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While the story of Rama worshipping Shiva has been subjected to immense controversy in South India for centuries, there has been a similar debate in Bengal (where I have been born and brought up) among Hindus on the story of Rama worshipping Devi Ambika.

As many of you must be knowing, Durga Puja is considered the biggest festival in Bengali culture. It begins with the occasion of Mahalaya (actually Puja doesn't begin on this day) where it is said Devi Durga who vanquishes Mahisasura. Incidentally, Bengalis also believe that on this day, Sri Rama worshipped Devi Durga to ask for her blessings for the war against Ravana. According to the story, Sri Rama collected a total of 108 flowers and Devi Durga to test his devotion, hid one of the flowers. The humble Sri Rama then is about to take one of His eyes and offer it as the 108th flower resulting in Devi Durga appearing in front of Him and blessing Him.

Now, I want to know whether this story of Rama is a simply a folklore in our culture (no offense to my fellow Bengalis) because this story is neither present in the Valmiki Ramayana nor the Ramcharitmanas. So my question is whether this story of Rama worshipping Ambika has any scriptural reference or is simply a Bengali folklore? Do any scriptures mention this story?

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    Do any scriptures mention the story?--For this Q scripture is the tag and not that tag called identification request... That should be used only for Qs where someone asking "Who is the God in this image? kind of Qs..
    – Rickross
    Mar 21, 2018 at 5:08
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    Read the excerpt. That is not only for image identification. That is also for story identification and verse identification. Mar 21, 2018 at 6:49
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury Don't use identification request tag for this question. Identification request can be best used only for image identification.
    – The Destroyer
    Mar 21, 2018 at 12:43
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    @TheDestroyer There is community consensus on using id tag for verse, story identification. That's why I wrote the wiki. Users have used it on many questions for story. It is only a group of users who insist on scripture tag for these type of questions. They are partial towards scripture tag and said other tags are useless. We should not be partial towards a tag on site. It is fine to use id for identifying stories when they don't know stories from exact book. Like they know the story is from Mahabharata or from Purana but don't know exact source. Then it can be used. Mar 21, 2018 at 16:59
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    Its a good question wondering why it had a downvote! Jan 18, 2019 at 11:09

8 Answers 8

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That Sri Rama worshipped Supreme Goddess is mentioned in Lalita Trishati Stotram found in the Brahmanda Purana:

Lakaararthaa Latha Poojya Laya Sthithudbhaveswari
Lasya Darshana Santhushta Labhaalaabha Vivarjitha
Langhyetharaagjnaa Lavanya Shalini Laghu Siddhida
LaakshaarasaSavarnaabha Lakshmanagraja Poojitha
Labhyetara Labdha Bhakthi Sulabha Langalaayudhaa
Lagna Chaamara Hastha Shri Sharada Parivijitha
Lajjaapada Samaraadhya Lampata Lakuleshwari
Labdha Maanaa Labdha Rasaa Labdha Sampath Samunnatih ||


You are esteemed and worshipped by the womanhood of chastity; the Supreme of the Universe in all the stages of Birth, Growth and Destruction alike; witnessing the joyous dance of women gives you immense pleasure; You are far above the considerations of profits and losses; Mother, your instructions are always carried out and never questioned and indeed none whosoever dared to ask you questions! You are matchless in elegance and poise; you give away Siddhis with least devotion and reverence; you shower kindness with minimal efforts like melting gold is sealed in wax; Lord Shri Rama the incarnation of Vishnu performed regular pujaas to you to bestow the capacity to uproot Adharma; you save persons regardless of their deeds and fruits; you are very easily won over with selfless devotion; some times you carry plough as a weapon like Adi Sesha to punish the vicious; Lakshmi and Sharada serve you with Chaamara as a hand fan; you make exceptions to Principles of your own making some times to save situations; Devi! Several Groups of persons from varied backgrounds are unanimous in their unity in devotion to you albeit in the methodologies of their worship; you are venerated by one and all as you are the Finality of Happiness and Prosperity.

Lakshmanaagraja pujita--- One who is worshipped by Lakshmana's elder brother referring to Sri Rama.

But, the full details of the story of Akala Bodhana (or the untimely invocation of Goddess) is found in the Kalika Purana (which is one of the 18 Upa-puranas).

I have read that in the introduction of the Text itself.

UPDATE:

More details of Sri Rama worshipping the Mother Goddess is found in the Devi Bhagavatam as well.

