After the opening prayers, we started the class by reviewing the latest class summary blog posting. It was a nice way to recap and review the story line that was covered in prior classes.
We also reviewed the map of India at the time of Ramayana and traced the journey of Rama, Lakshmana and Sage Vishwamitra from the city of Ayodhya to Mithila.
This ‘Coming of Age’ journey for both, prince Rama and Lakshmana was very significant. This allowed them to receive special training and instructions in the art of warfare from Sage Vishwamitra. This journey also enabled Rama to help liberate Devi Ahilya and free her from the curse of being a stone statue.
Sage Vishwamitra indeed had a specific purpose and reason to get the two princes to the city of Mithila. We discussed this special occasion, its symbolism, significance and even its relevance in modern times.
This special event in the city of Mithila was none other than the function of Sita Swayamvara. It is a special occasion where the eligible people, mostly princes and kings compete to complete a very difficult or almost impossible challenge to win the hand of the eligible girl, mostly a princess.
Students had some interesting answers related to this concept of swayamvara.
When asked why King Janaka would arrange such an event, some students felt that it was an impartial way of finding the best among the eligible candidates. It would also make the process of the royal alliance very transparent and avoid the bad feelings and aggressions by other eligible candidates, should the girl’s father choose a one specific prince for their daughter over others.
Some students felt this method of choosing the best among equals, empowers girls to select and marry someone that they like and are compatible with.
King Janaka had a very special weapon, called Shiv Dhanush or a bow and arrow set given by Lord Shiva. Only people of extraordinary skills and abilities, both mental and physical, were able to handle this difficult weapon. Sita and King Janaka choose to use this Dhanush as the challenge for her swayamvara. Any eligible person who can lift and put an arrow on this bow, would be able to ask Sita’s hand.
As it happened, only prince Rama was able to lift the bow and put an arrow on to it. In the process, Rama broke the bow. Having completed the task successfully, Rama was offered Sita’s hand as his wife.
Families of both Rama and Sita were extremely happy with this proposed alliance. Prince Rama and Sita were wed in a beautiful ceremony.
As a side note, we also discussed the symbolism of Rama conquering or breaking the Shiv Dhanush or bow. It could mean the ability of Rama to control and conquer the desires and wants etc.
As usual, we concluded the class with the closing prayer.
Hari Om !!
Shantanu & Nishant