Illustrated Ramayana – Part 29

Sita wanted to prove to the entire world her blameless virtue. Sita asked Lakshmana to kindle a fire for her. Reading Rama’s tacit approval in His looks, Lakshmana kindled a fire. 

Videha’s Daughter rejoiced at heart to perceive the blazing fire and prayed to Agni thus: “If in thought, word and deed I have never set my heart on anyone other than Sri Rama, may Agni, which knows the working of all minds, become cool like sandal-paste to me.”

When Mithili (Sita) entered the flames, they were cool like sandal-paste. Then fire-god Agni appeared bearing the radiant form of Sita pure in body and soul and presented to Sri Rama. The devas in their delight rained down flowers and kettle-drums sounded in the air.

Sri Rama made Vibhishana the King of Lanka. Vibhishana wanted Sri Rama to take rest so that He could leave for Ayodhya, next day. But as Bharata is taking severe austerities and waiting for His arrival, Sri Rama could not take any pleasantries at that time.

The fourteen-year exile period is over and Bharata had vowed to end his life if Sri Rama doesn’t return before that. Sri Rama instructed Hanuman to immediately go to Bharata and tell all that has happened. Vibhishana then told that they could reach Ayodhya fast by the Pushpaka Vimana (aerial car) and Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Vanaras and Vibhishana mounted Pushpaka vimana and started for Ayodhya.

Bharata, Shatrugna, ministers and all the people of Ayodhya were overjoyed by the news of Sri Rama’s arrival. The sage Vasishta thereupon instructed Sumantra, who, as soon as he received the order, merrily proceeded and forthwith got ready a number of chariots and numerous horses and elephants and despatched messengers here and there. The city of Ayodhya was most tastefully decorated and the gods rained down a continuous shower of flowers.