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Swami says: “The Ramayana is a guide book, a sacred text, an inspiring scripture, for every man, in all lands, at all times, whatever his creed or condition might be. For, it imparts poise, balance, equanimity, inner strength and peace. The Ramayana holds up the ideals to be pursued by the father, the son, the mother, the brother, the friend, the servant, the master, the teacher, the pupil, etc. Duty is God - that is the lesson the Ramayana teaches.”

1. True devotion and surrender lies in understanding the inner significance of the Ramayana. Swami has always taught us: “Make your Hridaya (spiritual heart) an Ayodhya by means of Raamanaama; Ayodhya is an impregnable place where enemies cannot enter. Forget this and you are lost. Install Rama in your heart and then no outer force can harm you.”

In His Divine, 2000 Ramanavami Discourse, Swami teaches us more: "Ayodhya" means "invincible". Its ruler was Dasharatha. Dasharatha means one who has made his ten indriyas (sense organs) - the five organs of action and the five organs of perception - his chariot. Allegorically, this means that Dasharatha represents the body, with its ten organs. These sense organs are related to the three gunas (qualities) Satwa, Rajas, Tamas.”

Who represented these three gunas in Dasharatha?

2. Swami says: “The Beauty of Rama was the Beauty of Inner Peace, the Splendour that fills one when he is conscious of living in Dharma (righteousness). Everyone should recognize the sweetness, the sacredness and the Divinity enshrined in the name 'Rama'. It was for this reason that Thyagaraja sang: Oh mind! Contemplate on the name of Rama with full awareness of its power. It is good to utter the name Rama with full understanding of all that it signifies. But even without that understanding, the chanting of the name has the power to destroy all sins."

According to Swami, what is the true meaning of the word ‘Rama’?

3. In His Divine 1998 Ramanavami Discourse, Swami revealed some divine facets on Lakshmana:

“When Rama started out into exile in the forest wearing garments of bark, Lakshmana, too, did the same. For fourteen years he watched over his brother and his wife, guarding them day and night without any regard for his own comfort or even for sleep or food. Lakshmana laid down his life for the purpose of realizing the Mission of the Avatar (divine incarnation). When Rama ordered him to raise a fire into which Seeta was advised to step as part of the fire-ordeal to prove her chastity to the world, Lakshmana obeyed with a bleeding heart. When Rama ordered him to take Seeta out into the forest and leave her alone and unguarded there, Lakshmana obeyed, though his heart was wrung with pain.

Lakshmana is a superb example of the attitude of surrender. When Rama, Seeta, and Lakshmana went to the forest and reached Chitrakoot, Rama told Lakshmana, ‘I am feeling tired and Seeta is also tired. It is better we stay here for some time. So, I would like you to put up a cottage in which we can stay for a longer duration, if necessary for the whole period of 10 years. You can put up the cottage in any place of your choice.’

Hearing these words, Lakshmana felt hurt and bent down his head with grief. Noting this, Seeta asked Lakshmana, ‘Why are you perturbed, Lakshmana? Your brother did not speak anything harsh. Why do you feel so?’

What was Lakshmana’s reply?

4. In several of His Discourses, Swami instills some deep thoughts in us when talking about Seeta: “Seeta was no ordinary woman. She was the embodiment of Maha Maya (supreme divine illusion). Rama acquired Maha Maya as his mate. Seeta, for her part, sought oneness with the Atma principle represented by Rama. The marriage of Rama and Seeta represents the association of the Atma and the Maya. It is in this combined form of Atma and Maya that Rama entered Ayodhya.”

But what did Rama have to do to win Seeta’s hand in marriage?

5. When Bharatha was asked to rule the kingdom in Rama’s absence, Bharatha was dumbfounded! "Rama! Rama! Rama! I am not competent to rule over Ayodhya. To reign over the kingdom, You alone are worthy as the eldest son of Dasharatha. You alone are fit to role over the kingdom properly and establish Rama Raajya. Please return to Ayodhya." Thus pleaded Bharatha.

