Rama went into the Dandaka jungle, which was inaccessible and terrifying to men of inferior bravery. He saw a group of hermits’ serene houses there, their grounds covered with kusa grass, reed, and bark. The hermitage had a brilliance that was difficult to see, similar to the noonday sun, because it had been blessed by the presence of men of great penance. Carefully kept, it provided the shade that wood nymphs, birds, and animals sought. Deer munched on grass blades as apsaras descended to dance. The fires from the sacrifice altars burned throughout the lovely hideaway. The splendour of the hermitage was enhanced by great sages who practised all kinds of discipline, and, like Brahma’s dwelling, it was filled with the chant of the Vedas. Rama took his bow from the string and left. The holy men beheld Rama, who was as radiant as the moon when it was rising. They first saw Sita, whose ethereal beauty was unmatched, and then Lakshmana, a warrior of unmatched elegance. The honourable hermits gave them a long, admiring gaze. They would not even blink for fear of missing the exquisite beauty while under the magnetic spell of the wanderers. “O Rama! You are your people’s protector. All honour and respect go to the holder of the sceptre. We want protection from you, the gracious Lord of the Universe, since we live in your dominion. We have learned to control our emotions and have given up any desire for vengeance since anger nullifies the benefits of penance. You are the only one to whom we now bow, O all-powerful God. Whether you reside in a castle or a jungle, you are our haven “.
The exiles left the sages the following morning at dawn and ventured further into the forest. The calm and devout visions that had taken place at Dandaka’s doors had never once hinted at its terrifying depths. Strong predatory animals prowled the jungle, loose branches dangled from trees, and some lay forlornly crushed and mutilated on the forest floor. Pathways were blocked by crushed plants and vines, and the woebegone ponds were devoid of any flowers or other vegetation. The numerous bird flocks that had settled in Dandaka were silent and appeared to be unable to chirp. Only the loud cry of the crickets shattered the foreboding calm. The man-eating predator, a rakshasa, appeared in this eerie quiet in a horrible shape that was as tall as a mountain peak. His horrifying eyes, which shone like burning embers, were set far into his malformed head. His words erupted from a vast mouth in a loud scream. His body was disgusting and covered in the blood of the monsters he had eaten. The creature was the height of terror, with twisted and malformed limbs and an obscenely bulging belly. He was the scourge of creation, blood thirsty, and as he came with his jaws wide, he appeared to be the embodiment of death. Deer, lion, tiger, and an enormous elephant head with tusks, all freshly killed, hideous prey that were pouring with blood, were impaled on his spear. Viradha leapt on Sita with the same ferocity of death that all experience when the earth dissolves. He attempted to steal her, setting up a commotion that shook the planet. Like a palm frond caught in a gale, Sita shook. He roared insults and threats from that powerful figure, emitting horrifying sounds. “Have you dared to enter my realm while sporting locks and bark? Is it OK for you to have a lady with you? Who are you, an embarrassment to ascetics everywhere! You invade my territory where I wander and live off the flesh of ascetics because you are impious and immoral. You will be my meal, and this woman with the lovely limbs will be my wife. I’ll consume your blood!” As he watched Sita being held by the evil creature, Rama’s grief was heartbreaking. “Do you see the beloved child of Janaka, my virgin consort, Lakshmana? She who holds me close to her heart is imprisoned in the arms of this disgusting mass of flesh. Wishes made by Kaikeyi came true today. The cunning woman, dissatisfied with her son’s kingship, caused my banishment. The worst of all my tragedies is that someone else should have touched Sita. It is a tragedy even worse than my father’s passing or the fall of my kingdom. Lakshmana, who was also upset, sought to comfort Rama “Why do you mourn while I am here? Rama, do you not have a supporter in me? I will vanquish this evil. I’m going to unleash the anger I previously felt for Bharata’s supposed betrayal. Viradha’s heart will be pierced by my arrow, and death will envelop him. May his blood cover the ground!”
