|Lav and Kush|
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Lav and Kush were the twin sons of Ram and Sita.Ram, their father,is worshipped in India as the seventh incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver. His story is told in the
Ram, the eldest son of King Dasaratha of Kosala, is exiled to the forest for fourteen years. His wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman accompany him into exile. While living in the forest, Sita is abducted by the demon-king Ravan, ruler of the golden city of Lanka. Ram and Lakshman pursue Ravan to the very gates of Lanka. There a long and furious battle is fought. Ultimately Ram is victorious. He kills Ravan and rescues his wife Sita.
Meanwhile, their fourteen years of exile are over. Ram, Sita and Lakshman return to Ayodhya, the capital city of Kosala. Ram's father Dasaratha is dead, and his younger brother Bharat has been ruling as Regent. Bharat welcomes Ram joyfully, and Ram is crowned King of Ayodhya, and Sita his queen.
The people of Ayodhya welcome Ram as their king. But not all of them are willing to accept Sita - they feel that after spending so much time with Ravan, she could no longer be the pure and virtuous woman Ram had married and who had followed him into exile. Ram, hearing of the suspicions of his people, asks Lakshman to take the pregnant Sita into the forest and abandon her there. Sita, left alone in the forest, is found by the ascetics who lived in the ashram of the sage Valmiki. Valmiki gives Sita shelter. There, in Valmiki's ashram, Sita gives birth to Ram's sons, the twins Lav and Kush.
Valmiki is credited with composing the Ramayana, the story of Ram's life. It is said that he taught the Ramayana to Lav and Kush, and it was the twins who first sang of the glory of Ram, and brought the Ramayana to the people.
Fifteen years had passed since Ram, king of Kosala, had exiled his wife and queen Sita to the forest, to the sage Valmiki's ashram.
Fifteen years had passed too since, unknown to Ram, his twin sons had been born to Sita in the forest. The elder twin had been named Kush, after the kusha grass with which Valmiki blessed him on his birth. The younger twin was called Lav, which means 'bit' or 'piece', after the bits of grass stems which Valmiki had used to bless him.
Ram had grieved for Sita, but putting duty and the good of his kingdom before personal sorrow, he had concentrated on ruling Kosala as well as he could. Ram had proved a wise and able ruler. Under his rule, Kosala had become a strong and prosperous kingdom. Bharat and Lakshman had remained by Ram's side in Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala, as his counselors and advisers. Shatrughn had been sent by Ram to rule a kingdom on the borders of Kosala.
Now, fifteen long years after Sita had been banished, Ram felt that his kingdom of Kosala, had become supreme in all the world. He felt the time had come to consolidate his sovereignty over the surrounding lands. So he decided to hold the Ashwamedha yagna, the horse sacrifice held periodically by all the great kings of ancient India.
Ram made Lakshman in charge of the festival. The site for the sacrifice was chosen by Ram - the Naimisha forest on the banks of the river Gomti. All the great sages were invited - Vashishtha, Jabali, Kashyap, Vamadev. So were Ram's friends and allies in the war against Ravan. Sugriv and the monkeys, Jambavan and the bears, Vibhishan and his rakshasa ministers from Lanka, Hanuman, Ram's especial friend and follower - all Ram's closest friends and allies had gathered there with him. Only Sita was missing - his wife and queen. Ram ordered a statue of Sita to be made, cast in pure gold. He commanded that the statue be placed by his side during the sacrifice in place of his banished queen.
When the time was right, the sacrificial horse was led forward. With pomp and ceremony it was taken to the borders of Kosala and let loose, to wander at will across the land for an entire year. Lakshman, together with a small band of priests and warriors, followed the horse around, watching for any challenge to Ram's sovereignty. If the horse remained unchallenged, it would be brought back to Kosala after a year. But if someone were to stop the horse and capture it, it would mean a challenge to Ram's authority and Lakshman and his warriors would have to answer that challenge.
The horse wandered freely over the land. No one stopped it, or came in its way. In fact, wherever the horse went through a village or a town, the people came out in crowds to welcome it, and acknowledged the authority of Ram freely and gladly.
Till one day the horse wandered into a quiet forest by the banks of the Ganga. Lakshman and his warriors followed, quite certain that neither they nor the horse would meet any challenge. Suddenly 'Stop!' commanded a voice. Lakshman and his warriors stopped in surprise to see who had challenged them. A boy was standing in their path, while another the same age, was holding the sacred horse.
