Rama has begun to sit enthroned as an avatar in the hearts of millions of people and temples must have been built during Kamban’s days. In his work the element of devotion gets the better of his artistic impulse and he pours forth his strains of intense devotion through various characters and his poems remind us of the immortal songs of the alwars.
It is a matter for regret that his life is shrouded in mystery. Legends have gathered around his name. Some have called him Kambar, because he was a foundling discovered beneath the pillar of a temple by a temple-priest who belonged to the Uvaehha caste. When he was taken to a Chola King, he carried with him a stick and the king seemed to have said, “Who is the urchin that carries the stick in my presence.”
Vinotha Rasa Manjari, Pulavar puranam, Thondamandala Sathakam, Tamil Navalar Charitam, Pandiya Mandala Sathakam, all these works which narrate the life of Kamban are a tissue of lies and perhaps their narration may even belittle the greatness of the mightly singer of the epic. The impression which one gathers of the personality of the author through his writings is far more authentic than the life recorded in the spurious legends.
Adittan was his father and he was born at Thiruvazhundur in the Chola Mandalam. His patron was Sadaiyappa Vallal of Thiruvannainallur, whose praises he sings in his epic in ten places as a mark of his deep sense of gratitude. The epic seemed to have been sung in Panguni Uttaram at the temple of Srirangam. “His work will receive the seal of the Lord’s approval only when he sings in praise of Sadagopan”—thus Ranganatha spoke through the priest. The Sadagopar Andathi was composed on the spur of the moment. Thus runs a Vaishnava legend.
His conception of a king is radically different from the traditional approach. The king according to him is but a tabernacle for the life of people. There is an adumbration of the spirit of democracy in his epic. That is why Bharathi, the poet of our national awakening, weaves an immortal wreath of praise for him.
The works that are ascribed to him are ‘Saraswathi Anthathi’ Eru Ezhupathu, Silai Ezupathu, and Thirukkai Vazhakkam. The Uttara Kandam is not a work of Kamban; perhaps it was written by one Vani Dhasan.
The stanza that begins with ‘Enniya Sakabdarn’ throws light on the date of Sadayappa Vallal. Some conclude from this that Kamban belonged to the qth Century AD. From hi dealings with Raja Raja Cholan and Kulotunga H and Prathaparudran, an Andhra King, others arrive at the conclusion that he belonged to the i 21k Century. Still this date is a matter of acute dispute. The Vaishnavas rank him with the alwars. Periya Vachhan Pillai, a prince of commentators, in his Edu cites the lines of Kamban. From this one may gather that Kamba Ranayana was widely popular in the 13th Century A.D.
Kamban breathed his last at Nattarasankottai and there is a tomb raised to immortalize his memory. Many scholars like T. K. Chidambaranatha Mudaliar are of opinion that the Kamba Ramayana is tampered with, and it is very difficult to winnow the genuine from lire false ones. 10,560 stanzas, 113 padalams and six kandas comprise the printed edition now available.
Mighty as the work of Kamban is, it is not chanted as a work of devotion like Valniiki. Perhaps devotees consider that Valmiki’s Ramayana is more sacred as it is more authentic.
Sriramadesikan has rendered Kamban’s Balakandam in Sankskrit. He has have taken into consideration all the remarkable changes which Kamban has introduced in his epic and also paid attention to the flights of his imagination which takes us to new scenes and situations. He has supplied the links of the story so that the thread of the narrative may be maintained, even trespassing the limits which he has fixed for himself. He was also afraid that he might be repeating what Valmiki himself has sung in his full-throated ease. What he has attempted here is a translation of pure unalloyed Kamban
The Balakandam which comprises 1,396 stanzas has dwindled into 450 verses in his translation. He has also added a section in English dealing with Kamban’s handling of Valmiki’s Balakandam and it will be of great value for a comparative estimate of the two great poets.
The Points of Difference in the Ramayanas of Valmiki and Kamban (Balakanda).
KAMBA RAMAYANA BALA KANDA
It is well known that the Kamba Ramayana contains deviations from the original, Valmiki Ramayana, in many particulars and displays a wealth of original poetic fancy. They are set down here padala by padala (Padala is the Tamil equivalent of sarga or chapter).
(Chapter describing the River Sarayu.).
In this padala of twenty stanzas, the greatness and the grandeur of the River Sarayu are set forth. Valmiki makes mention of the River Sarayu but does not elaborately treat of its greatness. He contents himself with telling that Ayodhya was situated on the banks of the River Sarayu. This elaboration is Kamban’s creation.
(Chapter describing the Kosala Country).
This padala consisting of sixty-one stanzas tells of the greatness of the Kosala country. Valmiki describes Kosala in the fifth sloka of the fifth sarga, as the land of wealth and plenty lying on the banks of the Sarayu. Kamban has expanded this idea magnificently in sixty-one stanzas in a variety of ways with a masterly poetic genius. This padala is also an elaboration which is Kamban’s creation.
(Chapter describing the City of Ayodhya).
In the seventy-five stanzas of this padala, the greatness of the city of Ayodhya ruled over by Emperor Dasaratha and of its people is described. Valmiki has given a succinct description of it in the eighteen stanzas beginning with the sixth stanza in the fifth sarga.
It is noteworthy, however,. that Kamban has woven the elaborate description with his. own original poetic skill, fervour and imagination. Yet, no. additional matter has been included in this padala.
(Chapter dealing with the nature of Dasaratha’s rulership).
This padala treats of the fair and just reign of Dasaratha. in twelve stanzas. This is an abridgement of Valmiki’s detailed sketch of the same topic in sargas six and seven of his Ramayana. By way of depicting the greatness of the people and the worthiness of the ministers, Valmiki has highlighted the excellence of Dasaratha’s reign. Yet, there are differences which the discerning reader can note in the two compositions: these well indicate the depth of poetic vision and purpose of Kamban.
Valmiki’s Ramayana, in its first four chapters, contains. an account of the birth of the poem, how it spread in the world, a brief summary of the story, and an account of how it was sung at Rama’s court by Lava and Kusa and won the appreciative approbation of Sri Rama himself. These are distinctive to the original poem of Valmiki. And hence Kamban has not treated of these in his work.
(Chapter dealing with the birth of Sri Rama and the incidents leading thereto).
This padala contains 137 stanzas. In this, Dasaratha, hapless at his childlessness, makes his plight known to his preceptor Vasishta. This request makes Vasishta remember that once in the dim past, the Devas, victims of the harassment of Ravana, sought the grace of the supreme Lord. Narayana and that he promised redress to them by his incarnation on earth. He therefore advises Dasaratha to invite the sage Risyasringa and perform with his guidance the Aswamcdha Yagna for achieving his desire. He recounts the life history of the sage. Acting on the advice of his preceptor Dasaratha performs the yagna and is blessed with sons. This, in brief, is the story of this padala. This is based on the detailed account of these incidents in sargas 8 to i8 (up to sloka 36). of Valmiki Ramayana. Kamban’s attempt is thus a skilful abridgcmcnt incorporating notable differences in certain details.
