Beauties of Ramayana
by Swami Sivananda
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Paperback: 216 + xxxii pages
Book Dimensions: 7.0 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
Shipping Weight: 200 grams
Table of Contents
|Eka Sloki Ramayana||vii|
|The Philosophy of the Ramayana||ix|
|Features of the Ramayana||xiii|
|Power of ‘Ram Nam’||xvi|
|The Ring Episode||xxiv|
|Birth of Rama||3|
|The Proposed Yuvaraja||8|
|Proposal for Banishment of Rama||9|
|Starting to the Forest||12|
|Rama Leaves Ayodhya||20|
|The Charioteer Sent Back||20|
|Death of Dasaratha||22|
|Bharata’s Return to Ayodhya||23|
|In Search of Rama||26|
|The Meeting of the Brothers||27|
|Bharata as Regent||31|
|Killing of Viradha||34|
|The Ashram of Agastya||38|
|Khara and Dushana Killed||43|
|The Illusive Deer||49|
|Abduction of Sita||53|
|Tale of Sugriva||65|
|Power of Vali||67|
|Vali Was Killed||70|
|Vali Accuses Rama||71|
|Last Words of Vali||75|
|Coronation of Sugriva||77|
|Advent of Autumn||78|
|Angada Tests the Strength||93|
|City of Lanka||98|
|Ravana Visits Asokavana||101|
|Rakshasis Try to Persuade Sita||104|
|Hanuman Destroys Asokavana||118|
|Fight with Jumbumali||119|
|Hanuman Kills Akshaya||119|
|Hanuman Before Ravana||121|
|Burning of Lanka||123|
|Hanuman Leaves Lanka||125|
|Hanuman Describes His Exploits||126|
|Return to Kishkindha||128|
|Message of Hanuman||129|
|Vibhishana Goes to Rama||134|
|Rama Meets Vibhishana||136|
|Story of the Sea||139|
|Nala Builds the Bridge||139|
|Suka and Sarana||140|
|The Great Fight||145|
|Lamentation of Sita||146|
|Lamentation of Rama||147|
|Kumbhakarna Roused from Sleep||150|
|Indrajit Fights Again||159|
|Lamentation of Vibhishana||165|
|Hanuman Meets Sita||167|
|Sita Meets Rama||168|
|Rama Accuses Sita||169|
|The Fire Ordeal||171|
|Devas Praise Rama||172|
|Rama Starts for Ayodhya||173|
|The Reception of Rama||175|
|Agastya and Rama||179|
|Birth of Ravana||181|
|Feats of Ravana||183|
|Victory of Ravana||186|
|Ravana and Rambha||188|
|Rama and Sita||189|
|Valmiki Gives Sita Protection||194|
|Birth of Vali and Sugriva||197|
|Ravana and Sanatkumara||198|
|The death of a Brahmin Lad||200|
|Birth of Kusa and Lava||204|
|The Asvamedha Sacrifice||205|
|Visit of Kaala||209|
|Departure of Rama||213|
THE PUBLISHERS’ NOTE
Srimad Ramayana is the very soul of India. The highest ideals of every Indian are enshrined and portrayed in this holy scripture. It is a complete guide to God-realisation, the path to which lies in righteousness.
Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj has, in this invaluable work, given the essence of Srimad Ramayana in a beautiful way. In his characteristic style, he has given the story and the morals in a simple, direct and lucid style.
The lessons of Srimad Ramayana should be engraved on the tablet of everyone’s heart. This is the urgent need of the hour. The evils of Kaliyuga need not make you despair. Where there is Ram, where there is Ram Nam, where there is Ramayana, the evils of Kali dare not enter. Build this spiritual fortress in your own heart; you will live in Rama Rajya. You will enjoy illimitable peace and bliss.
Ramayana must be studied today, more than ever, by everyone. The ideals of man are beautifully portrayed in it. Everyone should emulate those ideals and grow into ideal citizens.
