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  3. Kusum Sarovar, which means a lake of flowers, is also known as Sumana Sarovar. It is believed that long back a beautiful forest once ran all around the kund, which was filled with sweet-smelling flowering trees. Standing near the two well-known pilgrimage towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, this place is located on the holy Govardhana hill that is famously associated with Shri Krishna. Among the lesser known historical monuments in the state of Uttar Pradesh are a group of 18th century memorial chattris or cenotaphs with a pretty water-body or kund in the foreground, known as Kusum Sarovar. Standing near the two well-known pilgrimage towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, this place is located on the holy Govardhana hill that is famously associated with Sri Krishna. Near this group of monuments also stand the Radha kund and Narada Kund, the latter being the place where it is believed that Bhakti Sutra was written by Narada. The recently renovated Kusum Sarovar group of chattris was built as a memorial for Maharaja Suraj Mal and his wife Kishori Rani in 1764 by his son Maharaja Jawahar Singh, the Jat ruler of Bharatpur, who reigned the region from 1707 to 1763. The central structure of the memorial is a large square with a high stone terrace, prettily carved domed bastions at corners, and lateral bays. The main chattris are built at the centre of a raised, ornamented high platform with two staircases to reach the top. Maharaja Suraj Mal, in whose name the chattris were built, was the famous Jat king who had successfully defeated the Mughal army stationed at Agra, causing much damage thereafter. According to some historians, Suraj Mal was later killed in Delhi in 1763 in a Mughal ambush, somewhere near the Hindon River. Later during the colonial era, members from this dynasty died while fighting against the British. The pretty kund that stands in front of the famous Jat king’s chattris also has an interesting history. The name of this kund is supposedly derived from an episode in the Kilakinchita Lila, where it speaks of Radha and the gopis gathering flowers to offer to Surya in a closely situated Surya Temple. It was on the banks of this sarovar that they would regularly meet Krishna and his friend Madhumangala. Kusum2-620x413.jpgKusum Sarovar chattri P.C. Monidipa Dey, Financial Express Kusum Sarovar, which means a lake of flowers, is also known as Sumana Sarovar. It is believed that long back a beautiful forest once ran all around the kund, which was filled with sweet smelling flowering trees such as mallika, chameli, juhi, champaka, bel, among many others. Set beautifully against the exotic sandstone memorial chattris, the 60 feet deep sarovar also holds a replica of Radha and Krishna’s feet in a separate monument. The chattri ceilings hold remnants of beautiful frescoes that depict scenes from various Krishna-gopi leelas. According to folklore, Muni Ashtavakra had once performed penance on the banks of Kusum Sarovar for a darshan of Sri Radha-Krishna. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is also believed to have visited this sarovar, and taken a dip in the cool waters of this holy kund.
  4. Tridandisvami Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja Navadvipa, March 20, 2008 This class was given during the Navadvipa-dhama parikrama, on the day that devotees went to Lord Rama’s abode on the island of Modadrumadvipa. This class was transcribed from Shripad Damodara Maharaja’s translation of his Bengali discourse, given in Shri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha on the island of Koladvipa:] By the mercy of Shri Shri Guru and Gauranga, today we completed the fifth and final day of our Shri Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama. Even though there are over 17,000 devotees in attendance, we have had no complaints and all are very happy. Tomorrow is the appearance day of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. We will observe a full fast tomorrow, and engage in the unbroken recitation of Shri Caitanya Bhagavata. We will begin here in the temple, in the morning. Even though we may have experienced some minor difficulties and discomforts, when we go home we should tell everyone that parikrama was very wonderful; we had very nice prasadam, and there were no difficulties. Otherwise, others will not come next year. Shrila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami MaharajaNo one could have arranged such a vast parikrama – we did not arrange it. Raising our arms in the air, we simply chanted “Jaya Nitai! Jaya Gaura!” Actually, Shriman Mahaprabhu has been personally making all the arrangements. Today, we first went to Jahnudvipa. There in Jahnudvipa we heard the story of how Jahnu Rsi drank the Ganges River, which was brought to the Earth planet by Bhagiratha Rsi. Jahnu Rsi then released the Ganges from his thigh, so Ganga-devi is also known as Jahnavi devi. We then went to Mamagachi, the birthplace of Shri Vrndavana dasa Thakura, who is the Vyasa of the pastimes of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and the nephew of Shrinivasa Acarya. We took mahaprasadam there. Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu would go to Mamagachi with all of His associates and perform many pastimes there. We then went to the place of bhajana of Shri Saranga Thakura. In his old age, Saranga Thakura was ordered by Mahaprabhu to make disciples, to assist him with his services. He replied that there were no qualified disciples. Mahaprabhu told him that he (Saranga Thakura) can make them qualified. Because of Mahaprabhu’s insistence, he vowed to accept as a disciple the first person he would see the next day. The next morning, when he went to bathe in the Ganges, he saw the dead body of a boy floating in the water. Remembering Mahaprabhu’s order, he brought that dead body to the riverbank and recited the diksa-mantras into his ear. As soon as the mantra entered his ear, the boy returned to life and became his initiated disciple. In Treta Yuga, Lord Ramacandra, Sita devi, and Laksmana went to Mamagachi. Under the shade of a large banyan tree, Sita Devi observed that Lord Rama was smiling mildly. She inquired, “O Lord, what is the cause of your amusement?” MamagachiLord Rama replied, “O Devi, this Navadvipa is very dear to Me. In the beginning of the upcoming Kali Yuga, I will come here in the form of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and You, Sita, will come here as Shrimati Visnupriya. I will take sannyasa and go to Jagannath Puri.” Then Sita asked, “O Lord, what is the reason for Your taking sannyasa?” In prema, pure divine love, there is meeting and separation. During meeting there is external meeting, and in that happiness, the devotee forgets everything internal. But during viraha, separation, he or she remembers the pastimes of meeting. Meeting with the Lord is certainly one type of happiness, but separation is another type of happiness. Therefore, sadhakas (practitioners of devotion to Shri Krishna) in this world perform bhajana in the mood of separation by remembering the pastimes of Shri Shri Guru and Gauranga. What is the condition of Shrimati Radhika when Krishna went to Mathura and Dvaraka? The prema of Radhika is not expressed directly; it is not straightforward. It is very crooked, and therefore it binds Shri Krishna. Especially regarding the condition of maan, transcendental jealous anger, Candravali will not directly express displeasure or say anything contrary at that time. But Radhika may say many things, and Krishna becomes controlled by Her type of maan. A river is not very beautiful when it has only a few waves, but the ocean is very attractive because it contains so many astonishing varieties of waves. Similarly, in separation there are many wonderful and astonishing moods felt by both the Lord and His beloved. Moreover, the meeting that occurs after separation is especially relishable. Now Lord Rama told Sita, “O Devi Sita, your father took a vow to marry You to that person who could lift the bow of Lord Siva. Many powerful kings like Ravana came, but they could not lift it. I also came with Laksmana at that time, and that was Our first meeting – in the garden of Janaka Maharaja.” At that time, Lord Rama and Sita exchanged glances and both captured each other’s hearts. Soon after that, when Ramacandra lifted the bow, Sita was beside Herself with happiness. She wanted to put the vijaya mala, the ‘victory garland,’ around the neck of Lord Rama, but she was feeling such ecstasy that She could not move. Her friends had to lift Her arms and place the garland around His neck. Later, unknown to Lord Rama, after He abandoned Sita devi, She gave birth to two sons, Lava and Kush, in the asrama of Shri Valmiki Muni. There in his asrama they learned the sixty-four arts. They once went to the palace of Ramacandra and began to sing the Ramayana that they had learned from Valmiki. There they saw the most astonishing sight: a golden form of their mother. They did not know that their mother was Sita. As they sang the Ramayana in a very sweet voice, everyone began weeping – Rama, Laksmana, and all others. Rama was especially attracted. He called Laksmana and said, “Please go to these boys and ask them, ‘Who is your mother and father?’” Laksmana took a big container of jewels and gold as a donation for them. Laksmana said, “Lord Rama is very pleased with you two boys. Please, we want to know who your mother and father is.” Lava and Kush