1).. In the Valmiki Ramayana, Dasaratha himself decides to perform the Aswamedha Yagna and informs Vasishta through Sumantra about his decision. They approve of it. Then Sumantra takes Dasaratha aside and recounts how, long ago, he had heard sage Sanatkumara inform his fellow sages that a sage called Risyasringa will be born and that Dasaratha will perform a yagna with his help and get four sons as a result. Sumantra also details what he had heard of the history of Risyasringa. According to Valmiki Ramayana, therefore, Dasaratha performs the yagna with the full knowledge of the divine secret that he will be getting four Sons thereby. But in Kamban’s Ramayana, sage Vasishta keeps the fact of the Lord’s promise of protection to the Devas (harassed by Ravana). in his own mind and, without divulging it to Dasaratha, narrates briefly the story of Risyasringa and asks the king to perform the yagna. According to Kamban, Dasaratha was not aware of the divine secret that he was going to get four sons o that the Lord himself was going to be born as his son.
2).. The information that the Dcvas sought the protection of Lord Vishnu is mentioned in the beginning itself of this padala. Even that is not a narrative of what actually took place but what sage Vasishta recalled to his mind. But in the Valmiki Ramayana, Brahma and the Devas who had come to the Putrakameshti yagna performed after the Asvamedha yagna to receive their shares of the sacrificial oblations, seek the protection of Lord Vishnu when He manifested Himself there, who gives them his assurance. All this takes place in the sacrificial site itself though the king and the sages assembled there could not sense what was taking place between the Devas and Brahma and Lord Vishnu.
3).. The two Ramayanas differ in their account of the representation of the Devas and Lord Vishnu’s assurance of protection. According to Valmiki, the Devas who had come to receive their shares of the sacrificial oblations at Dasaratha’s yagna, represent their grievance against Ravana to Brahma and, when Brahma assures them of help, Lord Vishnu manifests Himself there. The Devas pray to Lord— Vishnu that He should incarnate Himself as the four sons of Dasaratha and rid them of Ravana’s harassment. The Lord promises that He would be born as a man in this world and live there for 11,000 years and remove the fear of Ravana. But He does not explicitly rcvc;al the secret that He is going to incarnate Himself as the son of Dasaratha. Then Lord—S Vishnu disappears. After this, Brahma orders the Devas to be born as monkeys to help the Lord’s incarnation, and he and the Devas then dpart. Kamban’s version is this:
The Devas represent their grievance to Paramasiva who along with Brahma pray to Lord Vishnu who then appears before them seated on Garuda his vehicle, promises relief to the Devas, and tells them that He will incarnate as Rama the son of Dasaratha and that his sankha (conch)., chakra (discus). and Adi Sesha will be born as S trughna, Bharata and Lakshmana respectively, and Himself asked the Devas to take birth as Vanaras (monkeys). to help Him. After Lord Vishnu’s departure Brahma too asks the Devas to take birth as vanaras, as ordered by Lord Vishnu.
4).. According to Valmiki, a weird creature emerges from the sacrificial bowl of fire holding a silver-lidded golden vessel containing divine payasam, and hands it to the king with an injunction to give it to his wives, and disappears. Kamban has the incident thus: A weird creature comes out of the sacrificial bowl of fire holding a golden pot containing some food as potent as Amrita places it silently before the king and vanishes. Risyasringa asks the king to distribute it to his wives in the order of their ages.
5).. In the mode of distribution of the divine stuff too, Kamban gives a different version. Valmiki says that Dasaratha gave half of the payasam to Kousalya, half of half (i.e. one fourth). to $uznitra, and half of one-fourth (i.e. one-eighth). to Kaikeyi and again the remaining one- eighth to Sumitra. Kamban says that the king distributed the divine stuff equally to Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra respectively in that order and then gave what was left over in the vessel to Sumitra.
6).. Valmiki clearly mentions that Rama was born in the month Chitra i.e., twelfth month after their taking of the payasam, on the ninth day of the fortnight. Kamban makes no mention of this.
7).. Both Valmiki andKamban agree in the native lagnas and nakshatras of Rama and Bharata. But in the lagnas and nakshatras of Lakshmana and Satrughna there is varia tion. Valmiki has it that the two were born in Kataka lagna in the star Aslesha. But according to Kamban, Lakshmana’s birth lagna and star arc Kataka and Aslesha while the rasi and star of Satrughna are Simha and Makha.
8).. Kamban mentions that, as soon as he came to know of the birth of sons to him through the nurses, the king invited talented seers to his presence and asked them to cast their horoscopes. Thei e is no mention of this in Valmiki’s Ramayana.
9).. Dasaratha gets the chowla and upanayana of his four sons performed with sage Vasishta’s help. They learn the sastras under the sage. Every evening Rama and Lakshmana go to the hermitages of the sages to do obeisance to them and, on their way back, enquire of the welfare of the people they meet. These find a place in Kamban’s Rama yana but not in Valmiki’s.
(Chapter dealing with the entrusting of Rama to Visvamitra).
This padala is so named because it tells of Dasaratha’s handing over Rama and Lakshmana to the tutelage of sage Visvamitra. Being unable to perform his yagna unhindered because of the trouble given by the rakshasas, Visvamitra came to Dasaratha and praised him. The king was pleased and enquired what the sage wanted. Visvamitra asked the king to send his eldest son Rama with him to protect his yagna from the ravages of the rakshasas. This puts the king in great grief but sage Vasishta intervenes and advises the king to send Rama with Visvamitra. And the sage sets out from Ayodhya with Rama and Lakshmana, reaches the bank of the Sarayu. Speding the night there, they cross the river in the morning and see a grove on the way. Rama enquires about that grove. This is the subjectmatter of the 24 stanzas in this padala.
This briefly follows the account given in Valmiki Ramayana from the 37th sloka in the 18th sarga to the 8th sloka in the 23d sarga, with a few variations.
1). Valmiki has it that Visvamitra came into Dasaratha’s court when he was in the throne amidst his relatives and purohits and was discussing about the marriage of his sons. It is not so in Kamban’s version.
2). When Dasaratha heard Visvamitra’ request for sending Rama with him, the king felt great grief and offered to go and fight the rakshasas himself and then enquires about the names and prowess of the rakshasas on which Visvamitra briefly mentions the prowess of Ravana and says that Subahu and Maricha who had been deputed by him cause great hindrance to the yagna. This is the account in Valmiki’s Ramayana. But Kamban’s Ramayana simply says that the sage asked for Rama to be sent with him mentioning merely that the rakshasas were hindering his yagna. The king’s question about the rakshasas and the sage’s mention of Ravana, Subahu and Maricha in reply thereto, do not find a place in Kambar’s Ramayana.
3). In Valmiki’s Ramayana, the king pays a tribute to the sage and offers, of his own accord, to do what he desires. But Kamban says that only after the sage praised the king, the king enquired what the sage wanted. The fact of the king’s excessive praise and promise found in Valmiki’s account does not find a place in Kamban’s account.
4). Sage Visvamitra mentions the names of Subahu and Maricha and asks Dasaratha to send Rama to conquer them. So says Valmiki. According to Kamban, Visvamitra does not mention the names of the rakshasas but merely asks Dasaratha to send Rama to conquer the rakshasas. Valmiki describes the request of the sage and the sorrowful reply of Dasaratha in four sargas. Kamban abbreviates it in the space of two stanzas.
5). The request of the sage and the reply of the grief- stricken king are dealt with elaborately by Valmiki in four sargas. Kamban briefly disposes of the idea in 2 stanzas.
