Ramayan Stories – Rama Banished to Forest
Laxmana who was watching all the proceedings with some emotions, said, “O brother, Sita and you are like mother and father to me. A child cannot remain alive separated from his parents. Let me accompany you both so that I not only can serve you, but also protect you from the predators and the demons of the jungle. Otherwise, who would look after you when you sleep under the open sky or a small make-shift hut? Will not the tender body of Sita-Ma suffer with efforts of labor all alone! O Rama, take me with you otherwise I would suffer like a fish out of water.”
All eyes were wet with tears of distress and grief, except those of Kaikeyi and Manthara. The love between the brothers and supreme sacrifice of dutiful Sita made every heart heavy with tons of grief and pathos.
Next day the trio Rama, Laxmana, and Sita gave up the royal silk and the valuables and put on simple clothes fit for the forest life: robes of sanyasin. Sita still looked pretty without her ornaments, but every heart in Ayodhya was filled with despair and remorse. Every eye was wet with the tears of separation and sorrow. The palace was filled with the silence of grief. Around the palace every inch of land was occupied by the people of Ayodhya. Some were sitting in the path, others were lying down as if to prevent their beloved to leave. Nobody was in a mood to allow them to depart. It was difficult to control the crowd, it was equally difficult to control the emotions.
But promise was a promise, not only for the royal family, but for every citizen of Ayodhya. Everyone knew that although Kaikeyi was harsh in her demands, but she could not be faulted on that account alone. She had every right to demand her two promises which the King Dasharatha must keep, come what may. If it created tragic condition of gloom and helplessness the people were willing to suffer stoically, without violence or revenge. Kaikeyi never was threatened, no, nobody ever thought of harming her. But the crowd made the departure of our heroes very slow. Rama advised all to remain calm and collected; to support the would-be king Bharata, and to look after the ailing king Dasharatha and the helpless queens.
The night fell even as Rama-Laxmana-Sita could barely cross the limits of the city. It was painfully slow process to leave the people. At this juncture, minister Sumanta drove his chariot towards Rama and said, “My Lord, the people are asleep. Let me take you across the border quickly without much ado.” Rama agreed and thus leaving all tired people behind, Rama-Laxmana-Sita fled far off under the cover of night sky.
Story of Adivasi Chief Guhaka
Thus Rama-Laxmana-Sita reached the banks of the river Tamasa. The small, simple village was predominantly populated by the outcasts Bhilla, an aboriginal caste. The chief of this clan was Guhaka, a very wise man although illiterate. These simple, hard-working, honest and poor people were neglected as no officer would visit them in distress or want. The revenue minister and officials would be content to collect their dues and report to Ayodhya ‘everything is fine there’.
Thus, although a part of Ayodhya kingdom, these people were denied any chance of contact with the royal house or the king. However, despite their poverty and inconvenience, their chief Guhaka was aware of the noble character and pious nature of Rama. he had also the news as to the recent ill-fated happenings in Ayodhya. Therefore, he was waiting for the arrival of Rama-Laxmana-Sita with great expectations and eagerness. He was keen to serve the nobility, and in particular Rama.
On their arrival, Guhaka arranged for their meals consisting of fruits and milk only as he was not sure whether other items would be accepted by the members the royal family. He saluted Rama from a distance, but Rama went a step ahead and embraced the chief as his old friend! This unexpected gesture of solidarity beyond caste consideration on the part of Rama made Guhaka very happy. He could not control his tear s that fell on the chest of Rama. Laxmana and Sita were silent witness to this high drama of love between the two.
The night fell and arrangements were made for Rama and Sita to retire. The bed of straw was hastily prepared as Rama refused to enter the village and accept the hospitality of the chief, saying, ‘O dear friend, I have taken the vow of leading a simple life in a forest. I cannot come inside your palace.’
It is important to note that Rama and Sita did not have any physical contact during these fourteen years of forest life.
Laxmana did not sleep for he had come to protect and serve Rama and Sita. He and Guhaka had night long talk on the decency of Rama’s character and divine qualities. According to Laxmana, Rama as the God-incarnate and Guhaka as the devotee made a wonderful duo of peace, love, and tranquility. Guhaka was also impressed with the insights that Laxmana offered about the real nature of Rama as Brahma-incarnate. It is the Absolute GOD that has deliberately planned all this sport of forest-treading, banishment, etc. so that more democratic, peaceful, righteous, society without caste and creed, racial or ethnic hatred should emerge.
Moreover, the king Ravana, the mighty Demon King of Lanka was too powerful wicked, and unrighteous who required to be vanquished. Only Rama was capable of defeating Ravana, and hence all this play of forest life.