As he bellowed, “Who are you that walk these forests with such abandon?” while staring at Viradha, the rebellious demon responded, “Let me question who you are.” Rama stated: “We are the Ikshvakus warriors, so be aware of it. Our father Dasaratha, the king of Kosala, has ordered us to be here. We are Kshatriyas, and we wander this desert in observance of our vows. Tell us about yourself.” Viradha said, “Listen.” “My parents are Jaya and Satahrada. I go by the name Viradha among the rakshasas. I am immune to all weapons, which cannot pierce or cut me, thanks to the strength of my penance and the blessing of Brahma. I’ll spare your deaths if you leave this woman in my care and return the way you came “. Rama was enraged at Viradha’s arrogance. He screamed, “Poor you! Be cursed together with your wickedness, you! You certainly invite death; I’ll kill you, and you won’t survive.” Rama shot his gold-tipped arrows at his foe, causing him to fall to the ground covered in blood. After setting Sita down, Viradha raced at Rama and Lakshmana, tossing his spear in their direction. Rama shattered it and severely hurt the monster. Viradha picked the princes up and carried them away despite the pain, carrying them on his shoulders. Viradha’s life of wickedness came to an end in this manner. He went on a spree to destroy, only to be destroyed, driven by a fate greater than himself. His unjustified deeds of great arrogance were shown to be deadly and worthless by destiny. Viradha went further into the bush, which was home to the most ferocious beasts that have ever wandered the surface of the planet, carrying Rama and Lakshmana like infants.
When Sita saw Viradha dragging Rama and Lakshmana away, she begged him to spare them and take her instead. Viradha’s unforgiveable impertinence and Sita’s predicament infuriated the princes, who unleashed a terrifying onslaught on the demon. They tossed his arms to the ground after breaking them. Virada was struck by several arrows, yet despite losing consciousness, he kept fighting against death. Rama then advised Lakshmana to bury Viradha because the rakshasa’s blessings rendered him practically impervious to death at the hands of combatants. The demon recovered his memories and consciousness as Rama spoke. He responded with deep humility, “Rama, I didn’t realise you were the Lord of all creation, in whose hands I am dying, because of my ignorance. Now that I know, you are the son of Kausalya, Sita is the most upright woman, and Lakshmana is the prince who faithfully follows you. I am Thumbura, a gandharva by birth, and my master Kubera cursed me to take on this hideous appearance as retribution for my transgressions. Later, he backed down and promised that when this warped version of me died at Rama’s hands, I would be freed from the awful curse. I humbly express my gratitude to you for saving me. I will immediately depart for my residence. May you be successful and fortunate “. Rama was tasked by Viradha to travel to the nearby hermitage of the wise man Sarabhanga. “He will make you very happy and prosperous. Now, bury me, Rama, for death guarantees the ascent of rakshasas to paradise.” Viradha surrendered to Rama at that point.
After Virada’s violence left Sita scared, Rama comforted her. They moved in the direction of the hermitage of the sage Sarabhanga after deciding that the hostile forest was not a suitable environment for them to dwell in. Rama approached it and saw Indra in all his splendour, a sight beyond compare. He was surrounded by many celestial figures, and his chariot, drawn by four of the most gorgeous horses, hovered in the air with a meteoric gleam. While gandharvas and renowned sages chanted his glory, apsaras fanning him. Rama said, “Those must be Indra’s magnificent horses; the young soldiers around him are like ferocious tigers.” Rama moved in the direction of the hermitage while asking Sita and Lakshmana to wait. Indra informed Sarabhanga as he approached: “I’m going to depart right away, but I’ll see Rama after his vows have been kept. He is about to do a mission that is significant and impossible for men of ordinary strength to complete.” While Indra was gone, Rama was transfixed. The elderly guru was then met by Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana. They knelt before the great teacher and inquired about his celestial guest. Added Sarabhanga, “As a reward for my penance, Indra had arrived to take me to paradise, which is inaccessible to people who have not subdued their senses. I was informed at some point of your visit to this retreat. The moment has come, and I’ve been held back by my intense want to be in your presence. There is nothing more important than being with you. I now most solemnly present you, my worshipful visitor, that exquisite dwelling of Brahma, unparalleled in beauty “. However, Rama rejected, “Sir, I cannot accept it. I have pledges to keep and vows to keep “. Rama was then instructed by Sarabhanga to consult Sutikshna for more counsel. Sarabhanga then ordered Rama to pause for a while so he may now give up his mortal body, much like a snake gives up its slough. The sage started a fire and sacrificed clarified butter over it. The great teacher of the Vedas entered the fire while reciting hymns from the Vedas and consigned his body, which was composed of all five elements, to the flames. It was burnt to ashes as Sita and Lakshmana watched in wonder. The dazzling Sarabhanga shape appeared from the heat of the fire. He then travelled via the areas inhabited by agnihotris, rishis, and devas to arrive at Brahma’s dwelling.
