The information that Sage Vishvamitra also called Sage Kaushika was proceeding towards Mithila filled Rajarshi Janaka with joy uncontainable. The king along with his priests and ministers went down to receive him .Offering a fitting puja and tribute Janaka looked at Vishvamitra with extreme respect and asked:
“Sage Supreme…” Janaka enquired: “Who are these boys resplendent like the Sun and the Moon? “King Janaka…” addressed Kaushika: “This is Ram, the first son of Dasaratha and this is Lakshmana the third. I have taken them to protect my yajna and they did the job very well.”
Looking at the radiant boys who appeared to have been born to accomplish tasks impossible for others, Janaka’s hopes resurrected.King Janaka said, “If Ram lifts the bow and ties it, he will be husband to my daughter.” Vishvamitra beaming with pride and a suppressed smile said:
“Nothing can be told now. Let God decide. Bring the bow.” Janaka deployed eight thousand of his warriors to move the chariot containing the bow. Janaka and his family had been worshipping this bow daily with extreme devotion.
While the bow was being brought Janaka recounted all the incidents right from the birth of Sita , her growth and the swayamvara in which renowned and valorous heroes failed while trying to prove their strength at this bow.
Janaka recollected how Narayan had entered his court with Vena in his hand and saying Narayan…. Narayan and revealed the top secret of Lord Vishnu having incarnated as Rama in Ayodhya and Goddess Lakshmi going to take birth as his (Janaka’s) daughter.
Preceded with an uproarious humming that reverberated unto the sky, the gigantic chariot carrying the supreme Lord’s bow reached in front of Sri Ram and halted.
Sri Ram, at the instigation of his preceptor drew a few steps ahead. The chariot pullers removed the lid of the huge box where was lain the mammoth bow as a sleeping cobra, clad in silk robes and decorated with jewel studded bells. As Sri Ram steadily, with stern steps approached the chariot, the warriors saluted him and withdrew.
Sri Ram looked at the enormous bow with due respect and saluted it. Then turning to Vishvamitra he asked:
“Gurudeva, can I touch the bow? Shall I lift it? Shall I tie the lace?”
“My lad…” answered Vishvamitra, “Do as you like. And you alone can do it…”
The sage blessed him and wished all success in his mind.
As the other kings, courtiers and heroes were looking spell-bound and motionless, Sri Ram at a sweep lifted the bow with such effortless ease that all the onlookers lost their breath. As Sri Ram was trying to tie the bow with the end of the lace hung on it, the bow broke into two with a thunderous uproar that shuddered the entire mass.
The assembled mass, after recovering from the amazement, showered flowers on the young hero. They also clapped hands. Amidst song, music and dance, Sita appeared with a garland and adorned it around the neck of Sri Ram.
The world saw the union of the most congruent – the ideal bride and the ideal groom.Vishvamitra’s satisfaction and Janaka’s joy were inexplicable.
KK Shanmukhan (To be concluded)