Lava and Kusa
SITA doted on Lava, her baby son. She usually left him alone when she went to bathe. One day when she was away, Valmiki looked in and saw that Lava was not on his cot. He was worried. If Sita returned and found him missing, she might feel he had been taken away by a wild beast. Using his unique powers, Valmiki made an exact replica of Lava and placed him in the cot. When Sita returned carrying Lava with her, she was dumbfounded to see a copy of her child, lying in the cot. Valmiki then explained why he had made the child. ‘Since I made him out of kusa grass, let him be called Kusa and be brought up as Lava’s brother.’
The two boys grew up together and were trained by Valmiki in all the weapons and sciences that befitted their kshatriya lineage. But since they were but boys, they performed childish antics all the time. They also misbehaved with Valmiki’s sacred shivalingam. Valmiki was angry at this and wanted to punish the boys but Sita intervened and begged him to be forgiving if Lava could get some of the golden lotuses that grow near the lake of the god Kubera. Then he and Kusa should worship the lingam with those sacred flowers to atone for their disrespect.
Lava succeeded in his task and when he journeyed home, it was as a grown-up man, and not a child. One day as he was resting under a tree, Lakshmana, Rama’s brother espied him. He was sent to look for a human victim for a religious ceremony. He challenged Lava to a fight, defeated him and took him away to Ayodhya. When he didn’t return, Sita grew sick with worry. Valmiki too was worried; through his powers, he saw that Lava was alive, though held as a prisoner.
Valmiki then urged Kusa to go rescue Lava. But before he went, Sita told him the story of her life and his divine origin. Then with tearful blessings, she sent him on his way. Kusa journeyed to Lava, and with his magic weapons, defeated all of Rama’s troops-and even the great King Rama himself-in battle. Then he finally revealed why he had come there. He told Rama that Lava, who was to be sacrificed, was his son born after he had abandoned Sita in the forest. Rama was overcome with remorse and berated himself for having acted in so beastly a manner. He sent a retinue to Valmiki’s ashram to fetch Sita, who returned in triumph to Ayodhya, where she lived happily with her husband for the rest of her days.