Ithihasa (Iti- ha-tasa)- is the narration of real life incidents.
This consists of the Chronologically written description of important, special events of the person, society, country, chronological analysis of facts and events,these include the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, which have been regarded and quoted as famous and popular epics of the time.
Vedavyasa was the author of the Mahabharata and Valmiki wrote the Ramayana.
These epics were written at the time, at which the events corresponding to them took place.
Vedavyasa , was the son of Satyavati and Rishi Parashara and the step brother of Bhisma. He was called Krishna Dwai Payanar. Previously all the four Vedas were in one amalgamous unit.
He is responsible for separating the Vedas and giving them the nomenclature we know them by today, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda, this is how he came to be known as Vedavyasa.
Valmiki , was a hunter, who subsequently became a robber to meet the needs of his rapidly growing family.
He was turned into a sage by Narada, who taught him the holy word Ram. Narada visited Maharishi Valmiki in his ashram once and there he narrated the story of Lord Rama.
After that, he received a vision from Lord Brahma in which the Lord instructed him to write Ramayana in shlokas, which the sage readily followed.
He wrote the Ramayana and passed on the knowledge to Luv and Kush, the sons of Lord Ram and Sita.
He asked them to narrate it in front of Lord Rama’s court, this narration of the Ramayana is the story as we know it today.
This is how both epics Ramayana and Mahabharata came to be known as Itihasa.
Stories from the Ramayana
( A personal understanding and in depth analysis.)
The Ramayana written by sage Valmiki, is one of the most resplendent narrations of the triumphant war between good and evil. The epic is a repository of a magnificent collection of stories long and short which are laden with significant values , which we can integrate into our thought processes as well as follow in our lives.
The Story of Shabari.
There was a beautiful and grand lake called Pampasar near Shabari’s Guru’s Ashram. Shabari who was now very old went to the lake with her pot made up of mud to collect water, there was a rishi sitting there with a long beard and matted hairs chanting mantras, he was old and was reciting the mantras in a haphazard manner.
He heard this outcast woman filling the divine water of the lake.
He thought “This low caste woman is making the water impure for our use”, as the stereotype predominantly prevalent at the time stated that any body who was from the lower caste, would be considered and treated as an untouchable, by those who belonged to the higher castes.
Enraged on seeing Shabari filling water from the lake, he threw a stone at her in anger, it hit her leg and the blood came out, a drop of blood fell into the lake, within seconds all the water in the lake became filled with blood.
Rishi started shouting loudly “Look, a drop of this outcast’s blood has turned the whole lake into blood, what should we do now?”
Shabari went to her Ashram with her filled pot, still crying with pain. The Rishis had no water to drink or to use for the sacred rites. They started chanting purification mantras, doing Yagnas and Havanas, throwing holy powders into the lake but nothing helped. The Water still remained bloody. They brought water from Ganga, it was of no use, they brought Yamuna water, it was also of no use.
Someone in the group said, “Lord Rama has come, he is wandering in the forest, he can help us, let’s go to him and pray to him to turn this blood into water again”.
Rama came upon their request to Pampa sarovar, it was red everywhere, the rishis were standing around him.
Rama asked “What can I do for you now?”
The Rishis said “Lord, the touch of your feet will change this blood filled water back to normal, Rama walked into the lake but the blood still stayed blood.
“Take a dip in it Lord” said the rishis gathered there.
Rama took a dip in it, but nothing changed..
“Lord, it is our last wish. Would you please clean your mouth with it and spit back into it” they requested.
Rama took the blood with both hands, “But this is blood brother” said Lakshman, Rama took blood in his mouth and spat it back, but that did not change the lake.
Rama asked them “Tell me How did it become blood?”
One of the rishis said “There was a sage living here, he had an outcaste disciple Shabari, he has died, but she still lives, she came to fetch water from this lake, a rishi threw a stone at her, it injured her and a drop of her blood fell into the river, it turned all the water into blood”.
Rama on hearing the name of Shabari placed both of his hands on his heart and said, “ Oh rishis, that was not Shabari’s blood, that was the blood from my heart, I can not clean this.”
They said, “Lord our life has become difficult, we can not live without this water”.
“I have come to see her, bring her to me, send someone to bring her”.
One of them went to Shabari and said “Lord Rama has come and he is requesting for you”.
Shabari on hearing Lord Rama’s name came running to see him, The rishis thought her impure shadow should not touch the Lord and tried to stop her. The soil from her feet fell into the water as she was running hastily, blood turned back into water. Everyone was surprised and were asking themselves “What happened? what happened?”
Lord Rama said “Did you see, dust from Shabari’s feet has purified the lake. I bathed in it, cleaned my mouth but nothing changed. Dust from the feet of a true devotee has purified the lake”.
Shabari was an elderly woman hermit, who was the disciple of Sage Matanga, who took her under his tutelage as his student, as he was impressed by her devotion towards seeking knowledge. She was rejected by the other sages, as she was from a lower caste.
Shabari worked in the ashram while learning from Sage Mathanga. When Sage Mathanga was close to shedding his mortal coil, he told Shabari that he was old and was going to die very soon. He then blessed her for her hard work, discipline and devotion.
