When Dasaratha was invited by King Janaka to his court, Janaka consulted his priest Shatananda and also invited his brother Kushadwaja from the kingdom of Sankasya. The swift-footed envoys of the king conveyed not just his oral orders, but also what was in his mind.Kushadwaja wasted no time and soon arrived at the palace of Mithila. With due permission from Janaka, Dasaratha said that his chief priest Vasishtha would narrate the lineage of kings who came in his dynasty. In the ensuing silence, sage Vasishtha began to address Janaka, the king of the Videhas.
The dynastic lineage began with the Unmanifest Brahma who gave birth to Marichi and then came Kasyapa, Vivasvan, Manu, Ikshwaku, Kukshi, Vikukshi, Bana, Anaranya, Prithu, Trisanku, Dhundhumara, Yuvanaswa, Mandhata and Susandhi. Dhruvasandhi and Presenajit were the sons of Susandhi. Dhruvasandhi’s son was Bharata, whose son was Asita and grandson, Sagara. The co-wife of Sagara’s mother gave her poison when he was in the womb. His mother prayed to Rishi Chyavana that he may not be disturbed by the poison and with the Rishi’s blessings, the boy was born whole and hence named Sagara—meaning, with poison.
These stories go to show the kind of difficulties that people had gone through and the many miraculous ways by which they escaped. Sagara’s son was Asamanja. This infamous king was very cruel and hence was banished from the kingdom. His son was Amsuman. Dilipa was Amsuman’s son and Bhagiratha was Dilipa’s son. In this glorious race came Ambarisha, Nabhaga, Aja and Dasaratha—the father of Rama.
He completed the lineage by narrating the names of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. On behalf of the king, in his capacity of the family priest, he asked King Janaka to give the hand of his two daughters Sita and Urmila to be given in marriage to Rama and Lakshmana, respectively.
Janaka’s lineage that began from King Nimi and Mitha was also announced as it was an important custom to narrate the lineage to ascertain the purity of the race. After offering his daughters Sita and Urmila in marriage to Rama and Lakshmana, the sages Viswamitra and Vasishtha asked for the hand of Mandava and Shrutakirti—the daughters of Kushadwaja—to be given in marriage respectively to Bharata and Shatrughna.
Janaka considered his lineage very blessed with the alliance forged and prayed that all the four weddings happen on the same day. The most auspicious day for weddings were the stars Purva Phalguni and Uttara Phalguni. King Dasaratha accepted the proposal and blessed Janaka and retired to his quarters to prepare for the ceremony. Four lakh cows that had just yielded calves were given as donation to the Brahmanas to mark the festivities. The king’s face shone with the joy of the events to happen and the brilliance of the gifts.
The writer is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Coimbatore; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.chinmayamission.com