Rama, The Protector of Vishwamitra

kauśikamakhasaṃrakṣaka rāma
kauśikamakhasaṃrakṣaka rāma

Lord Ram and Lakshman start learning under the guidance of the great sage Vishwamitra after their father reluctantly allows them to accompany the sage into the forest, in order to protect the yagna he is conducting for the good of mankind.

After walking for twelve miles, Vishwamitra stops to allow the princes to take rest. Watching the young men sip water, the sage reveals to them the mantras of bala and atibala. These mantras would protect them from fatigue, allowing them to go without food, water and rest when necessary. Moreover, it would make their strength unparalleled in any of the three worlds. The sage and the two princes spend the night on the banks of the Sarayu. Though sleeping on nothing but straw, they revel in the joy of receiving such divine knowledge. As the princes spend more time with the sage, they grow increasingly skilled in warfare and the use of divine weapons, which later prove vital in the course of their lives.

Sri Ram and Lakshman exercise their newfound abilities in warfare during Vishwamitra’s yagna. The princes stay awake for six days and nights continuously in order to protect the grove where the ritual is being performed. On the sixth night, Maricha and Subahu leading a group of ogres intrude by flying in and polluting the holy place. Lord Ram, ready and unperturbed by the intruders, draws an arrow and invokes the weapon presided over by Manu. When he shoots, Maricha is flung eight hundred miles into the ocean. Sri Ram aims at Subahu, this time invoking the god of fire, firing straight into the ogre’s chest, killing him instantaneously. Lord Ram invokes the wind god and fires a single arrow that throws all the smaller ogres far enough to prevent their return. The rakshasas, confronted by a fierce warrior in Sri Ram, learn a difficult lesson, to never trouble holy men again. Thereafter, the spiritual practices continued without hindrances.

Vishwamitra takes the young teenage princes and gives them the necessary combat training required to become strong kings. This shows that whatever be our responsibility, we must equip ourselves to handle it well.

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Chinmaya Udghosh