PagesHinduism & Quantum Physics
======= Understanding Hinduism =======
Valmiki Ramayana- Adhyatma Ramayana
Click on underscored words to open paragraph
Ramanavami Message from Swami
Ramayana (from Valmiki Ramayana)
The Supreme Virtue of the Ramayana
The Art of
A private side of
Sri Rama As
Ravana -The Terrible Rascal (From Valmiki
Ravana Begs Sita To Wed Him
The Birth of Ravana and his Brothers
The Boons desired by Ravana
Ravanas Birth and Lineage (From
Vali and Sri Ram An esoteric interpretation
Chandramas Expounds the Knowledge and Devotion (The two
paths) The Importance of Satsang Surrender to the Lord The Victory Chariot of Sri Rama Tulasi
Ramayana Sri Rama abides in the heart of
those ... Swami Vivekananda wrote: Seven Questions Rama Darshan
at Chitrakut Yoga Vasishtha
Chandramas Expounds the
Knowledge and Devotion (The two
The Importance of Satsang
Surrender to the Lord
The Victory Chariot of Sri Rama Tulasi
Sri Rama abides in the heart of
Swami Vivekananda wrote:
The Sage Valmiki once put the following question to Sage Narada
"Is there any one in this world at present who is full of virtues and at the same time possessed of great prowess, who knows what is right, is well versed in Dharma (religion), who is conscious of service done (grateful), truthful, and of firm resolve?
Who is possessed of right conduct and who is friendly to all living beings. Who is a man of knowledge, who is powerful and who has a singularly lovable appearance. Who has subdued his self, who has conquered anger, who is possessed of splendour and who is above faultfinding and whom the very gods dread when his wrath has been provoked in battle?
I wish to hear this; for there is a great curiosity in my mind about it while you are capable of knowing such a man, O eminent Seer!"
Being pleased on hearing these words of Valmiki, the Sage Narada who possessed knowledge of the three worlds, and greatly delighted, addressed the following words:
"Listen! I shall duly consider and tell you of such a hero. Be please to hear from me of the man endowed with the many and rare virtues and qualities mentioned by you.
There is one born in the line of Ikshvaku and known by men by the name of Rama. He has fully controlled his mind, is very powerful, radiant and resolute and has brought his senses under control. He is intelligent, sagacious, eloquent, glorious and an exterminator of foes. He is distinguished with broad shoulders, powerful arms, a neck shaped as a conch and a stout chin.
He is marked with a broad chest, a mighty bow and a collar bone covered with flesh, Ram is capable of subduing his foes. His (unusually long) arms extend right up to his knees. He has a well formed head, a shapely forehead and a charming gait. He is of medium stature, has well proportioned limbs and of charming complexion. He is mighty. He has a well shaped chest, large eyes, is full of splendour and has auspicious marks on his body.
He knows the secret of virtues and is true to his promise. He is intent on the good of the people. He is illustrious, full of wisdom, pure in his dealings, a man of self-control and a sharp (concentrated) mind. He is like the Creator Brahma in supporting all, affluent, the slayer of his enemies, protector of all living beings and a staunch defender of faith (Dharma).
He is well principled and protects his people. He knows the truth expounded in the Vedas and Vedangas (six sciences) auxiliary to them and is a master in archery. He knows the real meaning of all the scriptures , possessed of a bright intellect and good memory. He is gentle, noble, shrewd and is loved by all.
He is always sought by the righteous (even) as the rivers seek the ocean. He is courteous to one and all and always well composed, noble and always wears a pleasing countenance. He is endowed with excellence and gladdens the heart of his mother Kausalya. He is dignified and profound like the ocean and firm (steadfast) like the Himalayas.
He is a replica of Lord Vishnu in prowess and soothing like the moon. In (show of)
anger he resembles the conflagration (destructive fire) at dissolution (end of creation).
He is a counterpart of Mother Earth in forbearance. He equals Kubera (the god of riches,
the bestower of wealth) in liberality and steadfast in truth like Lord Dharma."
The philosophy of the Ramayana
Sri Rama was the Parmatman (Supreme Reality) and that Sita was the Jivatman (embodied individual soul). Each mans or womans body was the Lanka. The Jivatman which was enclosed in the body, or captured in the island of Lanka, always desired to be in affinity with the Parmatman, or Sri Rama. But the Rakshasas would not allow it, and the Rakshasas represented certain traits of character.
For instance, Vibhishana represented Sattwa Guna, Ravana represented Rajas Guna and Kumbhakarana represented Tamas Guna. Sattwa Guna means goodness, Rajas means lust and passion and Tamas means darkness, stupor, avarice, malice, and its concomitants.
These Gunas keep back Sita, or Jivatman, which is in the body (Lanka) from joining Paramatman (Rama). Sita, thus imprisoned and trying to unite with her Lord, receives a visit from Hanuman, the Guru or divine teacher, who shows her the Lords ring, which is Brahma-Jnana, the supreme wisdom that destroys all illusions.
Thus Sita finds the way to be at one with Sri Rama or in other words, the Jivatman
finds itself one with the Paramatman.
The esoteric meaning of Ramayana
(Ramayana is not a mere story. It is the
Dasaratha symbolises the intellect that controls the senses. The three queens of Dasaratha are the three Gunas known as Sattwa (tranquillity), Rajas (activity), and Tamas (malice, ignorance, darkness). Vasishtha and Viswamitra are the gurus who guide the intellect. Rama is the transcendental Self and Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna (Ramas three brothers) are the triple manifestations of God as immanent, God as in-dwelling spirit, and God as soul, respectively.
Manthara (the maid servant) symbolises the negative qualities that poisons Kaikeyi (the
Rajasic-Tamasic mind). Demons and demonesses in Ramayana are the evil propensities in us.
Ravana is the Rajasic ego. Kumbhakarana is the Tamasic ego. Vibhishana represents the
Sattwic ego. Ramas wife Sita is the Cosmic Energy (Kundalini) abducted by Ravana,
the ego, for wrong use. So, through (with the help of) Hanuman, symbolising Pranayama, or
rhythmic breathing, you will find the location of Sita, the energy and convey the news of
Rama, the Self. Ramas destruction of Ravana and Kumbhkarana symbolises the
destruction of Rajasic and Tamasic egos. The installation of Vibhishana symbolises the
establishment of Sattwa Guna and equanimity through Self-realisation. Union of Rama and
Sita is the union of Shakti with the eternal consciousness of the true self. Ramas
coronation symbolises the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. This, in short, is the esoteric
meaning of Ramayana.
Three distinctly contrasted societies
The overall picture that we get on the large canvas of Valmiki is of three distinctly contrasted societies; Sattvic in Ayodhya, Sattvic and Rajasic in Kishkindha, and Tamasic and Rajasic in Lanka. If Dharma is the cardinal principle of the Aryan society (of Ayodhya), Adharma is the ruling principle of the Rakshasa (demon) society. We have a Manava in the north, a Vanara in the peninsula and a Rakshasa in the island. In all three kingdoms, be it noted, the elder is ousted and the younger secures the power, though Bharats instance is of a different nature altogether. Eventually in one of the three kingdoms the throne is restored to the eldest.
Valmiki has drawn three scintillating pictures representing three levels of civilization, three societies, as it were, with their own values, mores and structures.
The first picture
In the North is the Aryan society based on Sattwic qualities with a fairly advanced political organisation. Dasaratha, the noble king, ruled over a vast territory and had a number of loyal vassals. He had administrative counsellors (Sumanthra, for example), as also spiritual mentors (Vasishtha, for example). He was held in high esteem by the members of all the Varnas of his kingdom, by the Rishis and Ashramites living in the dense forest pursuing their esoteric studies.
In such an advanced society the family was the central unit where the father was treated with love and reverence. The eldest son of the family enjoyed the respect and affection of his brothers and relatives. There was no physical clash among the brothers, and one did not lust for the others wife. They were all learned in the ancient lore of the land and performed the traditional rites, rituals and duties with devotion and zeal. All in all, the Aryan society represented by Ayodhya and Rama was a highly advanced and worthy society cherishing Sattwic values, Sattwic way of life and Sattwic pursuits.
The second picture
In the third picture,
In his kingdom he wants the traditional rites to be performed and Veda Ghoshas (uttering Veda Mantras) to be intoned, not at the usual prescribed hour, but at an unearthly hour. One of his brothers is a heavy sleeper (Kumbhakarana) and the other (Vibhishana), because of his non-Rakshasa qualities, a misfit in that society.
Ravana has no respect for his brother and does not hesitate, to oust him at the slightest protest raised by him. Ravana is sensual, aggrandizing, unscrupulous and gargantuan. He is the very personification of Rajasic qualities and takes immense pride in the exercise of those qualities. In that Rakshasa society there is an admixture of the Tamasic Guna also.
An inordinate pride raised its head and Ravana became extremely arrogant. That was his undoing.
The Supreme Virtue of the Ramayana
This then is the whole of the great epic and its sequel called the Ramayana, which was composed by Valmiki and is revered by Brahma Himself. . Gods, Gandharvas, Siddhas, and great Rishis in heaven, ever listen with delight to the poem Ramayana. This epic, which promotes long life, grants good fortune and destroys sin, is equal to the Veda and should be recited by the wise to men of faith.
On hearing it, he who has no son will obtain a son, he who has no fortune will become wealthy; to read but a foot of this poem will absolve him from all sin. He who commits sins daily will be wholly purified by reciting a single shloka.
The reciter of this narrative should be rewarded with raiment, cows and gold, for, if he is satisfied, all the gods are satisfied. He who recites this epic Ramayana that prolongs life, will be blessed with his sons and grandsons in this world and after his death, in the other world. He who, with devotion, recites the Ramayana at the hour when the cows are loosed or at noon, or at dusk, will never suffer adversity.The Ramayanas relevance to modern times
The Art of
The professed objective of all governments, down the corridors of history of man, has been to provide and ensure the welfare and happiness of the people through an efficient and good administration. However, despite the advance of civilisation and progress in science and technology and efforts through international forums like the United Nations to achieve peace and happiness, the world is riddled with strife, misery and tension.
Any person in charge of administration has to follow certain well tested codes to bless the generation with peace, prosperity and efficiency. In this context, the ancient and many faceted Ramayana is very relevant today as the epic has very many lessons to offer in the art of administration. A deep study of the epic would not only reflect the high level of civilisation that existed during the Ramayana era but would also furnish meaningful guidelines on Public Administration through the medium of several characters.
At the outset, the epic opens with the administrative setup prevalent in Ayodhya (the
capital city). Further, there are the following three situations where detailed and
wholesome advice is rendered on the art of efficient administration.
1. King Dasharaths advice to Sri Rama
2. Sri Ramas questions and advice to
3. Surpankhas advice to Ravana.
An exhaustive cross-section from the epic, revealing valuable instructions on the art of administration that have a refreshing relevance today, is furnished below.
The administrative setup in Ayodhya is designed to provide the maximum happiness for the maximum number of people for the maximum period, based as it is on the principles of Dharma righteousness and moral values.
The king, who was Dharmic (righteous) and solely concerned with the welfare of his subject was assisted by a cabinet of eight ministers of pure and unblemished characters. The cabinet was the Executive Council and the administration of the kingdom was carried out in consultation with it. The king was advised and supervised by a council of eight Sages, whose sole wealth was non-attachment (vairagya) and wisdom (Gyaan). Thus they functioned, without fear or favour, solely motivated by the welfare of the people, and provided the very foundation of the administrative system. The opinion of these sages possessing self-restraint, headed by sage Vasishtha, was the law. Thus, the cabinet ruled the people. The king supervised the cabinet. The Sages controlled the king in turn. In all matters, the moral code of the Lord of the universe (Dharma ) reigned supreme.
1. King Dasharathas Advice to Sri Rama
On the eve of Sri Ramas coronation, king Dasharatha summoned his darling son and tendered wholesome and mature advice on Administration based on his experience.
King Dasharatha said: "My son, although you are a storehouse of merits, I wish to offer some friendly advice to you out of sheer affection. Resorting to even greater humility (than before), constantly keep your senses under control. Avoid vices born of lust and anger."
[Note: Vices (vyasanani) according to Manu Smriti arising from lust include hunting, playing at dice, sleeping by day, slandering others, fondness for women, vanity and vices resulting from anger are tale-bearing, violence, vindictiveness, jealousy, fault-finding, squandering ones wealth, abusive speech, and cruelty in punishment.]
Rule according to both the direct and
Ascertaining the conditions and loyalty of ones own people and the relative strength and intentions etc., of the neighbouring states through a network of spies.
To make a tour of ones dominions and ascertain things personally, to invite direct petitions from ones subjects, hear their grievances and decide their cases on their own merits.
"Please your ministers and others (namely, the Army Commanders and Civic Guards) as well as people responsible for maintenance (against future contingencies) of numerous stores (of useful materials such as jewelry, gold and silver, textiles and ornaments) along with barns and armouries."
"The friends and allies of a King, who protects the earth with fostering care and whose subjects are not only loved by him as his children but are devoted to him in their turn, exult in the same way as the immortals did on securing nectar. Therefore, disciplining your mind, my son, conduct yourself well as instructed by me."
The importance attached to personal discipline and far-sightedness in matters of efficient administration will be evident from the foregoing.
2. Sri Ramas advice to Bharata
The Noble Bharata when he came to know that his mother was responsible for Sri Ramas exile was tortured by the agonies of grief, anger and guilt. Wearing Jata (hair bound in knot) and bark garments he proceeds from Ayodhya, along with its entire population, to pursuade Sri Rama to return. After their momentous and affectionate meeting at Chitrakut, Sri Rama addressed Bharata on the art of administration, which is exhaustively detailed in the Ayodhya Kanda of the epic known as the famous 'Kacchit Sarga.
As Bharata was to rule the kingdom as per the Kings promise to queen Kaikeyi, Sri Rama enquires of Bharata whether he was ruling the Kingdom efficiently. He was also asked to explain by Sri Rama why he had left his post of duty and come to the forest.
In this context, Sri Rama enquires of Bharata and instructs him extensively on the finer points of the art of administration. This address highlights the duties and responsibilities of Kingship covering all aspects and the entire range of administration in which a King should attain proficiency if he was really concerned with the happiness and welfare of his subjects.
It is interesting to note that earlier Sri Rama had clearly told Lakshamana when he suspected Bharatas intentions, that Bharata was coming in agony and solely with the purpose of offering the Kingdom to Sri Rama. Hence, questions addressed to Bharata were obviously not intended for him but, over his shoulders, they were guidelines meant for the benefit of those who wished to get educated on the principles and art of efficient administration!
Since each stanza begins with the word Kacchit, it is known as the Kacchit Sarga of the Ramayana. A summary of the questions and instructions are furnished below with a few stanzas by way of illustration.
Starting with human relations at home and Bharatas personal conduct and self-discipline, the questions cover his reverence and service to his parents, teachers and elders to ensure domestic harmony. It embraces all Departments of Government activity like Home Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Labour Relations, Agriculture etc.
"Are you rendering service to our father, oh my dear Bharata? Is the celebrated preceptor of Ikshvakus (Sage Vasishtha) being duly honoured by you?"
"Do you hold in high esteem gods and manes, dependents, elders, kinsmen of your fathers age, the aged, the physicians as well as the Brahmanas? Do you respect Sudhanva, your teacher of the science of Archery who is equipped with knowledge relating to the use of excellent arrows both direct and remote-controlled and well versed in political economy?"
"I hope the ministers you have appointed are valiant like you- full of learning, who have controlled their senses, who are born of high pedigrees (cultured family) and know the meaning of signs (discreet and shrewd)."
"The sound advice given by experienced ministers well versed in the laws of truth and virtues is the very foundation on which the prosperity of a King rests."
"The learned in times of difficulty bring endless glory by solving knotty problems."
"I hope you prefer learned men to thousands of fools. No help will come to a king if he seeks advice from thousands of evil advisers or even ten thousands of them."
"Even if there is a single minister if only he is wise, brave, clever and discreet, he will bring fame and prosperity to a King big or small."
"He who does not get rid of a physician adept in devices of aggravating a disease, a servant intent on bringing disgrace to his master and a gallant warrior seeking kingly power, is himself destroyed by these persons."
"I hope the person appointed as your Commander-in-chief is ever pleased, full of resolution, is gallant and talented, is of spotless character and well-born and devoted and clever."
"Are the foremost of your skilled warriors being recognised by bestowing suitable honours by you?" (gallantry awards).
"I hope you distribute (daily) provisions and distribute the monthly salary due to them at the proper time in a suitable manner and do not delay their payment (to prevent discontentment). For, salaried servants surely and positively get enraged even at their master when the distribution of their provisions and the disbursal of their salaries are delayed and that itself is a very great harm done to the State." (Labour Relations).
"Has a man of your own State, who is learned, clever, ready witted and capable of delivering messages correctly, who is able to distinguish between right and wrong, been appointed by you as an Ambassador, O Bharata?" (Foreign Affairs and Diplomatic assignment).
"Do you keep an eye on the eighteen functionaries of the enemies and fifteen functionaries of your side through three unknown, independent spies?"
[Note: The eighteen functionaries are : 1.The chief minister 2.The Kings family priest 3.The crown prince 4.The generalissimo 5.The chief warder 6.The chamberlain 7.The superintendent of jails 8.The chancellor of the exchequer 9.The herald 10.The government advocate 11.The judge 12.The assessor 13.The officer disbursing salaries to army men 14.The officer drawing money from the state exchequer to disburse the workmens wages 15.The city Kotwal (mayor of the city) 16. The protector of the borders of a kingdom, who also performed the duties of a forester 17.The magistrate 18.The officer entrusted with the conservation of waters, hills, forests and tracts difficult of access.
The fifteen functionaries of ones own side are the last fifteen of this very list, omitting the first three, viz., the chief minister, the family priest and the crown prince.]
I hope you do not patronize Atheists Brahmins, for being ignorant and conceited they are skilled in perverting the minds of people."
Next Sri Rama instructs Bharata on the defence and protection of Ayodhya and enquires about the various aspects and measures designed for its prosperity (like water storage, well cultivated fields not depending on the vagaries of the monsoon (or rainy season), cattle wealth, peopled by highly delightful men and women, free from violence and fear etc.).
"Are the Vaisyas (who live by trade, agriculture and breeding and rearing cattle) loved by you? Are they thriving well in agriculture and animal husbandry?"
Are the women folks well protected?"
"Are the forests which are the homes of elephants preserved by you?" (Wild life preservation and ecology).
"Are the milch-cows in abundance with you?" (dairying).
"Are all your fortifications fully supplied with wealth and provisions, arms and water, mechanical contrivances and equipped with artisans and bowmen?" (Defence installations in a state of readiness or full alert).
Regarding Financial management." Is your income sufficiently large to meet your expenses and your expenditure comparatively less? (Balanced budget without deficit financing). I hope your wealth does not go to undeserving men."
"I hope the laws are administered justly and impartially. I hope the innocent do not suffer and the guilty are not let off without punishment due to greed (corruption)."
"I hope disputes between the rich and the poor are dealt with and judged impartially by the ministers. For, the tears from the eyes of those falsely convicted, destroy the sons and cattle of the king who rules the people for the sake of pleasures and not caring for equity and justice."
"Do you see to win over the elders, children and foremost physicians by gifts, a loving mind and polite words?" (Human Relations).
"Do you greet your teachers, and elders, ascetics, deities and unexpected visitors as well as the trees standing on cross roads (ecology) and the wise and learned Brahmins who have achieved the object of their life through character and austerities?"
"Do you avoid the fourteen failings of kings?"
[Note: These are the fourteen failings (vices ) of a king: Atheism, Untruth, Anger, Carelessness, Procrastination, Neglect of the learned, Laziness, Slavery to the senses, Obsession with wealth, Counsel with those who do not know the proper way (perverted insight), Non-commencement of the decided issues, Absence of caution in keeping secrets, Non-use of the auspicious, Showing respect to all and sundry without any discrimination (e.g. getting up from the seat to receive anybody and everybody)].
" I hope you deal properly, after fully taking into account and knowing the ten evils born of lust, the five kinds of fortifications, the four expedients (recommended for kings), the seven important limbs of a state, the eight evils born of anger or the eight measures (conducive to the welfare of a state), the three worldly objects of human pursuits (Dharma, Artha, Kama) namely religious merit, material wealth and sensuous enjoyment or the three kinds of powers (namely energy or Utsaah-Shakti, the power of dominion or Prabhu-Shakti, and the power of counsel or Mantra-Shakti. The three branches of learning (viz., the three Vedas or Trayi, the knowledge relating to agriculture, commerce and other vocational pursuits, and political science, subjugation of the senses, the six strategic expedients (viz., coming to terms with the enemy, waging war against him, marching against him, biding ones time to seek a favourable opportunity, causing dissension in the enemys ranks, and seeking the protection of a powerful ally; Adversities brought about by diverse agencies (such as fire, excessive rains or floods, epidemic diseases, famine and pestilence) and human agencies (such as officials, thieves, enemies, a kings favourite and the king himself when motivated by greed).
