Chapter V - Description of Ayodhya

Lava and Kuśī began telling the story. 

From the time of its creation, the earth has been ruled by kings who were victorious in their battles.  Among these existed a King Sagara, who is credited with the digging of the sea.  His sixty thousand sons accompanied him on all his expeditions.  The great story of Rāmāyaṇa has its origin in this noble dynasty of Ikṣvāku.  Please listen to the story with an open mind; we will narrate it in its entirety.  The story is one of righteousness, desire and fulfillment.

Extending along the banks of the River Sarayū was a large and prosperous kingdom called Kośala.  Manu, the first ruler of the earth, had established a city named Ayodhyā in that kingdom.  Ayodhyā was twelve yojana[1] long and three yojana wide, and was well-known around the world. The city had beautiful divided highways.  They were decorated with flowering trees and were sprinkled with water every day.  A king named Daśaratha ruled the land.  He was engaged in the welfare of the people, always improving the city and creating new habitations.  He was like Indra, the King in the heavens.

The city had nice arches and gates, and well-laid out markets.  Artisans and craftsmen produced excellent tools and weapons.  Bards and street singers entertained people everywhere, along with singers and dancers. The city was graced with orchards and mango groves made for public use, and . was prosperous.  Tall buildings with flags were protected by rockets and missiles.   A boundary wall curved around the city, which was further protected by a wide moat that made it inaccessible for anyone to intrude.  Hordes of elephants, horses, cows, camels and donkeys wandered around, forming another layer of protection.

The city was built on a plateau.  Houses were compact and well-engineered, made spectacular by multistoried dwellings located in geometric chessboard subdivisions. The well-structured rows of houses looked like the residences of the siddha[2] ascetics in the heavens.  The city’s granaries were full with rice and grains, and the water was sweet.  Beautiful men and women adorned in costly ornaments roamed the streets.  Chieftains from the neighboring principalities came to the city to pay their taxes.  Tradesmen from diverse communities showed up in their local colorful costumes.  Big buildings studded with gems and minerals decorated the cityscape.  Vaults of treasures made the city comparable to Indra’s Amaravati!       

The sounds of lutes, drums, and percussion instruments created an environment of joy and happiness unequalled on the earth.  Warriors were trained to fight with weapons and muscles, and sometimes used wild animals in combat.  They never struck anyone who was alone or without family.  They did not hurt people who could be shouted at!  King Daśaratha lived in the palace, guarded by thousands of warriors on chariots.  He surrounded himself by thousands of scholarly maharṣī[3]-like brāhmaṇa[4]s, who were experts in rituals and were also skilled in the scriptures.

[1] Unit of distance, about eight miles long.

[2] A traditional nomenclature for extremely righteous people.

[3] Person who practiced strong austerities in pursuit of knowledge.

[4] The scholarly class in Indian tradition.