6). Vasishta speaks of the greatness of Viswamitra and advises the king to send his sons without fear with Visva:mitra. This is Valmiki’s version. But Kamban merely says that Vasishta told the king that it will be good to the princes if they are sent with the sage. Vasishta’s description of Visvamitra’s greatness is not found in Kamban’s version.
7). Valmiki specifically mentions that as the sage went away with the princes, he went first, Rama went behind him and Lakshmana came last. Kamban does not mention this order but says generally that the princes followed the sage.
8). Valmiki has it that the sage spent the night on the bank of the Sarayu with the princes and that the next morning the princes beheld the confluence of the Sarayu with Ganga (Ganges). and an asrama there even before crossing the river, and that Rama asked whose hermitage it was. In the shape of answering the question Visvamitra gives the story of Kamasrama. But Kamban makes Visvamitra tell the story of Kamasrama, in the next padala in reply to Rama’s enquiry about a grove after crossing the river Ganges, the next morning.
9). From here to the end of Ahalya padala, as in Valmiki’s original, we can find many side stories. The readers can well understand, as they proceed further, the variations in Kamban’s Ramayana relating to the current of the original story, the order of the narration of the side stories, the spots of their narration, the route of Visvamitra’s sojourn to his hermitage with the princes. They are dealt with in order below.
(Chapter describing the slaying of Thataka.).
This padala deals with the destruction of Thataka. and the protection of Visvamitra’s yagna by Rama and Lakshmana. Visvamitra tells Rama that that grove was the spot where Lord Siva burnt Kama (Manmatha). to ashes by opening his third eye. They spend the night there and the next day reach a desert. To safeguard the princes from the heat, the sage initiates them into two mantras called Bala and Athibala. He then narrates briefly the stories of the desert and of Thataka, a cruel rakshasi, who destroyed the grove that had stood there and persuades Rama to destroy her, which Rama does. This story is narrated in 76 stanzas in this padala. This encompasses Valmiki’s account from the 9th sloka of the 23rd sarga to the 26th sarga.
The variations notable in this padala are:
1). Valmiki says that the sage’s description of Kamasrama was before they crossed the river Ganges, but accord.- ing to Kamban it takes place after the crossing of the river.
2). Valmiki says that Visvamitra initiated Rama and. Lakshmana into the mantras, Bala and Athibala for their complete welfare on the evening of the first day of their setting out from Ayodhya on walking to the bank ofthe Sarayu, a yojana and a half from the city. But Kamban says that Visvamitra taught Rama the mantras so that he may not be affected by the heat, when they were approaching. Thatakavana the next day after that on which the sage narrated the story of Kamasrama after crossing the Sarayu. According to Kamban, they were on the bank of the Sarayu on the night of the first day, at Kamasrama on the night of the second day, and the instruction in the mantras took place on the morning of the third day of their starting from Ayodhya.
3). In mentioning the previous history of Thatakavana Valmiki states that Indra, pleased at his release from his curse at the Thatakavaia, called the spot Malada and Karusa and. so it became a dense forest and that it was made desolate by Thataka. Kamban makes no mention of Indra’s part in. it but only states the desolation of the dense forest by Thataka.
4). From the 25th and 26th slokas of ihe 20th sarga and the 8th and gth slokas of the 25th sarga of Valmiki Ramayana we learn that Maricha was the only son of Sunda through Thataka and that Subahu was the son of Upasunda. But Kamban states clearly that Maricha and Subahu are the sons of Thataka.
5). Accordng to Kamban, Sunda tormented the sage Agastya and was killed by him. Then Thataka went with her two sons to torment the sag, and the three were cursed by him to become rakshasas. But in Valmiki Ramayana, the fact of the killing of Sunda by Agastya is not found. There is only the mere mention that Agastya cursed Thataka and Maricha to become rakshasas.
6). Kamban narrates that Maricha and Subahu went to and befriended Sumali the father-in-law of Ravana, and were acclaimed as his uncles by Ravana. This does not. find a place in Valmiki’s work.
7). Kamban says that Rama fought with and killed Thataka. There is no mention of Lakshmana. But Valmiki says that Rama cut off her hands while Lakshmana cut off her ears and nose, thus showing that both the princes fought with her.
8). The sage Visvamitra observes that Rama was hesitant to kill Thataka as she was a woman and exhorts him to have no such chivalrous fear and to kill her. This is. Kamban’s version. But Valmiki says that the sage narrated Thataka’s story and, of his own accord, exhorted Rama not to mind the fact of her being a female but to kill her.
9). According to Valmiki, hearing the sound of the striking of the tensed bowstring of Rama’s bow, Thataka rushed out of her cave to face Rama. But Kamban’s version is that Rama asked the sage where Thataka was and before he could finish replying that the neighboring hill was her abode, she stood before Rama.
10). Valmiki states that the sage advisd Rama to kilL Thataka before the evening set in as the strength of the raksha-sas would increase after sunset. This does not find a place in Kamban’s story.
11). Kamban says that after the slaying of the rakshai the Devas requested the sage to bless Rama with divine astras. Valmiki gives the additional information that the astras were the sons of the sage Brisasva.
12). In Valmiki’s story it is said that before the actual initiation into the mantras of the astras, the sage and the princes spent a night in Thatakavana. But in Kamban’s story it appears that they proceeded without spending the night there.
(Chapter describing the protection of Ttisvamitra’s Tagna).
This padala of q stanzas deals with the destruction of the rakshasas and the protection of Visvamitra’s yagna. The story in the padala is briefly this: After the sage’s initiation of the princes into the mantras of the astras, the three proceed a distance of two krosas. The princes hear a noise and Rama enquires the sage about it. The sage replies that it was the sound of the confluence of the River Sarayu with the River Gomati. Proceeding further, they reach the bank of the Kowsiki. The sage touches upon his life history and tells that his sister was there in the shape of that river. Rama then enquires about the grove there. On this, the sage narrates that the story of Vamana Avatar occurred there and that the place got the name Siddhasrama because Lord Vishnu did penance there and got Siddhi. He led the princes to his own asrama there and, asking the princes to be on guard, conducts his yagna. Rama destroys the rakshasas and helps the sage to conclude his yagna successfully. Then he takes the princes to witness the yagna that Janaka was performing at Mithila.
This story covers, briefly, the portion from 27th sarga to the 31St sarga in Valmiki Ramayana.
1). Visvamitra initiates Rama into the mantras of marsy astras announcing each by its name. They manifest themselves before Rama. He requests them to come to him in the hour of necessity and takes leave of them. He then asks Visvamitra to teach him the samhara (destruction). astras which the sage does. This account is described in detail by Valmiki in 2 sargas. Kamban treats of this in 2 stanzas, and does not mention the request of Rama to the sage to teach him the samhara astras.
2). Valmiki’s account that Rama took the sage’s permission and taught Lakshmana all the astras he had learnt, does not find a place in Kamban’s account.
3). After proceeding two krosas they approached the river Kowsiki, and a loud sound was heard. Rama enquires what it was and the sage says it was due to the confluence of the Gomathi river with Sarayu. This is Kamban’s version. Valmiki places the question and answer before the destruction of Thataka, in midstream as they were crossing the Ganges. There the sage says that the sound was due to the confluence of Sarayu with the Ganges.
