Vishwamitra is a great sage renowned for his austerities as much as for his impulsive nature. He is easily moved by emotions such as anger, sympathy and love. He arrives in Ayodhya when Dasaratha begins to contemplate about his sons’ wedding during their twelfth year. The king receives the sage with honours and as is his wont spontaneously offers his services as well. The eagerness with which Dasaratha tries to please the sage takes an ironic twist when he backs out of the promises he makes to him, pointed out Sri R. Krishnamurthy Sastrigal in a lecture.

Pleased with Dasaratha’s honours, the sage straightaway explains the purpose of his visit. He is engaged in performing a sacrifice. Two rakshasas, Maricha and Subhahu, prevent the successful completion of the sacrifice he tries to perform. Though the sages can use the power of penance to curse and destroy the demons, it would be a waste of their hard-earned tapas. Vishwamitra hence wishes that Dasaratha should send Rama with him to protect the sacrifice and fight the demons. Rama is sure to gain name and fame under his tutelage. The sage assures Dasaratha that he need not worry about Rama whose greatness he knows fully well.

But the king finds this request impossible to accede to. How can he send Rama — who is still a tender boy and used to princely comforts — with the sage to be exposed to the dangers of forest life and to fight powerful demons? In fact he is doubtful of his own capacity even with the aid of his entire army to confront Maricha and Subhahu who have the backing of Ravana. Irked by this reaction, the sage gets ready to depart with words of sarcasm and contempt to the king who is unable to his own word of promise. So Vasishta pacifies Dasaratha and tells him that the sage’s request is more for Rama’s benefit than for his own. The sage is well versed in weaponry and would impart the nuances of archery to Rama. The sage knows how to withdraw the astras as well, a secret knowledge not known to many. Rama would be most safe with him. Finally, Dasaratha agrees and Vishwamitra, Rama and Lakshmana set out for the forest with auspicious omens indicating success in their sojourn.

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