Sri Mahavishnu agrees to incarnate as human and selects Dasharatha as his father. While Dasharatha performing putrakaameSTi yagna , a deity called praajaapatya purusha arises from the sacrificial fire to give a golden vessel of divine dessert to Dasharatha for distribution among his queens to beget progeny. The three queens on consuming that dessert conceive children.
ततो नारायणो देवो विषुणुः नियुक्तः सुर सत्तमैः |
जानन् अपि सुरान् एवम् श्लक्ष्णम् वचनम् अब्रवीत् || १-१६-१
Later when the Omnipresent Narayana is thus nominated by best gods, and though he knows the outcome, he gently spoke these words to gods in this way. [1-16-1]
The name Vishnu indicates his all pervading Omnipresence in all beings, sessile or mobile: vyaapitvaat sarva bhuuteSu vishnuH iti abhidhiiyate. This is one of his thousand names, called Vishnu sahasra naama , each name elucidating his attributes..
उपायः को वधे तस्य राक्ष्साधिपतेः सुराः |
यम् अहम् तम् समास्थाय निहन्याम् ऋषि कण्टकम् || १-१६-२
yam aham tam samaasthaaya nihanyaam R^iShi kaNTakam || 1-16-2
“What is the idea to eliminate that demon’s chief Ravana, oh, gods, adopting which strategy I will have to eliminate that thorn in the side of sages?” Thus Vishnu asked the gods. [1-16-2].
एवम् उक्ताः सुराः सर्वे प्रत्यूचुः विष्णुम् अव्ययम् |
मानुषम् रूपम् आस्थाय रावणम् जहि संयुगे || १-१६-३
Asked thus all the gods said to that sempiternal Vishnu, “on assuming a human form, eliminate Ravana in a war.” [1-16-3].
स हि तेपे तपः तीव्रम् दीर्घ कालम् अरिंदम |
येन तुष्टोऽभवत् ब्रह्मा लोक कृत् लोक पूर्वजः || १-१६-४
yena tuShTo.abhavat brahmaa loka kR^it loka puurvajaH || 1-16-4
“Oh, destroyer of enemies, he that Ravana undertook a vehement ascesis for a long period, thereby the creator of worlds and the first born one Brahma, felt gladsome of his ascesis. [1-16-4].
सन्तुष्टः प्रददौ तस्मै राक्षसाय वरम् प्रभुः |
नानाविधेभ्यो भूतेभ्यो भयम् न अन्यत्र मानुषात् || १-१६-५
अवज्ञाताः पुरा तेन वरदाने हि मानवाः |
avaGYaataaH puraa tena varadaane hi maanavaaH |
“Satisfied with his ascesis Brahma gave boon to that demon that he shall have no fear for his life from many kinds of beings, excepting humans, because that demon indeed slighted humans earlier at the time of bestowing boon. [1-16-5, 6a].
एवम् पितामहात् तस्मात् वरदानेन गर्वितः || १-१६-६
उत्सादयति लोकान् त्रीईन् स्त्रियः च अपि अपकर्षति |
तस्मात् तस्य वधो दृष्टो मानुषेभ्यः परन्तप || १-१६-७
utsaadayati lokaan trIIn striyaH ca api apakarShati |
tasmaat tasya vadho dR^iShTo maanuShebhyaH parantapa || 1-16-7
“Thus, on getting boon from the Forefather Brahma he has become arrogant and torturing the three worlds, and he is even abducting women. As such, oh, enemy destroyer Vishnu, his elimination is envisaged through humans alone.” So said gods to Vishnu. [1-16-6b, 7].
इति एतत् वचनम् श्रुत्वा सुराणाम् विष्णुः आत्मवान् |
पितरम् रोचयामास तदा दशरथम् नृपम् || १-१६-८
On hearing that speech of gods said that way, he that kind-hearted Vishnu then chose Dasharatha as his father in human world. [1-16-8].
स च अपि अपुत्रो नृपतिः तस्मिन् काले महाद्युतिः |
अयजत् पुत्रियाम् इष्टिम् पुत्रेप्सुः अरिसूदनः ||१-१६-९
ayajat putriyaam iShTim putrepsuH arisuudanaH ||1-16-9
During that time the great resplendent king and an enemy subduer Dasharatha is performing putrakaameSTi ritual, desiring progeny as he is sonless. [1-16-9].
