Categories: Hindu Scripture

Bala Kanda–Part One Summary of the Ramayana

In the Valmiki Ramayana, the Bala Kanda, also known as the Adi Kanda, starts the epic story. It tells the tale of Prince Rama‘s birth, his amazing adventures as a young person, and the magical moment when Rama and Princess Sita come together. With its captivating storytelling, the Bala Kanda gets us ready for the exciting journey ahead, mixing adventure, faith, and love in a wonderful way.

Rama’s Birth

Dasharatha was the king of Ayodhya. He had three wives: Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya was the oldest and came from the Kosala Kingdom. Kaikeyi, his second wife, was from the Kekaya clan’s ruling family. Sumitra, the third wife, came from the ancient kingdom of Kashi. Sadly, Dasharatha didn’t have any children, which made him anxious about his dynasty’s future. He didn’t want his family line to stop with him.

Dasharatha asked the royal family’s Guru, Vashistha, for help. Vashistha promised that Dasharatha would have four sons. Following Vashistha’s advice, Rishi Shringi conducted a special ritual called the Putra-Kam yajna, which is a ceremony to have sons. As a result of this ritual, the gods gave Dasharatha a bowl of special nectar with divine qualities.

During the ritual, when the queens were about to eat their share of the ritual food (prasadam), an eagle snatched Sumitra’s portion. To comfort Sumitra, both Kaikeyi and Kausalya shared half of their portions with her. As a result, Rama was born to Kausalya, Bharata was born to Kaikeyi, and Sumitra gave birth to twins – Lakshmana and Shatrughana.

While the ritual was happening, an eagle took Sumitra’s portion of the ritual food. To make Sumitra feel better, both Kaikeyi and Kausalya shared half of their portions with her. This kind act resulted in the birth of Rama to Kausalya, Bharata to Kaikeyi, and Sumitra giving birth to twins named Lakshmana and Shatrughana.

Rishi Vishwamitra as a Trainer

Rishi Vishwamitra as a Trainer

Rishi Vishwamitra, a knowledgeable sage, taught King Dasharatha’s sons the art of using special arrows combined with secret chants. These arrows had the power to release either fire or water upon their enemies. These unique arrows could even chase and strike adversaries in different dimensions or realms.

When Rama was 16 years old, he received Rishi Vishwamitra as a guest. The sage sought Rama’s assistance in dealing with troublesome rakshasas named Maricha and Subahu, who were causing problems during his rituals. Seeing Rama’s divine destiny, the sage requested King Dasharatha to send his sons to help him. Although reluctant, the king eventually agreed to send his sons to aid the sage.

Rishi Vishwamitra brought Rama and Lakshmana to his hermitage to assist in battling rakshasas that were causing problems for him and other sages. Their initial challenge was facing the demoness Tadaka, who had been cursed to take on the form of a rakshasi. Rama initially hesitated due to her being a female, but the sage clarified that evil had no gender, which helped Rama understand the situation better. By defeating Tadaka, they freed the yaksha’s soul that had been trapped within her.

The sage gave Rama and Lakshmana divine weapons and instructed them in advanced combat techniques and weapon handling. He also told them about a crucial yajna (ritual) he intended to perform along with his disciples. He cautioned them about the rakshasa brothers Maricha and Subahu, who were planning to disrupt the yajna and defile its sanctity

Rama and Lakshmana diligently protected the yajna for seven days. When the last day arrived, Maricha and Subahu, along with a group of rakshasas, attempted to disrupt the ritual. Rama quickly dealt with Maricha and Subahu using his arrows, while Lakshmana managed the other rakshasas. Their efforts ensured the successful completion of the yajna without any hindrance.

Sita’s Birth

In a distant time, a young girl was found in a furrow while a field was being plowed. People thought she might be the daughter of Bhumi, the Earth goddess. The king of Mithila and his wife, Sunayana, named her Janaki and adopted her with great happiness. They believed she was a precious blessing from the divine. Narada also referred to her as Sita. Raised in the palace, Sita was treated as their own daughter by the king and his wife.

While she was a child, Sita unintentionally shifted a table under which the “Shiv Dhanush” (Lord Shiva‘s bow) was kept. This divine bow had been entrusted to King Janaka by Rishi Parashurama and was highly revered. Sita’s action drew King Janaka’s notice, and he chose to utilize the bow as a central element in a svayamvara ceremony.

Sita’s Svayamvara

Ahalya felt blessed by meeting Rama

As Rama, Rishi Vishwamitra, and Lakshmana journeyed to Sita’s Svayamvara in Mithila, they came across an uninhabited hermitage belonging to Rishi Gautama. Vishwamitra recounted the tale of Ahalya to Rama, explaining that she had been cursed due to being deceived by Indra, who took on her husband’s form. This curse turned her into a boulder. Rama was tasked with freeing her from this curse. He touched the boulder with his foot, breaking the curse. Ahalya felt blessed by meeting Rama and was able to return to her husband, released from her stone form.

Following that, Rama, Lakshmana, and Rishi Vishwamitra proceeded on their journey and arrived at the enchanting city of Mithila. The ruler of Mithila, King Janaka, warmly received them and inquired about Rama and Lakshmana. The two brothers explored the city and ventured to Janak’s garden, where Rama had his initial encounter with Sita. At this meeting, Sita developed feelings for Rama and implored the goddess Devi Gauri to assist her in marrying him.

King Janaka arranged a Svayamvara ceremony

King Janaka arranged a Svayamvara ceremony for Sita and extended an invitation to Rama, Lakshmana, and Rishi Vishwamitra. The task presented was to lift and string an immense bow known as Shiv Dhanush, and whoever accomplished this feat would win the right to marry Sita. Although numerous princes attempted and failed, Rama effortlessly lifted and shattered the bow. Sita then placed a garland around Rama’s neck, signifying her choice. Subsequently, a wedding procession comprising Rama’s family and friends from Ayodhya embarked on a journey to Mithila to celebrate the joyous occasion.

Wedding of Rama and Sita

Wedding of Rama and Sita

Envoys were dispatched to request Dasharatha’s presence at the wedding of his sons in Ayodhya. The two kings met, and during the occasion, Janaka bestowed Sita upon Rama and Urmila upon Lakshmana. Additionally, Janaka offered Mandavya and Srutakirti, who were the daughters of Kushadhwaja, as brides to Bharata and Shatrughna respectively.

While returning from the wedding, Rishi Parashurama confronted Rama, the sixth Avatar of Lord Vishnu, expressing disbelief that anyone could break Lord Shiva’s bow. He challenged Rama to string Lord Vishnu’s bow and engage in combat with him. Rama respectfully accepted the challenge, strung the bow effortlessly, and aimed it at Parashurama’s heart. Rama inquired what target Parashurama would set to spare his life. In that moment, Parashurama recognized Rama as the Avatar of Lord  Vishnu and acknowledged his supremacy. He pledged his devotion to Rama, vowed to retreat to his hermitage, and depart the realm of humans.

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Krishna Das is an experienced article writer. He writes about Hinduism in his spare time.

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