The Ramayana has seven long sections called kandas. Bala Kanda (or Bala Kandam) is the first book of the Valmiki Ramayana. This Kanda narrates about Prince Rama’s birth, his youthful adventures, and his marriage to the Princess Sita.
Rama Birth In Bala Kanda
Dasharatha was the king of Kosala (the capital was Ayodhya city) having three wives – Kausalya (eldest wife. She was the daughter of the King of Kosala Kingdom), Kaikeyi (second wife. Kaikeyī belonged ruling family of the Kekaya clan), Sumitra (third wife. She came from the ancient kingdom of Kashi.) but no children. The thought of his dynasty ending with him saddened King Dasharatha and he was very eager to have a son who would take care of the throne of Ayodhya.
King Dasharatha visited the royal family’s Guru, Vashistha and narrated his problem. Vasistha comforted King Dashrath by telling him that he would have four sons. With King Dasharath’s consent, Guru Vashistha summoned Rishi Shringi to perform the Putra-Kam yagna (sacrificial fire for the birth of sons). The gods gave him with a bowl of divine nectar. As the three queens sat to eat their share of the prasadam, an eagle snatched Sumitra’s share. To console Sumitra, Kaikeyi and Kausalya gave half of their share each to Sumitra. With Kausalya and Kaikeyi each bearing one son i.e. Rama was born to Kausalya, Bharata was born to Kaikeyi, and Sumitra gave birth to twins i.e. Lakshman and Shatrughan ( Ram portrayed as the seventh avatar of the God Vishnu who had opted to be born into mortality in order to combat the demon Ravan, who was oppressing the Gods, and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. While Bharata and Shatrughna are his disc and conch-shell, Lakshman is portrayed as an avatar of the Shesha, the nag associated with the God Vishnu.)
Rishi Vishwamitra trained the Princes in Bala Kanda
Rishi (Sage) Viswamitra trained the sons of King Dasharath in the art of firing missile-arrows imbibed with secret chants that could cause the arrows to shower fire or water on its enemies, and even follow them through the seven worlds until they’re killed.
When Ram was 16 years old, Rishi Vishvamitra visited to the court of King Dasharatha where the King received him with great honour. Rishi Viswamitra lived in the forest and was performing great sacrifices. However, the rakshas (Rakshas) Mericha and Subahu were disturbing sacrificial rites. He knew that Rama had taken birth on earth to protect his devotees and so he decided to visit King Dasharatha to ask him for favour. The Rishi asked the king to send his sons to the forest with him. Reluctantly the king agreed.
Rishi Vishwamtra took Rama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needed Ram’s help in slaying several Rakshas that had been harassing him and several other Rishis living in the area.
Ram encountered his first problem-female rakshasi (demoness) Tadaka, Tadaka, a cursed yaksha demoness. When asked to slay the rakshasi, Rama considered it sinful to kill a woman. Rishi Vishwamitra explained that evil had no gender. The killing of Tadaka liberates the yaksha soul who was cursed for a sin, and had to adopt a rakshasi’s body.
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Rishi Viswamitra presented Ram and Lakshman with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that would be of use to them in the future. Ram and Lakshmana were taught the advanced military arts and given the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses
Rishi Vishwamtra told Rama and Lakshmana that soon, he along with some of his disciples, would perform a yagna for seven days and nights that would be of great benefit to the world, and the two princes must keep close watch for the two sons of Tadaka Mericha and Subahu, who would try to defile the yagna at all costs. The princes therefore kept a strong vigil for all of the days, and on the seventh day they spot Mericha and Subahu coming with a whole host of rakshas ready to pour bones and blood into the fire. Ram pointed his bow at the two, and with one arrow killed Subahu, and with the other arrow killed Mericha. Lakshmana dealt with the rest of the rakshas The yagna was completed successfully.
Sita’s Birth in Bala Kanda
One day, a female child was found in a furrow in a ploughed field, and for that reason is regarded as a daughter of Bhumi, the goddess of the Earth. She was found and adopted by Janaka, king of Mithila and his wife Sunayana. Overwhelmed with joy, the king regarded the child as a “miraculous gift of God”. The King brought her to his Palace and brought her up as his daughter. She was named “Janaki” and Narda called her “Sita”.
