As the name suggests Vijayadashami or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Aashwiyuja
On this day in the Treta Yug, King Rama, also called Shri Ram, the seventh avatar of Vishnu, killed Ravana who had abducted Rama’s wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Rama, his brother Lakshmana, their follower Hanuman and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue Sita. The entire narrative is recorded in the epic Ramayana
End of Agnaatawas of Pandavas
In the age of Dvapara Yuga, Pandavas – the five acknowledged sons of Pandu by his two wives Kunti and Madri – lost to Kauravas in a game of dice, and both spent twelve years of Vanawas, or exile to the forest, followed by one year of Agnyatawas. The brothers hid their weapons in a hole in a Shami tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the final year of Agnyatawas. After that year, on Vijayadashmi, they recovered the weapons, declared their true identities and defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat. Since that day, Shami trees and weapons have been worshipped and the exchange of Shami leaves on Vijayadashmi has been a symbol of good will and victory. This is also called Shami/Jambi Puja.
yadä yadä hi dharmasya glänir bhavati bhärata
abhyutthänam adharmasya tadätmänaà såjämy aham
pariträëäya sädhünäà vinäçäya ca duñkåtäm
dharma-saàsthäpanärthäya sambhavämi yuge yuge
Aiswarasya viryasya yasah sriyaha jnana vairagyam ca
He who listens to the great epic, composed by Sage Valmiki, will be bestowed by health, fame, longlife, victory, Energy, completely rid of sin. A man seeking a son obtains sons and a seeker of wealth obtains riches in the world, overcomes all difficulties
– Valmiki Ramayana Canto One Hundred and Twenty-eight in the Yuddhakanda slokas 107 to 125.
idam pavitram paapaghnam puNyam vedaiH ca sammitam |
yaH paThet raama caritam sarva paapaiH pramucyate || 1-1-98
“This Ramayana is holy, sin-eradicating, merit-endowing, and conformable with the teachings of all Vedas… and whoever reads this Legend of Rama, he will be verily liberated of all his sins… [1-1-98]
etat aakhyaanam aayuSyam paThan raamaayaNam naraH |
sa putra pautraH sa gaNaH pretya svarge mahiiyate || 1-1-99
“Any man who reads this lifespan-enriching narrative of actuality, Ramayana, the peregrination of Rama, he will be enjoying worldly pleasures with his sons and grand sons and with assemblages of kinfolks, servants etc., as long as he is in this mortal world and on his demise, he will be adored in heaven… [1-1-9
Rama & Sita: The ideal Royal Couple
Sita gets introduced to Rama at a ceremony called ‘Swayamvara’, organized by her father Janaka, the king of Mithila to identify a suitable bridegroom for her lovely daughter. Princes from various kingdoms are invited and challenge to string a giant bow. Only the mighty Rama could lift the bow, string it and even break it into two halves. This leads Sita to garland Rama as her husband.
Intrigues in the Royal Family
Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, had three wives and four sons. Rama was the eldest and his mother was Kaushalya. Bharata was the son of his second and favorite wife, Kaikeyi. The other two were twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna from his third wife Sumitra. While Rama is all set for coronation, his step-mother, Dasharatha’s second wife, Kaikeyi, wants her son, Bharata, to become king. Before the aged king could hand over his crown to his eldest son Rama, Dasaratha is destined to die. And instead of being crowned king of Ayodhya, Rama is sent into exile in the forest for fourteen year by an intrigue in the palace and a quirk of fate.
Rama is Banished for Fourteen Years
Rama goes to the forest, accompanied by wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, and they live as recluses among the hermits that lead a life of meditative retreat in the deep woods. Bharata, whose mother’s evil plot won him the throne, goes to meet Rama in the forest and pleads him to return to the capital. As Rama declines to break his vow given to his deceased father, Bharata is compelled to go back to Ayodhya with his sandals, which he places on the throne as the symbol of Rama’s continuing monarchy.
Rama Fights Ravana, Rescues Sita
While Rama, his wife and brother are living a simple yet happy life in the forest, tragedy strikes! Henceforth, the plot revolves around the abduction of Sita by the demon king Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka, and Rama’s pursuit to rescue her, aided by Lakshmana and the mighty monkey-general Hanuman. Sita is held captive in the island as Ravana tries to persuade her to marry him. Rama assembles an army of allies comprising mainly of monkeys under the brave Hanuman. They attack Ravana’s army, and after a fierce battle, succeed in killing the demon king and freeing Sita, reuniting her with Rama.
Rama Regains His Kingdom, Sita Returns to Mother Earth
After fourteen years, Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya and are warmly welcomed back by the citizens of the kingdom, where they rule for many years, and have two sons – Luv and Kush. Unfortunately, Sita’s chastity during her period of capture by Ravana comes under scrutiny, and she has to go through trial by fire to prove her purity. But queen, who emerged from the earth at her birth, invokes Mother Earth to take her back into the earth, and the saintly Sita returns to her Mother, never to reappear again.