kvacit pari-daSan mAsaan
eka samvatsaram kvacit
kvacit ca caturo mAsAn
panca shaT ca parAn kvacit
aparatra adhikAn mAsAn
adhyardham adhikam kvacit
trIn mAsAn ashTa mAsAn ca
rAghavo nyavasat sukham.
tatra sam-vasataha tasya
munInaam Ashrameshu vai
ramataha ca aanukUlyEna
yayuH samvatsarA daSa.
These verses seem to be too insignificant, but they are very important.
After my retirement, occasionally friends and relatives used to ask me: "What are you doing?" "How the things are going on?" "What news?" etc.
Initially, I used to reply saying that I was writing to news papers or working on vAlmiki rAmayana or mahAbhArata or writing vocabulary and English grammar blogs or studying the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda so on and so forth.
Gradually, I understood that they were not interested in those things. They were/are interested to know whether I was making any money from that? Or whether I purchased some gold? Or whether I purchased some house-plots or flats? Or whether my bank balance was going up?
Then, one night I got a dream. I was replying them: "The significant things are-- hair has been growing. I have been going to the saloon. Nails have been growing. I have been trimming them with a good nail cutter. Beard has been growing. I have been shaving. We have been getting three milk packets everyday. We have been making coffee, sometimes filtered and sometimes instant. We have been boiling rice and eating it with brinjal fry. ..."
I started using this reply, on an experimental basis. The started laughing and leaving me alone.
Back to rAmAyaNa:
We shall, now see the gist of the verses quoted above:
rAghava (rAma) stayed there for ten months;
at some other (nearby) place - one year;
at another place - four months;
elsewhere another five months;
further elsewhere another six months;
another place one month;
at another place one and a half-month.
ybremMaintaining a diary or log book was not possible. Hence, these approximations were reasonable.
Staying there, and also in the hermitages of sages, in a favourable and comfortable manner, delectably and delightfully, ten years have elapsed.
rAma went to Sage SutIkshNa's cottage again. (ybrem: Presumably after ten years or as a routine of going around hermitages)
sa tam Ashramam Agamya
tatra api nyavasat rAmaHa
kamcit kAlam arindamaHa.
Rama Stayed at SutIkshNa's hermitage, being worshipped by Sages, FOR SOME TIME. The length of this time is not definite. We can reckon it as, say, one year.
RAma enquired from Sage sutIkshNa about Sage agastya's Ashram.
na tu jAnAmi tam desham
vanasya asya mahattayA;
kutra Ashrama padam puNyam
maharshEH tasya dhImataHa.
Asking sutIkshNa. "Owing to the vastness of forest, I do not know that place. Where is the hermitage of that astute and perspicacious Sage?"
sutIkshNa's reply indicates the distance: 4-11-37: "yojanaani aashramaat taata yaahi catvaari" - 4 yojanas or 32 miles or approx. 50 km. to Agastya's brother's hermitage.
4-11-40: "tatra agastya aashrama padam gatvaa yojanam antaram". From there (Agastya's brother's hermitage, another yOjanam or 8 miles or 13 km. approx.).
Total 63 km. approx.
rAma stayed at one place for eleven years. He didn't know a a renowned Sage's hermitage situated just 63 kms. away?
In those days, there was no TV or internet around which persons could hang on, lying on their couches, munching chocolates or ham burgers or pizzas. One had to go out hunting for antelopes and deer. rAma and SIta didn't have any children which could have kept them too-busy. They were not running schools or businesses or hospitals. Both rAma and SIta were greatly interested in approaching sages with folded hands and seeking their blessings.
How did these eleven years melt away without at least inquiring about the whereabouts of agastya's hermitage?
May be: Rama was repeating his routine of the citrakUTa days i.e. handing over pieces of grilled meat to Sita's mouth and saying 'this is good, this is tasty, this is roasted red etc.', while LakshmaNa was massaging his OWN legs bruised and swollen in chases of deer/ANTELOPES and procuring water from river - while LakshmaNa was removing thorns from his feet with his sharp darts. The thorns might have pierced into feet while bringing firewood or palmyra leaves for thatching the hut or cutting bamboos.
(To continue in part 2)