श्री राघवम् दशरथात्मजम् अप्रमेयम् (ShrI rAghavam daSharathAtmajam aprameyam)
सीता पतिम् रघुकुलन्वया रत्ना दीपाम् (sItA patim raghukulAnvaya ratna dIpAm)
आजानु बाहुम् अरविन्द दलायताक्शम् (AjAnu bAhum aravinda dalAyatAksham)
रामम् निशाछर विनाशकरम् नमामि (rAmam nishAchara vinAshakaram namAmi)
RamAyaNa, the story of RAma, probably is the only story which has been told and retold N number of times by N number of people in N number of ways. There is a single sentence RAmayaNa, two sentences RAmayaAa, one stanza, one page etc., so many different versions of it. By way of TV shows too. Sometimes we see some comments which don’t appear in one, but has been elaborated in the other. But the fact is, every one of us has some fairly good idea about the story and the order in which events occurred. To some extent we also know the significance of each incident in RAmayaNa.
We can list them as, RAma was born, he killed TAraka, married SItA, killed Viradan, kabhandan, took the help of SugrIva and Hanuman, killed RAvanan , ruled AyodhyA for 11000 years and then went back to his abode.
VAlmIki, the name was given to him as he was born out of Vulmikam which means anthill. Bhoomi devi bears the load of this ungrateful human race. She gets to know about everything we do through her ears. And her ears happen to be these Vulmikam or anthill. As the riShi arose from it he was called VAlmIki. There is also a story, that as Bhoomi devi desired to sing the glories of ShrI Rama, she herself was born as VAlmIki.
In Uttar Pradesh, next to Kanpur there is a place called Bittoor. VAlmIki Ashram is there. Lava Kusa were born there. RAmayaNa was written there.
Once NArada visited VAlmIki in his ashram. VAlmIki paid his respects to him and asked him 16 questions. He listed sixteen characteristics and asked NArada if there is Any ONE Person who possesses all these sixteen characteristics. As a reply NArada, being a loka sanchAri, gives the name of Lord RAma and explains to VAlmIki in detail about the Guna of RAma. (Non- English words are used for two reasons, 1. For the true impact. 2. So that we can all get used to Sanskrit words with which BhagvAn has been described in our scriptures).
These sixteen characteristics are called the Kalyana GuNa of ShrI RAma. The questions start with who is Sowseelyan? Meaning is who treats everyone equally. Who doesn’t see the differences in birth. This is the most important message in RAmayaNa. We know how RAma embraced Guha, then a monkey, and even a RAkshasa, (VibhIshanan) and accepted them as his brother.
Further the questions are about who is strong, who is beautiful, who is attractive, who is benevolent, who is full of gyanam etc etc…
In the line of Surya, Manu, ikshvAku, kakutstan, RAma was the first of the 4 sons born to the three wives of King Dasarath. BhArathan, Lakshmanan and Shatrugnan were RAma’s three brothers. It is said that Lord viShNu divided himself into 4 and was born as four children to Dasaratha. Kausalya carried him for twelve full months. He was a PurNa AvatAr. As he was waiting in his mom’s garbha, elsewhere SugrIhava, Hanuman, JatAyu and all other devas were born in their own respective forms that were going to be in RAma’s team.
RAma AvatAram we think,was, for the purpose of vanquishing evil and establishing dharmam again. In fact, the main purpose of RAma AvatAram was to establish one particular type of dharmam. Dharma means an order. A code of conduct. A rule which when followed strictly, protects the followers. In TretA Yugam, it is said that, the dharma of obeying elders, listening to elders, be it parents or Guru or elder brother or any learned person, had deteriorated. (Imagine this case was in TretA Yugam. No need to explain the pitiable situation in kaliyugam!). To re-establish this dharma, RAma was born to Dasaratha and showed us all through his life how to give respect to father, mother, Guru and learned scholars and how to love all beings.
Lakshmana’s birth is to teach us to be of service to God. Lord Rama resides in every one of our hearts too. So we should also try to only that which would make RAma proud.
Shatrughan’s birth shows how it is more prestigious to be of service to a bhAgavata (meaning bhaktha) than being directly of service to the lord. Shatrugnan was devoted to the services towards BhAratha, who in turn was devoted to RAma.