'Who are you?' demanded Lakshman. 'How dare you stop the sacrificial horse from proceeding on its way? Don't you know the penalty for challenging my king's authority? You will die for this!'
'We acknowledge no man's sovereignty except that of our father Ram's,' said the boys with equal pride and anger.
Lakshman's face changed. He dropped his weapons. 'Did you say your father Ram's?' he asked in surprise.
4. 'Yes,' answered the boy holding the horse. 'We are his sons. I am Kush, and this is my brother Lav.'
'Where do you live?' asked Lakshman, trying to find out all he could about the boys without telling them who he was.
'We live with our mother Sita, here in the forest,' said Lav.
'And our guardian Valmiki,' added Kush.
Lakshman was now convinced that he was speaking to his brother's sons, the sons of Ram, king of Kosala.
The twins led Lakshman to Valmiki. Lakshman explained how the boys had stopped the sacred horse in its progress around the land. He asked Valmiki's permission to present the boys to the king. Valmiki gave them his blessing. 'Go with the prince my sons,' he said. 'Sing of the glory of Ram your father. Let all the world know his story.'
The boys Lav and Kush went with Lakshman, quite unaware of who he was and who the king they were going to meet.
In Ayodhya, Lakshman led the boys to the royal palace, where Ram was holding court, surrounded by his ministers, advisers and friends. There, in front of the entire assembly, the two young boys began to sing.
5. They sang of Ram, the prince of Kosala, and his brothers. They sang of the princess Sita, born of the earth and brought up by King Janak. They told how Ram had won her hand in marriage by stringing the great bow of Shiv. They sang of old King Dasaratha's favourite queen Kaikeyi and her evil counselor Manthara. They told of the old king's sorrow as his favourite son Ram was banished into the forest, together with his lovely wife Sita and loyal brother Lakshman. The twins then sang of the treachery of Marichi and the wickedness of Ravan, of Sita's long and lonely imprisonment on the golden island of Lanka. They sang of Ram's grief, and his anger. They sang of Hanuman the monkey and Jambavan the bear, and of the valiant army who set out to rescue Sita. They told of the battle between Ram and Ravan that raged for ten long furious days. They told of Ram's return to Ayodhya with Sita, and of his coronation as king. They told also of Ram's decree that Sita be banished to the forest, for pure and blameless though she was, the people of Ayodhya were not willing to accept her as such after her long stay in Ravan's prison. They told of Sita alone in the forest, till rescued by the ascetics of Valmiki's ashram.
Ram listened, spellbound. He realised that the two young boys could be no other than his own sons. He was overjoyed, and overwhelmed with sorrow at the same time. He held the boys close, and asked them about their mother Sita.
Lav and Kush were almost too amazed to answer. They couldn't believe that they had found their father, that the king whose horse they had stopped was Ram himself!
'I need to find your mother now,' he told his sons. 'Both she and I have done penance enough, and it is time she came back to Ayodhya and took her rightful place by my side.'
Lav and Kush returned with Ram, Lakshman, Bharat and the royal entourage to Valmiki's ashram. There Valmiki waited for them. He had known, through his powers, that Ram would come with his sons. Sita waited too, to see her sons safe with their father.
'Come back to Ayodhya with me, Sita, and take your rightful place as my wife and queen,' said Ram.
But Sita refused. 'My only wish was to see my sons safe with their father,' she said. 'I have now seen that happen. All that I now desire is to return to my mother, the Earth.' So saying, Sita folded her hands, and called upon her mother to take her within her. All at once the earth opened beneath Sita's feet, and before the astonished gaze of the King of Kosala and his court, Sita vanished from this world forever.
Ram was heartbroken. But he returned to Ayodhya with his sons Lav and Kush. Ram ruled Kosala for many years more, with Sita's golden image forever by his side. Lav and Kush were taught all the arts of kingship, and when they were old enough, Ram built two capital cities - the city of Shravasti for Lav and that of Kushavati for Kush. Ram then left his throne and his kingdom in the joint care of his twin sons. His days on earth were over, and it is said that very soon after he walked into the river Sarayu, to be welcomed by Brahma and to be absorbed into his being as Vishnu.