In her childhood, Sita while playing with her sisters had unknowingly moved the table over which the “Shiv Dhanush” (divine bow of Lord Shiv gifted to King Janaka by Rishi Parashuram for safe-keeping, presented to Rishi Parashuram by the God Shiv) had been placed. This incident was noticed by King Janaka and he decided to make this incident as the backdrop for swayamvar.
Sita Svayamvar In Bala Kanda
Rama, while going to Mithila for Sita Svayamvar along with Rishi Viswamitra and Laksman, stopped at the, then-uninhabited, hermitage of Rishi Gautam. Vishvamitra narrated Ahalya’s story to Ram, and asked him to free her. (Ahalya, the wife of Rishi Gautam, was a beautiful woman. Indra, king of the Gods, was tempted and decided to seduce her with trickery. He asked the moon to become a cock and crow early, fooling Rishi Gautam into thinking the dawn had arrived and causing him to go down to the nearby Ganges for his usual morning bath. While the Rishi was bathing at the river, Indra assumed Gautam’s form and visited Ahalya, fooling her into thinking he was her husband. When Gautam returned, he encountered Indra, emerging from his hut in his (Gautam’s) form. Spiritually powerful, Gautam employed his divine vision to see the whole episode. Enraged, he cursed Indra with impotence and cursed the moon, which had an unblemished look until then, to have spots. Rishi Gautam, in a blind rage, also cursed his wife, Ahalya, to turn into a boulder. Innocent of any intentional wrongdoing, Ahalya begged for forgiveness. Gautam relented somewhat and said that when Rama was incarnated, he would bless her and break her curse.)
Rama touched the boulder with his foot and Ahalya was immediately released from the curse. She fell to Ram’s feet and washed his feet with her tears. She felt that her curse had become her fortune as she got the opportunity to seek Ram’s refuge in person. She then returned to her husband’s place.
Ram, Lakshman and Rishi Viswamitra ventured on a journey and reached the beautiful capital of the Videhad, Mithila. The king of Mithila, Janaka, welcomed the great Rishi and enquired about Rama and Lakshmana,who were accompanying him. The brothers then set out to discover the beautiful city and visited Janak’s garden. It was the first meeting of Rama and Sita. Sita had fallen for Ram and prayed to Devi Gauri that she helped her to attain Rama as her husband.
King Janaka had arranged a swayamvar ceremony to select a husband for his daughter Sita.. King Janak sent a messenger to invite Rama, Laksmana and Rishi Viswamitra to attend the swayamvar. which included a contest. King Janak announced that whoever after lifting the bow (Shiv Dhanush) from its place, string and shoot an arrow with it could be married to Sita. Many princes tried and failed to lift the mammoth bow. Rama effortlessly lifted, stringed and broke the divine bow. Sita approached Rama and placed a wreath around his neck. Janaka sent messengers to Ayodhya from where a marriage procession, consisting of Ram’s family, friends and well wishers departed for Mithila.
Ram Sita Marriage In Bala Kanda
Messengers were sent to the kingdom of Ayodhya to invite Dasharatha for wedding of his sons. Thereafter the two kings met and Janaka bestowed Sita upon Rama, and his second daughter Urmila on Lakshmana. To Bharata and Satrughna Janaka gave Mandavya (Mandavi) and Srutakirti, daughters of Kushadhwaja, the younger brother of Janaka.
After the swayamvar, Ram, Sita and the entire royal family began their journey back, Rishi Parashuram confronted with them. He was the sixth Avatara of Vishnu, and found it unbelievable that anybody could break the bow of Shiva. He had brought Lord Vishnu’s bow and challenged Ram to string the bow and fight a duel with him. Ram respectfully bowed to Rishi Parashuram, and within a twinkling of an eyelid snatched the bow of Vishnu, stringed it, placed an arrow and pointed it straight at the challenger’s heart. Ram asked Rishi Parashuram what he would give as a target to the arrow in return for his life? At this point, Rishi Parashuram realised that Ram is Vishnu incarnate, his successor. He accepted Ram’s superiority, devoted his tapasya to Ram and promised to return to his hermitage and leave the world of men.
Valmiki Ramayana is divided in following Kanda’s :