स कृत्वा निश्चयम् विष्णुः आमन्त्र्य च पितामहम् |
अन्तर्धानम् गतो देवैः पूज्य मानो महर्षिभिः || १-१६-१०
On taking a decision Vishnu took leave of Forefather Brahma, and vanished while he is still being extolled by gods and sages. [1-16-10].
ततो वै यजमानस्य पावकात् अतुल प्रभम् |
प्रादुर्भूतम् महद्भूतम् महावीर्यम् महाबलम् || १-१६-११
praadurbhuutam mahadbhuutam mahaaviiryam mahaabalam || 1-16-11
Then, from Fire of Altar Dasharatha’s ritual there emerged a greatly vigorous and energetic Divine Being with an unparalleled resplendence, called yajna puruSa. [1-16-11].
कृष्णम् रक्ताम्बर धरम् रक्ताअस्यम् दुन्दुभि स्वनम् |
स्निग्ध हर्यक्ष तनुज श्मश्रु प्रवरम् ऊर्धजम् || १-१६-१२
He is clad in black and red garments and his face is red and his voice resembled the drumbeat. His moustache and hairdo are soft like that of a lion’s mane. [1-16-12].
शुभ लक्षण संपन्नम् दिव्य आभरण भूषितम् |
शैल शृङ्ग समुत्सेधम् दृप्त शार्दूल विक्रमम् || १-१६-१३
And he is endowed with auspicious features and decorated with divine ornaments, in height he is like a mountain peak, and in valiance he is like an imperious tiger. [1-16-13].
दिवाकर समाअकारम् दीप्त अनल शिखोपमम् |
तप्त जाम्बूनदमयीम् राजतान्त परिच्छदाम् || १-१६-१४
दिव्य पायस संपूर्णाम् पात्रीम् पत्नीम् इव प्रियाम् |
प्रगृह्य विपुलाम् दोर्भ्याम् स्वयम् मायामयीम् इव || १-१६-१५
tapta jaambuunadamayiim raajataanta paricChadaam || 1-16-14
divya paayasa saMpuurNaam paatriim patniim iva priyaam |
pragR^ihya vipulaam dor.hbhyaam svayam maayaamayiim iva || 1-16-15
That great ritual being personally brought a big golden vessel carrying it with both of his hands as if he would personally handle his own wife, which vessel is made from the molten gold and covered with a silver lid, and which appeared to be crafted out of a divine illusion, since it is dazzling like sun and glowing like the tongues of flame, and that vessel is full with the divine dessert. [1-16-14, 15].
समवेक्ष्य अब्रवीत् वाक्यम् इदम् दशरथम् नृपम् |
प्राजापत्यम् नरम् विद्धि माम् इह अभ्यागतम् नृप || १-१६-१६
That divine person on observing king Dasharatha said these words “oh, king, you may know me as the being sent by Prajapati.” [1-16-16].
ततः परम् तदा राजा प्रति उवाच कृत अंजलिः |
भगवन् स्वागतम् तेऽस्तु किमहम् करवाणि ते || १-१६-१७
bhagavan svaagatam te.astu kimaham karavaaNi te || 1-16-17
There after, king Dasharatha greeted that divine being with palms adjoining and said in reply, “oh, god, welcome to you, and what shall I do for you?” [1-16-17].
अथो पुनः इदम् वाक्यम् प्राजापत्यो नरोऽब्रवीत् |
राजन् अर्चयता देवान् अद्य प्राप्तम् इदम् त्वया || १-१६-१८
raajan arcayataa devaan adya praaptam idam tvayaa || 1-16-18
Then again, that divine being sent by Prajapati said these words, “oh, king, now you have obtained this dessert in golden vessel as you have propitiated gods. [1-16-18].
इदम् तु नृप शार्दूल पायसम् देव निर्मितम् |
प्रजा करम् गृहाण त्वम् धन्यम् आरोग्य वर्धनम् || १-१६-१९
prajaa karam gR^ihaaNa tvam dhanyam aarogya vardhanam || 1-16-19
“Oh, tigerly king, take this dessert prepared by divinities, this is a blessed dessert that enriches progeny and health. [1-16-19].