The stern duties of a king (as dictated by policy, such as to win over enemys men whose emoluments have been withheld, who are greedy, who have suffered indignity at his hands, who are irate or have been provoked by him for no reason, who are afraid or have been intimidated) twenty types of monarchs who are not worth negotiating with (viz., who is a minor, aged, suffering from chronic sickness, greedy, without character etc.) the entire population of the state; setting forth on an expedition for conquest against the enemy; drawing up an army in battle array."
"O wise one! Do you hold consultation in accordance with scriptural injunctions with only four or three (selected) counselors collectively or severally to guard against a split among them and to prevent the secrets from leaking out?"
"Has your study of the Vedas borne fruit
"Has your learning borne fruit?"
Sri Rama concludes the illuminating address thus:
"Having obtained as his share and ruled in the right way over the entire globe, a wise king holds sway over the earth and administering justice to the people quite in consonance with righteousness, surely ascends to heaven when detached from his body."
3. Surpankhas advice to Ravana
It will be surprising to note that of all the people, Surpankha (Ravanas sister) talks on administration! After her mutilation (cutting off her nose and ears) by Lakshmana for her foolish misadventure, she rushes to Ravanas court and criticizes him on his lapses in Public Administration and tenders him advice on good government.
A greedy king, who is addicted to sensual pleasures and who acts at his sweet will and pleasure is avoided by his subjects like the cremation fire."
"A king who fails to attend to his duties personally at proper moment, hastens his downfall and ruins himself and his realm."
"If a king is ruthless, stingy, indifferent, proud and arrogant, his subjects will not come to his rescue in his times of crisis."
"A king who thinks too much of himself, who is evasive, self-conceited and ever irritable has to be mortally afraid even of his own kith and kin."
"Kings are said to be far-sighted because they can easily visualize the distant calamities with the aid of spies."
"That king alone who is discreet, erudite, self-controlled, grateful and who obeys the divine law, can rule his kingdom well."
"That king is verily worshipped by his subjects, who though physically asleep is mentally awake, and does not indiscriminately punish or reward them."
A slanderer, one steeped in worldly pleasure, one who is not in tune with time and one who cannot discriminate the good from the bad, loses his empire and perishes soon."
It will be evident from the foregoing that the rich heritage enshrined in the Ramayana shines through every facet of the epic, like the sophisticated instructions on Public Administration, that have eternal relevance to humanity. That is why the epic Ramayana is described as the ocean full of gems and the prime role of the human Avatara (incarnation) is to educate humans on all aspects of the art of living.
Sri Rama, an Embodiment of Dharma
Extracts from the writings of Sri N.S. Anantharangachar
Dharma is defined in a general way as:
"That on which the existence and prosperity of this
That which is for the good of this universe is Dharma. This signifies that Dharma is virtue that is to be practised by each individual. These virtues are identified and listed for giving proper guidance to humanity.
[Note:"Existence and prosperity of this universe" is the key sentence here. The Dharma of the individual is the "existence and prosperity" of the individual self. Higher than that is the Dharma or duty to the family. Higher than that is the Dharma to the community. Higher than that is the Dharma to all the city dwellers. Higher than that is the Dharma to the entire nation. Higher than that is the Dharma to the entire human race. Higher than that is the Dharma to all creatures, to the whole universe. The higher category supersedes the lower category.]
Rama says: "When the oppressed seeks relief, at the hands of a virtuous and capable person, it is supreme Dharma to protect the surrendered even at the cost of ones own life." Rama revealed this supreme Dharma by saying that even if the surrendered person is Ravana himself, he would save even those that deserve to be killed.
When mother Kaushalya and also the citizens of Ayodhya plead with Rama not go to the forest, Rama replies that Dharma lies in obeying the words of the father and that he, being devoted to Dharma, cannot transgress the words of his father.
(Rama is not yet a king.) At this stage Ramas Dharma is that of a son. After returning from the forest, upon being crowned as King, Ramas Dharma as a king takes precedence over his own self or over his family. The interest of the kingdom or the nation is above that of the individual or the family of the individual (now crowned as king.) In the interest of the kingdom, Rama would sacrifice his own life; would sacrifice his family life (banish his wife Sita).
Rama says: "I can renounce my life, Lakshmana, and you, Sita, but I cannot break
Raghukula Riti Sadaa Chali Aai,
Valmiki shows, by using extreme examples, how Dharma assumes different roles according to the changed circumstances. Contrast the Dharma of Rama as a son (not yet a king) with Rama as a King. Rama as a son did not have the relationship between king and subjects as when citizens of Ayodhya plead with Rama not to go to the forest.]
In one of the passages describing the words of Sita, the significance of Dharma is expounded. Sita asks Rama to practise Dharma of the Tapovana (of the Rishis and the ascetics) so long as he dwells in the forest and to take to the bow and arrow after returning to the capital. Sita wanted Rama to follow the path of the hermits and not to engage himself in vanquishing the demons that troubled the sages.
Rama, who was steadfast in Dharma says that it is the Dharma of a Kshatriya to redeem the world from suffering and sorrow. Dharma is not a mood of helpless passivity but dynamic activity against the offenders of Dharma.
The following is from the Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kanda, 9-30,31.
"Wealth comes out of Dharma. Happiness comes out of Dharma. Everything is obtainable from Dharma. Dharma is the essence of this universe. The adept attain Dharma by disciplining themselves by the conditions of Dharma, with great effort; one cannot get happiness from happiness.".
Dharma is eightfold as: "Sacrifice, Vedic study, Charity, Penance, Truth, Fortitude, Forgiveness, Non-desire."
The following ten are characteristics of Dharma (Dharma Lakshanam).
Fortitude, forgiveness, restraint, non-stealing, purity, control over sense organs, intelligence, knowledge, truth, absence of anger.
Dharma is a term which could be understood but which cannot properly be translated into any other language. This word comes from the root DRI which means supporting. That which is the support of this universe is Dharma. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14.says:
"Yet he did not flourish. He created that Dharma which has an excellent form. This Dharma is the controller of Kshatriya. Therefore, there is nothing higher than that. Even a weak man hopes to defeat a strong man by Dharma as one does through the king. Dharma is verily Satya or truth. A speaker of truth is said to speak Dharma or a person speaking Dharma is said to speak truth. Both these are but righteousness."
The glory of creation was not complete without Dharma. Dharma may mean action approved by the scriptures. It may also mean the unseen result of such action. Dharma has different shades of meaning and signifies different things acording to the context. It may mean a Sadhana or a means and then it signifies righteousness. It may also mean in another sense the very Principle which is the support or ground of everything else in this universe. In this supreme sense Dharma means the Supreme Being who is the support of every other thing.
Sri Rama is described as the very embodiment of Dharma in both these senses.
Sri Rama, an Embodiment of Dharma
Adi Kavi (the first poet laureate) Valmiki wrote Ramayana not only to sing the melodious glory and story of Sri Rama, the Prince of Ayodhya, but to present to the posterity a practical philosophy of life, a vision of Truth, by telling how to lead a pious life, within the prevailing conditions of ones existential conditions.
It has a pragmatic message for a busy man how to go about his daily life so that he would not only acquire his needs here, but also get what he deserves hereafter. The Bard of ancient lore sang into Ramayana songs of sacrifice, heroism, service, love, suffering, pathos and songs of sane advice, and made it a long epic and a perennial source of inspiration and enculturing influence upon the readers. Honourable Srinivas Sastri gave a word of caution to the reader of Ramayana when he said: "Deal Rama not as a man in whom there was all knowledge, all propriety, all virtues from the very beginning and unfailing till the end. That is not the way to read his life but as a man who struggled, was tempted, who has his weakness."
Valmiki did not want to treat the problem of Dharma in abstraction but wanted to give a demonstration of Dharma in action. Hence he wrote this beautiful song Ramayana. One meets therein personalities from among men, monkeys, birds and other primates who demonstrate from their views, feelings, behaviour and actions the heights of stature a person may rise to. It is in this sense that Sri Rama is an embodiment of Dharma in action. Therefore, Valmiki is very fond of using the expression that Rama is a living Icon of Dharma (Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmah).
The Concept of Dharma
The essence of an individual is manifested through his action. The character exhibits itself in action mental, verbal and physical. Therefore, the Dharma of an individual operates through every action of an individual. It is that basis from which springs every deed of a person. Hence, the word Dharma is a very comprehensive one. It cannot be delineated in one word or in a few sentences. It is neither religion nor philosophy, though they stem from it. It is the very foundation for both of them and for many more things of life. It encompasses the duties, responsibilities, rights, religious observances, social obligations, secular laws, conventions, nay, the very fabric of ones own life in such a way that one cannot live without it. Everyone acts ones own Dharma through and through.
Dharma is that force which shapes and sustains human life (Radhakrishnan). Manu identified ten dimensions of Dharma like contentment, forgiveness, self-control, coercion of organs, wisdom, knowledge, truthfulness, abstention from anger, abstention from unrighteously appropriating anything, and purification. It is so much entwined with life that it follows an individual at death when everything else is left behind
When this Rta of the cosmic order operates
Dharma is a richly connotative term that stands for a divine order (Rta), and also for laws of life and codes of conduct, social, moral and religious. It stands for Sadachara (good conduct). In Vedas the principle of Rta is the inner balance of the cosmic order because of which everything runs smoothly. Rta essentially signifies a single world embracing unity, prior in time to the phenomena of diverse manifestation which is rooted in the Rta itself.When this Rta of the cosmic order operates in the human realm it becomes Dharma.It is the upholder of not only the cosmic order, but also that of microcosmic order of the individual. Therefore, Dharma is the standard, the norm of human action according to which one has to fashion ones life. It covers a great number of precepts and performances, both sacred and secular, religious and occupational, purification and pilgrimage. It covers the whole duty of man in relation to the fourfold purposes of life, namely Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha by the members of the four groups (Chaturvarna) during their respective stages of life, namely Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha and Sanyaasa (See the Topic Four stages of life). Dharma is a mode of life and a code of conduct with the sole desire for betterment and upliftment of the individual socially, morally and spiritually
Concept of Dharma in Ramayana
Valmiki considers Satya (Truth) as Dharma. He does not see any difference between these two concepts. The knowers of Dharma say that Truth is the Supreme Dharma. Truth is the sole abode of Brahma and in Truth is established Dharma. Valmiki also accepts that Truth is Vedas undecaying and eternal, and through Truth alone one attains the Supreme Abode. One is asked to hold on to Truth if his mind is fixed on Dharma. Valmiki tells that the Truth is the Lord of everything in this world, in Truth Dharma is always established, everything has Truth for its root. There is nothing superior to Truth. Satya (Truth) is Supreme, and Dharma has its basis in Truth, it has its life in Truth, and it is nothing apart from it. Again Valmiki observes that for those who are devoted to True Dharma, there is no fear of even death.
Throughout Ramayana one reads a discussion going on about the nature of Dharma. Valmiki is never tired of telling about the importance and pragmatic value of Dharma. He presents different views about the nature of Dharma, the inter-relatedness of Dharma, Artha (economic security)and Kama (fulfillment of legitimate desires) as the goals of human life and examines very elaborately the course of action one should pursue if one wants to stay within the path of Dharma.
In order to tread the path of Dharma one has to internalise the principles of Dharma and Valmiki tells us that even though it is very difficult to be understood by an ordinary man, Dharma is within the heart of every person. It is this internalised Dharma that renders one capable of discriminating between good and evil. This discrimination is not something mysterious but it is to be obtained by intellect and rational faculty.
Valmiki has presented the functional aspects of Dharma throughout Ramayana to show how it operates in the life of a person, and each of such statements reads as a beautiful Sutra explaining the nature of Dharma, bringing into focus one or the other aspect of Dharmic behaviour. In this respect Ramayana becomes the Vademecum of moral science, a ready manual for universal ethical behaviour. It is also to be noted that Valmiki himself was very well qualified to take up this task of identifying and recording the moral behaviour that would ennoble the life of an individual.
Even though legends believe that Valmiki was an uncultured hunter in the forests, there is no evidence to that story in the Ramayana. On the other hand, within the available scanty reference about Valmiki in the Ramayana itself, it would be clear that he was a very learned Tapasvi (Sage) of a very high order. Referring to himself Valmiki says that he is the tenth son of Prachetas and he has performed penance for a long time. Valmiki confesses that he never committed any sin in thought, word or in deed. His knowledge of many subjects is evident in the Ramayana. Not only his skill as a great poet with a high degree of imagination, but his knowledge of geography, agriculture, wild life, medicine, polity, human psychology and exact understanding of human character. No wonder he is respected and revered as the Adi Kavi (the first poet from the ancient time). Lakshamana himself refers to Valmiki as a great friend of his father Dasaratha and a Brahmin. Thus, Valmiki who is very well versed in the understanding of Dharma took upon himself to illustrate Dharmic way in action by personifying Dharma in the form of Sri Rama, the hero of Ramayana.
Illustrative expressions of Dharma
The understanding of Dharma involves the knowledge of Dos and "donts as also the reasons thereof. If we study a few illustrative expressions from Valmiki Ramayana we would get the concept of Dharma as conceived by Valmiki.
The very first question Valmiki asked Narada illustrates his concern about Dharma. Who is there who knows Dharma well, whose speech is truthful and who is steadfast in the determinations? Narada tells about Sri Rama, an embodiment of Dharma and concludes by saying that Sri Rama would make people endeavour to act according to their Dharma. The four moral standards of life are Dharma, Artha, Kama and Lokachara, a knowledge of which is very essential for any one to lead a life of righteousness.
Among the three aspirations of human beings, Dharma, Artha and Kama, the Kama should be based on Artha that is rooted in Dharma. Valmiki is aware of the fact that Kama is very powerful. But he advises that one should renounce all the evil habits that are rooted in Kama (sensual desires) and Krodha (anger). He admonishes very clearly that whosoever takes up to lustful life renouncing Dharma and Artha would get himself involved in troubles. Again, Valmiki gives a striking example about the state of such a man. He who renouncing Dharma and Artha devotes himself to Kama alone is like a man who has fallen asleep on the top of a tree and wakes up only when he has fallen down.
Sri Rama justifies his actions on the basis of the sole principle of Dharma. Sri Rama says: "I am not introducing some such righteousness and dharma unfavourable to thee, that has never been practised before. I am simply treading that path that had been approved and followed by the predecessors." Thereafter in a cryptic way he states: "To obey the father this is the eternal Dharma." Again Sri Rama tells Sita :"Obedience to parents is the Dharma."
It should be noted also that Valmiki had a very pragmatic view about Dharma and he suggests that there could be no fixed path theory of Dahrma. Valmiki is very clear that Dharma is an internal, reflective principle of the Soul and it is not a mere formalism or externalism. Valmiki says: "Honour the duties of ones station in life." But Valmiki is aware that this may change according to the circumstances.
It would be clear from the above that Valmiki does not accept a rigid form of Dharma that is unchangeable. To him Dharma is relative, the primary quality of which being goodness admitting no defect, the performance of which should be according to time and place. The injunction given is : "Be steady in virtue at proper hour." This relative principle of Dharma expresses itself in a particular way in a particular moral situation. Sri Rama showed this in every one of his acts (Dharma incarnate as he was).
Many modern scholars at this distance in time may not agree, as they have expressed in many of their writings, with Rama about what he did under certain situations. Sri Rama faced many moral situations, and each situation was unique and required a special adaptation. For Valmiki the Dharma ideal can neither be a static one nor could it be an abstract principle. It must be an integral part of ones life, and a guiding principle in all of ones actions. He explicitly states that in this world there are many people who practise Dharma in order to deceive others.
In one instance Valmiki is very eloquent about the significance of Dharma in life; Dharma being the foundation on which Sri Rama operated under all situations. Valmiki says: "Wealth springs from righteousness, and happiness results therefrom. One attains everything through Dharma in this world, as Dharma is the only substantial thing. Reflecting and understanding these, do, without any delay, what you would like to do."
Sri Rama was fully aware of the Dharmic injunctions under which he had to operate under all circumstances.
"Whichever Dharma you follow with steadfastness and according to the principles, may that Dharma protect you."
"There is no greater Dharma for a Kshatriya than the protection of his subjects."
"There are only two pious paths, as has been said by the sages, wherein is the Dharma established, namely, Ahimsa (non-injury) and Satya (Truth)."
Sri Rama also knew that Dharma stands for the proper observation of rites and ceremonies that are ordained by the scriptures and it also signifies the merit one acquires by the performance of religious rites. Dharma also covers the sense of law, both stationary and customary.
Illustrious Behaviour of Sri Rama
Valmiki never tires of referring to Ramas behaviour that was exemplary and served as a model to anyone who would like to tread the path of Dharma. Quite often Valmiki uses such expressions as :
"Rama is always devoted to the welfare of the subjects."
"He does not injure anyone."
"He is the protector of living things."
"He is a beloved to the whole world."
"He is devoted to the well-being of the whole world."
"By which I am dear to all creatures."
Any such expressions are used to describe Rama and his behaviour which is Dharma in action.
One gets a beautiful picture of Sri Rama at the very beginning of Ramayana when Sage Narada gives a description of the qualities of Rama which are very rare even among the gods. He is a knower of Dharma; protector of Dharma; a protector of his own Dharma; in Truth he is Dharma itself and he is a noble person (Aryah).
Rama was totally committed to Truth. His vow to follow the path of Truth (Satyaparipaalana Vrata) is seen in every page of Ramayana. Rama did this in two ways. One by following the path of Truth by himself and by helping others to be truthful. He went to the forest to ensure that by his actions his fathers promise to Queen Kaikeyi is kept and thus helping his father on the path of Truth (Dharma). For the same reason Rama appealed to his brother Bharata to do the same.
The other aspect of his vow of following the truth is that he would never be untrue to his own words. He never contradicts what he has spoken once. Keeping a promise was a supreme Dharma and an eternal virtue. Rama says: "I can renounce my life, Lakshmana, and you Sita, but I cannot break my promise."
As a Kshatriya Sri Rama had a duty of rendering justice to those who have been wronged and to console those who in tears narrate the story of their sufferings. It enjoins upon him that he should give to others rather than take anything from others. And Bharata says; "Observing Kshatriya morality, I did not take anything, as ours is always to give."
Sri Rama gives the reasons why he carries arms: "The Kshatriya carries arms in order that the word distressed may not exist in the world". Sri Rama never misuses his valour and power. Valmiki characterises him by saying that he is a person who is very powerful yet abiding in Dharma.
We find Rama, who was fully aware of the Raja Dharma (Dharma relating to the state and the king or the ruler), also was following it, keeping in mind that the State and the King is never an end in itself but it is a means for the realisation of Dharma. The end of the State was to enable men to achieve the goals of their life. The virtue of proper administration consists in humbly and freely dispensing justice and administering discipline, favour and punishment. The administrators should not follow their whims and passions. Valmiki expects in a good administrator the virtues of punishing the criminals, control of passions, forgiveness, piety, firmness, truth, powers, and suppression of the wicked
Sri Rama was not only a noble brother to his brothers, but he was an exemplary husband with the vow of Ekapatnivrata (monogamy). Sita tells Ansuya about this quality of her husband. She says: "He is of a steady affection and that his affection for her was like that of her parents besides being that of a husband and a liver."
The brotherly love has been idealised by Valmiki through the characters of Rama, Lakshmana and Bharata. Lakshmana protects Rama and Rama protects Lakshmana. Their fraternal love is like that of Ashvini brothers.
Ramas clear perception of the principles of universal brotherhood is very much evident in many instances throughout the pages of Ramayana. It is based on protection, service during both adversity and prosperity, wealth for the happiness of others and a deep affection for others and no sense of victory over others. His devotion to his duty as a son is too well known. Rama considers his father Dasaratha as a deity. The father is a god, even the celestials say this, therefore, I will look upon your words in the light of divinity. There is no greater virtue than serving the father and carrying out his command.
Rama was an ideal friend. "In pain or in happiness a friend is a resort of a friend. Friendship is loving, friendship is self-sacrifice, friendship is imperishable wealth. He who loses friendship with a qualified friend loses wealth."
In many instances, Valmiki illustrates the greatness of Sri Rama as the ideal of Dharma. Surely, in Raghava (Rama) are truth, charity, self-control, self-renunciation, friendship, purity, sincerity, learning and the disposition to serve his superiors. In Rama abide forgiveness, asceticism, renunciation, veracity, righteousness, gratitude, harmlessness towards all creatures.
Ramayana is never tired of explaining again and again many moral qualities, the practice of which make a person pious and noble. The most important of them may be identified as those that would give a noble luster to a person and make him really an Arya (a gentleman or a cultured and noble person). Sri Rama was an incarnation of Dharma in this sense that he possessed all these qualities which are rare even among gods. He verily stood for Sanatan Dharma, because of which this country (India)was great not only in wealth, but also in respect of many great achievements.
Valmiki stresses the importance of many supreme duties (parama Dharmas) in Ramayana that would have an ennobling influence on the person who practices them. Hence, one should cultivate these qualities in ones life. These may be listed briefly as follows:
Forgiveness (Kshamaa), Renunciation (Tyaaga), Gratitude (Krtajnataa), Equanimity (Samadarsitva), Purity of the mind (Shuddhamanah), Chastity (Pavitrataa), Courage (Shouryam), Protection of the individual (Rakshana), Non-violence (Ahimsa), Truthfulness (Satyam), Charity (Daanam), Worship of the guest (Atithipoojanam), and Love (Prema).