replied, “Oh, considering that You are a brother of Lord Ramacandra, You are not very intelligent. We are brahmacaris, so why are You asking who is our mother and father? All we know is that our Gurudeva is Shri Valmiki; that is all we know. We also have no need of these jewels and gold and silks. We live in the forest and eat roots, shoots, and fruits; we have no need of these at all. If we need some cloth, we take some bark from the trees.” That day, Lava and Kush returned very late to the asrama of Valmiki. Because they did not know that Lord Rama was their father and that their mother was Sita devi, they said to their mother, “O Mother, today we saw a most astonishing thing. As we sang the Ramayana, and all were vastly attracted, we saw that King Rama had a golden form of a woman who is the exact replica of You.” Hearing this, Sita began to weep. She could understand that although the King has left the Queen, Rama has not left Sita. She wept bitterly. During Her separation from Lord Rama when He was in Ayodhya and She was in the asrama of Valmiki Muni, Sita was absorbed in remembering the happiness of Her first meeting with Him, the happiness She felt upon placing the victory garland around His neck, and so many other pastimes with Him. All these pastimes that took place in meeting, She remembered in separation. When Shri Krishna went to Mathura and then to Dvaraka, Radharani experienced mohan, or mohanakhya-mahabhava, and in divine madness, She chastised a bumblebee. In separation from Krishna, Shrimati Radhika sometimes embraces a tamala tree or the darkness. Therefore, in vipralambha, separation from Krishna, there is great remembrance of the happiness of meeting with Him. Shrila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura and Shrila Sanatana Gosvami have said that the happiness of separation dances on the head of any happiness that is experienced in meeting. Sita Rama and Hanuman Lord Rama now told Shrimati Sita-devi, “O Devi, I will come to this Navadvipa. I will take birth from the womb of Mother Saci, and I will take sannyasa and go to Jagannath Puri – and You will stay here in Navadvipa and worship My murti (divine, worshipful statue).” That murti is here in Navadvipa; it is known as Sona Gauranga. Separation is such a wonderful thing. Both the devotee and the Supreme Lord taste the astonishing waves of meeting and separation. Tomorrow is the Janma-utsava (Appearance Day Festival) of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. To respect the Lord, the devotees observe a complete fast until abhiseka (the auspicious bathing ceremony of the Deity), which is at 6 p.m. After Mangala Arati tomorrow, the devotees will begin continuous reading of Shri Caitanya Bhagavata here. Gaura-premanande! Haribol!
  5. Tridandisvami Shri Shrimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja Hong Kong: April 13, 2008 Today is a special and very sacred day. Today, Krishna, in the form of Ramachandra, took birth in Ayodhya. In ancient times there was a king named Maharaja Dasaratha. He was a very, very strong personality. He conquered all kings in the South, North, East, West, and everywhere. Therefore his name was Dasa-ratha, meaning that his chariot went everywhere in the ten directions – up, down, here, here, here. He had 360 wives, but no child, no son. Now, half of his life was finished and he was becoming old. Because he had no son, he was very anxious. One day he went hunting. The whole day he was roaming here and there, and it became night. Now he was very hungry and thirsty, and he wanted to take shelter somewhere for the night. His friend King Kaikeya, the father of Kaikeyi, lived nearby, so he went there. When he arrived, King Kaikeya became very happy. King Kaikeya told his young daughter, "O my dear daughter Kaikeyi, take care of Maharaja Dasaratha and manage his meals so that he will be happy here." Kaikeyi was very beautiful and very qualified. She served Maharaja Dasaratha in such a way that he became very, very happy. In the morning, Maharaja Dasaratha went to Maharaja Kaikeya and asked his permission to return to his kingdom, Ayodhya. He also said, "O my brother-king, my friend-king, your daughter served me in such a way that I’m so much happy. So, I request that you marry your daughter to me." King Kaikeya began to laugh. "I cannot give my daughter to you for marriage. I know that you have so many queens. I will give my daughter to any king, under the condition that the son born from her womb will be the next king. Then I can give her; otherwise not." Hearing this, Maharaja Dasaratha began to laugh. He said, "O my friend, I have 360 queens, but I have no son. If your daughter will give me a son, automatically he will be my successor king. Don’t worry about this. I will be very lucky