PEARLS FROM THE RAMAYANA
The stories of the Lord are thrilling
to listen to. Over the years we had the good fortune reading
several great and poetic accounts by great sages and saints
of the Lord’s earthly sojourn as RAMA. Valmiki, Tulsidas,
Kamban….just to name a few.
But what if God himself were to tell
his own story? The exact intentions of His actions? What if
He were to dive deep into the ocean of His leelas and give
you the pearls of wisdom? You would consider yourself extremely
fortunate, won’t you? Well, you and me are indeed fortunate.
Because, in the next few pages, we have Swami Himself speaking
to us on the Ramayana! Go ahead! Enjoy!
WHEN YOU RECOGNISE THE SUPREME REALITY
When Rama, along with
Lakshmana and Sita, was moving in the forest and talking to
several Rishis, there used to
be congregations where the women used to sit on one side and
the Rishis used to sit on the
other side and discussions used to take place. In the place
where all the women were sitting, Sita also joined them. Rama
and Lakshmana, because they were living in the forest and
because they were wearing clothes appropriate to the forest
were also looking like the Rishis.
However, between the two, Rama was showing a certain amount
of Divine Light.
In the place where Sita was sitting, some
of the women went to her and asked: “Have you come alone
or have you come along with your husband as well?” She
replied that her husband too had come. With the women wanting
to see and find out who her husband was, they were asking
her many questions. Sita, a sacred woman given to righteous
conduct all her life, would not get up when all the Rishis
were present and say, “Here is my husband,” by
way of introduction. She would not do that; and knowing what
was passing through Sita’s mind and recognising her
reluctance to get up and point to her husband, one of the
women asked Sita by pointing at one of the men, “Is
that person your husband?” She then replied in the negative
by just nodding her head. Another woman came and asked her,
“Is that person whose hair is tied up in knots your
husband?” She again nodded her head in the negative.
In this way, when many women came and asked Sita, pointing
at the wrong person and asking the question, “Is that
your husband?” she was nodding her head to indicate
a negative reply. When Rama who was sitting there was actually
pointed out, Sita said neither, “yes” nor “no.”
She simply exhibited a significant, happy and pleasant smile.
teaches us something which is exactly similar to this story.
If you point at the wrong thing and if that is not the supreme
reality, then you say “no.” Anything that is shown
and is not the right thing should call forth the comment,
“this is not that,” “this is not that,”
and so on. When you put your finger on supreme reality, the
Brahman, then you are in supreme
bliss and happiness. Such is the nature of Vedantha
that we are able to give today to you, young students, with
pure and unwavering hearts. I am glad that you are attempting
to acquire the good things of our culture and the teachings
we are giving you.
You are also being told a few things about
Maya. Just as our own shadow
will always accompany us and will not separate from us, so
also Maya will always accompany
God and will not separate from Him. There is a very good illustration
of this fact in the Ramayana.
At the time Rama, accompanied by Lakshmana and Sita, was moving
in the forest. The forest was a thick one and there were no
wide roads and they could only follow a narrow path; the way
they were walking was such that Rama was going in front, immediately
behind him was Sita, and Lakshmana came behind Sita. In this
way, all the three, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were moving forward
along a narrow path. In order to be able to recognise and
understand this situation, you hold up your three fingers.
The first finger represents Rama, God or Paramatma.
The second finger immediately behind represents Sita or Maya.
The last finger in this row of three, represents Lakshmana
or the Jiva.
and Jiva, these three are going
along in a narrow path in the wild forest of life. After a
little while, Lakshmana, whom we have symbolised as Jiva,
has got the desire and the ambition to have a look at God
or Paramatma. What is it that
he has to do in order to fulfil his desire? There are only
two ways of looking at Rama or getting his darshan.
