Continued from Did Rama eat meat during exile? Part 1
In true spirit of an ascetic, Rāma chose to be devoid of any material belongings before departure to the forest and advised Sītā to give away all her jewels etc. She complied happily without showing an iota of natural weakness of women towards jewellery.
ब्राह्मणेभ्यश्च रत्नानि भिक्षुकेभ्यश्च भोजनम्। देहि चाशंसमानेभ्य स्सन्त्वरस्व च मा चिरम्॥
अनुकूलं तु सा भर्तुर्ज्ञात्वा गमनमात्मनः। क्षिप्रं प्रमुदिता देवी दातुमेवोपचक्रमे॥
While requesting his elder brother to allow accompany him to forest, Lakshman said:
आहरिष्यामि ते नित्यं मूलानि च फलानि च। वन्यानि यानि चान्यानि स्वाहाराणि तपस्विनाम्॥
I shall daily collect roots, fruits and other forest products fit for ascetics.
He did not say, I shall hunt for deer and other animals etc. for your food. He too was clear about the discipline.
ततस्सपुरुषव्याघ्र स्तद्धनं सहलक्ष्मणः॥ द्विजेभ्यो बालवृद्धेभ्यः कृपणेभ्योऽह्यदापयत्।
Rāma, best among men, got the entire wealth distributed among indigent Brāhmaṇa-s, and young and old alike with the help of Lakshmana.
And he decided to walk on foot that moment instant instead of using chariot. Why? Because that was the code.
पदातिं वर्जितच्छत्रं रामं दृष्ट्वा जनास्तदा। ऊचुर्बहुविधा वाच श्शोकोपहतचेतसः॥
Seeing Rāma walking without the royal umbrella, people were very much shocked. They expressed their reaction in so many words.
Sumatra informed the king about arrival of Rāma to meet him before departure:
अयं स पुरुषव्याघ्रो द्वारि तिष्ठति ते सुतः। ब्राह्मणेभ्यो धनं दत्वा सर्वञ्चैवोपजीविनाम्॥
Your son Rāma, the best of men, having given away his entire wealth in charity to Brāhmaṇa-s and to all the dependents is waiting at the entrance.
Daśaratha fainted. What happened thereafter?
तं परिष्वज्य बाहुभ्यां तावुभौ रामलक्ष्मणौ। पर्यंङ्के सीतया सार्धं रुदन्तः समवेशयन्॥
Thereafter Rāma and Lakshmana assisted by Sītā, lifted him wailing in their arms and laid him on a couch.
While consoling his father, Rāma said:
फलानि मूलानि च भक्षयन्वने, गिरींश्च पश्यन् सरितस्सरांसि च।
वनं प्रविश्यैव विचित्रपादपम्, सुखी भविष्यामि तवास्तु निर्वृतिः॥
Entering the forest full of various kinds of trees, I shall be happy to view the mountains, rivers and the lakes and to eat fruits and roots. (Hence) do not grieve.
He did not say that the forest is full of meaty animals for food, so father should not worry. He mentioned fruits and roots – फलानि मूलानि च भक्षयन्वने.
He told specifically – त्यक्तभोगस्य मे राजन् वने वन्येन जीवतः,
O king! giving up pleasures and attachments altogether I am going to live on the forest products.
What did he ask from his father, the king?
खनित्रपिटके चोभे समानयत गच्छतः। चतुर्दश वने वासं वर्षाणि वसतो मम॥
I am going to the forest to live there for fourteen years. Bring me two things: a basket and a pickaxe.
Pickaxe is used to get roots from the earth by digging and basket is required for collecting those. There was no need for these items if he was to live on meat. Why strive to dig for roots when animal flesh is easily available in the forest and he is having his bow with him? Rāma was very much clear about his way of living in the forest. Sadly, the interpolators with ulterior motives had other ideas and same is the case with modern foodies and agenda-warriors. Sītā is of similar nature. The poet has used the word तुल्यशीलया for her. The word शील can’t be translated as ‘nature’ but we have no English equivalent for this quality.
