Rama is the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, the Supreme Preserver. The tyrant king of Lanka, Ravana wielded mighty powers and was troubling the Gods and holy saints, creating obstacles while they tried to perform sacred rituals. The Supreme Preserver Vishnu then decided to take a human form and kill Ravana. King Dashrath of Ayodhya was blessed with four sons, the eldest being Rama, the avatar of Vishnu.
The kingdom of Ayodhya, situated on the banks of the river Sarayu, was ruled by Dashrath, a ruler belonging to the Ikshvaku Suryavansha dynasty. King Dashrath was a wise and generous king. He had three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. The people of Ayodhyaloved their king.
However, he was saddened by the plight of having no children and wasincessantly worried about it. He called his chief priest Vashishtha one day and expressed his anxiety and sorrow. The revered priest asked King Dashrath not to be dejected and said he would have four sons soon. Upon his advice, King Dashrath started preparations for the Ashwamedha Yagna to be performed under the guidance of the revered Rishyashringa, the son-in-law of King Romapada, the King of Anga.
Ashwamedha Yagna and Significance
King Dashrath and his ministers started preparations for the Vedic ritual, and the entire city of Ayodhya was decorated in a grand manner. The day dawned bright, and the revered Rishyashringa arrived in Ayodhya to perform the ritual. King Dashrath and his ministers welcomed the eminent sage at the gates of Ayodhya to the sounds of conch shells and drumbeats. Many eminent kings were invited to the Yagna.
Several eminent scholars were present at the Ashwamedha Yagna. King Dashrath and his three wives took formal vows for conducting the ritual. Under the able guidance of Rishyashringa, King Dashrath sincerely performed all the rituals to sacrifice the horse. The air was awash with the chants of the Vedas. All the Gods were invoked, and oblations poured into the sacrificial fire.
After the AshwamedhaYagna was completed, the priests started the Putra Kameshti ritual for obtaining progeny. Later, a divine being arose from the sacrificial fire, the Prajapatya Purusha, holding a vessel containing sweets. He handed the vessel to King Dashrath and advised him to distribute the sweets among his wives. The king followed instructions and gave half the sweets to Kausalya. He then gave one- eighth of the sweets to Kaikeyi and one- fourth of the sweets to Sumitra. Seeing some sweets left in the vessel, he gave them to Sumitra.
All the three wives of King Dashrath conceived in due course.
Birth of Sons
It was the month of Chaitra and twelve months after the Ashwamedha Yagna. It was a pleasant month, with soft winds and beautiful blossoms in the forests. The rivers were serene and joyful. The sun, moon, and stars shone brightly and waited, as Queen Kausalya gave birth to a son. The infant was divine, and his beauty was mesmerizing. He was later named Rama, and the kingdom of Ayodhya rejoiced. King Dashrath was immensely happy and proud of the birth of his eldest son.
The entire kingdom celebrated the birth of their future king, and King Dashrath gave away gifts to all his citizens. He gave away large numbers of cattle to celebrate the occasion. Queen Kaikeyi soon gave birth to a son Bharata, and Queen Sumitra gave birth to twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. The four brothers were very closely bonded and shared mutual affection and love for each other.
The day Rama was born is celebrated as Rama Navami, which falls on the ninth day of the lunar month of Chaitra. Many people read the Rama Katha and the epic Ramayana in this day.
Festivals Celebrating Shri Rama
When Rama killed the evil king of Lanka, Ravana, the day was celebrated as Vijayadashami, the tenth day of Dussehra.
When Rama returned victorious to Ayodhya after killing Ravana of Lanka and rescuing his wife Sita, the entire kingdom of Ayodhya was lit with lamps to welcome them. People celebrate the day as Diwali, lighting lamps, and bursting firecrackers.
Shri Rama was borninto this world at the end of the Treta Yuga, upon the bidding of the Gods, for the sole purpose of dealing with the fierce, ten-headed King of Lanka, Ravana.