if I will have a son by Kaikeyi." King Kaikeya then gave his daughter in marriage to Maharaja Dasaratha, and Maharaja Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya with her. After some time, demigods called Maharaja Dasaratha and told him, "You are very powerful. We want to make you commander-in-chief of our army to defeat the demons." So, Maharaja Dasaratha went to heaven, and Kaikayi also went with him. He became the commander-in-chief of the demigods’ army and began to fight with the demons, with Kaikayi as his charioteer. She was very, very brave and powerful. One day while he was in battle, the axel of his chariot broke. Kaikeyi jumped down from the chariot, took that chariot with her hand, and Maharaja Dasaratha defeated the demons. After the battle, Maharaja Dasaratha was very happy. He said to Kaikeyi, "You have saved me. Because of you, I have won the battle. Now ask for two boons; I want to fulfill your desires." Kaikeyi replied, "I am your wife. It was my duty to serve you like this; there is no need of any boon." Again and again Maharaja Dasaratha insisted, "You must take two boons. First, you were my charioteer, and second, you lifted the chariot. So, you must have two boons." She replied, "When the proper time comes, I will ask for these boons. Keep them as a deposit." After that, Maharaja Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya, but still he had no son. He therefore engaged Rsi Srnga in a putresthi-yajna, a fire sacrifice for begetting a child. When the sacrifice was completed, a deity came out from the sacrificial fire and gave some sweet rice to Maharaja Dasaratha. The deity said, "Give this sweet rice to any of your queens, and they will definitely have sons." Maharaja Dasaratha became very pleased. He divided the sweet rice in half. He gave half to Kausalya, and half to Kaikeyi. Kausalya and Kaikeyi then divided their portions and gave some of each to Sumitra. Rama took birth from the womb of Kausalya; from Kaikeyi came Bharata; and from Sumitra came Laksmana and Satrughna. You should know that neither Krishna, nor Rama, nor any incarnation of Krishna comes from a husband and wife, like a worldly person. That is why the fire sacrifice was done – and through the sweet rice, Krishna Himself came in the form of Rama. Understand? The fire sacrifice was performed in order to show that Rama is not like us – taking birth from a father and mother. Regarding Krishna, He entered by mantra in the heart of Maharaja Nanda, and Nanda gave the mantra to Yasoda. Nrsmhadeva, Varahadeva, and other incarnations also – none of Them came from a father and mother. After some time, the sons of Maharaja Dasaratha were sent to the gurukula of Vasistha-deva, where they became expert in all sixty-four arts and then returned to Ayodhya. Some time later, Maharsi Visvamitra visited Maharaja Dasaratha and said, "While we are performing sacrifices, the demons are destroying them. So, please give me Rama and Laksmana. They will protect us." Maharaja Dasaratha replied, "Oh, they are only teen-agers. I will go with my whole army to protect you." Visvamitra said, "You cannot; I know. Give them to me; otherwise, I will curse you." Maharsi Vasistha, the guru of Maharaja Dasaratha then said, "O Maharaja Dasaratha, if you give Them, They will learn so many things and They will be very happy." Thus, Maharaja Dasaratha gave his sons. Visvamitra brought Ramachandra and Laksmana to his asrama on the bank of the Ganges, where my birthplace is. He taught Them about many weapons and about mantras, and Ramsacandra killed so many demons there. Marica was one of those demons. By one of Ramachandra’s arrows, he was hurled 800 miles into the ocean near Lanka. [Janaka Maharaja invited many kings who came to Janaka-puri to compete for the hand of his daughter, Sita.] He announced in the assembly of kings Whoever will string this bow of Sankara, I will marry my daughter to that person." The bow of Sankara which was so heavy that very strong kings could not pick it up. Even Ravana came at night to try; Banasura came; demigods came; but they could not do it. So many kings from all over the world had come to Janak-puri and wanted to lift it, but they could not. Ramachandra was also now in Janaka-puri, with Visvamitra and Laksmana, All three were now present in that assembly. At last, by the order of Visvamitra, Ramachandra very easily lifted that bow and began to string it. At once, that bow broke, and Sita-devi was thus married to Shri Ramachandra. Maharaja Dasaratha was invited from Ayodhya. He came with Bharata, Satrughna, brahmarsi Vasistha, and so many important persons from Ayodhya. Then Rama, Laksmana, Bharata, and Satrughna were married. After that, they all returned to Ayodhya [with their brides]. After some time, Bharata and