Rāma who was about to leave for the forest requested his father to take care of his mother. That was only favour he wanted from his father:
यं धार्मिक कौशल्या मम माता यशस्विनी ॥
वृद्धा चाक्षुद्रशीला च न च त्वां देव
मया विहीनां वरद प्रपन्नां शोकसागरम्। अदृष्टपूर्वव्यसनां भूयस्सम्मन्तुमर्हसि॥
पुत्रशोकं यथा नर्च्छेत्त्वया पूज्येन पूजिता। मां हि सञ्चिन्तयन्ती सा त्वयि जीवेत्तपस्विनी॥
इमां महेंन्द्रोपम जातगर्धिनीं, तथा विधातुं जननीं ममार्हसि।
यथा वनस्थे मयि शोककर्शिता, न जीवितं न्यस्य यमक्षयं व्रजेत्॥
You are powerful like Indra. You should act accordingly so that my mother who has a possessive feeling towards her son should not, due to emaciation go to the abode of Yama after my departure for the forest.
Rāma cared for life of her mother this much.
The King insisted that his sons and daughter-in-law must use chariot to go to forest. Rāma oblised. While mounting the chariot Sumantra reminded Rāma that he should count the days of exile from that moment:
चतुर्दश हि वर्षाणि वस्तव्यानि वने त्वया। तान्युपक्रमितव्यानि यानि देव्यासि चोदितः॥
You have been directed by Devi (Kaikeyī) to live in the forest for fourteen years. Accordingly, you must now commence counting those years as directed.
Citizens of Ayodhya lamented:
आयसं हृदयं नूनं राममातुरसंशयम्। यद्देवगर्भप्रतिमे वनं याति न भिद्यते॥
Alas, the heart of Kausalyā whose son, Rāma, resembles the offspring of the gods, does not break even though he is going to the forest Undoubtedly it must be made of iron.
Valmiki puts in epitome of करुण रस in the scene:
अन्वीक्षमाणो रामस्तु विषण्णं भ्रान्तचेतसम्। राजानं मातरं चैव ददर्शानुगतौ पथि॥
When Rāma glanced back, he saw his mother and father trailing behind him on the highway, with an agitated and dejected mind.
स बद्ध इव पाशेन किशोरो मातरं यथा। धर्मपाशेन सङ्क्षिप्तः प्रकाशं नाभ्युदैक्षत॥
Like a fastened foal cannot see its mother, Rāma restrained by bonds of duty could not see his parents clearly.
Rāma’s parents started running behind the chariot:
पदातिनौ च यानार्हावदुःखार्हौ सुखोचितौ। दृष्ट्वा सञ्चोदयामास शीघ्रं याहीति सारथिम्॥
Seeing his parents, who were worthy of riding a chariot now going on foot, who were accustomed to comforts and did not deserve any suffering, Rāma urged his charioteer to drive fast.
न हि तत्पुरुषव्याघ्रो दुःखदं दर्शनं पितुः। मातुश्च सहितुं शक्तस्तोत्रार्दित इव द्विपः॥
Rāma the best among men, could not, like an elephant tormented by the goad, endure that pitiful sight of his father and mother.
प्रत्यगारमिवायान्ती वत्सला वत्सकारणात्। बद्धवत्सा यथा धेनू राममाताभ्यधावत॥
Rāma’s mother ran after the chariot, like an affectionate cow running towards the shed to join its fastened calf.
तथा रुदन्तीं कौसल्यां रथं तमनुधावतीम्। क्रोशन्तीं राम रामेति हा सीते लक्ष्मणेति च॥
रामलक्ष्मणसीतार्थं स्रवन्तीं वारि नेत्रजम्। असकृत्प्रैक्षत तदा नृत्यन्तीमिव मातरम्॥
While Kausalyā was weeping and running after the chariot, crying O ‘Rāma, O Sītā, O Lakshmana, shedding tears for them, Rāma repeatedly glanced at her who was twisting and bending as if in a dancing pose.
The city became dejected.
नाग्निहोत्राण्यहूयन्त नापचन् गृहमेधिनः
अकुर्वन्न प्रजाः कार्यं सूर्यश्चान्तरधीयत॥
The sacred fire in agnihotra sacrifices was not invoked householders did not cook their food the people did not attend to their daily chores. And the Sun set.
