The sacred epic
Ramayana is verily the Veda descended from heaven to earth. The Veda is
classified into four: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharvana Veda.
The Rig Veda helps, sustains and protects the Yajnas and Yagas. In the
Ramayana, Rama symbolises Rig Veda. Lakshmana signifies Yajur Veda, which
contains Mantras chanted during the performance of Yajnas and Yagas. When
Rama was away in the forest, Bharata stayed in Nandigrama singing His
Divine Name day in and day out. Hence, he symbolises Sama Veda. Satrughna
was the one who annihilated the Satrus (enemies) and protected the pious.
He was obedient to his brothers. He stands for Atharvana Veda. The essence
of Atharvana Veda lies in destroying wickedness and fostering sacred
feelings and activities. The Ramayana is verily the Veda. The Veda is not
different from the Ramayana. True humanness lies in understanding this.
Bharata and Satrughna are the four sons of Dasaratha. Merely knowing this
will not suffice. One should enquire and understand the inner meaning. Who
is Dasaratha? He represents the human body consisting of ten senses (five
senses of perception and five senses of action). Strictly speaking, Rama,
Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna are not the sons of Dasaratha and his
three wives. We should not think that they were born like mere mortals.
They are the Chaitanya Swarupas (embodiments of divine consciousness) who
emerged from the sacrificial fire. They set an ideal to parents, brothers
and sisters in every family and to humanity at large.
Today, due to the impact of Kali Age, there is no unity and love among
brothers in a family. There are conflicts among them leading to
disturbances. On the contrary, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna had
total unity among themselves. They delighted others by their unity. Even
while playing games in their childhood, each aspired for the victory of
the other. Once the four brothers as young lads were playing a game.
Shortly thereafter, Bharata came to mother Kausalya, sat on her lap and
started weeping. She asked him, "Bharata, why are you feeling sad? Have
you lost the game?" Bharata replied, "Mother, I would have been happy if
that were to be the case, but when I was about to lose the game, Rama
managed to lose the game and made me the winner. I am upset at the defeat
of my elder brother." What an example of fraternal love!
When Lakshmana fell unconscious in the battlefield, Rama was crestfallen.
He considered Lakshmana as His very life. He lamented saying, "If I were
to search in the world, I may get a mother like Kausalya and a wife like
Sita but not a brother as noble as Lakshmana. What is the use of this life
without Lakshmana?" The four brothers had such unity, harmony and love
When Bharata returned from Kekaya kingdom, he came to know from Sage
Vasishtha that Rama had gone into exile and would not return for fourteen
long years. He was disconsolate. He went to the Sage, offered his respects
and said, "Oh venerable preceptor, I do not want this kingdom which has
caused the exile of my brother Rama. Being the eldest son, only Rama has
the right to rule over the Kingdom. Hence, at this very moment I shall go
to the forest, fall at the feet of Rama and plead with Him to come and
take over the reins of Ayodhya." In this manner, each of the four brothers
was ready to make any sacrifice for the sake of the other.
In order to uphold
the plighted word of His father, Rama was ready to go into exile. He
donned the clothes made of tree bark and went to the residence of mother
Kausalya to seek her permission. Mother Kausalya, being unaware of the
sudden turn of events, was eagerly awaiting Rama's arrival. She was
ecstatic thinking of Rama's coronation and expected Him to come to her in
royal garments. She was very much worried to see Rama and Sita in bark
clothes. "Rama, is this the type of garment you should wear on the day of
your coronation," she asked. Rama smilingly replied, "Mother, I have been
coronated as the king of Aranya Rajya (kingdom of forest) by My father. I
am going to the forest to protect sages and saints who are being put to
suffering by the demons. Hence, kindly do not raise any objection to My
sacred mission. I have to obey the command of My father." So saying, He
prostrated before His mother and sought her permission to go to the
forest. Hearing the words of Rama, mother Kausalya was overcome with
sorrow. She pleaded with Him, "Son, You are talking of only obeying the
command of father. What about the command of Your mother? I am the
Ardhangi (better half) of Your father. Hence, it is Your bounden duty to
obey my command also. I will not come in the way of Your going to the
forest, but let me also accompany You. I have borne You as a result of
many rituals and severe austerities performed over a number of years. I
cannot live without You even for a minute." Rama pacified her saying,
"Mother, it is not proper on your part to leave your husband in this old
age. He is getting burnt in the fire of My separation. At this juncture,
you should comfort and console him with soothing words. That is your
foremost duty. For a wife, husband is God. He is the only refuge for her."
