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The people's grief

CHENNAI: The people of Ayodhya sensed Lord Rama's imminent departure (along with Sita and Lakshmana) to the forest when He began giving away His possessions as charity, in keeping with the practice of the times. They were shocked, disturbed and filled with grief.

Sage Valmiki describes this grief of the people in moving terms. He says the people feel extreme pain at the thought of the hardship inflicted on this protector of the world, as a tree which acquired flowers and fruits is damaged by injury caused to its root. If the root of a tree is affected, the tree falls; in a similar manner, the people depended on Rama as a root and His going away would render them rudderless since He is their supporter. Their anguish is similar to the one undergone by organisms in water when they are afflicted by water scarcity in summer.

The same sentiment is expressed in the context of Lord Krishna's departure from Gokula, said Sri B. Sundarkumar in a lecture. Akrura, an emissary of Kamsa, came to the land of the Vrajas to take Krishna and Balarama with him to Mathura to attend a bow festival at Kamsa's court. The entire country was unable to bear the separation.

The Gopikas became sorrow-struck at this turn of events. Even the trees began to stoop, the sun looked eclipsed, and the ponds withered without water. There was no life in nature. Krishna left behind not only the sorrowing Gopikas but also the grief-stricken animals and trees of the forests and was gripped by the thoughts of the Gopikas.

Rama then bestows parting gifts to Vedic scholars and their wives, the servants, children, the aged, and the poor. One brahmin named Trijata, is given an unusual gift — of cows filling a distance of many miles.

All those who received gifts from the Lord blessed Him a safe stay in the forest, wishing Him enhanced reputation, strength, delight and happiness. The people extol Rama's greatness.

Rama knew the taste of sovereignty and was one who could grant the desires to the desirous. Even then, because of his respect for virtue, he is careful not to transgress his father's words.

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