Kalidas's raghuvamsam - part-3 1

Raghuvamsam -3
– Santhipriya –

Birth of Raghu and War with Lord Indira

Like slow moving clouds, next few months passed in peace and Sudakshina conceived, soon to give birth to a pleasing offspring much to the delight of the King. Joy drums raised sounds of music, folks cheered and dancers twinkling feet echoed through palace halls. Benevolent in mind and heart, Dilipa left no stones upturned in giving rewards to the delight of all hearts in the kingdom. Ceremonial rituals completed, the King baptized the newly born baby as Raghu.
Raghu grew noble and generous. Like stream sucking ocean water, learning of all sorts, he acquired skills and fully trained in entire sacred and kingly lore. When age of wedding attained, like Daksha’s daughters got married to Moon, Raghu too was happily wedded to a noble Princess. Even before Dilipa devolved the Kingdom on his son, the saintly sage Vashishta advised that he perform Ashwametha Yahya (Horse sacrifice) to safeguard the cares of the kingdom.
As Ashwametha Yahya commenced, the safety of the Yahya horse was thrust upon Raghu. When the ceremony commenced, jealous of Dilipa performing the Yahya, which if allowed would take away his fame, Indira, the King of Heaven by his mystic power stole the horse though well guarded by Raghu. When the ritual to all the horses which travelled en path in the Ashwametha Yahya were completed the one last guarded by Raghu was called for the completion of Yahya, but it was not to be seen since stolen by the heavenly lord. Amazed Raghu realized that he has been mesmerized and cheated by unknown. Hearing the cries of alarm from perplexed Raghu, sage Vashishta’s Divine Cow Nandini rushed down from heaven to lend her help to Raghu, son of Dilipa, who once was her servant guard. Aware of the scene, she offered her urine to Raghu to wash his face which if done in faith would lift the veil of secrecy. When Raghu complied in unflinching faith what divine Nandini said the veil of secrecy unfolded to show before his eyes, the King of heaven Indira driving off the reluctant reed to his palace. Raghu immediately challenged Indira with a loud voice.
Raghu thundered ‘Oh King of heaven, the one who accept the oblations in the sacred rites, how would you impede the Yahya by stealing away my sire (horse), the last one needed for the rite to conclude and the one under my custody? Oh, King of heaven, your act betray the act of an noble guardian. You shall be condemned by nature for this treacherous act of stealing a sacrificial sire. O, highest lord of heaven, be considerate to unshackle the sire and allow heaven’s bliss befall on my father, lest you shall remain a sinner for ever’
Amazed at the boldness of Raghu, Indira restrained his chariot to reply ‘Oh, noble prince of Kshatriya Kingdom, you speak well, but remember, when one seek to rob the fame of another, in all fairness another whose fame stand in risk (meaning Indira’s fame will lower), shall impede the act of his foe at any cost, lest the fame would fade away from him. Your father’s ceremony (meaning performing Ashwametha Yahya) if allowed to conclude shall ruin my fame as Lord of lords, and thus me left with nothing but to impede the Yahya’. Devendra continued ‘My son, listen further. Lord Vishnu reign supreme as Purushothama, Lord Siva as Thrayambaka and I hold the title Sadakrutha, lord of hundred sacrificial rites. When each one long to keep their fame and title unblemished, unscratched, how would you expect me alone to lose it and give it to another on a platter to others? I advise you to desist from the vain attempt to win back the sire which I am taking to save my title. Do not tread the path of Sage Sagara’s sons who perished while chasing sage Kapila. Still if you desire to pursue, pull out your stock and the choice then there shall be nothing left but engage in war with me’.
Undaunted Raghu complied to call of war and pulled out his weapons. Both were engaged on fierce battle when earth drank bloods from both as each one inflicted severe wounds on the other. Though stunned at the gory sight, Airavatha, Lord of elephants in heaven, and carrier of Lord Indira remained a mute spectator. The terrible arrows flying both ways flew like thunder stinging each others like poisonous snakes. Difficult to predict the winner was the situation when both Raghu and Indira fell on to the ground, fully exhausted.
Severely wounded Raghu proclaimed ‘Mighty lord, move further not. Unless I am vanquished, me valor in Ikshavaku dynasty, dare not place your leg one step further along with my sire. Either the sacred sire be restored back to my pious father and he be allowed the reward of the arduous rites, or my fierce weapons shall continue impeding your steps to go with my sire. Oh, lord of lords, walk away with honour releasing a boon on oath that my father beget the reward due by the ceremony and then I shall cease the fight and allow you to go away.
When Raghu remained firm and unyielding to give up, the chief of heaven who lost the luster, realized the futility of the fight and finally yielded to release on oath the boon Raghu craved for to reward his father. Devendra had nothing else except to comply before departing to heaven. There at King’s Palace, when Raghu reached with the last sire needed for the sacrifice, Dilipa received his heavily wounded son with joy and sobbed uncontrollably in ecstasy and continued the Yahya till he mounted the throne on Raghu at the end of the ceremony. As years rolled, once aged, Dilipa desired to rest and thus marched to heaven in peace.
The folks of Ayodhya in all fairness rejoiced on crowning of Raghu, barring Kings of neighbor states who felt jealous of him. Fairness was Raghu’s rule who neither burnt, nor chilled the selective hearts. Only good he chose, but never allowed ill wound the hearts of folks. His sway reached far ends in all directions. Cool rays of moon and heat of sun were his natural virtues. After ascending the throne Raghu absorbed all aspects of lore, from dialectics to ethics like the great ocean that sucked each drops of water to swell its body. His wide expanded eyes lit up his face like the moon light and his sight was clear to swell the coffers from not only those vanquished, but also from where they came from either small or big rulers that he bashed. The mighty King safeguarded all the frontier posts, and as the autumn dried and spring sprang up, Raghu’s Chariots raised and elephants trumpeted across four corners on a career of universal conquest. The mighty army’s march with bearded warriors raised clouds of dust as if earth and air collided uprooting the trees. He led his valiant host (army) like furious Ganges flowing down from heaven to earth from the braided hair of lord Siva and as he marched, boundaries only continued to expand, immeasurable in length and breath.
Like the bees that swarm the thickly round honeycombs, kingdoms from Bengal to Kalinga were smoked out. Even those opposed his command beyond Mahindra mountain were subdued one by one. Wings clipped Kings were set free once they bowed like reeds and poured their wealth under his feet. Raghu’s glory continued to spread even in south when king after kings fell beyond river Kaveri under the swiftly moving steeds of the King, and wherever he marched, mighty pillars of victory were hoisted.
After plunging countries from Persia to Kashmir, the lawful triumphant King returned home and performed Visvajit Yahya and lavishly feasted and gifted the invitees and gathered guest who sought alms. Thus the wealth he carefully accumulated from several corners of the land with his might melted soon in his acts of philanthropy and coffer dried up as fast as it swelled ultimately leaving nothing to gift except an earthen pot when Sage Kaustsa visited him seeking alms.

continued /4

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