English Commentaries

The titles of Sages who sought the protection 3.6.1-8

‘Ramante yogino nante’ means ‘Rama is one in whom the great yogins find the highest bliss’. The idea is that Rama is supreme. He shines on his own.
The different kinds of sages had attained their titles from their special kind of austerities. Vaikhanasas are the sages born from the nails of Brahman. Valakhilyas are the sages born from the hair of Brahman. The Vedic statement ye nakhas Te Vaikhanasah ye valaste valakhilyah is the proof. Vaikhanasas are those that follow the teaching of sage Vaikhanasa. Valakhilyas are those sages who leave all they have collected when they get new food. Samprakshalas are those that are born from the waters used to wash the divine feet of the supreme Lord. Samprakshalas are those who earn their livelihood every day. Maricipas are the drinkers of the Moon’s rays. Asmakuttas were those that crushed grains like priyangu with stones, for food. Patraharas are those that eat only ripe leaves. Dantolukhalinah are those that eat grains like paddy chewing them only with their teeth. (without using any other tool to de-husk them). Unmajjakah are those that perform penance standing in neck-deep water. If the reading is Unmattakah, the meaning would be “those that have renounced envy altogether”. Or, the word means “realized souls” because it is said realized souls behave like children or like mad people or like spirits. Gatrasayyahs are hermits who sleep only with bare body i.e. who use no bed of any kind at all. Asayyah are those that never sleep. Abhravakasakahs are those that stay and perform penance in the open space in all seasons, even when there is wind, Sun or rain. If the reading is abhyavakasinah, the meaning is: “those that are awake all the time. Akasanilayah are those that merge in space by the power of controlling their breath. Stnandilasayinah are those that sleep on the ground which may be covered by grass. Vratopavasinah are those that obey the rules of restriction of food or fasting strictly. Ardrapatavasasah are those that always cover themselves with wet clothes. Taponisthah are those that are always immersed in study. The sruti states, tapo hi svadhyayah (study of scriptures is tapas). Pancataponvitah are those that perform austerities standing in the middle of five fires (fire lit on four sides and the sun on the top).

King gets part of the merit of Sages 3.6.8-20

It is said that the king gets one sixth of the merit of the subjects. Here the sages say he gets one fourth and elsewhere it is one half. The commentator clarifies this saying that the king gets one sixth of the merit (dharma) earned by people who fast and earn their living from alms. He gets one fourth of the merit earned by people who enjoy the fruits of the land protected by that king. The king obtains one half of the merit earned by people who are nourished by the food and drink given by the king. When a person nourished by the food and drink supplied by another earns the merit it is shared equally by the giver of food and the doer of dharma. There is no god who can be the means to obtain the good in this, as well as the other world. Because the sruti states, “one becomes immortal knowing Him, and that there is no other road to immortality”.

Rama’s purpose in coming to the forest 3.6.22-25

The poet Valmiki has repeated the same idea. This is a feature of Valmiki’s style. “I came to the forest on the orders of my father. I have also come to fulfil your desire.” The apparent meaning is that “my entry into the forest will have great result because I want to kill the demons who are tormenting you.” The real meaning is, “I deserve to be commanded by the sages because I am at the service of my devotees. Should I come to the forest only on my own work?” There is an irony here. When Rama says that he has come mainly to eradicate the troubles caused to the sages by the demons, one should not think that Rama had come to the forest only to obey his father’s instructions. It was only a pretext. “I have come here only to do your service out of my own will, not on account of being forced to do so by karma. My stay in the forest will have great consequences because I have come for your protection.”