Today is Lord Ramachandra’s appearance day. This day is known as Rama Navami, and it marks the anniversary of when Lord Krishna descended to earth in the form of Lord Rama, to give protection to His devotees and to kill the evil demon Ravana. The best way to celebrate the occasion is to think about Him throughout the day and read about His pastimes found in the Vedic literatures. The following excerpt from the Valmiki Ramayana describes the story relating to His birth. In city of Ayodhya, many thousands of years ago, a great sacrifice had been performed in the royal court of King Dashratha, the most pious of kings, in hopes of attaining a son. In due time, his three pregnant wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra, became pregnant and were due to give birth.
“And then when the six seasons had rolled away after the completion of the sacrifice, in the twelfth month, on the ninth lunar day, under the influence of the Punarvasu asterism presided by the demigod Aditi, when the Sun, the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus were at Arius, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer, and Pisces, and when Jupiter had arisen with the Moon at Cancer, Kausalya gave birth to that lord of the universe, bowed to by all the worlds, Rama, the descendant of Ikshvaku, furnished with excellent marks, the one half of Vishnu, exceedingly righteous, with rosy eyes, and might arms, having a crimson nether lip, and endowed with a voice like the sound of a kettledrum. Then on having given birth to that son of immeasurable prowess, Kausalya looked resplendent, like Aditi on having brough forth that foremost of celestials, Indra.
Then was born to Kaikeyi, a son named Bharata, having truth for prowess, endowed with all the virtues, and respresenting the very fourth part of Vishnu.
Then Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Shatrughna, heroic, and skilled in all weapons, and endowed with the other half of Vishnu.
And Bharata of purged intelligence was born under the asterism Pushya, when the Sun had entered Pisces; while the two sons of Sumitra were born when the Sun arose in Cancer, under the asterism of Ashlesha. (The ninth lunar mansion)
Thus were separately born four high-souled sons to the king, crowed with qualities, graceful, and in loveliness resembling the constellations Prosthapada. Thereat the Gandharvas began to chant sweetly, and the Apsaras to dance. The celestial kettledrums sounded, and blossoms were showered down from the sky.
And high festivities were commenced by the multitude in Ayodhya. The spacious highways became filled with players and dancers, glittering with all kinds of gems, and resounding with the music of singers and performers on instruments. And the king bestowed gifts upon bards and genealogists and panegyrists, and he also gave away cows by thousands to the brahmanas.
When the eleventh day had gone by, the king performed the naming ceremony of his sons. Experiencing great delight, Vashishtha conferred the names. The high-souled eldest one was called Rama; Kaikeyi’s son was called Bharata; Sumitra’s son was called Lakshmana, and the last was named Shatrughna.
The king fed the brahmanas as well as the inhabitants rural and urban, and he bestowed heaps of jewels upon brahmanas.
Thus did he celebrate the natal rites of the princes. Among all those princes, the eldest, Rama, like that of Ketu, (The ninth of the planets) and the special delight of his father, became the object of general regard, even as the self-create Himself. And all of them were versed in the Vedas, heroic, and intent upon the welfare of others.
All were accomplished in knowledge; and endowed with virtues. Among them all, the exceedingly puissant Rama, having truth for prowess, was the desire of everyone, and spotless like to the moon himself. He could ride on elephants and horses, and was adept in managing cars. He was ever engaged in the study of arms, and always occupied in ministering to his sire.
Even from early youth, that enhancer of auspiciousness Lakshmana, was ever attached to his eldest brother Rama, that delight of all. Like to another life of Rama, Lakshmana furnished with auspiciousness was in everything attentive to Rama’s wishes, even at the neglect of his own person. That foremost of persons did not even attain sleep without Rama’s company, nor did he partake any sweetmeat that was offered, unless Rama partook it with him.”
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