Satrughna went to visit Maharaja Kaikeya. Meanwhile, Dasaratha called the family and said, "Now I am becoming old. I know my son Rama is very much qualified to be king after me – my successor. I want to give Him the post of crown-prince." Maharaja Vasistha and all persons in the counsel became very happy. They said, "O Maharaja Dasaratha, don’t delay." He asked, "When should I make Him king? " Brahmarsi Vasistha replied, "Tomorrow is a very auspicious day. All the stars are very favorable. Tomorrow it should be done." So Maharaja Dasaratha declared, "Tomorrow I will make Rama the crown prince." Thus, Maharaja Dasaratha told Vasistha, "Prepare all things for the abhiseka of Rama." All became very happy. In the meantime, the maidservant of Kaikeyi went to Kaikeyi and said, "Really, you are very unfortunate. Tomorrow, Maharani Kausalya will become raja-mata, mother of the king, and you will be Kausalya’s maidservant." When Kaikeyi heard this, she became very happy. She offered her golden necklace to that maidservant, but her maidservant took it and threw it away. The maidservant said, "You are really very foolish; you are not understanding. Rama will be king, and Bharata will be His servant. Then, you will be the mother of a servant. Still, there is some way out. Why has Dasaratha sent Bharata and Satrughna from here? In their absence, why has he declared that Rama will be the next king? You remember, Maharaja Dasaratha promised that the son from your womb would be king. So, why is He not doing so? Also, you have two boons from Maharaja Dasaratha. You should tell him that your son will be the king, and Ramachandra will go into exile." Thus influenced, Kaikeyi thought, "If Rama is here, no one will accept Bharata as king. So, He must be sent into exile." She took off all of her ornaments, dawned very dirty clothes, and wept. She sent someone to Maharaja Dasaratha to tell him that she was weeping. Maharaja Dasaratha then came to his dear wife. He wanted to know why she was weeping and why she was wearing dirty clothes. She said, "Do you remember that you gave me two boons? I want to ask for them now; it is the proper time for me." Maharaja Dasaratha replied, "I can give them to you." She said, "Bharata should be king, and Rama should be exiled for fourteen years." Hearing this, Maharaja Dasaratha became faint and began to weep. He said, "O Kaikeyi, I can make Bharata king, my successor, but why do you want Rama to go into exile? Why do you want to send Him away? Kaikeyi replied, "You should just now promise that you will do these things. I don’t want to hear anything else." Worried and weeping, Maharaja Dasaratha said, "My dear Kaikeyi, don’t send Rama into exile," But she would not change her mind. Kaikeyi called Shri Rama. Rama asked, "Why is my father not speaking, and why is he crying?" She replied, "He has given me two boons. I asked that Bharata be king and that You should go into exile for fourteen years." Ramachandra became very happy, and said, "From the beginning, I was wondering why, in Indian culture, the eldest son becomes king? Why should it not be divided among all his brothers? I’m happy that you have now asked for this boon from Maharaja Dasaratha. At once I am going into exile." When He was ready, Sita-devi said, "I must go with you; I will not be able to survive here." Laksmana also said, "I must go with You." So, the three of them, in the dress of sannyasis, went into exile. I am telling this in very brief. When Ramachandra went into exile, Maharaja Dasaratha, weeping, told Kaikeyi, "I have now broken my relation with you as my wife; now you are no longer my wife. Moreover, if Bharata comes and accepts the kingdom, I also will reject him as my son. Take me to the palace of Kausalya." There, crying, "Rama, Rama and Ra…!" he left his body. In the meantime, brahmarsi Vasistha called Bharata and Satrughna from their maternal uncle’s house. When they came, they saw that all the citizens of Ayodhya weeping as a widow would weep. Bharata saw that his mother Kaikeyi was wearing a white dress. He asked her, "Where is my father?" She replied, "He has left his body." He asked, "Where is Rama?" She replied, "He has gone into exile." He asked, "Where are Sita and Laksmana?" She replied, "Also in exile." He asked, "Why?" She replied, "I have done this for you, so that you could be King of Ayodhya." He replied, "I would cut your head off, but my brother Rama would not be happy, so I will not do so. I accept you as a queen, but now you are not my mother." Bharata then called the counsel and said, "Be ready. I am going to Chitrakuta where my brother Rama is staying with Laksmana and Sita. I will bring Rama back and He will be the king; He is still king." Thus, he prepared to leave with all of the mothers. When they were