[ Transcribed from lectures given by Sri Atmatattva Das ]

Now Lord Ramachandra took His advent on the earth planet, and he was growing up. He was learning archery in the ashrama of Vasishtha. When the first lesson started, Vasishtha told Dasharatha, “I don’t want you to be here when your son is learning archery.” Dasharatha said, “It is the tradition that the king sits there and watches the son, how he holds the bow.” Vasishtha said, “Yes, but it is not the tradition that you produce children from sweet rice.” So Dasharatha went back, and the education started in confidence. When Ramachandra, Lakshmana, Satrughna, and Bharata were sitting, Vasishtha got up from his seat and circumambulated them. That is why he got Dasharatha out, otherwise there would be confusion. And then Vasishtha said, “You always do this. Whenever you take an incarnation, You select a rishi to become Your guru. And he has to teach You this knowledge of which You are the source. So please excuse me if I commit some offence.”

One day Rama and Lakshmana saw a girl walking one day with a huge nose ring. In India the women wear big nose rings, sometimes so big that when they go on the bus the woman’s son can hold it. So she had this huge nose ring, and she was walking with a water-pot. Lakshmana looked at it and he laughed. He said, “Look at that nose ring! It’s so big.” Ramachandra said to him, “Vasishtha is looking away, so let us do some pastime.” So they looked around and they saw an arrow. They took that arrow, but they had not been taught yet how to do archery. “I will make this small,” Lakshmana said, and he shot the arrow. While the girl was walking, the arrow came next to her nose and started pouring some sort of mystical substance on the nose ring, which became so small that it got stuck on her nose and she couldn’t breathe. Then she dropped the water-pot, and she was trying to breathe but she can only breath in one nostril and she was very confused, so she began to call, “Help! Help!” Lakshmana said, “Oh no, now Vasishtha will hear and we will have a problem.” Ramachandra said, “Don’t worry,” and he shot another arrow. That arrow made it big enough that she could breathe. So she turned around and said, “What is this you are doing to me?” Lakshmana replied, “Oh, we made your nose ring small, but it was too small so then we made it big.” “You made it big and then small?” she asked. “I don’t believe it.” “Oh, you don’t believe it?” Lakshmana asked, “So then we will take it off.” Lakshmana then shot another arrow which took the nose ring out of her nose, and all this was happening without touching her face. And then the nose ring was flying in the sky, and she began to cry out, “My nose ring! My nose ring!” Very quickly Rama fired another arrow and put the nose ring back in the nose.

These were some of the childhood pastimes of Ramachandra. All these childhood pastimes are all archery and bows and arrows. Anyway, Rama was growing up and one day a rishi came, Vishvamitra Muni. He came in the entrance of the palace, and he said to the messenger, “Where is that Dasharatha? You tell him that Kaushika is here.” He is known as Kaushika because he is coming in the dynasty of Kusha. Kusha and Kushanabha were great kings. In the Bhagavatam you read about them. So Kaushika was known for his anger. If he gets angry, he would curse and he will use all his tapovalam, all the strength of his austerity simply to place some obstacle. On one occasion he was sitting doing his meditation, and a bird passed stool on him. It’s natural for a bird to pass stool, and it’s natural for a rishi to sit under a tree. But stool on the head was not natural, and Vishvamitra was very upset. He looked at the bird and burnt it. In burning that bird he used 50 years worth of tapovalam, because that bird had a long lifetime and he reduced it and suppressed it by his tapovalam, so now he lost the strength of that austerity. Then he got up and said, “This situation will make me remember that incident always, so now I will go to another tree.” Then he would perform more austerity for another thousand years, and he was spending his whole life like this.

So Dasharatha looked at Vasishtha and said, “Kaushika is here. What am I supposed to do? I don’t know what wrong I did, why he came to my palace, because he only goes to curse people or kill a demon or something.”

Vasishtha said, “First of all, you must go from here to the messenger, and tell him to say that `The whole kingdom is yours. I am just taking two minutes to walk to the entrance. Please don’t lose your temper’.”

So the messenger went back to Vishvamitra and said, “King Dasharatha said that the whole kingdom is yours. He will take only two minutes to walk here. He wants you to be peaceful and take this nice asana.”

Vishvamitra said, “I don’t want any asana! Where is the king! Bring him here!”

By the time Dasharatha got there, he fell at his feet and said, “What do you want? If you want the whole Kosala then please take it.”

“What?” the rishi asked. “I am not into kingdoms. I had a kingdom too.” He was a great prince, a ksatriya, and by some arrangement of the Lord he had become a Brahmin. “I do not want your kingdom,” he said. “I have come here to ask something, and you must tell me that you will give it.”

Dasharatha was thinking, “I wonder what it could be that he wants? Maybe my head. I don’t mind giving him that, but please don’t let him ask for Rama.”