त्रिशङ्कुर्लोहिताङ्गश्च बृहस्पतिबुधावपि। दारुणा स्सोममभ्येत्य ग्रहास्सर्वे व्यवस्थिताः॥
The constellation Trishanku, the planets Mars, Jupiter, Mercury and other fierce planets took their position near the Moon.
नक्षत्राणि गतार्चींषि ग्रहाश्च गततेजसः। विशाखास्तु सधूमाश्च नभसि प्रचकाशिरे॥
The stars were shorn of their radiance. The brilliance of the planets diminished. Shrouded in smoke the Visakha constellation appeared in the sky.
Kausalyā was unconsolable before his husband:
कदा परिणतो बुद्ध्या वयसा चामरप्रभः। अभ्युपैष्यति धर्मज्ञस्त्रिवर्ष इव मां ललन्॥
When will Rāma, the knower of righteousness, possessing the lustre of gods, and fully mature in age and wisdom come back to me playfully like a threeyearold boy?
न हि तावद्गुणैर्जुष्टं सर्वशास्त्रविशारदम्। एकपुत्रा विना पुत्रमहं जीवितुमुत्सहे॥
I cannot live without my only son who is adept in all scriptures and endowed with all virtues.
Sumitrā, the brave mother friend of all, consoled her thus:
शिष्टैराचरिते सम्यक्छश्वत्प्रेत्यफलोदये। रामो धर्मे स्थित श्रेष्ठो न स शोच्यः कदाचन॥
सीतेवानुगता लक्ष्मी स्तस्य किं नाम दुर्लभम्॥
निशम्य तल्लक्ष्मणमातृवाक्यं, रामस्य मातुर्नरदेवपत्न्या:।
सद्यश्शरीरे विननाश शोकः, शरद्गतो मेघ इवाल्पतोयः॥
On hearing the words of Lakshmana’s mother the grief in the heart of the queen (Kausalyā), mother of Rāma, instantly disappeared like the autumnal cloud that holds but little rain.
Brāhmaṇa-s of city followed him on-foot. They lamented:
वहन्तो जवना रामं भो भो जात्यास्तुरङ्गमाः। निवर्तध्वं न गन्तव्यं हिता भवत भर्तरि॥
O horses of noble breed, turn back Do not carry your master swiftyly any farther. Do good to him.
एवमार्तप्रलापांस्तान् वृद्धान् प्रलपतो द्विजान्। अवेक्ष्य सहसा रामो रथादवततार ह॥
Having seen the aged Brāhmaṇa-s muttering pitiful lamentations in this manner, Rāma immediately alighted from the chariot.
पद्भ्यामेव जगामाथ ससीत स्सहलक्ष्मणः। सन्निकृष्टपदन्यासो रामो वनपरायणः॥
Then Rāma along with Sītā and Lakshmana began walking on foot with slow steps towards the forest.
The chariot of Rāma reached on the bank of river Tamasa.
एवं विक्रोशतां तेषां द्विजातीनां निवर्तने। ददृशे तमसा तत्र वारयन्तीव राघवम्॥
While those Brāhmaṇa-s were thus crying out, river Tamasa came into view as if seeking Rāma to turn back to Ayodhya.
The first night of exile reached and Rāma cautioned:
इयमद्य निशा पूर्वा सौमित्रे प्रहिता वनम्। वनवासस्य भद्रं ते स नोत्कण्ठितुमर्हसि॥
O Lakshmana, this happens to be the first night of our exile. You should not have any longing in your mind. Wish you well.
So steadfast was Rāma for the code of conduct as an ascetic that he decided to not even take forest products as food that night.
अद्भिरेव तु सौमित्रे वत्स्याम्यद्य निशामिमाम्। एतध्दि रोचते मह्यं वन्येऽपि विविधे सति॥
O Lakshmana, I shall live this night on water alone. I prefer it, though various kinds of forest products are available.
The slaves of their tongues can never understand this.
Crossing the river Gomatī, they reached banks of river Sarayū.
(To be continued)
The translation of Sanskṛta passages is taken thankfully from the site valmiki.iitk.ac.in managed by IIT, Kanpur.