If we travel back in time about 9,000 years we will discover that India witnessed the advent of a great being of light. He was born a prince in a royal household. He was named Ramachandra (oftentimes abbreviated to Rama or Raam or Ram) and He was destined to become the seventh incarnation of Divine power in human garb (Avatar) of our present epoch. (The tenth and final incarnation is known as Kalki and His advent heralds the end of the era).
It takes very exceptional circumstances to attract the manifestation of the Almighty in human frame on earth. At the time of Lord Rama the forest hermitages (ashrams) of the ancient seers (rishis) were under attack from demonic forces (rakshasas). In those days the science of Yajnya was widely understood by the populace for its essential beneficial effects and the hermitages were sanctuaries were Yajnya was practised daily. However, the demonic forces took pleasure in interfering with and disrupting these Yajnyas whenever possible, in particular by polluting the Yajnyas with animal flesh and blood. The seers were powerless to prevent this nefarious practice and thus the advent of Rama, the warrior prince, protector of Yajnyas.
This is an indication to us today, in a world where knowledge of Yajnya is almost completely lost, of the importance of Yajnya in the eyes of the Divine Power - that the Almighty was prepared to take human birth in order to protect the Yajnyas.
When Rama was a boy of only sixteen years the rishi, Vishvamitra, came to Rama’s father, the king, and requested that he allow his son to come to the ashram to protect the Yajnya he was performing. The rakshasas were harassing Vishvamitra by raining flesh and blood into the Yajnya shala where the Yajnyas were performed. The king acceded to the rishi’s request and accompanied by His brother, Laxman, Rama destroyed the rakshasas and enabled Vishvamitra to complete the Yajnya.
At one stage in Rama’s life He was exiled to the forest (reasons for which we do not have space to discuss here) together with His wife, Sita, and brother, Laxman. During their wanderings in the forest, history records that they visited the hermitages of many seers including that of the great sage, Agastya which was situated not far from the Godavari River (one of the important rivers of India). On arrival at the ashram, Agastya (who, though only small in stature, was himself a fierce foe of rakshasas) requested Rama to destroy the rakshasas who were interfering with the rishis in their practice of Yajnya. Rama took up this challenge and eventually rid the forest of the entire rakshasa clan.
Nowadays the location of this hermitage of Agastya is to be found precisely on the spot where Tapovan is presently situated. Also at one time many centuries ago, this area was the abode of the famous Yogi Gorakhnath. He belonged to the Nath sect of ascetics established by his Guru Machhindranath.
In those days it was possible to detect an ashram from a distance by the clouds of smoke billowing from it. This smoke was from the Yajnya fires. Yajnyas in Agastya’s ashram were so prolific that huge quantities of ash were produced. Even today this can be verified in the rock strata of this area as a thin white band. But more importantly, the energy built up from practice of Yajnyas and Tapas (or penance in English means self-discipline voluntarily imposed for the purpose of gaining control over the mind and the body) is still latent in this place to this day. This energy could now be reactivated by practice of some simple Tapas.
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Last modified: Saturday March 27, 2004.