Sita, who was standing by, heard this conversation. She at once asked Him,
"Rama, is not the Dharma same for all women? Can there be one Dharma for
your mother and another for me? You have asked me to stay back and look
after Your father and mother. Now You are telling Your mother that serving
the husband is the prime duty of a wife. Does it not hold good in my
case?" Mother Kausalya was moved by Sita's argument. She told Rama, "Son,
the same Dharma holds good in the case of every woman. It is destined that
I have to suffer in this manner. Why should You put Sita to suffering by
leaving her behind in Ayodhya? She has given up everything and has decided
to go with You to the forest. Do not disappoint her. Take her along with
You. It is Your duty to take care of her." One can very well understand
the nobility and broad-mindedness of mother Kausalya from this episode.
The Birthday of Rama is celebrated in order to remind us of the ideals
which He stood for. We have to ponder over the ideals set before us by
Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna and also by Kausalya, Sumitra and
Kaikeyi. Sage Vasishtha declared, Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmah (Rama is the
embodiment of Dharma). He described the Divine form of Rama saying, Pumsam
Mohana Rupaya (one whose form enchants all). "Rama, the beauty and
handsomeness that You are endowed with are not limited to Your physical
form alone. Your infinite love and compassion give You this blissful form.
Even men are attracted by the blissful form of Yours. You are the very
personification of Sat-Chit-Ananda." Thus Sage Vasishtha extolled the
glory and majesty of Rama. It is your good fortune that you are able to
listen to the sacred story of Rama and sing His glory.
As I told you in the beginning, God shines effulgently in the universe and
so does the universe in God. The relationship between God and the universe
is intimate and inseparable. The universe is full of living beings. Each
being is the embodiment of Rama. Do not confine Rama to a particular name
and form. All the beings are His forms. Rama means the One who delights.
He is present in all. Easwara Sarva Bhutanam (God is the indweller of all
beings). Isavasyam Idam Jagat (the entire world is permeated by God). The
world is the very form of God. Sahasra Seersha Purusha Sahasraksha Sahasra
Pad (God has thousands of heads, eyes and feet). In those days, the
population of the world was only in thousands. Considering each of them
the form of God, it was declared, Sahasra Seersha Purusha … With the
passage of time, the population swelled from thousands to lakhs and from
lakhs to crores. Then it was said, God is Mukkoti Devata Swarupa, meaning
He is in the form of three crores of beings. Today the world population
has increased to nearly 600 crores. All are the forms of God. Usually
people confine Rama to a particular form with a bow and a quiver of
arrows. In fact, every man is Rama Swarupa (embodiment of Rama). That is
why people are named after Rama, Lakshmana, Krishna, Govinda, etc.
Not only the four
brothers, even their consorts demonstrated great ideals. Sita and Urmila
were the daughters of King Janaka. Mandavi and Srutakeerti were the
daughters of his younger brother. They were women of sterling character
and were endowed with supreme sense of detachment. They considered the
happiness of others as their own. When Rama was leaving for the forest,
Sita insisted that she should be allowed to accompany Him. She said,
"Swami, You have come for the redemption of mankind. I too have a part to
play in it. How can I remain here when You are going to the forest
renouncing everything?" She removed all her ornaments, wore bark clothes
and followed Rama.
Lakshmana's wife, Urmila was a very good painter. Being unaware of the
happenings, she was painting the picture of Rama's coronation. As she was
deeply engrossed in her work, Lakshmana entered the room all of a sudden
and called her in a raised voice. She was startled and at once stood up.
