Sage Vishvamitra asks King Dasharatha to send Rama to protect the Vedic ritual that is being conducted by him, from the demons that are constantly disrupting it. The sage asserts King Dasharatha that he and the other sages in Dasharatha’s court know the capabilities of Rama and though Rama is in his adolescence, he can easily kill the demons. But Dasharatha is upset at this request.
तत् श्रुत्वा राज सिंहस्य वाक्यम् अद्भुत विस्तरम् |
हृष्ट रोमा महातेजा विश्वामित्रोऽभ्यभाषत || १-१९-१
On listening the grand and detailed sentences of that King the lion Dasharatha, the great resplendent Sage Vishvamitra is thrilled with happiness and spoke this way. [1-19-1].
सदृशम् राज शार्दूल तव एव भुवि न अन्यतः |
महावंश प्रसूतस्य वसिष्ठ व्यपदेशिनः || १-१९-२
“Oh, tigerly king, to you befitting are these words and to none else, as you are born in a great dynasty and tutored by Vashishta. [1-19-2].
यत् तु मे हृद् गतम् वाक्यम् तस्य कार्यस्य निश्चयम् |
कुरुष्व राज शार्दूल भव सत्य प्रतिश्रवः || १-१९-३
“What concerns I have in my heart I am going to say, and you take decision thereof, oh, tigerly-king, and become truthful to your promises. [1-19-3].
अहम् नियमम् आतिष्ठे सिध्द्यर्थम् पुरुषर्षभ |
तस्य विघ्नकरौ द्वौ तु राक्षसौ काम रूपिणौ || १-१९-४
“These days I am abiding by a sacrificial vow to attain a spiritual goal but, oh, best one among men, two guise changing demons as causing obstacles to that ritual. [1-19-4].
व्रते मे बहुशः चीर्णे समाप्त्याम् राक्षसाविमौ |
मारीचः च सुबाहुः च वीर्यवन्तौ सुशिक्षितौ || १-१९-५
तौ मांस रुधिर ओघेण वेदिम् ताम् अभ्यवर्षताम् |
tau maaMsa rudhira ogheNa vedim taam abhyavarShataam |
“At the near end of almost completed ritual of mine two valiant and well-trained demons, namely Mareecha and Subaahu, are drenching the Altar of Fire with streams of meat and blood, from the sky. [1-19-5, 6a].
अवधूते तथा भूते तस्मिन् नियम निश्चये || १-१९-६
कृत श्रमो निरुत्साहः तस्मात् देशात् अपाक्रमे |
kR^ita shramo nirutsaahaH tasmaat deshaat apaakrame |
“When the ritual vow is thus ravaged I, as the one who exerted myself for the ritual, had to depart from that place, unenthusiastically. [1-19-6b, 7a].
न च मे क्रोधम् उत्स्रष्टुम् बुद्धिः भवति पार्थिव || १-१९-७
तथा भूता हि सा चर्या न शापः तत्र मुच्यते |
tathaa bhuutaa hi saa caryaa na shaapaH tatra mucyate |
“And to me there is no will to let loose my anger, oh, king, as no curse shall be issued under vows, and like that the activity during rituals shall be inoffensive, isn’t it. [1-19-7b, 8a].
स्व पुत्रम् राज शार्दूल रामम् सत्य पराक्रमम् || १-१९-८
काक पक्ष धरम् शूरम् ज्येष्ठम् मे दातुम् अर्हसि |
kaaka pakSha dharam shuuram jyeShTham me daatum arhasi |
“As such, oh, tigerly king, it will be apt of you spare the services of that brave one whose valour itself is his truthfulness, that youngling whose hair locks are all the more jet black like crow wings on either side of his head, spare that eldest son of yours, namely Rama. [1-19-8b, 9a].
शक्तो हि येष मया गुप्तो दिव्येन स्वेन तेजसा || १-१९-९
राक्षसा ये विकर्तारः तेषाम् अपि विनाशने |
raakShasaa ye vikartaaraH teShaam api vinaashane |
“Indeed, he is capable to eradicate those demons that are thwarting the ritual by his own divine resplendence, and protected by me as well. [1-19-9b, 10a].