Bharatha’s birth was mainly to show Paratantram. Which means to be unconditionally devoted to the lord. To accept RAma’s wishes as his order and do the same. What is the difference between Lakshmana’s bhakti and Bharathas bhakthi. One example might make it clear. Lakshmana, served RAma more because he wanted to do so. It was his self that was satisfied by serving the Lord. Even when RAma ordered him not to follow, he did not listen. He threatened to finish his life, if he couldn’t go with RAma into exile. But in the case of Bharatha when RAma ordered him to take the responsibility of the kingdom, he readily accepted, not because he enjoyed the Rajya but only because Rama asked him to do so. At that time he had no thoughts of his own. Not that he is not capable of. But he kept quiet as he respected his elder brother. This is Paratantram. The thought that HE is everything to me .
These are the details recorded by VAlmIki BhagvAn as the purpose of the AvatArams or AvatAra Prayojanam.
The birth of RAma…..
Swayambhu Manu performed Tapasya to Lord viShNu for thousand years and when the Lord appeared, Manu prayed that he would like to have viShNu as his son. The Lord agreed and said that, as a part of the task of Preservation of ‘Dharma’ (Virtue), he would like to appear on Earth from time to time.
As promised by viShNu, Swayambhu was born in Raghukula as King Dasaratha and became the father of ShrI Rama in TretA Yuga. Muni Pulastya’s son was Muni ViShvava and the his wife was Kaikashi; RAvana and Kumbhakarna were born to Vishvava and Kaikeshi. Kaikeshi also gave birth to Surpanakha and later on to the virtuous devotee of NArAyana, Vibhishana.
RAvana brothers performed severe Tapasya and secured boons of invincibility from Devas, DAnavas and RAkshasas and harassed Devas who fled from Swarga and prayed to viShNu who assured that he would soon be born to King Dasaratha as RAma and demolish the entire race of RAvana. viShNu also asked Devas to assume the births of ‘Vanaras’ and assist in this holy task.
The life story of RAma is described in the form of chapters/kanda in RAmayaNa. They are:
- Bala kAnda
- AyodhyA kAnda
- AraNya kAnda
- KishkindA kAnda
- Sundara kAnda
- Yuddha kAnda
- Uttara kAnda
In BAla kAnda, RAma showed us how to respect Guru’s words. When VishwAmitra asked Dasaratha to send RAma with him to the first, the king first refused, saying his son was not even 16 to be fighting demons. But later he listened to Rishi Vasishta’s advice and sent Rama and Lakshmana to the forest. From that moment, till the moment he got married to SItA and brought her to AyodhyA, he obeyed every single word of VishwAmitra. When RAma doubted, should his first ever arrow, be used to kill a woman, VishwAmitra told him, by no standard she was a woman, and it would not be a sin to kill her. That, and then throughout the three day journey to Mithilai in Nepal, and then breaking the arrow and marrying SItA, RAma listened to obeyed everything. VishwAmitra blessed the boy with the knowledge about various weapons and techniques.
In Ayodhya kAnda, we see how RAma obeyed his, father’s words, though he didn’t hear it directly from him. He didn’t question his decision about RAma to go on exile. In fact, the description of his face BEFORE and AFTER listening to the order of the King through Kaikeyi, was that it looked like a lotus flower that has just bloomed. The lesson for us here, is to treat any situation equally. And not lose balance, of course, saying it is easier. But what we can try is, whenever we encounter such a situation, we can think about how RAma was not moved by anything. How he handled both news, one of his coronation and the other of his forced exile, equally.
In Aranya kAnda, RAma spent most of the time in Dandaka Forest. There he visited and spent time with great Rishis, like Sarabhanga, Suthiksha, Agastya and many others. He spent time with as many as 20 Rishis in 10 years’ time. Why? This is something called, SAdhu samadhanam . Being in the company of the learned. That is the most important thing for a person to lead his life in a righteous path. (In fact it is said that, when Lakshmi devi heard about viShNu bhagvAn’s decision to be born as RAma, she requested him, that she desired to listen to discourses by great sages of the earth. Therefore, to satisfy her, the Ayodhya kAnda took place.)
We should remember to try to be in the company of intellectuals, learned people, so that our thoughts and deeds will be healthy. When our mind is healthy, definitely our actions will be productive.