May His Message spread! May God bless you all! May all people walk the path of Dharma! May Lord Rama be enshrined in the hearts of every man, woman and child in this holy land and the world at large!
THE DIVINE LIFE SOCIETY
Sri Rama! I seek no wealth. I seek no honour, nor estate, nor earthly reward. Long years of my life, I have spent in various pursuits. I have not read the Vedas nor the Sastras nor the epics of Valmiki or Vyasa. But I have kept faith in Thy Name, in Thy mercy and kind purpose. I have remained a humble instrument in Thy Hands. Grant me this then, my Lord, that for ever more my love for Thy Lotus Feet may deepen a thousandfold and that I may keep my gaze constantly on Thy Lotus Feet and spend my time in doing Thy will and when I cast off this mortal coil, I shall reach Thy abode from where there is no return.
Bhakta Siromani Sri Hanumanji! Worshipful adorations to you–the greatest and the noblest Sevak of Sri Rama, hero in war and peace, statesman, diplomat, engineer who floated the bridge of stone across the ocean to Lanka, commander and leader of the mighty hill tribes of the South who marched under your command with faith and waged the mighty righteous war, with weapons shaped from trees and stones, achieving undying glory for the Kapi Dhvaja that has since flown aloft on the horizon of India, and proclaiming Sri Rama the greatest emperor of the happiest empire, the world has ever seen. None greater than you Hanumanji, in deeds of valour and devotion to the Lord, has been born on this earth. The tale of your valour and devotion will ever inspire the youth of India to acts of service and sacrifice. Prostrations to you.
Sri Sita Mata! Revered and most loved Mother of India, thou art the embodiment of womanly grace, virtue, chastity and endurance. Women of India worship you as the Goddess Lakshmi and their hearts are filled with reverence and love for your high piety, righteous suffering, chastity, endurance and devotion to the Lord. Mother dear, guide us with kindly light on the way to the abode of my Lord!
OM SANKSHIPTA RAMAYANA
Dasarathanandana Ram Ram
Dasamukhamardana Ram Ram
Pasupatiranjana Ram Ram
Papavimochana Ram Ram
Salutations to Ram Ram
Adorations to Ram Ram
Prostrations to Ram Ram
Obeisance to Ram Ram
Saketapuri Bhushana, Ram Ram
Ornament of Saketapuri, Ram Ram
King of Ayodhya, Ram Ram
Refuge of Vibhishana, Ram Ram
Slayer of Ravana, Ram Ram
Bhadrachalavasa, Ram Ram
Tulasi Das’ Saviour, Ram Ram
Ram Das’ Redeemer, Ram Ram
Brother of Lakshmana (Bharata), Ram Ram
Consort of Janaki, Ram Ram
Son-in-law of (King) Janaka, Ram Ram
Friend of Guha (King of Nishadas), Ram Ram
Son of Dasaratha (Kausalya), Ram Ram
Disciple of Vasishtha (and Visvamitra), Ram Ram
O Bhaktavatsala (Patitapavana), Ram Ram
Jatayu’s protector, Ram Ram
Father of Lava, Kusa, Ram Ram
Sugriva’s friend, Ram Ram
Hanuman’s Master, Ram Ram
Lord of the three worlds, Ram Ram
Valmiki’s Hero, Ram Ram
Avatara of Vishnu, Ram Ram
Visvanath Mandir’s Ram Ram
Sivananda’s Lord, Ram Ram.
EKA SLOKI RAMAYANA
Rama Rama Jaya Raja Ram
Jaya Jaya Ram
| Kaikeyi devi
Got boons from Dasaratha
Jaya Jaya Ram
| Rama went
To Dandaka forest
Ravana came now
And took away Sita
Jaya Jaya Ram
| Rama Killed Vali
And enthroned Sugriva
Jaya Jaya Ram
| Hanuman crossed the sea
And gave the ring to Sita
He burnt Lanka
And gave Rama Chudamani
Jaya Jaya Ram
| Rama killed
The mighty Meghanada
Vibhishana on the throne
Then all came back
To Ayodhya city
Rama on the throne
He who reads
Eka Sloki Ramayana
Will attain soon wealth
Rama Rama Jaya Raja Ram
Rama Rama Jaya Sita Ram.