One is for Sita, who is in between, to move away a little
and let Lakshmana have the darshan
of Rama. Alternatively, if Sita insists on staying where she
is, Lakshmana has to move aside a little. To get Sita to move
away, he may have to push her out from the place where she
is standing, but then he will be offending Rama. So what Lakshmana
did was to pray to Sita in all humility and ask her to give
him a chance of having darshan
of Rama. Sita, in all her graciousness and in all her kindness,
said, “Yes, certainly you can have the darshan
of Rama,” and just stepped out a little. So if you get
angry with Maya, and if you want
to use force and your own strength on Maya
and push her out of her place and then have the darshan
of the Lord, you will not succeed. Maya
then will play tricks with you. Not only that, God will not
allow such a thing to be done. The only way, therefore, to
fulfill your ambition is to recognise that Maya
is the inseparable shadow of God Himself and pray in all humility
and ask for an opportunity by which Maya
will stand aside.
HANUMAN AND DHARMA
we have the story of Hanuman. He sets an example to all of
us by the manner in which he conducts himself. When he comes
close to Rama, he shows extreme humility and respect. What
is the reason for Hanuman exhibiting such humility in the
presence of Rama? The reason for such behaviour lies in the
description of ‘Ramo Vigrahavan
Dharmaha’ of Rama. Rama is the embodiment of
dharma and therefore in the presence
of dharma, he shows humility.
The same Hanuman, when he went to Lanka, had put himself on
a pedestal higher than that of Ravana, because Ravana asked
him to squat on the floor like a monkey. The reason for this
is that while in the presence of dharma,
Hanuman is humble and obedient but in the presence of a boasting
king he would not show any humility. In the same manner, you
should bow down to dharma, and
show respect to teachers and elders. On the other hand you
should show courage and prudence when placed in a predicament
which is adharmic. Even then,
you should not take to anarchic methods.
HOW TO BE NEAR THE LORD
When Rama was going to the forest, he told Sita to stay back
and serve his parents. He said that he would come back in
fourteen years. But Sita gave up all her comforts to accompany
Rama to the forest. Because she sacrificed everything, she
could have the company of Rama. What is the reason? Sita thought,
believed and put into practice the ideal that to a wife, her
husband is of utmost importance. This is the essence of the
culture of our land.
However, the enticement of Maya
at times is irresistible. In the forest, it so happened that
Sita was attracted by the golden deer, although she gave up
much more valuable things earlier in life. Rama went after
the golden deer to secure it for her. The final result was
that Sita had to leave Rama and go away. Sita had to lose
the sacred company of her husband, and she was taken away
to Lanka. It implies that when she gave up kama,
or lust, Rama was near her; but the moment she was attracted
by the desires, Rama became distant from her. If you want
Rama to be with you, kama has
to be given up. If you have worldly desires, then Rama will
not be near you. You have to choose between Rama or Kama,
that is, either you cling to God or to his Maya.
THE IDEAL OF LAKSHMANA
During all the years of his service to Sita and Rama, Lakshmana
was sitting at their feet and did not even look closely at
Sita’s face. When Sita was being carried away by Ravana
over the Chitrakoota Mountain, she dropped several of her
jewels so that people could find them and convey the news
to Rama. When Rama and Lakshmana became friendly with Sugriva,
he brought the jewels, which his followers had gathered and
showed them to Rama. At that time Rama asked Lakshmana if
he could recognise the jewels. Lakshmana said that while he
could not recognise the other jewels, he could certainly recognise
those which Sita wore on her feet. When Rama asked how he
could recognise these, Lakshmana replied that every morning
he used to go and touch her feet; hence he was quite familiar
Lakshmana was looking at the wife of his
brother as his own mother and was looking only at her feet.
He never looked at her face. Lakshmana would always bend his
head low if he found some other woman coming in front of him.
Lakshmana was a person of exemplary character. The vision
and the eyes of the young people today do not bend even if
we bend them by force. If they use their vision for unsacred
purposes, disturbance of the mind will surely follow. The
first important sadhana is to
control our vision. Lakshmana had such sacred thoughts and
mind. If only he is taken as an ideal example and we follow
him, there will be no doubt of our own elevation.