Ramayana elucidates that the most important aspect of Dharma is truthfulness (Satyam) and on this alone every other aspect of Dharma is established. No wonder Sri Ramas greatness is associated with his commitment to Truth.
"Truth is a great virtue."
"One attains heaven only by following truth."
"A man by remaining true to his words can swim over the ocean of life."
We find in Ramas character that his words fully corresponded with his thoughts. This is very important from an ethical point of view. We see him very clearly asserting this when he said to Sita : "Truth is very dear to me."
Sri Rama stood for Sanatan Dharma. His whole life is an essay on the path of Sanatan Dharma which is to be followed in order to be happy here and hereafter. He never followed these principles blindly but examined them as and when the occasion arose, and took a decision to act according to their injunctions.
As a contrast to these virtues (that one should acquire), Ramayana also presents a set of vices that would lead a person to degradation and destruction. Valmiki has brought out in clear relief the evil effects of these vices such as drunkenness, pride, lust, meat-eating, gambling, anger, greed, deceit, cruelty, mental impurity, indolence, gratifying the five senses, hate, jealousy, harsh tongue, treachery and so on.
A special mention is to be made regarding grief (Shoka) which has a special place in the epic of Ramayana. Sri Rama is seen in excessive grief and Valmiki considers grief as the greatest and a formidable enemy of man. He says grief destroys patience, knowledge, and everything and there is no enemy like grief. Sri Rama behaved like an ordinary mortal when he was stricken with grief, but as an energetic and enthusiastic person he never lost himself to grief. Valmiki himself was a victim to Vishaada (grief) because of which he cursed a hunter and immediately he repented for his action and prayed that may his shoka (grief) be transformed into a Sloka (poetic verse).
Angada says; "Do not grieve in mind, for grief is the worst amongst vices. It kills a man just as an angry serpent kills its own brood."
When a doubt arises about deciding the right course of duty or Dharma in many situations, then a lay man is asked to follow the footprints of the pious and devout persons. We have the excellent example of a Mahajana (great person) in Sri Rama following whose example we can develop within our self a moral fiber that would certainly take us to the abode of happiness as Dharma is the source of all happiness. Therefore, it would be a question of developing a character within us that would guide us on proper lines.
The science of Dharma or ethics is essentially a science of morality intimately connected to the human conduct in a society. Dharma is the basic or essential principle of being and behaving. The theory of morality depends upon three basic postulates namely:
Because man is free to choose, there is need for him to study ethics, the science of behaviour. If he is not free to choose then there is no need for a Dharma. In this sense the Dharma is a normative and prescriptive science and not merely a descriptive one. There is a need for such works like Ramayana wherein one sees the actual behaviour of a person under specific situations and learns from him the ways of conduct. In this sense Rama is called a living icon of Dharma (Raamo Vigrahavan Dharmah) by Valmiki in order to demonstrate to the world how Dharma acts always correctly and justly. This mode of behaviour develops within a person such a character which becomes exemplary, and then only he becomes truly an Arya (a noble and cultured gentleman).
The philosophers of ethics identify four specific stages of the development of a character within a person. They are:
Sri Rama exhibited all these at every stage of his action. Therefore, he is rightly called Dharma Personified".
(The queen ,mother Kaushalya, gives her blessings
Restraining her grief and sipping a little pure water, queen Kaushalya, purifying herself, the high minded mother Kaushalya performed rites conducive to the welfare of Sri Rama.
Mother Kaushalya said: "Since your departure (to the forest) cannot be stopped, depart now, O jewel among the Raghus! Follow in the footsteps of the righteous (by redeeming your word of honour) and return soon (after serving the term of your exile). May the gods you have worshipped in the temples, and those too whom you humbly bow at cross-roads and the Rishis protect you. May the weapons given to you by the wise Vishwamitra protect you. Protected on all side by the services you have rendered to your father and mothers as well as by your truthfulness, my mighty armed son, may you live long!
May the deities presiding over wooden sticks used for feeding the Sacred Fire, blades of the sacred Kusha grass and rings of Kusha grass ( worn on the fourth finger on sacrificial occasions), sacrificial altars, temples, and sites selected by Brahmins for worship of gods, as well as mountains, trees, bushes, large and deep pools of water, birds, reptiles, and lions protect you, O jewel among men!
.. May no Rakshasas (demons), pishachas (ghosts), those who practise cruelty,
that which is ill-omened and the eaters of flesh, ever cause you injury!
. May your
way be blessed, may your undertakings be crowned with success. O my son, may you ever find
fruits, roots and the means of subsistence. May you ever tread the forest unhindered. May
all things between heaven and earth protect you at all times. May Indra, the Moon, the
Sun, Kuvera and Yama, worshipped by you, protect you from the enemies. May the gods
presiding over fire (Agni), air (Vayu) and smoke (Dhuma as well as the sacred formulas,
taught by the Rishis, protect you when inadvertently contacting the untouchables!
May the Lord of the world, Brahma, Vishnu and the gods not mentioned by me, protect you in the forest!"
Then the illustrious Kaushalya worshipped the gods with flowers and sandalwood, offering oblations and kindling the sacred fire for the health and peace of Sri Ramachandra with the aid of the pious Brahmins, learned in rituals. With ghee (clarified butter), white flowers, sacrificial fuel and mustard seeds prepared for the oblations by queen Kaushalya, the learned and pious Brahmins performed the Havan ceremony (sacred fire ceremony) for the welfare of Rama.
Then the mother of Rama asked the Brahmins to pronounce the benediction and present the oblations to the Lokpalas, the priests receiving the remainder. With honey, curds, rice and ghee, the Brahmins pronounced their blessings and the queen having offered them abundant alms and whatsoever they desired, addressed Rama, saying:
"O Rama, may the same blessing bestowed on Indra on the destruction of Bratrasura be yours. .. O Rama, may the seasons, the ocean, the islands, the Vedas and the cardinal points contribute to your happiness."/p>
Saying so and fixing unbroken grains of rice on Sri Ramas forehead (as a form of benediction) the large-eyed queen Kaushalya, applying sandal paste to his forehead, fastened about his wrist by way of an amulet a herb known as Vishalya Karani. For his protection the queen silently repeated the Mantras, and though her heart was filled with distress, appeared as one content. Bending low and smelling and kissing the head of Sri Rama and embracing him, she said:
"O my son, now go in peace. May you, having fulfilled the commands of the king, return in health to Ayodhya. O my child, my joy will be complete when I behold you at your coronation . Having fulfilled the injunctions of your father, you will return, and I, beholding you clad in Royal apparel with innumerable gems, shall then find peace. O Prince, now depart and accomplish the desire of Princess Sita and me."
The queen, reciting the Peace Chant, her eyes suffused with tears, embracing her son again and again, circumambulated him, gazing on his face.
Touching her feet repeatedly, the illustrious Ramachandra, resplendent in the light of the perfection of Self, left for the palace of Princess Sita.
[Note: The Ramayana is a poetical work of great antiquity. The author, Rishi Valmiki, is known as the 'First Poet' (Adikavi) and his pre-eminence in Sanskrit verses has never been seriously challenged to this day. Ramayana consists of 24 000 slokas (48 000 lines). The following translated extracts ('Ravana- The Terrible Rascal' and 'Ravana Begs Sita To Wed Him') give us a glimpse of the exquisitely imaginative and rich style of writing that has come to us from the most ancient times.]
Ravana- The Terrible Rascal
The Rape of Rambha
It was on Kailasha, the sun having withdrawn behind the Astachala Range, that Dashagriva (Ravana), full of vigour, chose to encamp the army. The mighty Ravana, resting on the summit of the mountain, surveyed the splendour of the forests in the light of the moon. Sweet-throated Kinneras, transported with love, sang melodies that ravished the soul with delight; there the Vidyadharas, intoxicated, their eyes inflamed, diverted themselves with their consorts like unto a carillon of bells, sweet music was heard from the troops of Apsaras (beautiful women) who were singing in Dhanadas abode. Trees, shaken by the wind, covered the mountain with a shower of blossom, distilling the perfume of honey and mead, and a balmy breeze, laden with the enchanting aroma of nectar and pollen, blew, enhancing Ravanas voluptuous desire. The songs, the myriad flowers, the freshness of the breeze, the beauty of the mountain in the night, the moon at its zenith, threw Ravana, that mighty warrior, into a ferment of passion.
Meanwhile, Rambha, loveliest of nymphs, adorned with celestial ornaments, was on her way to a sacred festival and her face was like unto the full moon, her limbs smeared with sandal-paste, her hair sown with Mandara flowers, and she was garlanded with celestial blooms. Her eyes were beautiful, her waist high, adorned with a jewelled belt, and her hips were shapely, the gift of love as it were. She was enchanting with her countenance embellished with the marks of flowers that bloom in the six seasons. [It was customary for women to use flower dyes to trace patterns on their skin.] And in her beauty, stateliness, radiance and splendour, she resembled Sri (goddess of wealth).
Swathed in a dark blue cloth, like unto a rain cloud, her countenance bright as the moon, her eyebrows resplendent arches, her hips like the tapering trunks of elephants, her hands like two fresh buds, under Ravanas eyes she passed through the ranks of the army.
Thereupon he, rising, pierced by the shafts of love, with his hand stayed the course of that nymph who was abashed and, smiling enquired of her:
"Where art thou going, O Lady of lovely hips? What good fortune art thou pursuing? For whom has this auspicious hour dawned? Who is about to enjoy thee? Who, this day, will quaff the elixir of thy lips exhaling the perfume of the lotus that rivals nectar or ambrosia? Who will caress those two breasts like unto twin goblets, rounded, blooming, that touch each other, O Youthful Woman? Who will stroke thy large hips shining like refined gold covered with dazzling garlands, celestial to look upon? Is it Shakra or Vishnu or the Twin Ashvins? O lovely One, if thou dost pass me by in order to seek out another, it will not be a gracious act! Rest here, O Lady of lovely limbs, on this enchanting mountain side, it is I, who exercise dominion over the three worlds, who with joined palms address this humble request to thee, I Dashanana (Ten faced Ravana), Lord of the three worlds and their Ordainer, therefore grant my request."
Hearing these words, Rambha, trembling, with joined palms, replied:
"Look on me with favour. It is not fitting that thou shouldst address me thus, thou who art my superior! Rather is it thy duty to protect me from others if I should be in danger of suffering violence at their hands, for apart from duty, I am virtually thy daughter-in-law, I speak the truth!"
Then Dashagriva (Ravana) answered Rambha, who had prostrated herself at his feet and whose hair stood on end merely on beholding him, and said:
"Hadst thou been my sons consort, thou wouldst in effect be my daughter-in-law!"
Thereupon she answered:
"Truly it is so, by law, I am the wife of thy son and dearer to him than his lifes breath, O Bull amongst the Rakshasas (demons); he is the son of thy brother Vaishravana, who is renowned in the Three Worlds, and is named Nalakuvara. He is an ascetic in virtue, a warrior in respect of valour and, in wrath he resembles Agni (fire); in forbearance he is like unto the earth! I was going to meet that son of the Guardian of the Worlds. It is for his sake that I am adorned with these ornaments so that he and no other should enjoy me. For these reasons, let me go hence, O King, O Subduer of thy foes, for that virtuous prince awaits me impatiently. It is not for thee to thwart his desires. Let me go! Do thou follow the path of the virtuous, O Bull among the Rakshasa! It is for me to pay thee homage and for thee to protect me!"
Thus did she address Dashagriva (Ravana)
"Thou hast said thou art my daughter-in-law! For those who have but one husband, this argument is valid but in Devaloka, the gods have established a law that is said to be eternal, that Apsaras have no appointed consorts nor are the gods monogamous!"
Thus speaking, the Rakshasa, who had stationed himself on the mountain ridge, inflamed with desire, ravished Rambha and, when she was released from his embrace, her garlands and her ornaments spoiled and torn away, she resembled a river where a great elephant, disporting himself, muddying the waters, has borne away the banks. Her hair in disorder, her hands clenched, like unto a creeper with its flowers shaken by the wind, trembling with terror, she sought out Nalakuvara and, with joined palms, fell at his feet.
Then Nalakuvara enquired of her saying:
"What is this, O Blessed One? Why dost thou prostrate thyself at my feet?"
Thereupon she, sighing deeply, trembling, with joined palms began to tell him everything and said:
"O Lord, this night, Dashagriva (Ravana) scaled the Trivishtapa Peak while he was encamped on that mountain with his army and I was observed by him as I came to meet thee, O Conqueror of Thy foes! That Rakshasa seized hold of me and questioned me saying; To who dost thou belong? Then I told him all, verily the whole truth, but he, intoxicated with desire, would not listen to me when I pleaded with him, saying I am thy daughter-in law! Refusing to listen to mine entreaties, he assaulted me ruthlessly! This is mine only fault, O Thou of firm vows, thou shouldst therefore pardon me. O Friend, verily there is no equality of strength between man and woman!"
These words filled the son of Vaishravana (Nalakuvara) with indignation and hearing of this supreme outrage, he entered into meditation and having ascertained the truth, the son of Vaishravana, his eyes inflamed with anger, instantly took water in his hand and sprinkled his whole person in accord with tradition, after which he pronounced a terrible curse on that king of the Rakshasas, saying:
"Since, despite thy lack of love for him, he ravished thee thus brutally, O Blessed One, on this account he will never be able to approach another woman unless she shares his love. If carried away by lust, he does violence to any woman who does not love him, his head will split into seven pieces."
Having uttered this curse like unto a scorching flame, celestial gongs resounded and a shower of flowers fell from the sky. All the gods with the Grandsire at their head were filled with joy, conversant as they were with the whole course of the world and the future death of the Rakshasa.
When Dashagriva (Ravana) learnt of the curse, however, his hair stood on end and he ceased to indulge in uniting himself with those who had no affection for him. Thereafter, among those who had been borne away by him and remained faithful to their consorts, there was great rejoicing when they heard of the curse uttered by Nalakuvara, which was pleasing to their heart.
Ravana Begs Sita To Wed Him
Ravana goes to the Ashoka Grove
Then the mighty ten-headed Lord of the Titans (Ravana) awoke to the sounds of auspicious music, delightful to the ear and, waking, that great and powerful king, his garland and attire in disarray, remembered Vaidehi (Sita, who was abducted by him). Passionately enamoured of her, that titan filled with pride could not restrain his desire.
Thereupon, adorned with every kind of ornament, gorgeously robed, he entered the Ashoka Grove filled with innumerable trees, laden with fruit and flowers of every kind with ponds embellished with lotuses and lilies enlivened by birds of rare beauty ecstatic with love and sculptured wolves wonderful to behold.
Dhshagriva (Ravana) gazed on those avenues with their arches of gold and gems, thronged with deer of every sort and carpeted with the fruit that had fallen on the ground. And one hundred damsels, daughters of the gods and Gandharvas, followed in the train of Ravana, resembling the nymphs who follow Mahendra and some carried lamps of gold whilst others bore chanwaras and fans in their hands. Some carrying water in golden ewers, walked ahead, others following with a golden seat and round cushions, and one on his right bore a cup encrusted with gems and filled with wine whilst another carried a canopy resembling a swan, golden-ribbed like the moon and having a handle of fine gold.
In this way, the most beautiful of Ravanas wives, their eyes heavy with sleep and wine, followed their august lord like flashes of lightning following a cloud. Their bracelets and necklaces of pearl, swung to and fro, their sandal paste was effaced and their hair hung loose while drops of perspiration stood on the brows of those women of lovely mien who stumbled on account of the effects of wine and sleep, and the sweat had caused the flowers that adorned them to wither and their locks were full of shreds from their garlands; in this way, those women of tender appearance full of pride and affection, followed the King of the Titans (Ravana).
And that powerful lord, slave of his desires, his heart fixed on Sita, proceeded at a slow pace. Ravana of inconceivable prowess, whose energy and vigour were unimaginable, entered the gate, and he was illumined on all sides by the innumerable lamps. Fed with fragrant oil, which were carried by those damsels and, intoxicated with pride, desire and wine, his eyes of a coppery red, he looked like Kandarpa himself bereft of his bow. He adjusted his magnificent cloak, decorated with flowers, stainless as the foam of Amrita when churned, and which flung back was held by a clasp. Ravana, eager to see that dark eyed Sita of faultless limbs, whose breasts touched each other, and whose tresses were black, strode on.
Beholding Ravana, the Lord of the Titans, endowed with youth and beauty, wearing gorgeous raiment and priceless jewels, that irreproachable princess trembled like a palm agitated by the wind and, covering her breasts and belly with her hands, seeking to conceal them, shrank away.
Ravana gazed on Sita, who was guarded by companies of female titans and that unfortunate One (Sita), given over to grief, resembled a ship foundering in the sea.
Seated on the naked ground, Sita who was fixed in virtue, resembled a branch severed from a tree that has fallen to the ground. Her limbs covered with a soiled cloth, she, who was worthy of ornaments, now no longer adorned, resembled a lotus stalk stained with mud and, though radiant, her beauty was dimmed.
By using imagination, she took refuge with that lion among men, Rama, her mind a chariot drawn by the steeds of resolution and that charming princess, devoted to Rama (her husband), emaciated, weeping, separated from her kinsfolk, was a prey to anxiety and grief and saw no end to her misfortune. Rocking herself to and fro, she resembled the female of the King of the snakes under the spell of an incantation or the planet Rohini pursued by Dhumaketu or a saintly and virtuous woman of a noble house who finds herself, through marriage, placed in a low-born family.
She resembled a great reputation that has been lost or a faith that has been disregarded or a mind that has become clouded or a hope destroyed, a future shattered, an order misinterpreted, a region obliterated at the destruction of the world or an offering rejected by the gods, a night on which the full moon is obscured by clouds or a lotus pool laid waste, an army bereft of its warriors, a moon under eclipse, a dried up river, an altar which has been desecrated or a flame that has been extinguished or a lotus pond bereft of flowers, its birds struck with terror agitated by the trumpeting of elephants.
In separation from her lord, consumed with grief, she appeared like a river whose waters have run dry and on account of her limbs not having been washed, she resembled night during the period of the waning moon. That lovely and graceful woman, accustomed to a palace filled with precious gems, now, with wasted limbs, resembled the stalk of a lotus freshly plucked and wilting in the sun.
As the female elephant which has been captured, chained to a stake, grieving for its mate, sighs again and again, so seemed she. Her long dark tresses, utterly neglected, lay along her back so that she appeared like the earth covered with a dark forest at the end of the rainy season. Tortured by hunger, sorrow, anxiety and fear, emaciated, desolate, weakened by abstinence and given over to austerity, stricken with grief, resembling a goddess, her hands were joined offering prayers to Rama for the destruction of Ravana.
And beholding that blameless Sita with her beautiful dark eyes and graceful eye-lashes, Ravana, to his own destruction, sought to seduce her.
Ravana Begs Sita To Wed Him
Thereupon Ravana approaching Sita, who was helpless, surrounded by female titans and vowed to a life of austerity, with sweet words and courteous gestures said to her:
" O Thou whose thighs resemble the trunk of an elephant, who, beholding me dost seek to conceal thy breasts and thy body, as if thou didst fear me, O Lady of large eyes, I love thee. Be gracious to me, O thou of charming looks who art adored by all the world! There is no man present here nor any titan able to change his form at will, therefore banish the fear which I inspire in thee, O Sita.
It has ever been the unquestioned and special privilege of titans to unite themselves with the wives of others, either taking them of their own free will or bearing them away by force. In spite of this, O Sita, I shall not lay hands on thee since thou hast no affection for me but, as for myself, I am completely under thy sway. Therefore, trust in me and respond to my love. O Goddess, have no fear of me, take courage, O Dear One, and do not let thyself be consumed by grief.
To wear but a single plait, to lie on the ground in soiled attire and fast unnecessarily does not become thee. In my company, O Mithili (Sita), do thou enjoy garlands, perfumes, sandal, ornaments, wine, rich beds and seats, singing, dancing and music. Thou art a pearl among women, do not remain in this condition. Adorn thyself as heretofore. Having united thyself with me, O Lady of lovely form, what will not be thine?
Thine enchanting youth is passing away, which like the waters of a river, once gone, do not return. O Thou of fair looks, the creator of thy loveliness, Vishvakrita, after devising thee, ceased from his work for I see none who is equal to thee in loveliness and grace! Who, having seen thee, resplendent with beauty, could withstand thee O Vaidehi? (Sita). Even Brahma Himself is moved, how much more other beings? O thou whose countenance resembles the moon, on whatever part of thy body mine eyes rest, my gaze is riveted. O Mithili (Sita), do thou become my consort and renounce this thy folly. Become the foremost queen of these innumerable and lovely women who belong to me.
