The great sage Valmiki taught the Ramayana to the two little cherubs who were growing in his ashram—Lava and Kusha. They also recited it beautifully to all the rishis present there. It was time to send them out to Ayodhya to narrate the story for the world to hear. These two children, the embodiment of beauty, wisdom and splendour, were chanting the Ramayana and walking through the streets of Ayodhya. Sri Rama, who was watching out from the terrace of his palace, called out to his brothers Bharata and Shatrughna, “Let us call these two little boys who look so divine and are reciting something.”
Lava and Kusha were immediately called in and an exalted seat was given to them. Sri Rama introduced them to the assembly saying though the two boys looked like hermits, they indeed had very auspicious marks on their person that suggested they were kings.
Sri Rama also settled in to listen to the chants of the two little boys. The Ramayana begins with the description of the city of Ayodhya with its beautiful roads, high palaces that reached up to the clouds, people dressed beautifully with flowers and gold ornaments, ruled by a virtuous king called Dasaratha. He was assisted by eight ministers—Drishti, Jayanta, Vijaya, Surashtra, Rashtravardhana, Akopa, Dharmapala, Arthavit and Sumantra. The names in the narration are not without any purpose. Dasaratha means one whose chariots can go in 10 directions unobstructed. It also refers to a person who has perfect control over his five sense organs and five organs of action.
Drishti is one who has right vision, Jayanta and Vijaya are those who bring victory, Surashtra and Rashtravardhana are those who administer well and develop their nation, Akopa is one who has conquered anger, Dharmapala is one who protects dharma, Arthavit is one who knows the right ways of generating wealth and Sumantra is one who is capable of giving the right advice to the king.
The king once called Sumantra to bring the priests to his court for a consultation on the performance of the Putrakameshti Yagya—a sacrificial offering praying for the birth of a son. No sooner than Sumantra left he came with the illustrious royal family priest Vasishtha and others Suyagna, Vamadeva, Jabali and Kashyapa. Sumantra also mentioned a message from the Rishi Sanatkumara that it will be Rishyashringa who will be the fit person to conduct this sacrifice.
This Rishyashringa who was the son of a great Rishi called Vibhandaka was living in the forests. Having lost his mother at a very early age, the father brought up this child to be a celibate, without exposing him to any woman. He was a very pure soul who lived amid the trees and animals of the forests, without any knowledge of the ways of city life. If he had to be brought to Ayodhya, then the father would get angry and pronounce a curse. How was this young rishi to be lured away?
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi firstname.lastname@example.org