This article was written by Sriman A.Krishnan, author of Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam, in Nrisimhapriya. It was posted as a message by his son Sri S. Krishnan in http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/RaamaBhakthi/message/393

Sages could see Rama as Paramathma because of the extraordinary powers acquired by them doing rigorous penance. But there were some women characters in Ramayanam, who also knew Rama as Paramathma. These women were not known to have done penance. How did they then acquire this tremendous power? There is no answer to this question.

We shall first take up the study of  Sumithra. She was the second queen of King Dasaratha. There is no mention in Ramayanam about the ancestral details of Sumithra and under what circumstances she got married to Dasaratha. There is mention of her cordial relationship with Kausalya, the first among the three queens. The type of Sumithra’s relationship with Kaikeyi had not been touched upon. Sumithra was seen in the company of Kausalya on important occasions, before as well as after Rama’s exile to the forest.

When Dasaratha offered the divine Payasam to the three queens, Kausalya got it first and exactly half the quantity. Sumithra then got one fourth quantity. One-eighth went to Kaikeyi. One eighth remained undistributed. Dasaratha thought over and then he gave again to Sumithra one eighth, which was left over. Thus Sumithra got Payasam in two instalments, because of Dasaratha’s particular contemplation. Sage Valmiki does not explain what exactly was Dasaratha’s logic.

There is scope to comment on this act. No doubt Sumithra was blessed to beget twins because she drank Payasam twice. Why was Kausalya, the first among the queens or Kaikeyi, the most favourite queen not chosen for this special dispensation? To venture to comment on this aspect, we find having been stated in Ramayanam that Dasaratha would be blessed with four sons. Sumanthara, the great and wise minister had conveyed this information to Dasaratha and his source of information had links with the most sacred Sage Sanathkumara. Dasaratha had, therefore, to offer Payasam twice to one of the three queens. His logic might have run on these lines. Kausalya’s son would be the natural choice to succeed him. So, it would be desirable to avoid Kausalya bearing twins. Then, Dasaratha might have taken into account that there was a pledge to offer the kingdom to the son to be born to Kaikeyi. He might have been fully conscious of Kaikeyi’s obstinate nature. So, twins to Kaikeyi might aggravate any possible complication twofold. Sumithra was a sobre woman, very wise, far-sighted and well natured. Dasaratha’s choice, therefore, might have fallen on her. This is only a guess. Sumithra was blessed with twins namely Lakshmana and Satrugna. They both had divine elements within them, but they exemplified as Bhagawathas, one as a direct servant of Bhagavan, and the other as servant of a servant of Bhagavan. Sumithra played a notable part in assigning them with these roles in which they distinguished, unsurpassed by any.

Sumithra is not appearing in many scenes in Ramayanam. There are only two scenes in which she figures. In both these two scenes, she depicts what extraordinary qualities she possessed, to reveal her magnanimity, spirit of detachment, wisdom and more importantly her ability to recognize in Rama, his divinity.

Rama had decided to leave for the forest, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. Sita’s insistence on accompanying Rama was natural because a wife could never be separated from the husband. Lakshmana’s prayer to brother Rama to let him go to the forest, to serve Rama was unique. Such fraternal sentiments are very rare. The three had taken leave of Dasaratha as also Kausalya. They both poured out emotions and showed uncontrollable grief. Then came the turn to take leave of Sumithra. When Lakshmana fell on her feet, Sumithra, as mother, initially wept. She kissed her son on his head. She then told him,  “ You are deeply attached to those near and dear to you. Son! You are born to live in the forest! Rama is adored by the world. He is your elder brother too. You have my permission to go along with him. Attend on him diligently giving no scope for the slightest lapse. Dharma of a good man is to be submissive to the elders. He is your refuge in prosperity as well as in adversity. This is the tradition of the race to which you belong. To be of service to the elders, performance of religious rites strictly on permissive lines and even to give up life if necessary in battles, are the qualities of the one born in this race.”

Sumithra further exhorts Lakshmana with these words, having in mind Lakshmana’s purposeful life, his well being, his triumph, his success in vanquishing enemies and more than anything else for auspicious prevalence. She said,

‘RAMAM DASARATHAM VIDDHI, MAAM VIDDHI JANAKATHMAJAYAAM AYODHYAAM ATAPAAM VIDDHI, GACCHA TATA YATHA SUKHAM.’

This is one of the famous slokas in Ramayanam, very often quoted. The literal meaning of this sloka is, ‘Know of Rama as Dasaratha. Know of Sita as me. Know of Ayodya as the forest. Go child and be happy.’

In this passage, Sumithra reveals her extraordinary qualities of showing remarkable magnanimity, forbearance, detachment, and to render the wise counsel to the right man at the right time. She also strongly establishes that she had BRAHMAGNANAM, that is awareness that Rama was Lord Narayana.