श्रेयः च अस्मै प्रदास्यामि बहुरूपम् न संशयः || १-१९-१०
त्रयाणाम् अपि लोकानाम् येन ख्यातिम् गमिष्यति |
trayaaNaam api lokaanaam yena khyaatim gamiShyati |
“I will also accord many kinds of benefits to him by which he acquires renown in all the three worlds, no doubt about it. [1-19-10b, 11a].
न च तौ रामम् आसाद्य शक्तौ स्थातुम् कथम् च न || १-१९-११
न च तौ राघवात् अन्यो हन्तुम् उत्सहते पुमान् |
na ca tau raaghavaat anyo hantum utsahate pumaan |
“Those two demons will be rendered incapable to stand fast on affronting Rama in anywise, and none other than Raghava has the fortitude to eliminate those two. [1-19-11b, 12a].
वीर्य उत्सिक्तौ हि तौ पापौ काल पाश वशम् गतौ || १-१९-१२
रामस्य राज शार्दूल न पर्याप्तौ महात्मनः |
raamasya raaja shaarduula na paryaaptau mahaatmanaH |
“Those two sinners that are berserk by their vigour have gone into the subjection of death’s noose, oh tigerly king, cannot counterbalance the great-souled Rama. [1-19-12b, 13a].
न च पुत्र गतम् स्नेहम् कर्तुम् अर्हसि पार्थिव || १-१९-१३
अहम् ते प्रति जानामि हतौ तौ विद्धि राक्षसौ |
aham te prati jaanaami hatau tau viddhi raakShasau |
“It will be unapt of you to show your paternal fondness, oh, king, upon my oath, be assured that those two demons are eradicated. [1-19-13b, 14a].
अहम् वेद्मि महात्मानम् रामम् सत्य पराक्रमम् || १-१९-१४
वसिष्ठोऽपि महातेजा ये च इमे तपसि स्थिताः |
vasiShTho.api mahaatejaa ye ca ime tapasi sthitaaH |
“I am sensible of that sublime-soul Rama, whose valour is his truthfulness, and even this great resplendent Vashishta and these saints that are here are aware. [1-19-14b, 15a]
These verses are commented extensively by early commentators. In 14th verse, the pronoun aham, ‘I’ used by Sage Vishvamitra is to announce definiteness about his own stature to know the Absolute vis-a-vis the Absolute Himself. Vishvamitra was an emperor who left off everything. He was primarily a raaja R^ishi, kingly sage, later became brahma R^ishi and performed moksha kaameSTi. That is a highest ascesis for achieving salvation. Whereas Dasharatha performed Vedic ritual called putra kaameSTi, ritual for begetting sons, as he is still involved in earthly passions. Thus he is still in karmic cycle and recently went under the veil of moha, worldly delusion, advent to the birth of sons. So Dasharatha cannot know who Rama is. All these aspects are said to qualify that expression aham, i.e., ‘I am’, as said by Vishvamitra.
He also says aham vedmi , it is not just ‘I know’ but ‘I am in full knowledge of Rama’ and it is immediately followed by mahaa aatmaanam , about the sublime soul Rama. Rama is at present a twelve-year lad, and Dasharatha should have enquired how a boy is said to be a sublime-soul. Dasharatha did not bother to enquire about the high souled property of his son, because of his newfound fondness for sons. But, Vishvamitra is in full knowledge as to who Rama is, and says Rama is a sublime-soul, as contained in scripture puruSa suukta which says veda aham etam puruSam mahaantam, and as in yo maam pashyatiMe na praNasyati Bhagavad Gita, 6-30, as well.
In next foot at 15th verse, Vishvamitra argues that he is not just extolling Rama to achieve his personal purpose, i.e., the completion of ritual. He says, vashiSTHo api even Sage Vashishta, knows Rama. Here the word api , even, is said to have been used to qualify Vashishta as an antagonist of Vishvamitra in policy differences. ‘Even my opponent, this Sage Vashishta, the descendent of Goddess Saraswati and Brahma, and a brahmarSi, Absolute-knower, and at whose instance I became a brahmarSi from aajarSi, is aware of Rama…’ is the argument of Vishvamitra, stressing his neutrality in seeking Rama’s help.
Still Vishvamitra tells that ye cha ime tapaH sthitaa , ‘those sages that are here who are rooted in ascesis’ as in the vein of puruSa suukta which says tasya dhiiraaH pratijaananti yonim. Vishvamitra’s argument is ‘Sage Vashishta may take sides with you, because he is raja guru , the royal priest, while the others like Kaashyapa, Vaamadeva will tell you clearly, as they have no leaning on your court.’
