Sri Rama’s war with Lava & Kusha is an important incident in Ramayana. The story of Rama – Lava Kusha battle is mentioned in Padma Purana’s Pathala Khanda..
Sri Rama requested sage Agastya to tell about the means by which he could become liberated from the sins of killing brahmins.
Sage Agastya advised him to perform Ashwamedha Yagya. He also described the rituals of performing Ashwamedha Yagya— “Get a horse of white colour and after worshipping it on Vaishakh Purnima leave it to wander freely. Tie a piece of paper on its forehead on which your name and other details are mentioned. Soldiers should follow that horse wherever it goes. You should fight a battle against any king who dares to stop the horse. You should lead a celibate life till the horse returns back to the same place from where it had been let loose. It is customary for the performer of Ashwamedha Yagya to indulge himself in benevolent deeds till the completion of Ashwamedha Yagya.” Sri Rama agreed to perform Ashwamedha Yagya. He went to the seashore accompanied by numerous sages. He then cultivated a vast expanse of land with the help of a golden plough. A large oblation site was constructed and thus began Ashwamedha Yagya under the supervision of Vashishtha.
The White Horse is let loose & Shatrughna followed the hose
As per the advice of Sage Vashishtha, Sri Rama instructed his soldiers to bring a white-horse. A white parasol was fixed on its back and the horse was decorated with colourful clothes. The horse was then let loose and the faithful soldiers of Sri Rama followed it wherever the horse went. A gold-sheet was hanged in the horse’s neck and upon which was inscribed–This horse belongs to Sri Rama, the son of Dasharath. Anybody who dares to stop this horse will meet ruthless punishment.
Shatrughna followed the horse as per the instruction of his elder brother, Sri Rama. Bharata and Pushkal also accompanied him. A huge army led by Kalnemi was marching behind the horse.
Lava Seals the Horse
Some of the kings tried to stop the horse, but were defeated by Shatrughna. This way the horse continued to move ahead without any problem till it reached the bank of river Ganga. It was early morning and Lava after noticing the presence of horse become curious. He went near the horse and tried to read the inscription hanging down its neck. He made fun of the might of Sri Rama and fastened the horse. The soldiers tried to release the horse but Lava severed their arms. They returned to Shatrughna and narrated the whole incident to him.
Lava destroys the entire Army
Shatrughna became extremely furious after seeing the condition of his injured soldiers. He instructed Kalnemi to teach Lava a lesson. Kalnemi confronted Lava with a huge army and a ferocious battle took place. Lava managed to kill Kalnemi, which created havoc in the rival’s army. The surviving soldiers tried to hold their ground but were forced to flee on account of a fierce assault from Lava.
Shatrughan then ordered Pushkal to fight Lava but he became unconscious after being hit by Lav’s arrow.
Now, Shatrughna’s anger crossed all limits and he ordered Hanuman to kill Lava. Hanuman uprooted a large tree and tried to hit Lava, but Lava cut that tree into hundred pieces with a volley of arrows. Lava then released many arrows in the direction of Hanuman. Hanuman fought valiantly but ultimately he fell down unconscious.
Lava falls unconscious
When Shatrughna learnt about Hanuman’s fate he was infuriated and went to fight Lava. But when he saw a tender looking child in front of him he was surprised. Shatrughna asked —
‘O brave child! Who are you! Who is your father?’
But Lava was not interested in his irrelevant queries and challenged him for a duel. Shatrughna was left with no other option but to fight. A tremendous battle was fought between them. Shatrughna released volleys of arrow towards Lav but all of them were neutralized by him. For a brief time Shatrughna lost his consciousness. After regaining his consciousness, he aimed his most lethal weapon towards Lava. The arrow hit Lava and he fell down unconscious.
Lava’s companions went and informed Sita about the whole incident. Kusha came forward to fight against Sri Rama’s army. When he reached the battlefield he saw Lava who was held captive by the enemy’s army’s. By that time, Lava had regained his consciousness and after seeing Kusha he somehow managed to free himself from the clutches of his captors.
Now, both the brothers launched a fierce attack on the enemy. The whole army of Sri Rama started running helter and shelter. It did not take much time for Lava and Kusha to vanquish the whole army. All the great warriors like Hanuman, Sugriva, Pushkal, Angad Veermani and even Shatrughna were either held captive or injured in the battle. Both the brothers fastened Hanuman and Sugriva with ropes and took them to Sita. Sita immediately recognized Hanuman and Sugriva. She instructed both her sons to set them free as well as the horse.
Lava and Kusha followed the instruction of Sita and released everybody from their captivity. Sita then whispered—‘May all the dead soldiers become alive.’ Her words came true and all the dead soldiers became alive once again. Shatrughna regained his consciousness too.
Return of the Army to Ayodhya
Shatrughna decided to return to Ayodhya. He instructed Sumati to make all the necessary arrangements for the safe return of the caravan, which comprised not only of Sri Rama’s army but also of all the defeated kings and their vanquished armies. When Sri Rama came to know about their arrival, he sent Lakshmana to receive them. Lakshmana received the victorious army
with all the honor and the all of them came to the palace. Sri Rama curiously asked Sumati about everything that had happened.
Sumati paraded all the vanquished kings who had made the mistake of stopping the horse– Sumad, Sabahu, Daman, Satyavan, Surath, etc. He then narrated the brave deed of Lav and Kush.He also revealed how mighty warriors like Hanuman, Sugriva, Shatrughna etc. had been defeated by both of them.
Rama sends Lakshmana to bring Sita Maa
Sage Valmiki was present in Ayodhya to attend the Ashwamedha Yagya. Sri Rama asked him about the identity of the two children–Lava and Kusha. Valmiki said — Sita was pregnant at the time you had abandoned her. I gave her refuge in my hermitage where she gave birth to twins–Lava and Kusha. Both the children were brought up in my hermitage with love and care. I taught them all the sacred texts and scriptures and made them masters of various weaponries. So, Lava and Kusha are your sons. You must bring Sita back to Ayodhya with due honor, because she is pure and chaste. Moreover your whole army owe its life to her.”
Sri Rama’s heart was filled with grief. He instructed Lakshmana to bring Sita along with Lav and Kusha. Lakshmana went to Valmiki’s hermitage and requested Sita to return to Ayodhya. Sita refused to return but sent Lav and Kush along with Lakshmana. When Sri Rama found that only Lav and Kush had come, he once again sent Lakshmana to bring Sita. Lakshmana followed his instruction and went to Valmiki’s hermitage for the second time. Meanwhile, Valmiki instructed Lava and Kusha to sing the praise of Sri Rama in their melodious voice. Everybody was moved by their soulful rendition. Sri Rama took Lava and Kusha in his embrace.
Sita’s Return to Ayodhya
Sri Rama eulogised all the revered sages who had arrived to attend the Ashwamedha Yagya. The holy water of Saryu was brought and sprinkled in the yagya kund where Ashwamedha Yagya was being performed, amidst the chanting of vedic mantras. Hardly had Sri Rama touched the horse with his hands then it transformed into a human being. Everybody was amazed by this incident. Sri Rama asked that man as to how he had attained the form of a horse. The man revealed to the assembled people that he had become a horse due to Durvasa’s curse. ‘Later on Sage Durvasa had mercy on me and assured that I would regain my human form by the divine touch of Sri Rama.’
Having said this the man attained to the heaven. In course of time Sri Rama organised two more Ashwamedha Yagyas and his glory reverberated through all the three worlds.