WHEN YOU THINK OF GOD YOU BECOME GOD
soon as Rama, Lakshmana and Sita arrived, Bharatha prostrated
before them and, as a result of his being overjoyed, he went
and embraced his brother Rama and felt exceedingly happy.
He made his brother Rama sit in the chariot and he himself
was leading the chariot. When Rama was sitting in that chariot
and Bharatha was leading the chariot through the streets of
Ayodhya, the citizens of Ayodhya could not distinguish between
Bharatha and Rama. The reason for this was that Bharatha was
also wearing his clothes and his hair was like Ramachandra.
Moreover, the brilliance in Ramachandra’s face was exactly
the same as the brilliance in Bharatha’s face. Their
bodies were different but their ideas, their thoughts and
their views were identical. Bharatha was continually thinking
and uttering the name of Rama. Consequently, Rama’s
form and Rama’s brilliance entered Bharatha’s
That is why it is said “Brahma
vid Brahmaiva bhavathi.” One who has the knowledge
of Brahman will become identical
with Brahman. As he was continuously
thinking of Rama, he was transformed into Rama. Citizens who
came to garland Rama could not recognise who was Rama and
who was Bharatha. They put all the garlands on Bharatha thinking
that he was Rama.
ADHYATMA RAMAYANA, The spiritual
essence of the Rama Story
Man has got five working organs and five
sensory organs. Altogether he has got ten indriyas,
and Dasaratha literally means the human body which has got
five working organs and five sensory organs. Dasaratha symbolises
this chariot of the human body which has got ten organs. Dasaratha
also attracted three gunas in
the form of Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. The four Purusharthas:
dharma, artha, kama and moksha
are symbolised by Dasaratha’s four sons. Dasaratha was
one who proclaimed such a significant inner meaning to the
world and urged the people to lead an ideal life.
Sita is the daughter of the king of Mithilapura
whose name was Videha. Videha means one who has no body or
one who has no consciousness of his human body. The capital
of Dasaratha was Ayodhya. Ayodhya means a city into which
enemies cannot enter. Dasaratha had such noble qualities and
ideals that he was carrying on the rule of his country in
an exemplary manner. Sita can be identified with wisdom, and
Sita marries Rama or becomes one with Rama who is dharma.
When wisdom comes together with dharma,
in the ordinary course, such a good event will meet with some
obstacles. It is customary and quite natural that every good
thing is met with by some obstacles. As I state often, pleasure
is only an interval between two pains. If there is no pain
at all, there is no value for pleasure. Sita is the embodiment
of wisdom and she had been taken away by Ravana, who symbolises
selfishness and ego.
If one wants his little wisdom to disappear,
all that one has to do is to promote his selfishness, jealousy
and ego. Ravana symbolises selfishness, jealousy and ego.
To make a search for Sita, who had been taken away by the
bad qualities, selfishness, jealousy and ego, Rama, in the
form of dharma, along with the
other Purusharthas, i.e., artha,
kama and moksha, makes a journey. Here Lakshmana is
to be identified with the mind. We should notice that Rama,
the embodiment of dharma, combines
with Lakshmana, who is identified as mind, and goes to the
forest, which signifies life. In that forest of life, Rama
searches for wisdom in the form of Sita. In this context,
there is an argument between the two brothers Vali and Sugriva.
Sugriva can be compared to the ability to distinguish between
right and wrong. Here the inability or the weakness which
is called dhirathwa has been
destroyed in the form of Vali; and Sugriva, who symbolises
the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, comes
out victorious. Along with Sugriva, who symbolises viveka,
or the ability to distinguish right from wrong, we have Hanuman.
The combination of Sugriva and Hanuman is like the combination
of viveka and courage. The viveka
and courage went together in search of Sita, the wisdom. They
meet with one obstacle in the form of an ocean of moha.
Thus the ocean of moha had to
be crossed and this crossing was effected with the help of
courage in the form of Hanuman.
