Sage Vishwamitra, Rama and Lakshmana enter Vishala
After recounting the great story of Sri Ganga Devi, the trio namely sage Vishwamitra and the two princes Sri Rama and Lakshmana resumed their onward journey towards Mithila. Soon they entered the city of Vishala which is modern day Hajipur, near Patna in Bihar. The king of that kingdom welcomed the trio. Sage Vishwamitra introduced the two princes to the king. The king was overcome with emotion seeing the delicately formed princes Rama and Lakshmana. He requested for offering services to the trio. After spending a day and a night in the kingdom of Vishala, three of them resumed their journey. It was time for the redemption of the stone-turned Ahilya Devi.
Redemption of Ahilya
They arrived at the place where Ahilya had been turned into a stone outside the hermitage of her husband sage Gautama that now was deserted and sported a barren look. Sage Vishwamitra recounted the story of deception because of which Devi Ahilya was cursed by her husband and was turned into a stone. Sage Vishwamitra then revealed to the Lord that only with the attainment of the feet of the Lord, can Ahilya be redeemed. With the order of his preceptor, Sri Rama touched the stone-turned Ahilya with his foot and she regained her original human form. This place of Leela exists at the spot where the river Gantaki mixes with the Ganga River. They then turned northward and entered the city of Mithila.
Sage Satananda receives the sage and the two princes
The three of them then entered the palace of King Janaka, where they first met the family preceptor of King Janaka by the name Satananda. Sage Vishwamitra introduced the Lord thus to sage Satananda. He said “Oh Sage this is Sri Rama and Lakshmana. It is with the grace of Sri Rama that your mother, Ahilya, was redeemed of her curse.” Immediately sage Satananda received the Lords with love and expressed his heartfelt gratitude on knowing about the redemption of his mother. Sage Satananda then revealed about the Dhanusha (धनुष Bow) Yajna that King Janaka was holding at that time, as part of the Swayamvara ceremony of his daughter Sita Devi. The Bow was handed over to the ancestors of King Janaka by Lord Shiva Himself. The sage revealed that the Bow had remained with the ancestors of King Janaka to this day, for the past 6 generations. King Janaka had laid a condition that he would give in marriage, his daughter Sita, to the man who had the capacity to string the bow and break it. Sage Satananda then recounted a story related to the same bow.
Significance of King Nimi’s name
King Nimi was the direct ancestor of King Janaka and 6 generations older. King Nimi desired a child and wanted to conduct a Yajna in order to attract grace. He wanted sage Vashishtha to carry out the Yajna for the sake of the king. However sage Vashishtha had already committed a Yajna for the sake of the king of Devatas, Indra. He therefore said that he would be happy to conduct the Yajna for Nimi after the completion of Indra’s Yajna. The period for which Indra’s Yajna was to extend was 500 years. On account of having to wait for such a long time, without informing Sage Vashishtha, King Nimi completed the Yajna with the help of other sages. Sage Vashishtha returned to Nimi’s capital after consummating the Yajna of Indra. However on knowing Nimi’s hasty action, sage Vashishtha was enraged. Sage Vashishtha cursed Nimi saying that he shall be without a body (विदेहा Videha). Videha (King Nimi) was now about to leave his body on account of the curse. However the other sages wanted to help Nimi, as they felt obliged to the king, on account of the king, inviting them to conduct the Yajna. However king Nimi said that he was not happy seeing the sages do anything against the wishes of Sage Vashishtha. The king was granted a boon by the sages that King Nimi will live in the gap that exist within the wink of an eye. In the Sanskrit language the time period of an eye wink is known as Nimish (निमिष), thus it is believed that King Nimi lives in the gap of an eye wink and hence his name “Nimi”.
The Divine names of Shrimati Sita Devi
However, the sages decided to help the king, even after he left his body. They somehow felt obliged to him. After the king departed from his body, the sage used mystical means to churn his body from which emerged a king known as Devaraj. This generation of king Devaraj finds King Janaka, the father of Sita as the 6th in the generation. All these kings were extremely dedicated to the people of the kingdom and were true parents to them; hence each king in that dynasty was called Janaka, the father to the common people. Also they had the name Videha which means born out of the body or without the body. The name of the place also got its name “Mithila” because the rulers were the offspring of the first king whose body was churned with a “Mithi” (मिथि churning rod). Sita Devi got her name Maithili for the same reason. Since she was the daughter of King Janaka, she is also known as Janaki. Sita Devi appeared in the family of kings who were born from the one who was forced to vacate his body (Videha). Hence She came to be known as Vaidehi. She was discovered buried in a farm which was being ploughed by her father Janaka. The box in which she was enclosed blocked the path of the tip of the plough which is also known as Sita and hence she got Her name as Sita. The place of discovery of mother Sita is known as Sitamarhi, which exists identified, even to this day.
Lord Rama meets Shrimati Sita Devi
Next King Janaka narrated the story of the great Bow of Lord Shiva. There was once a war between the Devatas and the Asuras. It so happened that Lord Shiva had to fight for the cause of the Asuras and Lord Narayana had to lead the Devatas. It was in this war that Lord Shiva used the bow, which He personally handed over to Devaraj, who was born out of the churned body of King Nimi. King Janaka had invited the great kings of Bharath for the Swayamvara ceremony. The great Bow of Shiva was carried to the main hall in a chariot with 16 wheels. The chariot was pushed by 500 warriors with great arm strength, at the center of the hall. All this, just to get one bow of Lord Shiva. Such was the colossal size and weight of Lord Shiva’s bow. King Janaka pointed at the great bow as the onlookers looked at it with great awe. Very excited by the atmosphere, sage Vishwamitra, endearingly cast his glance on the Lord who humbly stood beside him and said “Rama, see the great bow of Shiva.” It was as if the scene was already set for the great act of the Lord and as if sage Vishwamitra was flagging off his own consent. This was the time when the Lord met his eternal consort Shrimati Sita Devi after a gap of 12 years, since they left for earth from their eternal abode of Saket Dhama in the spiritual universe.