When she expressed her desire to meet and be blessed by the divine, Sage Mathanga asked Shabari to wait for Lord Rama to come and bestow his blessings on her. Shabari was overjoyed to hear these words from her teacher.
She kept the ashram immaculately clean and ready to host everyday.
She waited for many years until the day Lord Rama arrived with his brother Lakshman. Shabari’s joy knew no bounds, she was overjoyed to see the two brothers. She gave them a warm reception and made them comfortable in her small ashram.
She went out to the ashrams garden to pluck the best of fruits to offer her much awaited guests.
She bit into the fruits making sure to only keep the delectable ones in her basket, while discarding the bitter fruits. This action of Shabaris did not go down well with Lakshmana, as he wanted to know why Lord Rama happily ate the fruits Shabari had bitten into.
Lord Rama then explained to him that it was an expression of pure love and devotion. Without Shabari expressing it, He also tells Lakshmana that she was ensuring that no sour or tasteless fruits are offered to them and that he would accept it with great joy. Rama wholeheartedly blesses Shabari and continues his journey to find his wife Sita.
The values learnt from the story of Shabari- ( A personal understanding.)
This story is an embodiment of all the values which are integral to the fabric of human relationships, these values are integral for the building of a healthy bond and paves way for the making of long lasting deep relationships.
Values such as love, devotion, commitment and loyalty are essential for the sustenance of any relationship and it is vital for us to imbibe these values, integrate them into our thought processes and put them into practical application.
The story of Shabari is a vivid and resplendent representation of the above mentioned values, which are the Dharmic values and important life lessons we can learn from this story.
This is reflected in her relationship with her teacher sage Mathanga and her interaction with Lord Ram and his brother Lakshman when they visit her hermitage.
The most important value in this story is accepting a person for who they are and treating them with reverence.
The story teaches us that relationships are embodiment of mutual respect, love and genuine care.
It teaches us to look beyond the ascribed status of the person, as this is inherently a part of the person’s life and it cannot be changed.
The story of Jatayu.
When Ravana was taking Sita away to Lanka in his flying chariot, Jatayu, the wise old bird, was resting in the forest. Hearing Sita’s helpless screams, Jatayu flew to Ravana’s chariot.
Jatayu was a great devotee of Rama. He could not keep quiet at the plight of Sita, although the wise bird knew that he was no match for the mighty Ravana. But he was not afraid of Ravana’s strength even though he knew that he would get killed by obstructing the path of Ravana.
Jatayu decided to save Sita from the clutches of Ravana at any cost. He stopped Ravana and ordered him to leave Sita, but Ravana threatened to kill him if he interfered.
Chanting Rama’s name, Jatayu attacked Ravana with his sharp claws and hooked beak.
His sharp nails and the beak tore flesh from the body of Ravana. Ravana took out his diamond-studded arrow and fired at Jatayu’s wings.
As the arrow hit, the frail wing tore off and fell, but the brave bird continued fighting irrespective of the injuries he had sustained.
With his other wing he bruised Ravana’s face and tried to pull Sita from the chariot. The fight went on for quite some time. Soon, Jatayu was bleeding from the wounds all over his body.
Finally, Ravana took out one huge arrow and shot Jatayu’s other wing as well. As it hit, the bird fell on the ground, bruised and battered.
Jatayu wanted to meet Rama in his last moments before he died and tell him about Sita. So, even while he was dying, he went on repeating the name of Rama.
Rama and Lakshmana met Jatayu on their way to rescue Sita, they found him badly injured with blood oozing out of all the scratches on his body,which he sustained from his battle with Ravana.
The ailing Jatayu narrated how he tried to rescue Sita from Ravana when he heard her screams, when Ravana was carrying her away on his flying chariot. He also told Rama about his fight with Ravana to save Mother Sita.
The valiant Jatayu, breathed his last with his head on Ramas lap and he attained salvation.
The values learnt from the story of Jatayu – ( A personal understanding.)
The story of Jatayu, is a resplendent illustration of how bravery determination and self conviction can determine the thoughts and actions of an individual.
The story is a resplendent example, of how a strong mind and a profound sense of determination , can help an individual overcome any obstacle he might inevitably face.
The story also teaches us , that even if we face adversity in our lives, we should be confident enough in our own ability to get out of adversity instead of avoiding it and running away from it.
Sometimes the fight to overcome adversity may not be that simple, sometimes we may have to endure hardships to achieve a successful outcome, individuals should have a strong sense of conviction and not give up, until they achieve the desired outcome.
We also learn that not all decisions are based on emotions. Sometimes we need to separate emotions from our thoughts so that we can make a well informed decision.
Jatayu has immense unconditional love for Rama, but he does not let that come in the way of his efforts to rescue Sita as he knows he may have to sacrifice his life to rescue her.
The story of Jatayu also teaches us that self conviction is vital for any individual to overcome adversity, and it is one of the fundamental prerequisites for any individual to be successful.
The Itihasa is a repository of stories laden with significant moral values, which we can imbibe and put to practical application in our daily lives.
Each story belonging to Itihasa teaches us life lessons, which are integral for the survival of man, as well as for the fulfilling sustenance of all his relationships.
It is one of the most resplendent narrations of all the historic events which have taken place across time.