The Ancestors of Bhagwan Ram: Maharaj Aja (अज)

The son of Raghu, Aja grew up to be a handsome man like his father. He mastered all the arts and sciences under the guidance of his gurus.

In Vidarbha, Raja Bhoja announced the swayamvar of his sister, Princess Indumati, and invited Aja. On Maharaj Raghu’s advice, Prince Aja left for Vidarbha with his aides.ImageSource

On their way, they camped on the banks of the Narmada River. A wild elephant bathing in the river made its way into the camp and wreaked havoc. To scare the elephant, Aja aimed and shot an arrow at its forehead. Instantly, the elephant turned into a Gandharv. He praised and addressed a surprised Aja “O Prince! I am Priyamvada, a Gandharva. Rishi Matunga cursed me for my arrogance to become an elephant, and said Prince Aja’s arrow will relieve me of the curse. As a token of my gratitude, please accept the Sammohan vidya from me”. Aja agreed and learnt the art from the Gandharva.

Prince Aja then continued and reached Vidarbha. Having rested for the night, he entered the swayamvar hall the next morning. All the other suitors assembled there paled before Aja’s beauty and began doubting themselves of being selected.

Indumati entered the hall followed by her companions (sakhis). With a garland in her hands and led by her sakhi Sunanda, Princess Indumati began walking among the line of suitors. As they were walking, Sunanda explained the qualities of each suitor. When they reached Prince Aja, however, Indumati stood rooted to the spot struck by Aja’s grace and beauty. Sunanda said “O Princess! He hails from the Ikshvaku dynasty, from where great Emperors like Kukutstha, Dilip, and Raghu came. He is Prince Aja, Raghu’s son, an equal to his father in all respects. None is more worthy of you”.

Princess Indumati blushed and couldn’t say anything. Realizing her mind was set of Aja, Sunanda helped Indumati garland Prince Aja. A delighted Raja Bhoja performed the marriage of Indumati and Aja with great pomp and splendour. Aja and Indumati then left for Ayodhya.

Jealous of the marriage, the dejected suitors planned to abduct Indumati and waylaid Aja on his way back. Leaving his bride in the care of his trusted minister, Aja ferociously attacked the enemy with his army. A fierce and bloody battle took place between them. After a while, Aja used the Gandharv astr he received from Priyamvad, to end the battle. His enemies became stupefied and couldn’t move. A victorious Aja blew his conch and returned to a rejoicing Indumati and his friends, and resumed the journey to Ayodhya.

News of Aja’s marriage and victory reached Ayodhya before his arrival. Raghu embraced his son and blessed the couple. Sometime later, Raghu crowned Aja king and retired to the forest. Like his predecessors, Aja was a wise and just ruler. In due course, Indumati gave birth to a son, who was named Dasarath.

One day, Aja and Indumati were strolling in the garden, when a garland adorning Devarshi Narad’s musical instrument fell from the heavens on Indumati. She collapsed on the spot, lifeless. (Indumati was actually Harini, an apsara, who was cursed by rishi Trinabindu for disturbing his tapasya. She became Harini again when touched by the divine flower from Narad’s instrument).
After some years grieving for his queen, Maharai Aja crowned prince Dasarath king of Ayodhya and left for the heavenly abode.

Source – Raghuvamsam by Mahakavi Kalidas