In the process, she accidentally spilled over the paint on the picture she
was painting. She felt sad for having spoiled the picture. Then Lakshmana
remarked, "The coronation of Rama which is meant to bestow peace and
prosperity to mankind is stalled because of Kaikeyi and the picture of
coronation that you are painting is spoiled because of me." He informed
her that he was accompanying Rama and Sita to the forest to serve them and
said that he would return only after fourteen years. She was least
perturbed with his decision. In fact, she was happy and entreated him to
serve Sita and Rama with utmost devotion. Pain and pleasure, sorrow and
happiness follow one another. One should treat them with equanimity.
|Pleasure and pain,
good and bad co-exist, none can separate them. You cannot find
pleasure or pain, good or bad to the exclusion of the other. Pleasures
result when difficulties fructify.
leave of his wife and went to mother Sumitra to seek her blessings. 'Su-mitra'
means a good friend. Her character was worthy of her name. When Lakshmana
told her of his decision to accompany Sita and Rama to the forest, she,
being a noble mother, was very happy. She was not at all worried that
either of her two sons would not rule over the kingdom. When her cup of
pudding was taken away by an eagle, both Kausalya and Kaikeyi sympathised
with her and shared their pudding with her. Lakshmana was born of the
share of Kausalya's pudding and Satrughna of the share of Kaikeyi's.
Hence, Lakshmana and Satrughna are the aspects of Rama and Bharata
respectively. Lakshmana served Rama and Satrughna served Bharata. Sumitra
thought that it was her good fortune that her sons were serving Rama and
Bharata. She had such noble feelings. Where there is God, there is His
devotee. Where God and the devotee come together, victory is assured.
Sumitra told Lakshmana, "Son, to be in God's company is the greatest
wealth." So, she gave her immediate consent to Lakshmana to accompany Rama
When Rama went to
Kausalya to take leave of her, she lamented saying, "Son, you are leaving
me in Ayodhya with all the royal comforts and going to Aranya (forest) to
lead a life of hardships." To this Lakshmana who was by the side of Rama
said, "Mother, this Ayodhya without Rama and Sita is verily the forest.
The forest with Rama and Sita is verily Ayodhya. Sita and Rama are my
parents. I will serve them and spend my time blissfully."
There was great unity and understanding not only among the four brothers
but also among their consorts. They are ideals for every family. Is there
a family where daughters-in-law live in amity? Is there a family where
brothers live in harmony without indulging in property disputes? Nowhere
do we find such an ideal family. This age of Kali has become the age of
Kalaha (conflict). In such a scenario, the Ramayana shines as the
beacon-light to every family. How should the brothers and sisters conduct
themselves? In the Ramayana, we find the demonstration of such great
ideals. Merely going through the sacred text of Ramayana is not enough;
you have to emulate the ideals. The Ramayana transcends the barriers of
time, space, caste and religion. In all nations, at all times and under
all circumstances, unity is very essential to find fulfilment in life.
Even birds and animals have unity amongst themselves. They do not have the
selfishness of hoarding things. Today we find wicked tendencies in man
which are not found even in birds and animals. There is not a single
instance of internal dispute in the family of Dasaratha. You may question,
"Was not Kaikeyi responsible for a family dispute which led to the exile
of Rama?" No, it was not a dispute at all. In fact, Kaikeyi had great
affection for Rama. She loved Him more dearly than her own son Bharata.
But her mind was poisoned because of the bad company of Manthara. Hence,
it is said, Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are. Even
Manthara was one of good nature. She was only acting under the influence
of an incident that happened in her previous birth. She was a deer then.
One day she was playing with her husband in the forest. The king of Kekaya
had come to the forest on hunting. He saw both the deer playing with each
other. In an attempt to capture them, he killed the husband deer with an
arrow. The female deer was grief-stricken. She went to her mother and
complained about the cruel act of the king. The mother consoled her
saying, "My dear child, pain and pleasure, good and bad coexist in this
world. We have to withstand the vicissitudes of life with equanimity. You
may go to the king to seek justice." Then the female deer went to the king
and poured out her anguish thus, "Oh king! We were leading our lives
peacefully and blissfully. You have inflicted untold grief on me by
killing my husband. You have ruined my life." The king ruefully said,
"Nobody can escape the consequences of his actions. You are grieving over
the death of your husband. I can also understand the agony of your mother
having lost her son-in-law. As a result, one day I too will suffer from
the loss of my son-in-law." The female deer took birth as Manthara and
caused the death of Dasaratha who was the son-in-law of King Kekaya.