4). According to Kamban, Visvamitra gives a brief account of his life and that of the river Kowsiki before reaching Siddhasrama. Valmiki says that the account of the river Kowsiki was given on the way to Mithila, after the completion of his yagna, on the banks of the river Sona by Visvamitra by way of reply to Rama’s enquiry about the grove there.
5). Differences are found in the two Ramayanas in their accounts of Vamana Avatar (incarnation).. Valmiki says that the sage Kasyapa with his wife Dithi made penance to Lord Vishnu for the birth of a child, and that Vishnu, pleased with the penance, promised to be born as their son. Later Lord Vishnu himself performed penance there and concluded it successfully, and hence the spot came to be called Siddhasrama, according to the injunction-of Kasyapa. This account is not seen in Kamban. Kamban contents himself with mentioning the incarnation of Vamanä and omits to mention Kasyapa’s part in it.
6). The Devas inform Lord Vishnu (born as Vamana). that Bali is gifting away whatever is asked for at his yagna and plead with the Lord to go to Bali and ask for something and help them, which the Lord does. This is Valmiki’s account. This incident is not found in Kamban’s work. However, there is a detailed account of like conversation bet wcen Vamana and Bali; but, Valrniki disposes of it in one sloka.
7). When Bali was about to give away to Vamana the entire world, his Guru, Sukracharya comes there and points. out that it is all divine deception, and asked him not to be deceived for Lord Visimu himself has come there as Vamana, and tries to stop the gift but Bali argues that his Guru is wrong. This argument alone is dealt with in 7 stanzas. This is extra in Kamban’s work.
8). Visvamitra takes a vow of SIICnCC before beginning the yagna. Rarna asks him when the rakshasas arc (‘Xp(’C1Cd to come. Visvamitra is silent but ili&’ other sages inform him that the yagna will go on for six days and asked him to guard the yagna during all the time. As Rarna is attentively doing so, on the sixth day Subahu and Maricha came there with other rakshasas to pollute ii. This is what Valniiki says According to Kamban, to Rama’s quest on neither Visvami— tra nor the oihci sages reply. So Rania goes out and looks up at the sky and sees the rakshiasas showering firr, missilcs stones and blood. While Valmiki says that the attack came on the sixth day, Kamban says that it came as soon as the yagna began, on the first day itself.
9). On the approach of the rakshasas the sages, in fear, sought refuge iii Rama and thn Rama destroyed them. So says Valmiki. This is not found in Kamban’s work.
10). Valmiki has mentioned that the rakshasas showered blood on the sacrificial fire which thin blazed forth more brilliantly. But Kamban has skilhilly changed the version and said that Rama by his powers of archery shot his arrows and wove them into a sort of canopy over the sacrificial fire to prevent the rakshasas showering blood on the sacrificial.
11). According to Valmiki, at the conclusion of the yagna, Visvamitra says, as OflC man to another, to Rama,. “You have successfully carried out the words of your Guru, and my yagna has been performed well. You have hence macic the name of Siddhasrama a true one.” But according to Kamban, Visvamitra says to Rama, “To help me to perform my yagna well, is mere child’s play to you who has swallowed the whole world. This is only a token of your greatness.” These words show Visvamitra had understood the divine nature of Rama and has praised him as such.
(Chapter describing the release of Ahalya from her curse).
Visvamitra and the princes walk to the bank of the river Sona and spend the night in a grove there. Rama asks for its history and Visvamitra narrates the episode of the churning of the ocean, the penance of Dithi, sage Kasyapa’s wile, in the grove, and points out to a pond there as the spot where as a child Lord Muruga grew up. They reach the bank of the Ganges and the sage tells its history to Rama. They cross the Ganges and enter the city of Visala and aftci being entertained by the king of Visala, enter the bounds of Mithila. There Ahalya, who was invisible, gets back her visible form. Rama entrusts her to sage Gautama. Proceeding further, Rama has a view of the beautiful city of Mithila. This is the substance of this padala of 86 stanzas. This deals of the matter set out in detail in sargas 32 to 49 of Valmiki’s Ramayana.
1). In Kamban’s Ramayana, the churning of the ocean and the penance of Dithi arc described at night on the bank of the rivr Sona by the sage to Rama before crossing the ‘Ganges to enter Visala. But in Valmiki’s account the sage’s making of the narration is after the crossing of the Ganges and entering the environs of Visala. He gives the additional information that Indra spoiled Dithi’s penance there.
2). Indra’s wealth disappeared under the sea on account of the curse of sage Durvasa. To get it back the Devas churned the ocean. This is Kamban’s version of the churn.. ing of the ocean. Valmiki’s version is that the Devas and the Asuras churned the ocean to get the Amrita (or Nectar). to become immortal.
3). Valmiki mentions that the churning of the ocean took place in Kritha Yuga. Kamban makes no mention of it.
4). Valmiki nariates the story of the birth and growth of Lord Muruga and follows it up in detail, with the story of the Ganges in reply to Rama’s question on the bank of the Ganges. Kamban contents himself with saying that the sage simply pointed out a spot as the Saravana-pond i.e., the pond where Lord Muruga grew up without telling of his birth and growth after the narration of the churning of the ocean, on the bank of the Sona before reaching the Ganges.
5). When the three reach Visala, the sage tells Rama about the great Mithila and of the dynasty of its ruler. The king receives them respectfully and cnquires who the youths are. whrrcon the sagc tells of thir vanquishing the rakshasas at Siddhasrama. This is the account of’ valmiki. Kamban mentions only that the king welcomed them well and omits the rest of the account.
6). Kamban omits the account of Valmiki that the sage and the princes spent the night in Visala. There arc differences about the Ahalya episode too in. the two Ramayanas.
7). Kamban says that they saw a stone in au elevated place in a treeless plain adjoining Mithila. But Valmiki says they found an uninhabited hermitage in a grove adjoining Mithila.
8). Valmiki has it that Rama enquired of Visvamitra the reason for the hermitage being untenanted. The sage told him that the sage Gautama had so cursed his wife Ahalya, and brought Rama to the hermitage and asked him to release her from the curse. Kamban’s version is that the dust raised by Rama s feet fell on the stone in the plain and Ahalya got back her form having been released from the curse. Visvamitra tells Rama that she was Ahalya, whereon Rama asks for her story which the sage then describes.
9). Kamban says that Ixidra artfully arranged for the departure of the sage Gautama from his hermitage, and then got in. Valmiki says that he was waiting till the opportune moment and then entered the hermitage.
10). According to Valmiki, sage Gautama infuriated at lhc infamy of Indra cursed that he should become scro tuniless, and at once his scrotum fell off. Kamban has it differently. According to him the curse was that Indra should get the female marks of a thousand women.
11). Gautama’s curse to his wife was that she should live on air, lie on the sand and spend an invisible life till she was released of her curse by the dust of Rama’s feet, when she should worship him and get back her form. These arc Valmiki’s words. Gautama himself tells of the method of release from thc curse without Ahalya asking about it. But Kamban says that Ahalya turned into stone the moment Gautma cursed her, and entreats him to tell her when she will be released of the curse. Then the sage tells her about it.
Kamban does not mention the fact that Gautama set off to the Himalayas to do penance after cursing his wife, which Valmiki mentions. Valmiki does not mention the fact that Visvamitra asked sage Gautama to take back his. wife, which is mentioned by Kamban.