Jaya Jaya Ram
THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE RAMAYANA
Philosophy is the science which deals with the facts and principles of the Ultimate Reality and of human nature and conduct and analysed from such an angle, the Ramayana, be it Valmiki, Kambar, Tulasidas or Adhyatma, is pregnant with the highest philosophy that mankind can ever conceive of. It is conceded that man is the perfect being under God’s creation, but this accident of birth in the human species is not the end of the highest perfection. It only means that man has the power of expressing the innate divinity more than any other animal and with this special power in man he is even defined as God involved.
The chief and fundamental factors that go to make up the high standard of perfection in man are his moral and ethical sides. Unless one possesses an unquestionable character in respect of morality and conduct, he will never attain greatness or true perfection. There are established codes of morality and ethics in the Hindu Sastras which are based on the teachings of the Vedas, the immortal scriptures of the Hindu religion. The Vedas are so ancient and the teachings thereof are so subtle and abstract, enshrined in a very terse language that they are very difficult of being grasped and assimilated by the ordinary man of the world. Nevertheless the quintessence of the Vedas has to be mastered by the common man to have a thorough knowledge of the highest Truth and to make matters easy, our ancient sages have reduced the Vedic ideals into simple and understandable compositions commonly known as the Puranas and Itihasas. These later productions–the Puranas and Itihasas–are in the form of stories and narratives with a historic touch behind them which not only impress the reader but also expound the philosophical truths in such a lucid style that a sincere spiritual aspirant will get a spontaneous urge from within to live the ideals in his own life. Such is the power behind these ancient works, the Puranas and Itihasas, that they are commonly known as ‘Suhrid Samhitas’ meaning the friendly collection of philosophical scriptures.
Of these collections, the Ramayana–particularly, the Valmiki Ramayana,–wields a very great influence over mankind, particularly the Hindu community, because of its sublime teachings and philosophical content. To understand the real philosophy of the Ramayana, one has to concentrate more and more on the character and conduct of the personalities who play their role in different contexts of their life.
For the purpose of bringing out the full philosophy of the Ramayana, therefore, one has to closely follow the part played by the figures enumerated below:
(1) King Dasaratha (2) Manthara–the maidservant of Kaikeyi (3) Kaikeyi–the youngest of King Dasaratha’s consorts (4) Ravana–the demon king of Lanka (5) Hanuman–minister of the monkey chief, Sugriva (6) Sita–the beloved wife of Sri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya (7) Lakshmana–brother of Sri Rama (8) Sri Rama–the hero of the great epic.
On the eve of the coronation of Sri Rama as the Crown Prince of Ayodhya the whole scheme was shelved behind though the pressure brought on Dasaratha by his wife Kaikeyi under the instigation of her maidservant Manthara and the king’s submission to the dictates of his wife whereby Prince Rama was exiled to the forest where he was to spend a period of fourteen years.
(i) In this context King Dasaratha is to be compared to the ordinary man of the world placed in an atmosphere of pleasure and plenty, falling a victim to the promptings of his vicious mind (Manthara) infatuated by sense-objects (Kaikeyi).
(ii) The ten headed Rakshasa, Ravana, in the absence of Sri Rama and Lakshmana steals away Sita from their forest dwelling. Here Ravana with his ten heads is to be compared with the ten sense-organs–five organs of knowledge and five organs of action. Stealing away of Sita is to be compared to the loss of reasoning power of the worldly minded deluded by Maya. The golden deer Maricha is Maya which deluded both Lakshmana and Rama and they lost their power of discrimination (Sita).
