It was the time when Sri Ramachandra decided to leave this earth once and for all. He convened a meeting of all his brothers and Sita. And told them: “Look, now our sport (lila) is going to be over. So we are going to merge into our nature (swarupa).”
As that very moment came Narada. Wherever Narada goes, some disturbance happens. So Lakshmana was very apprehensive on seeing Narada. He said: “Brother, Narada has come.”
After seeing Narada, Sri Ram got up and made him seated and worshipped him and then Rama asked: “O! Narada, O! great devotee! What service can I do to you?”
Narada said: “Just now you have been discussing, you want to close your ihalila, that is the lila you have been enacting on this earth. But you should not go away simply like that. You should call a big assembly sabha – call everybody in Ayodhya and all of the world. Invite all the rishis and munis. Invite all the devas, yakshas, gandharvas. Invite everybody and announce your decision.
Sri Rama agreed and duly a sabha was called. It was a big sabha – all were coming and lot of arrangements had to be done for that. So each one of Rama’s brothers was given duty. Sita was given duty of looking after the guests – all of them must be fed. So the kitchen was given to her.
Like that, each one was given a responsibility. Shatrughna was to receive at the sabha, all the rishis and munis and give them chandana tilak and then give them a garland – a very good garland has to be put on their shoulders. And then give them proper seat asana – that was his duty.
Everything was arranged on the appointed day. All have started coming.
So Shatrughna was very busy. Suddenly Narada called him and said: “O! Shatrughna! Do you see in the distance? Durvasa is coming – a great danger is coming!”
Shatrughna wondering replied: “Why? He is coming to see my elder brother Rama and Rama is his chosen ideal ista devata – whenever Durvasa sits for meditation, he meditates upon Rama – and from him no danger will come here.”
Then Narada advised him: “No, great danger is about to happen to you by Durvasa… I can see this. So what you do is don’t disturb Durvasa in any way. When he comes you take him to his asana – but no tilak and no garland is to be given to him because the moment he is seated, he will meditate on Sri Rama and merge in samadhi and when Sri Rama arrives, it is my responsibility to raise Durvasa. So don’t worry about it.”
So Shatrughna thought a great rishi is telling. He simply took Durvasa, showed his seat and came away. And Durvasa sat and started meditating on Sri Rama.
And when everything was alright, the right propitious time came, Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Sita; all four entered. All the people got up to welcome Sri Rama. Only one person was sitting and that was Durvasa.
Narada raised Durvasa slowly telling him in his ear “Sri Rama has come, please get up”. So Durvasa came down from his intense samadhi and then opened his eyes. One thing that struck him was that every rishi and muni has got chandan tilak and beautiful garland. But he didn’t have. So he asked Narada the reason for his not having been given. And Narada became very serious. He said: “Look Durvasa! It was Shatrughna’s duty to give you garland and tilak. He must have something in his mind to dishonour you. I think you should report this to Sri Rama.”
So the drama of Narada has started. Durvasa, unhappy with what had happened to him, stood up and said: “O Rama! In your sabha, I have been dishonoured. Why I did not get a proper welcome?”
Sri Rama called Shatrughna but he was not there. Surprised Sri Rama said: “What has happened to him?” Then Rama found that his parama bhakta, Sri Hanuman was also missing. Then Narada asked: “What is you decision regarding Durvasa’s dishonouring?”
Rama said: “I will give punishment to Shatrughna for dishonouring him. So first let us find out where Shatrughna is”. Then Narada said: “Let us go and visit Hanuman’s house because his mother Anjani has come here and he must have been busy with his mother. Let us go and see first Hanuman.”
So a chariot was called and Rama took his bow and arrows. When they arrived at Anjani’s house Anjani came and made pranams to Sri Rama, and Sri Rama asked: “Is Hanuman here?”
“Yes , Lord! Should I get him?”
“Definitely. Call Hanuman.”
Then Hanuman came and stood there – he saw his Master, standing on his chariot with bow and arrows. He left his mace gada and made pranams.
“O Prabhu! I touch your holy feet, please bless me!”
Sri Rama was, as ever very happy to see Hanuman. He said: “Hanuman, where is Shatrughna? Do you know?”
“Yes Prabhu! I do know where he is.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s inside this house.”
“Get him out! Ask him to come out!”
“No Prabhu – I cannot ask him to come out.”
Greatly surprised, Sri Rama exclaimed:”What! I am your prabhu Ramachandra speaking! To my parama bhakta Hanuman! I am ordering you to get Shatrughna out.”
“No, Master! I cannot bring him out!”
“Do you know the repercussion? Do you know the effect?”
“Yes Prabhu! If you want Shatrughna from my house, you must fight with me first. Defeat me and then take Shatrughna.”
Stunned Sri Rama said: “What! I have to fight with you!”
Prabhu and bhakta both are now on the battlefield and the Master has to kill his devotee! All the gandharvas, yakshas, devatas and rishis and munis wondered at the scene that has been enacted there.
Not able to get what he wanted, Sri Rama finally took one of his arrows and aimed at Hanuman. All prayed to Sri Rama: “Please do not use your Ram Baan. If Hanuman is killed will there be any devotee left? No more worshipping of God will be done – because God has killed his own bhakta; this is just not possible. So put down your astra.” Ram Baan – a term commonly used in India for anything that does not miss its target, because Ram Baan is always sure – it must aim and reach the target.
But then Sri Rama was determined, “No. I must aim.”
And there standing on foot, Hanuman challenges Sri Rama, “Aim, aim your arrow, please!”
The three lokas were stunned and were worried about what was going to happen. And the arrow went straight to Hanuman. He stood there krita mastaka anjali bowing down with his head, hands together joined and said “Jai Sri Ram, Jai Sri Ram, Jai Sri Ram!”
Surprisingly Rama’s arrow went around Hanuman three times and came back to Rama. His arrow failed. Hanuman went on chanting the name of the Lord “Jai Sri Ram.”
And then Rama looked at Narada – was he behind all this drama?
Narada smiled, as if to say ‘yes’, and then said, “No more aiming, my Lord!. Put down your arrow.” Then Narada added: “You see, when I learnt that you are going to finish your sport in this earth, I thought that you will go away, your form will go away, your body will go away. But your name must remain. Today the entire universe has seen that through your name, your devotee is protected, even from your own arrow. Even God is utterly helpless if His name is taken. It is proved that devotee never perishes; always protected.”
(na me bhakta pranashyati – My devotee is never destroyed. Bhagawan Sri Krishna in Gita)