12). Kamban omits the statement of Valmiki that Ahalya, knowing that the visitor was not her husband, agreed to indulge in pleasure with him out of a sense of vanity that the Great Indra, the Lord of the Devas, himself had come there bewitched by her beauty.
13). The Devas pleaded to the Pitri Devatas to remove this disability of Indra (as a result of Gautama’s curse)., and they gave Indra a sheep’s scrotum. This is Valmiki’s version. The Devas with Brahma approached Gautama to release Indra from his curse, whereon he turned the thousand female marks into a thousand eyes. This is Kamban’s account.
14). Rama advised Ahalya to obey her lord dutifully.. This piece of information is found in Kamban’s work but not in Valmiki’s.
15). The information found in Kamban’s work that on the unexpected return of Gautama to his asrama, Indra. escaped from there in the shape of a cat, is not four d in Valniiki’s work. It is clear from Valmiki’s work that Visvamitra narrated the sio’y of the river Kowsiki on th’ bank of the river Sona, the stories of the Ganges and of Muruga on the banks of the Ganges, and the story of the churning of the ocean on reaching Visala. But Kamban has it that the sage narrated the story of the churning of the ocean during their stay at the rove on the bank of the river Sona. and the story of the Ganges on the bank of the Ganges.
VIEW OF MITHILA PADALA
(Chapter describing the beauty of Mithila).
This padala tells of the entry of the sage and the princes into Mithila and of their enjoying its beauty.
Kamban has followed Valmikis version with but a few changes and original creations of his own and including most of the side stories till the time the three reached Mithila. The changes in the side stories ate slight and not much material, being only changes in their order or in the personages telling the stories. The River Padala and Country Padala are Kamban’s own creations. There is no necessity for change in them. The Bala Kanda of Valmiki contains 77 sargas. Kambari’s Bala Kanda contains 36 verses. The major part of the Bala Kanda story (i.e. its first 50 sargas). is disposed of by Kamban in 562 stanzas ending with the Ahalya padala. ‘The story in the remaining 27 sargas of Valmiki’s Bala Kanda are dealt with in 835 stanzas (i.e. in the last i padala and beginning with Mithila-view padala). rather elaborately. These figures will show that Valmiki was interested in enjoying the boyhood stage of Sri Rama and was intent upon getting him married early. On the other hand, it will be seen, that Kamban desired to enjoy the youthful stage of Rama in varied facets of poetic fancy and hence delayed the marriage of Sri Rama.
Except for a padala or two, most of the remaining padalas in Kamban’s Bala Kanda arc original creations of kamban. It will be seen that the poet is beginning to show hi p.etic skill and fancy from this padala. It may be safely remarked that they have reached a high.water mark in this, the Mithila view padala. Those who want to appreciate uid enjoy the thrill of Kazrtban’s poetic genius, creative fervour, and the excellence of his poetry must go through this and the succeeding padalas, in the Balakanda. Thos I who wonder about the need for Kamban’s Ramayana will certainly realise their opinion after going through these padalas.
The substance of this padala: The sage and the princes cuter Mithila and traversing the royal path feast their eyes on the beauty of the city, its shops, festivities, (lance halls, games and swings. They see lovely Sita standing in the girls’ storey above the zenana of Janaka’s palace. Rama and Sita eye each other with amorous glances and fall in love. Rama proceeds with the sage but Sita is tormented with love pangs. Her associates comfort her but Sita thinks of Rama and prates. Her love pangs increase and the friends’ comforting go in vain. The moon comes up. Sita blames him in her lovelorn state. Learning of the arrival of the sage, Janaka receives the three with due respect and arranges for their stay in a mansion, and departs. There, Satananda, the priest of Janaka, comes to see them. Visvamitra nar.. rates the story of Rama’s sojourn including the release from her curse of Ahalya. Satananda praises Visvamitra and harrätes to Rama the story of Visvamitra’s life in Visvamitra’s presence in detail. Kamban does this in 59 stanzas. Then Satananda departs. Then the sage and the princes retire for the night. Rama, who is now alone, thinks of Sita, becomes lovelorn and prates and remains ill..atease. Ih the morning the three get up and go to Janaka’s yagna sala:
Janaka receives them and makes them seated. Enrapture4 by the enchanting handsomeness of the princes, Janaka asks Visvamitra who they are. The sage replies that they are the sons of Dasaratha who have come to witness the yagna and desire to see the bow of Siva.
The first 82 stanzas of this padala of 157 stanzas constitute the original creation of Kaznban. The contents of stanzas 83 to 140, (i.e., the portion dealing with the story of Visvamitra). are almost similar to the ideas of Valmiki. Stanzas I4I to 157 tell about their meeting with Janaka and theli reception at the yagna; the ideas, eccept for a few mino, modifications, are almost similar to those of Vaimiki. This padala treats of the matter dealt with in sargas 50 to 65 ol Valmilci’s Kamayana Balakanda.
1). In Valmiki’s account, sage Visvamitra with the prin. ces comes tojanaka’s yagna sala where Janaka receives him with the help of Satananda, and makes them seated. Then J anaka asks who the youths are, and Visvamitra relates the story of Rama up to the destruction of the rakshasas who caine to pollute his yagna and the release of Ahalya from her curse. Satananda enquires about his mother Ahalya, and Visvamitra narrates what took place. Satananda praises Rama, and, in the presence of Visvamitra and Janaka, tells the story of Visvamitra. In Kamban’s account, Janaka meets the sage and the princes as they come along the royal path, and arranges for their stay in a mansion and departs. Satnanda comes there and learns of the release of Ahalya, from the curse and narrates to Rama, in the absence of Janaka, the story of Visvamitra.
2). While Valmiki says that Janaka enquires of Visvamitra who the youths were in the yagna sala where he first met them, Kamban says that at their first meeting Janaka went away without asking who the youths were, and did so only the next day when they came to the yagna sala, and then, as a reply, Visvamitra told the story of Rama.
3). Valmiki says that when Visvamitra told of Raina’s releasing Ahalya’s curse, Satananda with great interest and emotion enquired about his mother Ahalya and that Vis vamitra told him about her. But in Kamban’s account Satananda makes no enquiry about Ahalya even though he heard of her release from her curse from Visvamitra.
4). According to Valmiki, after Satananda’s narration of Visvamitra’s history, Janaka intimates that evening has set in and, after asking the sage and the princes to come the next day to the yagna, departs with Satananda. According to Kamban, when Satananda left the sage and the princess after telling the story of Visvamitra to Rama in the mansion
where they were lodged, Visvaniitra ad Lakshmana go to sleep while Rama thinks of Sita and prates. The next moru mg the sage and the princes come to the yagnasala where, in reply to Janaka’s query Visvamitra narrates the story of Rama.
5). From the remark of Janaka that the sun was dfppng in the west in Valmki’s account, it is clear that Satananda finished his story of Visvamitra before sunset. But in Kam bn’s account it is to be inferred that Satananda’s narration in the mansion of the visitors went on till late in the night.
(Chapter in which the heredities of Dasar6tha and Janaka are narrated).
This padala gels its name from the descrption of the kings of the Surya Vamsa (Solar Race).. There are 20 stanzas in this padala. Th narration in the yagna ala of the story of the important kings of the Solar Race from its first Emperor Manu to Dasaratha, and of Rama’s story upto the time of his arrival in Mithila, forms the substance of this padala.
