Three Cities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas


BY: SUN STAFF - 24.9 2018


A three-part summary of cities corresponding to the three gunas.

The cities of Ayodhya, Kishkinda and Lanka, respectively, are respected as sattva, rajas and tamas cities. In Srimad Ramayana, the Sage Valmiki gives an elaborate description of these three cities. He has also described the types of people living there, including their rulers.

While Ayodhya is clearly seen as a sattvic city, the attributes of tamasic and rajasic could be equally applied to Kiskindha and Lanka. Lanka has an edge over Kishkindha by the virtue of the fact that it was built by the celestial architect Visvakarma, and was more opulent and therefore better inhabited. Let us study the topography and other details of these three cities from Valmiki's point of view.


Ayodhya - a Sattvic City

Ayodhya is said to have been fashioned by the first Manu , the progenitor of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. It was the capital of the Kosala kingdom, through which the river Sarayu (presently known as the Ghagara) passes. The domain of Kosala in ancient times is said to have extended far away on either side of the river, "covering many miles of impassable forest and dense undergrowth". It was in these forests that Kaikeyi wanted Sri Rama to live for 14 years after forfeiting Him to go further south, where Ravana abducted Sita Devi and ultimately led to his own doom.

Ayodhya was well protected on all sides by high rampart walls , extending several miles in length. Various weapons of destruction were mounted on the walls to deter intruders, and moats ran deep around the walls. The four main city gates were exquisitely carved and strong enough to withstand even assaults by war elephants. For these reasons the city was called 'Ayodhya', impregnable.

The city was well connected with the rest of the country through wide , excellent roads fit for several chariots to move abreast. The roads were well maintained and lined with gigantic shady trees. The scent of flowers always filled the roadsides. Houses in Ayodhya had many storeys, with waving flags atop. The mansions of nobles and the royal houses were in the city center with royal pathways going in all four directions.

King Dasaratha's palace, along with separate mansions for his queens, stood at the center of a huge square, replete with natural and cultivated gardens, limpid pools and flowering groves. Interspersed with houses and the palaces were parks and resting areas.

The houses of the gentry and the middle class citizens were appropriate to their status. The capital and the country, as a whole, were rich in granary. Merchants from all parts of the world were thronging Ayodhya all the time to dispose of their merchandise, and also to trade in precious gems, perfumes and silks for which the country was famous. The city had all varieties of domestic animals such as cattle, horses, camels and elephants, all well cared for.

More than all these excellences, it was the people who claimed attention. They were just and happy, generous and broadminded, truthful and contented, besides being well versed in fine arts, traditional lore and legends. Godly in spirit, self-controlled, loyal to the king, always following the rules of their varnas and asramas, hospitable to visitors, mindful of others' properties, the citizens set great store by their moral excellence. Evils of no type found a place here. Happy and contented , the people of Ayodhya lived for one another. It was such a country that the Lord chose to take His incarnation here as Sri Rama, and the place was the embodiment of His all-attractive qualities.

(To be continued…)

References: Anudinam