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What role did sage Vashishta play in the Ramayana? He was Rama's guru, but then, is there any other significant role? What weapons did he give Rama?

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  • No, Vasishta didn't give Rama weapons. Vishwamitra did, though. Jun 2 '15 at 16:48
  • Being the Guru is the most important roles of all. May 23 '16 at 13:53
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It was in Vasishta's gurukula that Rama did his education. Also, Vashishtha was the one who impressed upon Dasaratha to send Rama with Vishwamitra to the forest for slaying the rakshasas who were not allowing the sages to perform yagna. This later also led to the marriage of Rama with Sita.

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    I have noticed many ancient names are not capitalized in English as is common for nouns, especially names. Is this some known practice or just simple ignorance. I'm not complaining about English etiquette, but want to find out if there is a writing custom. For example, in the above comment only Rama is capitalized by not Dasaratha, Vishwamitra, and Vasishta. Is that following some custom?
    – Emacs User
    Jun 24 '15 at 13:21
  • Sorry, this is ignorance!! Jun 24 '15 at 17:33
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Dashratha does not have a son who can take charge of his vast kingdom. Rishi Vasishtha advises him to worship Goddess Kamakshi in Kanchi in present-day Tamil Nadu state. She blesses him to have 4 sons. He then performs a putresti (putra-kameshti) yagnya under the guidance of Rishi Rishyasringa [Ref: Brahmanda Purana 4.40.88-142; Skanda Purana 2.8.7.1].

Rishi Vishwamitra asks King Dasharatha that God Rama be sent with him to the forest to kill the Rakshasa obstructing his yagnya. Dasharatha hesitatingly says that his son is not even 16 years old. Dasharatha adds that the task is difficult for him too, but offers to accompany the learned sage. Vishwamitra starts to get angry. Rishi Vasishtha steps in and says that the Suryavanshi tradition demands that the king keep his word and that he should comply with Vishwamitra’s request [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 1.19-21].

God Rama is asked to appear in the court. Vasishtha explains to God Rama the summary of the Vedic scriptures in a brilliant spiritual text called ‘Yoga Vasishtha’. Then, God Rama and Lakshmana accompany Vishwamitra.

Later in Mithila, there is a mutual agreement that Janaka’s younger daughter Urmila would wed Lakshmana. Janaka’s 2 nieces Mandavi and Shrutakirti would marry Bharata and Shatrughna respectively. God Rama and Sita, and the other 3 couples get married at present-day Janakpur in Nepal, under the auspices of Rishis Vasishtha, Vishwamitra and Shatananda [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 1.71-73].

It has been 12 years since the wedding of God Rama and Sita. King Dasharatha has a terrible dream with inauspicious signs. Royal astrologers tell him that such dreams foretell a calamity, perhaps his death itself. Dasharatha immediately decides to make God Rama the next king of Ayodhya (as guided by Rishis Vasishtha and Vaamadeva) [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 2.1-3].

Royal messengers had been sent (by Vasishtha) to recall Bharata and Shatrughna from Kaikeya to Ayodhya [Valmiki Ramayana 2.68].

A huge convoy led by Bharata leaves Ayodhya to get God Rama back. He is accompanied by Rishi Vasishtha [Valmiki Ramayana 2.83-90].

Ravana had insulted and kept in captivity Rishi Vasishtha as he had refused to teach the Rakshasa the Veda [Puranic Encylopaedia pg 646].

When Yamaraja (the demigod of death) came to meet God Rama, Lakshmana was instructed not to allow anyone inside. God Rama says whoever enters and interrupts them would be executed. At that very time, Rishi Durvasa arrives saying he wants to meet God Rama but was stopped by Lakshmana. Durvasa says if he is not allowed inside, he will curse all of Ayodhya. Lakshmana decides that it is better to be executed by his elder brother than let the residents of Ayodhya suffer. He goes inside and interrupts God Rama. Durvasa is allowed inside. Later, God Rama approaches Rishi Vasishtha for advice on how to keep His word. How could such a beloved brother be executed, but there is a dilemma of Dharma? Vasishtha says Lakshmana can leave God Rama and that would mean death for him. Thus, God Rama banishes Lakshmana for upholding Dharma. Lakshmana merges with his original form of Adi-shesha on the banks of River Sarayu, which still exists today as Sahasra-dhara-tirtha. God Rama grieves when He sees a fiery flame reach towards the sky [Ramayana 7.116-119; Skanda Purana 2.8.2.44, 6.99-100].

Lastly, Vasishtha did not provide weapons to God Rama, but Vishwamitra did. And so did Rishi Agastya who granted God Rama a bow made by Prajapati Vishwakarma with a never-ending quiver of arrows [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 3.12].

[Source: 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani pgs 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 16, 63, 64].

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