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