From the Purana's 3rd book's 28th chapter:

  1. Janamejaya said :-- O Muni! How did Râmchandra celebrate the Devî’s Pûjâ, that leads to happiness? Who was He! And how was stolen away His Sîtâ? How was He deprived of His kingdom? Please satisfy me by narrating all these incidents to me.

In the 29th and 30th chapters, the details are found.

It was Narada who described the methods of worshipping the Goddess to Sri Rama in the 29th chapter:

  1. O Descendant of Raghu! I am now telling how that Râvana can be killed. Perform, in this very month of Âs’vin, the vow with devotion.
  2. Fasting for nine nights, the worship of the Bhagavatî, and repeating the Mantram silently and performing the Homa ceremony, observing all the rules, will certainly fulfill one’s all the desires.
  3. O the best in the race of Raghu! You should offer the sacrifice before the Goddess of a sacred and unblameable animal, perform Japam and Homa ceremony equivalent to onetenth of Japam. If you do all this, you will certainly be able to release Sîtâ.
  4. In days of yore, Visnu, S’iva and Brahmâ and the Devas in the Heavens all performed this worship of the Goddess.

  5. Therefore, O Râghava! Every person desiring happiness, specially those that have fallen under great difficulties, ought to do this auspicious ceremony, without the least hesitation. 23-24. O Kâkutstha! Vis’vamitra, Bhrigu, Vas’istha and Kas’yapa all of them did this worship before. When some stole away the wife of Brihaspatî, the Guru of the Devas, he, too, by the force of this worship, got his wife back. Therefore O king! dost thou also celebrate the Pûjâ for the destruction of Râvana.

  6. Râma replied :-- “O Ocean of Knowledge! Who is that Devî? What is Her influence; whence has She sprung? What is Her Name? And how is that vow to be duly observed? Kindly describe all these to me in detail.”

  7. Nârada answered :-- “Listen, O Râghava! That Goddess is Eternal and Ever Constant Primordial Force. If you worship Her, all your difficulties will be removed and all your desires will be fulfilled.
  8. She is the source of Brahmâ, Visnu and others and of all these living beings. Without Her force, no body would be able even to move their limbs.

  9. Râma said :-- “O best of the Munis! Describe briefly all the rules and regulations as to how that vow and worship are to be performed. With my heart, full of devotion and faith, I will worship the Goddess today.

And, finally Sri Rama worshipped Mother Goddess and appeased her:

41-42. Vyâsa said :-- Then the powerful Bhagavân Hari, hearing all from the Muni, believed them to be true; and, on the approach of the month of Âs’vin, prepared the altar on the top of a hill and placed the Auspicious Goddess, the World Mother and, observing all the rules, performed the vow and worshipped the Goddess. 43. Fasting for nine days, Râma celebrated the vow and duly offered sacrifices, performed the worship and Homa ceremonies. 44-46. When, on the grand night of the Eighth lunar day, the two brothers completed the vow as told by Nârada, the Supreme Bhagavatî was pleased with the worship and appeared before them, mounted on a lion, and remaining there on the mountain top, addressed Râma and Laksmana, in a sweet grave tone, like the rumbling of a rain cloud, thus :-- “Râma, I am satisfied with your worship; ask from me what you desire. 47. Râma! You are sent by the gods for the destruction of Râvana and are born as a part incarnate of Nârâyana, in the pure and stainless family of Manu.

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    Nice answer. BTW i think this could possibly also support the belief of Dussehra being the day when Shri Rama killed Ravan. Jan 18, 2019 at 11:11
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    The very mantra of the bodhana of Durga puja means: O Devi! Lord Brahmaa arosed you in inappropriate time to grace Sri Rama for killing Ravana. >ऐं रावणस्य वधार्थाय रामस्यानुग्रहाय च । >अकाले ब्रह्मणा बोधो देव्यास्त्वयि कृतः पुरा
    – user17294
    Jan 18, 2019 at 11:23
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal Thanks and yes u are right ..
    – Rickross
    Jan 18, 2019 at 11:48
  • @ParthaBanerjee Yes I read ur answer .. welcome to the site
    – Rickross
    Jan 18, 2019 at 11:48
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    @Dr.VineetAggarwal: While I don't contend the story of Sri Raama worshipping Devi, before embarking on a war with Ravana, as it is folklore, I would like to inform that according to Ramayana, Ravana was eliminated in phAlguna maasa. Jun 21, 2019 at 8:42
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The very mantra of the bodhana of Durga puja means: O Devi! Lord Brahmaa arosed you in inappropriate time to grace Sri Rama for killing Ravana.

