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Tulasidas Kalidas
Bankim Chandra Tenali Ramakrishna
Namadeva Maharshi Valmiki
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MAHARSHI VALMIKI

A Queen Comes  To a Hermitage

After Sri Rama killed Ravana in a great war to regain Seetha, he returned to the city of Ayodhya with Seetha and Lakshmana. He was then crowned King of the Kosala country. Seethadevi was now the Queen. They were happy. All his subjects were also very happy and joyful. After some years Seethadevi became pregnant. Sri Rama was very pleased that his line would continue. He said to her, "Seetha, you are now with child and you may have some desire or the other. Tell me whatever it is, and I shall fulfil it."

Seetha smiled and said, "My lord, what other wish can I have? I only desire your happiness and your love. Still there is a small thing I would like to mention. When we were in the forest years ago, we used to go to the hermitages of the Rishis. But I could not give anything to the wives of the sages at that time. Can I go there now, and offer them gifts to my heart's content? I would like to spend some time with them." Sri Rama gladly agreed to fulfil her desire.

After a few days, one morning Sri Rama was sitting in his chamber attending to his kingly duties. Then a spy came to him. His work was to disguise himself at night and to listen to what different persons said. In the morning he met the king and reported everything. The previous night he had heard some persons criticizing Sri Rama. It was his duty to tell the king whatever he had heard. He said to Rama, "Sire, the people of Ayodhya are full of praise for you. But there are some who do not speak well of one action of yours. 'Queen Seethadevi was a prisoner in Ravana's palace. Ravana was the King of Rakshasas, and a wicked fellow. Therefore what of Seetha. Who was his prisoner? Sri Rama was wrong in bringing her back.' I have heard some persons speak like this. "

Sri Rama was greatly pained to hear this. He knew that Seethadevi always thought only of him, and was very pure. But a king should always so conduct himself as to please and satisfy his subjects. That is the quality of a good king. Therefore Sri Rama decided to give up Seetha. He sent for his brother Lakshmana and told him all that he had heard from the spy. He asked Lakshmana to take away Seethadevi at once and leave her near Valmiki's hermitage. Lakshmana was shocked at the order he received from his elder brother. He tried to change the mind of Sri Rama but could not succeed. Lakshmana had no choice; he had to take away his sister-in-law.

He brought a chariot to the gate of Seethadevi's palace. Seethadevi thought that Sri Rama was fulfilling her desire to visit the ashramas of sages. She was all enthusiasm. She got up a big package of haldi, kumkum, bangles and gold ornaments to be given to the wives of the Rishis. She told everyone in the palace that she was going on a visit to hermitages, and took leave. Sri Rama was not in the palace. So she requested Kausalya, her mother-in-law, to inform Sri Rama. She then entered the chariot. Lakshmana himself drove the chariot.

They sped along and soon reached the banks of the river Ganga. Nearby was the hermitage of Valmiki Rishi. But Lakshmana did not go to the ashrama. He got down in the forest near the ashrama. He helped Seethadevi to alight from the chariot. Then tearfully he said to Seetha, "Mother, Sri Rama has asked me to leave you in the forest. Some people in Ayodhya have spoken ill of you with doubts in their minds. They blame Sri Rama for having brought you back from Ravana's prison. A king has to win the respect of his subjects. Therefore Rama arms given you up. This has given him great pain, but he is bearing it because he thinks of his duty. I have obeyed his instructions. I am a very great sinner, to be leaving you in the forest. Kindly forgive me." He touched her feet. Then he left the weeping Seethadevi in the forest and returned to Ayodhya.

Lakshmana's words were like a thunderbolt to Seethadevi. She stood for a long time staring at Lakshmana who was going away. Deep sighs escaped from her lips. Unable to stand, she collapsed on the ground. She recalled the entire story of her life. Should this be the fate of a woman who always thought of her husband as her God? She wept and wept. But yet she did not blame her husband. She thought it was her bad fate. She was soon to become a mother and was wearied by the journey; she had eaten no food and her mind was full of agony, so she crumpled up. She was overtaken by sleep and lay down under a tree.

Seethadevi awoke from her sleep by the evening. She did not know what to do and began to cry loudly. Just then Valmiki’s disciples had come to the forest to gather flowers and leaves for the master's worship. They heard the loud wails of Seethadevi and followed in the wake of the sound.

They approached her and said to her, "Mother, who are you? Why are you crying alone in the forest? We are disciples Of the sage Valmiki. Have no doubts. Guruji's hermitage is quite near. Please come with us, Mother."

The very mention of Valmiki Rishi brought Seethadevi some comfort. She took courage and went with the disciples to the ashrama.

As soon as she saw Valmiki, Seethadevi prostrated before the sage with great devotion. Weeping, she narrated her whole story to the sage. Valmiki was deeply moved. He consoled her in various ways. He then assured her that he would keep her in his hermitage. He asked the women of the ashrama to look after her. He told them that she was a very virtuous lady and they should look after her with all possible care and affection.

After a few days. Seethadevi gave birth to two sons. They were born on a good day under very auspicious stars. The two babies were beautiful like dolls made of moonlight. Valmiki rejoiced when he saw them. On the tenth day after their birth, he named them Lava and Kusha. Every one in the ashrama was very fond of these babies. Someone or the other among the inmates of the ashrama was always carrying the babies and fondling them. Their affection for her children filled Seethadevi with joy. Seeing those pretty children, she was able to forget her sorrows. And this brought Valmiki great relief.

Lava and Kusha grew up day by day like the waxing moon. Valmiki himself taught those boys the first letters. He taught them to read and to write. The boys also learnt to recite several songs of prayer. They had very sweet voices. When they sang, all around listened spellbound. Valmiki would often make the children sing before Seethadevi; their song delighted her like divine nectar (Amrita).

Lava and Kusha were now eight years old. Valmiki performed their 'sacred thread ceremony" - the Upanayana. Then he began to teach them the sacred Vedas. He had by now completed the Ramayana', which also he taught them. The two boys learnt it by heart. They sang the 'Ramayana'

S o movingly that Valmiki was filled with joy. He made them sing his long poem before Seethadevi. Her heart melted at the story of the 'Ramayana', at the singing and the sweetness of the voices. Their recitation gave the story of 'Ramayana' a new beauty and appeal. Seetha’s eyes were filled with tears of joy. Valmiki felt proud of the boys and their singing. He would ask Lava and Kusha to sing the 'Ramayana' before everyone who came to his ashrama.

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Maharshi Valmiki - The Adikavi, The poet of Poets of India, who gave world the immortal epic the 'Ramayana'
About Maharshi Valmiki
Introduction
Out Of The Ant-hill
The 'Ramayana ' In Slokas
You are Here! A Queen Comes To A Hermitage
Sri Rama Hears His Own Story
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