Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 3 Chapter 28
THE THIRD BOOK
On the incidents connected with Navarātri
1. Janamejaya said:
O Muni! How did Rāmchandra celebrate the Devī’s Pūjā, that leads to happiness? Who was He! And how was stolen away His Sītā? How was He deprived of His kingdom? Please satisfy me by narrating all these incidents to me.
2. Vyāsa said:
O king! There lived, in days of yore, in the city of Ayodhyā, a prosperous king of the solar dynasty named Daśaratha. He always worshipped the Devas and Brāhmaṇas.
3-5. He had four celebrated sons Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata and Satrughna. These four sons were equally learned and beautiful and they always did actions agreeable to the king. Of these, Rāmachandra was the son of the Queen Kauśalya, Bharata was the son of Kaikeyi, and the good looking Lakṣmaṇa and Satrughna were the twin sons of Sumitrā. While young, they learned the art of archery and began to play with bows and arrows in their hands.
6-7. Thus educated and purified, the four sons began to give delight more and more to the king; one day the Mahāṛṣi Viśvāmitra came to Ayodhyā and asked from the king Daśaratha the help of his son Rāmachandra for the protection of his sacrificial ceremonies. The king could not cancel the Viśvāmitra's request and sent with him Rāma, accompanied by Lakṣmaṇa.
8-11. The lovely Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa accompanied the Muni on his way back. There lived a terrible looking Rākhṣasī, named Tāḍakā, in a forest on their way, who used to give great troubles to the ascetics; and Rāma killed her with only one arrow. Next he killed Subāhu and shot arrows at another night-wanderer Mārīcha and made him senseless, almost dead and threw him at a great distance and thus saved Viśvāmitra from all the obstacles troubling him in his sacrificial ceremonies. Thus fulfilling the great work, protecting the sacrificial ceremonies, Rāma, Lakṣmaṇa and the Muni Cowsick, the three, started for the kingdom of Mithilā. On his way, Rāma Chandra rescued Ahalyā from the curse that she was suffering from.
12-13. At last the two brothers, accompanied by the Muni, reached the city Videhanagar. Just at this time the king Janaka of Ayodhyā made a vow to give in marriage Sītā to anybody who will be able to break the bow of Śiva; Rāma broke that bow into two and married Sītā, born of Lakṣmī’s parts. The king Janaka gave in marriage to Lakṣmaṇa his own-daughter Urmilā.
14. The good and auspicious Bharata and Satrughna married respectively Māndavi and Śrutakīrti, the two daughters of Kuśadhvaja.
15. O king! Thus, in the great city of Mithilā, the four brothers performed their marriage ceremonies, according to the prescribed rules and rites.
16. The king Daśaratha, then seeing Rāma well qualified to take charge of the kingdom, proposed to install him on the throne of Ayodhyā.
17. The queen Kaikeyi, seeing that various articles were being collected for the installation of Rāma, asked for the two boons, promised before, from her husband Daśaratha, who was completely under her control.
18. The first request was her own son, Bharata’s becoming the king of Ayodhyā; and the second request was the banishing of Rāma to the forest for fourteen years.
19. Thus Rāmachandra went accompanied by Sītā and Lakṣmaṇa to the Danḍakā forest, frequented by the Rākṣasas.
20. The high souled king Daśaratha felt very much due to bereavement of his son, remembered the curse given to him by Andhaka Muni and left his mortal coil.
21. Bharata, seeing that his father died solely on, account of his mother, refrained from becoming the king of Ayodhyā, the prosperous city and wanted the welfare of his brother Rāma.
22. Rāmachandra went to the forest Pañchavaṭī. One day the youngest sister of Rāvaṇa, named Sūrpanakhā became very passionate and came to Rāma; whereon Rāmachandra disfigured her by cutting off her nose and ears.
23. Seeing her nose thus cut away, the Rākṣasas Khara, Dūṣaṇa, and others fought very hard against the powerful Rāmachandra.
24. The truly powerful Rāma killed Khara, Dūṣaṇa and all other powerful Rākṣasas, for the welfare of the Munis.
25. Then Sūrpanakhā went to Lanka and informed Rāvaṇa of her nose having been cut and of the death of Khara, Dūṣaṇa and others.
26. The wicked and malignant Rāvaṇa, hearing of their death, became filled with anger and, mounting on a chariot, quickly went to the forest of Mārīcha.
27. Rāvaṇa expressed his desire to take away Sītā; so ordered that magician Mārīcha to assume the form of a golden deer and go to Rāma and entice him away.