भार्याणाम् अनुरूपाणाम् अश्नीत इति प्रयच्छ वै |
तासु त्वम् लप्स्यसे पुत्रान् यदर्थम् यजसे नृप || १-१६-२०
“Oh, king, let this be consumed” saying so he further said, “for which purpose you have performed this ritual that childbearing will be fructified in your wives by bearing sons, hence give this among your eligible wives.” So said the divine being to Dasharatha. [1-16-20].
तथा इति नृपतिः प्रीतः शिरसा प्रति गृह्य ताम् |
पात्रीम् देव अन्न संपूर्णाम् देव दत्ताम् हिरण्मयीम् || १-१६-२१
Agreeing to that the king wholeheartedly took that god-given golden vessel full with divine food. [1-16-21].
अभिवाद्य च तत् भूतम् अद्भुतम् प्रिय दर्शनम् |
मुदा परमया युक्तः चकार अभिप्रदक्षिणम् || १-१६-२२
With high ecstasy Dasharatha revered that Ritual Being, the Prajapati Purusha or yaGYa purusha , an astonishing and delightful being in his appearance, and performed circumambulations around him. [1-16-22].
ततो दशरथः प्राप्य पायसम् देव निर्मितम् |
बभूव परम प्रीतः प्राप्य वित्तम् इव अधनः || १-१६-२३
babhuuva parama priitaH praapya vittam iva adhanaH || 1-16-23
On obtaining that dessert prepared by gods then Dasharatha is highly gladdened like a pauper obtaining unforeseen wealth. [1-16-23].
ततः तत् अद्भुत प्रख्यम् भूतम् परम भास्वरम् |
संवर्तयित्वा तत् कर्म तत्र एव अन्तरधीयत || १-१६-२४
On completing his work of giving the golden vessel with dessert then that divine being who is astonishing by his form and highly glowing by his physique, disappeared then and there itself. [1-16-24].
हर्ष रश्मिभिः उद्द्योतम् तस्य अन्तःपुरम् आबभौ |
शारदस्य अभिरामस्य चंद्रस्य इव नभः अंशुभिः || १-१६-२५
Lit up with beams of happiness Dasharatha’s palace chambers shone forth like the autumnal sky brightened with moonbeams. [1-16-25].
सः अन्तःपुरम् प्रविश्य एव कौसल्याम् इदम् अब्रवीत् |
पायसम् प्रतिगृह्णीष्व पुत्रीयम् तु इदम् आत्मनः || १-१६-२६
Then Dasharatha on entering palace chambers spoke this to queen Kausalya, “Receive this dessert to beget your son.” [1-16-26]
This divine dessert is meant for the ‘eligible’ queens, as informed the Ritual Being and also in order to maintain the divinity of Ram’s birth. In the context of seed and field, the field has no equal importance to the seed biija kshetra nyaya . Hence the seed is divine in the form of dessert and fields are therefore shall ‘be eligible’ for the seedling. As such the First Queen and Empress Kausalya is being addressed firstly, and given firstly..
कौसल्यायै नरपतिः पायस अर्धम् ददौ तदा |
अर्धात् अर्धम् ददौ च अपि सुमित्रायै नराधिपः || १-१६-२७
कैकेय्यै च अवशिष्ट अर्धम् ददौ पुत्रार्थ कारणात् |
प्रददौ च अवशिष्ट अर्धम् पायसस्य अमृत उपमम् || १-१६-२८
अनुचिन्त्य सुमित्रायै पुनः एव महीपतिः |
एवम् तासाम् ददौ राजा भार्याणाम् पायसम् पृथक् || १-१६-२९
ardhaat ardham dadau ca api sumitraayai naraadhipaH || 1-16-27
kaikeyyai ca avashiShTa ardham dadau putraartha kaaraNaat |
pradadau ca avashiShTa ardham paayasasya amR^ita upamam || 1-16-28
anucintya sumitraayai punaH eva mahiipatiH |
evam taasaam dadau raajaa bhaaryaaNaam paayasam pR^ithak || 1-16-29
The king then gave half of the dessert to queen Kausalya, and he gave half of the half, i.e., one fourth to queen Sumitra. And to Kaikeyi he gave half of the remaining half, i.e., one eight of the dessert, with a desire to beget sons. Then thinking for a while gave the remaining, i.e., one-eighth portion again to queen Sumitra. Thus, the king distributed the dessert to his wives differently. [1-16-27, 28, 29]
This is a much-discussed distribution by the traditionalists. Adhyatma Ramayana, a treatise that postulates god-hood to Rama, gives a well-constructed argument about these shares of dessert and the resultant births of the four brothers, viz., Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, and Shatrughna, in accordance with these shares. In its simplest terms and as contained in these verses, queen Kausalya got half of the dessert as an Empress, paTTa mahiSi. Sumitra gets one-fourth in the first round and after a rethink by Dasharatha, she gets another one-eighth portion. Kaikeyi gets only a one-eighth quantity. Thus, Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, and Kaikeyi to Bharata. The quantum of apportionment of the dessert does not make Rama all-powerful or Bharata the least. Since the Absolute is indivisible into parts, the dessert that is divided is not to be taken as the divided Absolute, but a kind of medium through which the incarnation is made possible.