Vishvamitra said, “What are you thinking? You are trying to save something.”

Dasharatha said, “No no, you just ask and I will give it.”

So then Vishvamitra said, “I want Rama and Lakshmana.” Dasharatha immediately fainted. When he woke up, Vishvamitra said, “See! You fainted, this means that you don’t want to give. And you lied to me! I am rishi and you lied to me that you will give everything, and now you won’t give. I’m not going to take them away forever, I only need them for a small purpose. I am doing a yajna, and someone is passing stool and urine on it. I want these children to come and play there, and then these demons will go away.”

“What? Demons?” And then Dasharatha fainted again. He couldn’t bear his being taken to demons, so he said, “I will come. I will defeat them!”

Vishvamitra said, “Don’t you think I can defeat them? I could easily defeat them, but I want Ramachandra and nothing else. What do you say?”

“All right,” Dasharatha said. “But please take good care of my son, and also teach Him something since you know so many things.”

Vishvamitra said, “I know what I will do with Rama, and he is coming with me. Now.”

Dasharatha said, “But you have come a long way, you should rest a while in my palace.”

“I don’t stay in palaces,” Vishvamitra said. “Where is Rama and Lakshmana? Give them to me.” So he took Rama and Lakshmana and he left. They were walking, and as they were crossing so many rivers and going through so many different forests, Vishvamitra was telling them stories, and Rama and Lakshmana became so happy because there was no class and no study, this was like a complete vacation for them. They were swimming here and swimming there, and Vishvamitra was such a nice teacher that he would swim with them and play with them, tell them far-out stories of demons and goblins and ghosts. They were so happy. In the evening time at sunset, Vishvamitra told them, “Now you do your sandhya, and then you sit here and listen to these mantras. I’m going to teach you some great, powerful mantras. One is known as Bala, strength. Another is known as Adibala, great strength. You may need them for these demons. So Rama and Lakshmana sat down and listened to Bala and Adibala, and then they massaged the teacher, Vishvamitra. Vishvamitra took rest.

The next day Vishvamitra woke them up and they reached the ashrama of Vishvamitra and they began a yajna. Then came this demon, a very famous demon called Maricha. Maricha was a great magician. Whenever he would come, then you would see that trees would be falling, the rivers would be flying up in the sky, and stars would be falling. The animals would also go crazy, the birds would scream, and the rishis would die as Maricha’s breakfast was saintly persons only. For lunch he ate something else like kshatriyas or kings, but breakfast was sages. He was a cannibal, human eater. So Maricha was coming there, and with him was Dusana. His very name is the same as his character. Dusana means “all bad things.” His father named him like that, so it must have been a good family. Dusana and Maricha were flying in space and were coming. So Rama and Lakshmana were sitting there and Vishvamitra was the head priest, he was offering ghee into the fire. He looked at Rama to signal that the demons were coming.

Rama looked at Lakshmana and said, “So Lakshmana, what are you going to do?”

Lakshmana said, “Yes, we will do something.” So he took several arrows and shot them into the sky. They went up into the sky about three or four miles, and then from each arrow came a million arrows, and all together they formed a huge wheel of arrows, and this wheel started circling on top of the fire.

So Maricha and Dusana came and all that they saw was a wheel and some spokes. “Where is the fire?” Dusana said, “I told you I wanted to pass water three hours ago and you said I should wait till we got here. I have been holding it in, and I can’t see the fire. What are you doing to me? Let me go pass somewhere.”

“No no,” Maricha said, “Vishvamitra’s fire, that is where we should pass.” “But I can’t see the fire, I only see this wheel.” Then Maricha said, “This must be the trick of these Brahmins. Let me come closer and see.” So he came closer, and as he came close he got stuck with one of the spokes of the wheel, and he was thrown miles away. While he was already thrown, Ramachandra took one blade of grass, and he threw it at Maricha. It got stuck on his back and carried him to the ocean. He fell in the ocean, and after that he never touched the Indian land again. He opened an ashrama and became a babaji somewhere in Sri Lanka, and didn’t even go back to see his family. That was what happened to Maricha, and Dusana was killed. All this killing was done by grass. Then the yajna was over and Vishvamitra came to Ramachandra and he said, “What a great, wonderful thing you did! I saw Maricha flying away and falling into the ocean.” Then Vishvamitra said, “There’s only one small question I want to ask You.”

“What?” Ramachandra replied.

“What about Bala and Adibala and all those mantras I gave You?”

Ramachandra said, “That is for an emergency, then we will use those ones. Grass is sufficient for these demons.” Then Vishvamitra said a famous verse, that for a mighty person even grass becomes an astra. Ramachandra is so mighty, He’s the source of all Bala. So why should He take Bala and Adibala? In this way He finished the demons.