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Valmiki teaching archery
When Kusha and Luv were five years old, Valmiki arranged the tonsure ceremony of the kids.

Traditionally, as soon as the tonsure ceremony is over, the teaching of the alphabets starts. Sage Valmiki himself initiated the boys in studies. The two bright boys learnt the alphabets in no time. They also acquired the ability to read and write anything. Valmiki taught them the Shastras, mythology, music, archery and whatever else he knew. The boys became experts in all those branches of knowledge.

The ashwamedha horse
The army following the horse
Valmiki taught the boys the RAMAYANA, which he had composed. The boys learnt to sing it to the accompaniment of the Veena (a stringed instrument). Ramayana seemed to get a new felicity when the boys sang it. When they sang the poem the whole hermitage appeared to forget themselves and were caught in the rapture of the melody. Valmiki was very proud of his students. Whenever any guests came to the hermitage, he would make the boys sing a part of Ramayana.

When Luv and Kusha were twelve years old Valmiki performed the sacred thread ceremony for them, thus giving them the right to learn the Vedas. They learnt the Vedic mantras by heart. Along with that, the training in archery was also continued. The boys became proficient in Vedas and also in archery. The sage, with the mystic power of his tapas, provided them with swords and shields. In the meantime on a certain day Varuna, the Sea-God, called Valmiki. So the rishi asked Luv and Kusha to look after the hermitage carefully and left for the world of Varuna.

As the children were growing up in the hermitage, Rama in Ayodhya was in unbearable agony, with the memory of Sita haunting him. He always had one worry or the other. He decided to perform the Ashwamedha (Horse) sacrifice.

The Ashwamedha sacrifice was not easy to perform. Only the most powerful of kings could undertake it. Rama was of course very powerful. So he formally got anointed to perform that sacrifice. The pavilion to perform the sacrifice was erected on the bank of the river Ganga. Rama worshipped the sacrificial horse. A medallion made of gold was tied on its forehead. On it was engraved the message: "This is the sacrificial horse of Sri Rama, son of Kausalya. He is the most powerful king on Earth. All those who agree should pay tribute and become his vassals. Otherwise they will tie up this horse, and fight with Rama." The horse was left to go, as it liked. Rama appointed his brother Shatrughna to go with a large army for its protection.

The Ashwamedha horse went past many countries. The kings of all those States paid tribute and became Rama's dependants. The horse was now returning to Ayodhya.

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