The boys grew up
day by day and advanced in their education in Valmiki's ashrama. Sri Rama's reign
continued. He thought of performing the great sacrifice of Ashwamedha. In those days an
Ashwamedha Yaga was no small matter. It was the greatest aim and ambition of many a king.
Only the most heroic of kings in the world would be able to perform that sacrifice
successfully. A king desirous of undertaking it would worship a horse of a fine breed. As
the horse was free to roam, if any other king tied up the horse he had to be conquered in
a war. Thus the king who wanted to perform Ashwamedha had to conquer all kings on
the earth and become an emperor. After the horse roamed over all countries and returned
home, the owner could perform the Ashwamedha sacrifice. Sri Rama undertook such a venture.
All other kings on earth offered their tributes and gifts, and accepted him as Emperor.
Then he performed the great Sacrifice. All the sages in the land were invited to the
sacrifice. So was Valmiki Rishi, who went there with his disciples.
Sri Rama's Ashwamedha Yaga went on for several days in grandeur. Poor people were given
food and good clothing to their heart's content. Brahmins and rishis were pleased with the
generous gifts and money. On the final day when all the rishis were gathered together in
the evening, Valmiki asked Lava and Kusha to recite his 'Ramayana. Another disciple of his
played on the flute pleasingly. It was a night of the full moon. The two boys sang the
'Ramayana' to the accompaniment of the flute. The recitation went on all night. The rishis
and the Brahmins who had assembled there were overjoyed. The sages and Brahmins, being so
pleased, gave gifts to the boys. Valmiki was over whelmed with joy at this appreciation of
his poem and of the recitation by his disciples.
During the night when Lava and Kusha were singing, Sri Rama was lying down on the open
terrace of his palace. He heard the song of the boys. It was like nectar to him. He sent
for the boys the next morning. When they came there, he requested them to sing the
'Ramayana' again. As they sang and as he listened to the story of his own life, he was
very pleased. He shed tears whenever there was mention of Seethadevi. Alas, how much had
she suffered! She had married him; what happiness had the marriage brought her? Her whole
life was full of trouble and sorrow. Sri Rama wiped his tears; hardly able to speak, he
asked the boys, "Who are you?
"We are Seethadevi's sons and disciples of Valmiki," they said.
Sri Rama was stunned at the mention of Seethadevi. 'Did Seetha, whom I sent away to the
forest, give birth to these children? Are they then my own sons he thought. He sent for
sage Valmiki at
once. When the Rishi arrived, Sri Rama heard from him the story of those two boys in
detail. He was very eager to get back Seethadevi and begged Valmiki to fetch her. He gave
the assurance that she would again be his queen.
Valmiki sent his disciples to fetch Seethadevi from the ashrama. When Seethadevi
arrived, Sri Rama said to her, "Seetha, swear before all the sages assembled here,
that you loved me alone and are in truth a virtuous woman. Let the minds of all those who
doubt you be cleared. Then I shall take you back." Sage Valmiki protested. He said to
Sri Rama, "Lord Rama, Seetha is the most virtuous of women. Please do not test her
again and again. Why should she again swear before this gathering? Her mind is already
greatly hurt. Do not pain her again. You are verily Lord Mahavishnu, the great Protector
of the Universe, and she is your divine consort, Mahalakshmi. Let there be no further
But Sri Rama did not agree. He said the test was needed in order to remove the
suspicion of people.
Seethadevi felt ashamed. She stood with her head bowed. Tears flowed like a stream from
her eyes. All the gods came down from heaven to witness the test of this most virtuous
woman. Before all those gods and the rishis, Seetha prayed to the Earth Goddess, "O
Mother Earth, if it is true that I have never thought of anybody but Sri Rama, receive me
in your arms. O Mother Earth, if it is true that I have always worshipped only Sri Rama,
then please receive me. If my words are true at all, O Mother Earth, receive me in your
As Seethadevi uttered these words, the Earth burst open, and a throne rose. Bhoodevi,
the Goddess of the Earth, was seated on the throne, which was held up by four serpents.
Bhoodevi drew Seethadevi into her arms and embraced her. In a moment, both disappeared
into the earth with the throne. The earth, which had opened, closed again.
Seeing Seetha vanish underground, Sri Rama was in great misery. He wept loudly. Seetha
was the daughter of Bhoodevi. She had again entered the mother's womb. Sri Rama prayed to
Bhoodevi, his mother-in-law, to give his wife back to him; he blamed himself, craved for
Seetha, and raved angrily. But it was all in vein.
Then Brahmadeva, the Lord of the Creation, appeared to him and soothed him. "Sri
Rama," he said, "You -are no human being, but Lord Narayana. You were born a
human being to kill the demon-king Ravana. That mission is over; you must now get back to
your own world of Vaikunta. Your wife Seethadevi awaits you there as Lakshmi."
Sri Rama realized that these words were true. His sorrow subsided. The assembled gods
and sages were filled with wonder. After some days Sri Rama left the earth and returned to
The story of Valmiki is meaningful. Valmiki is a great example of how people are
uplifted by the company of good men. By coming into contact with Narada, he became a great
sage, a Brahmarshi; and he also gave the 'Ramayana' which the world can never forget. It
is one of the great epics of the world. People of other countries read it in their own
languages. The study of the 'Ramayana can reform our lives. We can never forget Valmiki
who gave this great epic to us. Let us offer our salutations to that great sage and bard.