Sage Vishvamitra narrated many soothing stories to the boys, en route, that not only generated curiosity among them, but helped them forget the tediousness and fatigue of the journey also. Through the stories he saw to it that the boys should grasp all essences of the Vedas and the Vedangas, all sciences of administration, finance management, sagacity, magnanimity, sense of respect towards the elders, timely action, duty consciousness, sense of justice and jurisprudence, law and order, fortitude in adversities, grievance handling, team spirit, inter-personal skills, leadership, diplomacy, boarder security, war strategy, the deployment and withdrawal of weapons of atomic potency — all that a future king should possess.
Vishvamitra, the great seer as he was, could foresee the future of the boys. He addressed the boys and said:
“Kumara, you have never known what thirst and hunger are. However, I am going to give to you both, the divine mantras of Bala and Atibala that will present thirsts and hunger. These may be useful to you in future. Learn them and chant them regularly.”
So saying, the sage initiated the two mantras to the boys.
After slaking thirst and quenching hunger they crossed the Ganges in a boat.
As they reached Tadaka Forest, sage Vishvamitra cautioned them thus:
“Rama, lo, and behold this terrible forest. No one dares to trespass this way. Here dwells Tadaka the demon, who can transform into any form she wishes. She is so terrible and does havoc to the noble men. You have to kill her somehow.
Hearing this order Rama tied his bow and sent a small wave of twang which echoed reverberated in the heart of the forest. Hearing the unbearable twang of Rama’s bow, the demon charged against them as if to consume them at one gulp. She being a woman, Rama initially had a hesitation to kill her. But when the Guru ordered his ambiguity disappeared and he darted an arrow at her. The woman mountain instantly fell dead.
The sage and the boys lived in the serene atmosphere of Kamyasrama. Spending the night through a blissful sleep, they got up in the morning, did their rituals and prayers and continued journey. They reached Siddhasrama. The saints of the surroundings came together to receive them. Rama and Lakshmana saluted all the saints with reverence. After resting awhile, Rama saluted Vishvamitra and said: “Noblest among saints, please make preparations for your yajna. We shall safe-guard it. If you show us the demons we shall kill them with our arrows.”
Accordingly Vishvamitra and his disciples started the yajna. Around noon, a huge army of demons appeared under the sky and started pouring bones and flesh from above. Rama sent an unerring arrow that hit Subahu and he fell dead instantly. Rama aimed another arrow at Maaricha, who ran hither and thither in panic. He hid himself under the ocean and Rama’s arrow reached there also to burn him. Lastly he sought refuge unto Rama who saved him. From that day Maaricha became Rama’s devotee. Lakshmana killed all other demons single handedly. The pleased Vishvamitra hugged the boys and kissed on their centre head.
The boys lived in the ashram for three days listening to the sweet narration of the Puranas by the sage. In fact, they considered this period as the most glorious in their life.
The next morning the sage called the boys and said: “Young ones, it is untenable to waste time. Let us proceed to Mithila, the kingdom of Rajarshi Janaka, where a gala yajna is being conducted. You can also see the massive bow Thryambaka of Lord Shiva preserved and worshipped there. The Lord after incinerating the ‘Tripura’ demons kept his huge bow at Janaka’s kingdom. You must see that.”The reference of a bow, war equipment, particularly that of Lord Shiva, provoked their intense longing. K K Shanmukhan( To be concluded )