Thanks for the wishes! For the first post of the year, I have decided to put up something I wrote a while ago. This particular piece on the Ramayan deals with the return of Lord Rama from his exile. Hope it doesn't bore you all too much :)
For the uninitiated:
Ramayana, an Indian epic written by Valmiki is the story of Ramachandra, crown prince of the kingdom of Khosala, of which Ayodhya is the capital. It is said to have taken place roughly four thousand years ago. Rama's father King Dashrath had three wives and four sons in total. Rama, the eldest was born to Kousalya, Bharat was born to Kaikeyi and the twins, Lakshman and Shatrugna were born to Sumithra. The brothers are extremely devoted to each other and the three queens treat all four like their own. Around the time of Rama's coronation, Kaikeyi, her mind poisoned by her Lady's maid Mantra, extracts a promise from King Dashrath to exile Rama for fourteen years and make Bharat King instead. When this becomes known, the kingdom of Khosala is in uproar. Rama complies to his father's dictum and prepares for exile taking his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman with him. Bharat is heartbroken over the turn of events and vows to rule those fourteen years from the remotest corner of the kingdom, from a village called Nandigram. King Dashrath is heartbroken over what has happened and rues his inability to go over his words to Kaikeyi to whom he had promised some boon years ago. King Dashrath soon passes away. Kaikeyi eventually comes to her senses and bitterly regrets the wrong she has done Rama, whom she loved like her own. Bharat rules those fourteen years with Rama's slippers placed on his head, waiting only for the return of the rightful king. In the fourteen many events take place and Rama eventually returns. What I have written about is precisely that. Ramayana is considered to be one of the greatest works of all time and holds a special place in my heart.
A sort of glossary:
Khosala - The kingdom
Ayodhya - The capital city
Surya - The Sun God
Nandigram - The place where Bharat lives in self imposed exile
Sumantara - The minister of Khosala
Guru Vashishta - The Guru of Rama's dynasty
Ikshvaku - The name of Rama's race
Dashrath - King of Khosala
Kousalya - Queen, mother of Rama
Kaikeyi - Queen, mother of Bharat
Sumithra - Queen, mother of Lakshman and Shatrugna
Sita - Rama's wife
Urmila - Lakshman's wife
Pushpak - The golden flying apparatus (another story, another day) that brings Rama home
Vanars - The monkey race to which Hanuman is said to have belonged
Devas - Gods
Mahadev - Lord Shiva
Rama Comes Home
And so it came, the Sun God's gift:
A day so bright, exaltation in its wake,
Like a whisper of joy, like victory's cry
It came with fanfare, Deliverance Day.
The sky and land were awash with light,
Of Surya's might; his heart song rained:
Pink and amethyst and gold so pure,
Happiness gained and injustice slain.
As the Sun moved on from its Eastern home,
Nandigram danced like never before
To the sound of hooves, of kinsmen's feet,
Ayodhya danced to Bharat's abode.
The queen mothers and princess in their palanquins,
The ministers with Sumantara in their chariots,
Townsmen and women; youths and maids,
Set forth with song in their holiday's best.
There came Shatrugna, radiance personified,
There was Kousalya and Sumithra alight with joy,
There was Kaikeyi waiting for her eldest son,
With love and longing for the sight of her boy.
And alone at the head there came a steed
With fiery eyes and tossing mane,
Leading a chariot, white leading white
It came for its master; the jewel of his race.
Listening to the rumble, there he stood
Eyes seeking the horizon, Dashrath's son,
The very brother of brothers, he waited with heart,
With tingling nerves; his penance done.
Blessed Bharat stood covered with with dust,
Emaciated bones that bespoke sorrow,
With matted hair and mud-caked feet,
Hardship and heartbreak besieging his brow.
As he stood there with his Guru Vashishta,
His heart thudded in its cage,
He yearned for the sight of his Master and Lord,
His smile mirroring that of the sage.
But Bharat's breath caught with every smile,
His face though bright was anxiously so,
He prayed to the Gods to grant him this wish
For the sight of his brother, his Master and Lord.
He renewed his vow for them millionth time,
The echo of it burned fierce in his throat,
If his brother failed to come, he would leave this world;
His broken spirit could endure no more.
Then in the distance, there came a sight
That Bharat was waiting for many a day
A cloud of dust rose up to the sky,
Khosala's King was on his way.
The dust motes grew with the thundering hooves,
The thundering echoing Nandigram's heart,
Royals and rustics stood as one,
To welcome their hero, returning from war.
Shatrugna, Bharata and Guru Vashishta,
Stood with blazing hearts and blazing eyes;
Hope for the future over a poisoned past,
Like ivy on a wall. In an iron vise.
And in that moment when the forms took shape.
Across the bare plains some miles ahead,
The earth stood still and all life froze,
Just the beat of hearts and words unsaid.
The angels in Heaven sang so pure,
Heralding the Lord of Khosala,
"Come and regain the kingdom you lost,
Embrace your right, Son of Kousalya!"
Here they could see the flash of an eye!
And there they could see hovering gold!
Pushpak rose from the cloud the sun,
With the three that they'd loved, the three that they'd lost.
The army of the good came nearer still,
Men and vanars came galloping hard,
Towards that little Godforsaken town
That became Bharat's home: Nandigram.
At last they could see the Pushpak's form,
At last they could behold their good Lord's face,
And khosala broke its fourteen year fast,
And wept and cried and laughed in a haze.
As the vehicle landed in the open land,
Bharat ran to meet and greet,
With Ram's slippers on his head, with tears rolling down,
He fell with a sob at Rama's feet.
The very brother of brothers hugged his brother,
When Bharata cried, the universe cried,
Emotions pulling heavy in his heart,
With bounding love and quiet joy.
Rama embraced Bharata tight,
His eyes brimming with tears unleashed,
He was home at last and appeasing fast,
The filial hunger of years fourteen.
There was Lakshman to be hugged with heart,
There was Sita whose blessings he had to get,
But most of all there was Rama to hold on to,
There was Rama to heal the heart that bled.
Sumithra embraced her long lost sons,
Urmila with tears, her faithful love,
Kaikeyi and Kousalya with open arms,
Calling for wishes from the Gods above.
The mothers rejoiced, the repentant and wronged,
As one for the return of Dashrath's sons,
They of might, the just and brave,
With the wisdom of years and hardships won.
He first went to the one that'd brought him up,
When Kaikeyi cried, the Devas cried,
He now embraced the one from whose womb he came,
When Kousalya cried, Mahadev Himself cried.
And the cold, hard fist over Khosala's heart,
The cold hard mist over Rama's land,
Broke and yielded to the Lord's return,
Vanished in front of Rama's hand.
The return of the King brought the salvation of the other,
As Khosala prepared to return to its head,
That walled city of the Ikshvaku's seat,
To the Sun Wood throne that waited there.
"On to Ayodhya!", cried Bharata loud,
And the citizens took up the joyous refrain,
"On to Ayodhya!", resounded the cry,
The horses and elephants began their way.
Ramachandra mounted his chariot,
With his wife and brothers by his side,
The white leading white tossed his head
At the sight of his master, Dashrath's pride.
On they drove at the sound of a cry,
On the hopped and danced their way!
With good hearts full they ran on home,
Full of thanks for Deliverance Day.
Rama, at the thought of his home and hearth,
Trembled with joy, with eyes that shone,
For the sight of Ayodhya in his blood,
For his white walled city, his rightful home.
And yonder waited she, lit by the Sun,
Its amber nestling on her walls,
She has waited long and waited true,
Our Lord's pride Ayodhya of Khosala!