Śrīmad Devi Bhāgavatam | Book 9 Chapter 16
THE NINTH BOOK
On the incarnation of Mahā Lakṣmī in the house of Kuśadhvaja
1-30. Śrī Nārāyaṇa said:
O Muni! Dharmadhvaja and Kuśadhvaja practised severe tapasyās and worshipped Lakṣmī. They then got separately their desired boons.
By the boon of Mahā Lakṣmī, they became again the rulers of the earth. They acquired great religious merits and they also had their children.
The wife of Kuśadhvaja was named Mālāvatī. After a long time, the chaste wife delivered one daughter, born of the parts of Kamalā. The daughter, on being born, became full of wisdom.
On being born, the baby began to sing clearly the Vedic mantrams from the lying-in-chamber. Therefore She was named Vedavatī by the Pundits.
She bathed after her birth and became ready to go to the forest to practise severe tapas. Everyone then, tried earnestly to dissuade her, devoted to Nārāyaṇa, from the enterprise. But she did not listen to anybody.
She went to Puṣkara and practised hard tapasyā for one Manvantara. Yet her body did not get lean a bit; rather she grew more plump and fatter.
Gradually her youth began to show signs in her body; one day she heard an incorporeal voice from the air above:
“O Fair One! In your next birth Śrī Hari, adored by Brahmā and other gods, will be your husband.”
Hearing this, her joy knew no bounds. She went to the solitary caves in the Gandhamādan mountain to practise tapas again.
When a long time passed away in this tapasyā, one day the irresistible Rāvaṇa came there as guest. No sooner Vedavatī saw the guest, then she gave him, out of devotion to the guest, water to wash feet, delicious fruits, and cool water for his drink.
The villain accept the hospitality and sitting there, began to ask:
“O Auspicious One! Who are you?”
Seeing the fair smiling lady, with beautiful teeth, her face blooming like the autumnal lotus, of heavy loins, and of full breast, that villain became passionate. He lost entirely all consciousness and became ready to make violence on Her.
Seeing this the chaste Vedavatī became angry and out of her tapas influence, astounded him and made him insensible to move.
He remained motionless like an inanimate body. He could not move his hands nor feet nor could he speak.
That wicked fellow then mentally recited praises to her. And the praise of the Higher Śaktī can never go futile. She became pleased and granted him religious merits in the next world.
But she also pronounced this curse:
“Because you have touched my body out of passion, then you will be ruined with your whole family for my sake. Now see my power.”
O Nārada! Thus saying to Rāvaṇa, Vedavatī left her body by her yogic power.
Then Rāvaṇa took her body and delivered it to the Ganges and he then returned to his own home. But Rāvaṇa pondered over the matter repeatedly and exclaimed:
“What wonder have I seen! Oh! What a miracle this lady has wrought!” - Rāvaṇa thus lamented.
This Vedavatī, of pure character, took her birth afterwards as Sītā, the daughter of Janaka. For the sake of this Sītā, Rāvaṇa was ruined with his whole family.
By the religious merits of her previous birth, the ascetic lady got Bhagavān Hari Śrī Rāma Chandra, the Fullest of the Full, for her husband and remained for a long time in great enjoyment with the Lord of the world; a thing very difficult to be attained!
Though she was a Jātismarā (one who knows all about her past lives), she did not feel any pain due to her practising severe austerities in her previous birth; for when the pains end in success, the pains are not then felt at all.
Sītā, in Her fresh youth enjoyed various pleasures in the company of her husband, handsome, peaceful, humorous and witty, the chief of the Devas, loved by the female sex, well-qualified, and just what she desired.
But the all-powerful Time is irresistible; the truthful Rāmachandra, the scion of the Raghu’s family, had to keep up the promise made by his father and so he had to go to the forest, ordained by Time.
He remained with Sītā and Lakṣmana near the sea.
Once the God Fire appeared to Him in the form of a Brāhmaṇa. Fire, in a Brāhmin-form, saw Rāma Chandra morose and became himself mortified. Then the Truthful Fire addressed the truthful Rāmachandra:
“O Bhagavān Rāmachandra! I now speak to you how time is now coming to you. Now has come the time when your Sītā will be stolen.
31-48. The course of Destiny is irresistible; none else is more powerful than Time, Fate. So give over your Sītā, the World Mother to me and keep with you this Chhāyā Sītā (the shadow Sītā; the false Sītā).
When the time of Sītā’s ordeal by fire will take place I will give Her back to you. The Devas united have sent me to you. I am not really a Brāhmin; but I am Agni Deva (eater of oblations).”
Rāmachandra heard Fire and gave his assent. But his heart shattered. He did not speak of this to Lakṣmaṇa.
By the yogic power Agni (Fire) created a Māyā Sītā. This Māyā Sītā, O Nārada, was perfectly equal to the real Sītā. Fire, then, handed this Māyā Sītā to the hands of Rāmachandra.