O Timid One, all the treasure I have won throughout the worlds I offer thee as also my kingdom. O sportive Damsel, for thy sake, having subjugated the entire earth with its many cities, I will confer them on King Janaka (Sitas father). None on this earth can withstand my prowess; behold mine immeasurable valour in battle! Did not the celestials and the demons find me irresistible on the battlefield as I broke through their ranks shattering their standards?
Therefore yield to my desire and attire thyself in splendid robes, letting brilliant gems adorn thy person. O timid One, enjoy every comfort and luxury according to thy pleasure divert thyself and distribute land and treasure to others. Live happily depending on my support and exercise supreme authority. By my favour, all thy relatives shall share thy felicity. Observe my prosperity and glory, O gentle Lady, what canst thou hope from Rama who is clothed in robes of bark? O fortunate One, Rama has been deprived of his kingdom and is bereft of his might. He practises asceticism. His couch is the bare earth, indeed, it is doubtful whether he still lives.
O Vaidehi (Sita), Rama will never be able to find thee, thou who resembles a star veiled by dark clouds preceded by cranes. Rama will never rescue thee from my hands.
O Lady of sweet smiles, O thou of lovely teeth and beautiful eyes, thou dost ravish my heart as Suparna carried away a serpent. Although thy robe is torn and stained and thou art stripped of ornaments, seeing thee, my mind turns away from all my other consorts. O daughter of Janaka, do thou hold sway over all the women in my harem, who are endowed with every accomplishment. O Princess of raven locks, these women, the foremost among the beauties of the world, shall be thy slaves and attend on thee as the Apsaras attend on Sri (goddess of wealth).
O graceful Princess, enjoy the pleasures of the world with me and the riches of Kuvera to the utmost of thy desires. O Goddess, neither in asceticism, strength, prowess, wealth nor fame is Rama equal to me. Therefore drink, eat, enjoy thyself and indulge in every pleasure. I shall confer on thee immense wealth, nay, the whole world.
Do thou satisfy all thy desires in my company, O Timid One, and let thy relatives share thy felicity also. Adorned with dazzling golden bracelets, O beautiful One, in my company range the groves of flowering trees on the shores of the sea where the black bees hum."
Sita Rejects Ravanas Advances With Disdain
Hearing the words of that terrible titan, Sita, overwhelmed with grief, answered in a faint and feeble voice. The unfortunate Sita, afflicted and trembling, faithful to her lord and anxious to preserve her virtue, her heart fixed on Rama, placed a straw between Ravana and herself and with a sweet smile answered him, saying:
"Take back thy heart and set it on thine own consorts. As a sinner may not aspire to heaven, so should thou not expect to win me. That which should never be done and is condemned in a woman faithful to her lord, I shall never do. Born in a noble house, I have been joined to a pious family."
Having spoken thus to Ravana, the virtuous Vaidehi (Sita), turning her back on him, continued:
"It is totally out of the question that I become thy wife since I am united to another. Do thy duty and follow the rules laid down by men of integrity. The wives of others, like thine own, are deserving of protection, O Prowler of the Night. Do thou furnish a good example and enjoy thine own consorts. That wretch, who, in the inconstancy and levity of his heart, is not satisfied with his own wives, will be brought to misery by those of others. Either no pious men exist here or thou dost not follow their example, since thy mind is perverse and turns from what is virtuous; or the wise having uttered sage counsel, thou, to the destruction of the titans, dost ignore them.
Prosperity, kingdom and city are all brought to naught in the hands of a vicious monarch who is not master of himself. Hence, Lanka, overflowing with treasure, having thee for her king, will suffer destruction before long. O Ravana, that wicked being who brings about his own downfall, succumbs, to the delight of all. When you meet with your end, this evil deed will cause the oppressed to say: Fortunate are we that this great tyrant has fallen.'
Thou art not able to tempt me with wealth and riches; as the light of the sun cannot be separated from the sun so do I belong to Raghava (Rama). Having rested on the arm of that Lord of men, how should I depend on any other? Like unto the spiritual truth known to a Brahmin faithful to his vows, I belong to the Lord of the world alone and am lawfully wedded to him. It is to thine own advantage to restore me to Rama, wretched as I am, like unto a she-elephant anxiously awaiting her mate in the forest. It behoveth thee to seek Ramas friendship , that lion among men, if thou desireth to preserve Lanka and dost not wish to bring about thine own destruction.
He is wise, conversant with every duty and ever eager to serve those who seek his protection. Form an alliance with him if thou desirest to survive. Seek to conciliate Rama, who is full of devotion to those who take refuge in him and humbly conduct me to him once more. If thou dost bring me back to the greatest of the Raghus, thy well-being is assured but if thou dost act otherwise thou art doomed. Thou mayest evade the thunderbolt of Indra, even death himself may overlook thee but there will be no refuge for thee from the fury of Raghava, that lord of men, when thou dost hear the terrible twanging of Ramas bow resembling the thunderbolt hurled by Indra. Soon shall those arrows, bearing the impress of Rama and Lakshmana, like serpents with flaming jaws, penetrate Lanka and those shafts, decorated with herons plumes, shall cover the whole city annihilating the titans.
You have perpetrated this cowardly deed in order to revenge thyself for the destruction of Janasthana and the hosts of the titans. In the absence of these two brothers, those lions among men who had gone forth hunting, didst thou carry me away, O Vile Wretch; but, dog that thou art, thou didst not dare stand before those tigers, Rama and Lakshamana! Wealth and friends will be of no avail to thee in conflict with them and thou shalt be defeated as the one handed Vritra who entered into combat with the two handed Indra.
Soon shall my protector, Rama, accompanied by Lakshamana, draw out thy lifes breath, as the sun with its rays dries up shallow water.
Whether thou takest refuge in the abode of Kuvera or terrified, descend into Varunas realm, thou shalt assuredly perish, struck down by the son of Dasaratha, like a mighty tree felled by lightning."
To this stern speech from the gracious Sita, the King of the Titans replied harshly:
"In the world it is said the most gentleness one manifests towards a woman, the more responsive she becomes, but the more kindness I show to thee the more thou dost repulse me. Verily only the love I bear thee restrains my wrath, as a skilful charioteer controls the horses who seek to leave the road. Mighty indeed is the power of love, for even if the object of his affection invoke his anger, man covers her with pity and tenderness. It is on this account, O Lady of lovely mien, that I do not slay thee. Thou dost merit death and dishonour, thou who delight in asceticism without reason. For each and every harsh word which thou hast addressed to me, thou merit a dreadful end, O Mithili (Sita). I shall grant thee two months as the term assigned to thee, after which thou must share my bed. If thou should refuse, my cooks shall mince thy limbs for my morning repast."
Hearing these threats addressed by the King of the Titans to Janaki (Sita), the daughters of the gods and Gandharvas were exceedingly perturbed and, by the expression of their lips and eyes and their gestures sought to reassure Sita thus menaced by him.
Encouraged by them, Sita, fortified by her virtue and her pride in Rama, addressed Ravana, the Lord of the Titans, in his own interests, saying:
"It appears that there is none in this city who desires thy welfare and therefore seeks to prevent thee from this despicable deed. O vilest of Demons, how wilt thou escape the consequences of this insult offered to Ramas consort, he whose valour is immeasurable? Like unto an infuriated elephant, encountering a hare in the forest, so shalt thou, the wretched hare, meet with that elephant Rama. Thou dost not fear to rail at Rama so long as thou art not in his presence.
Why do not those cruel, terrible, coppery eyes of thine fall out, looking on me so lustfully, O Ignoble Creature? O Contemptible wretch, when thou didst threaten the spouse of that high souled Rama, the daughter-in-law of King Dasaratha, why did not thy tongue dry up? By the power of my asceticism, I could reduce thee to ashes instantly had I Ramas mandate. On account of my consuming virtue and ascetic observances, I could never have been wrested from Rama, were it not that thine evil act was to be the cause of thy destruction, O Dashagriva (Ravana). Assisted by the brother of Kuvera and proud of thine own heroism, thou didst lure Rama from the hermitage and succeed in bearing me away by stealth."
Hearing Sitas words, the King of the titans, cast ferocious glances at her. Like a mass of black clouds, with his enormous arms and neck, endowed with an elephantine gait, his eyes smouldering, his tongue like a darting flame, of immense stature, wearing a plumed diadem, covered with necklaces, sprinkled with perfumes, decked with garlands and bracelets of gold, his waist encircled with a dark blue belt so that it resembled the Mandara mountain encompassed by the snake at the time of the churning of the ocean; with his vast arms, the Lord of the Titans looked like a mountain with twin peaks. Adorned with earrings gleaming like the rising sun, he resembled a hill between two Ashoka trees enveloped in crimson flowers and buds or like the wish-fulfilling tree or spring incarnate or an altar in a crematorium.
Then Ravana cast furious glances from his bloodshot eyes at the Princess of Videha and, hissing like a serpent, addressed her, saying:
"O thou who art attached to that wretch without resources or moral sense, I shall destroy thee today as the sun's radiance is obliterated at the time of dusk."
Having spoken thus to Sita, the oppressor of his foes, looked at those female titans of formidable appearance, some of whom had single eye or ear, some enormous ears and some the ears of kine (cow) or elephants. Some had ears that hung down and some none at all.
Then Ravana, transfixing those titans with his glance, said to them:
"Ye Titans seek by fair or foul means, by threats or persuasion or honeyed words or gifts to induce Sita to look on me with favour."
Repeating his command again and again, the King of the Titans, filled with desire and anger began to inveigh against Janaki, whereupon a female titan named Dhanyamalinin, approaching Dashagriva, embraced him and said:
"O great King, enjoy thy self with me. What need hast thou for this human being who is wretched and whose countenance is pale? O King of the Titans, it is not with her that the gods have destined thee to taste the exquisite pleasures that are the reward of the strength of thy arms. He who loves one who is unwilling exposes himself to torment, whereas he whose love is reciprocated, enjoys perfect happiness."
Having said this, the female titan drew Ravana away but he, resembling a mass of cloud, turned back, laughing scornfully.
Then Dashagriva (Ravana) strode away, causing the earth to tremble, and returned to his palace that shone with the brilliance of the orb of day.
Surrounding Ravana, the daughters of the gods and Gandharvas as well as those of the Serpent race returned to that sumptuous abode with him. Thus Ravana, distracted with desire, left the Princess of Mithila (Sita) of irreproachable virtue trembling and entered his own dwelling.
The Birth of Ravana and his Brothers
After a time, that Rakshasa named Sumali, emerged from the nether regions to range the world of men. With his earrings of pure gold, he, like unto a dark cloud, took with him a young girl who resembled Sri without her lotus, and as that Rakshasa wandered about on earth, he beheld the Lord of Wealth, who in his chariot Pushpaka was going to visit his sire. Beholding that son of Poulastya, that lord who was as radiant as a god, advancing towards him like unto fire.
Thereafter, that exceedingly intelligent Rakshasa, reflected
Which is the best way of increasing our power?
Thus did the foremost of the Rakshasas, who was like unto a dark cloud and was wearing golden earrings, reflect within himself and, having considered awhile, that extremely sagacious Rakshasa said to his daughter Kaikasi, for such was her name:
My daughter, it is time for thee to wed. Thy youth is slipping away and, afraid of being refused, those who are in love with thee do not pay their suit. Striving to fulfil our duty, we seek only thine advantage. Assuredly, thou art endowed with every good attribute and resemblest Sri in person, O Dear Child! A young daughter is a source of anxiety to her father who is concerned for her honour, nor does he know whom she will wed. O Beloved Child, the mothers family, the fathers family and the one into which she is received are all three involved in this anxiety. Do thou therefore seek out that blessed ascetic, the foremost of Poulastyas offspring and choose Vishravas, the descendant of Poulastya, O My Daughter. Assuredly thou wilt beget sons equal to that Lord of Wealth who, in his splendour, rivals the sun.
At these words, in filial obedience, that young girl went to seek out Vishravas where he was undergoing penance. At that time, O Rama, that Twice-Born, the issue of Poulastya was engaged in the Fire Sacrifice and himself appeared like unto a fourth fire. Heedless of the late hour and, in obedience to her sire, she presented herself before the ascetic and, halting there with her eyes cast down, fixed on her feet, she scratched the earth from time to time with her toe.
Beholding that lovely girl whose face resembled the full moon and who shone in her own radiance, that Muni (ascetic) of exalted lineage, enquired of her saying:
O Fortunate One, whose daughter art thou? From whence dost thou come and for what reason or with what motive? Answer me truthfully, O Beautiful One!
Thus questioned, that young girl with joined palms answered:
By thine own powers, O Muni, thou must be conversant with mine intentions! Learn only, O Brahmarishi, that it is by the command of my sire that I have come, and Kaikasi is my name. You must know the rest.
Thereafter the Muni, reflecting awhile, uttered these words:
I know well, O Fortunate One, what brings thee here. Thou art desirous of having sons by me, thou whose gait is like unto an intoxicated elephant! But, having presented thyself at this hour (at dusk, interrupting the evening devotion, which is inauspicious), hear me, O Fortunate One. Thou shalt bring forth offspring of a dark aspect delighting in the companionship of doers of evil deeds. O Lady of lovely form, thou shalt beget Rakshasas of cruel exploits.
At these words, Kaikasi prostrated herself, saying:
O Blessed One who recites the Veda, I do not desire such sons, whose nature is depraved, from thee. Be gracious unto me!
Thus besought by that youthful maiden, Vishravas, foremost among Munis, like unto the moon in the presence of Rohini, added:
O Lady of lovely face, the son thou shalt bring forth last will be like unto me, assuredly he will be virtuous.
Thus did he speak to that young girl, O Rama, and after some time she gave birth to a hideous child with the face of a demon, exceedingly dark; and he had ten necks and great teeth and resembled a heap of collyrium. His lips were of the hue of copper, he had twenty arms and a vast mouth and his hair was fiery red. At his birth, jackals and other wild beasts with flaming jaws circled from left to right. The god Parjanya let loose a rain of blood whilst clouds emitted harsh sounds. The sun ceased to shine. Fierce winds blew and the unchanging ocean, Lord of the Rivers, was agitated.
His father, who resembled the Grandsire of the World, thereupon conferred a name upon him and said:
This child with ten necks shall be called Dashagriva. (Ten-necked or ten headed. Ravans name at birth was Dashagriva).
After him the mighty Kumbhakarana was born, that giant who was unequalled on earth. Thereafter was born a daughter of hideous aspect, named Surpanakha.
Kaikasis last child was named Bibishana (or Vibhishana).
When this great being was born, a rain of flowers fell and in the heavens, celestial gongs resounded whilst an aerial voice cried:
Thereafter, Kumbhakarana and Dashagriva (Ravana) throve in that vast forest and each was exceedingly powerful and they were the scourge of the worlds. The insensate Kumbhakarana ranged the three worlds devouring the great Rishis who were fixed in their duty, and yet he remained unsatisfied.
As for the virtuous Bibishana, ever vowed to righteousness, the study of the Veda being his chief nourishment, he lived as the subduer of the senses.
After a time Vaishravana, the Lord of Wealth, went to visit his sire in his chariot Pushpaka and seeing him flaming with effulgence, the Rakshasi sought out Dashagriva and said to him:
My son, behold Vaishravana, thy brother, blazing with glory and behold thy state, who art of the same family, O Dashagriva. Thou who art of immeasurable might, strive to be like Vaishravana himself.
Hearing his mothers words, the arrogant Dashagriva experienced a wave of overpowering bitterness, whereupon he formulated this vow:
I swear to thee in truth that I shall become my brothers equal if not his superior in power. Banish any fear that may have entered thine heart!
Thereafter, in his spleen, Dashagriva, accompanied by his younger brother Kumbhakarana, began to undertake an exceedingly difficult task, undergoing a rigid penance.
He thought: I shall accomplish mine end by asceticism.
Having thus resolved, he went to the lovely hermitage of Gokarna in order to purify his soul. There that Rakshasa with his younger brother Kumbhakarana, performed unsurpassed austerities. Such were his mortifications that he gratified the Lord, the Grandsire of the World (Brahma), who, in his satisfaction, granted him those boons that would assure him a victory.
From the Valmiki Ramayana
1. Vibhishana (of Sattvic nature)
Then Rama enquired of Agastya Muni:
How did those very powerful brothers (Ravana, Kumbhakarana and Bibishana) practice penance, O Brahmana, and of what nature was it?
Agastya Muni of tranquil mind told Rama:
Various were the pious observances of each of them. Kumbhakarana too, putting forth all his strength, constantly pursued the path of duty. In the heat of summer he stood amidst five fires and, in the rainy season, he took up the Vira posture, whilst in the winter season he remained plunged in water.
Thus two thousand years passed during which he applied himself to piety and remained on the righteous path.
On his side, Bibishana, who was virtue itself, intent on duty and of pure soul, stood on one leg for five thousand years. This penance accomplished, troops of Apsaras (Beautiful women) danced and a rain of flowers fell, whilst the gods hymned his praises. During another five thousand years, he stood facing the sun, his head and arms raised, his mind fixed in contemplation of the Veda. In this wise, Bibishana, like an inhabitant of heaven in the Nandana Gardens, dwelt for ten thousand years.
Dashagriva (Ravana) deprived himself of nourishment for the same period and every thousand years sacrificed one of his heads to the God of Fire. Thus nine thousand years passed and nine of his heads had been sacrificed to Fire. When ten thousand years had gone by, Dashagriva (Ravana) prepared to sever his tenth head when the Grandsire of the World (Brahma) appeared, and He, with the gods, highly gratified, presented Himself before Ravana and said to him:
I am pleased with thee. What boon shall I confer on thee this day? Thou shalt not have undergone these austerities in vain. O thou who art conversant with Dharma (virtuous duty), speedily choose what boon will most please thee. Thou hast found favour with me, O Dashagriva!
Thereupon, Dashagriva (Ravana), delighted, bowing down to that God (Brahma) answered in a voice trembling with joy:
O Bhagawat (Brahma), for living beings there exists no fear like that of death. There is no foe comparable to Mrityu (Death), therefore I choose immortality!
Thus spoke Dashagriva (Ravana) and Brahma answered him saying:
It is not possible to grant thee immortality. Choose some other boon!
At these words of Brahma, the Creator of the World, O Rama, Dashagriva (Ravana) replied with joined palms:
May I not be slain by Suparnas, Nagas, Yakshas, Daityas, Danavas, Rakshasas nor by the gods, O Eternal One, O Lord of Beings. I do not fear other creatures, who, with men, I look upon as mere straws, O Thou who art adored by the Celestials!
Thus spoke the Rakshasa Dashagriva, and the Lord, the Grandsire of the Worlds, who was accompanied by the gods, said to him:
It shall be as thou desirest, O Foremost of the Rakshasas!
Then having answered Dashagriva thus, O Rama, the Grandsire added:
Hear what great favour I shall grant thee further in my satisfaction. The heads that formerly were sacrificed by thee into the fire, O Irreproachable One, will now grow again as they were before and, O Rakshasa, I will finally confer another boon on thee that is hard to obtain, O My Friend, thou shalt be able to assume any form thou desirest at will.'
As soon as the grandsire had spoken thus, the heads of the Rakshasa Dashagriva, that had been consumed by fire, grew again.
O Rama, having spoken thus to Dashagriva, the Grandsire of the Worlds said to Bibishana:
O My Dear Bibishana, thou whose intellect is fixed on virtue, I am gratified with thee. Choose a boon, O Righteous and Pious One!>
Then the pure souled Bibishana, who radiated good qualities as the moon radiates her beams, spoke with joined palms, saying:
O Bhagavat (Brahma), I have endeavoured to do that which I ought to do. Thou art the Guru of the World. If, in thy satisfaction, thou dost accord me a boon, then hear me, O Blessed Lord. May my soul ever be fixed in righteousness in the midst of the greatest adversity. Without being instructed, may I be able to use the Brahma Weapon. May whatever thoughts come to me, wherever or in whatever state I find myself, always conform to virtue and may I fulfil my duty! O Most Exalted of Beings, these are the boons I consider to be the most precious, for those who follow Dharma, nothing is impossible!
Then Prajapati (Brahma), full of joy, again addressed Bibishana saying:
O Most Virtuous and Dear child, let it be as thou sayest. Though thou wast born in the Rakshasa Race, O Slayer of Thy Foes, no evil ever enters thy heart! I grant thee immortality!
Having uttered these words, as Prajapati was preparing to accord a boon to Kumbhakarana, all the gods, with joined palms, addressed him thus:
As for Kumbhakarana, do not grant him any boons! Thou knowest well how the three worlds fear this perverse wretch! In the Nandana Gardens, seven Apsaras and ten servants of Mahendra were devoured by him, O Brahma, as also Rishis and men. Such are the deeds of this Rakshasa before receiving a boon. If one is conferred on him, he may consume the three worlds! O Thou whose splendour is immeasurable, feigning to grant him a boon cause him to become bemused. In this way, the worlds will live in peace and he will receive his just deserts.
Thus did the gods speak, and Brahma, born of the lotus, thought on the Goddess, his consort (Saraswati, Goddess of Speech and Learning)), and as soon as He called her to mind, Saraswati appeared at His side and with joined palms said to him:
O Lord, I am here, what shall I do?