getting ready to go, Kaikeyi told Kausalya, "Sister, I also want to go. I will tell Rama that I am taking back my boon, and that He must return to Ayodhya and be king. So, take me with you." Out of mercy, Kausalya took Kaikeyi with her, and all went to Chitrakuta. There, they requested Ramachandra, "Please return to Ayodhya." Ramachandra heard from them that His father had departed from this world. So, first He performed a ritual ceremony, and then a big counsel took place. Vasistha Maharsi and all rsis were on one side. The father of Janaki, Janaka Maharaja, was also present as the head of the family. Rama, Laksmana, Sita, and others were on another side. Vasistha Rsi said, "O Maharaja Janaka, I’m very happy that you have come. The boat of Ayodhya is sinking in the ocean; there is no captain to save us. I am happy that now you have come. Tell Rama and Bharata what to do. I cannot tell them, because I am on the side of Bharata, that Rama should return. So, you say what they should do." Then Maharaja Janaka asked Rama, "Will you agree that what I decide You will follow?" Rama replied, "Yes, certainly; you are my father and like my guru." Then Maharaja Janaka asked Bharata, "Will you obey me?" Bharata replied, "Certainly, You are my father now, and like my guru also. I will do what you decide." In that big counsel, Bharata explained why he thought it better that Rama return to Ayodhya. Maharaja Janaka then offered pranama to his gurudeva, Sankara, and meditated on him. He said, "O Sankara, my Gurudeva, give me inspiration. What should I tell them?" After that, having received inspiration from Bhagavan Sankara, Maharaja Janaka said, "Bharata has won, and Rama has been defeated. The love and affection of Bharata is very, very deep, like an ocean, and Ramachandra’s dharma is like the Himalayas. Ramachandra can sink in the ocean of Bharata’s love and affection, but He cannot move here and there. This means that Bharata should think about what is real bhakti, uttama-bhakti. Though he has won, he should ask his worshipful Deity how He will be pleased – what He wants – and follow that. Bharata then became very happy. He folded his hands before Maharaja Janaka and said, "Maharaja Janaka, you are really my guru. You have opened my eyes. Until now, I was looking toward my own happiness. I was thinking that if Rama would come to Ayodhya I will be happy. I never thought about how Rama would be happy. Now you have opened my eyes." Bharata said to Rama, "My dear brother Rama, how will You be happy? Tell me what You want." Rama replied, "I am defeated; you have won. So I am taking the kingdom of Ayodhya, But I want that for fourteen years you will manage My kingdom – not your kingdom – as My representative. After fourteen years, I will definitely come and take My kingdom." Bharata agreed. He took Rama’s wooden sandals, placed them on his head and returned to Ayodhya. Shri Ramachandra thought, "This place is very near to Ayodhya. Bharata or other inhabitants of Ayodhya may come here, and then the rsis will be disturbed. So, I must go to the deep forest." Thus, He went to Dandakaranya, and then Pancavati. In Pancavati, He made a cottage on the bank of the Godavari and began to live there. One day, Ravana’s sister Surpanaka came. She saw Rama, became so much attached, and wanted to marry him. She took the form of a very beautiful lady and approached him. She said, "I am a very young, qualified, beautiful lady and you are a young, attractive person. I want to marry you." Ramachandra replied, "I am married, and Sita is here. Laksmana has no wife here, so you can go to him." Then she went to Laksmana, who told her, "I am His servant. Do you want to be the maidservant of that lady (Sita)? So, go to Rama. He can marry you." Again she went to Rama, and again He refused. Then she took the form of a very big demon, and wanted to kill and eat Sita. Then Laksmana, by the order of Rama, cut off her nose and ears. Crying, Surpanaka went to Ravana’s brothers, who came with an army to fight with Rama. Rama killed them all. Ramachandra then told Sita, "I want to fight with the demons and kill them. I want to keep you with the demigod of fire. You will be safe there." Rama called the deity of fire and Sita was given to him. Then a Maya-Sita continued on with Shri Ramachandra. Surpanaka went to her brother, the very powerful Ravana. She said, "I went to the forest and saw a very beautiful lady. Really, she is very qualified to be your queen. She is more beautiful than your wife Mandodari. But when I went there, they cut off my nose and ears. I want you to take revenge, and somehow take Sita and make her queen here." Ravana then took one of his servants, Marica with him and went to Dandakaranya, near Pancavati. He was on a flower airplane, which he had taken