Vishnu agrees to incarnate as human and selects Dasharatha as his father. And when Dasharatha is performing the Vedic ritual called putrakaameSTi a deity called praajaapatya-puruSha arises from the sacrificial fire to give a golden vessel of divine dessert to Dasharatha for distribution among his queens to beget progeny. The three queens on consuming that dessert conceive their children.
ततो नारायणो विष्णुः नियुक्तः सुरसत्तमैः |
जानन्नपि सुरानेवं श्लक्ष्णं वचनमब्रवीत् || १-१६-१
1. tataH = later; niyuktaH surasattamaiH = nominated, by best gods; naaraayaNaH viShNuH = Narayana, Vishnu - Omnipresent; jaanan api = he knows [outcome,] though; suraan evam shlakSNam vachanam abraviit = gently spoke words this way to gods.
Later when the Omnipresent Narayana is thus nominated by best gods, and though he knows the outcome, he gently spoke these words to gods in this way. [1-16-1]
The name Vishnu indicates his all pervading Omnipresence in all beings, sessile or mobile: vyaapitvaat sarvabhuuteSu vishnuH iti abhidhiiyate. This is one of his thousand names, called Vishnu sahasranaama , each name elucidating his attributes.
उपायः को वधे तस्य राक्षसाधिपतेः सुराः |
यमहं तं समास्थाय निहन्यामृषिकण्टकम् || १-१६-२
2. suraaH = oh gods; raakShasaadhipateH tasya vadhe = elimination of his demon chief's [namely Ravana] ; upaayaH kaH = idea, what is; yam samaasthaaya = on adoting which [strategy] ; R^SikanTakam tam aham nihanyaam = I can eliminate him who is thorny for sages.
"What is the idea to eliminate that demon's chief Ravana, oh, gods, adopting which strategy I will have to eliminate that thorn in the side of sages?" Thus Vishnu asked the gods. [1-16-2]
एवमुक्ताः सुराः सर्वे प्रत्यूचुर्विष्णुमव्ययम् |
मानुषं रूपमास्थाय रावणं जहि संयुगे || १-१६-३
3. evam uktaaH suraaH sarve = thus, spoken, all gods; avyayam viSNum = imperishable, to Vishnu; prati uuchuH = in reply, said; maanuSam tanum aasthaaya = on assuming form of human body; raavaNam jahi samyuge = kill Ravana in war.
Asked thus all the gods said to that sempiternal Vishnu, "on assuming a human form, eliminate Ravana in a war." [1-16-3]
स हि तेपे तपस्तीव्रं दीर्घकालमरिंदम |
येन तुष्टोऽभवद्ब्रह्मा लोककृल्लोकपूर्वजः || १-१६-४
4. arimdama = oh enemy destroyer; saH diirghakaalam tiivram tapaH tepe = he [Ravana,]undertook vehement ascesis for a long period; yena = by which - thereby; lokakR^it = worlds creator; and lokapuurvajaH = earliest born in worlds, - Brahma; tuSTaH abhavat = glad, he become.
"Oh, destroyer of enemies, he that Ravana undertook a vehement ascesis for a long period, thereby the creator of worlds and the first born one Brahma, felt gladsome of his ascesis. [1-16-4]
सन्तुष्टः प्रददौ तस्मै राक्षसाय वरं प्रभुः |
नानाविधेभ्यो भूतेभ्यो भयं नान्यत्र मानुषात् || १-१६-५
अवज्ञाताः पुरा तेन वरदाने हि मानवाः |
5, 6a. santuShtaH prabhuH = satisfied, Brahma; tasmai raakShasaaya maanuShaat anyatra = to him, to demon Ravana, other than human; naanaavidhebhyaH bhuutebhyaH = many kinds of, beings; bhayam na = danger, is not there; [iti = thus]; varam pradadau = boon, gave; puraa = earlier; varadaane [samaye] = while boon being bestowed [at that time]; tena maanavaaH avaj~naataaH hi = by him, humans, are slighted, indeed.
"Satisfied with his ascesis Brahma gave boon to that demon that he shall have no fear for his life from many kinds of beings, excepting humans, because that demon indeed slighted humans earlier at the time of bestowing boon. [1-16-5, 6a]
एवं पितामहात्तस्माद्वरदानेन गर्वितः || १-१६-६
उत्सादयति लोकांस्त्रीन् स्त्रियश्चाप्यपकर्षति |
तस्मात्तस्य वधो दृष्टो मानुषेभ्यः परन्तप || १-१६-७
6b, 7. evam tasmaat pitaamahaat = thus, from him, the Forefather Brahma; varadaanena garvitaH = becoming arrogant by according boon; utsaadayati lokaan triin = torturing, three worlds; striyaH api apakarSati cha = even abducts women, also; tasmaat paramtapa = therefore, oh enemy destroyer Vishnu; tasya vadhaH = his, elimination; maanuShebhyaH dR^iSTaH = is envisaged by humans.
"Thus, on getting boon from the Forefather Brahma he has become arrogant and torturing the three worlds, and he is even abducting women. As such, oh, enemy destroyer Vishnu, his elimination is envisaged through humans alone." So said gods to Vishnu. [1-16-6b, 7]
इत्येतद्वचनं श्रुत्वा सुराणां विष्णुरात्मवान् |
पितरं रोचयामास तदा दशरथं नृपम् || १-१६-८
8. iti suraaNaam etat vachanam shrutvaa = this way, on hearing the speech of the gods; viShNuH = lord Vishnu; aatmavaan = kind-hearted one; tadaa dasharatham nR^ipam = then, king Dasharatha; pitaram rochayaamaasa = as father, started to choose.
On hearing that speech of gods said that way, he that kind-hearted Vishnu then chose Dasharatha as his father in human world. [1-16-8]
स चाप्यपुत्रो नृपतिस्तस्मिन् काले महाद्युतिः |
अयजत् पुत्रियामिष्टिं पुत्रेप्सुररिसूदनः ||१-१६-९
9. tasmin kaale = during that time; mahaadyutiH = great resplendent one; arisuudanaH = enemy subduer [Dasharatha]; saH nR^ipatiH = he, that king; aputraH = without progeny; putrepsuH = desiring children; putriiyaam iSTim api = even sons ritual; ayajat cha = performed, also.
During that time the great resplendent king and an enemy subduer Dasharatha is performing putrakaameSTi ritual, desiring progeny as he is sonless. [1-16-9]
स कृत्वा निश्चयं विष्णुरामन्त्र्य च पितामहम् |
अन्तर्धानं गतो देवैः पूज्यमानो महर्षिभिः || १-१६-१०
10. saH viShNuH kR^itvaa nishchayam = he, Vishnu, making - taking, decision; pitaamaham aamantrya cha = took leave of Forefather [Brahma,] also; devaiH maharSibhiH puujyamaanaH = by gods, saints, while being extolled; antardhaanam gataH = vanished.
On taking a decision Vishnu took leave of Forefather Brahma, and vanished while he is still being extolled by gods and sages. [1-16-10]
ततो वै यजमानस्य पावकादतुलप्रभम् |
प्रादुर्भूतं महद्भूतं महावीर्यं महाबलम् || १-१६-११
11. tataH vai yajamaanasya = then, verily, performer of ritual [Dasharatha's]; paavakaat atulaprabham = [from] ritual fire, with unparalleled resplendence; praadurbhuutam mahat bhuutam = emerged, Divine, Being; mahaaviiryam mahaabalam = greatly vigorous, greatly energetic.
Then, from Fire of Altar Dasharatha's ritual there emerged a greatly vigorous and energetic Divine Being with an unparalleled resplendence, called yajna-puruSa. [1-16-11]
कृष्णं रक्ताम्बरधरं रक्तास्यं दुन्दुभिस्वनम् |
स्निग्धहर्यक्षतनुजश्मश्रुप्रवरमूर्धजम् || १-१६-१२
12. kR^iSNaraktaambaradharam = clad in black and red garments; raktaasyam = red faced; dundubhisvanam = voiced like drum-beat; snigdhaharyakSatanujashmashrupravaram uurdha jam = with his soft hair and moustaches and head hair like mane of lion.
He is clad in black and red garments and his face is red and his voice resembled the drumbeat. His moustache and hairdo are soft like that of a lion's mane. [1-16-12]
शुभलक्षणसंपन्नं दिव्याभरणभूषितम् |
शैलशृङ्गसमुत्सेधं दृप्तशार्दूलविक्रमम् || १-१६-१३
13. shubhalakSaNasampannam = endowed with auspicious features; divyaabharaNabuuSitam = decorated with divine ornaments; shailashR^i~Ngasamutsedham = in height he is like mountain peak; dR^iptashaarduulavikramam = in valiance he is like imperious tiger.
And he is endowed with auspicious features and decorated with divine ornaments, in height he is like a mountain peak, and in valiance he is like an imperious tiger. [1-16-13]
दिवाकरसमाकारं दीप्तानलशिखोपमम् |
तप्तजाम्बूनदमयीं राजतान्तपरिच्छदाम् || १-१६-१४
दिव्यपायससंपूर्णां पात्रीं पत्नीमिव प्रियाम् |
प्रगृह्य विपुलां दोर्भ्यां स्वयं मायामयीमिव || १-१६-१५
14. [tat mahat bhuutam = that, great being]; pragR^ihya = carrying; dorbhyaam svayam = in two hands, personally; vipulaam patriim = a big vessel, golden vessel; [which is] maayaamayiim iva = [made by] an illusion, like; divaakarasamaakaaram = [day, giver dazzling] sun, similar, in appearance; diiptaanalashikopamam = glowing, flame's tongues, in similitude; taptajambuunadamayiim = full with molten gold [vessel]; rajataantaparicChadaam = covered with silver lid; [and which is] divyapaayasasampuurNaam = full of divine dessert; patniim iva = wife, like; priyaam = dear [wife].
That great ritual being personally brought a big golden vessel carrying it with both of his hands as if he would personally handle his own wife, which vessel is made from the molten gold and covered with a silver lid, and which appeared to be crafted out of a divine illusion, since it is dazzling like sun and glowing like the tongues of flame, and that vessel is full with the divine dessert. [1-16-14, 15]
समवेक्ष्याब्रवीद्वाक्यमिदं दशरथं नृपम् |
प्राजापत्यं नरं विद्धि मामिहाभ्यागतं नृप || १-१६-१६
16. dasharatham nR^ipam samavekSya = on observing king Dasharatha; idam vaakyam abraviit = said this word; nR^ipa = oh king; iha abhyaagatam = arrived here; maam = me; praajaapatyam = from Prajapati [sent by]; naram viddhi = being, you know.
That divine person on observing king Dasharatha said these words "oh, king, you may know me as the being sent by Prajapati." [1-16-16]
ततः परं तदा राजा प्रत्युवाच कृताञ्जलिः |
भगवन् स्वागतं तेऽस्तु किमहं करवाणि ते || १-१६-१७
17. tataH param tadaa raajaa = there after, thus, king; prati uvaacha kR^itaanjaliH = in turn, said, palms adjoining [greeting]; bhagavan = oh god; te svaagatam astu = let there be welcome to you; aham te kim karavaaNi = what shall I do for you.
There after, king Dasharatha greeted that divine being with palms adjoining and said in reply, "oh, god, welcome to you, and what shall I do for you?" [1-16-17]
अथो पुनरिदं वाक्यं प्राजापत्यो नरोऽब्रवीत् |
राजन्नर्चयता देवानद्य प्राप्तमिदं त्वया || १-१६-१८
18. athaH praajaapatyaH naraH = then, Prajaapati's, person; punaH idam vaakyam abraviit = again said this word; raajan = oh king; devaan archayataa tvayaa = when gods propitiated by you; adya idam praaptam = now, this is, obtained [by you.]
Then again, that divine being sent by Prajapati said these words, "oh, king, now you have obtained this dessert in golden vessel as you have propitiated gods. [1-16-18]
इदं तु नृपशार्दूल पायसं देवनिर्मितम् |
प्रजाकरं गृहाण त्वं धन्यमारोग्य वर्धनम् || १-१६-१९
19. nR^ipashaarduula = oh the tigerly king; devanirmitam = prepared by divinities; prajaakaram = enriching progeny; dhanyam = blessed one; aarogyavardhanam = enriching health; idam paayasam tvam gR^ihaaNa = you take this dessert.
"Oh, tigerly king, take this dessert prepared by divinities, this is a blessed dessert that enriches progeny and health. [1-16-19]
भार्याणामनुरूपाणामश्नीतेति प्रयच्छ वै |
तासु त्वं लप्स्यसे पुत्रान् यदर्थं यजसे नृप || १-१६-२०
20. nR^ipa = oh king; ashniita = consume; iti = on saying; anuruupaaNaam bhaaryaaNaam prayacCha vai = give them to your eligible wives indeed; yadardham yajase = for which purpose, you performed ritual; putraan taasu tvam lapsyaase = you will get sons in them [in queens] .
"Oh, king, let this be consumed" saying so he further said, "for which purpose you have performed this ritual that childbearing will be fructified in your wives by bearing sons, hence give this among your eligible wives." So said the divine being to Dasharatha. [1-16-20]
तथेति नृपतिः प्रीतः शिरसा प्रतिगृह्य ताम् |
पात्रीं देवान्नसंपूर्णां देवदत्तां हिरण्मयीम् || १-१६-२१
21. nR^ipatiH tathaa iti = king, like that only, thus [on agreeing]; taam devaannasampuurNaam = full of that divine food; devadattam hiraNmayiim = golden one given by gods; paatriim shirasaa pratigR^ihya = on taking vessel onto head [head bent, wholeheartedly]; priitaH = he is delighted.
Agreeing to that the king wholeheartedly took that god-given golden vessel full with divine food. [1-16-21]
अभिवाद्य च तद् भूतमद्भुतं प्रियदर्शनम् |
मुदा परमया युक्तश्चकाराभिप्रदक्षिणम् || १-१६-२२
22. paramayaa mudaa yuktaH = with high ecstasy; adbhutam priyadarshanam = astonishing, delightful, in his appearance; tat bhuutam = at that, being; abhivaadya cha = revering, too; chakaara abhipradakShiNam = performed, circumambulations.
With high ecstasy Dasharatha revered that Ritual Being, the Prajaapati- PuruSha or yaj~na-puruSha , an astonishing and delightful being in his appearance, and performed circumambulations around him. [1-16-22]
ततो दशरथः प्राप्य पायसं देवनिर्मितम् |
बभूव परमप्रीतः प्राप्य वित्तमिवाधनः || १-१६-२३
23. tataH = then; DasharathaH = Dasharatha; devanirmitam paayasam praapya = on getting dessert prepared by gods; vittam praapya adhanaH iva = like a pauper on obtaining [unforeseen] wealth; paramapriitaH babhuuva = he became highly gladdened.
On obtaining that dessert prepared by gods then Dasharatha is highly gladdened like a pauper obtaining unforeseen wealth. [1-16-23]
ततस्तदद्भुतप्रख्यं भूतं परमभास्वरम् |
संवर्तयित्वा तत्कर्म तत्रैवान्तरधीयत || १-१६-२४
24. tataH = then; adbhutaprakhyam = with astonishing form; paramabhaasvaram = highly glowing; tat bhuutam = that, ritual being; tat karma samvartayitvaa = on completing that deed; tatra eva antardhiiyata = there, only, disappeared.
On completing his work of giving the golden vessel with dessert then that divine being who is astonishing by his form and highly glowing by his physique, disappeared then and there itself. [1-16-24]
हर्षरश्मिभिरुद्द्योतं तस्यान्तःपुरमाबभौ |
शारदस्याभिरामस्य चंद्रस्येव नभोंशुभिः || १-१६-२५
25. harSarashmibhiH uddyotam = lit up with beams of happiness; tasya antaHpuram = his, palace chambers; abhiraamasya shaaradasya = heart pleasing, of autumn; chandrasya amshubhiH = with moon's, rays; nabhaH iva = sky, like; babhuuva = became.
Lit up with beams of happiness Dasharatha's palace chambers shone forth like the autumnal sky brightened with moonbeams. [1-16-25]
सोऽन्तःपुरं प्रविश्यैव कौसल्यामिदमब्रवीत् |
पायसं प्रतिगृह्णीष्व पुत्रीयमिदमात्मनः || १-१६-२६
26. saH antaHpuram pravishya = he [Dasharatha,] on entering palace chambers; kausalyaam idam abraviit = said this to Kausalya; aatmanaH putriiyam = to beget your son; idam paayasam pratigR^ihNiiShva = you receive this dessert.
Then Dasharatha on entering palace chambers spoke this to queen Kausalya, "Receive this dessert to beget your son." [1-16-26]
This divine dessert is meant for the 'eligible' queens, as informed the Ritual Being and also in order to maintain the divinity of Ram's birth. In the context of seed and field, the field has no equal importance to the seed biija-kShetra nyaaya . Hence the seed is divine in the form of dessert and fields are therefore shall 'be eligible' for the seedling. As such the First Queen and Empress Kausalya is being addressed firstly, and given firstly.
कौसल्यायै नरपतिः पायसार्धं ददौ तदा |
अर्धादर्धं ददौ चापि सुमित्रायै नराधिपः || १-१६-२७
कैकेय्यै चावशिष्टार्धं ददौ पुत्रार्थकारणात् |
प्रददौ चावशिष्टार्धं पायसस्यामृतोपमम् || १-१६-२८
अनुचिन्त्य सुमित्रायै पुनरेव महीपतिः |
एवं तासां ददौ राजा भार्याणां पायसं पृथक् || १-१६-२९
27, 28 29. tadaa narapatiH = then, people's lord - king; kausalyaayai = to Kausalya; paayasaardham dadou = gave half of dessert; naraadhipaH = people's lord - king; ardhaat ardham = half of the [remaining] half [-one fourth]; sumitraayai cha api dadou = to Sumitra, also, even, gave; avashiSTaardham = of the remaining half [one eight,]; putraarthakaaraNaat = purpose of desiring sons; kaikeyyai cha dadau = to Kaikeyi, also, gave; mahiipatiH = king; anuchintya = thought a while; paayasam = dessert; amR^itopamam = equalling ambrosia; avashiSTaardham = remaining part [one eight]; punaH eva = again, thus; sumitraayai = to Sumitra; dadou = gave; evam = thus; raajaa = king; taasaam = to them; bhaaryaaNaam = among his wives; pR^ithak = differently; paayasam = dessert; dadou = distributed.
The king then gave half of the dessert to queen Kausalya, and he gave half of the half, i.e., one fourth to queen Sumitra. And to Kaikeyi he gave half of the remaining half, i.e., one eight of the dessert, with a desire to beget sons. Then thinking for a while gave the remaining, i.e., one-eighth portion again to queen Sumitra. Thus, the king distributed the dessert to his wives differently. [1-16-27, 28, 29]
This is a much-discussed distribution by the traditionalists. Adhyaatma Ramayana, a treatise that postulates god-hood to Rama, gives a well-constructed argument about these shares of dessert and the resultant births of the four brothers, viz., Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna, in accordance with these shares. In its simplest terms and as contained in these verses, queen Kausalya got half of the dessert as an Empress, paTTa-mahiSi. Sumitra gets one-fourth in the first round and after a rethink by Dasharatha, she gets another one-eighth portion. Kaikeyi gets only a one-eighth quantity. Thus, Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, and Kaikeyi to Bharata. The quantum of apportionment of the dessert does not make Rama all-powerful or Bharata the least. Since the Absolute is indivisible into parts, the dessert that is divided is not to be taken as the divided Absolute, but a kind of medium through which the incarnation is made possible.