1). Kamban’s version is that Visvamitra narrated the hiai tory of the twelve famous kings of the Solar Race, from Mains to Dasaratha, and the story of Rama in brief, in the yagna sala on the second day of their arrival in Mithila and before Rama broke Siva’s bow. But, according to Valmiki, this takis place after Rarna breaks the bow, and after Dasaratha i sent for and comes to Mithila (i.e., so days after Rama’s arrival in Mithila). and with Dasaratha’s and Visvamitra’s permission. Here Vasishta does the narration tracing it from Brahzna, Marichi and Kasyapa and brings it down to Dasaratha mentio&ng the names of forty Kings and dealing specially with Sagaara’s greatness. Rama’s story is not narrated. There is only a mention that the princes are Dasa ratha’s sons. Valmiki treats about this in slokas 20 to 46% of sarga 70. But Kamban tells of it earlier. So far Kamban has told the side stories displacin th. r order in the original of Valmiki, without changing the main story. Here kamban makes a change in the main story itself by intrbduci earlier what has been told later in the original.
2). According to Kamban the narration of the rtory the SjarRacc i by Visvamitra in the yagna sala. Accor ing to Valmiki it takes place when Janaka is seated with I brother Kusadhwaja and vassals in the court hall and the narration was by Vasishta.
3). Vasishta narrates the greatness of the Solar Ra and exhorts Janaka to give his two daughters in inarria to Rama and Lakshmana. So runs the account in Valmi Kamban does not mention vasista’s request
(Chapter describing the breaking of siva’s bow by Rama).
This padala of 66 stanzas gets its name from the fame of rama’s breaking of Sivas bow This follows the starting sargas 66 and 67 of Valmiki’s Rantayana.
On hearing Visshvamitras words, Janaka makes his decision to give Sita in marriage only to the person who bends the great bow of Siva and asks his servants there fetch it, which they do. The People talk variously of the greatness of the bow and of Rama’s greatness. Satanan who was there, understanding the mental anguish of Janaka as to who was going to bend the bow and marry Sita, nobody rates the story of Sita and that of the bow and how many prince came to bend it but went away humiliated, a announces that Sita would be given to Rama if he bent bow. At once Rama proceeds to bend the bow. The galore of the city assembled there make various remarks at t Rama playfully bends and breaks the bow. Meanwhile Sita reclining on a bed of flowers in a mantapa on the bank of a lotus pond is sighing in a highly love affectionate condition. A companion called Neelamala rushes in a hevelled state and breaks out the news of Rama’s breaking of the bow. At this Sita is transported with joy. On advice of Visvamitra, Janaka sends emissaries to Ayodhya to invite Dasaratha and celebrate the marriage. This is the substance of this padala.
1). Kamban says that Janaka ordered four of his servants to bring the bow. They go out and the bow is brought to the hail by 60,000 persons. Valmiki’s account is that Janaka asks his ministers to get the bow and they go out and the bow, kept in a huge iron box, is drawn into the hail by 5,000 persons.
2). In reply to Visvamitra’s query, Janaka himself narrates the story of Sita and of the bow, according to Valmiki. Kamban says that it was Satananda who made the narration.
3). Kamban says that after Janaka gets the bow into the hail Satanancla tells the stories of Sita and of the bow and asks Rama to bend the bow. Valmiki says that Janaka made the narration first, then got the bow to the hail, and spoke of the humiliation of many who attempted to break it and promises to give Sita to Rama in marriage if he benf the bow.
As soon as the bow was broken, Janaka enquires o Visvamitra whether Dasaratha should be invited and the marriage performed or whether the marriage could be performed straightaway. Visvamitra replies that it would be proper oniy if Dasaratha is invited first. This is Kamban’s version. Valmiki makes no mention of the enquiry and reply hut only states that, taking Visvamitra’s permission, Janaka sent emissaries to Ayodhya.
Basing the story on Valmiki’s short narration, Kamban intermingles his imaginative creations and embellishes Valmiki’s account. This will be evident from the succeeding
(Chapter describing Dasaratha’s journey to Mithila from Ayodhya).
This padala of 82 stanzas is so entitled because it tells the journey of Dasaratha’s sojourn to Mithila with his armies.
Janaka’s emissaries reach Ayodhya and produce Janaka’ epistle in the royal assembly and one of the wise men rea it to the king. Immensely delighted by the news, Dasaratha asks it to be proclaimed by beat of drum that everyone should start for Mithila, and starts with his armies (after proceeding 2 yojanu)., encamps at the base of Chandra Saila Hill. This is the substance of the padala.
1). Kamban makes no mention of the fact that emissaries reached Ayodhya after spending three days route as mentioned by Valimiki.
2). Vaimiki says that the emissaries told the king themselves of the news of the breaking of the bow and does not mention that an epistle was brought as said by Kamban. In one stanza Kamban makes the emissaries tell brief what took place and hand over the epistle.
3). Valmiki has it that on hearing of the news he consulted with Vashishta and other sages to know if the alliance with Janaka was in order and asked for their opinion, and then started for Mithlai on their permission. This is not found in Kamban’s account.
4). Kamban says that the armies went first, then Dasara’s wives, then Vashishta followed by bharatha, Satrughna and finally Dasaratha, on the journey to Mithila
Valmiki says that he went with sages and the army followed him
5). Valmki says that the party spent four days on the war and reached Mithila on the fifth day. Kamban does not give the number of days but indicates the spot where each of the party encamped, in each of four padalas called description padala, flower picking padala, water sports padala and the disport padala respectively. In these Kamban has exhibited high imiganinative skill. Kamban mentions that Dasaratha’s queen were in the party about which Valmiki makes no mention.
This padala narrates the story in sarga 68 and up thc sloka 7 in sarga of Valmiki’s work. Kamban finish the story within B stanzas of this padala and in the succeeding stanzas describes the army of Dasaratha their Joyous march, and the happy incidents on their march. These padala may therefore be regarded mostly as Kamban’s own creation.
VIEW OF HILL PADALA
(Chapter describing the events during the trip from ayodhya toMithila).
This padala derives its name from the description of the various events of Dasaratha’s army as it lay encamped at Chandra Saila hill. It contains 77 stanzas. There is no basis for this in Valmiki’s work. Kamban has done this to invest his poem ‘th the qualities of a Maha Kavya (or, great epic poem)., by including this and the succeeding three padalas for which there is no basis in the original of Valmiki. Such additions are found in the poems, Sisupala Vadha, and Kiratarjuniya, in Sanskrit.
FLOWER- PIKING PADALA
(Chapter describing the sports in the flower garden).
Dasaratha’s army reached a flower garden after the night’s stay at the base of the Chandra Saila hill. There the girls and women picked flowers and enjoyed themselves in sportive activities. In this padala of 39 stanzas Kamban treats the matter with imaginative skill.
WATER SPORTS PADALA
(Chapter describing the water sports).
The women folk indulge in water names arid spoils with the men folk 1n thi iivcrs and brooks. Kamban describes these with vivid imaginative skill in 33 stanzas.
(Chapter describing the joyful activities of Dasaratha’s party).
In this padala of 67 stanzas Kamban conjures up a picture of the happy ways in which the men and women in the party after drinking intoxicating drinks disported themselves in diverse types of pleasurable activities.
