Sita, sitting alone on the veranda, was knitting a floral garland so absorbed in her creation. A feeble, strange sound woke her up. She could not believe at the first sight. She held her breath. Her already wide eyes widened further. What a strange creature! Nobody must have come across such a lovely creature before. It took time for her to realise that she was not dreaming and that it was a golden antelope that was making merriments. Sometimes it danced standing on its hind legs. Sometimes it wagged it’s tails. Some other times it jumped up and down. It gave from time to time such an infatuating look at Sita. Very young and cute, she loved to play with it. It seemed that it would tame well very soon.
The golden antelope without fear walked down to her. When Sita wanted to touch it, it slipped away. Again it came near and Sita wanted to catch it. The tender animal gracefully avoided her. Then it began to run around. It smelled one or two blades of grass looking at her invitingly. At last she beckoned Sri Ram and said:
“This young and strange animal captivated my heart. I wanted to capture it. I will tame it soon and then I can play with it. Would you please help me to catch it?” “Oh sure,” so saying Sri Ram took his bow and arrows and started to follow it. Lakshmana who had more practical and worldly wisdom told Ram,: “Brother, I smell a rat here. This seems to be a fraud. I have never seen or heard of such an animal as a natural creation of God. Please leave it.” “No, no. Sita loves and she likes to get it to play with. I shall soon capture it and come back. You be here and guard Sita.” Thus saying Ram followed the animal which had already gone many yards away.
As Sri Ram walked behind the animal it would stop or slow down for some time and when Ram almost reached it, it ran away. Thus they reached a few yojanas away. Ram’s patience was on test. The animal seemed flirty and it was taking Ram farther and farther. At last, Ram lost his patience and he shot an arrow that struck him. Maricha, imitating the voice of Ram cried aloud:
“Ha… Lakshmana, my brother, come fast and save me. These rakshasas are killing me. Save me brother, ha…Lakshmana.” Hearing this loud cry of Ram, Sita got frightened and she prompted Lakshmana: “Lakshmana, don’t you hear that sound of your brother. I am afraid, he is in danger. Some rakshasas will certainly kill him. Go. Go at once and protect him.” Lakshmana, without any change in expression, very calmly told her:
“Mata, that is not my brother’s cry. There is perfidy in it. Not one rakshasa, even if the entire rakshasa races come together, my brother cannot be defeated. Let alone killing him. And my brother will never make such a cry. Be patient.”
When Ram found that it was not the antelope he was following and the killed one was Maricha Sri Ram came to reason: What Lakshmana opined is absolutely correct. Then he returned to the ashram in haste.
Fear and anxiety enslaved Sita. She told Lakshmana in anger:“Lakshmana, I can apprehend your foul ambition. If Ram is killed, you may be thinking that you may marry me. This is impossible. I shall never touch any person in my life other than Sri Ram. This is my oath.” Lakshmana with horror and grief closed his ears inserting his index fingers of both hands. Unable to bear her harsh and cruel words, Lakshmana replied: “Your ruin has come. That is why you utter such dirty words and entertain weird thoughts. I cannot reverse your disastrous destiny. O gods, please protect her.”
So saying Lakshmana left the place in a hurry carrying his weapons. After walking some stones, he met Ram coming in the opposite direction. “I have asked you to give guard to Sita. Why did you leave her alone and come? What would have happened to her? This forest is full of terrible rakshasas.” Lakshmana explained his helplessness and then walked towards the asharam in speed.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )