Book III : Aranya Kanda - The Forest Trek

Chapter [Sarga] 6


After the heavenward journey of Sage Sharabhanga, Rama is approached by others sages and hermits. They inform him about the atrocities of demons around that place. They all ask Rama to eradicate the menace and Rama avows to do so, in order to keep up the tranquillity of those hermitages, and also to obliterate the menace of demons from earth.

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शरभङ्गे दिवम् प्राप्ते मुनि संघाः समागताः |
अभ्यगच्छन्त काकुत्स्थम् रामम् ज्वलित तेजसम् || ३-६-१

1. sharabhange divam praapte = Sage Sharabhanga, heaven, on attaining; muni sanghaaH samaagataaH = sages, groups, assembled; abhyagacChanta = approached; kaakutstham = the one from Kakutstha dynasty; raamam = Rama; jvalita tejasam = glowing with resplendence.

On Sage Sharabhanga attaining heaven, groups of sages assembled and approached Rama of Kakutstha dynasty, who is glowing with resplendence. [3-6-1]

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वैखानसा वालखिल्याः संप्रक्षाला मरीचिपाः |
अश्म कुट्टाः च बहवः पत्र आहाराः च तापसाः || ३-६-२

2. vaikhaanasaa = sages born out of the nails of Prajaapati; vaalakhilyaaH = born from Prajaapati's hair; sam prakshaalaa = from His feet-wash; mariichi paaH = rays of sun and moon, drinkers; ashma kuTTaaH ca = by stone, pound grains, also; bahavaH = many of them; patra aahaaraaH ca = leave-eaters, also; taapasaaH = sages.

The sages called Vaikahanasa-s, [who are born out of the nails of Prajaapati, the first ruler of mankind,] also Vaalakhilyaa-s, [those born from His hair,] and those from the water of His feet-wash, and those that thrive on drinking rays of sun and moon alone, and those that pound with stones and others who thrive on leaves alone, are those sages... [3-6-2]

The samprakshaala are kind of sages said be washing their interior body with water, a yogic measure called dhouli prakriya , and also otherwise attributed to wash their vessels after a meal, without preserving any food for the next meal, for god would automatically give their daily bread. The sages called ashma kuTTa, are that kind of sages who pound their bodies with stones, and thus they pound grain with stones.

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दन्त उलूखलिनः च एव तथा एव उन्मज्जकाः परे |
गात्र शय्या अशय्याः च तथा एव अनवकाशिकाः || ३-६-३

3. danta uluukhalinaH ca eva = teeth, grind-stones, like [use their own teeth to grind the grain]; tatha eva = like that; unmajjakaaH = neck deep in water [they perform ascesis]; pare = others; gaatra shayyaa = sleeper on their own shoulders or chest; a shayyaaH ca = no, beds, also; tathaa eva = like that; an avakaashakaaH = sages without any repose.

Some of them use their own teeth to grid the grain they eat, and some who perform ascesis in neck-deep water, and some who sleep with their head resting on their shoulders or on chests without using any kind of bed, and some who do not use any kind of beds either, and some who meditate without any repose sitting in an enclosure without any leg-space. [3-6-3]

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मुनयः सलिल आहारा वायु भक्षाः तथा अपरे |
आकाश निलयाः च एव तथा स्थण्डिल शायिनः || ३-६-४

4. munayaH = sages; salila aahaaraa = water, as food; vaayu bhakshaaH = air, as food; tathaa = like that; apare = and some more; aakaasha nilayaaH ca = in air, standing, also; eva tathaa = thus, then; sthandila shaayinaH = on ground, sleeping.

And some sages whose food is water alone, or air alone to some, like that some who meditate staying in sky and some who sleep on bare ground itself. [3-6-4]

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तथा ऊर्थ्व वासिनः दान्ताः तथा आर्द्र पट वाससः |
स जपाः च तपो नित्याः तथा पंच तपोऽन्विताः || ३-६-५

5. tathaa = thus; uurthva vaasinaH = high-peak, dwellers; daantaaH = controlled senses; tathaa = thus; aardra paTa vaasasaH = wet, cloths, wearers; sa japaaH ca = with, recitation, also; tapaH nityaaH = meditate, always; tathaa = like that; panca tapaH anvitaaH = in five kinds of fire, meditating.

Thus some are dwellers on high-peaked places with their senses controlled, and some are wearers of wet cloths, always reciting name or hymn japa and like that some who meditate with five kinds of fire around them. [3-6-5]

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सर्वे ब्राह्ंया श्रिया ज्युक्ता दृढ योग समाहिताः |
शरभंग आश्रमे रामम् अभिजग्मुः च तापसाः || ३-६-६

6. sarve = all; braahmyaa = of Brahma, i.e., of Vedic; shriyaa yuktaa = resplendence, with; dR^iDha yoga samaahitaaH = firm, yogic control, having; sharabhanga aashrame = in Sharabhanga hermitage; raamam = for Rama; abhijagmuH ca = arrived, also; taapasaaH = sages.

All have Vedic resplendence and firm yogic control, and they have arrived at the hermitage of Sage Sharabhanga for Rama. [3-6-6]

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अभिगंय च धर्मज्ञा रामम् धर्म भृताम् वरम् |
ऊचुः परम धर्मज्ञम् ऋषि संघाः समागताः || ३-६-७

7. dharmaGYaaH = virtuous sages; R^iSi sanghaaH = sage, groups;. samaahitaaH = coming together; dharma bhR^itaam varam = virtue beholder, the best, at Rama [also dharma = bow; bhR^itam = wielder; varam = the best]; parama dharmaGYam = the supreme in virtue; raamam = at Rama; abhi gamya ca = nearly approaching, also; uucuH = said;

Those virtuous sages coming together in groups neared Rama, the best beholder of virtue, and said to that supreme one in virtue. [3-6-7]

The word abhi gamya is nearly approaching, coming nearby, at a destination that is Rama. The Omni-Luminescent, , emerged in Kakutstha dynasty as Rama. Knowing that, all the sages of higher knowledge have arrived at their 'destination' in this mortal world itself... Maheshvara Tirtha.

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त्वम् इक्ष्वाकु कुलस्य अस्य पृथिव्याः च महारथः |
प्रधानः च अपि नाथः च देवानाम् मघवान् इव || ३-६-८

8. mahaarathaH = being great charioteer in battlefields / Supreme Charioteer of Universe; tvam ikSvaaku kulasya naathaH = you are, Ikshvaku, dynasty, [not only] the protector; asya pR^ithivyaaH ca = to this, earth, also; devaanaam maghavaan iva = for gods, Indra, as with; [tvam = you are]; pradh[but also the] aanaH api ca = leader / protector, shelterer, even, also.

"You are the supreme charioteer born in Ikshvaku dynasty hence you are the protector of earth under your control. As with Indra, the ruler of divinities you are a similar ruler for us. [3-6-8]


Though born in Ikshvaku dynasty you are the Supreme Charioteer, hence you are the same Supreme Charioteer of this Earth and earthlings too, as with Indra who protects divinities, you are our protector.

We have not heard of any chariot or horse being utilised by Rama, let alone in some episodes of his student days, because he is more a foot soldier than a horse/chariot rider. How these sages suddenly say that Rama is a speedy charioteer, is the question. This mahaa rathaH concept is on the analogy of Krishna the charioteer in Bharata. In Vedanta, the human body is frequently referred as ratha, as in ashva kraante rathaH kraante vishNukraante vasu.ndharaa... , Sec. I-37 Mahanaaraayano panishad: 'O, earth that is traversed by a horse [in Vedic rituals,] a chariot, [great souls, why they all when] Vishnu himself treaded on you as Trivikrama... hence I pray you...' Hence the chariot, drawn by the five-senses as its horses, and the earth are also brought and said here by sages. Krishna-Arjuna's chariot too had five-horses. Here the sages with controlled senses, namely horses, are asking the one who chariots/spins the earth and earthlings, to take off the children of lesser gods, namely demons, far away from humans where humans are god controlled species.

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विश्रुतः त्रिषु लोकेषु यशसा विक्रमेण च |
पितृ व्रतत्वम् सत्यम् च त्वयि धर्मः च पुष्कलः || ३-६-९

9. [tvam = you are]; triSu lokeshu yashasaa vikrameNa ca vishrutaH = in three, worlds, by your repute and valour well, renowned; tvayi = in you; pitR^iu vratatvam satyam ca = to father, devotion, truthfulness, also; pushkalaH = abounding; dharmaH ca = righteousness, even [is there].

"You are well renowned in all the three worlds by your repute and valour, and in you abounding are the virtues like truthfulness and devotion to your father, and even righteousness too, is there. [3-6-9]

The above is the apparent meaning. The subtext is "Are you, the supreme charioteer of Ikshvaku dynasty alone, like Indra for celestial beings? And are you the supreme charioteer of this earth and earthlings alone? Not are the Supreme of the whole Universe, therefore your reputation is well known in all the three worlds. Thus you the Omni-Luminescent entered in Ikshvaku dynasty in the form of Rama, to perform your duties like abiding by father's word, with your usual qualities like abounding virtuousness, safeguarding dharma in respect of your own creation/ maintenance..." Thus this is the confrontation-like- addressing of the enlightened sages. Maheshvara Tirtha.

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त्वाम् आसाद्य महात्मानम् धर्मज्ञम् धर्म वत्सलम् |
अर्थित्वात् नाथ वक्ष्यामः तत् च नः क्षन्तुम् अर्हसि || ३-६-१०

10. mahaatmaanam = great soul; dharmaGYam = knower of righteousness; dharma vatsalam = virtue, patron of; tvaam arthitvaat aasaadya = you, like begging, on getting at [we beg to state as we have come across you]; vakshyaamaH = we can tell you [petition to you]; naatha = oh, protector; naH = our; that = that [special or personal] begging; kshantum arhasi = to pardon, will be apt of you.

"You are the great-souled one, knower of righteousness and a patron of virtue... such as you are, on approaching you we beg to state something for which we may please be excused... [3-6-10]

Special supplication to god is a waste. His mercy has to flows on its own accord. Why beg him to perform his own duty? If by mistake, an appeal is made to god to alleviate a personal problem, his pardon may to be begged, but he is not be begged to do favours. Here the sages on one hand say that 'you have come here in the incarnation of Rama to eradicate evil...' At the same time, they say 'we have an appeal for the same...' This begging off, is as per social custom, made to the apparent ruler of the kingdom, not to the innate Divine.

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अधार्मः सुमहान् नाथ भवेत् तस्य तु भूपतेः |
यो हरेत् बलि षड् भागम् न च रक्षति पुत्रवत् || ३-६-११

11. naatha = oh, protector; yaH = which king; bali = cess; shaT bhaagam = sixth part; haret = who takes; putra vat = like sons; na ca rakshati = who does not, also, guard; tasya mahii pateH = to such a king; a dhaarmaH = non-virtue [wrongness,]; su mahaan = very, great; bhavet = will fall upon him.

"Oh! , very great a-dharma, wrongness, will occur to that king who takes the sixth part of the country's produce as cess, but does not safeguard his subjects like his own sons... [3-6-11]

"Protection of subjects is but natural to all kings, but some kings do so for a particular reason, hence this appeal of ours" thus say the sages...Govindaraja. "Though you incarnated yourself to protect the entire universe, so you have to protect us too...but why a special appeal of ours when you are duty bound... that means, we with an unbearable angst of ours make this appeal according to the social custom, but not to harass you. Hence we remind you, Rama, of your kingly duties to safeguard us..." Maheshvara Tirtha. atra a pramaadena prajaaH samrakShaNiiyaaH - rakShaNaat uttama loka avaaptiH - arakShaNe doShaH ca bhavati iti suucitam - dharmaakuutam

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युंजानः स्वान् इव प्राणान् प्राणैः इष्टान् सुतान् इव |
नित्य युक्तः सदा रक्षन् सर्वान् विषय वासिनः || ३-६-१२
प्राप्नोति शाश्वतीम् राम कीर्तिम् स बहु वार्षिकीम् |
ब्रह्मणः स्थानम् आसाद्य तत्र च अपि महीयते || ३-६-१३

12, 13. sarvaan vishaya vaasinaH = all, country, dwellers [subjects]; praanaiH iSTaan sutaan iva = than life, dearer, sons, like; svaan praanaan yunjaanah iva = his own, lives, give away, as though; nitya yuktaH sadaa rakshan = always, endeavouring, always, protecting; saH = he that king; praapnoti = will attain; shaashvatiim kiirtim = permanent, renown; bahu vaarSikiim = lasting for many years; brahmaNaH sthaanam aasaadya = in Brahma's abode, a place, on getting; tatra ca api mahiiyate = there, also, even, will prosper.

"A king shall treat all the subjects of kingdom as his own sons, and he shall protect them as though he is ready to save them at the cost of his own lives, and he who will always be endeavouring in that manner will attain permanent renown lasting for many for many years to come, and thereby he attains a prosperous place even in Brahma's abode... [3-6-12, 3]

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यत् करोति परम् धर्मम् मुनिः मूल फल अशनः |
तत्र राज्ञः चतुर् भागः प्रजा धर्मेण रक्षतः || ३-६-१४

14. prajaa dharmeNa rakshataH = people, virtuously, he who protects; raaGYaH = for that king; muula phala ashanaH = tubers, fruits, eater; muniH = sage; yat = which; param dharmam = great, duty-bound deeds; karoti = performs; tatra catur bhaagaH = there [from sage,] to that king, fourth, part; [labhati = he gets.]

"He who righteously protects his subjects will get one fourth of the merit of great duty-bound deeds performed by each individual sage, say yajna-s, ascesis, meditation etc. performances. [3-6-14]

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सो अयम् ब्राह्मण भूयिष्ठो वानप्रस्थ गणो महान् |
त्वम् नाथो अनाथवत् राम राक्षसैः हन्यते भृशम् || ३-६-१५

15. O, Rama; tvam naathaH = while you are, there as protector; braahmaNa bhuuyiSThaH = with Brahmans, are there numerously; mahaan = most reverent ones; saH yam = that, this one [suchlike]; vaanaprastha gaNaH = hermitages, groups of; a naatha vat = forsaken ones, as though; raakshasaiH bhR^isham hanyate = by the demons, devastatingly, demolished.

"O, Rama, though you are there as protector for the hermitages, suchlike this one, where the most reverent Brahmans are there numerously, they look as though forsaken, for they are being demolished by demons, devastatingly... [3-6-15]

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एहि पश्य शरीराणि मुनीनाम् भावित आत्मनाम् |
हतानाम् राक्षसैः घोरैः बहूनाम् बहुधा वने || ३-६-१६

16. ehi pashya = come and see; vane ghoraiH raakshasaiH bahudhaa hataanaam = in forest, by ghastly, demons, variously, killed; muniinaam bhaavita aatmanaam = of sages, contemplative, souls; bahuunaam = many of them; shariiraaNi = bodies.

"Come and see many of the bodies of the sages, the contemplative souls, that are variously killed by ghastly demons in the forest... [3-6-16]

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पंपा नदी निवासानाम् अनुमन्दाकिनीम् अपि |
चित्रकूट आलयानाम् च क्रियते कदनम् महत् || ३-६-१७

17. pampaa nadii nivaasaanaam = Pampa, riverside, dwelling; anu mandaakiniim api = along, Mandakini river, even; chitrakuuTa aalayaanaam ca = at Mt.Chitrkuuta, surrounds, also; kriyate kadanam mahat = does, warfare, hideous one.

"At Pampa riverside, and alongside of River Mandakini, and at the surroundings of Mt. Chitrakuta also, this hideous warfare is being done... [3-6-17]

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एवम् वयम् न मृष्यामो विप्रकारम् तपस्विनाम् |
क्रियमाणम् वने घोरम् रक्षोभिः भीम कर्मभिः || ३-६-१८

18. evam vayam na mR^iSyaamaH = thus, we, not able to tolerate; vi prakaaram = not, orderliness [injustice]; tapasvinaam = for sages; kriyamaaNam vane ghoram = being executed by, in forest, in a ghastly manner; rakshobhiH bhiima karmabhiH = by demons, with fiendish, deeds.

"Thus. we are not able to tolerate this injustice to the sages, being executed in this forest by the demons with fiendish deeds, in a ghastly manner... [3-6-18]

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ततः त्वाम् शरणार्थम् च शरण्यम् समुपस्थिताः |
परिपालय नः राम वध्यमानान् निशाचरैः || ३-६-१९

19. tataH = therefore; O, Rama; sharaNyam tvaam sharaNa artham = a protecting one, a you, for protection, for the purpose of; sam upasthitaaH = we present before you; nishaa caraiH = by night-walkers; vadhyamaanaan = being killed; naH pari paalaya = protect = us, you safeguard.

"Therefore we present ourselves before you as you are our protector, for the purpose of your protecting us that are being killed by nightwalkers... please safe guard us... [3-6-19]

It is said as 'you are the only refuge' because there is no pre or post verbs for this sharaNyam, thus you aare the protector of all worlds. sharaNa artham is taken as to 'place us at our appropriate place,' namely in the abode after total salvation; sam upasthitaa or sam upaagamaa as in other versions, we have come here with vishvaasa, faithfulness, sharaNaagati , servitude, kainkarya , surrender etc.; naH paripaalaya protect us and with this word, it is again repeated in next verse as paripaalaya naH ; and later in the verse the request - from what to be protected is said. That is aniSTa nivR^itti ruupa phala praarthana, 'removal of that which is undesirable.' That is to say: 'we better be given total salvation rather than killed by these demons, which is half way through our exercise to attain total salvation.' is the subtext of the speech of sages.

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परा त्वत्तः गतिः वीर पृधिव्यम् न उपपद्यते |
परिपालय नः सर्वान् राक्षसेभ्यो नृपात्मजः || ३-६-२०

20. viiraH = oh! Valiant one; tvattaH = than you; paraa gatiH = other, way out; pR^idhivyam na upapadyate = on the earth, not, deducible; nR^ipa atmajaH = king's, son �oh, prince; paripaalaya naH = protect us; sarvaan = all; raakshasebhyaH = from demons.

"Other than you, oh, valorous Rama, no way-out is deducible on this earth, hence oh, prince, protect all of us from the demons... [3-6-20]

There is no way-out on this earth, for that matter of fact in all the universe, when the 'earth' becomes upa lakshNa for all worlds. This is in consonance with the scripture's saying, na anyaH panthaa vidyate ayanaaya...puruSa suukta R.V. X-90 and thus those sages say 'we are contaminated with limited fruition of our practices parimita phalatva, and other suchlike limitations. But you are evident here...before our naked protect us from the demons...' where the demons, raakshsebhyaH comes to mean sarva aniSTaaH, all earthly undesirables. Again coupled with the vocation of 'Oh Prince...' it is said as: "you have come here like a prince of Ayodhya, unlike a wild boar, or a fish or a man-lion, your earlier incarnations, so remember us and give us salvation...

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एतत् श्रुत्वा तु काकुत्स्थः तापसानाम् तपस्विनाम् |
इदम् प्रोवाच धर्मात्मा सर्वान् एव तपस्विनः || ३-६-२१

21. dharmaatmaa = virtuous soul; kaakutsthaH = Kakutstha scion Rama; taapasaanaam = of great penance; etat shrutvaa tu = all that, on hearing; tapasvinaam = sages; idam provaaca = this, said; sarvaan eva tapasvinaH = all of the, thus, sages.

On hearing all that is said by the sages of great penance, he that virtue souled Rama said this unto all of the sages. [3-6-21]

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न एवम् अर्हथ माम् वक्तुम् आज्ञाप्यः अहम् तपस्विनाम् |
केवलेन स्व कार्येण प्रवेष्टव्यम् वनम् मया || ३-६-२२

22. evam maam vaktum na arhatha = this way, to me, to speak, not, apt of you; aham tapasvinaam aaGYaapyaH = I, sages, can be ordered; kevalena aatma kaaryeNa [sva kaaryeNa] mayaa vanam praveSTavyam = just for, personal purpose, by me, forest had to be entered.

"Unapt is this way of speaking to me...command me, for I am at your behest... just for my personal purpose I had to enter the forests.... [3-6-22]

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विप्रकारम् अपाक्रष्टुम् राक्षसैः भवताम् इमम् |
पितुः तु निर्देशकरः प्रविष्टो अहम् इदम् वनम् || ३-६-२३

23. aham = I am; raakshasaiH = owing to demons; bhavataam = in your respect; imam = all this; vi prakaaram = unconscionable state; apaakraSTum = to obliterate; pituH tu = by father; nirdeshakaraH = as ordered; idam vanam = this forest; praviSTaH = entered.

