Tuesday, April 12, 2011
WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT LORD RAMA? = WHAT IS RAMA RAJYA? = WHY RAMA NAVAMI?
LESSONS TO LEARN
Today is Rama Navami, the day Lord Ram (or Rama) was born in Kritha Yuga, when five great celestial Planets (Grahas) were in their ascendancy, giving the one, born on this day, great power to remove the difficulties, sorrows and problems of all people.
Of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the incarnation as Rama is considered very special. This incarnation was not merely to kill the daemon Ravana – but also to set certain standards of human excellence.
Navami, the day of birth of Rama, is said to be - Brave man’s Birth day. And, Rama was the most Fearless warrior of his time, and all time. His fearlessness as a warrior was of course too well known. He made Ravana totally helpless on the very first day of his battle with him. He still pardoned him, asked him to go home, take adequate rest and come next day, fully prepared for the war. He would not kill even the most heinous enemy, if he is in a helpless state. Of Rama, it is therefore said “Ramo vigrahavaan Dharmaha”. Rama is the very embodiment of Dharma. He proved it at every stage of his life, and, in every incident of his life.
THE BELOVED OF ALL
The name Rama means one, who is loved by all and who makes all people around him happy and joyful. To say that he had no enemies in Ayodhya is a Gross understatement. People of Ayodhya loved him as a flawless Hero and he resided in the core of their hearts. Even Kaikeyi, his father’s 4th wife, who sought his banishment to forests for 14 years, loved him a lot, till Mandhara sowed the seeds of selfishness in her heart, in favour of the enthronement of her own son, Bharata.
KINGDOM OR FOREST :
RAMA HAS NO REGRETS
Rama very gladly accepted his banishment to the Forest as a great gift from his father and from Kaikeyi to whom his father had given a blind word to fulfill. Being crowned for the Kingdom or being sent to forest for 14 years – made no difference to Rama. We all know that Lord Krishna taught Yoga in the form of Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna in the Dwapar Yug. But, long before that, Lord Rama was taught Yoga by Sage Vasishta and he himself taught it to Lakshmana.
RAMA & LAKSHMANA :
Lakshmana, Rama’s younger brother (born of Sumitra), had absolutely no second thoughts on where he would be. He would be where Rama would be – be it the forest or the kingdom. Lakshmana directed his wife to stay back at Ayodhya for all the 14 years during which he would be with Rama in the forests, being always glad to be at Rama’s service, without any diversion of attention. And, he didn’t sleep for 14 years (!) in the service of his elder brother. Lakshmana was willing to sacrifice his life and his all, for the sake of Rama. Rama’s word was always the best music and melody in the ears of Lakshmana. Rama’s words were all that he wanted to hear and obey.
We will assume that, Lakshmana is the most ideal brother to have. Of course; but, one has to be a Rama, to deserve a Lakshmana.
We are both just half right in our assumptions.
RAMA & BHARATA (& SATHRUGHNA):
Rama’s another brother, (from kaikeyi) Bharata, for whose sake, Kaikeyi wanted the banishment of Rama, also refused to ascend the throne and went to forest to serve Rama. But Rama commanded him to take care of Ayodhya till he came back. Bharata took Rama’s footwear on his head, and keeping the footwear as king, took care of Ayodhya from outside Ayodhya. He didn’t enter an Ayodhya, devoid of Rama. Bharata wass no less a devoted brother than Lakshmana.
Sathrughna, the other brother (through Sumitra) also did not ascend the throne. He assisted Bharata in taking care of Ayodhya.
Was Rama lucky to have Brothers like Lakshmana, Bharata and Sathrughna? Or, were his three brothers lucky to have an elder Brother like Rama. Both are true.
A BROTHER LIKE RAMA :
It is therefore rightly said – there never was, never is and will never be a brother like Rama on earth.
In Indian tradition, it is always said that – “be an elder Brother like Rama and be an younger brother like Lakshmana.”
While all three brothers were equally devoted to Rama, Lakshmana was just more lucky than the other 2 brothers and enjoyed greater opportunity to be near Rama, and took part in all of his travails and joys. He was also more vocal in his service of Rama and Sita. There are too many instances in Ramayana about Lakshmana’s devotion to Rama and Sita. Ramayana was all about Lakshmana – after we speak of Rama.
A HUSBAND LIKE RAMA :
It is some times said – Sita’s only fault in her whole Life was – not listening to Lakshmana’s words for just once in her life and talking ill of him just once, in very intemperate words.
That gave the daemonic Ravana an opportunity to send out both brothers on a false trail and take Sita away from them. Sita could not come out of that one sin for the rest of her life.
The crossing of Lakshmana Rekha is proverbial; but non-understanding of its significance; not knowing where the Lakshmana Rekha lies in her life; and what lies beyond that - continues to be the problem of many a woman in distress, from that day to this day. Sita did not commit any other sin in her life.
Rama was the best, most ideal, loving husband. Sita was of course, the most devoted and loving wife; If an ideal couple is to be mentioned, it is usual to mention Rama and Sita. Rama could never think of a woman other than Sita. Rama could also not think of a life without Sita. After Ravana carried her away, many times, Rama was in such a depressed mood as to think of even suicide. But for Lakshmana’s consoling and encouraging words, Rama’s condition without Sita was extremely pathetic. If there was one weakness in Rama, it was his love for Sita. It was an all-consuming weakness, which manifested first when Ravana carried away Sita and a second time, when Rama himself had to send her away to forest after becoming a king. Both times, his suffering was pathetic.
