Thursday, 7 July 2011

Satrughna : He founded Mathura

Authorship and Copyright Notice: All Rights Reserved: Satya Sarada Kandula

I will first give you a little background and then I will tell you the story.

Background: Satru-ghna means destroyer of enemies. He was the youngest brother (bhrata) of Sri Rama. But he was not his sodara. Sodara means a person who shares the same womb, the same mother. His mother was Sumitra which means ‘good friend’. Sumitra had two sons Lakshmana and Satrughna. Just as Lakshmana was forever attached to Sri Rama, Satrughna was always attached to Bharata.

When Bharata’s mother Kaikeyi asked Dasaratha, to make Bharata the king, everyone misunderstood Bharata except for Sri Rama and Satrughna. And Sri Rama was away in the forest. So Bharata had only Satrughna by his side and to understand him. Satrughna was sent with Bharata to Kekeya (I think this is in modern Pakisthan), when Dasaratha planned Sri Rama’s coronation. When Sri Rama went to his Vanavasam (forest-residence: exile), Satrughna stayed back with Bharata while Lakshmana went with Sri Rama.

Satrughna’s wife was Srutakirti (‘One whose fame has been heard’). Her father’s name was Kusadhwaja. (Kusa is an excellent kind of grass and Dhwaja means flag). Kusadhwaja was the younger brother of Janaka, the foster father of Sita Devi. Srutakirti’s sister Mandavi was Bharata’s wife. Kusadhwaja was the king of Sankasya, a pura, which was fed by the river Ikshumati.

Valmiki does not tell us much about Satrughna in the main part of the Ramayana. But the Uttarakanda talks about him. Some people confuse the Uttararamacharita a play written by Bhavabhuti with the Uttarakanda of the Ramayana. Some others think that Valmiki did not write the Uttarakanda. But I am going by the Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam as published by Gita Press, which includes the Uttarakanda. The Uttarakanda is a kind of fill in the blanks, conversations between Sri Rama and the Rishis, or between Lakshmana and Sumantra and so on, where someone asks questions and someone answers them. But Satrughna’s story is a part of the mainflow.

The story from Uttarakanda:

Sumantra entered the presence of Sri Rama and Lakshmana, one evening and announced the arrival of Maharshis who lived on the banks of the Yamuna, led by Cyavana and Bhargava. (Bhargavas that we have talked about so far are Parasurama, Sukracharya and Valmiki himself (possibly). But this was not Valmiki.)

Sri Rama welcomed them and they blessed him with the waters of all the tirthas (rivers and ponds). They offered him many fresh fruits and roots. When they were comfortably seated, Sri Rama asked them how he might serve them. Then Bhargava told him about the Daitya (son of Diti) whose name was Madhu.

Madhu was a daitya of the Krtayuga. (The one before the Trethayuga. Other persons of the Krutha Yuga that are Pulastya, the grandfather of Ravana and Vedavati, the ascetic who immolated herself when disturbed by Ravana). Madhu was a mighty Asura and the eldest son of Lola. He was wise and respectful of the brahmans. He maintained excellent relationships with the Devas.

Rudra was pleased with Madhu and gave him  a Sula (spear) made from his own Sula, because he was plased with Madhu’s policy towards the Devas and the Brahmans. Madhu asked Rudra, if his family could keep the Sula forever. Siva did not agree, but not wishing to deny Madhu his wish completely, he said that one son of Madhu could use the sula, and that son would be invincible as long as he held it in his hand.

Madhu was happy. He built a lovely palace and married Kumbhinasi, the daughter of Visravasu and Anala. They had a son called Lavana. Lavana caused much trouble to the Tapasas (the one doing penance – asetics). None of the other kings were able to protect them from Lavana. So they decided to approach the slayer of Ravana, Sri Rama, himself.

Sri Rama asked the Maharshis to describe what Lavana was like and how he lived, so as to plan the best form of attack. He was told that Lavana heft his Sula at home when he went hunting humans and animals for food. Rama decided that Lavana should be killed and he asked which of his brothers would like to volunteer for the assignment.

Bharata volunteered first, but Satrughna made a case for himself. His argument was that Bharata had already done so much in looking after Ayodhya, while missing Sri Rama terribly and living without any comforts while waiting for Sri Rama’s return. He wanted an opportunity to be of service and for Bharata to get a peaceful break.

Sri Rama crowned Satrughna the king of Madhu-nagara, then and there, with Vasishtha Maharshi performing the rites. (Do you know he did the same thing before? He had crowned Vibhishana, the king of Lanka, even before the battle with Ravana was fought.) Satrughna felt bad that he had unwittingly come in the way of Bharata’s kingship, and resolved never to speak out of turn again. The consecration ceremony was as grand as that when Indra crowned Skanda.

Then Sri Rama gave Satrughna a divine arrow. That arrow was created by Sri MahaVishnu when he wanted to destroy Madhu and Kaitabha. (Sri Rama had refrained from using this against Ravana).  He asked Satrughna to wait on the eastern gate of Madhu-nagari and challenge Lavana to a fight when he was returning from his hunt, with his sula inside the city.