There is little difference in the narrations of the route taken by the sage Visvamitra and Kamban details the route of Dasaratha from Ayodhya to Mithila as viz., Chandra Saila hill, the bank of the river sona, and across the Ganges. Valmikimerely says that Dasaratha reached Mithila after four days’ journey but is not clear about the route.
(Chapter describing Janaka’s welcome to Dasaratha).
This padala of 34 stanzas is so called because Janaka went out with his army to meet Dasaratha as he approached Mithila and welcomed him and brought him to Mithila.
When Dasaratha approaches Mithila with his army, Janaka sets out with his army, proceeds out of the City and welcomes 1).asaratha. Dasaratha extends his hand to janaka, takes him up in his chariot, enquires after his welfare and embraces him. Then as they reach the limits of the City, Rama and Lakshmana come out to meet them. Dasaratha embraces them and then asks them to lead the armies into the City. With his brothers at his sides Rama rides in t chariot into the royal path of the City. This is the substance of this padala.
Dasaratha reaches Mithila, and Janaka welcomes him with due honour and he stays in a mansion. Visvamitra with Rama and Lakshmana comes there and the sons do obeisance to their father. This is what Valmiki says. He does not mention that Janaka or Rama and Lakshmana went out of the city to receive Dasaratha. But Kamban says that Janaka went out of the city first to receive Dasaratha and to bring him to Mithila. Then Rama and Lakshmana went out to receive Dasaratha. But he does not say that Visvamitra went with the princes. This padala follows the story in the 12 slokas from the 7th sloka in the 69th sarga to the 19’Th sloka (i.e., the end). of the sarga. This is an amplification of the short account of Valmiki that, having spent four days, Dasaratha reached Mithila at the environs of which he was received with due honours by janaka, and spent the night at Mithila. Kamban hs introduced certain new episodes and embellished his account. This too may be called the creation of Kaxnban.the princes in their sojoun from Ayodhya to Mithila, by Kamban and Valmiki.
STATE DRIVE PADALA
(Chapter describing the state drive of Rama in Mithila).
This padala of 54 stanzas derives its name from the fact that it describes the state drive of Rama along the royal path.
Seated on a handsome chariot Rama drives in procession through the royal path. The damsels of the city come out to feast their eyes on Rama’s lovely form and are charmed by it. Each tells the other with a sigh that she is not lucky to have him as her lord. They get fully lost in enjoying that part of his body which meets their eyes and arc unable to take their eyes off from it to look at the other parts. In this universe-bewitching manner Rama drives in procession and reaches the Court hail, does obeisance to the sages Vasishta and Visvamitra seated there, and takes his seat with Lakshmana. Then Dasaratha enters the hail with his vassals and Janaka accords them the due honour and respect. This is the substance of the padala.
The custom of taking the bridegroom in procession on the marriage eve to a mantapa or hail and honouring him there is still prevalent in our part of the country. This is called Janavasa or Reception of the Bridegroom. Kamban evidently had the practice in mind in framing this padala. This is not found in Valmiki’s account. Hence this padala may also be said to be a creation of Kamban.
(Chapter describing how her companions decorated Sita).
This padala of 43 stanzas tells of the various ways in, which the companions of Sita decorated her and hence the title of the padala.
Vasishta asks Janaka to bring Sita. The companions of Sita go to her, on Janaka’s command, and inform her. They decorate Sita in diverse ways that bewitch them. Sita walked majestically into the Court hail. Rama is delighted at the thought that it is the same dainty damsel he had seeti on the girls’ storey. Vasishta, Visvamitra and Dasaraths
are entranced by her beauty, think that ‘she i the incarnation of Lakshmi herse1f, and are extremely delighted. The others lift their hands to salute her. Dasaratha asks Visvarmitra when the marriage is fixed to take place, and Visvamitra replies that it will be: celebrated the next day. Then Dasaratha goes to his camp, and the sun sets. This is the substance of the padala.
1). Valmiki says that as soon as Dasaratha and his party reached Mithila, Janaka sent word to his younger brother Kusadhwaja and got him to Mithila. Kamban does not mention this fact.
2). Valmiki says that when Vasishta concluded his narration of the greatness of Rama’s race, Janaka narrated the history of his ancestors from that of Emperor Nimi down to his own. This is not found in Kamban’s account.
3). As soon as Janaka finished the narration of the greatness of his race Visvamitra acked Janaka to give the two daughters of Kusadhwaja his brother to Bharatha and Satrughna. Janaka agreed to the proposal and said that the four could be married the day after the ncxt in Phalguna Uthihara. This account of Valmiki is not found in Kamban’s.
4). “Today is Makha. The day after the next is Phalguna Uththara. It is a very auspicious day for marriage. The marriage can be held on that day”. So said Janaka to Vasishta. Accordingly the reception of the bridegrooms was hcld on the day prior to that before the marriage, in Makha. We get to know of this from Valmiki’s account. Kamaban says that as soon as the reception of the bride grooms was over, when Dasaratha asked Visvamitra when the marriages were fixed to take place Visvamitra replies that it would be the next day. Since this conversation takes place on the eve of the marriage, we come to know that the reception to the bridegrooms was held in Purva Phalguna.
According to Kamban, Rama and Sita first see each other when Sita was in the girls’ storey and then for the second time during the reception. ‘Valmiki says that they saw each other for the first time during the actual marriagc This padala is based on the custom of seating the bride and the bridegroom on auspicious seats and perfoming what is called as “Nischaya Thamboolam “ the day before the marriage. It is a creation of Kamban’s poetic fancy.
Valmiki treats in sargas 70 to 72 of Vasishta’s request to Janaka to give his daughter in marriage to Rama and Lakshmana, of Visvamitra’s request to Janaka to give his brother Kusadhwja’s daughters in marriage to Bharata and Satrughna, of Janaka’s acceptance of the suggestions, and of the ficing of the marriage day. Kamban bases this padala on these and, introducing some new episodes, makes a new creation of his own in this padala.
(Chapter describing the marrioge of Sita).
This padala of 104 stanzas describes in detail the marriages of Rama and his brothers and hence its name. This is based on the 73rd sarga of Valmiki and, introducing some new incidents, Kamban has imaginatively given its shape to these padala.
On the night preceding the marriage, Rama and Sita think of each other feeling greatly love-afflicted. The people of the city decorate the city in various ways on hearing of the king’s words that the marriage will be celebrated the next day. Soon after dawn Dasaratha enters the marriage hall with his retinue. Janaka too arrives. Rama bathes, wears the holy thiruman on his forehead, and wearing fine dress and ornaments, gets into a chariot with his brothers and reaches the marriage hall. Vasishta arrives with the materials necessary for the conduct of the marriage. The couples are seated on the marriage platform. Janaka gifts away Sita to Rama, with the pouring of water. Then Sita circumambulates the fire, steps on the grindstone and looks at the actual Arundhati herself seated besides Vasithta, unlike other brides who have to look up at the star Arundhati in th sky. Then Rama and Sita do obeisance to Dasaratha and the queen mothers retire to their’ bed chambers. Then, janaka decides in consultation with Dasaratha and celebrates the marriage of the three daughters of his brother Kusadhwaja to the three younger brothers of Rama. Dasaratha stays, in Mithila for a few days after the marriage. This is the substance of this padal:
1). Yudajit, the maternal uncle of Bharata comes to Ayodhya to take Bharata to his city according to his father’s desire, learns that all had left for Mithila for the marriage, repairs to Mithila, meets Dasaratha on the day prior to that of the marriage, and tells of his coming first to Ayodhya and thence to Mithila. This account of Valimiki is not mentioned by Kamban.