After crossing the ocean, they encounter
the three gunas: the rajas,
thamas and sathwa
on the opposite bank of the ocean. They are Ravana, Kumbha-karna
and Vibhishana representing the three gunas
respectively. The rajas and the
thamas, Ravana and Kumbhakarna,
were removed from the scene and finally the sathwa
Guna gets the upper hand in the form of Vibhishana.
He has been crowned the king. After making Vibhishana the
king of Lanka, Rama has the vision of wisdom born out of experience,
in the person of Sita. Rama, prior to finding Sita, could
be called a Brahmajnani but when
he found Sita, symbolising the knowledge of experience, there
is a reunion of the knowledge of experience with the pure
Brahma Jnana, and the culmination
was the coronation, the story which we called Sahasrartha
Ramayana. This description which has now been given
can also be called Adhyatma Ramayana.
It is only when we can understand this interpretation of Adhyatma
Ramayana, there is some benefit for us and a possibility
of the realisation of the nature of Atma.
If we keep on thinking of Ramayana
in the human form of a king Dasaratha, a son Rama and look
only superficially, how can we know the real significance?
NONE CAN SEPARATE A DEVOTEE FROM
Lakshmana, Bharatha and Satrughna one day went to Sita and
made a complaint and said that Hanuman was with Rama all the
twenty-four hours, and that he is not giving them any opportunity
for doing service to Rama. They requested her to arrange that
whatever services have to be done to Rama, be distributed
equitably amongst them. Then they made a long list of services
to be rendered to Rama from the morning till the next morning.
They also prayed to Sita that all these services be approved
by Rama. Rama looked at the list and approved all the services
and suggested that they be distributed amongst themselves.
He suggested that they go and tell Hanuman that nothing is
left so far as Hanuman is concerned. When these brothers met
Hanuman, they told him that the entire list of services has
been drawn up and that they were distributed amongst themselves.
They said that no service was left for him and that he would
have nothing to do from the next day.
Hanuman thought for a little and thought of the name of Lord
Rama and then he asked Lakshmana that if any other service
was left over, it may be allotted to him. The three brothers
looked at the list very carefully and came to the conclusion
that nothing was left. They agreed that if anything is left,
Hanuman may take the service. Hanuman said, there was one
service, which was left over and he requested that this be
given to him. When kings or elders or wealthy people yawn,
at that time it was customary to make a noise with the fingers
in front of the mouth. Hanuman asked that this service be
allotted to him. From that time, Hanuman insisted that wherever
Rama went, whether it is in his bedroom or in the bathroom,
Hanuman must be present. Thus he insisted, because one does
not know when Rama would yawn. When Rama yawned, he should
be present there. Thus, it so turned out that the little service
which was left to Hanuman necessitated his continuous presence
and made Hanuman stay close to Rama always.
What we should see here is that in spite of all the attempts
made by Lakshmana, Bharatha and Satrughna not to leave any
service for Hanuman, it is the sacredness of Hanuman that
has resulted in his getting a service by which he could be
with Rama at all times. No one can separate a real devotee
present from his Lord.
PARTICIPATE IN THE LORD’S MISSION
Once upon a time Hanuman met Vibhisana. Vibhisana conveyed
his anguish to Hanuman. "Hanuman, how fortunate you are.
I am constantly thinking of Rama, but I have failed in getting
Rama's darshan. From the moment I wake up, throughout the
day, till I go to bed I chant Rama's name incessantly. But
I have not been able to see Rama." Hanuman replied, "Vibhisana,
you are merely uttering Rama's name by mouth. But you do not
participate in his work and mission. It is not sufficient
if you chant Lord's name. But you should contribute in his
work. It is ten months since Sita has come to Lanka. Have
you made any efforts to free Sita? Rama's name can be compared
to current and participation in His service is compared to
a bulb. Name is the current; service is the bulb. You can
attain Divinity only when you combine chanting of Lord's name
with participation in His service."