Soon after the news arrived, the whole city of Ayodhya was immersed in joy and there were uncalled celebrations everywhere. Prince Rama had won in the Swayamvara contest- The Royal wedding audition held at Mithila. The contest was to lift Shivadhanush – The Holy bow, which was considered nearly an impossible task for one man. But Rama had not just lifted it, but had broken it in two halves. He was going to get betrothed to Seeta, the daughter of King Janaka. A Royal procession was to go from Ayodhya to Mithila for taking part in the wedding ceremony.
Prince Rama was in the guest house along with Prince Lakshmana, his half brother and Maharshi Vishwamitra, the Sage. A royal attendant knocked on the door and delivered a letter from the Palace. Rama read the letter and had a smile on his gracious face. He told the two of them that he was given the opportunity to meet his fiancée at the regal garden that evening. Saint Vishwamitra nodded his head in consent. Rama asked Lakshmana to come along with him. Lakshmana refused to intrude in a private moment but when Saint Vishwamitra backed Rama by saying that it was all for good, he had to agree inevitably.
Time rolled quickly and the two of them left the guest house and headed towards the garden, following the directions mentioned in the letter. It was an aesthetic estate covered in shades of green, pink, blue, red and what not? They appreciated the beauty of it as they began strolling towards the said location. It was not long before they noticed two women dressed in splendid attires waiting beside a pond at a distance.
Lakshmana told Rama to go talk to them while he would stand there and wait for them to conclude the meeting. Rama shook his head disapprovingly and grabbed Lakshmana by his arm and pulled him along. Rama had seen Seeta at the Swayamvara ceremony. His eyes twinkled as he saw her encaptivating face once again. Seeta was a gorgeous woman. A beauty every girl dreamed to be. Rama was a handsome man. A physique no less than that of a Gandharva, a heavenly being. Seeta blushed as Rama got near. Rama offered her the beautiful rose he had managed to pluck on the way through the garden entrance. She accepted it and looked at him with curious eyes. Both of them were lost in their own world.
But they weren’t the only ones. There was another person who was losing herself at that point. Urmila, the second daughter of King Janaka. Blue eyes, brown hair, fair complexioned and her divine smile could easily steal any man’s heart. Just as her name suggested, she couldn’t anchor her waves of passion for him. No! Not for Rama! But for the equally striking man, Lakshmana! She was numb and light. She could barely feel her physical existence as her soul was levitating in an unprecedented joy. Tall and handsome, well proportioned, wheatish skin tone, a solemn countenance, he was a treat to her eyes. But Lakshmana stood without a hint of acknowledgement for her. None of them were speaking, for silence spoke more than words.
Dusk fell even before they realised. Lakshmana didn’t want to disturb them but he felt that it was his responsibility to make sure that the women returned before it was dark. He picked up a small pebble and flung it into the pond. The sound brought everyone back to reality. Rama and Seeta bade farewell as they looked at each other one last time before their marriage. So did Urmila; she filled her eyes with his image before they left.
The Royal procession from Ayodhya arrived at Mithila in a few days. The Dhols and Shehnais reverberated in everyone’s ears. King Dasharatha of Ayodhya was received with a grand welcome by King Janaka. They were taken to the palace where the two Kings discussed about their children’s wedding. The outcome of the meeting was not just about the time and place of the wedding but a whole new wedding itself.
Urmila had divulged to her father, her love for Lakshmana. Janaka had put forth the proposal before Dasharatha to get Lakshmana married to Urmila and it was fruitful. Lakshmana obeyed his father and cheerfully agreed to marry Urmilla. Her dream had come true.
The happily married couple steered to the capital city of Ayodhya. The people of Ayodhya welcomed the newly wed with celebrations. A strong bond of love was formed between the couples in a short span. Lakshmana couldn’t thank the Gods enough for bestowing him with such a loving and beautiful wife.
Very soon, the coronation of Prince Rama as the King of Ayodhya was announced by Lord Dasharatha. But one of his three wives, Kaikei demanded Dasharath to fulfil the three wishes that he had promised she could ask for, a long time ago when she had saved him in a war. She asked him to send Rama on an exile for fourteen long years and crown her son Bharatha as the King. Tied by his promise to grant the wishes, Dasharatha inevitably asked Rama to go on exile for fourteen years.
Rama being a virtuous man, obeyed his father as a course of ‘Pitruvaakya Paripalana’. He decided to leave alone but Seeta being his life partner demanded that she would go with him as it was her duty to be a part of his good times and miseries.
For Lakshmana’s respect and servility towards his elder brother, he decided to accompany Rama and Seetha and protect them. Rama refused his plea and reminded him that he had a wife whom he had to be with. But Lakshmana was insistent and finally Rama could no longer convince him and he agreed.
Lakshmana returned to his room where Urmila was anxiously waiting for him. She wasn’t yet aware about the decision her husband had taken.
He had a timid look on his face. She recognised it without any difficulty.
“What is the matter dear? Why do you look so tensed?” she inquired with concern.
“I have to tell you about a significant decision that I have taken. It is going to affect our lives in a way that you’d have never imagined” he replied.
“What is it?” She was anxious.
“As you already know, my father has asked brother Rama to go on an exile for fourteen years. I have decided that I go with them and serve them” he asserted.
She was shocked but she recovered in seconds and said, “I do not see it as a predicament to go with them and serve them. I’ll be contented to be an aid to them”
“No, I meant ‘I’, not ‘us’; I don’t want you to take any trouble. You’re staying back here in the capital” he said with a clarifying tone.
She stood as if a thunderbolt had struck her. She couldn’t believe her ears for what they were hearing.
“I cannot stay back! It is my duty to be with you. And what troubles are you talking about? Not being with you would be the greatest trouble of my life! What good a life will I lead when my sole reason to be happy is gone?” she pleaded.
“Darling, please understand the situation. If I take you with me, I won’t be able to give you the love you deserve while all I have on my mind is to serve my brother. And also, I cannot give my fullest in taking care of my brother if I’m distracted with you by my side. You should stay back and take good care of your in-laws until I return. This is a request”
She was heartbroken. Her world came crashing down. But she, unlike any ordinary woman, comprehended that her husband’s decision was far above her desires. She was a strong woman. She decided to revere his verdict and go by it.
She was not crying but tears were running uncontrollably out of her blue eyes, like a cloud melting into rain from the blue skies
“I fully understand the situation and I will conform with your resolution. I will stay here and wait for your homecoming”. She assured him with a trembling voice.
She tried smiling despite the wound still fresh in her heart. She looked into his eyes and said, “Take good care of Rama and Seeta. And do not worry about your parents. I shall take care of them all”
Lakshmana felt sorry but he didn’t wan’t to change his mind at any cost. He looked at her with his moist eyes filled with love and honour.
She embraced him with all her might and kissed him for one last time before he’d be home after fourteen years.
Her sacrifice was unparalleled. She remains the unsung heroine of Ramayana and this is my love story version for the mythical epic. It’s my tribute to the greatest lover who proved that real love is not about fulfilling one’s self desires but finding happiness in the joy and satisfaction of the one you love.