Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Matchless Gifts

This narration is about an incident that happened when Lord Rama returned from exile back to Ayodhya. On His return, before He was enthroned, the Lord desired to give gifts to the younger ones as is the tradition and with the permission of the mothers all the family got together.
Bharat and his wife Mandavi, Lakshman and his wife Urmila, Shatrughna and his wife Shrutikirti asked for the gifts of their choice.
1. Bharat: Bharat's demand was well-known. He was such a staunch lover of Lord Rama that he perfectly exhibited his love in separation from Lord Rama for 14 years. He demanded from the Lord, janam janam rati raama paada - Life after life I should have attachment only for the lotus feet of Lord Rama.
2. Mandavi: Bharat's wife Mandavi asked for something very beautiful. She requested, "My Lord, give me one thing. Everyone is aware that You went to forest and so many catastrophical incidents did take place here. King Dasaratha also died. But inspite of the same, by Your mercy we could maintain our mental equilibrium and our will power. My only desire and only demand is that You grant us the same will power, the same firm resolve and the resultant peaceful attitude."
3. Lakshman: Lakshman's demand was very obvious. He demanded the boon of never to be separated from Lord Rama.
4. Urmila: Lakshman's wife Urmila said very beautifully, "There is nothing left to be asked since I happened to have the good fortune to become a daughter-in-law of Raghukula, so what more can one ask for?"
5. Shatrughna: Shatrughna was always dear to Bharata because he always took the humble position of being the servant of the servant (dasa anu dasa) of Lord Rama. Since Bharata is one of the most exemplary devotee of Lord Rama, Shatrughna asked the Lord, "Please give me the nearness to the feet of my elder brother Bharata."
6. Shrutikirti: Shatrughna's wife Shrutikirti asked for the most wonderful gift. She asked for the Lord to gift her the valkal (dress made out of the bark of the tree) He wore during His exile. Why did she ask for valkal? Vedic tradition is that kings, when they become old, they retire and go to the forest. But Raghukula reeti proved to be different. At the prime of His youth, the Lord had to leave His kingdom and go to the forest. This is the symbol of sacrifice and surrender. This is the exception of Raghukula. To cherish this remembrance, she wanted to preserve Valkal of the Lord as His precious gift.