Next is Kishkinda kAnda. As we saw earlier Lord RAma teaches us Sowseelyam. By making friends with monkeys like Sugreeva and Hanuman, bear Jambhawan,etc he teaches us to treat all beings, equally. All bhaktas are equal before bhagvAn. Be it a rich or poor, handicapped, beautiful, ugly or dumb, before BhagvAn all are equal and should be treated with respect. (Here some people argue that he made friends with them, because he needed their help to find SItA Devi. Is It? Think again)
आञनानन्दनम् वीरम् (AnjanAnandanam vIram)
जानकि सोक् नास्ऽनम् (JAnaki s’oka nAs’anam |)
कपीसम् क्श हन्थारम (KapIs’am Aksha hanthAram)
वन्दे लन्का भयन्करम् (Vande LankA bhayankaram ||)
Anjaneya, the delight of his mother Anjana Devi, and the destroyer of the demon king RAvana’s son Aksha, dispeller of the grief of the daughter of king Janaka, I salute that heroic monkey-leader Hanuman, the source of terror to Lanka .
In Sundara kAnda, RAma is sundara , SItA is sundara, Hanuman is sundara. This kAnda is completely about Hanuman. When we think about Hanuman, what comes to your mind?
Two things that strike are:
- His Valour
- His humble nature despite being valorous.
When he crossed the sea, when he grew up in size, when he grew smaller, and in every act we see his might, his valour. But there was one moment when even he got dejected. He felt small and inferior. He was sad for himself. And this he felt when he could not find MAta SItA after searching every corner of Lanka in vain. So he sat on top of a tree in the same Asoka VAtika and said to himself, “Of what use am I. I cannot complete a simple task, even after JatAyu clearly showed where she was. I am no good. I cannot go back to RAm”. This is what he thought. But only for one moment. The next moment, he realised, that like everyone, he was also thinking of ” I ” . ” I “,Whereas the truth is everything is SItA RAm’s kripa. Then he prayed to SItA mA. Asking her to reveal herself. That’s when right below the next tree he found SItA mA. If RAma had given the ring to any other monkey, it too would have crossed the mighty ocean, with RAma’s blessings. So Hanuman realised, it was never him, It was always RAma.
Like Hanuman let us shed our AhamkAra and Mamakara, ( The I and MY ) and submit ourselves to lord RAma. Vidya dadati Vinayam. It is a popular verse. We are all well-educated. But has our education made us humble and polite? Let’s ponder.
A very simple thing and the first thing we learn from yudh kAnda, could be don’t fight. Don’t cause war. But that’s not it. There are some things we can learn from this kAnda. Once SItA was found, RAma and the vAnara army built Sethu across the ocean, fought RAvanan, finally killed him, rescued SItA, brought her back to Ayodhya and then RAma was coronated as the King of Ayodhya. We all are aware of this story. There is one episode with VibhIshanan which is touching and which is where our lesson lies. RAvanan was killed in the battle. RAma instructs VibhIshanan to perform the last rites to his brother. But VibhIshanan refused. He said, I will not touch this pApi, this sinner. He is the one who separated SItA mAta from you and caused you so much pain. So, I cannot perform the final rites for him. But RAma doesn’t not accept it. He explained to VibhIshanan through the following Verse.
” maraNaanthani vairaaNi, nirvrittam na prayojanam.”
Oh VibhIshana, learn this truth. You can hate someone only till his death. After that there is no purpose for hatred. Therefore you need to perform his last rites.”
This, RAma himself explains, “I never hated your brother VibhIshana, it was he who hated me. Now that he is dead, he can no longer hate me.” Saying this, he made VibhIshanan perform the final rites for RAvana and then RAma asked Lakshmana to coronate VibhIshanan as king of Lanka. As Rama taught VibhIshanan let us also remember that hatred is inhuman. Adveshta Sarva bhUtAnAm. Avoid hating start befriending.
Secondly, like RAvanan we have always kept God away from us. We did not hate him, but we did not love him either. Love him the way he wants us to.
Sometimes we hold the umbrella of ” I ” and refuse to get drenched in his shower of love. Let’s slowly learn to walk in the rain of Rama’s love.
रामाय रामभद्राय रामचन्द्राय वेधसे
रघुनाथाय नाथाय सीतायाः पतये नमः ॥
Hare RAma Hare RAma,
RAma RAma Hare Hare…
आपदां अपहर्तारं दातारं सर्वसंपदाम् (ApadAM apahartAraM dAtAraM sarvasaMpadAm)
लोकाभिरामं श्रीरामं भूयो भूयो नमाम्यहम् (lokAbhirAmaM shrIrAmaM bhUyo bhUyo namAmyaham)
Temples of RAma AvatAr
There are many temples of RAma AvatAr. Listing few of them. Details of the same will be updated in Templogue section:
- Ayodhya Ram Mandir
- Bhadrachalam Temple, Telangana
- Sree Ramaswamy Temple, Kerala
- Ramaswamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
- Kalaram Temple, Nashik