sītā, who had a similar nature like him. 37.20

When Sītā was tying the grass garment, Vasiṣṭha the Guru of Daśaratha stopped her from doing it and spoke to Kaikeyi. 37.21

"Oh lady with excess of indecency, who has an evil intention, Oh lady who is a disgrace to the clan, after having deceived the king, your conduct is not as per Dharma." 37.22

"Oh lady who has given up her virtues, Sītā need not go to the forest and by remaining here, she can occupy the throne along with Rāma." 37.23

"To an householder who protects his wife, she is like a soul to him, and Sītā is the soul of Rāma and would rule the earth with him." 37.24

"Otherwise, if she decides to go to the forest along with Rāma all of us who are in this city will also follow him." 37.25

"The guardians of the frontiers, along with the king and all people who are living here and the people of the kingdom along with retinue of all servants would follow him." 37.26

"Bhārata and Śatrughna wearing cloths of grass also will wander in the forest living with their elder brother Rāma." 37.27

"This empty earth devoid of people and populated by people would be ruled by you, who is intent on harming people and having bad character." 37.28

"A kingdom will not exist, if Rāma is not its king and the king where Rāma would live would become the kingdom." 37.29

"Bhārata is not fit to rule this kingdom because it was not endowed to him with full heart by his father, nor will he behave like a son to you, if he is born to him." 37.30

"Even if you can fly from earth to sky, that one who knows the history of his father's clan will not do otherwise." 37.31

"So you who are interested in the fate of your son is doing great harm to him as there is no one in this world who will not follow Rāma." 37.32

"Oh Kaikeyi today itself you will see flocks, sheep, elephants, deer and birds following him and even trees bending towards him." 37.33

"So Oh lady, remove that grass dress from your daughter in law and give her precious ornaments as she is not fit to wear the grass dress." Saying this Vasiṣṭha stopped Sītā from wearing the dress of grass. 37.34

"Oh daughter of the king of Kekaya, you have only requested Rāma to live in the forest and so let her be well dressed and adorned with ornaments, live with him in the forest." 37.35

"Let chariots and chiefs of servants accompany the princess Sītā along with garments and other necessities, as you had only asked for Rāma's living in the forest." 37.36

Even when the Guru of the king, who was foremost among the Brahmins with great and immeasurable power told like this, Sītā did not agree and did not change her decision to serve her husband. 37.37

This is the end of Thirty Seventh Sarga of Ayodhyā Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.