King Janaka completed his morning prayers and sent word to meet with Sage Vishwamitra, and Sri Rama and Lakshmana. After prostrating before the sage and welcoming the princes, King Janaka asked what he may do. Vishwamitra told him that the lads wished to see the exquisite bow that was in the king’s possession.
Repeatedly in the Ramayana, the quality of speaking what should be spoken has always been reiterated and this time, that title of being a master of timely speech was bestowed on Vishwamitra.Hearing this, King Janaka requested Sage Vishwamitra to hear why the bow was here and about the birth of Sita. The child was born when the king was ploughing the field set apart for a fire sacrifice. She was called Sita, which means furrow. As she grew fast into a beautiful woman, many kings from far and wide wanted to marry her. However, King Janaka said that his condition was they could win her hand only if they strung the bow of Lord Shiva. Unfortunately none of the kings could even lift it as much to find how heavy it was. They even invaded Mithila in their anger about not being able to marry Sita. However, the king said his army sent them running in all directions. However, I will show the bow for Dasaratha’s son Rama to see, the king said.
Hearing this, Vishwamitra asked him to make the preparations for the bow to be shown to Sri Rama. Prompted by the king, the ministers went into the palace and issued directions to get the bow out. Over 5,000 servants placed the bow on a big vehicle with eight wheels. The bow that came rolling in was as bright as the sun. Showing the bow, the king said that even the gods were not able to string it. Sri Rama prayed that he may be fit to lift the bow.
Sage Vishwamitra signalled and spoke to Rama to take a look at the bow. Sri Rama lifted the centre portion of the bow as if it was a game he always played! He strung it and it broke into two halves. The event synchronised with thunder, lightning and earthquakes as if a mountain crackled.
The king was very happy and told him that he just witnessed the great strength of Sri Rama. He was happy that his vow to give Sita in marriage only to the man who strings the bow was fulfilled. The thrilled King Janaka dispatched his counsellors to convey to King Dasaratha about the incident and to urge him to come to Mithila for the wedding.
King Dasaratha consulted with sages Vasishtha and Vamadeva, and on their suggestion, scheduled their journey to Mithila on the next day. With his teachers, family and relatives, King Dasaratha left for Mithila, carrying along riches and precious stones protected by a security force to ensure their safe travel.
The happy King Janaka gave a very warm welcome saying that it was his very good fortune that King Dasaratha himself had come. The sacrifice of the bow was concluded the next day and all preparations began for the joyous wedding.
The author is Sevak, Chinmaya Mission, Tiruchi; email: email@example.com; www.chinmayamission.com