All said and done, King Dasharatha is still lingering for a reply. Seeing that Vishvamitra further says, ‘if you want to achieve renown, send Rama.’ No father rejoices that much when a son is birthed than on his achieving reputation. Dasharatha is advised in the same way when saying yadi dharmamlaabham, yasha laabham ‘if you want renown through a worthy son, who will be renowned in all three worlds by his coming with me, then you send Rama…’
Now Rama’s reputation is going to be enhanced by Sage Vishvamitra in eliminating demoness Tataka, in releasing Ahalya from her curse, breaking Shiva’s bow, marriage with Seetha, rebuffing Parashuraama etc. And also Vishvamitra leaves the decision to Dasharatha, ‘if only your ministers, clergy as well political, permit then alone you send Rama with me…’.
यदि ते धर्म लाभम् तु यशः च परमम् भुवि || १-१९-१५
स्थिरम् इच्छसि राजेन्द्र रामम् मे दातुम् अर्हसि |
sthiram icChasi raajendra raamam me daatum a.rhasi |
“If you wish to gain in value of probity, a long-lasting and paramount renown on earth it will be apt of you to handover Rama to me. [1-19-15b, 16a].
यदि अभ्यनुज्ञाम् काकुत्स्थ ददते तव मंत्रिणः || १-१९-१६
वसिष्ठ प्रमुखाः सर्वे ततो रामम् विसर्जय |
vasiShTha pramukhaaH sarve tato raamam visarjaya |
“Oh, Dasharatha, you may send Rama if only your ministers and all the other elite headed by Vashishta are going to give assent. [1-19-16b, 17a].
अभिप्रेतम् असंसक्तम् आत्मजम् दातुम् अर्हसि || १-१९-१७
दश रात्रम् हि यज्ञस्य रामम् राजीव लोचनम् |
dasha raatram hi yaj~nasya raamam raajiiva locanam |
“It will be apt of you to send your choicest son, the lotus-eyed Rama, just for ten days of the ritual without temporising. [1-19-17b, 18a].
न अत्येति कालो यज्ञस्य यथा अयम् मम राघव || १-१९-१८
तथा कुरुष्व भद्रम् ते मा च शोके मनः कृथाः |
tathaa kuruShva bhadram te maa ca shoke manaH kR^ithaaH |
“I wish you to take decision as to how th my ritual’s time is not lapsed, and let safety betide you, let not your heart be rendered to grieve.” Thus Vishvamitra said to Dasharatha. [1-19-18b, 19a].
इति एवम् उक्त्वा धर्मात्मा धर्मार्थ सहितम् वचः || १-१९-१९
विरराम महातेजा विश्वामित्रो महामतिः |
viraraama mahaatejaa vishvaamitro mahaamatiH |
On saying those words that comprise fairness and meaningfulness that virtue-souled great saint with great resplendence paused. [1-19-19b, 20a].
स तन् निशंय राजेन्द्रो विश्वामित्र वचः शुभम् || १-१९-२०
शोकेन महता आविष्टः चचाल च मुमोह च |
लब्ध संज्ञः ततो उतथाय व्यषीदत भयान्वितः || १-१९-२१
shokena mahataa aaviShTaH cacaala ca mumoha ca |
labdha saMj~naH tato utathaaya vyaShiidata bhayaanvitaH || 1-19-21
On hearing the propitious words of sage Vishvamitra that best king Dasharatha shuddered and swooned as he is muffled up with profound adversity, and after that on regaining consciousness he sunk down in fear. [1-19-20b, 21].
इति हृदय मनो विदारणम्
मुनि वचनम् तद् अतीव शुश्रुवान् |
नरपतिः अभवत् महान् महात्मा
व्यथित मनाः प्रचचाल च असनात् || १-१९-२२
muni vacanam tad atiiva shushruvaan |
narapatiH abhavat mahaan mahaatmaa
vyathita manaaH pracacaala ca asanaat || 1-19-22
This way on hearing that word of the saint Vishvamitra which is explicitly slitting his mind and heart that illustrious and noble-souled king Dasharatha then became highly annoyed at heart, and flustered extremely in his throne. [1-19-22].