The forest rishis visited Rama after Sarabhanga had ascended to Brahma’s dwelling. Their religious beliefs varied, as did the ways in which they pursued spirituality. They included Vaikhanasas, those who had sprung from Brahma’s nails. Valakhilyas was conceived from his hair. There were people who perpetually washed, known as Samprakshalas, and Marichas who perpetually drank sunlight and moonlight. The Patraharas subsisted on leaves, the Unajjakas had just their head above water while their bodies were submerged, and the Asmakutas struck themselves with stones. Without even a roof over their heads, some people maintained their penance. They were not intimidated by the sun’s heat, the wind’s ferocity, or the rain’s havoc because they were unaware of the many moods of the elements. While some people lived just off of water and air, others stood in it. The perfect disciplined sages who possessed the utmost Brahma might assembled around Rama. They informed him that Rama was the ruler of those who lived on earth, just as Indra was the ruler of the “devas.” “For your splendour and bravery, you are renowned across the three worlds. The highest virtues of justice, faith, responsibility, and truth reside in you. Your filial piety is praised by the world. As an incarnation of the Dharma, you are where we come to ask for your protection. While kings do collect taxes, not all of them carry out their responsibilities as monarchs, and some kings become victims of “adharma.” In this wilderness, the Brahmins are brutally persecuted. The bones of ascetics who were killed make up the snowy mountain you can see over there. Although these holy men survive on fruit and roots and are unable to pay taxes to their monarchs, they nonetheless give a fourth of the dharma they have accrued to the kings. You must be the haven for these Brahmins so that they do not perish like orphans in the never-ending slaughter of the rakshasa hordes. Deplorable conditions exist for individuals living along the River Pampa, along the Mandakini River’s banks, and on the Chitrakuta Mountains’ slopes. It’s imperative to halt the senseless devastation. We seek your blessings and protection from the evil that prowls these sylvan glades since you are our only haven “. Then, Rama said to the rakshasas, “You have the authority to order me thanks to the great powers of your penance, supreme qualities, and noble character. I’m come to fulfil my father’s promises and to put an end to the threat posed by the demons. It is my obligation to secure your freedom. I shall soon put a stop to the bloodshed that is rampant in these forests with Lakkshmana’s assistance.” Rama began his journey after providing the sages with his assurance.
Lakshmana and Sita had to cross the Ganga several times as they made their way to Sutikshna Rama’s hermitage before entering a heavily forested area. They saw the famous ascetic Sutikshna’s lonely hermitage there. He was discovered with matted hair, a weak physique coated in dust, and was seated in the lotus position. Rama entered and bowed before the wise man, saying, “Your penance elevates you to the position of a dharmic, god-like sire. Rama, who I am, has come to visit you. Please bless me “. Sutikshna stood up to give a loving embrace to Rama and shouted, “Rama! You are the most well-known person on the planet, and I am overjoyed that you are here. I’ve been waiting for you ever since I heard that you’ve arrived in Chitrakuta, knowing that you will eventually come here. I have stayed here instead of going with Indra to the home of Brahma. Rama retorted, “My Lord, the planets you have listed have to be acquired by myself. Indra tells me that the force of my penance has earned me all the worlds, and I now abandon those in favour of you. You were described as one by Sage Sarabhanga as always pursuing the good of the world. He wanted me to see you so I could get your opinion on where I should live “. The sage offered Rama his hermitage without hesitation “Rama, stay here where there is plenty of fruit and food for ascetics. There is no other harm than the frightened animals that periodically stray here to disrupt our calm “. Rama though responded, “I’ll kill these animals if I stay here, defiling this sacred site and upsetting you. I don’t want to be here for too long since I will be more sad if I make you miserable “. Sita, Rama, and Lakshmana were honoured and given a warm welcome, and they stayed the night at the hermitage.