Then he gave him 4000 horses, 2000 chariots, 100 excellent elephants, 100,000 pure gold coins, rows of stalls with goods for purchase and sale as well as actors and dancers. He advised Satrughna to keep his army well governed and happy. Because a happy servant is more loyal than a family member or a relative.

He asked Satrughna to proceed slowly so as to not rouse suspicion from Lavana as to his true purpose. The army was to proceed with the brahmans separately and he was to proceed alone to the city gates in the rainy season, after summer had passed.

Satrughna told his army chiefs, where to cross the river during summer and where to wait at the pre-appointed places at the beginning of the rainy season.

Then he took the blessings of his elders and waited with Sri Rama for 1 month, while his army went ahead. Then he went to visit Valmiki Maharshi, resting only 2 nights on the way. He asked Valmiki permission to stay there for a night before going west again in the morning. Valmiki welcomed him and told him the story of Saudasa-Kalmashapada which I will tell you on some other day.

That very night Sita Devi delivered two charming boys (twins) in the asram. Valmiki named them Kusa and Lava after the grasses with which the children were purified. Satrughna went to see the children, his nephews and to see his vadina (bhabhi) Sitamma. He told her, “Oh mother, you have delivered twins!”.  That night was Sravana Pournima. Satrughna was at Valmiki Ashram at the same time as Lava Kusa were born!

Next morning, Satrughna left for the west and  reached the asrams of Cyavana and Bhargava after spending 7 nights on the way. He stayed there happily listening to various puranas. Cyavana also told him how a Ikshavaku by name Yuvansva (Mandhata) was killed by Lavana with his sula.

The next day, Satrughna waited alone for Lavana at the eastern city gate as planned. Lavana was mighty delighted to find Satrughna waiting for him and to be challenged to a duel. He was waiting for a chance to avenge his uncle (matrushva bhrata) Ravana, and asked him to hold on while he went in for his Sula.

Satrughna thought that would be foolish indeed, on his part so he disagreed and challenged him to a duel right there. Satrughna fought with arrows and Lavana fought with trees. (In the Yuddhakanda, the vanaras only had trees and stones and the rakshasas had arrows, spears, swords and chariots). A mighty battle ensued and Satrughna fell for a while. Lavana thought him dead and did not bother getting his Sula at that time. Satrughna revived himself and fitted his bow with the divine arrow of Vishnu. The devas were frightened and asked Brahma about the fierce weapon. Then Brahma told them, that the arrow was the Tanu (body) of the ancient Vishnu. So all the Devas came to watch the battle. When Satrughna released the arrow, it pierced Lavana’s chest and went all the way to rasatala and came back to Satrughna.

The divine Sula also returned to Rudra, as soon as Lavana died.

The Devas were pleased and asked Satrughna, what boon he would like. And he said that he would like to make Madhu-pura or Madhura a city built by the Devas, his own capital. They agreed and blessed that it would be Surasena, the place of the Suras indeed.

Satrughna established the city in the month of Sravana itself. In 12 years he made it beautiful and well populated. He decorated the white mansion of Lavana with various colours, aramas and viharas. People of all varnas (occupations) came to live in the city.

Thus ends the story as per Uttarakanda.

What happened afterwards:

This Madhura pura is none other than Mathura, which was ruled by Sri Krishna’s maternal grandfather Ugrasena and later by his cruel maternal uncle Kamsa, the brother of his mother Devaki. Kamsa imprisoned his sister Devaki and brother-in-law Vasudeva. Sri Krishna killed Kamsa and returned Mathura to his grandfather Ugrasena and freed his parents.

Satrughna’s sons were named Subhahu and Surasena. The interesting thing is that Surasena is the name of  Vasudeva’s father and Sri Krishna’s grandfather. (If we are talking about the same Surasena, then Sri Krishna is the fourth generation from Sri Rama.)

“The leader of the Yadu dynasty, King Surasena, was ruling over the country known as Mathura (the district of Mathura), as well as the district known as Surasena. On account of the rule of King Surasena, Mathura became the capital city of all the kings of the Yadus…  Vasudeva, the son of Surasena,  married Devaki… The father of Devaki, was known as Devaka… Kamsa the son of Ugrasena, of the Bhoja dynasty… was Devaki’s brother (or cousin brother)” quoted from: Some sources say that Ugrasena and Devaka were brothers, which makes their children Kamsa and Devaki, cousin brother and cousin sister. (Vasudeva’s own sister Prtha was given in adoption to Kunthibhoja and was called Kunthi.)

(As per The Mahabharata By Promatha Nath Mullick a Yadava by the name of Bhima Satvata captured Mathura and it stayed with the Yadavas till they left for Dwaraka. At this time, I am not in favour of this theory)
Sri Krishna himself was born here on Sravana krishnapaksha ashtami! But that is another story altogether!

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