Then Prajapati answered that Goddess, who had come there, saying:
O Thou who art Speech, be Thou in the mouth of that Indra among the Rakshasas (Kumbhakarana) and utter that which the gods desire.
So be it! she answered and having entered his mouth, Kumbhakarana said:
'To sleep for innumerable years, O Lord of Lords! This is my desire!
May it be so! answered Brahma and with the gods, He departed.
The Goddess Saraswati then left the Rakshasa, while Brahma, with the gods ascended to the heavenly region.
When Saraswati had departed, Kumbhakarana came to himself and that perverse wretch, in his misfortune, reflected:
How can such words have passed my lips? I must have been bemused by the gods who came hither.
Having received those various boons, the three brothers of flaming energy, returned to the Sleshmataka Forest where they dwelt happily."
[Note: Comments by Swami Nisreyasananda, Ramakrishna Math:
In Indian mythology we find that all the demons that are represented there were very often children of sages born under adverse circumstances of the mother. Not necessarily because she is a woman, but, the sage being perfect, the varying factor of the womans mind is being shown. If the woman can be uncontrolled, a very powerful, uncontrolled son is the result, and that is a Demon. Born out of a Sage, from a Sages family, but having a negative position in the mind, like blue and red mixed together would produce violet colour.
The demons are all children of the sages. These demons meditate, get God face to face in His creative aspect, ask for Power not Wisdom, and after the vision is gone, become outright rascals and rogues and oppressors of humanity. (Under the influence of Rajasic guna (Ravana, or Hiranyakashipu, Prahlads father) and under the influence of Tamasic guna (Kumbhakarana), the demons desired Power with which to dominate and oppress. Contrast these with the boon of 'Wisdom' desired by Vibhishana, under the influence of Sattwa guna).
So, intelligent people, when approached and asked, "Please give me a method for meditation" will always tell: "Practise Gods presence".
God is present before you. What will you ask of Him? Will you ask God for power? Where is the guarantee that you will not misuse it? Therefore ask for Gods continuous stay with you, and if you want that, practise it. There is nothing further to be done. Picture it in your mind as if God is already present. Do not use your meditation to Catch Him."
So meditation is not the goal. It is only a means. Wisdom is the goal. The right words Harmony, Truth, Beauty, Goodness that must be suggested till the mental field, which is a display of Gods Creative Power, condenses it. Condenses it first in every cell, then spills it over into the magnetic field of a person, which is co-terminus with Gods field. So according to one practice, you visualize Gods presence, and according to the second practice, correct words are used, representing not power, not even prosperity or happiness, but Wisdom, the right attitude.
Ask for wisdom, which will have power and pleasure subordinated to it. A triangle as it were, with Saraswati (goddess of Speech) or the Word, the ideal harmonious expression, consciousness, at the very source. Let this enter the switchboard of human personalities. Wisdom and Harmony, equally present in everybody. Then the two other angles of the triangle, at the base, will be subordinated. Not one against the other, but one subordinating the other two.
Goddess Durga representing Power, Goddess Lakshmi representing Prosperity or Happiness, subordinate to Goddess Saraswati, representing Wisdom. When this is explained to people and illustrated by stories, they will immediately pick up the Wisdom aspect first. Then they will see that the other two aspects are not neglected, but are suitably harmonised and subordinated to the dominant all covering principle Wisdom, the Word which is God. It is not the property of God. It is God.]
Vali and Sri Ram
Consider the episode where Sri Ram, after being hidden Himself behind a tree shoots the monkey king Vali, while Vali was engaged in a fight with his brother Sugreeva. This episode has a deep mystical significance.
Vali, the immoral and vicious brother represents Lust, the lower nature of man. Sugreeva, the moral and virtuous brother represents mans higher and nobler nature.
Vali had earned through austerity a boon by which half the strength of his enemy was transferred to him as soon as an enemy confronted him in a battle. Similarly the power of lust becomes invulnerable the moment man comes in direct contact with the object of lust. The sense objects overpower man and they leave him a helpless victim of temptation. To avoid this, and to overcome successfully the disastrous influence of the sense objects, man has to stay away physically from the objects in the initial stages i.e. before he gains an absolute hold and control over them. So long as man remains in the midst of sense objects and tries to exercise his self control over those objects, he can never be successful since the power of the sense objects is almost invincible.
To indicate this great truth, Sri Ram is described as hiding behind a tree i.e. physically keeping away from Vali, and shooting him from a distance.
Sri Rams bow and arrows symbolise his preparedness and strength to maintain peace, and justice, both within and without. Sri Ram is the ideal of "aggressive goodness" as opposed to "weak and passive goodness". He stands for righteousness. He opposes and destroys all that is unrighteous.
By way of adaptations of Valmikis Ramayana, one of the most important Sanskrit work of this type is the Adhyatma Ramayana. In fact, it is this work that provided Tulasidas (1511-1637 AD) with the inspiration to compose his immortal work, the Ramacharitamanasa.
Rama tradition ascribes its authorship to Vedvyasa since it is said to be an integral part of Brahmanda Purana. Some scholars ascribe it to the period 14th-15th century AD and the author as unknown. Adhyatma Ramayana has 4200 verses and is popular amongst the devotees of Ram and also among the Vedantins. Written in mellifluous Sanskrit, the work admirably sums up the main events of the Valmiki Ramayana. New materials pertaining to Vedanta philosophy, the path of Bhakti (devotion) in general and Ramabhakti in particular and several hymns in praise of Rama is liberally added.
A few of the changes and innovations made, departing from the original (Valmiki Ramayana) may be noted here:
The major alteration in the fact of the story is the introduction of a "Shadow Sita" throughout the period of her abduction. The real Sita having disappeared into fire just before the golden deer episode. Tulasidas also follows Adhyatma Ramayana.
Compare Tulasis Sri Ramacharitamanasa, Aranya Kanda, Doha 23 and the Chopai:
"When Lakshmana had gone to the woods to gather roots, fruits and bulbs, Sri Rama, the very incarnation of compassion and joy, spoke with a smile to Janaks daughter (Sita):-
Listen my darling, who have been staunch in the holy vow of fidelity to me and are so virtuous in conduct: I am going to act a lovely human part. Abide in fire until I have completed the destruction of the demons."
"No sooner had Sri Rama told Her everything in detail than she impressed the image of the Lords feet on Her heart and entered into the fire, leaving with Him only a shadow of Hers, though precisely of the same appearance and the same amiable and gentle disposition. Lakshmana, too, did not know the secret of what the Lord had done behind the curtain."
In the Adhyatma Ramayana, Sita emerges from the fire at the end of the war when the shadow Sita enters into it. (The whole drama is preplanned and enacted at the bidding of Sri Rama Himself).
Other alterations in the Adhyatma Ramayana include : Ravana treats Sita with the respect due to a mother and Sri Rama establishes a Sivalinga at the site of the bridge to Lanka.
The major contribution of the Adhyatma Ramayana lies in the casting of Rama in the role of the spiritual teacher and in the several exquisite hymns sung in praise of Rama. There are four occasions when Rama assumes the role of the teacher and gives philosophical disquisition. In response to Lakshmanas questions on different occasions he teaches knowledge, devotion and detachment, methods of worship and the way of emancipation. In reply to Kaushalyas query, Rama teaches the three Yogas of Karma (action), Jnana (knowledge) and Bhakti (devotion).
The well known Ramagita is part of Adhyatma Ramayana. It contains teachings on Advaita Vedanta. The real contribution of this work is in its repeatedly propounding the doctrine that Rama is Brahman the Absolute and that Sita is His Maya-shakti or Prakriti, thereby raising the personality of Rama to the highest level and providing a firm base to the worship of Rama.
In the orthodox circles of Rama devotees, the Adhyatama Ramayana is considered to be a
Mantra-sastra, a sacred book, each stanza of which is revered as a Mantra (mystic
syllable) and devoutly repeated in a ceremonial way.
Adhyatma Ramayana (Kishkindha Kandam)
Because man thinks of his body as himself, Karma becomes operative. This I-sense, which binds one to the body, is beginningless and is a result of ignorance. In itself it is inert without consciousness, but being in association with the reflection of pure consciousness, it appears conscious, just as a red-hot piece of iron appears hot and shining in association with fire. Because the body is in identification with this I-sense, the body too appears to be endowed with consciousness.
Dominated by the I-sense, the Atman (embodied soul) thinks of himself as the body and becomes subject to the cycle of births and deaths, and to the consequent experience of happiness and misery. The Atman it itself is changeless but because of this false identification, he thinks: I am the body and I am the doer of various actions. Thus, the embodied being becomes the performer of many actions and is helplessly bound by their consequences. He finds himself fettered and wanders hither and thither in this trans-migratory cycle as a victim of sinful and meritorious actions. He makes a resolution:
I have done many meritorious actions like sacrifices and charities. I shall therefore attain to heaven and enjoy heavenly felicities.
By the same sense of identification, he enjoys these heavenly pleasures for a long period, and then when the effect of these meritorious deeds has dwindled, the same power of Karma sends him down, however much he may dislike it.
Travails of the Jiva (embodied soul)
The descending Jiva reaches the sphere of the moon, and from there, united with a drop of water, comes down to earth, and falling on cereals, gets identified with them. After remaining in that condition for long, he becomes any of the four types of food and in that condition is eaten by man. In the human body he is reduced to the seed, which being deposited in the womb of a woman and becoming united with the blood therein, becomes solidified within a day into the state called Kalala ensheathed by the placenta. Within five nights the foetus develops into a foam-like substance, and within seven nights into a muscular tissue. Within fifteen days blood will appear in it, and within twenty-five nights a small shoot develops from it. In one month the neck, head, shoulder, backbone and abdomen will be formed one after another.
Then in the second month, the arms, legs, hips and kneecaps develop one after another. In the third month, all the joints of organs are formed, and the fingers, in the fourth. In the fifth month the nose, ears, eyes, teeth, nails and the genitals develop. In the sixth month, the orifice of the ears, anus, the sex organ and navel are formed. In the seventh month, hair on the body, and the skull and the distinctiveness of all organs are formed. By the eighth month, the full human form comes into shape. In this way, the foetus gradually develops in the womb. By the fifth month, signs of life are seen throughout the foetus. Through the small orifice in the umbilical cord the foetus draws a little of the essence of the food consumed by the mother. It is by the power of its own Karma that it develops without perishing.
The foetus now gets the memory of its previous lives and actions. Within that memory, and suffering from the heat of the abdomen, the foetus thinks as follows:
Born in innumerable wombs, I had association with many wives and children, relatives and possessions. Preoccupied with the maintenance of the family, I managed to earn money in righteous and unrighteous ways. But unfortunate that I am, I never thought of the Lord even in dream. As a consequence of it, I am now undergoing tortures in the womb, considering the impermanent body as permanent. I have done things, which I should not do. I never did things beneficial for the Atman. After undergoing the sufferings due to all such actions, when I get out of this hell-like womb, I shall hereafter engage myself always in adoration of Mahavishnu.
While thinking like this, he is ejected by the powerful forces of parturition, subjecting him to very great sufferings. Just as a sinner emerges from hell, he comes out of the foul smelling bodily orifice, resembling a worm in appearance. Thereafter, he undergoes all the sufferings of infancy. I am not going to describe them or the sufferings of youth and other periods of life, as they are well known to you and all other creatures. Thus as a result of identifying oneself with the body, the Jiva undergoes the sufferings of hell and the life in the womb.
Therefore abandon this sense of identification with the subtle and gross bodies, one
should recognise oneself as the Self transcending Prakriti (Nature). Abandoning the
feeling that I am the body, he should know himself as Atman (soul). He should
know himself as the Self, who is not involved in the states of waking, dream and sleep,
who is distinguished as Truth and Consciousness, who is pure, wakeful and peaceful. When
the Atman, who is of the nature of Truth and Consciousness, is realised and the
infatuation caused by ignorance erased, it is immaterial whether the body dies or
continues to live as a consequence of the operative Karma (Prarabdha Karma). A man of
realisation will not identify himself with the body, and he has as a consequence neither
enjoyments nor sufferings afterwards. Therefore, until your operative Karma is exhausted
and the body perishes, you live in the body without identification with it, just as a
snake carries on its external sheath of skin, until the time for it to separate comes.
In the 16 th century, during the life time of Sant (saint) Tulasidas, the Moguls had established their rule in India. The Indian population was full of despair at its political defeat. There was the fear that together with the political rule, it would lose the influence of its religion and culture. The future of the country and the nation was enveloped in darkness. During such a time were born in India such saints as Tulasidas, Surdas, Kabir, Meera, Narsinh Mehta and Tukaram. By the flowing current of their devotion they immortalised the Hindu nation.
Sant Tulasidas endeared himself to his countrymen, because like Ramananda, he gave up the use of Sanskrit and wrote in the common language of the people.
Till the time of Tulasidas, the Ramayana had been told in chaste Sanskrit language, which enabled the priestly class of Brahmins to make the story a close preserve. Tulasidas wrote the Ramayana in the spoken language Avadhi and Brajbhasha. He composed his famous book Sri Ramacharitamanasa (Tulasi Ramayana) in 1574.
Sri Ramacharitamanasa or the life story of Sri Rama, proved to be a great force in preserving the Sanatan Dharma (Hindu religion) and helped in giving back to the people confidence in themselves and faith in their own culture. This great work proved to be an immediate success and has been enshrined in the heart of the common man for more than four centuries. In all the Hindi speaking provinces, many of its lines have become well known quotations. The influence of this book on the life and thought of the people cannot be overestimated.
The Ramacharitamanasa is in no way a Hindi translation of Valmikis Ramayana. Broadly speaking, it follows the course of Valmikis story, but the whole spirit of Tulasidass poem differs widely from that of Valmikis epic. Valmiki tells the story of Sri Rama as a royal hero, but for Tulasidas on the other hand, Sri Rama is held to be one with Vishnu and with Brahman (The Supreme Lord) playing the part of a mortal man for the benefit of the faithful.
Tulasis Sri Ramacharitamanasa is based on the Adhyatma Ramayana. The Adhyatma Ramayana forms part of the Brahmanda Purana. These works are very highly respected by all classes of Hindus. They make a clear statement of the doctrines of the Vedanta, and like the Bhagavad Gita, for its combination of the path of devotion with that of knowledge (bhakti marga and jnana marga). In these works, Sri Rama is depicted as the personification of the Supreme Spirit. The Vedanta looks upon the world as due to the action of Maya or Nescience (ignorance). Tulasis Sri Ramacharitamanasa and its parent the Adhyatma Ramayana, represent that school of thinkers in India which has adopted the theory of Anadi Avidya (or the Beginningless Error) to explain the world process.
For instance, in both the Adhyatma Ramayana and Tulasis Sri Ramacharitamanasa, in the Aranya Kanda, before Sitas abduction by Ravana, Sri Rama makes the real Sita enter the fire (probably the Yogic Fire) and an illusory Sita play all the subsequent parts in the drama.
Tulasi Ramayana deals not only with the basic principles of religion but also their practical application to life. These principles have to be thoroughly understood before they can be put to use to bring about the integrated development of human personality. The practical techniques that will open up the secret chamber, will be available only to those who are prepared to understand the basic laws honestly and without making any compromises. The Tulasi Ramayana says in the Bala Kanda 34-14
Hoi Sukhi Jo Ehi Sara Paraee
He who dives deep into the Manas (mind) Lake will achieve happiness. (The Ramacharitamanasa Lake or the Ramayana of Goswami Tulasidas).
In the Bala Kanda, Chopai14 verse 6, is a specific assurance that whoever reads or listens to its recitation with full understanding and translates its principles into action, shall be freed from the evils of Kaliyuga and become a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra. He shall thereby be completely free from suffering in every form.
Jo Ehi Kathahi Saneh Sametaa, Kahihahi Sunihahi Samuzi Sachetaa
Hoihahi Rama Charana Anuraagi, Kali Mala Rahita Sumangal Bhaagi
In the Uttar kanda, Chopai 119 verse 5 it is written that not even in dream, shall the devotee have suffering of any kind or in any measure.
This assurance of the Ramacharitamanasa cannot be looked upon as a poetic overstatement. Goswami Tulasidas has repeated many a times that this sacred book is capable of removing Tritaap or the triple maladies of disease, worry and fear:
Rama Bhagati Mani Oor Basa Jaake, Duhukha Lavalesa Na Sapanehu Taake
This has been stated clearly towards the end of the book as well:
Sunu Khagapati Yaha Kathaa Paavani, Trividha Taap Bhavabhaya Daavani
The scripture that holds out such a promise, is widely read and listened to with reverence by princes and peasants alike. Non-stop recitals (Akhanda Paatha) are also arranged occasionally in thousands of homes.
Those who have failed to grasp the basic philosophy of the Ramayana and to translate it into action have failed to derive the promised benefits. Relying solely on rites and rituals without full understanding, such a person derives very little benefit.
Religion is a body of principles, of values and modes of conduct, the conscious practice of which is absolutely indispensable for the physical, mental and spiritual development of the individual and for transforming the brute and the sub-human in him into the human and the divine. Religion thus sets forth the correct and natural way of day to day living the only means of ensuring abiding happiness and prosperity for man and society. In such a way religion becomes alive and points to the true way to God worship.
The true essence of worship is pure devotion and true love and this love of the Lord must find its very concrete expression in the conduct of the devotee in the day to day life. It would not remain a mere mental concept but would be revealed in his love of humanity.
The Ramayana teaches how man can bring about the necessary change within himself. We must accept the basic and fundamental truth that religion is the only true way of life. While the principles of religion remain unchanged, experiences will differ from person to person, according to his her stage of development and achievement.
People in general can be divided into two categories the intellectual and the emotional. The actions of the intellectual are influenced mainly by thinking, analysis and reason. Such a person develops into a person of knowledge or Gyaanee. The emotional person is guided predominantly by feelings. He can launch his experiments on the basis of faith in the spiritual preceptor or in the revealed scripture and he becomes a Devotee or Bhakta.
In the Uttara Kanda, Chopai 114, verse 7, it is stated that all human sufferings are removed by either of these two paths (Knowledge and Devotion).
Bhagatihin Gyaanahin Nahin Kachhu Bhedaa, Ubhaya Harahin Bhava Sambhava Khedaa.
The two paths of sadhana, that of Devotion and Knowledge, have been mentioned in esoteric language in the opening lines of Tulasi Ramayana. Shloka 2 of Bala kanda reads
Bhavaani Shankarou Vande Shraddhaa Vishvaas Rupinou
Yaabhaam Binaa Na Pashyanti Siddhaha Svaantasthameeshwaram
These lines say that the aspirant cannot see God, Who is seated within all of us, without the help of Bhavaanee and Shankara, who are Faith and Reason personified.
The aspirant follows the method either of Faith or Reason in his progress towards the goal. It is significant to note that the emphasis here is not on Action but on a persons Thinking and Feeling, which alone can bring about his transformation. The change has to come from the subtle level to the gross level. The Thinking and Feeling eventually get transformed into action. The whole process begins with Vasanas. (see explanations about "Vasana" Page 'Gita for Children'). The Ramayana is unique in that it relies upon a change, primarily at the level of Vasanas that transform at the level of the intellect into Thoughts which in turn transform themselves at the level of the mind into Desires and these get transformed at the physical level into Actions.
In the Uttara kanda, Chopai 71, Verse 4, it is said that the Lord is transcendent as well as immanent.
Prakriti Paar Prabhu Saba Oor Baasi
God is transcendent; God exists apart from and beyond the changing universe. God is also immanent; God is the indwelling spirit in everyone and in everything.
The Ramayana prescribes Sumiran or methodical meditation for the transcendent and prescribes Bhajan (singing the glory of the Lord) for the immanent aspect of the Divinity. Meditation is objectless concentration. In this transcendental consciousness, light descends and the devotee becomes a Gyaanee (self realised). This Gyaan or Knowledge is entirely different from the learning acquired through books. It is this Knowledge alone that enables the devotee to distinguish between the apparent and the Real.
Sahaja Vimala Mana Laagi Samaadhi
Bhajan is clearly defined by Lord Rama in the following lines. Uttara Kanda, Doha 16
Aba Graha Jaahu Sakhaa Sakala, Bhajehu Mohi Drdha Nem
Sadaa Sarvagata Sarvahita, Jaani Karahu Ati Prem
Friends, now go home and through bhajan devote yourself unto Me. I am present in all and desire the good of all. With this faith, love all intensely and serve them. The only way to love and serve God is to love and serve all. Love must pour forth in service.
Lord Rama told Jatayu that nothing is unattainable by him who has the good of others at heart.
Para Hita Basa Jinhake Mana Mahin, Tin Kahan Jaga Durlabha Kachhu Naahin.
In the lines spoken by Lord Rama to Hanuman, the same principle is stated:
O Hanuman, his devotion is exclusive who is steadfast in his faith that the Lord is manifest in all movable and immovable creation, and he is their servant.
