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As I am going through Balakand of Valmiki Ramayana, I came across the following.

Sage Vishwamitra asks King Dasharatha to send Rama to protect the Vedic ritual that is being conducted by him, from the demons namely Mareecha and Subaahu that are constantly disrupting it by drenching the Altar of Fire with streams of meat and blood, from the sky. The sage asserts King Dasharatha that he and the other sages in Dasharatha's court know the capabilities of Rama and though Rama is in his adolescence, he can easily kill the demons. The ire of sage Vishvamitra is shown at king Dasharatha. To pacify sage Vishvamitra, sage Vashishta intervenes and convinces king Dasharatha to send Rama with sage Vishvamitra. While doing so, sage Vashishta enumerates the capabilities of sage Vishvamitra, his knowledge of weaponry. Vashishta also suggests that all those weapons will be given to Rama, if Rama is dispatched with Vishvamitra. At last, Dasharatha agrees to send Rama.

As most of you might know, Vishvamitra was an emperor who left off everything. He was primarily a raaja Rishi (kingly sage) who later became brahma Rishi and performed moksha kaamesthi. That is the highest ascesis for achieving salvation. All the missiles are known to Vishvamitra. He had complete knowledge of weaponry and God Shiva gave weapons/missiles to Vishvamitra when he was ruling his kingdom.

My questions are:

  • What kind of Vedic ritual was Vishwamitra performing? Was he performing the moksha kaamesthi yag?
  • Why didn't Vishwamitra kill those mighty demons himself?

Most interesting thing is, Vishwamitra, can as well kill (control) those demons (Mareecha and Subaahu) himself as he was a emperor and had the knowledge of weaponry. But he did not kill them.

  • Why didn't Vishwamitra approach Parashurama?

As we know, one more incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashurama, was also there in Treta yuga. Instead of asking Lord Rama who was still too young (only 12 years old) to kill those mighty demons, Vishwamitra could have approached Lord Parashurama.

  • Why didn't Vishwamitra approach Dasharatha (as he was a king of Ayodhya) to kill the demons?

  • Why did Vishwamitra need only Lord Rama to kill the demons?

What I was thinking was, to kill demons like Mareecha and Subaahu one needs rajasic guna and Vishwamitra (as he became a Brahma Rishi from being an emperor) lost his Rajasic guna and became Satvic guna in the process of Brahma Rishi. As Lord Rama was born as Kshatriya and having Rajasic guna, it could be the reason why he needed Lord Rama. Or it might be Lord Rama's wish that Vishwamitra took him to a Vedic place to kill the demons and learn the knowledge of weapons from Vishwamitra to prepare himself (for the final battle) to kill Ravana.

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    I think Vishwamitra was just acting for Rama's benefit. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 1 '15 at 14:31
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Vishvamitra as a Brahmarshi could easily deal with these demons, or call upon Parasurama or Vasishtha to deal with them. The reason for Vishvamitra himself not using his powers is given by himself in the 19th Sarga of Balakanda:

"It would not behove me to release my anger, and curse them, while under such rituals and vows, O King." (Balakanda, Sarga 19, 7b, 8a.)

The actual reason for Vishvamitra calling for Rama was for two purposes:
1. Rama's marriage to Sitadevi
2. Ahalya Shapa Vimochana

Vishvamitra was primarily involved in Ahalya Shapa Viomochana, as he portrayed the role of the Guru. Like a Guru who entreats God to bless the devotees, Vishvamitra purposefully brought Rama and Lakshmana to Ahalya's ashrama, narrated her story and guided Rama to free the curse of Ahalya.

Also, he knew that Rama's avatara would begin in actual only when Mahalakshmi entered the story. Therefore, using the excuse of Yagna Samrakshana (which no doubt was a very important task), he brought Rama to Janaka's Yagnashala, where he broke Lord Shiva's bow.

(The two reasons given above are my summaries of Smt Vishakha Hari's explanations of the same.)

Vishvamitra also wanted to gift Rama and Lakshmana those weapons which would aid him later. And like the other members have answered, he wanted to take part in the Divine Play.

  • Yapp, the Rishis knew who Shri Rama was, the same is mentioned in the Yoga Vashishtha. – Amit Saxena May 18 '16 at 7:35
  • Does that mean he did not want to betray his Brahmanism by killing beings? Even though he was originally a Kshatriya? – Knowledge Seeker Feb 19 '18 at 20:37
  • @TheLogicalFanatic Partly yes. There is also the additional reason as he states in the verse quoted above that while performing the Yagna he wasn't supposed to perform such acts like killing the rakshasas. – Surya Feb 20 '18 at 13:30
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Why didn't Vishwamitra kill those mighty demons himself?

The simple answer is: He's now a brāhmaṇa, no longer a kṣatriya, so cannot wield weapons.

Swami Chandrasekarendra Saraswati in the book Hindu Dharma: The Universal Way of Life § explains as below.

The Brahmin must be conversant with the fourteen branches of the Vedic lore. He must be proficient even in Gandharva-veda or music and must be acquainted with agricultural science, construction of houses, etc. At the same time he must give instructions in these subjects to pupils from the appropriate castes. His own vocation is the study of the Vedas and he must have no other source of income.

Visvamitra was the master of Dhanurveda (military science). When he performed sacrifices, the demons Subahu and Marica tried to play havoc with them. Though a great warrior himself, he did not try to drive away the demons himself. Instead, he brought Rama and Laksmana for the purpose. Visvamitra thereafter gave the instruction to the two in the use of astras and sastras.

If the Brahmin is asked, "Do you know to wield a knife? " he must be able to answer, "Yes, I know". If he is asked, "Do you know to draw and paint" again he must say, "Yes". But he cannot wield a knife or become an artist to earn his livelihood. All he can do is to learn these arts and teach others the same according to their caste. He is permitted to receive a daksina to maintain himself and he must be contented with it however small the sum may be. The Brahmin's speciality, his true vocation, is Vedic learning.

[Hindu Dharma » Varna Dharma For Universal Well-Being » Brahmins are not a Privileged Caste]

§ An older and copyright-free version of this book is available for free here.

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Vishvamitra knew the Lord Rama was the Supreme Brahman, and He wanted the association of the supreme Brahman which is cherished by every one in this world. Playing a part in Lord Rama's Lila was His greatest privilege and honor. To understand this we can refer to Bhagavatam where it is stated that even liberated souls are attracted to the pastimes of the Supreme Brahman.

  • You should cite sources. – Bhavin Patel Oct 12 '15 at 4:31
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The following verse from Bhagavatam mentions the potential reason for Vishvamitra's endeavor. http://www.vedabase.com/sb/1/7/10

Vishvamitra had attained the state of BrahmaRishi and hence His knowledge of Lord Rama being VishNu is obvious.

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