Shri Ram reaches out to his devotees- Rishi Sharabhang and Rishi Suteekshn

Shri Ram never considered his exile as banishment, but as a blessing as it was not only upholding his father’s word, but also a divine opportunity to serve the pious sages residing in the forest.

Thus, in Dandak forest, he visits various hermitages and serves the great sages. After taking the blessings of Rishi Atri and Sati Anasuya, the three go ahead to visit Rishi Sharabhang who was awaiting Shri Ram. In the midst of their journey, they encounter a demon Viradh, who captures Mata Sita. Shri Ram and Lakshman kill him by cutting of his arms. Viradh who in reality was a celestial, but was cursed by Kuber to become a demon gets liberated by Shri Ram. He thanks and guides them to Rishi Sharabhang’s ashram.

Rishi Sharabhang was earnestly waiting for Shri Ram. When Shri Ram along with his retinue, reach his ashram, they witness a celestial chariot waiting outside the Rishi’s ashram. Shri Ram approaches the Rishi with humility and prostrates to him. The sage is overwhelmed and informs Shri Ram that it was time for him to leave the mortal world. As a special honour, Devraj Indr had come along with his entourage to escort him to heaven. But the Rishi refused it as he was waiting to have a darshan of Shri Ram. After his wish of seeing Shri Ram is fulfilled, Rishi Sharabhang kindles a fire and enters it. His body burns and a radiant form rises from it and goes towards the heavens. Before leaving, Rishi Sharabhang guides them to the ashram of Rishi Suteekshn.

Then Shri Ram visits the Pancha Apsara Lake. He hears the story of the five nymphs who married Rishi Dharmavrit and lived near that lake. Then, Shri Rama visits the hermitage of Rishi Suteekshn. Rishi Suteekshn had closed his eyes in penance since a long time and was waiting to have a darshan of Shri Ram before he opens his eye to see any other thing or person. When Shri Ram stands in front of him, Rishi Suteekshn’s inner mind reflects with the image of Bhagwan Vishnu and he realises that his penance has borne fruit and opens his eyes. When he sees the three divine persona standing in front of him, he feels blessed and prostrates on the feet of Shri Ram. Shri Ram also humbly offers his salutations to the great Rishi. Shri Ram along with Mata Sita and Lakshman accept his hospitality and stay in his ashram for the night. Shri Ram delightfully eats the fruits and tubers offered by the simple sage.

Then Shri Ram along with Mata Sita and Lakshman journey from one ashram to the other, spending a year in one, two months in one, so on and so forth killing all the demons and protecting and the Rishis in Dandak forest. After ten years, Shri Ram returns back to Rishi Suteekshn’s ashram and requests him to take them three for the darshan of the great Agastya Maha Muni.

All the travels of Shri Ram to the various hermitages in the Dandak Van depict his compassionate quality. To fulfil the desires of his devotees Shri Ram takes all the pain, arduous journeys through thick forests and comes to their door, He not only gives them his darshan, but also protects them as their custodian from the evil forces. Such is the power of true devotion.