So Ananya Jaake Asi Mati Na Taraee Hanumanta
Main Sevaka Sacharaachara Roop Swami Bhagavanta
A very subtle distinction has been drawn by the Ramayana between serving others as a form of worship of the Lord and helping others, thinking them to be needy and poor and thereby feeding ones ego. A great philanthropist may just have a highly developed ego-self. The devotee on the other hand gives and feels grateful to the Lord for having accepted his services. He does not draw back at the sight of an ailing dirty beggar in rags. There is the Lord in one form or another waiting to be served.>
In the Tulasi Ramayana, Aranya kanda, Chopai 14, verse 1, Sri Rama explains:
Main Aru Mor Tor Tein Maya
"The feeling of "I" and "Mine" implies delusion. When these do not exist, the aspirant discovers that his body is the dwelling place of the Lord. Immediately thereafter follows the realisation that He alone exists, not I, resulting in a full surrender to the Lord. Unconditional surrender to the Lord is the key to universal love. Surrender is not complete as long as the devotee wants this or that from the Lord. The devotee ultimately becomes an active instrument to carry out the Lords will. Surrender to the Lord is not the end but the beginning of a truly religious living.
How is such a noble state to be obtained?
Binu Satsanga Bibeka Na Hoi,
Whoever, whenever and by whatever means has ever attained wisdom, glory, salvation, material prosperity and welfare anywhere and by any means whatsoever know it to be the result of association with holy men; there is no other means either in the world or in the Vedas. Wisdom dawns not without association with saints and such association cannot be easily had without the grace of Sri Rama (the Lord).
Contact with noble souls is the root of joy and blessings. It constitutes the very fruit and fulfillment of all endeavours, whereas all other practices are blossoms as it were. Through contact with the virtuous even the wicked get reformed, just as a base metal is transmuted by the touch of the philosophers stone.
I bow to the saints, who are even minded towards all and have no friend or foe, just as a flower of good quality placed in the palm of ones hands communicates its fragrance alike to both the hands (the one which plucked it and that which held and preserved it). Realising thus the noble disposition and loving nature of saints, who are innocent at heart and catholic in spirit I make this humble submission to them. O noble souls, bless me with devotion to the feet of Sri Rama."
It has been laid down here, categorically and firmly, that Satsang or the company of holy people is the only way to achieve anything good and great. This has been repeated many a times not only in the Ramayana but also in other holy books. In Bhakti-Sutra, Narada says: Mukhyatastu Matkripaiva - Mainly through the grace of the great ones.
The primary means of attaining divine love is the grace of the saints. Such contact, it is further said, is rare, difficult to attain, yet uplifting in its effect. It is possible only through Gods grace.
Tadeva Saadhyataam, Tadeva Saadhyataam Therefore cultivate this contact with the lover of God.
That is why the importance of Satsang cannot be emphasized enough times.
The Ramayana holds out the grand assurance that the man who surrenders to the Lord wipes out the sins of crore (ten million) lives. Sanmukha Hoi Mohin Jabahin, Janma Koti Adha Naasahin Tabahin.
The philosophy underlying the mythology in the Ramayana is not always apparent. The saint-poet Tulasidas himself admits that he could understand only a part and that also after his guru had repeated it to him quite a number of times.
Tadapi Kahi Guru Baarahin Baara, Samujhi Pari Kachhu Mati Anusaara
Such being the case, it is natural that the principles embodied in the Katha or the story should pass unnoticed except dimly and partially. Behind every incident or episode in the Ramayana there is a fundamental principle that is not always easy to understand. However, many of the principles can be easily translated into action and they are within the reach of every earnest seeker after truth.
The Ramayana is like an almond with a smooth and beautiful lustrous hard shell. The
shell is the story part of the classic which pleases all who come to it. A rare reader of
the Ramayana is able to break the shell and go to the principles embodied in the
allegories. He then gets the kernel in hand. This again has a covering that is removed by
putting it in water for some hours. Only the competent teacher can help the seeker unravel
and understand the principles and the technique, the use of which will rid a man of the
Tritaap (triple maladies) of disease, worry and fear and bestow on him everlasting
happiness and blissful love.
Question: How can one, standing alone on the ground, bare feet, and without armour to protect the body, defeat the opposition who is mounted in a battle tank?
The Victory Chariot of Sri Rama
Vibhishana was disconcerted when he saw Ravana mounted on a chariot and the hero of Raghus line (Sri Rama) without any (chariot). Vibhishanas great fondness for the Lord filled his mind with diffidence; and bowing to His feet he spoke with a tender heart:
"My Lord, you have no chariot nor any protection either for your body (in the shape of armour) or for Your feet (in the shape of shoes). How then, can You expect to conquer this mighty hero?"
"Listen, friend:" replied the all-merciful (Sri Rama), "the chariot which leads one to victory is quite another. Valour and fortitude are the wheels of that chariot, while truthfulness and good conduct are its enduring banner and standard. Even so strength, discretion, self-control and benevolence are its four horses that have been joined to the chariot with the cords of forgiveness, compassion and evenness of mind.
Adoration of God is the expert driver; dispassion the shield, and contentment the
sword. Again, charity is the axe; reason, the fierce lance and the highest wisdom the
relentless bow. A pure and steady mind is like a quiver; while quietude and the various
forms of abstinence (Yamas) and religious observances (Niyamas) are the sheaf of arrows.
Homage to the Brahmins (priests) and to ones own preceptor is an impenetrable coat
of mail. The hero who happens to be in possession of such a strong chariot can conquer
even that mighty and invincible foe, attachment to the world. There is no other equipment
for victory as efficacious as this. My friend, he who owns such a chariot of piety shall
have no enemy to conquer anywhere."
Swami Vivekananda wrote:
Survival of the Fittest
Ay, it is a curious fact that while nations after nations have come upon the stage of the world, played their parts vigorously for a few moments and died almost without leaving a mark or a ripple on the ocean of time, here we are living, as it were, an eternal life. They talk a great deal of the new theories about the survival of the fittest, and they think that it is the strength of the muscles which is the fittest to survive. If that were true, any one of the aggressively known old world nations would have lived in glory today, and we, the weak Hindus, who never conquered even one other race or nation, ought to have died out.
Yet we live here three hundred million strong! (Nearly one billion today). (A young English lady once told me: What have the Hindus done? They never even conquered a single race!) And it is not at all true that all its energies are spent, that atrophy has overtaken its body; that is not true. There is vitality enough, and it comes out in torrents, and deluges the world when the time is ripe and requires it.
Religion Is The Backbone Of This Race
Here we are, the Hindu race, whose vitality, whose life-principle, whose very soul, as it were, is in religion. I have seen a little of the world, travelling among the races of the East and the west; and everywhere I find among nations one great ideal which forms the backbone, so to speak, of that race. With some it is politics, with others it is social culture. Others again may have intellectual culture and so on for their national background. But this, our motherland (India), has religion and religion alone for its basis, for its backbone, for the bedrock upon which the whole building of its life has been based.
Indias gift to the world is the light spiritual
Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race (Hindu people of India); it never was, and mark my words, it never will be. But there has been the other mission given to us which is to conserve, to preserve, to accumulate, as it were, into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race, and that concentrated energy is to pour forth in a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious. Let the Persian or the Greek, the Roman, the Arab, or the Englishman march his battalions, conquer the world, and link the different nations together, and the philosophy and spirituality of India is ever ready to follow along the new-made channels into the veins of the nations of the world. The Hindus calm brain must pour out its own quota to give to the sum total of human progress. Indias gift to the world is the light spiritual.
We never preached our thoughts with fire and sword.
Civilisations have arisen in other parts of the world, in ancient times and in modern times. Great ideas have emanated from strong and great races. In ancient and in modern times, wonderful ideas have been carried forward from one race to another. In ancient and in modern times, seeds of great truth and power have been cast abroad by the advancing tide of national life; but, mark you, my friends, it has been always with the blast of war trumpets and with the march of embattled cohorts.
Each idea had to be soaked in a deluge of blood. Each idea had to wade through the blood of millions of our fellow-beings. Each word of power had to be followed by the groans of millions, by the wails of orphans, by the tears of widows. This in the main, other nations have taught; but India has for thousands of years peacefully existed. Here activity prevailed when even Greece did not exist. When Rome was not thought of, when the very fathers of the modern Europeans lived in the forests and painted themselves blue.
Even earlier, when history has no record, and tradition does not peer onto the gloom of that intense past, even from then until now, ideas after ideas have marched out from her, every word has been spoken with a blessing behind it and peace before it. We, of all the nations of the world, have never been a conquering race, and that blessing is on our head, and therefore we live.
There was a time when at the sound of the march of big battalions the earth trembled.
Vanished from off the face of the earth, with not even a tale left behind to tell, gone is
that ancient land of the Greeks. There was a time when the Roman Eagle floated over
everything worth having in this world. Everywhere Romes power was felt and pressed
on the head of humanity. The earth trembled at the name of Rome. But the Capitoline Hill
is a mass of ruins. The spider weaves its web where the Caesars ruled. There have been
other nations equally glorious that have come and gone, living a few hours of exultant and
exuberant dominance and of a national wicked life, and then vanishing like ripples on the
face of the waters. Thus have these nations made their mark on the face of humanity. But
From The Tulasi Ramayana, Uttara-Kanda, Chopai 120:
Seven questions of Garuda and Kakabusundis replies to them
1. There is no other form as good as the human body: every living creature whether animate or inanimate - crave for it. It is the ladder that takes the soul either to hell or to heaven and again to final beatitude, and is the bestower of blessings in the form of wisdom, dispassion and devotion. Men who fail to adore Sri Hari even after obtaining this body, and wallow in the basest pleasures of the senses, throw away the philosophers stone from the palm of their hand and take bits of glass in exchange for the same.
2. There is no misery in this world as terrible as poverty.
3. There is no blessing as great as communion with saints.
4. Beneficence in thought, word and deed is the innate disposition of saints. The saints undergo suffering in the interest of others while impious wretches do so with a view to tormenting others. Tender hearted saints, like the birch tree, submit to the greatest torture (even allow their skin to be peeled off) for the good of others; while the wicked, like the hemp, have their skin flayed off and perish in agony in order to be able to bind others (in the form of cords). Like the rat and the serpent, the wicked injure others without any gain to themselves. Having destroyed others prosperity they perish themselves, even as the hail dissolves after destroying the crops. The elevation of the wicked, like the rising of the comet- which is a detestable heavenly body- is a source of calamity to the world. The advancement of a saint, on the other hand, is ever conducive to joy, even as the rising of the sun and the moon brings delight to the whole universe.
5. A vow of non-violence is the highest religious merit known to the Vedas.
6. There is no sin as grievous as speaking ill of others.
7. Note now the diseases of the mind, from which everyone suffers. Infatuation is the root of all ailments and from these again arise many other troubles. Lust is a counterpart of wind and inordinate greed corresponds to an abundance of phlegm; while anger represents bile, which constantly burns the breast. Should all these three combine, there results what is known as Sannipata (a derangement of the aforesaid three humours of the body, causing dangerous type of fever ). The cravings for the manifold pleasures of the sense, so difficult to realise, are the various distempers, which are too numerous to name
The feeling of mineness corresponds to ring-worms, envy represents itches, while joy and grief correspond to a disease of the throat marked by an excessive enlargement of the glands (goiter). Grudging contemplation of others happiness represents consumption; while wickedness and perversity of soul correspond to leprosy. Egotism is the counterpart of the most painful gout; while hypocrisy, deceit, arrogance and pride correspond to the disease known as Dracontiasis (which is marked by the presence in the body of a parasite known as the guinea-worm). Thirst for enjoyment represents the most advanced type of dropsy; while the three types of craving (those for progeny, riches and honour) correspond to the violent quartan ague. Jealousy and thoughtlessness are the two types of fever. There are many more fell diseases, too numerous to mention.
People die even of one disease; while I have spoken of many incurable diseases which constantly torment the soul. How then can it find peace? There are sacred vows and religious observances and practices, austere penance, spiritual wisdom, sacrifices, Japa (recitation of prayers), charity and myriad of other remedies too; but the maladies just enumerated do not yield to these.>
Thus every creature in this world is ailing and is further afflicted with grief and joy, fear, love and desolation. I have mentioned only a few diseases of the mind; although everyone is suffering from them, few are able to detect them. These wretches, the plague of mankind, diminish to a certain extent on being detected, but are not completely destroyed. Fed by the unwholesome diet of sensuality they sprout even in the mind of sages, to say nothing of poor mortals. All these ailments can no doubt be eradicated if by Sri Ramas grace the following factors combine.
There must be faith in the words of the physician in the form of a true preceptor; and the regimen is indifference to the pleasure of the senses. Devotion to the Lord of the Raghus (Sri Rama) is the life giving herb; while a devout mind serves as the vehicle in which it is taken. By this process the ailments can certainly be eradicated; otherwise all our efforts will fail to get rid of them. The mind should be accounted as cured only when the heart gathers strength in the form of dispassion, appetite in the shape of good resolutions grows stronger and stronger every day and weakness in the form of sensual appetite goes. (Being thus rid of all diseases) when the soul bathes in the pure water of wisdom, the heart is saturated with Devotion to Sri Rama.
It would be easier for the hair to grow on the shell of a tortoise, or for the progeny of a barren woman to slay anyone or for flowers of every description to appear in the air than for any creature to be happy even though hostile to Sri Hari. Sooner shall thirst be slaked by drinking of a mirage or horns sprout on a hares head or darkness efface the sun than a creature who has turned his face against Sri Rama find happiness. Sooner shall fire appear out of ice than an enemy of Sri Rama enjoy happiness. Sooner shall butter be churned out of water or oil be extracted from sand than the ocean of worldly existence be crossed without adoring Sri Hari: this is a conclusion which cannot be set aside. The Lord can exalt a mosquito to the position of Brahma (the Creator) and degrade Brahma to a position lower than that of a mosquito. Realising this, the wise discard all doubt and worship Sri Rama.
I have told you my considered views and my words can never be untrue; Men who worship Sri Rama are able to cross the most turbulent ocean of mundane existence.
Some Legends connected with
When Tulasi went to Kashi and stayed at the house of a pious Brahmin, a keen desire to sing the glory of Rama arose in his heart, but whatever he composed (in Sanskrit verse) during the day he would forget overnight. This went on for several days and Tulasi wondered very much at this strange phenomenon. On the eighth day, however, Siva appeared to him in a dream and said, "Compose in your own spoken language."
These words were still echoing in Tulasis ears when, on waking, he had a vision of Siva and Parvati. Repeating the words of his dream, Siva said: "Compose your verses in Hindi, my son. Do not get involved in the language of the gods (Sanskrit). You should do that which will be of benefit to all; do not follow the traditional path. Go and live in Ayodhya and let your poetry come to light there. Through the grace of my meritorious deeds, your poetic talent will be fruitful as the hymns of the Sama Veda." Saying this both the divine forms disappeared.
Tulasi marvelled at his own good fortune and left immediately for Ayodhya. This was around the year 1572 AD. While wandering about in the lanes, gardens and woods of the city of Ayodhya, Tulasi met a holy man who in the course of conversation remarked, "I will show you a beautiful spot if you will come with me." Tulasi accompanied him and they came to a secluded place covered with a network of Banyan trees. A seat had been constructed under one of these trees, on which sat an ascetic whose face glowed like fire. He was a realised soul who told Tulasi that his Guru had foretold the coming of Tulasi and had requested him to keep the seat of meditation reserved for Tulasi. The ascetic said "Now my work is done." Then he got up, sat in another place and through the fire of Yoga, burnt his body.
Early in the new Vikram Samvat year of 1631 (March-April of 1574 AD), the position of the planets ( and other astrological signs, not excluding the day of the week, Tuesday, on Rama-Navami day, the birthday of Sri Rama), were exactly as they had been when Rama was born in the distant age of Treta. On this very auspicious day, Hanuman appeared, performed the purification ceremony (abhishek) by the sprinkling of sacred water and chanting of Mantras and installed Tulasi in a new life. Celestial beings such as Siva, Parvati, Ganesha, Saraswati, Narada, Sesa, Surya, Sukracharya and Brihaspati also showered their blessings on him. And then at last Tulasi commenced his writing of the Ramacharitamanasa. He wrote in all for 2 years, 7 months and 26 days, and was able to finish the book on a Tuesday afternoon, on the anniversary of the marriage of Rama and Sita in the month of November-December (Margasirsa) of the Samvat year 1631 (1574 AD). Tulasi was at this time 77 years of age.
The book was first read in the presence of Hanuman who blessed Tulasi, saying, "May your fame spread in the three worlds!"
The next person to hear it was Sri Ruparuna Swami, a holy man of Mithila, who happened to be visiting Ayodhya at that time. He had cultivated the devotional attitude of Janak, regarding Sita and Rama as his daughter and son-in-law. Tulasi held him in high regard and so selected him alone for his first human audience.
Then Dayaludasa, a disciple of Swami Nandalala made a copy for himself and read it to his Guru, presumably in Vrindavan. Later the famous Muslim (Hindi) poet and devotee of Krishna, called Rasakhana heard it.
A few copies of the book had been made by this time. Then through the guidance of the Lord, Tulasi went to Kashi and in the Viswanatha temple recited it to the divine and invisible presence of Siva and Parvati. At night the book was left near the image of Siva and the doors were closed. The ignorant and the learned, ascetics and lovers of God, crowded the temple gate in the morning eager for Darshana (viewing). When at last the temple door opened, to the surprise of every one concerned, "Satyam, Sivam, Sundaram" (the Truth, the Good and the Beautiful) was found written on the Ramacharitamanasa, bearing the signature of Lord Siva Himself. These appreciative words were not only there in black and white, but were heard to echo and re-echo within the temple walls. The spectators, perhaps consisting of the audience of the previous days recital, were duly impressed.
In this prosaic and down-to earth age of Kali, a miracle had taken place and the news spread like wild fire. The man in the street was beside himself with joy and people rushed to pay their homage to Tulasidas, vying with one another to touch his feet and receive his blessings.
But in this ancient city of Kashi, which had been the seat of Sanskrit learning and a stronghold of orthodoxy from time immemorial, the arrogance of the intellectuals was a force to be reckoned with. They raised a storm of opposition. The Lords leela (stories about the Lord) should be sung in no other language but the language of the gods (deva-bhasha) or Sanskrit. They exclaimed in pious horror that the great mystery of the Supreme Godhead in the human body (Rama) could not be thus desecrated. The persecution of Tulasidas that followed proved how strongly ingrained was the language prejudice. But befitting his role as a great teacher and in refreshing contrast to the dogmatism of the Pandits (pundits) was the great quality of vision and imagination that Tulasi showed.
The narrowness of heart, stubborn conventionalism and spiritual pride had completely blinded the pandits. Perhaps envy also did not allow them to acknowledge the merits of the book. They were so enraged at its increasing popularity that they decided to get rid of it by shady and unscrupulous means. Two professional thieves called Nidhua and Sidhua were engaged to steal the book. Printing had not been introduced and copies of the Ramacharitamanasa were still rare. In this way the pandits hoped to destroy the work altogether. When the thieves tried to enter Tulasis hut at night they found two young boys, one of fair and the other of dark complexion, walking up and down with bow and arrow in hand, guarding the entrance of the hut. Observing them thus vigilant the whole night the minds of the thieves were purified.
The next morning they made a confession of their intention to Tulasidas and enquired who were his night watchmen. On hearing the description of what they had seen, Tulasi shed tears of joy and distributed all his possessions to the poor. He congratulated Nidhua and Sidhua on having had a vision of Rama and Lakshmana and they also repented, fell at his feet, and reformed their lives.
Sri Hanuman and Sant Tulasidas
Sri Hanuman is an ideal of Dasya Bakti- the devotional attitude of the servant of God. He is worshipped by all devout lovers of Sri Rama to this day, as being one who can bring us into the divine presence with greater ease than would be possible by the direct worship of Sri Rama Himself. Tulasidas considered Sri Hanuman to be his chief benefactor and protector.
Sri Hanuman is a friend of the common man and a mediator between him and the Lord.
When Sri Rama in His human incarnation withdrew himself from the world, He has left Sri Hanuman to look after us for all eternity. And so, wherever the name of Sri Rama is mentioned in conversation, song or recital, Sri Hanuman in his untiring devotion is always known to be present there.
Tulasi went on a pilgrimage and visited the holy mountain of Kailash in the Himalayas. Then he came to Bhavavana where he remained during the monsoon rains. In this forest named Bhavavana, Tulasi daily recited the Ramayana.
A legend says that there was a holy fig tree and the spirit of a dead man, bound to this fig tree for some evil deeds of its past life, was suffering in great agony. Tulasi passed that way daily and poured water at the roots of the tree after his morning ablution. This released the spirit from its painful bondage. Wishing to express its gratitude, the spirit asked Tulasi how his kindness could be repaid. Tulasi said that he did not desire anything except the vision of Sri Rama.
The spirit replied that it knew the means by which this wish could be fulfilled. The spirit then informed Tulasi that when he recited the Rama Katha (story of Rama); Hanuman came to listen to him in the guise of a leper dressed in rags. Shunned by the audience, he sat in a corner and was the first to come and last to go. The spirit said that Hanuman, by the strength of his own devotion could confer the boon of the vision of Rama upon Tulasi.
