In a Hindu mythology trivia quiz written by Devdutt Pattanaik on the app QuizUp, the following question was asked:

What name did Brahma give to King Nemi for his capability of driving his chariot to ten points at the same time?

The correct answer is given as Dasharatha, which makes sense considering that Dasha means 10 and Ratha means chariot. But my question is, is it true that Dasharatha's original name was Nemi, and that he was given the name Dasharatha by Brahma?

This book makes at least the Nemi claim:

Nemi, son of Ajan, a famous King in the genealogical line of Surya kings, reigned over Kosala kingdom with capital at Ayodhya. King Nemi was assigned the title Dasaratha for his ability to wage war simultaneously at ten battlefronts through the swift movement of his chariot.

But do any scriptures give Dasharatha's original name as Nemi, and is there a scriptural basis for the Brahma part?

I'm pretty sure the Valmiki Ramayana doesn't mention any of this, but is it possible that it's mentioned in some Purana?

  • This book (part 2) is supposed to explain 'Why & how Nemi earned the name Dasaratha'. Not sure if the author left any references to support. – Say No To Censorship Mar 2 '16 at 23:22
  • @sv. Yeah, I saw that book on Google Books when I searched for Nemi, but that's just a novel based on the Ramayana, similar to Ashok K. Banker's Ramayana novels, so it's not a reliable source of information. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 2 '16 at 23:27
  • @sv. In any case, the book claims that Dasharatha was given his name by the gods due to his battle against the demon Shambara, which I discuss in my question here: hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/3820/36 – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 2 '16 at 23:36
  • Oh, interesting, so there could be some truth to it. btw, those questions in QuizUp 'Devlok' were composed by 'Devdutt Pattanaik' :-) – Say No To Censorship Mar 2 '16 at 23:44
  • @sv. Oh, Devdutt Pattanaik's books take a great deal of creative license, so if he's the source of the claim then it's quite possibly completely incorrect. In any case, the Ayodhya Kanda of the Ramayaha doesn't mention Shambara multiplying himself by ten or the gods giving Dasharatha some title after he helped them defeat Shambara, but perhaps other scriptures give more detail on the battle. – Keshav Srinivasan Mar 3 '16 at 3:17

One of the meaning of the word ratha - रथ - is champion. dasharatha might indicate champion in 10 fields.

The 6th Sarga of Bala Kanda describes the achievements of King Dasaratha.

तस्यां पुर्यामयोध्यायां वेदवित्सर्वसंग्रहः | दीर्घदर्शी महातेजाः पौरजानपदप्रियः || १-६-१ इक्ष्वाकूणामतिरथो यज्वा धर्मपरो वशी | महर्षिकल्पो राजर्षिः त्रिषु लोकेषु विश्रुतः || १-६-२ बलवान्निहतामित्रो मित्रवान्विजितेन्द्रियः | धनैश्च संचयैश्चान्यैः शक्रवैश्रवणोपमः || १-६-३ यथा मनुर्महातेजा लोकस्य परिरक्षिता | तथा दशरथो राजा लोकस्य परिरक्षिता || १-६-४ तेन सत्याभिसंधेन त्रिवर्गमनुतिष्ठता | पालिता सा पुरी श्रेष्ठा इन्द्रेणेवामरावती || १-६-५

He who is well-versed in Veda-s,

who is a gatherer of all scholars, riches and forces as well,

a foreseer and

a great resplendent one, also one who is esteemed by urbanites and countrymen alike,

one who is a top-speeded chariot-warrior among the emperors of Ikshwaku kings,

one who has performed many Vedic rituals,

a virtuous one, a great controller, a saint-like kingly sage,

one who he is renowned in all the three worlds, a mighty one with all his enemies eradicated, nevertheless who has friends, one who conquered all his senses,

one who is similar to Indra, or Kubera on earth with his wealth, accumulations and other possessions, he that king Dasharatha while dwelling in the city of Ayodhya protected the world, like Manu, the foremost protector of mankind.

He that truth-abiding king, who adheres to the three-fold virtues rules the vast of that kingdom from that best city Ayodhya, as Indra rules heaven from his capital Amaravati.

By the way, everything depends on interpretation. Writings of people like Devdutt Pattanaik are not reliable.

If Nemi has the other name Dasaratha, Valmiki might have stated the same.

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