The exiles took a bath in the cool water that was scented with lotuses the following morning at dawn. They visited Sutikshna after their morning worship. Rama respectfully enquired, “Could we say goodbye now? Before midday, we’ll set off on our adventure. Please allow us to meet the famous ascetics and sages who reside in Dandaka “. The sage bid his visitors farewell. “Visit the enchanting Dandaka, where hermits live peacefully, where fruit and flower-filled woods are abundant, and where birds soar over lotus ponds. Waterfowl that compete with the peacock’s clarion calls reside in the serene lakes.” With their quivers and bows firmly fastened, Rama and Lakshmana left the hermitage after receiving Sutikshna’s blessing. Sita followed them in silence.
Rama left Sutikshna and continued on his journey. Later, Sita softly whispered to him, “You are an unrivaledly brilliant warrior, Rama. You are unmatched in bravery. The rishi-dharma you now practise is quite nuanced, and there are several shades to its interpretation. Despite being well explained, it is nevertheless challenging to understand. It can only be attained by a Kshatriya ruler who is free of all ego and desire.” Falsehood is the first of three evils born by desire in this realm of mankind. The sin of lusting for another person’s wife is worse than that. Even worse than these two is injuring someone unintentionally and garnering up undeserved animosity. Only those like you who have subdued and mastered the senses can bear the great load of truth and dharma. The third evil mainly benefits illiterate and uneducated people “. Rama said that he would listen to anything Sita had to say with a kind smile as she paused. Sita expressed her worry in a voice as soft as the wind’s whisper “My Lord, you risk becoming tarnished by the third sin, which makes people antagonistic to one another without justification. You have pledged to kill the rakshasas who have done you no harm in your eagerness to save the forest’s residents. Will your bow’s power turn out to be the source of our woe in the future? I do not want you to venture any farther into these jungles because I am terrified of the potential repercussions. I’m worried that you’ll feel the impulse to kill as soon as you encounter a rakshasa. The martial spirit of a Kshatriya rages when equipped with a bow, much as fire fuelled by wood explodes into a blaze! An hermit known for his piety and penance lived long ago in the serene depths of a forest. Indra once arrived pretending to be a warrior with the intention of upsetting and destroying that penance. He handed the ascetic a dangerous sword to keep safe. He never lost track of the sword since he was so focused on guarding it. The ignorant ascetic constantly carrying and considering it ignored his penance and also diminished its effectiveness. He descended into hell as a result of his disordered senses and as a result of his strong, warlike emotions. The presence of weapons is harmful, much like the touch of fire. I find it upsetting to witness your assault against the devils. It is improper to murder someone until they have provoked you, even if they are rakshasas. Those who attack without justification are not well received by society. I’m not trying to spread the dharma, but out of love for you, I get to ask you whether you did the correct thing. You must conduct your life in line with the dignity of an ascetic since you have taken on that persona. You are free to follow your Kshatriya dharma till we reach Ayodhya. Warriors must defend those who are in danger. However, arming oneself is wrong and incompatible with an austere lifestyle. All four arthas have their origin in dharma since it promotes pleasure and harmony. Dharma is the foundation of the world, and by practising it, a person may have anything they desire. The saints achieve supreme tranquilly by completely negating themselves. Pleasure does not produce peace. Keep your promises to yourself. If I didn’t have this shortcoming, I wouldn’t dare tell you, a living example of dharma, how to do your obligations. Consult Lakshmana and take the appropriate action.”