Next day, at the Rama Katha recital Tulasi looked carefully and found a man who answered to the description given by the spirit. When the assembled crowd of devotees had dispersed and this man was also about to leave, Tulasi went up to him, fell at his feet and begged him to fulfill the desire so dear to his heart. Tulasi implored him over and over again to be kind. At last he said to Tulasi: "Go to Chitrakut mountain and there you will be blessed with the vision of Rama."
Tulasi immediately left for Chitrakut. Throughout the journey Tulasis mind dwelt on Rama and on the possibility of Rama-Darshan (Vision of Rama).
On reaching Chitrakut, Tulasi lived at Ramghaat, and started his daily recitation of the Ramayana. One day, while doing pradakshina (walking about) Kamadgiri Hills, Tulasi came across a most unexpected sight. Two princely looking boys, one fair and the other of dark complexion passed by riding on horses. Attracted greatly by their extraordinary good looks, he wondered who they were. It did not occur to him for a moment that they were Rama and Lakshmana, the ideals enshrined in his own heart, until Hanuman enlightened him. When Tulasi discovered his mistake he wept inconsolably. Hanuman pacified him in a dream and said that he had been the recipient of great grace, and that a man or a woman in the Kali Yuga could expect no more.
However, Hanuman promised Tulasi that he would have another vision of Rama the next day. So, with the break of dawn, Tulasi went to Ramghaat and busied himself in making sandalwood paste for the mendicants and pilgrims who had come for a bath in the holy Mandakini river. It was a sacred day of Mauni Amavasya, which fell on Wednesday in AD 1550. A large number of people had assembled there for a bath and worship. Just at the time when everyone was busy, Sri Rama suddenly appeared before Tulasi and said, "Baba, give me some paste."
Fearing that Tulasi might allow this golden opportunity to pass unheeded once again, Hanuman, in the form of a parrot cried out to him from a nearby tree: "Tulasi rubs the sandalwood and Sri Rama anoints Himself."
Tulasi looked up in surprise and saw the enchanting form of Rama standing in front of him. The currents and cross-currents of random thoughts and desires were stilled in his heart and as the consciousness of the world and the physical self receded, his mind merged in Sri Rama completely. Sri Rama again asked for the paste, but Tulasi was unable to move or speak. The Lord then bent down and with his own hand took a little of the sandalwood paste, put it on Tulasis forehead and disappeared.
Tulasi was in a deep trance, oblivious of his surroundings, when Hanuman again came to his rescue. Slowly he recovered, but was unable to return to ordinary consciousness till the night.
As far as records go, this was the first time Tulasi had experienced Samadhi or God realisation. This is the highest stage of human consciousness. A strange quietness enters the soul. A great peace invades its being. The Supreme awareness, the intimately felt presence, brings with it a rapture beyond joy, and knowledge beyond reason; a sensation more intense than that of life itself ; infinite in peace and harmony.
An exalted experience of this kind is bound to have far-reaching effects. A great creative and beneficent force is born from the depths of a soul who has known this peace and harmony. In the case of Tulasi it gave to his words a power to move the hearts of men and women which time has not been able to lessen or efface. His inspired poetry, charged with potency and an ever-fresh stream of devotion and knowledge, is flowing onwards to meet the needs of the generations to come.
In the Ramayana we have the discussion about the first three human aspirations, Dharma (religious duty), Artha (economic security) and Kama (fulfillment of legitimate desires) whereas the Yoga-Vasistha deals exclusively with Moksha, (liberation), the fourth goal.
There are some scholars who believe that these two works (Ramayana and Yoga Vasistha) are complementary to each other and have a psychological continuity between them.
The Ramayana is meant for ordinary people who wish to lead a sane and good life in the world for which they were provided with the rules of Dharma, with the exemplary behaviour of Sri Rama as a model. In the Yoga Vasistha the issue of liberation is taken up in order to help those advanced students, the Jignasus or the enquirers. In this sense the Ramayana is known as Purva Ramayana and Yoga Vasistha is called Adarsha Ramayana. Therefore, here, Sri Rama becomes an enquirer, a person desirous of wisdom, a Jignasu.
The Yoga Vasistha is a very important text on Advaita Vedanta. The text is available in two forms, one the Brahad Yoga Vasistha (greater form) and the Laghu Yoga Vasistha (abridged version). In its greater form it contains 32000 shlokas. Its authorship is attributed to Sage Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana. Some scholars, however, do not accept the antiquity of Yoga Vasistha. The abridged version, Laghu Yoga Vasistha was compiled by Abhinanda, a great pandit from Kashmir. Atmasukha has written a commentary on this known as Vasistha Chandrika, which is for the first three chapters only. Mummidi Devaraya wrote a commentary for the last three chapters known as Samsaaratarani.
The Laghu Yoga Vasistha, the abridged version is done in a masterly manner retaining the most essential original shlokas and the editing is done to remove expansive descriptions. Thus, we have in the Laghu Yoga Vasistha the quintessence of the original text. Its style of narration is Puranic, even though the context is philosophical. Its poetic diction is excellent and one is struck with its beauty of both form and content.
The text consists of six chapters or Prakaranas, namely Vairagya prakarana, Mumukshu prakarana, Utpatti prakarana, Athiti prakarana, Upashanti prakarana and Nirvana prakarana. The structure of the narration being Puranic, there comes in the text a number of episodes in order to illustrate a point in question. Thus we read about the episode of Leela, which brings home the message that the universe is the diversity of Maya. The episode of Karkati illustrates the nature of Jiva (individual soul) as consciousness. The episode of Aindava shows that the mind alone is the universe.
The episode of Indira illustrates the fact that the body and its organs are nothing but the mind. The episode of Manas shows that the mind subjectively is consciousness while objectively it is the universe. The story of Bala points out that the world is real only to those who do not enquire into the nature of Atman (soul), otherwise it is only a Sankalpa (product of the mind). The episode of Siddha shows that the concept of time is only a mode of the mind; visible though illusory and is only a manifestation of consciousness (Chit). The episode of Sukra, the stories of Daama, Vyala and Kata, Bhima, Bhaasa and Dradha, the episode of Daasura, the story of Kacha, are utilised to illustrate that the universe shines as Chaitanya (Consciousness ) only after its rise. If a person contemplates more and more on the non-Atman, the (illusion of) reality of the universe increases to him. It also shows that it is the Sankalpa (resolution to act) that results in the manifestation of Jivas (individual souls), Ishwara (the Lord of the universe) and also the universe. The stories clarify that these are in no way different from the Chit, the Pure Consciousness.
In the Upashanti or Upashama prakarana there are nine stories illustrating the fact that the universe as universe is never true. We have here the episodes of Janaka, Punya and Paavana, Bali, Prahlada, Gadhi, Uddalaka, Suraghu, Bhaasa and Vilaasa, Vitahavya. These are employed to instruct that the quiescence of the mind results in quiescence of the universe.
The last section, the Nirvana prakarana opens with the episode of Bhushunda, in order to show the means of directly cognising the Turyatita state, and the yogic methods are also revealed. In the episode of Deva-puja the rationale of the idol worship is discussed. In the other episodes like the episode of Bilva fruit, episode of Shilaa, story of Arjuna, the episode of Shatarudra, the story of Vetala (goblin), story of Bhageeratha, the famous episode of Shikhidhvaja, story of Kacha, of Mithya-Purusha, Bhrngisha, story of Ikshvaku, the story of a Muni and a Vyadha (hunter), a number of philosophical issues are taken up for discussion and clarification.
A number of practices are advocated for realisation of Truth; practices like observance of silence (mauna), which cover Vak-mauna, Kastha-mauna and Susupti mauna. The discourse terminates with the elaboration of the seven steps of Yogic realisation (Yoga Sapta Bhumika).
Yoga Vasistha the story setting
Sri Rama goes on a holy pilgrimage together with his brothers and returns after a long tour. Rama develops a pensive mood and is lost in thoughts. Rama had just completed his fifteenth year of life and instead of enjoying the pleasures of the palace, he developed profound dispassion (vairagya) which is the seed of wisdom (Jnana or knowledge). Rama became a jignasu, an enquirer.
The great Sage Vishwamitra arrived at the palace of king Dasharatha. In reply to an enquiry of Sage Vishwamitra, Sri Rama observed: "Sir, there is not an iota of bliss in this world. Wealth does not confer bliss. This wealth which the mind covets and which is very ephemeral in its nature is utterly useless like a flower-bud on a creeper growing in a well and encircled by a serpent. Life is like a drop of rain water dropping from the end of a leaf. I do not rejoice in this life of mine which is like a flash of lightning in the cloud of delusion. I am terrified by the enemy, the harmful Ahamkara (egoism). There is no greater enemy than it. It is impossible to control this mind of ours. This venomous monster that is mind is more terrible than fire itself. I am like a bird caught in a trap, and the fire of desire has scalded me. I am unable to understand the end and the aim of all these births.
All these objects which appear to perish produce only bondage. Even Brahma (the creator) has to die in a Kalpa which is but a moment of time. Therefore, in this dilemma of mine, please point out to me that resplendent and eternal state, devoid of pain, doubt and delusion. How could the great ones manage to avoid the pain in this world? Will someone unlock to me the real mysteries? Is there not such a state as quiescence? I shall not be able to attain this state of quiescence with my efforts alone, therefore, please enlighten me in this respect."
Rama is seen here as a deeply involved student of Vedanta who is desirous of Knowledge (Gyaan) through which he would get liberation. The whole subsequent discourse is an answer to the various questions and doubts raised by Rama.
Sage Viswamitra asks Sage Vasistha to tell Rama about the spiritual knowledge they gained from the discourse they had of Brahma as Sri Rama is an Adhikari (deserving student) for the spiritual knowledge.
Vasistha accordingly starts a discourse about Suka who also had a similar problem. Sukas father sent him to King Janaka for answers to his questions. King Janaka told Suka: "Atman (soul) alone is, all pervading as the all-full Chidakasha everywhere. There is nothing other than that. That knowledge or Gyaan is bound by its own Sankalpa, and with the liberation from that Sankalpa, there is freedom from the bondage."
Vasistha tells Rama that this is the path he too should follow.
Vasistha said: "O Rama, the extinction of Vasanas alone is Moksha (liberation), the fixation of the mind in material objects through Vasanas (latent tendencies) is bondage. Atma-Vichara (self-inquiry) is very essential for the mind to get purified and to attain the state of Shanti (peace) which is the pathway for realisation. An aspirant for perfection should cultivate such virtues as Santosha (contentment) and should keep the company of sages and saints (Sadhu-sangha)."
Concluding the discourse, Vasistha said: "This Jiva (individual soul) has three forms (gross, subtle and Turya), the first two of which are base ones and the last one is Supreme Brahman. O Rama, having attained and being absorbed in the Turiya state, do not identify yourself with the first two forms, namely the gross and the subtle, but destroy them once and for all."
Sage Vasistha enumerates the stages by which one can reach this ultimate goal. The first stage is the Subhechha which makes one arrive at a firm resolve to study and seek spiritual knowledge. This resolve is practised in word, thought and deed (body, speech and mind).
The second stage is known as Vicharana, a process of enquiry. This stage helps to eliminate pride, envy, Ahamkar (egoism), desires, delusions etc. arising out of Avidya (Nescience or ignorance). One can achieve this stage successfully with the grace of a Guru.
The third stage is Vairagya, freedom from attractions, wherein he would listen to the Tattva-Jnana stories (stories about spiritual knowledge) from great souls. This third stage would bring in its train the matchless lotus bud of Jnana (Knowledge) that blossoms through the sun of Viveka (discrimination). At this stage the mind would vanish like the autumnal clouds. This is known as manonasha or mano-laya (destruction of the mind). The Jignasu (enquirer) remains in the transcendent Sat-Bhava (experiences bliss). Such a person will have full Jnana (knowledge) and would be free from any gloom of duality. The egoism is completely eliminated. He is a Jivan-Mukta (liberated), even though he engages in external activities in day to day life.
Sage Vasistha says in conclusion that the existence of Manas or the mind is Sankalpa, but its non-existence is bliss. Truth (sat) is self-luminous and all-pervading. It alone is the essence and perfect bliss, free from all objects. This alone is Jnana (knowledge) and Sat (existence). It is the cognition of this state of non-duality that constitutes the real Karma-Yoga or the renunciation of the fruits of all actions.
The whole narration is set as a dialogue between Sage Valmiki and Sage Bharadvaja who asks Valmiki as to how did Rama, full of Sattwa Guna, come into this world of samsara full of pain and cycles of rebirths.
Valmiki concludes that whoever listens to this perfect dialogue between Vasistha and
Sri Rama would tread the path of liberation, and attain the perfect goal of life, namely
Ravanas Birth and Lineage
Questioned by the magnanimous Rama, the virtuous
In former times, during the Krita Yuga, there lived a son of Prajapati, Poulastya by name. He was equal to the Grandsire of the world Himself (Prajapati). One is unable to enumerate all the virtues he owed to his excellent character and it is sufficient to say that he was the son of Prajapati and, as such, was the favourite of the gods. He was beloved of the entire world on account of his charming qualities and great wisdom.
In order to pursue his ascetic practices, that foremost of Munis repaired to the hermitage of Trinabindu and took up his abode on the slopes of the great Mountain Meru. There, that virtuous soul, his senses fully controlled, gave himself up to the practice of austerity. Some maidens, whose fathers were Rishis, wandering in those solitudes, disturbed him. Accompanied by Apsaras (beautiful women), they came to divert themselves in that place and as it was possible to find fruits in every season and disport oneself in those woods, the young girls constantly went there to play. Attracted by the charms of Poulastyas retreat, they sang, played their instruments and danced, thus in full innocence, distracting the hermit from the exercise of his penances.
On being disturbed, that mighty and exalted Sage cried out in indignation:
"She who falls under my gaze, will instantly conceive!"
Thereupon all those maidens, who heard the magnanimous Sage, terrified of the Brahmins curse, left that place; but the daughter of the Sage Trinabindu had not heard it. Entering the woods, wandering here and there without fear, she was unable to find the companions who had accompanied her.
At that moment the illustrious and mighty Rishi, born of Prajapati, was concentrating on the sacred scriptures, his soul purified by asceticism. Hearing the recitation of the Vedas, that youthful maiden approached, and beholding that treasury of asceticism, she instantly grew pale and manifested all the signs of pregnancy. Thereupon, discovering her condition, she became extremely bewildered and said:
"What has happened to me?"
Thereafter, realising the truth, she returned to her fathers hermitage.
On seeing her in that state, Trinabindu (her father) said:
"What means this strange condition in which you find yourself?"
Thereat, with joined palms, the unfortunate girl answered:
"I do not know, dear father, what has brought me to this pass. Preceded by my companions, I had gone to visit the sacred hermitage of that great and pure souled Rishi Poulastya. Thereafter I was unable to find any of those who had accompanied me to the woods but, perceiving the alteration in my body, seized with fear, I returned here."
Then that Rishi Trinabindu, of radiant aspect, entered into meditation awhile and it was revealed to him that this was the work of the ascetic and, the curse of that great and pure souled Sage. Having been made clear to him, he, taking his daughter, went to where Poulastya was to be found and said to him:
"O Blessed One, accept this daughter of mine in all her native perfection as alms spontaneously offered. O Great Rishi, assuredly she will ever be completely obedient to you who are given to the practice of asceticism and to the mortification of the senses."
Hearing the words of the virtuous Trinabindu, that Twice-born One, who was willing to accept the young girl, said:
"It is well".
Having given his daughter to that king of Sages, Trinabindu returned to his hermitage, whilst the young wife remained with her consort, gratifying him with her virtue. Her character and conduct so charmed that powerful and exalted Sage that, in his delight, he addressed her, saying:
"O Lady of lovely limbs, I am well pleased with your outstanding virtues and will confer on you a son like unto myself who will perpetuate both our houses. He will be known by the name of Poulastya and, as you have listened to me reciting the Veda, He will also be called Vishravas.
Thus his heart filled with delight, did the ascetic speak to his divine consort and in a short time, she gave birth to a son, Vishravas, who was famed in the three worlds and full of glory and piety. Learned, looking on all with equal eye, happy in the fulfillment of his duty, like unto his sire inclined to asceticism, such was Vishravas. Loyal, virtuous, devoted to the duty of the Veda, pure, detached from all the pleasures of life, his duty was his constant aim.
Hearing of the life he was leading, the great Muni Bharadwaja gave his own daughter of radiant complexion to him and Vishravas accepted Bharadwajas daughter with traditional rites and began to consider how he might perpetuate his line and happiness. In extreme delight, that foremost of the ascetics, conversant with his duty, begot with his wife a wonderful child full of vigour, endowed with all the Brahmic qualities (such as self-control, purity, austerity etc.).
At the birth of this child, his paternal grandfather was filled with joy, and Poulastya, beholding him, bethought himself how he might make himself happy. "He shall become the Guardian of Wealth' he said in his delight, which was shared by all the Sages, and he gave him a name, saying:
"Since the child resembles Vishravas, he shall be known as Vaishravana!"
Thereafter Vaishravana, retiring to pastoral solitudes, grew up to resemble the mighty Anala (Agni) who is invoked at the time of sacrifice and, while he sojourned in that retreat, the thought came to that magnanimous one, I will pursue my supreme duty; the path of duty is the highest path.
For a thousand years he gave himself up to asceticism in the great forest and practising severe austerities, performed heavy penances, whereupon the mighty Brahma, accompanied by the hosts of the gods and their leaders, came to the hermitage and said to him:
"I am highly gratified with thine accomplishments, O devoted son, now choose a boon! May prosperity attend thee; thou dost merit a favour , O Sage!"
Then Vaishravana answered the Grandsire of the world (Brahma), who stood near and said:
"O Blessed One, I desire to be the saviour and protector of the world!"
In the satisfaction of his soul, Brahma, who was accompanied by the Celestial Host, joyfully answered:
"So be it! It is my desire to create four Guardians of the Worlds. Now there shall be the region of the Yama, the region of Indra, the region of Varuna and the one sought by thee. Go, O Virtuous Ascetic, and reign over the dominion of wealth! With Shakra, Varuna the lord of the waters, and Yama (lord of death), thou shalt be the fourth. Receive as thy vehicle this chariot named Pushpaka, which is as bright as the sun, and be equal to the gods. Be happy. We shall now return from whence we came, having accomplished that which we had to do by conferring this double gift, O Dear Son!"
With these words, Brahma withdrew to the region of the gods and when the Celestial Hosts, with the Grandsire at their head, had gone to the heavenly region, Vaishravana, having become the Lord of Wealth, humbly addressed his sire with joined palms and said:
"O Blessed One, I have received a rare boon from the Grandsire of the World, but the divine Prajapati (Brahma) has not assigned me a dwelling place. Do thou therefore counsel me, O Blessed One, O Lord, as to where an agreeable retreat may be found where no suffering comes to any living being."
At these words of his son, Vaishravana, the foremost of the ascetics answered saying:
"Hear, O most virtuous of men! On the shores of the ocean, in the south there is a mountain named Trikuta. On its lofty summit, which as great as the capital of the mighty Indra, the Ravishing city of Lanka was constructed by Vishvakarma for the Rakshasas and it resembles Amravati (capital city of Indra, the king of heaven). Do thou dwell in Lanka and be happy! Do not hesitate! With its moats, golden walls, engines of war and the weapons with which it is filled, with its gold and emerald archways, that city is a marvel! The Rakshasas left it formerly in fear of Vishnu and it is deserted, all the demons having gone to the nethermost region. Now Lanka is empty and has no protector. Go and inhabit it , my Son, and be happy! No harm will visit thee there."
Hearing these words of his sire, the virtuous Vaishravana went to dwell in Lanka on the summit of the mountain, and soon, under his rule, it was filled with thousands of delighted Nairritas disporting themselves.
That righteous King of the Nairritas, the blessed Sage Vaishravana, dwelt in Lanka, that city surrounded by the sea and, from time to time, the saintly Lord of Wealth, in the Pushpaka Chariot, went to visit his father and mother. Hymned by the hosts of the gods and Gandharvas and entertained by the dances of the Apsaras (beautiful women), that Guardian of Wealth, radiating glory like unto the sun, went to visit his sire.
Origin of the Rakshasas and
This discourse of Agastya filled Rama with astonishment.
"How was it that the Rakshasas formerly dwelt in Lanka?"
Such was the question that Rama put to the ascetic, shaking his head and casting wondering glances upon him from time to time.
Ram said: "O Blessed One, the words formerly Lanka belonged to the Eaters of Flesh from thy lips causes me extreme surprise. We have been told that the Rakshasas were the offspring of Poulastya and now, thou affirmest that they owe their origin to a different source. Were Ravana, Kumbhakarana, Prahasta, Vikata ad Ravani stronger than they? Who was their first king? What was the name of that one of terrific strength? For what fault did Vishnu drive them out? Tell me all in detail, O Irreproachable Sage and, as the sun chases away the shades, so dispel my curiosity!"
Hearing Ramas fair and eloquent words, Agastya, amazed, answered:
"Formerly Prajapati created the waters, choosing that element as his source and, thereafter, on order to protect it, that lotus-born One (Prajapati) generated all creatures. Then those beings, tormented by hunger and thirst, humbly presented themselves before their author and enquired saying:
What shall we do?