In His Divine, 1977 Summer Showers Discourse, Swami presented some deep unheard of insights into the character of Bharatha and said: “Bharatha was not in a position to overrule Rama’s orders. Bharatha did not like to become the king and rule the kingdom. In this conflict, Rama tried to console Bharatha. Vasishta then gave a small advice which would give satisfaction to Bharatha. Vasistha said, “You can take the sandals of Rama, and regarding those sandals as symbolic of Rama, perform the coronation for the sandals and carry on the rule of Ayodhya.”

What did Bharatha do after he performed the coronation for the sandals?

6. Glorifying Hanuman’s character, Swami tells us: “ Hanuman is the brightest example of a realized soul. He had mastered the Vedas. His speech was saturated with the humility and dedication and his thoughts, words and deeds were always offered to God. When these three are in perfect harmony, the person wins the Grace of God, as Hanuman succeeded in securing.

When Seeta and Rama returned to Ayodhya, people’s joy knew no bounds. At the time of his coronation, Rama distributed gifts to all those who had helped him in the war, except to Hanuman. On being questioned by Seeta, Rama said that Hanuman did not care for any gift and that he had no worthy gift to be given to Hanuman. Then Seeta took out her pearl necklace and presented it to Hanuman.”

What did Hanuman do with it?

7. Valmiki, after completing the composing of the Ramayana, summoned the sages in his ashram and asked them who was capable of propagating the immortal and sacred epic to every nook and corner of the world. The sages were nonplused. They declared, "Guruji, we are old men. We are at the end of our span of life. We are incapable of conveying the Ramayana to the length and breadth of the world." Valmiki was downcast. At that stage, the twins Lava and Kusha arrived on the scene.

What did they tell Guru Valmiki?

8. In His Divine, 2000 Ramanavami Discourse, Swami asks us: “What is the reason for the intimate relationship that existed between Rama and Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughana? Here you have to take into consideration an incident that happened prior to their birth. When the sweet pudding emerged from the sacrificial fire of Putrakameshti Yajna (Yajna for begetting children) performed by Dasharatha, sage Vasishta told him to distribute the same to his three wives.

Dasharatha treated all his wives alike; he had no partiality towards any of them. He divided the pudding into three equal parts and distributed to each of them. He told them to have a ceremonial bath before partaking of the pudding. Kausalya and Kaikeyi were overjoyed. They kept their share of pudding at a safe place and went inside to have a ceremonial bath. But Sumitra was not all that happy. She felt ‘Since Kausalya is the first wife of Dasharatha, the son born to her has every chance of becoming the crown prince. Even Kaikeyi’s son may occupy the throne as Dasharatha had given word to her father. But the son born to me stands no chance of becoming the crown prince.’

Thinking thus, she completed her bath. As there were no fans or hair dryers in those days, she went to the terrace, kept the cup containing the pudding by her side and started drying her hair in the sun. Suddenly from somewhere an eagle swooped down and took away the cup containing the pudding. Sumitra was taken aback. She was not really sad for losing the pudding, but was afraid that her husband Dasharatha might reprimand her for her carelessness. She approached Kausalya and Kaikeyi and explained to them her plight."

What did the two wives do?

9. In His Divine 1992 Ramanavami Discourse, Swami simplifies our spiritual journey by conveying this powerful message: “Who was Ravana? Ravana is described as a demon with ten heads. These ten heads are the six vices, namely desire, anger, greed, infatuation, pride and jealousy and Manas (mind), Buddhi (intellect), Chitta (will) and Ahamkaara (Ego). Since these ten are present in every human being, all men are Ravana indeed! Whoever beheads all these ten heads in fact becomes a Rama. It is God alone who can behead ten heads!”

According to Bhagavan, what is the fastest approach to annihilating the ‘Ravana’ in us and bringing out the ‘Rama’ in us?

10. In His Divine 1990 Discourse, Swami said: “Many people complain that their troubles have not ended and God has shown no compassion towards them. They would do well to learn a lesson from an episode in the Ramayana. After Vibhishana had become friendly with Hanuman, he once asked the latter, ‘Hanuman! Although you are a monkey, you have been the recipient of the Lord's Grace. Although I have been ceaselessly engaged in the contemplation of Rama, how is it I have not secured His Grace?’

What was Hanuman's reply?

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-Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 6 Issue 04 - APRIL 2008
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