ऐं रावणस्य वधार्थाय रामस्यानुग्रहाय च । अकाले ब्रह्मणा बोधो देव्यास्त्वयि कृतः पुरा ||

Om aim ravanasya vadharthaya ramasyanugrahaya cha | Akale brahmamana vodhah devyastvayi kritah pura||

Aim to kill Ravana and to show mercy to Rama In the past the goddess was enlightened by Brahma in an untimely manner.

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    Some of the spellings are wrong that's why I hv edited .. also i gave the transliteration.. So it's better to keep my edit ... also it is customary to use the blockquote (yellow quote) whn u are quoting something that's not ur own text/words.
    – Rickross
    Jan 17, 2019 at 13:01
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    Spelling mistakes are there in your answer & transliteration is needed because not everyone can read other language Hindi or sanskrit. Kindly go through the site regulations! Jan 17, 2019 at 13:44
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    The above lines of ऐं रावणस्य वधार्थाय रामस्यानुग्रहाय च । अकाले ब्रह्मणा बोधो देव्यास्त्वयि कृतः पुरा are cited by Hemadri (13th century CE) in the Vrata KaaNDa of the Chaturvarga Chintamani Vol.2, Part 1, pdf page: 943 under Navaratri vrata. Feb 27, 2019 at 6:55
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Since the war began against Ravana on the first day of the shraadha period during Dakshinayana, God Rama worshipped His pitru (forefathers) [Ref: Mahabhagavata Upapurana 40.14-26 translated by PKN Goswami].

Later, on the battlefield, Kumbhakarna killed innumerable vanara and ate many of them. God Brahma appeared before God Rama and advised worship of Goddess Durga, though it was an odd time (shraadha) and dark fortnight period [Ref: Mahabhagavata Upapurana 41.13-14, 42.19-23]. God Rama did as told and went on to kill the mighty Kumbhakarna after a fierce battle [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 6.60-68].

If Ravana was allowed to worship Goddess Durga on the following poornima (full moon day), he could not be killed. Therefore, God Rama started worshipping Goddess Durga from the first day of the bright fortnight in autumn (Ashwina). He fasted during the nights and chanted mantra. Devoted worship of Goddess Durga assures the devotee all the desires of the world [Ref: Mahabhagavata Upapurana 36.59-73, 42.13-17, 46.1-33; Devi Bhagavatam 3.30.19, 9.1.144-159].

God Rama had not been able to finish off Ravana after ferociously battling for 7 continuous days and nights [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 6.109].

As per Goddess' instructions, during the seventh to ninth day ceremonies, God Rama's bow was brought before Her for Her blessings [Ref: Mahabhagavata Upapurana 45.27-30].

Finally, on the 10th day of the bright fortnight (in the month of Ashwina), God Rama fired the lethal Brahmastra and killed Ravana [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 6.110]. This day is celebrated even today as Dassehra when the idol of Goddess Durga is immersed in the water [Ref: Mahabhagavata Upapurana 45.34-35]. The preceding days are celebrated as the Navaratri festival, corresponding to God Rama’s worship of the 9 avatara of Goddess Durga (Parvati).

Ref: 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani

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The story might not be in mUla rAmAyana, but it certainly does have scriptural support.

Brahma-Vaivarta Mahapurana, Prakriti-Khanda, Chapter 1:-

enter image description here

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Apart from all the major references listed in the other answers, The Anecdote of Sri Ramachandra worshipping of Devi Ambika is also found within an Upapurana of the Shakta Tradition Named Devi Purana (Different from Devi Bhagavata, and more popularly known within the shakta tradition as 'mAhAbhAgavata upapurAna')

The Relevant Excerpt from Devi (Upa)PurAna of Sri Rama doing stuti of Devi and getting the boon of being victorious over Lanka is Provided below

Devi Purana Chapter 44:-

enter image description here enter image description here

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No. Not in Valmiki Ramayana. Rama didn't need anyone's blessing to defeat insignificant demons like Ravana. He didn't even need the vanaras. He could have conquered all beings on earth by himself -

O, Sugreeva, Lord of monkey-troops! If I wish, I can kill those devilish beings, demons, supernatural beings and ogres living on earth with just a tip of my finger"

https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/yuddha/sarga18/yuddha_18_frame.htm

No god can protect the enemies of Rama -

"Even if you seek refuge in the region of Indra the Lord of celestials or Yama the Lord of Death or the Sun or Brahma the Lord of Creation or Agni the Lord of Fire or Shiva the Lord of dissolution or in the ten regions, even in those abodes you will elude me from now on."

https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/yuddha/sarga59/yuddha_59_frame.htm

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According to Brahmanda Mahapurana, The Presiding deity of Ayodhya was Mata Kāmākshi Mahā Tripura Sundari.

