When pacified by Vasishtha, King Dasaratha sent his dear son Rama along with his brother Lakshmana with the royal sage Vishwamitra. The royal princes took the blessings of the father, mothers and the family priest Sage Vasishtha. The breeze blew gently at the sight of the two brothers following the sage and the heavens showered flowers. Conches and drums along with divine percussions from the city of Ayodhya and the gods were sounded.
Rama with side locks falling freely on either sides of his face, bearing the bow was followed by Lakshmana. The brothers walked with Sage Vishwamitra for a ‘yojana-and-a-half’—12 miles—and they reached the bank of the Sarayu river. The sage taught them a mantra called Bala and Atibala. Chanting this, the brothers would know no fatigue, tiredness, feverishness or will not ever look old. The mantras would protect them even when they were careless while sleeping in strange places at night.
The two boys slept that night with the sage in the forest on the banks of the Sarayu. In the morning the sage wakes Rama up with the most famous words—Kausalya supraja Rama purva sandhya pravartate| Utthishta narashardula kartavya, daivamanhikam (O great son of Kausalya, the early dawn has come. Please get up o tiger among human beings. There is divine work to be done by the two of you.)
No sooner than the princes heard the voice of the Maharshi, they got up and went about their morning process of purification, prayers and then recited the Gayatri Mantra. They went before the sage and served him too.
Then they left with the sage to the confluence of the Ganga and the Sarayu. The boys spotted an ashrama where, they noted, lived rishis who had been meditating and practising austerities for many years on end. When they questioned him together about the ashram, Sage Vishwamitra was only too happy to narrate the tale.
Once Kama, the god of love, had a form. He, however, sent his flowery shafts of love towards Lord Shiva who was meditating in this hermitage. Shiva uttered the powerful word ‘Hum’ and quelled the pride of Kama, also called Kandarpa. Rudra, the power of Shiva as the destroyer, also burnt him to ashes and since then the god of love did not have a body. This place where Kama shed his body is called the Anga Desha. When Vishwamitra directed Rama and Lakshmana to the hermitage, the sages living there came forward to welcome them, offering water to wash the feet and hands of the great sage Vishwamitra.
After chanting their prayers for the evening, the sage regaled the two brothers with many an enlightening story about the hermitage and the dwellers who lived there coming in the tradition of Lord Shiva himself.
The author is Acharya, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email@example.com