28. The magician Mārīcha assumed the form of a golden deer and reached the sight of Janaki. Then that variously spotted deer began to move about near the Sītā Devī.
29. Looking at the beautiful golden splendour of the body of that golden deer, Sītā
Devī, prompted as it were by the great Fate, spoke to Rāmachandra like other independent women “O Lord! Bring me the skin of the deer.”
30. Rāma too, not judging at all, as if it was the work of Destiny, asked Lakṣmaṇa to remain there and protect Sītā, took hold of his bows and arrows and went after the deer.
31. Infinitely skilled in magic, the deer seeing Hari in the shape of Rāma sometimes came and sometimes came not within his sight and travelled from one forest to another.
32. When Rāma saw that He had come very far away from His place, He became angry and drew his bow and shot sharp arrows at that deer, the transformed Mārīcha.
33. The deceitful conjuror Rākṣasas, being thus shot very violently and pained intensely, cried out: “O brother Lakṣmaṇa! I am killed” and breathed his last.
34-35. This loud awful cry reached Janaki’s ears. She took that voice for Rāma's voice and told to Lakṣmaṇa in a grieved tone:
“Lakṣmaṇa, go quickly. I fear Rāma is killed; hear the voice ‘O Lakṣmaṇa! Come quickly and deliver me’ is calling you to go there.”
36. Lakṣmaṇa then replied:
“Mother! You are alone in this forest; therefore I cannot leave you thus even if Rāmachandra be killed.
37. O daughter of Janaka! Rāma has ordered me to remain here. Now if I leave you and go elsewhere, then I will be charged with having disobeyed his order. Fearing that, I am unable to leave this place.
38. It seems to me, moreover, that some magician has carried Rāma away from here; I am therefore unable to move a step from here and leave you alone.
39. Hold patience; let me consider; I find no such man as can kill Rāma; I am unable to leave you by any means alone here and to go away, disobeying Rāma’s orders.”
40. Vyāsa said:
O king! Then the young wife of Rāma, having handsome teeth, began to cry aloud, fearfully, as if made to do so by Destiny, and uttered the cruel words to the pure Lakṣmaṇa.
41. “O son of Sumitrā! I know why you are so much attached towards me? I know very well that you have been sent here by Bharata to accompany us simply to obtain me.
42. O vile Kṣattriya, skilled in magic! I am not that sort of woman acting to my wanton will; never I will accept you of my will as my husband in case Śrī Rāmachandra be dead.
43. In case Śrī Rāma does not return, I will certainly commit suicide; without him I would be very much grieved and afflicted with sorrows; and I would not be able to hold on my life.
44. O Saumitrī! Whether you remain here or do not remain, I won’t request anything more to you; for I am quite unaware of your mind; but this much I like to say to you, where has your intimacy towards your religious elder brother now gone?”
45-46. Hearing thus the Sītā Devī’s words, Lakṣmaṇa became exceedingly sorry; and, being suffocated with heaving sighs on account of the internal pain told Sītā:
“O! One born without any womb! Why are you uttering so cruel and malignant words; I clearly see when you are speaking such unworthy words, that some great evil is sure to befall on you very soon. ”
47. O king! Thus saying, the spirited Lakṣmaṇa left Sītā and went out weeping very much, and, being very much afflicted with grief, traced the footsteps of his elder and went on in search of him.
48. When Lakṣmaṇa thus departed, Rāvaṇa entered into the hermitage in the guise of a deceitful beggar (Bhikṣu wearing a red garb).
49. Janaki took that villain Rāvaṇa to be a Yogi and respectfully gave him offerings of worship and forest fruits.
50-52. That villain asked Sītā humbly, in a gentle tone:
“O beautiful! Your eyes are beautiful like Palāsa lotus leaves; therefore it seems that you are not an ordinary woman; how is it that you are here thus alone in a wild forest?
O fair one! Who is your father? Who is your brother and who is your husband? Being such a beautiful one, how is it that you are in this forest here like an ordinary woman, dumbfounded?
O good looking one! You are worthy to live in a palace filled with nectar; why are you living, in this hovel, in this wild forest like an ordinary Muni’s wife, when your beauty is shining in lustrous beams like a Deva girl?”
53-55. Vyāsa said:
The daughter of Janaki, hearing the words of Rāvaṇa, the husband of Mandodarī, unfortunately took him to be a good Yogi and replied in the following way:
“Perhaps you have heard that a prosperous king Daśaratha is reigning in the Ayodhyā city. He has four sons; the eldest of these, Śrī Rāma Chandra, is my husband.
The king offered two boons to Kaikeyi; due to which Rāma Chandra has been exiled in this forest and is here with his brother Lakṣmaṇa.