There is another declination enquiring whether the incarnation of Rama is full or partial, puurNa-avatara or ardha-avatara... Rama is Vishnu Himself while Bharata and Shatrughna are his disc and conch-shell, while Lakshmana is the thousand headed snake aadisheSha on whose coils Vishnu reclines. The whole dessert is divine and parts of it do not signify and inter-divided god-hoods. Hence, the apportionment of the desert is done in order to keep up the hierarchy of the queen-hoods and their status. Throughout this magnum opus Rama never said that he is god or an incarnate of god, but called himself, nimitta-maatra a casual relation to the course of events. Should Rama be the incarnation of the Almighty Himself, he has little or no necessity to incarnate the weaponry along with him. They are at his beck and call at any time. Thus, Rama is neither a half nor one-fourth incarnation of the Absolute nor a dividend of the whole, but an incarnate of the virtuously ideal personality of Vishnu, maryaadaa purushottama Rama.
Incidental to this apportionment of the dessert, the aspect of eldest son is also studied. Rama is the first-born and thus the eldest. This is because the dessert is given to queen Kausalya in the first instance, and half of the whole vessel. She immediately consumed to lionise her share and as an Empress. Sumitra waited a while till apportionment is complete. Kaikeyi got her portion but waited till her elder sister Sumitra completes her drink. In the meanwhile Dasharatha thought a while, as said in the verse, and gave Sumitra another one-eighth part. Sumitra then consumed her two parts. Later Kaikeyi drinks her dividend.
ताश्चैवं पायसं प्राप्य नरेन्द्रस्योत्तमाः स्त्रियः |
सम्मानं मेनिरे सर्वाः प्रहर्षोदितचेतसः || १-१६-३०
30. narendrasya uttamaaH striyaH = best ladies of king; sarvaaH = all of them; taaH evam paayasam praapya = they, on getting dessert that way; praharSoditachetasaH = exuberance gladness with hearts; sammaanam menire = a reward, they deemed [the dessert.]
On getting the dessert all of those best ladies of the king, whose hearts are exuberant with happiness, deemed it as a reward. [1-16-30]
ततस्तु ताः प्राश्य तदुत्तमस्त्रियो
महीपतेरुत्तमपायसं पृथक् |
चिरेण गर्भान् प्रतिपेदिरे तदा || १-१६-३१
31. mahiipateH tataH uttamastriyaH = those best ladies of king; tat uttamapaayasam = that, best dessert; praashya = on consuming; hutaashanaadityasamaanatejasaH = equalling Fire and Sun in resplendence [queens]; achireNa tadaa garbhaan pratipedire = then very soon they got - conceived.
Then on consuming dessert those best ladies of the king whose resplendence then vied with that Fire and Sun became pregnant after some time. [1-16-31]
A synecdochic expression to indicate that Sun and Fire, the enliveners of living beings, pratyakSha-naraayaNa are there in those wombs and their resplendence is shining out of mothers bodies.
ततस्तु राजा प्रतिवीक्ष्य ताः स्त्रियः
प्ररूढगर्भाः प्रतिलब्धमानसः |
बभूव हृष्टस्त्रिदिवे यथा हरिः
सुरेन्द्रसिद्धर्षिगणाभिपूजितः || १-१६-३२
32. tataH raajaa = then, king; praruuDhagarbhaaH = having confirmed about their pregnancies; taaH striyaH = at those, ladies; prativiikShya = on seeing; pratilabdhamaanasaH = again recaptured [his lost] heart; tridive = in heavens; surendrasiddharSigaNaabhipuujitaH = worshipped by king of gods[Indra] and great souls, group of sages; yathaa hariH = as like, Vishnu; babhuuva hR^iSTaH = became, delighted.
Then on seeing his queens with confirmed pregnancies Dasharatha regained his lost heart for sons, and he is gladdened like Vishnu, who will always be gladsome when worshipped by gods, namely Indra and others, as well as by the assemblages of great souls, sages. [1-16-32]
इति श्री वाल्मीकिरामायणे आदिकाव्ये बालकाण्डे षोडशः सर्गः ||
© 1999, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao [Revised: April 04]