THIRUKOLUR PEN PILLAI RAGASIYAM - 39
Did I tell Dasaratha to send Rama and Lakshmana along with sage Viswamithra like
With the great TirupAnAzhvAr who reached the Lord by his soulful and devotional singing!”. Pen Pillai puts forth her next question "Did I confidently direct Maharaja Dasharatha to send Rama and Lakshmana with Sage Vishwamitra, like Sage Vasishta, O Swami?"
Sage Vasishta is considered a Brahma Rishi, one who has attained the ultimate jnana of brahman, and a great tapasvi.
That is, he had reached the peak of knowledge of all things in the universe- knowledge of God. He was the Guide and Spiritual teacher to all the rulers of Ikshvaku dynasty. He was pivotal in leading them to perform several good deeds, through performing important yagnas, promoting welfare of the citizens and improving the quality of the rule. In this way, Sage Vasishta had played a significant role in instructing and protecting the Ikshvaku clan.
One of the prominent rulers of Ikshvaku dynasty, King Dasharatha was deeply worried that he was unable to attain any progeny to be his heir. When Sage Vasishta learned about this, not only did he advise the King to perform the Putrakameshthi yagna and Ashwamedha yagna, but he himself led the entire procedure. From the powerful yagna, a heavenly being (daivapurusha) emerged, with divine payasam in his hands, which was offered for consumption to the three queen consorts and the king himself. As a result, the king Dasharatha and his consorts Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi were blessed with four beautiful, divine sons.
Sage Vasishta even led the birth and naming ceremony (Punyaajanam) of the little princes. From the enlightened mind of the great sage Vasishta, their names emerged.
The eldest prince was named Rama – the one who imparted happiness and joy to everyone, the second was named Bharata – the one destined to rule, the third prince, Lakshmana – the one devoted to Lord Rama and the fourth and youngest prince was named Shatrughna – the one who overcomes all enemies.
Furthermore, when they came of age, Sage Vasishta offered to impart education to them, including sciences, weaponry, archery, warfare, vedas, philosophy, political & social sciences, law and so on. The princes, being very competent and intelligent, were able to grasp all the knowledge and became well-qualified in all aspects.
We may all be familiar with one more incident of Sage Vasishta.
Once upon a time, King Kaushika visited the ashram of Sage Vasishta. The sage welcomed him with a grand feast, miraculously granted by the divine cow, Chapala.
Envious of the sage’s possession, King Kaushika tried several ways to obtain the divine Chapala, but in vain. He was easily overcome by the versatility and strength of Sage Vasishta’s penances. Therefore, King Kaushika understood that it is the knowledge of the sage who was a Brahmarshi, which made this possible. This made him take up severe penances to attain enlightenment, and it finally happened due to his intense efforts. King Kaushika was thereby known as Brahmarshi Sage Vishwamitra.
One day, Sage Vishwamitra arrived at the palace of King Dasharatha, seeking a favour. ‘O King!’, he called. ‘I desire a favour from you. I have planned to carry out an important and extensive yagna for the welfare of all beings in this universe. But it is being disrupted by the wicked rakshasas.
Thus, I seek your sons Rama and Lakshmana, in this endeavour to destroy the evil forces. Send them with me so that they can fight and slay them!’ Shocked about sending his young boys to encounter fearsome demons,
King Dasharatha bowed to Vishwamitra, “O enlightened sage, they are but mere children. They have barely learnt how to wield their bows and arrows. I pray that you kindly reconsider this idea.”
Sage Vishwamitra replied “Aham vedmi (I am aware) of the qualities of Princes Rama and Lakshmana, well enough to consciously choose them for such a mission. If you still are not convinced, O King, you may seek the opinion of your Kulaguru, Sage Vasishta. I am sure he will concede with me!”
Sage Vasishta immediately stepped forward to advise the king. “Do not doubt the Brahmarshi, O king. For his abilities and strength are more than enough to vanquish the evil forces. He desires that the name and fame of accomplishing such a great task go to your sons, the princes! Do not fret.”
“But..” King Dasharatha began. Sage Vasishta said “What misfortune could befall your sons, when they have the powerful Sage Vishwamitra to protect them?
Safeguarding the auspicious yagna is a highly righteous deed, which enables your sons to attain great virtue. Moreover, there is another beneficial matter to be fulfilled, through this mission. You must send Rama and Lakshmana along with Sage Vishwamitra for this task.” With these wise words, Sage Vasishta convinced the king to send his sons Rama and Lakshmana to perform this righteous mission. This enabled several good events to take place consequently.
Rama and Lakshmana were taught the powerful mantras named “bala” and “atibala” by Sage Vishwamitra.