Lav and Kush

  When Shri Ram sent Sitaji with Lakshman to the forest, Lakshman arrived at Valmiki rishi’s ashram on the banks of the river Tamasa. Here Sitaji gave birth to twins named Lav and Kush. Valmiki rishi taught both of them the shastras and the art of using weapons. A knowledge of weapons was a must for all Kshatriyas, especially the sons of a King.

Meanwhile on the banks of the river Gomti, Shri Ram began an Ashwamedh Yagna. To perform the yagna rituals Shri Ram needed Sitaji. In her absence, he placed a golden murti of Sitaji next to him in the yagna. It was a ritual tradition that for the successful completion and fruits of the yagna Shri Ram had to send a fine horse all over the land. Whoever tied the horse would have to fight with the army accompanying it. If he won, then he could have the horse owner’s kingdom.

Shri Ram’s beautiful stallion trotted into Valmiki rishi’s ashram. The rishi was not present. Kush was in the forest collecting firewood. Lav saw the horse. His eyes twinkled at the sight of such a beautiful animal. He had seen many animals in the forest, but never such a fine creature. Guruji had described a horse to both boys. From this Lav was convinced that this was a horse. He then read the words on the golden medallion shining on the horse’s forehead: “Whoever does not accept Ayodhya’s regent as his king should tie this horse and fight with its army.”

Lav burst into laughter. He thought, “This horse has come to disturb the freedom of guruji’s ashram. Well! Let me see how strong he is.”

He then grabbed the horse’s reins firmly and in an instant tied them to a nearby tree.

Just then, Shri Ram’s army reached the ashram, led by Shatrughna. The soldiers saw Lav with the horse and dismounted. They approached Lav. “O little one! This is not a game. One who ties this horse has to fight with us. You are just a kid. Set the horse free. We won’t do you any harm.”

Lav answered courageously, “I have tied it knowing what is required to be done. This is a rishi’s ashram. Nobody can ruin its freedom. I am ready to fight!” He then strung an arrow on his bow.

The soldiers in the army, too, were ready with their bows. Before they could shoot off a single arrow, Lav shot an arrow known as Jrumbhkastra at them. They fell down in a heap in deep sleep! Far away, Shatrughna, the commander, saw the little child’s awesome archery and was dumbfounded. He just stared at the child, not knowing how to deal with him. He was suddenly filled with awe and admiration for Lav. He approached Lav.

“O young child! I am immensely impressed by your archery. I am so pleased that I forgive your attack on my soldiers. So now release the horse.”

Just then Kush arrived. He stood next to Lav and asked, “Who are you to bestow forgiveness on us?” Shatrughna could not bear Kush’s sarcastic remark. So he told the twins to prepare to fight. Both twins readied their bows and stood firmly in the centre of the field.

From his army, Shatrughna ordered Sugriv and Hanuman to defeat the kids. Hanuman lengthened his tail and wrapped it around Lav. Kush rushed to free him. Sugriv uprooted a huge tree with which he stopped Kush. But by this time, Lav set himself free and punched Hanuman in the chest, knocking him unconscious!

This boosted Kush who picked up Sugriv with the tree and thumped him on the ground. He, too, fell unconscious! Both brothers then grabbed Hanuman’s tail and dragged him to the ashram, to show their bravery to Sitaji.

When Sitaji saw the boys, she recognized Hanuman. “O dear ones! What have you done?” she asked horrified.

Lav answered joyfully. “O Mother! This monkey arrived with a big army and this horse. I tied the horse. Then the army commander ordered him to fight. So we fought in return. They tried hard to frighten us. Mother, do you know what they did? They upooted a massive tree to show us their strength. Then they rushed with it to fight with us. But the tree remained in his hand and we showed them one or two things!” beamed Lav, winking at Kush. Kush nodded in agreement.

Sitaji fell into deep thought and insteatly realized that the stallion belonged to none other than Shri Ram. So she said to the boys, “This horse belongs to your father. This is Hanumanji. He is your father’s sevak. Release him, as well as the horse.”
“But Mother!” pleaded Lav. “We only behaved according to our Kshatriya dharma (duty). We were challenged so we gave a fight. If they don’t wish to fight now, they can have the horse back.”

Just then Valmiki rishi returned. Sitaji narrated the events. Valmiki then took Lav and Kush to the stallion and by their hands returned it to the army. The army happily marched on.

Valmiki taught the twins the Ramayan by heart. He then sent them to Ayodhya. In this sacred city, they strolled through the streets delightfully singing the Ramayan!

Such an extraordinary and amazing phenomenon was noted by the citizens. They reported this to Shri Ram. He summoned the kids to his palace and requested them to sing the whole Ramayan. He was overjoyed to hear them. Just then Valmiki entered the palace and revealed the twins’s identity.

Realizing that Lav and Kush were Sita’s twins, Shri Ram hugged them and said, “I shall now call your mother here, too.” Valmiki went off to bring Sitaji.

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