2). Valmiki makes no mention of the fact mentioned by Kamban that on the night before the marriage day Rama and Sita spent the night loveafflicted.
3). Kamban says that Dasaratha, Rama, Sita and Vasishata entered the marriage hail in that order. Valmiki says that Dasaratha entered first followed by Rama with his brothers and sages.
4). Valmiki does not mention the fact mentioned by Kamban that Sita stepped on the grindstone and then looked at the actual Arundhati seated near Vasishta instead of looking at the Aruridhati star in the sky.
5). Kamban says that Sita made obeisance, after her marriage, to Kaikeyi, then Kousalya and Sumitra and they gave her presents of many jewels. Valmiki is silent about it.
6). Valmiki tells that the marriage was celebrated in the yagna sala. Kamban makes mention of the decorated hall only.
7). Valmiki clearly mentions that Vasishta asked janaka to give his two daughters in marriage to Rama and Lakshmana and Visvamitra asked janaka to give the daughters of his brother Kusadhwaja in marriage to Bharata and Satrughna. So it is clear that Sita and Urmila were the.daughters of janaka and Mandavi and Sruta Kirti were the daughters of Kusadhwaja. But Kamban clearly says that seeing Sita, the other three were the daughters of Kusadhwaja.
8). Kamban says that dasaratha stayed in Mithila about a few days after the marriage. But Valmiki has it that the next day itself Visvamitra betook himself to the Himalaya and Dasaratha followed suit by setting out for Ayodhya.
9). Valmiki says that the four couples got married simultaneously and retired to their bed chambers. Kamban makes a change and says that Rama was married first and retired to the bed chamber, and then the marriages of the other three brothers were settled and conducted.
10). Kamban mentions that the town fully decorated the city on the night before the marriage day while Valmiki makes no mention of it.
11). From the statement of Valmiki that Yudajit before reaching Ayodhya the news of the marriage at Mithila it is to be inferred that the marriage having been settled a too suddenly, the marriage invitation could not be sent eve to the Kekaya king. Kamban makes no mention of Yudjit all.
(Chapter describing the meeting between Rama and Parasurama).
This padala of 50 stanzas derives its name from the fact that it tells of the vanquishing of Parasurama by Rama when the former challenged Sri Rama to show prowess, when Dasaratha, Rama and their party were turning to Ayodhya from Mithila. This is based, on sargas74 to 77 of Valmiki’s Ramayarra. Only a few changes are seen here between the original and Kamban’s words. But for these, there is unanimity in the two versions.
At the conclusion of the marriage, Visvamitra takes leave of Janaka and repairs to the Himalayas for doing prance. Dasaratha with his sons and retinue is returning Ayodhya. On his way he found peacocks going on the right and crows and other birds going on the left. Taking to be an ill-omen and becoming sad, Dasaratha enquire a seer what they indicate and he replies that the party will meet danger but it will be overcome soon. Then Parasurama bearing a bow and an axe and with a terrible form making the whole world trembles, appears before rama and speaks fiercely, “You have broken a spent bow. Now I have come to test your valour.” Dasaratha is all fear and trembling, praises Parasurama profusely and asks him to show them mercy. Not heeding his words, Parasurama speaks to Rama telling him of the stories of Siva’s bow, of the Vishnu’s bow in his hand, of the battle between Siva and Vishnu, of how in that battle Siva’s bow was made powerless, of how he was so long living in Mahendra mountain forgetting his anger at the death of his father at the hands of Karthaviryarjuna, and of how he had come there on hearing the noise of the breaking of Siva’s bow, and showed the Vishnu bow in his hand to Rama and challenged him if he was really valorous to bend that bow, and said he would fight with him later.
Immediately Rama takes the bow from Parasurama’s hands, bends it, and asks Parasurama what he was offering as the target for his arrow. Finding that he had failed, Parasurama praises Rama and offers all the penance he had done so far as the target for his arrow. The arrow speeds and collects up all the penance of Parasurarna and returns. Parasurama bows to Rama and goes away. Rama then comforts his father who has fall into a faint. Dasaratha embraces his son and feels happy. Rama gives the bow taken from Parasurama into the care of Varuna, and returns to Ayodhya, with his father. After a few days, Yudajit, the maternal uncle of Bharata and Satrughna takes them to Kekaya. This is the substance of this padala.
1). Valmiki says that when Dasaratha left Mithila with his sons and daughters in-law, Janaka gave them large presents of pearls, gold, cows and land as Sridhana and went some distance with them to give them a send off. Kamban makes no mention of this.
2). “Peacocks going on the right (clockwise). and crows and other birds going anti-clockwise.” Kamban describes these as inauspicious omens. Valmiki tells this differently as “Birds screeched ominously and animals went clockwise”.
3). Kamban says Dasaratha asks the seer what the effects of the ill-omens will be. Valmiki says that the Dasaratha made the enquiry of Vasishta himself.
4). According to Valmiki, Vasishta ‘and the other sages welcomed the irate Parasurama with arghya and padya. Kamban says that Dasaratha himself did these and does not mention Vasishta or the other sages in. this context.
5). Valmiki says that Parasurama talked nothing disparaging of Siva’s bow and merely said, “You are a Khatriya, I have come here to see your prowess. If you take up the bow and get it ready to shoot an arrow, I shall then fight with you”, without slighting Rama. But Kamban has it thus: Parasurama with great disdain and pride exclaims, “It is no credit to you to have broken a spent bow. Show your might in bending this bow.”
6). Rama bent the bow and set an arrow in it and said, “The arrow cannot be shot in vain. Shall I destroy your padagati or shall I destroy all the virtue you have accumulated by your penance?” Parasurama, having to repair to Mahendra Mountain without staying the night there in pursuance of Kasyapa’s curse, asked Rama to destroy his virtue. This is Valmiki’s account. According to Kamban, Rama does not ask which of the two things he should destroy, but merely asks what Parasurama was offering as the target for his arrow.
7). After the rout of Parasurama, Rama gave the bow to Varuna and then made obeisance to Vasishta and then comforted Dasaratha who had fainted. So says Valmiki. Kamban has it that Rama first roused Dasaratha from his faint, then gave the bow to Varuna asking him to take care of it.
8). Valmiki says that Rama conducted the affairs of State with his father’s permission and loved Sita with extreme fervour because of the fact that his marriage to her was, arranged by great sages. Kamban does not mention these.
It can be concluded that Kamban has made change in Valmiki’s account in the following ways:
1).. Making slight changes her and there in the main story and the side stories.
2).. Mentioning the incidents in the main and side stories in the original, in other contexts.
3).. Telling the story in the original mentioned in one place in a different place.
4). Adding extra imaginative accounts related to the original, and introducing imaginative accounts of kamban.
5). Having the narration by a person in the original made by another.
6). Describing the route through which Visvamitras took Rama and Lakshmana, differently.
Why did Kamaban who proclaimed in a verse at the beginning that he will be following Valmiki, change the story of the original? Are there any bases in the Puranas and ancient accounts for the changes he had made and the new imaginative accounts he had given? Or, are these kamban’s own independent creations? It is not necessary to enter into these enquiries for the purpose of this book.
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