Hutāsana (fire) took the real Sītā and said:
“Never divulge this to anybody else” and went away.
What to speak of divulging the secret to anybody else, Lakṣmaṇa even could not know it.
About this time Rāma saw one deer, made of all gold. To bring that deer carefully to her, Sītā sent Rāmachandra with great eagerness.
Putting Sītā under Lakṣmaṇa’s care, in that forest, Rāma went himself immediately and pierced the deer by one arrow.
That Māyā Mriga (the deer created by magic powers) on being pierced, cried out: “Ha Lakṣmaṇa!” and seeing Hari before him and remembering the name of Hari, quitted his life.
The deer’s body then vanished; and a divine body made its appearance in its stead. This new body mounting on an aerial car made of jewels, ascended to Vaikuṇṭha.
That Māyic (magic) deer was in its previous birth, a servant, of the two gate-keepers of Vaikuṇṭha; but, for the sake of some emergency, he had to take up this Rākhṣasa birth. He again became the servant of two door-keepers of Vaikuṇṭha.
On the other hand Sītā Devī, hearing the cry “Ha Lakṣmaṇa!” became very distressed and sent Lakṣmaṇa in search of Rāma. No sooner did Lakṣmaṇa get out of the hermitage, the irresistible Rāvaṇa took away Sītā gladly to the city of Lanka (Ceylon).
Now Rāmachandra, seeing Lakṣmaṇa on the way in the forest, became merged in the ocean of sorrows and without losing any time came hurriedly to the hermitage where he could not find Sītā.
Instantly he fell unconscious, on the ground; and, after a long time, when he regained his consciousness, he lamented and wandered here and there in search of Her.
After some days on the banks of the river Godāvarī, getting the information of Sītā, he built a bridge across the ocean with the help of His monkey armies. Then he entered with his army into Lanka and slew Rāvaṇa with arrows with all his friends.
When Sītā’s ordeal by fire came, Agni (Fire) handed over the real Sītā to Rāmachandra. The Shadow Sītā then humbly addressed Agni and Rāma Chandra:
“O Lord! What am I to do now? Settle my case.”
49-53. Agni and Rāmachandra both of them then said to Chhāyā Sītā:
“O Devī! Go to Puṣkara and practise tapasyā there; that place is the giver of religious merits and then you will be the Svarga Lakṣmī (Lakṣmī of Heaven).”
Hearing this, the Chhāyā Sītā went and practised tapasyā for the three divine lakh years and became Mahā Lakṣmī. This Svarga Lakṣmī appeared at one time from the sacrificial Kuṇḍa (pit).
She was known as the daughter of Drupada and became the wife of the five Pāṇḍavas.
She was Vedavatī, the daughter of Kuśadhvaja in the Satya Yuga; Sītā, the wife of Rāma and the daughter of Janaka in Trētā Yuga; and Draupadī, the daughter of Drupada, in the Dvāpara Yuga.
As she existed in the Satya, Trētā, and Dvāpara Yugas, the Three Yugas, hence She is Trihāyanī.
54. Nārada said:
“O Chief of Munis! O Remover of doubts! Why had Draupadī five husbands? A great doubt has arisen in my mind on this point. Remove my doubt. ”
55-63. Nārāyaṇa said:
O Devarṣi! When, in the city of Lanka, the real Sītā came before Rāma, then Chhāyā Sītā, full of youth and beauty, became very anxious. Agni Deva and Rāmachandra both told Her to go to Puṣkara and worship Śamkara.
While this Chhāyā Sītā was practising austerities in Puṣkara, She became very anxious to get a good husband and asked from Mahādeva the boon “Grant me a husband” and repeated it five times.
Śiva, the chief among the humorous, witty persons, hearing this, said:
“O Dear! You will get five husbands” and thus granted her the boon.
Therefore She became the dearest wife of the five Pāṇḍavas. Now hear other facts:
When the war at Lanka was over, Śrī Rāmachandra got his own dear wife Sītā, and installing Vibhīṣaṇa on the throne of Lanka, returned to Ayodhyā.
He ruled for eleven thousand years in Bhārata and finally went to Vaikuṇṭha with his all his subjects. Vedavatī, the incarnation of part of Lakṣmī dissolved in the body of Kamalā.
Thus I have described to you the pure story of Vedavatī. Hearing this destroys sins and increases virtue.
The four Vedas reigned incarnate, in their true forms, on the lips of Vedavatī; hence She was named Vedavatī. Thus I have told you the story of the daughter of Kuśadhvaja. Now hear the story of Tulasī, the daughter of Dharmadhvaja.
Here ends the Sixteenth Chapter in the Ninth Book on the incarnation of Mahā Lakṣmī in the house of Kuśadhvaja in Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.