There is another declination enquiring whether the incarnation of Rama is full or partial, puurNa avatara or artha avatara… Rama is Vishnu Himself while Bharata and Shatrughna are his disc and conch-shell, while Lakshmana is the thousand headed snake aadi sesha on whose coils Vishnu reclines. The whole dessert is divine and parts of it do not signify and inter-divided god-hoods. Hence, the apportionment of the desert is done in order to keep up the hierarchy of the queen-hoods and their status. Throughout this magnum opus Rama never said that he is god or an incarnate of god, but called himself, nimitta maatra a casual relation to the course of events. Should Rama be the incarnation of the Almighty Himself, he has little or no necessity to incarnate the weaponry along with him. They are at his beck and call at any time. Thus, Rama is neither a half nor one-fourth incarnation of the Absolute nor a dividend of the whole, but an incarnate of the virtuously ideal personality of Vishnu, maryaada purushottama Rama.
Incidental to this apportionment of the dessert, the aspect of eldest son is also studied. Rama is the first-born and thus the eldest. This is because the dessert is given to queen Kausalya in the first instance, and half of the whole vessel. She immediately consumed to lionise her share and as an Empress. Sumitra waited a while till apportionment is complete. Kaikeyi got her portion but waited till her elder sister Sumitra completes her drink. In the meanwhile Dasharatha thought a while, as said in the verse, and gave Sumitra another one-eighth part. Sumitra then consumed her two parts. Later Kaikeyi drinks her dividend.
ताः च एवम् पायसम् प्राप्य नरेन्द्रस्य उत्तमाः स्त्रियः |
सम्मानम् मेनिरे सर्वाः प्रहर्ष उदित चेतसः || १-१६-३०
On getting the dessert all of those best ladies of the king, whose hearts are exuberant with happiness, deemed it as a reward. [1-16-30].
ततस्तु ताः प्राश्य तद् उत्तम स्त्रियो
महीपतेः उत्तम पायसम् पृथक् |
हुताशन आदित्य समान तेजसः
अचिरेण गर्भान् प्रतिपेदिरे तदा || १-१६-३१
mahiipateH uttama paayasam pR^ithak |
hutaashana aaditya samaana tejasaH
achireNa garbhaan pratipedire tadaa || 1-16-31
Then on consuming dessert those best ladies of the king whose resplendence then vied with that Fire and Sun became pregnant after some time. [1-16-31]
A synecdochic expression to indicate that Sun and Fire, the enliveners of living beings, pratyaksha naraayaNa are there in those wombs and their resplendence is shining out of mothers bodies.
ततस्तु राजा प्रतिवीक्ष्य ताः स्त्रियः
प्ररूढ गर्भाः प्रति लब्ध मानसः |
बभूव हृष्टः त्रिदिवे यथा हरिः
सुरेन्द्र सिद्ध ऋषि गणाभिपूजितः || १-१६-३२
praruuDha garbhaaH prati labdha maanasaH |
babhuuva hR^iShTaH tridive yathaa hariH
surendra siddha R^iShi gaNaabhipUjitaH || 1-16-32
Then on seeing his queens with confirmed pregnancies Dasharatha regained his lost heart for sons, and he is gladdened like Vishnu, who will always be gladsome when worshipped by gods, namely Indra and others, as well as by the assemblages of great souls, sages. [1-16-32].