(iii) Hanuman, the intellectual giant and a strong celibate, is an invincible power which indicates that if one has to achieve success in all his undertakings one has to cultivate truth, simplicity, purity, selfless service, devotion to duty and establish himself in absolute Brahmacharya. Sri Rama and Lakshmana developed these qualities and they were able to redeem Sita from the demon Ravana, meaning, they got back their reasoning power by Brahmacharya and Tapas.
(iv) In worldly life whatever might be the spiritual progress one has achieved, he will never attain Moksha unless he is detached from all worldly ties. This aspect is fully depicted in the ascetic march of Sri Rama, Lakshmana and Sita to the forest in obedience to the wishes of Kaikeyi. The path which led the regal party to the forest was so narrow that it was not possible for them to have a safe passage.
Hence they had to follow one after the other, so much so, Sri Rama was in front, Sita in the middle and Lakshmana at the back. Everyone knows pretty well the brotherly affection that Lakshmana had towards his brother and it is even said that he could not exist even for a second without seeing Rama. While on their march, because of Sita’s presence in the middle, Lakshmana could not see his brother properly and at frequent intervals he used to request his sister-in-law to make room for him to see Rama. In this context, Sri Rama is to be compared to Paramatman (in fact Rama was the incarnation of the Supreme Being) and Lakshmana the individual soul, Jivatman. Jivatman constantly endeavours to attain oneness with the Paramatman but Maya (Sita) stands in the way, but with an intense yearning it is possible to get rid of Maya and attain the goal of merging oneself in the Paramatman. The possibility of attaining Godhood by the aspirant through strong devotion to the Supreme Being is also stated in the Bhagavad Gita.
‘Daivihyesha Gunamayi Mama Maya Duratyaya,–Mameva Ye prapadyante Mayam Etam Taranti Te’. Through one-pointed devotion to God one can get over the influence of Maya.
A study of the Ramayana in the light of the philosophical truth explained above, will be useful as a guide to the true aspirants in treading the path of spirituality leading to complete emancipation from the cycle of birth and death.
Glory to Sri Rama, Glory to the Ramayana and glory to Sri Valmiki, the accredited author of the great epic for his masterful production echoing the immortal teachings of Vedic philosophy.
FEATURES OF THE RAMAYANA
The Ramayana of Valmiki is a didactic poem which has the avowed purpose of glorifying Dharma and inculcating the truths which open up for man the way to supreme perfection. It is one of the two great epics of India. It represents the true Hindu spirit of unconditional adherence to the law of righteousness and the performance of one’s prescribed duty. To assert the greatness of a life of activity based on the righteousness underlying the law of the Divine Being is one of the main aims of the Ramayana. The life of the ‘ideal man’ described in the Ramayana is an incentive to all men to strive to become embodiments of Dharma. Dharma is the soul of life and a life bereft of Dharma is not worth its name. Sri Rama, the incarnation of God, represents in himself the ideal son, the ideal brother, the ideal husband, the ideal king and the emblem of Divinity on earth. Man is expected to root his virtue in the Divine. Virtue is necessarily grounded in a consciousness of the principle of Divinity; else, it would become a mechanical routine of external acts. The Ramayana sounds the eternal spirit of Bharatavarsha, the spirit of heroically facing the realities of existence, without fighting shy of them, and at the same time blending action with devotion and loyalty to law. Law is eternal, for it is the expression of the system of the universe governed by God. To follow this law is the duty of man. The Ramayana teaches man, by way of examples, how he can fulfil the demands of law.
The beauty of the Ramayana is really beyond human description, for it is a revelation to a Rishi–not merely an intellectual production of a scholar–whose meaning is ‘integral’, and no one-sided consideration of it can do full justice to it. The entire extent of the life of an Arya is delineated in the Ramayana. Social life and spiritual life are wonderfully harmonised in it. Love and heroism, Ahimsa and Kshatriyadharma are brought together in it. Bhakti and Yoga, Karma and Jnana are fused into one. Sri Rama is the crowning feature of the Ramayana, whose very name is exalted to the status of a supreme purifier of the mind of man. Rama-Nama is a panacea for all diseases, and is as invincible and irresistible as the Rama-Bana.
