When Sri Rama, Sita and Laxmana reached the hermitage of Agastya, Suteekshna went inside and informed him about their arrival. Sage Agastya hurriedly came out and greeted Sri Rama, with his eyes filled with tears. Sri Rama and Laxmana also greeted sage Agastya with respect. Agastya embraced both Sri Rama and Laxmana. Sri Rama then said-
"O supreme Sage! You must be aware of the reason because for which I have come to the forest. Give me a mantra, which enables me to kill the demons."
Sage Agastya then advised him to go Panchavati and neutralise the effects of curse with which the forest of ‘Dandak’ was inflicted. He also intimated that the sacred river Godavari flows through Panchavati.
Sri Rama proceeded towards Panchavati. He was very pleased to see the pristine natural beauty of Panchavati. The trees and creepers, which had shrivelled because of the curse, turned green once again as soon as the feet of Sri Rama and Laxmana arrived in the land of Panchavati. They were now ladden with fruits and flowers. Sri Rama and Laxmana met Jatayu and constructed a hut of leaves and beagn to live there.
THE CURSE ON DANDAKARANYA
Once, there was a famine in Dandakaranya. All the trees and plants started drying up because of lack of rainfall. All the sages who were penancing in the forest went to sage Gautam for help. Sage Gautam accommodated them in his hermitage and solved their problems temporarily. They all lived peacefully. After many months, the sages expressed their desires of returning to Dandakaranya. But sage Gautam stopped them from departing. It happened many times and every time they were forbidden from departing.
Now the sages worked out a plan. They created an illusionary cow and drove her into the storehouse of sage Gautam. Sage Gautam tried to scare away the cow with his hands. But as soon as he touched the cow it fell on the ground and died. Now, blaming sage Gautam for killing a cow, all the sages ran away out of the hermitage.
By the power of his meditation sage Gautam came to know about the reality. He cursed the forest of Dandak to be devoid of any greenery. It was as a result of the curse that the forest dried up. But sage Gautam had also made a provision for its liberation by the touch of Rama’s feet. So for this reason Agastya had requested Sri Rama to go to Panchavati.
Once when Sri Rama was sitting in a pleasant mood, Laxmana asked-
"You are the master of all the deities, human beings and the sages. I have a question the answer of which if you give, can have benedictory value for one and all.
"How are you pleased? By the knowledge or by asceticism? Tell me about your illusionary powers and also how a man can have devotion for you."
"Tell me also the difference between god and living beings?"
SRIRAMA'S DISCOURSE TO LAXMANA
Sri Rama then said to Laxmana- "O brother! I am revealing all the secrets in short. This whole creation is nothing but the manifestation of my illusionary powers. The man tries hard to understand it but fails despite repeated attempts. My illusions can be understood by Vidya (learning) and Avidhya (false-learning)."
Avidhya causes birth and rebirth of a soul. One who possesses knowledge does not make distinction between one man and other."
"Virtuousity produces the sense of relinquishment and Yoga (union) creates knowledge. ‘Knowledge gives salvation’ so says the Vedas. Devotion is the best way to please me."
This way Sri Rama preached Laxmana on various aspects of devotion.