With great humility, he circumabulated three times. Thereafter, along with queen Kausalyā, he came to Sannidhi (the front portion of the idol) and observed Mahātripurasundarī whose abode was Kāmakoṣṭha, who is the mother of the Trimūrtis (Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva) and who is present there in the form of Śrīcakra. Along with his wife the devout king bowed down and prostrated with the eight limbs (touching the ground). In his own city, there was a temple of Tripurā formerly built by Ikṣvāku and set apart by Durvāsas along with his disciples for the purpose of worship.

– Brahmand Purana Lalitopakhyan Chapter 40.

I hope this clarifies your queries. Prd..

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Rama did worship Goddess Durga.

Devi Bhagavatam briefly mentioned it (Devi Bhagavatam, Skandha 3, Chapter 30, verses 41-43). It is mentioned in detail in the Kalika Purana (chapter 60).

In olden days the great goddess was waked up by Brahmā when it was still night in order to favour Rāma and to get Rāvaṇa killed. Then having given up her sleep she on the first day of the bright half of the moon in the month of Āśvina went to the city of Laṅkā, where Rāma stayed in the past. The great goddess Ambikā having gone there caused Rāma and Rāvaṇa engaged in a battle, but she herself remained hidden and kept eating flesh and drinking blood of the demons and the monkeys. - Kālikā Purāṇa 60.25-28

She got Rāma and Rāvaṇa engaged in fighting for seven days, and when the seventh night passed away, the goddess Mahāmāyā, the embodiment of the world caused Rāvaṇa to be killed by Rāma on the ninth day. During the period of seven days when the goddess herself observed the game of the battle by the two, she was worshipped during all those seven days by the gods. On the ninth day when Rāvaṇa the hero, was killed, Brahmā along with all the gods performed a special worship of Durgā. There after the goddess was dismissed on the tenth day with the celebration of Śāvorotsava. - Kālikā Purāṇa 60.29-32.

However, an even more detailed description could only be found in the Mahabhagavata Purana.

Unfortunately, I am not aware of any English translation of this Purana. So I won't be able to quote the verses. I have narrated the incident in short, and I have added the verse numbers. I have a Bengali translation along with Sanskrit verses written in Bengali script. I have added the link to that book in the reference section.

According to this Purana, when Ravana awakened Kumbhakarna and sent him to the war, Rama was terrified. Then Brahma assured Rama and told him to worship Goddess Durga (Mahabhagavat 41.22-33) for success on the battlefield. Rama told Brahma that this was not the proper time to worship the Goddess as this was Krishnapaksha and it is time for her sleep. Then Brahma said that on behalf of Rama, he will perform the Bodhana and the Puja. Rama agreed and appointed Brahma as the Purohita (priest) (Mahabhagavata 42.12-27). Brahma agreed to be his purohit and perform the puja from Krishna Navami till the death of the Ravana (Shukla Navami)(Mahabhagavata 43.81-97). Following the instruction of Brahma, Rama praised the Goddess by uttering Katyanai Stab (Mahabhagavata 44.1-17). Brahma himself uttered the Devi Sukta from the Vedas to please the Goddess (Mahabhagavata 45.4-19). Devi was pleased and she appeared and said that there will be a great war between Rama and Ravana between Shukla Saptami to Shukla Navami. On Saptami, she will enter into Rama's bow and arrows. During the time when Ashtami tithi will end and Navami will start in that juncture (Sandhi) she will cut Ravana's heads one after another. And finally, she assured that in the afternoon on Shukla Navami tithi, she will destroy Ravana completely (Mahabhagavata 45.20-43).

References -

  1. Kalika Purana English translation by B. N. Sastri
  2. SriMahabhagavatam translated by Panchanan Tarkaratna (Sanskrit verses in Bengali Script along with Bengali translation)

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