"I entered this forest as ordered by my father and even to obliterate the unconscionable state of yours owing to the misdeeds of demons. [3-6-23]

Rama's saying that 'I am at your command, oh sages...' is indicative of his nature of bhakta jana vashya... in the control of his ardent devotees, so no special prayer for salvation is needed. In the expression kevalene aatma/sva kaaryeNa... the word kevala is not a kevala pada ... just a word... it indicates a radical sense, like 'for that purpose only' meaning to eradicate demonic menace only, I entered the forest...' Because the sheSin has to come to the rescue of sheSi, the servant. So 'safeguarding my own servants is my own responsibility and also pleasure, that is why I entered the forests, where my father's orders are nimitta, a concomitant factor, and not that I entered these forest due to my karma, or misfortune...' Govindaraja. According to Maheshvara Tirtha 'My coming to forests at the orders of my father is a fact but concomitant factor in this forest trek is your request to eliminate the demons, which I will do...' This is evident meaning. The latent one is "I have entered these forests only at my own desire to eradicate demons, for they are doing wrong to you, my servants sheSin-s, and I abide by you, my devotees...' c.f.,

 Griffit's Translit: I wait the hests of all of you. / I by mine own occasion led / This mighty forest needs must tread, / And while I keep my sire's decree / Your lives from threatening foes will free.

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भवताम् अर्थ सिद्ध्यर्थम् आगतोऽहम् यदृच्छया |
तस्य मे अयम् वने वासो भविष्यति महाफलः | ३-६-२४

24. aham = I; bhavataam artha siddhyartham = for your, purpose, achievement; yard^icChayaa = perchance; aagataH = have come; tasya me = such as I am, for me; ayam vane vaasaH = in this forest, dwelling; mahaa phalaH = immensely, fruitful; bhavishyati = it will be.

"Perchance I have come for the achievement of your purpose, such as I am, dwelling in this forest will immensely be fruitful to me... [3-6-24]

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तपस्विनाम् रणे शत्रून् हन्तुम् इच्छामि राक्षसान् |
पश्यन्तु वीर्यम् ऋषयः सः ब्रातुर् मे तपोधनाः || ३-६-२५

25. tapasvinaam shatruun raakshasaan raNe hantum icChaami = of sages, enemies, demons, in war, to eliminate, I wish to; tapaH dhanaaH R^ishayaH = by penance, rich, sages; pashyantu = may behold; sa bhraatuH me viiryam = with, brother, my, valour.

"I wish to eliminate demons, the enemies of sages, in war... let the sages behold my valour, and my brother's valour in doing so..." Thus Rama promised the sages. [3-6-25]

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दत्त्वा अभयम् च अपि तपो धनानाम्
धर्मे धृइत आत्मा सह लक्ष्मणेन |
तपो धनैः च अपि सह आर्य दत्तः
सुतीक्ष्णम् एव अभिजगाम वीरः || ३-६-२६

26. dharme dhR^ita atmaa = in virtue, one who is firm, soulfully; viiraH = valiant Rama; tapaH dhanaanaam = to sages; dattvaa abhayam = on giving, aegis; saha lakshmaNena = with, Lakshmana; tapodhanaiH ca api = sages, also; saha = along with; aarya datta = by Arya, given [by honourable Janaka given - Seetha]; sutiixkshNam eva abhi jagaama = to Sage Suteekshna alone, journeyed forward.

Thus giving his aegis to the sages, that valiant Rama who is firmly virtue-souled, journeyed towards Sage Suteekshna with Lakshmana and the sages, and along with the one given by Honourable Janaka, namely Seetha. [3-6-26]

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इति वाल्मीकि रामायणे आदि काव्ये अरण्य काण्डे षष्ठः सर्गः

Thus, this is the 6h chapter in Aranya of Valmiki Ramayana, the First Epic poem of India.

Verse Locator for Book III : Aranya Kanda - The Forest Trek : Chapter 6

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© 2001, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao, [Revised : March. 04]

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