There was a king named Akaash Raj, and his wife’s name was Dharini devi. They were very great devotees. However they had no children even after many attempts. They approached the great sages and rishis and asked what could be done. If the king and the queen do not have a child they actually fail all purpose, because unless they train someone to inherit the Kingdom, then they are not doing proper service to the subjects. And besides that the duty of the king is to raise a child, make him a king so that he can go to the forest and become self-realized.
The great sages explained that previously Maharaja Dasarath as well as Maharaja Janaka, performed a particular yajna, a royal yajna for the purpose of having a child. Thus all the arrangements were being made. It was explained to the king to plough the field at the area where the yajna was to be performed and the king himself had to be the ploughman. They took the bullocks and the plough and the king went about circumambulating the field of the yajna, ploughing the field. At one particular place the hook of the plough, when it was deep in the ground, latched on to a golden box. The golden box was pulled out of the ground. It opened automatically. Within that box was a big beautiful lotus flower and upon that lotus flower was the most charming golden colored girl(Padmavati Devi), smiling and waving at King Akaash Raj.
The king was very much pleased. He brought the little child to his wife Dharini, and they accepted her as their own daughter. They performed the yajna and soon, the queen was pregnant. Later, she gave birth to a son named Vasudham.
History of Padmavati’s appearance
The history of the girl child is very interesting. When she appeared, there was a voice in the sky, explaining that she was the goddess Laxmi Herself who had appeared in the form of the girl child. The brahmanas when they saw that She was born on a lotus flower named her Padmavati.
Many aspects of the previous life of Padmavati are explained in the Ramayana and in Sri Caitanya Caritamrta. When Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was traveling to South India, He met a brahmana who consistently lamented, upon reading that Sita was stolen by Ravana. So much so that he didn’t even eat. Even though the actual incident happened many millions of years ago, the brahmana couldn’t get over this terrible piece of information which he read in the scriptures. He invited Lord Caitanya for prasad. It was noon, and he didn’t even start cooking. It was 3 O’ clock, and he still didn’t cook. Lord Caitanya asked “Are you going to cook?”The Brahmana replied, “How could I cook, when Sita has been stolen by Ravana? I should enter into fire. How can I live when my worshipable goddess has been stolen by this rakshasa?”
Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu explained, “Ravana could not even touch Sita. This was a false illusory Sita. So you eat, please believe Me.” The brahmana then took a plate, to please Lord Caitanya and took prasad. Later on, Lord Caitanya continued His travel. He went to Madurai, and then He went to Rameshwaram. He found within a scripture the Kurma Purana, the story of the chaste woman. There it was explained that before Ravana stole Sita, Agni, the fire god, took the real Sita, and replaced Her with an illusory Sita which was stolen by Ravana. Later on when Ravana was killed and Lord Ramacandra conquered Lanka, He wanted to test Sita’s chastity, so She entered into fire, and this time, Agni dev brought the original Sita back.
Further detail to this particular Puranic narration-
There was a great sage named Khushadvaj and he was performing a yajna. From his chanting of Vedic hymns a beautiful young girl was born. She was a partial expansion of Laxmidevi. He named her Vedhavati. Her father understood that she was a very special person and that no one was fit to marry her except Lord Vishnu Himself. He told Vedhavati that you should go to the jungles of the Himalayas, and perform tapasya with your mind fixed on getting only Vishnu as your husband.
She was so beautiful and her charm was so glorious that many of the greatest kings and princesses were coming before her, begging to marry. But she would tell them all, “My mind is fixed on the lotus feet of Lord Narayana, I will accept no one else.” She performed tapasya for many years. One day Ravana happened to be flying overhead in his airplane. When he saw the beauty of Vedhavati he was infatuated. He landed his plane, came before Vedhavati and said, “You are so beautiful and I am so great. I am begging you, marry me now. I cannot live without you. I am the king of Lanka, I have conquered Indra, all the demigods tremble in fear of me, I will make you the prominent queen of my entire kingdom, and I will give you all riches and opulence’s. Come with me, and be my wife.” Vedhavati very respectfully told him, “I am sorry Sir, but it’s not possible. I have fixed my mind on Lord Vishnu and will accept no one else as my husband. If He does not accept me, then I will give up my body.”
Ravana then asked, “Who are you?” She replied, “My name is Vedhavati and my father is the great brahmana sage named Khusadhvaja. Ravana told her, “Then, it would be a good match. Because my father is Vishrava, my mother is Keshini, and my grandfather is Pulatsya Muni, who is the son of Brahma. Pulatsya Muni is a very great brahmana, so there is no incompatibility.” Ravana continued, “Besides that if you do not agree to marry me then I will take you by force.” She explained to him, “My life is for Vishnu and Vishnu alone.”