This life is nothing but an ocean with the waves of union and separation.
Everybody has to pass through the adversities of life. It is the nature of
Pravritti (outward path). There is another aspect to life, i.e., Nivritti
(inward path). A child goes to its mother and says, "I am hungry." The
mother who follows the outward path says, "Child, go and eat food. You
hunger will be satiated." This is the Pravritti Dharma. But the mother who
treads the inward path does not merely say, "Go and eat food." She would
advice the child as to what type of food to eat, when and how you should
eat. When you are hungry, you should not eat whatever you like without
enquiring whether it is good for health. The Nivritti mother advices you
to eat such food which will bestow good health on you. Even the Vedas have
dealt with the principles of Pravritti and Nivritti. One may have desires
but they should be under limit. They should be based on truth and
righteousness. Do not eat whatever you get. Do not speak whatever comes to
your mind. You should speak only after proper enquiry. These are some of
the lessons that the Ramayana teaches to mankind. That is why the Ramayana
is compared to the Vedas. It teaches the Pravritti and Nivritti aspects of
life in a beautiful manner. Pravritti is the Swabhava (nature) of Prakriti.
Nivritti is the Swarupa (form) of the Atma. Nivritti broadens our outlook,
whereas Pravritti does the opposite. Hence, we should base all our
activities on Nivritti.
The Ramayana teaches the principles of Dharma and the path of duty to
every individual. Though ages and aeons have passed by, the Ramayana
remains ever fresh guiding humanity on the path of truth and
righteousness. Even today we think of the characters of Ramayana with
respect and reverence. You can very well understand its greatness. There
is no morality higher than what is depicted in the Ramayana. The Ramayana
should be the subject of our Parayana (worship). You should install the
principle of Rama in your heart and experience bliss.
Embodiments of Love!
Practise the teachings of Ramayana in your daily life. Obey the command of
Lord Rama. It is to understand and assimilate the principle of Ramayana
that we are celebrating the festival of Rama Navami today. It is not
enough if the celebration is confined to merely partaking of sweet pudding
and other delicious items.
Sage Valmiki declared that the Ramayana will be there so long as there are
mountains and rivers on the face of the earth. You may wonder, what is the
relationship between the Ramayana and the mountains and the rivers. The
mountains symbolise men and the rivers women. As long as there are men and
women in this world, the glory of Ramayana will continue to illumine the
world. Women are compared to rivers because they are the symbols of
sacrifice. They flow incessantly quenching the thirst of one and all.
The Ramayana sets great ideals to men. People should contemplate on such
sacred story and follow its ideals. The marriage of Rama and Sita was
celebrated in Mithila with all festivity and gaiety.
They sang songs inviting people to see the Divine marriage of Rama and
|Come let us go and
see the marriage of Rama and Sita,
The sight shall confer great merit.
The lives of those who see this marriage will be sanctified.
Oh come one and all to see the sacred marriage,
Rama, who is riding on an elephant, is shining effulgently.
Mother Sita is by His side,
The brothers are at their service.
Sita and Rama will smilingly enquire of our well-being;
What else can we aspire for!
Come let us go anon
to see the holy wedding of Rama and Sita.
People sang songs
like this, rejoicing at the marriage of Rama and Sita. The people of
Ayodhya as well as Mithila were greatly delighted. The entire city of
Mithilapura rejoiced in great celebration. The divine marriage conferred
immense joy on one and all. The story of Rama is mysterious, sacred and
Embodiments of Love!
The story of Rama is not an ancient one. It is eternal and ever new. It is
full of auspiciousness. May you fill your heart with the sacred ideals of
the Ramayana! May you give up hatred and all differences! May you live in
peace and harmony! When you contemplate on Rama incessantly, you derive
great joy and delight.
His Discourse with the Bhajan, "Rama Rama Rama Sita …"