While the literal meaning is very apparent and laudable straightaway, namely treating Rama(elder brother) as father, treating Sita(elder brother’s wife) as mother and the forest as Ayodya, it is the inner meaning, hidden in the beautifully chosen words, which is astonishing!

Rama is to be treated as Dasaratha. Lord Narayana is known to possess this name Dasaratha also! Sumithra says,’MAAM VIDDI JANAKAATHMAJAAYAM’. Janakaathmaja is Janaka’s daughter and so is Sita. It is the word MAAM which is a stroke of genius. MAAM also means GODDESS LAKSHMI. VAIKUNTA is also known by the name AYODYA. Vaikunta is the permanent abode of Lord Narayana, where Goddess Lakshmi always resides in His chest. Sumithra thus conveys that Bhagavan and Her consort are moving to their own place of eternal bliss. Commentators, therefore, attribute to Sumithra her innate quality of seeing Paramathma in Rama and Goddess Lakshmi in Sita, citing this sloka in support of their interpretation.

We see Sumithra again with a brilliant conversation in which she mentions in an outstanding way and more explicitly that Rama was a Paramathma. After Rama, Sita and Lakshmana left for the forest, Dasaratha lost consciousness for some time. When he regained consciousness, he insisted on himself being taken to Kausalya’s mansion. As Kausalya was by his side, Dasaratha was asking her to gently touch him and run her fingers on his body, believing that such a gesture on her part would give him some solace.

Kausalya, unable to control her emotions, taunted Dasaratha using strong words. She posed that Rama could even have been retained in Ayodya, begging for alms!

Sumithra who was also with them and who was rooted in Dharma, consoled Kausalya saying, “Your son is abound with noble qualities. He is Purushothama (meaning noblest among men but used as a terminology to refer to Lord Narayana). He is a compassionate person. Why lament and weep for such a person? Great Lady! Your son, possessing vast strength as he does, has sacrificed the kingdom in order to establish his father as one adhering to Truth. Rama, by remaining steadfast, strong-willed and pure, has excelled all those who have preached and practiced Dharma, which is highly rewarding in life and there is no cause to grieve for him. Lakshmana who is compassionate to all living beings, by his splendid service, upright conduct and faultless attention is there to support and this great soul is indeed blessed! Sita, who is always intent to give comfort to Rama, is there in the forest with him, knowing fully what hardships are there to face and follows Rama faithfully. One who is the lord of the world, who has perfect self control, who remains firmly with the principles of Truth, who is adored for exhibiting splendid personal qualities, is your son. Is it correct to consider that he has not achieved anything more? Taking into account Rama’s immaculate purity, eminent greatness, great background, Sun God will not cast burning rays on him! Wind God, who blows out normally in ample measure in forests in all seasons, will spread cool breeze causing Rma pleasure and thus be submissive to him! Moon God will spread cool rays on faultless Rama, as he sleeps, as caring father would gently embrace his fond son! Lord Brahma (indirectly  referring to Sage Viswamithra) has given mighty weapons to Rama, the great warrior and tiger among men! He possesses immense strength by birth. Though he lives in the forest, it is as though he lives in a mansion, with determined mind.

The whole Earth is bound to be amenable to him, who vanquishes all his enemies. Rama is so fascinating and so valourous and as he is endowed with all supremely noble qualities,  he is bound to regain the kingdom eventually, on completing the forest life. Great Lady! Rama is God to gods! He is the greatest among all beings! He is Sun to Sun! He is Fire to Fire! He is Lord of all lords! He is Wealth to Goddess Lakshmi! He is first among those endowed with fame! He gives new dimensions to tolerance. What can do him any harm, whether he is in the city or in the forest? Rama of such eminence, will soon be crowned with all the three namely, Earth, Sita and Goddess of Wealth! What could be the beyond the reach of the one, the guiltless warrior, for whom all the people of Ayodhya, showed their immense grief and shed tears, while seeing him clad in wood barks and departing for the forest, accompanied as he was by Goddess Lakshmi in the form of Sita?

Lakshmana, who is eminent as a bowman, wielding weapons, swords and arrows, stands in front of Rama and walks with valour. What is it that cannot be achieved by Rama? I tell you with all vehemence in the name of Truth: Shed grief and gloom. You will see Rama completing his forest life and returning. You will see again your son like the rising Moon, falling at your feet and bowing you with his head. You will see him getting crowned and ruling the great kingdom and your eyes will be drenched by joyful tears. Nothing inauspicious will happen to Rama. You need have no grief nor sorrow. You will see him soon in the company of Sita and Lakshmana.

Do not give scope for misgivings to haunt your heart. You are the one to console others. For such a woman like you, Rama is the son. There is no one in the world who is superior to Rama, who knows and treads on sacred path”

Sumithra thus refers to Rama as Lord Narayana Himself. Her words are so self revealing that any commentary is hardly needed. It is remarkable that Rama’s step-mother Sumithra saw in him all the features of God but neither his own mother Kausalya nor his father Dasaratha had this realisation!