56. I am the daughter of the King Janaka; my name is Sītā; Rāma Chandra has broken the bow of Śiva and has married me.
57. Resting under his prowess of arms, I am resting here fearlessly in this wild forest; seeing a golden deer, he has gone out to kill that for me.
58. Lakṣmaṇa, too, hearing his voice has gone just now. O Yogi! I am living here depending on the strength of these two brothers.
59. Thus I have told you all about our living in this forest; shortly they will come and worship you duly.
60-61. The man who has controlled his passions and has become a Yati is like Viṣṇu incarnate; therefore I have worshipped you. O Yogi! Our Āśram is in the midst of this terrible forest, surrounded by Rākṣasas. Therefore I am asking you how is it that you have been able to come here in this dress of Tridaṇḍi (a Sannyāsi Yogi) ; please speak in the name of Truth before me.”
62. Rāvaṇa said:
“O askance looking one! I am the king of Lanka, the husband of Mandodarī. O beautiful one! It is for you that I have put on this dress of Yati.
63. O beautiful! My two brothers Khara and Dūṣaṇa have been killed in this forest; and being urged by my sister I have come here.
64-65. Now leave your this man-husband, residing in the forest as a pauper, devoid of fortune and wealth; and worship me as a husband.
O fair one! I am Rāvaṇa, the king of kings; you now become my lord.
66. O daughter of Janaka! I am the lord of the Regents of the quarters; and yet I bow my head down to your lotus feet; better accept me and fulfil my desires today.
67-68. Formerly I asked of you from your father, the king Janaka; but he then said, that he had laid a pledge:
‘Whoever will break the Śiva’s bow will marry my daughter.’
The Bhagavān Rudra is my Guru; hence I feared to break his bow, and therefore I was not present in your Svayamvara. But from that time my mind is always thinking of you and is in a state of bereavement for you.
69. O beautiful one! Hearing now that you are residing in this forest, I, impelled by my previous fascination for you, have now come hither; and you better now crown my labour with success.”
Thus ends the 28th Chapter on the incidents connected with the Navarātri and the description of Rāmāyanam in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses, by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa in the 3rd Adhyāya.
Note: The story about the origin of Sītā Devī runs thus:
Rāvaṇa, the king of Ceylon (Lanka) practised very severe austerities and got extraordinary powers. He brought the three worlds under his subjection, levied taxes from all. The Devas and all the other inhabitants of the several worlds paid their taxes, as imposed by Rāvaṇa.
Rāvaṇa sent messengers to the Riṣis and the Munis, the ascetics, dwelling in forests and asked them to pay their taxes. The Riṣis replied that they had no property. But Rāvaṇa insisted.
The Riṣis gave, then, blood, cutting their thighs, in ajar that was carried to Lanka.
Rāvaṇa kept that jar under the custody of his queen Mandodarī, and instructed her that the jar contained poison and that she should not eat that.
Mandodarī, however, ate a portion of that, out of curiosity, and became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter.
Fearing Rāvaṇa, she floated the jar with the daughter, in the ocean, which, floating through oceans and rivers, came and touched the lands of the King Janaka.
The peasants while tilling, found that and took the girl to the king, who reared her as his daughter. Thus Sītā, born out of the blood of the Brāhmaṇas, took away subsequently the kingdom, life, and all of Rāvaṇa.
Another version is this:
As before, the messengers advised the Munis to give something; otherwise Rāvaṇa would insist and put them to various troubles.
So the Munis cut their thighs and gave blood as their tax, saying that that blood in the jar would cause ruin and desolation to the country where it will be kept.
Rāvaṇa, hearing this, ordered the jar to be carried to the kingdom of the king Janaka, thus causing ruin to him. The jar was brought and placed in the fields of Janaka.
Now it happened that there was a very severe drought; rains were absolutely wanting; and a dire famine was imminent.
The Brahmin Pundits informed the king that if the king and his wife ploughed themselves the fields, rains would fall.
So the king with his wife did that, the king holding the plough and the queen holding the hand of the king. The fore end of the plough accidentally hit upon that jar, out of which came out Sītā Devī with two women Riddhi and Siddhi, waving chowries on her two sides.
The two ladies disappeared and Sītā Devī looked like a girl. The king Janaka reared her, as if his daughter.
Sītā Devī used to lift daily with her left hand the bow of Śiva, kept in the king’s house, and daily worshipped that, and thus cleansed the place.
Seeing this, the king Janaka pledged the vow that, whoever would break the Śiva’s bow, would marry Sītā.