Distribution of the sweet rice among the three principle queens
On the request of Sri Brahma and the Devatas, the Supreme Lord Narayana agreed to descend on earth so as to end the atrocities of the demon king Ravana. Meanwhile there came a divine bluish form with a vessel containing sweet rice, from the center of the sacrificial fire, beside which king Dasharath was seated along with his three principle queens. The form blessed the king saying that all the divine beings, having being satisfied with the Yajna, the vessel with the sweet rice is being handed over to the kings. The principle queens were required to then partake of the sweet dish, in order to conceive divine children. After handing over the golden vessel, the divine form disappeared. The whole mass of sweet rice was first divided into two exact halves. The first half was handed over to queen Kausalya, the chief among the three principle queens. The second half was divided into two quarters. One quarter was handed over to Sumitra, the second principle queen, whom the king considered to be more aligned to the Shastra compared to the third queen Kaikeyi. Out of the remaining quarter, he further divided it into two 1/8th parts. One of them he again handed over to Kaikeyi, since she had not received even one share. The remaining 1/8th share he again handed it over to Queen Sumitra. Since Sumitra received a 1/4th and a 1/8th part, she become mother to two sons. Queen Kausalya and Queen Kaikeyi became mothers to one son each. One son of Sumitra became Lord Laxmana, the devotee of Lord Rama Himself. Her other son was Shatrughna who became the Lord’s devotee’s devotee. Bharata was the devotee of the Lord, born to Kaikeyi and Shatrughna became the devotee to Bharata. It is said in the Shastra that the Lord loves the devotee’s devotee more than His own devotee. Such was the position of Shatrughna in the eyes of the Lord. Sage Valmiki praises the last 1/8th part of the sweet rice that was handed over to Queen Sumitra, in the end. According to the sage that was the nectarine aspect of the sweet rice. That is the position of the devotee’s devotee.
Queens of Ayodhyaji wait for 12 months
The queens had a prenatal period of 12 months unlike the normal period of 10 months. The Lord was present in the womb, thinking about the welfare of the world and waited for a complete year before he arrived into the world of mortals. In the mean time in the kingdom of Kishkinda, all the Devatas in their monkey and bear-forms had already arrived.
The Birth of Sri Rama-Bharata-Laxmana-Shatrughna
The 18th Sarga of the Sri Valmiki Ramayana describes the birth of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Rama. Six seasons had passed, each season was of 2 months duration, which indicates that 12 months had passed. In the Chaitra Month, on the 9th day of the lunar month in the Punarvasu Nakhshatra (पुनर्वसु नक्षत्र Punarvasu star), in the Lagna of Karkata (कर्कट लग्न Cancer ascendant), Lord Jagannatha was born to Queen Kausalya as the first son of King Dasharath who ruled the entire planet. The Lord had eyes that were lotus shaped and extremely big and beautiful. The one who was responsible for the bliss of Mother Kausalya, was born, making His father, King Dasharath filled with joyous pride. Next, in the Pushya Nakhshatra, Bharata was born to Queen Kaikeyi. Next, Laxmana and Shatrughna were born as identical twins in the Ashlesha Nakhshatra, to Queen Sumitra. The Devatas rejoiced the appearance of the Lord along with 3 of His part incarnations. The whole city of Ayodhyaji rejoiced on the coming of the Lord. King Dasharath was put to rest with the thought that he now had an heir apparent.
Sage Vashishtha Names the 4 Princes of Ayodhyaji
Sage Vashishtha arrived on the scene and was eagerly wanting to name the new born children. At that moment, all the 4 princes started crying in deep voices. Queen Kausalya became worried, seeing the children cry inconsolably. Sage Vashishtha was able to see the reason as to why the divine children cried. Queen Kausalya had arranged the children in the order of their birth. She had arranged the children in the order: Rama, Bharata, Laxmana and Shatrughna. Sage Vashishtha asked for the reordering of their cradles. The new order of the children was: Rama, Laxmana, Bharata and Shatrughna. Half of the intensity of their cry had reduced. Sage Vashishtha introspected further. Then he ordered removal of two cradles and retain only two of them. One cradle had Sri Rama and Laxmana and the other cradle had Bharata and Shatrughna. Immediately, the children stopped crying. Right at the time of birth, Laxmana was born as the ardent devotee of the Lord. Shatrughna, in the same way, was born as the ardent devotee of Bharata. When sage Vashishtha looked at the resplendent face of the Lord, he was inspired by the Lord Himself to name Him Rama. The word “Rama” itself meant, giving pleasure to the one who is the seer. Lord Rama, true to His name gave pleasure and contentment to whoever who saw Him. Laxmana meant the one who had “Laxmi”, prosperity. The type of prosperity that Laxmana possessed was Kainkarya Laxmi (कैंकर्य लक्ष्मी the wealth of servitude). For a living entity, there is no other prosperity greater than serving the Supreme Lord. This is true wealth according to the Vedas. This wealth is eternal unlike money and physical wealth. The next child was named Bharat. Sage Vashishtha knew past, present and future. He knew that it would be Bharata who would rule the land of Bharath even before Sri Rama and so he got his name. There is another root for the word Bharath known as “Bhar” (भार load), which means unnecessary load on one’s shoulders. Bharata ruled Bharath without wanting to do so and hence the 14 years of his rule, he considered ruling the land of Ayodhyaji, as an unnecessary load on him. Shatrughna got his name, which meant destroyer of enemies. Shatrughna had destroyed the inner enemy in the form of ego and accepted the position of a servant, of the servant of the Lord.