Rāmāyana | Bala Kaṇḍa | Chapter 24

Sargam [Chapter]: 24
Sarayū-Ganga Confluence and Thataka Forest

[Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa travel by boat and reach the confluence of Sarayu-Ganges and a great sound is heard. Viśvāmitra explains the origin of Sarayu. After crossing that, they reach uninhabited horrible forest of Thataka. The sage also tells them about cruel Thataka.]

Those destroyers of their enemy, Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, did their fresh morning ablations and sage Viśvāmitra completed his morning rituals. They arrived at the river bank keeping the sages in front of them. 24.1

All those great souls, who were doing combined penance, positioned the auspicious boat near the shore and told like this. 24.2

"Please get in to the boat along with the princes and go on your prosperous way without any time lag." 24.3

Viśvāmitra said "so be it" to those sages and showed his reverence to them in return. He along with the princes crossed the river which was going to join the sea. 24.4

Then in the middle of the journey, the intelligent Rāma along with his brother heard a roaring sound similar to the sound of water gushing out and was curious to know its significance. 24.5

Rāma, in the middle of their journey, asked the great sage, "What is that great noise, resembling the gushing of water?" 24.6

Hearing the query of Rāma with great inquisitiveness, that soul of Dharma started telling about the significance of that sound. 24.7

"Oh Rāma, who is tiger among men, on top of Mount Kailāśa, once, Lord Brahma created a lake by his mind and that was called Manasā Saras." 24.8

"From that lake flows our river Sarayu, which surrounds the town of Ayodhyā. Since it originates from a lake [Saras], it was called as Sarayu. Since it flows from the lake of Brahma, it is considered as a sacred river. This gushing noise is the sound of River Sarayu joining the River Ganges and Oh Rāma, offer your salutations to these rivers." 24.9-24.10

After saluting those two rivers, those virtuous and agile princes reached the southern shore. 24.11

That son of the great king, belonging to the Ikshvāku dynasty, seeing the horrible and uninhabited forest, enquired to that great sage. 24.12

"Alas, this forest which is difficult to cross is full of crickets and other insects and it is full of brutish predators, vultures and is filled with horrendous sounds." 24.13

"Different types of vultures are screeching with fierce sounds and it is shining with lions, tigers and elephants." 24.14

"What is this wretched forest with trees such as Dhavaa [mimosa family], Aśvakarṇa [Arjuna tree], Kakubha [another type of Arjuna tree], Bilva, Tin Duka [Tamāla], Pāṭala [Begonia tree] and Badarri [Zizhyphus tree]?" 24.15

That great sage, with great lustre, replied, "Oh son of Kākutstha dynasty, please hear about this wretched forest." 24.16

"Oh great man, this area was once populated by ordinary people, which was constructed by devas and called Maladha and Karūṣa." 24.17

"Oh Rāma due to killing of Vritra, who was a Brahmin, Indra was stained by human excreta and filth." 24.18

"Great sages and those who were rich in penance started bathing Indra by taking water in a pot for removing all that filth." 24.19

"When all that filth from the body of Indra was put in this earth, devas became glad." 24.20

"After getting rid of his filth and hunger, Indra became happy with this landfill and gave a matchless boon to this place." 24.21

"This place of residence of ordinary people would become famous in the world, because it got all the dirt from my body; will be known as Maladha and Karūṣa." 24.22

The Devas said "Great, great" about Indra, the controller of Paaka, on seeing the honour accorded by Indra to those places. 24.23

"Oh controller of enemies, Rāma, that lord of the common people Maladha and Karūṣa for a long time was affluent and people were happy with plenty of grains and wealth." 24.24

"Then this area was occupied by a Yakṣī called Thataka, who could assume any form she likes, who had the strength of one thousand elephants, who was clever one, who was the wife of great Sunanda and whose son was Mārīcha." 24.25-24.26

"The Rākṣasa Mārīcha had round shoulders, huge head, broad mouth, gigantic body and mammoth shape and troubled all people." 24.27

"Rāma, that Thataka, who is of bad character, daily destroys Maladha and Karoosha and also the people living there." 24.28

"She who blocks this way, lives about three miles from here and because of that it is called Thataka's forest; some action needs to be taken." 24.29

"Depending only on your strength, you have to kill this evil doer and free this province from its great misery." 24.30

"Nobody has the strength to enter in to this forest, which you are seeing, destroyed by the yakshi, who is invincible. Please make this habitable." 24.31

"I have told you the entire story of how the Yakṣī Thataka destroyed this forest and how she is making it inhabitable even today." 24.32

This is the end of Twenty Fourth Sarga of Bala Kanda which occurs in Holy Rāmāyaṇa composed by Vālmīki as the First Epic.