It is wrong to assume that Rama and Sita did not at all enjoy their life. They enjoyed their life for several long years. But, the story of Ramayana does not talk much of such uneventful years. It is like the melodramatic serials, where you see and listen to the out-of-ordinary incidents much more.
It is often said – where Rama is, there Ayodhya is. This is so, not only for Sita, but also for Lakshmana and all other brothers. But admittedly, it was bound to be much more so, for Sita, an adoring wife. She preferred staying in the most dangerous forests in the company of Rama – compared to the luxurious life of the rich princess in Ayodhya without Rama. No amount of reasoning by Rama could alter her decision to stay with Rama. And, Sita and Rama lived their happiest period together in the Forests – even as Lakshmana was guarding them and serving them all along.
So, what was so great about Rama and Sita as a couple? Are there are not so many couples even today in forests? What was special about Rama and Sita?
ONE WORD, ONE ARROW & ONE WIFE
Rama was the first person in Indian Mythology to set a standard among human beings, specially among kings, that one king must have one wife only. His father, Dasaratha, also had many wives. But, not Rama. Rama was the first king who followed the principle – one word, one arrow, one wife.
Come what may – (i) Rama would not backtrack, after giving his word; (ii) Rama would not use a second arrow for the same purpose; and (iii) Rama would abide by his one and only wife, Sita, all his Life.
This came to be called “Aeka Pathni Vrath”, or, the principle of one man and one wife. This principle was not there before Rama.
Though subsequently also, this principle was not followed by many kings; by and large, this principle came to be admired and followed by people. Today also, this principle has become the ideal in vogue in Hindu India. Very few Hindus have a second wife today – not because of law – but because of Lord Rama’s excellent example.
RAMA & HIS FRIENDS :
Look at his most admired friend:
1. Sabari, the old tribal lady in the forests, who feeds him with fruits tasted first by herself. She is the dearest devotee to Rama.
2. Guha, a tribal chieftain, who takes him across the river. He was embraced by Rama as his most bellowed friend and brother.
3. Jatayu, the bird king – who was slayed by Ravana, was so dear to Rama.
4. The monkey kings and soldiers, following Sugreeva – were of course, his most trusted friends and soldiers. Rama Prays to Lord Brahma and brings back all the killed vanara soldiers alive, at the end of the war.
5. Jaambavanth, the king of bears was another great friend.
6. Vibheeshan, the brother of Ravana became his close disciple and friend.
His circle of friends on earth thus comprised of the lowest of the low, though the highest of the high came to him when necessity arose.
RAMA, THE IDEAL KING :
It is difficult to find a role in which Rama did not set the highest standards of excellence.
But, Rama, the king, was the best. Till today, Rama Rajya is the ideal that Indians long for. It was a kingdom, where there was no fear of crime or criminals; where there was no fear of enemy countries; where there was no fear of draught, cyclones or floods; where agriculture flourished and food was abundant; where people followed Rama’s path and lived happily. Where arts and crafts flourished; where people got justice immediately from Rama, even in smallest things and felt happy for it. Rama had an efficient system of gathering reliable information on public affairs and acting on it promptly.
IDEAL KING vs IDEAL HUSBAND :
What happens when two roles clash in life? Rama was the Ideal King and also the ideal Husband. What happens if there is a clash between the two Roles?
In the west, it is said – Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. This principle was followed much earlier by Lord Rama. It was just fate that Ravana abducted Sita to his island kingdom – but, she remained chaste and pure even there for 14 years, until Lord Rama killed Ravana. But, Lord Rama, the King, knew people will talk ill of Sita. And Sita was not just any ordinary woman but the queen of Ayodhya.
She had to be above suspicion; else public morality was difficult to maintain and sustain. Sita had to prove her chastity in presence of all people in Lanka. The Lord of Fire himself came and pronounced her Chastity, to the relief of all. True. But, this happened in the far away island of lanka, but, Sita was the queen of Ayodhya!
People in Ayodhya still did not know what happened to Sita; and just one washerman talked ill of Sita! He said – Sita was in some one else’s house for 14 years – and today she’s the queen!
Lord Rama had to do justice to his Role of King, sacrificing his role as Husband of Sita; He had to abandon Sita again in deep forests, knowing her chastity well, just to maintain public morality and confidence.
This is matter of huge controversy till this day. Can a king abandon his chaste wife like that, knowing her purity so well? That too, just on the washerman’s stray words?
A King has to. He has no other way. He is not an ordinary man. He is the leader. His conduct has to be pure and also appear to all to be pure. He has to make all sacrifices for this purpose. The crown sits on his head – just to remind him of this responsibility – and not as an ornament. Crores of people mould their conduct looking at his conduct. The Dharma of the Individual has to be different from the Dharma of the King to this extent. The Dharma of the King overrides the Dharma of the Individual in him.
Rama loved his wife. But, his duty as a king is higher than his duty as the husband of his wife. Rama’s wife has to be above suspicion; and Rama’s duty as King has greater priority compared to Rama’s duty as husband. This was established by Lord Rama, at a great personal suffering. But, this came to be followed by many kings subsequently too.
Is Rama and Incarnation of God? Yes. He is. If Buddha is; if Christ is; if Krishna is – Rama is definitely an incarnation of God. If not – does it matter? His ideals are the best ideals – to this day. If we follow them; the world will be a lot more happier, joyful and peaceful place.
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