from Kuvera. He told Marica, "Take the form of a very golden deer and go in front of Sita and Rama. Sita will definitely tell them to bring her that deer. Rama will follow you, and you take Him very far away. When Rama kills you, at that time imitating the voice of Rama, you should say, "Alas Laksmana! Alas Laksmana!" Marica became a golden deer and began grazing in front of Sita and Rama. Sita-devi said, "That golden deer is very dear to me. Prabhu, my dear husband Rama, somehow bring that deer to me, either alive or dead. I will present it to Mother Kaikeyi." Rama had told Laksmana before going, "Stay here and protect Sita. There are so many demons, so you must stay here; don’t come with Me." Rama followed that deer who took Him very far away. When Ramachandra shot that deer, the deer cried [imitating Ramachandra’s voice], "Laksmana, Laksmana! Save me, save me!" Sita-devi and Laksmana heard this voice. Sita-devi said, "Go and help your brother; otherwise, He will be put to death." Laksmana replied, "I know my brother. No one can kill or defeat Him. So I will not go. Ramachandra has given me the order to stay here and protect you." Sita-devi said, "Oh, you are a hypocrite. You are a spy. You want Rama to be killed so you can become my husband. This can never be." Laksmana became very worried and said, "I am making a circle around this cottage. Don’t cross this circle [for any reason]. Stay there. I am going, but don’t go out of the circle." In the meantime, Ravana went there in the form of a tridandi-svami, and called out, "Bhiksam dehi, bhiksam dehi (give me alms)." Sita-devi brought him something on a plate. Ravana tried to enter that cottage, but when he approached the circle made by Laksmana, some flame or electricity at once manifested. He could not cross that line. Ravana said, "If I give a curse, Rama will die." Then Sita crossed the circle – because it was the wish of Rama that Ravana would come and kidnap her. So, when she left the circle, Ravana forcefully took her. He put her on a flying chariot, and at once they went to Lanka. He told Sita, "You should be my queen. You will be more dear to me than Mandodari and others." Sita refused, so he kept her in Asokavana. When Rama returned with Laksmana to His cottage, He saw that Sita was not there. He became maddened and cried, "O Site [the vocative of ‘Sita’], O Site, where are you!" He began to ask even trees and creepers. He even asked the Godavari River and the animals there. Rama then went to Kishkinda and met with Sugriva, the king of the monkeys, and made friendship with him. Then Rama killed Bali {the brother of Sugriva who had stolen Sugriva’s wife and made her his own]. Sugriva promised, "For this, I will discover Sita wherever she is, and then you can kill that person [who kidnapped her]." Then Sugriva told Hanuman: "Search for Sita." Hanuman went to Lanka, crossing the Indian Ocean. He discovered Sita in the Asoka forest with the help of Vibhisana, the brother of Ravana. Ramachandra had given a ring to Hanuman and told him that when he meets Sita, he should give it to her so that she would know that he was His messenger. Sitting on a tree, Hanuman dropped the ring in front of her. Sita-devi saw that it came from a monkey in a tree. Then Hanuman came and said, "I am a messenger of Rama. He has sent me to find you, and [after some discussion said, "Now I will return." Hanuman then killed many asuras residing there, and also the son of Ravana. Then he entered golden Lanka, set fire, and all were finished. Then, Hanuman returned to Shri Ramachandra. Now Ramachandra, with the monkey army – Sugriva, Jambavan, Nala, Nila, and others – went to the ocean and made a bridge with the help of Nala and Nila. Nala had a boon that whatever he would throw in the ocean would float. Thus, very soon the monkeys made a bridge and crossed it. There was a very great battle for ninety days, in which Ravana and His whole army were finished. Then, Ramachandra made Vibhisana King of Lanka, and Vibhisana brought Sita-devi to Rama there. But Rama refused to take Sita. [Although sages, demigods, and Rama’s father appeared there and confirmed Sita’s chastity] He told Her, "I cannot accept you. You can go anywhere you like." Sita-devi then told Laksmana, "Build a fire for me. I will burn; I will not keep my body." Laksmana then made a huge fire, and Sita-devi entered that. This was only a trick, because in Dandakaranya, Rama had given Sita-devi to the care of the deity of fire. Now, by a trick, Rama took Sita-devi from the fire. He went to Ayodhya with Sita, Laksmana, Sugriva, Hanuman, and others. Bharata was waiting there, and went at once to greet Rama. Rama was then given the crown of Ayodhya. Bhagavan Shri Ramachandra, ki jaya!
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