Whereupon Prajapati, smiling, gave this answer to them all:
Protect the waters carefully, O Sons of Manu!
Then some said : Rakshami (we will protect) and others said Yakshami (we will sacrifice). Thus addressed by those afflicted by hunger and thirst, the Creator said:
Those among you who have said RAKSHAMI shall be Rakshasas and those among you who have said YAKSHAMI shall be Yakshas.
On this two brothers sprang up, named Heti and Praheti, the equals of Madhu and Kaitabha, who were Rakshasas, oppressors of their foes. The righteous Praheti withdrew to the solitudes to practice asceticism, but Heti did all in his power to find a wife. Immeasurably intelligent and of great wisdom, he expoused the sister of Kala, a young girl named Bhaya (fear), who was exceedingly terrifying. She begot a son by the name of Vidyutkesha.
The son of Heti, Vidyutkesha, was possessed of the splendour of the sun and grew like a lotus in a lake and that ranger of the night, having reached the bloom of youth, his sire resolved that he should wed. In the interests of his son he sought out the daughter of Sandhya, who was his equal in beauty, and sandhya, reflecting A daughter must inevitably be given to some stranger gave her daughter Salatantaka to Vidyutkesha in marriage, O Rama!
Vidyutkesha, that ranger of the night, having received the daughter of Sandhya, began to divert himself with her. After a time, O Rama, Salatantaka was filled with child, as a cloud is charged with water from the ocean.
Repairing to the Mandara Mountain, the Rakshasi (Salatantaka) brought forth a child who was as beautiful as a cloud, even as Ganga had been delivered of an infant by the god of fire. Having given birth to that child, who was named Sukesha, she again desired to disport herself with Vidyutkesha and, forsaking her son, she rejoined her consort. Then the infant who had just been born and was as radiant as the autumnal sun, whose voice resembled the rumbling of a cloud, placing his fist in his mouth cried for a long time, and Shiva, who was following the path of the Wind, mounted on His bull and accompanied by Parvati, heard the sound of weeping and with Parvati beheld the son of the Rakshasi who was crying. Allowing himself to be moved by compassion by His consort, Bhava (Shiva), the destroyer of Tripura, made him equal to his mother in age and bestowed immortality upon him. Thereafter the unchanging and imperishable Mahadeva (Shiva) bestowed an aerial car upon him that traversed space, in order to gratify Parvati, and she, on her side, also conferred a boon on him, saying:
The Rakshasas shall conceive instantly and give birth as they conceive. Their children shall at once attain the age of their mothers.
Thereafter the highly intelligent Sukesha, proud of the favours he had received, having obtained this great fortune from the Lord Hara (Shiva), began to range everywhere, displaying himself in his aerial car and resembling Purandara when he obtained heaven.
A Gandharva named Gramani, who was as effulgent as fire, had a daughter named Devavati. In full bloom of her youth, famed in the three worlds for her beauty, she was equal to a second Sri (goddess of wealth). That virtuous Gandharva, beholding Sukesha to be thus endowed, gave her (Devavati) to Sukesha.
Approaching her beloved consort, who had attained a sovereign state by virtue of the boons he had received, as a mendicant on whom wealth has been conferred, Devavati was highly delighted. United to that woman, the ranger of the night appeared as majestic as a great elephant. In time Sukesha became a father. O Rama, and begot three sons, (the equals of the Three Sacrificial Fires), named Malyavan, Sumali and Mali, the foremost of heroes, rivals of the Three-eyed God (Shiva). Such were the sons of the Sovereign of the Rakshasas. In repose, they resembled the three worlds. In action, they were like unto the three Sacrificial Fires, as powerful as the Three Vedas and as formidable as the three humours of the body (wind, bile and phlegm).
These three sons of Sukesha, shining like three fires, throve like diseases that have been neglected, and learning of the boons their sire had received, which had led him to increase sovereignty and which he owed to his asceticism, the three brothers repaired to Mount Meru in order to practice penance.
Adopting a rigid and formidable course of austerity, those Rakshasas gave themselves up to fearful mortifications, sowing terror among all beings. On account of their penances, faith, virtue and equanimity, scarce to be witnessed on earth, they agitated the three worlds with the gods, Asuras and men.
Then the four-faced deity (Brahma), in his marvelous chariot, came to pay homage to the sons of Sukesha and said:/p>
It is I who am the conferrer of boons!
Whereupon they, recognising him to be Brahma, the dispenser of favours, with joined palms, shaking like trees, answered him, saying:
If our penance has found favour with thee, O Lord, then grant us the boons of remaining invincible, of destroying our enemies, of living long, of becoming powerful and of being devoted to one another.
Let it be so! replied the god (Brahma) who was a lover of Brahmins, to the
sons of Sukesha and He returned to Brahmaloka.Thereupon those rangers of the night, O
Rama, who had become supremely arrogant on account of the boons they had received, began
to harass the gods and Asuras, and the celestials with the companies of the Rishis and
Charanas, being thus persecuted and having no protector with whom they could take refuge,
resembled beings in hell.
The Festival of Rama Navami
Eight days after Yugadi or on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra, falls the birthday of Sri Rama, one of the two most popular and highly revered incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Rama is said to have been born (manifested) at noon.
The Ramanavami vrata is nitya or compulsory for the devotees of Rama and optional for others. One of the highly eulogized vrata in the Hindu calendar, it can destroy ones sins and also confer even mukti or liberation.
Actually the vrata commences from the previous night with fasting. On the Navami day also the votary has to continue fasting, perform worship and homa to Rama in an image installed in a specially prepared shrine, do japa (repeated recitations) of Ramamantra and keep vigil in the night. After the completion of the vrata he has to donate the image to the acharya (a learned Brahmin well versed in the rites) along with other gifts made liberally.
In the modern days gifting the image of Rama is extremely rare.
People assemble in very large numbers in Rama temples and enthusiastically participate in the Ramanavami festivities. Parayana or ceremonial recitation of the Ramayana (usually spread over the nine days from Yugadi), arranging religio-cultural programmes like Hari-katha (discourse on mythological stories accompanied with music) and classical music or devotional songs are quite common.
Celebrations at places associated with Sri Rama, like Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Ramesvaram in Tamil Nadu attract thousands of devotees.
Way to Rama Rajya
Blessed immortal selves!
Out of the fullness of my heart and love for you all I send a Message Divine to inspire you, to instantly elevate and to transform your life. It will transport you from weakness to tremendous strength, from failure to flaming success, from sorrow to blessedness and joy. Hearken, therefore, with utmost attention to this message of Ramanavami.
The most sacred Ramayana abounds with innumerable life-redeeming lessons. But in receiving a message, the receiver eagerly looks for something therein which will throw light upon and guide him in the most pressing problems of the day. He seeks solutions for the crying questions of the moment. And at the present period the one matter that is terribly agitating all minds and hearts is the widespread Adharma falsehood and passion that is everywhere rampant in the world. To know the cause of it and the direct way to quickly remove it is the thing needed now. And to this end, out of the countless lessons teeming in the Ramayana, I wish to awaken you all to the most important and timely ones for humanity now. All the main ills of the modern world will be removed if these two lessons from the ideal life of Rama are adopted in our lives individually as well as nationally.
Amongst numerous lessons I wish this day to particularly impress upon you two lessons. They are special need of the world today. Humanity has become corrupt today due to the falling away from two essential ideals indispensable to the weal and happiness of life, individual, national as also international. They are the ideals of Truth and Purity. Let these twin flames of Truth and Purity burn bright upon your broad bosom.
At the present moment you have excommunicated ethics and murdered morality in the name of modernism. Fraud and falsehood have acquired the status of fashionable fine arts. People make out a polished pretence of purity and truth but there remains just a travesty. Fraud flourishes in all the quarters of the globe. Politics has degenerated into a mere game of fraud. Broken pledges, discarded promises, dishonoured contracts once solemnly made, hypocritical avowals and assertions and deliberately misleading and falsified statements these are the kind that you meet with everywhere you turn.
Enter a house, talk to the family therein and enquire about its affairs; then this will be the story you will hear. Analyse the internal affairs of a nation; then too the same story greets your ears. And behold the state of international affairs in this world; once again a similar tale you hear.
Therefore I emphasize upon these two great ideals the sublime ideal of purity and the lofty ideal of Truth. Rama was the embodiment of both. The entire Ramayana was the outcome of his burning desire to uphold the promise of his father made to Kayikayi, the queen. An illustrious prince, Sri Rama voluntarily subjected himself to untold hardships for fourteen years of forest life amidst fierce beasts and Asuras (demons) just to keep up a promise and that too a promise not made or given by him but by another even before he was born. What an ideal of highest purity is this life-long vow of Eka Patnivrata. How dire is the need now of adopting this ideal in life when the solemnity of sacred matrimony and its sanctity are outraged and scandalised all over the world.
Ramayana is permeated with the spirit of these two ideals. Dashrath sticks to truth even though it costs him his very life. Grief breaks his heart and shatters his body to death, yet the word (promise) to Kayikayi is kept. Then take Sri Rama. He loves Bharata more than his life-breath, yet having given his word to his step-mother, not even the most poignant entreaty of the beloved Bharata could make him deviate an inch from his resolve. What a proof of the strength of truth. In every mans heart should ring today the grand and most memorable declaration of Rama:
The fire may abandon its heat, ice its coolness, jasmine its fragrance, but I never break the promise made to my father.
Ramas own mother, Queen Kaushalya, tries her utmost to dissuade him. She tells him how the mother is even greater than the father for has it not been said, first and foremost: Matru Devo Bhava let thy mother be like a God unto thee. But no, truth is indeed the supreme God of all gods.
Remember again the heroic adherence to truth that Prince Bharata exemplifies with grand, superhuman resolution for fourteen tedious years. Bharata stuck to his lofty vow and to the little village of Nandigrama bowing with folded hands and bent head before the royal sandals of Lord Rama. And at the end of the period, had but Rama delayed a moment more, then true to his word, Bharata would have cast himself into a burning pit of a blazing fire. Such is the stuff of Truth Truth that makes man immortal. And this precious human body is given to thee to strive to attain immortality. Therefore, blessed selves, embrace this Truth and inherit the Life Immortal.
Then comes the marvellous fidelity of Sita in the grove of the Ashokavana. What unforgettable adherence to the vow once taken. What adamantine steadiness in the midst of the severest trials and temptations. How Ravana tempted Sita; how he tries to convince her that Rama is dead even by producing an exact likeness of his severed head before the shocked and agonised gaze of Sita. But all through this we note the unwavering constancy of Sita. She was Truth personified. For what is Pativrata if not being absolutely true to ones chosen lord. And such truth is indeed of the very form of the highest Purity.
Therefore, blessed selves! men and women, young and old, great and small, O ye Adhyatmic warriors! All take up this trident of Truth, with its threefold prongs of truthful thought, speech and deed. Deal the deathblow to all untruth and falsehood with this invincible weapon of Truth. This is the Mahastra (Maha-astra), the real Ram-Bana (Bana = bow and arrow) that I give unto you today. With deep reverence and determined resoluteness, wield this Satyastra (Truth as weapon), slay the enemies of Shanti (peace) and Sukha (happiness) and see the dawn of Satya-Yuga.
On this most auspicious and joyous Ramanavami Day, this therefore, is the message I send to you; this the present I give to you, this the promise I ask of you let these two Truth and Purity be the motto of your life. Let these principles animate every moment of your existence, motivate each action of yours, dwell in your heart, fill your mind, pervade your speech. Let Truth and Purity light up your career, guide your conduct and mould your character. Let these twin forces sweep away all inauspiciousness and evil forever from your life. Banished will be the black night of sorrow and suffering and before their divine blaze will vanish the shadows of vice and of unrighteousness.
And on this great Sri Ramanavami Day I shall tell you a great secret. In bestowing the present of the invincible weapon of Truth and Purity I shall reveal one thing, the only thing that is equally powerful and marvellous as the Mahastra. This is the Divine Name of Rama. Rama-Nama and Rama-Bana of Truth and Purity are a marvellous pair. He who has the one has the other also. Repeat Rama-Nama. Stick to Truth. Practise Purity. These three will raise you to transcendent perfection.
Hear, O beloved self! Thy body is a living temple of the Divine. Enshrine then the deity of Truth in the sanctum of the heart. Let each person be a veritable Pagoda of Purity, housing this Presence Divine.
The advent of Rama Rajya (rajya = kingdom) verily implies the ushering in of prosperity and plenty, blessedness, bliss and peace on earth and goodwill among men. If such a state of true happiness and brotherhood is to come about then all fear and uncertainty must vanish from mans heart. But fear will persist as long as there exist suspicion, distrust and disbelief amongst men. To eliminate distrust and suspicion all falsehood, deception, crookedness and untruth must go. Then alone mutual trust and love will spring up between man and man. Truth alone can do this. The power of truth is that power which has made the memorable name of Harishchandra forever immortal and renowned, the power that will vanquish and exterminate falsehood and untruth from this fair earth of ours.
There is no doubt, if these principles are immediately adopted, sincerely cherished and earnestly practised, real Rama Rajya will come about on earth not merely for one kingdom, nation or country, but for the whole world. It will be Rama Rajya for the entire humanity.
Such periodical celebrations are a boon and blessing to you. They serve to keep bright
and alive these lofty examples by following which life on earth becomes fruitful. Attend
the celebrations with the right and proper Bhava (attitude) and benefit fully by it.
Resolve from this Ramanavami Day to take a daily dip into the life-redeeming waters that
the Ramayana is. Read a small portion of the Ramayana everyday. You will be constantly
inspired. You derive valuable guidance in your day-to day life. You will without fail
imbibe into your being the lofty qualities embodied therein. Within a short time you will
surely find yourself a different person, greatly filled with Sattwa, with the Divine
Spirit of Truth and Purity, peace, joy and prosperity will be yours here and hereafter.
Sri Rama arrives at the hermitage of Sage Valmiki
Then perceiving that Sita was tired and seeing a Banyan tree and cool waters near by, the Hero of Raghus line (Rama) partook of bulbs, roots and fruits and staying there overnight and bathing at dawn the Lord of Raghus proceeded further. And beholding lovely woods, lakes and hills, the Lord reached the hermitage of Sage Valmiki. Sri Rama saw the Sages beautiful dwelling with its charming hills and forest and its sacred waters. The lotuses in the ponds and the trees in the woods were in blossom. Intoxicated with their honey, bees hummed sweetly over them. Birds and beasts made a tumultuous noise and moved about in joy free from all animosities.
The lotus-eyed Rama rejoiced to behold the sacred and lovely hermitage; and hearing the arrival of Sri Rama, Sage Valmiki came forth to receive Him.
Sri Rama fell prostrate before the sage and the holy Brahmin (Valmiki) blessed Him in return. The sight of Sri Ramas beauty gladdened his eyes and with due honour he took the Lord into the hermitage. Finding a guest as dear to him as life itself the holy sage sent for delicious bulbs, roots and fruits. Sita, Lakshmana and Rama partook of those fruits and the sage then assigned them beautiful quarters. Great was the joy of Valmikis heart as he beheld with his own eyes Sri Rama, who was bliss personified. Joining His lotus palms the Lord of Raghus (Rama) then spoke to him in words which were delightful to the ears:
"You directly perceive everything relating to the past, present and future, O lord of sages. The whole universe is as if in the palm of your hand."
Saying so the Lord (Sri Rama) related to Valmiki the whole story as to how the queen (Kaikeyi) had exiled Him into the woods.
"Compliance with my fathers command, gratification of my stepmother (Kaikeyi), the installation of a brother like Bharata to the throne and my seeing you- all this, my lord, is the result of my meritorious acts."
Sri Rama continued saying:
"In beholding your feet, O king of sages, all my good deeds have been rewarded. While the satisfaction of Brahmins is the root of happiness, their wrath consumes millions of generations. Bearing this in mind pray tell me a place to which I may proceed with Sita and Lakshmana, and building a charming hut of leaves and grass I may spend some time there, O good sir."
Hearing these guileless and unsophisticated words of Sri Rama, the enlightened Sage (Valmiki) exclaimed: "Right You are. Why should You not speak thus, O Glory of Raghus line (Rama), ever busy as You are in maintaining the laws laid down by the Vedas? While You are the custodian of the Vedic laws and the Lord of the universe, Sita (Janaks daughter) is Your Maya (Divine Energy) who creates, preserves and dissolves the universe on receiving the tacit approval of Your gracious Self. As for Lakshamana he is no other the thousand-headed Sesa (the lord of serpents), the supporter of the globe and the lord of the entire creation, both animate and inanimate. Having assumed the form of a king for the sake of the gods You are out to crush the host of wicked demons."
Sage Valmiki continued:
"This world is a spectacle and You (Rama) are its spectator. You make even Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver) and Sambhu (Siva, the Destroyer) dance to Your tune. Even these latter know not Your secret; who else can know You? In fact he alone can know You to whom You make Yourself known; and the moment he knows You he becomes one with You. It is by Your grace, O Delighter of Raghus, that your votaries come to know You, O Comforter of the heart of devotees. Your body is all consciousness and bliss and is devoid of change; it is the competent alone who realise this. It is for the sake of saints and gods that You have assumed the human semblance and speak and act even as worldly monarchs do. The stupid get puzzled while the wise feel delighted when they see or hear of Your doings. All that You say or do is true; for one should play the role one has assumed on the stage."
Sri Rama abides in the heart of those...
"You ask me Where should I take up my residence? But I ask You with diffidence: tell me first the place where You are not; then alone I can show You a suitable place."
On hearing the Sages words, imbued as they were with love, Sri Rama felt abashed and smiled within Himself. Valmiki too smiled and spoke to Him (Rama) again in words as sweet as though they were steeped in nectar:
"Listen, Rama. I tell You now the places where You should abide with Sita and Lakshmana. The heart of those, whose ears are, like the ocean, constantly replenished with a number of lovely streams in the shape of Your stories but know no surfeit, shall be Your charming abode. Again, the heart of those whose eyes long to see You should dwell in the heart of him whose swan-like tongue picks up pearls in the shape of Your virtues in the holy Manasarovar lake (mind is the Manasarovar lake) of Your fame.
Abide, O Rama, in the mind of those whose nose devoutly inhales every day the fragrance of sacred and lovely offerings (in the shape of flowers, sandal-paste etc.) made to their Lord (Yourself), who eat only that which has been offered to You and put on clothes and ornaments first dedicated to You, whose heads bow down most submissively and lovingly at the sight of a god, preceptor or Brahmin, whose hands adore Sri Ramas feet every day, who cherish in their heart faith in Rama and none else, and whose feet take them to holy places sacred to Rama.
Again, those who are ever engaged in muttering the Rama-Mantra (Sri Ramaya Namah), the king of all sacred formulas, and worship You along with Your associates; who offer water to the manes and pour oblations into the sacred fire in diverse ways, who feed the Brahmins and bestow liberal gifts on them and who look upon their preceptor as greater than Yourself and wait upon him with due honour and entire (total) devotion.
And who having done all these ask only one boon as their reward: Let me have devotion to Sri Ramas feet! Enthrone Yourself in the temple of their heart, both Sita and the Delighter of Raghus (Yourself).
Those who have no lust, anger, arrogance, pride or infatuation, are without greed, excitement, attraction or aversion and who are free from fraud, hypocrisy and deceit,- it is in their heart that You should abide, O Chief of the Raghus. Again, those who are beloved of all and friendly to all, to whom joy and sorrow, applause and abuse are alike and who scrupulously utter truthful and polite words, and who are resigned to You whether awake or asleep and who have no support other than Yourself,- it is in their mind, O Rama, that You should dwell.
Again, those who look upon anothers wife as their own mother and to whom anothers wealth is the deadliest of all poisons, who rejoice to see others prosperity and are particularly grieved to see anothers distress, and to whom, O Rama, You are dear as their own life,- their minds are Your blessed abode. Those to whom, my dear, You are at once Master and Companion, Father and Mother, Preceptor and everything else,- it is in the temple of their mind that Sita and You two brothers should reside.
Those who overlook others faults and pick out their virtues and endure hardships for the sake of the Brahmins and cows, who have established their reputation in the world as well-versed in the laws of propriety (good or proper conduct),- their mind is Your excellent abode. Again, he who attributes his virtues to You and holds himself responsible for his faults, who entirely depends on You, should stay along with Sita. He who, renouncing his caste and kinsmen, wealth, faith and glory, his near and dear ones, his happy home and every thing else, cherishes You in his bosom- in his heart You should take up Your residence, O Lord of Raghus (Rama).
Again, he to whom heaven and hell and even freedom from birth and death are the same inasmuch as he beholds You armed with a bow and arrow here, there and everywhere, and who is Your servant in thought, word and deed,- make his heart, O Rama, Your permanent abode.
Lastly, he who wants nothing at any moment and bears natural affinity to You,-
incessantly dwell in his mind; for that is Your own home."
From Scriptures From Tulasi Ramayana)
Caste System(From Tulasi Ramayana)