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CHAPTER 17: THE GREAT FESTIVAL
Slowly the time passed, and Sitadevi gave birth to children. There are opinions that she only gave birth to one child and that Valmiki created the other child. Whatever happened, there were two children called Lava and Kusa. Valmiki wrote the Ramayana up to the point of Rama's coronation, so he taught Lava and Kusa this Ramayana, how to sing it. But Lava and Kusa were not told who they were. They were told that there was a great king, and this is the story of the great king, and they must learn it. So they learnt it very nicely and they would sing it in front of Sita. Sometimes Sita would cry. They would ask, "Why are you crying?" and she would say, "I was just thinking how much suffering that lady Sita would have been having." Lava and Kusa became expert Ramayana singers, and Ramacandra decided to perform asvamedha-yajna. Satrughna went with the horse all around the world. Ramacandra could not perform the yajna without the wife, so they made a golden deity of Sita. The deity was next to Him, and in this way they were doing the yajna. A big yajnashala was built, and all the rishis from all over India were there. So there was large accommodation, and entertainment, drama etc. They didn't know where to go, because there were so many programs going on at the same time. Laksmana was arranging all the shows, all the dramas, dances and music. Vibhisana took care of the treasury, he was in the reception. They were all accommodated and everyone was having a nice festival. Then Valmiki came to the gate. Not everyone was allowed to come, so as he came in the gate, he left Lava and Kusa and said "You go and try to get inside." In front of him was Angada, standing there. There were many gates, so Lava and Kusa came and were walking. Angada put his tail there and said, "Hey! Where are you going?" They said, "Yajna is happening, so we must go." Angada said, "Who are you? Have you been invited?" They said, "We are disciples of Valmiki." Angada said, "Oh, disciples of Valmiki! But one thing, you have to have an invitation, otherwise we don't let you in." So then Lava and Kusa said, "How do you know we don't have invitations?" Angada said, "I have the list of people who are invited. Your name is not here." They said, "You read it properly. Our name is there. It must be there." He started reading, and they went inside. Angada informed someone that they had gotten in. The police came there and they saw Lava and Kusa. "Hey, where are you going? You are not allowed here. We have information that you have come inside without permission." So immediately they took their vinas and started singing. They were singing the dynasty of Iksvaku. Then the police heard this, and they were entranced. Very soon there was a big crowd. Any rishi who was walking past also stopped and listened, thinking it was one of the programs. They didn't know it was just someone singing spontaneously. They were sitting there listening and relishing Ramayana. So then Bharata came there and said, "What is this crowd? Move along." Someone said to him, "Just listen to this. Ramacandra has just taken birth." Bharata said, "Ramacandra just took birth?" "Just listen," they said. Bharata sat down, and he also forgot where he was going and what he was doing. Hanuman was going on patrol, checking everything. When he heard this kirtan, he also came and sat down, and forgot everything. All the activities of the yajna came to a standstill, because Lava and Kusa were narrating the nectarean pastimes of Rama. Finally Laksmana came, the chief controller. "What's going on here?" They said, "Some gurukulis are doing Ramayana." Laksmana said, "This is a good thing! I can make this into a program." He called them over. "Come here boys. Why don't you do Ramayana as a program?" They said, "We don't mind doing it, but how can we do it if we are not invited?" Laksmana said, "I will invite you as special guests. Who is stopping you here?" So he announced to the guests, "Lava and Kusa can go anywhere, do anything, pick up anything, eat anything, sit anywhere they like, play any style, they can do anything. They must just do the Ramayana class every day, that's all. They have nothing else to do all day, just Ramayana and maybe a little astrology in the morning. That's all." So Lava and Kusa came on the stage, and they were singing Ramayana. All the guests were sitting there listening. Then at one point they thought, "Why shouldn't we call Ramacandra for this?" So Hanuman went there and said, "There is a wonderful Ramayana program going on there in the yajnashala." "Ramayana? What's that?" Hanuman said, "Your pastimes." Rama said, "Oh, I would like to hear that." Ramacandra came there, and sat down. Everyone was listening. They were describing the Vanaras, killing of the demons, and everything like that. Ramacandra was so happy that every ten minutes he was throwing pearl necklaces, giving wonderful gifts to them, embracing them, covering them with kisses. They were so fired up they were going on and finally they came to the coronation, and then they stopped, because that's where Valmiki's Ramayana ends. Hanuman said, "Go more, go more!" The boys said, "Go more? That's all we know! And that's why we came here, because we wanted to know what happened afterwards." So then Laksmana said, "I will show you. This is Hanuman. Remember Hanuman, whom you were singing about?" They touched his feet and got his blessings. "I am Laksmana." They circumambulated Laksmana and paid obeisances. They had so much respect for the characters of Ramayana. "This is Vasistha, Visvamitra, Gautama," and everyone was introduced. Hanuman brought them to Ramacandra. "This is Ramacandra." Then they also paid obeisances. And then they asked, "Where is Sita?" Hanuman looked down. They ran to Vasistha, and asked, "Where is Sita?" He looked the other way. They came to Ramacandra, and they were on both sides of him, shaking him and demanding, "Come on, tell us! Where is Sita?" He was just crying. Then they went around asking everyone, "Where is Sita? Where is Sita?" Some lady told them that Sita was in the forest. "What is she doing in the forest? How did she go to the forest?" Someone told, "Some dhobi gave some criticism, so she was sent to the forest." Lava and Kusa took their vinas and came in front of Rama. They broke the vinas there in front of him, throwing them on the floor. "You are not glorious. We made a mistake. Why did we sing Your glories? What a demoniac person You are! You are more demoniac than Ravana! He is bringing somebody else's wife and he is a demon. You are a great Iksvaku king and you're kicking your wife out because some dhobi said something. Shame! Shame! Shame! No-one should read this Ramayana. We won't copy it or give it to anyone. We are going." No-one could say anything. What could they say? And then Ramacandra came to them and said, "Please bear with Me. Just give Me some time to explain things. You are rishi-putras, sons of saintly people. You must not lose sense control." They said, "You talk of sense control! You sent your wife to the forest because some dhobi criticized her, and now you are talking of sense control. You have no more dharma. You were always thinking that you were the personification of religion. No! You are a great cheater! Why did you waste our vach-sakti, our power of speech by describing the glories of a person who has no honour in this world? We are going." Then Valmiki was waiting outside. The boys came out, and he said, "So? What happened?" "What happened? There is no Sita there! They sent her to the forest." Valmiki said, "Did you talk with Ramacandra?" They said, "Who was this Ramacandra? We don't want to see His face any more." Then they were running, and Valmiki said, "Wait, first let me go and say something to them, and then I will come." So he went and told Ramacandra, "My students are upset because you don't have Sita. So, what is wrong with Sita? Why don't you take her?" Ramacandra did not say one word, he just went inside the palace. Valmiki came back and said to Lava and Kusa, "Whatever it is, you must not offend elders, he is a great personality. You must be careful not to commit any aparadha." They said, "What aparadha? We won't even think of Him. How can we then commit aparadha? He's not even qualified to be thought of by someone like us." They completely rejected Rama. Then they came to Sitadevi's room, and Sita was writing "Rama" and worshipping Rama. They said to her, "We saw Him face to face. Do you know what He did? He sent His wife to the forest." She said, "You are good boys, you shouldn't say like this." So they kept quiet.