Life in its entirety, individual, social and divine, is depicted by the poet-seer Valmiki. He commences his poem with a description of the ideal individual. He then gives the description, in his poem, of the ideal society, of ideal administration of country, and the ultimate ideal of life, the attainment of God. What a grand work! Valmiki’s epic gives a concrete picture of the mysterious link that connects man and the world with God, the Creator. Social life is emphasised, for man is a member of society, and without society’s good, his good cannot be achieved. And without God’s grace no individual and no society can progress. The supreme value of the universe is in its being a field of experience for its contents are necessary for the evolution towards the Eternal Being. The reality of the universe is God. All attempts and endeavours based on Adharma, on selfishness and individual independence, are doomed to failure at the iron hands of the Divine Law. The Ramayana most excellently portrays the victory of Dharma and the final defeat of Adharma. Rama and Ravana respectively stand for these two forces of the universe.
Sri Rama’s Government is a specimen of ideal administration. It is in fact an earthly representation of the divine government of the universe under the supreme Sovereign, the Almighty. To bestow due attention on Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, on the individual, the society, the nation and their relation to the universe as a whole, is the duty of an ideal monarch. Sri Rama exemplifies in himself, such a ruler, the symbol of God on earth, justifying the great dictum: “Navishnuh Prithivipatin”–There is an element of the Divine in a ruler of men. Sri Rama carries this truth to its consummation and makes his rule eternally sound in the quarters of the world as the famous ‘Ramarajya’, the joy of the spirit of man.
One of the striking characteristics of the Hindu scriptures is their expert handling of the problems of life in consonance with the Transcendent Being, which is the final Goal of life. Right from the Vedas and the Upanishads, down to the Epics and the Puranas, this important element features the catholicity that is in all the scriptures of the Hindus. Life is not as some people would hold, a mere delirium of spirit, a disease and an error, but an opportunity presented for the moulding and training of the self for Eternity. To live in the immediate present, with the strength of the past and a vision of the future, basing one’s actions on the ancient system of the fulfilment of duty, with the transforming touch of the glorious ideal of Self-realisation, towards which all beings are consciously or unconsciously moving, is the burden of the immortal song of the Ramayana. God is both transcendent and immanent. To love Him as transcendent alone would be an error, for the universe is His immanent aspect, it is He Himself in Self-revelation, and we are duty-bound to consider the universe as our own Self, as the omnipresent Godhead. Nor are we to make the mistake of disregarding the transcendent and dropping into a pantheistic view of considering the visible universe alone as a complete manifestation of Reality. The Ramayana pays due respect to the physical, the vital, the mental, the moral and the spiritual values of life, and teaches a gospel of the integration of these in the Divine Harmony of the Supreme Being. The Ramayana, with the Manusmriti and the Mahabharata, forms the standard delineation of the codes of the eternal Dharma, the Srutis. There is no doubt that the inhabitants of India, when they follow and preach the spirit of these scriptures, will pave the way not only to a ‘Greater India’, but to a ‘Greater World’, which should reflect the beauty of Heaven, the glory of creation and the greatness of God.
POWER OF ‘RAM NAM’
‘Ram Nam’ is a blessing which millions of Hindus have treasured in their hearts since ages past. It is the supreme purifier of the mind of man, the bestower of perennial joy, the giver of peace and the key to the gate of Immortality. The Ramarahasyopanishad says that the letters ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ are the essence of the two most important Mantras, viz., Ashtakshara and Panchakshara, which, when the letters ‘Ra’ and ‘Ma’ are removed from them, respectively, not only lose their primary meaning but give the opposite meaning. When Ram Nam is chanted, a significant change takes place in the entire organism of the person chanting it. There is a twofold effect product by the utterance of the Divine Name.
The Mantra Sakti or the power generated by the juxtaposition of the letters of the Mantra and by the utterance of the same, the whole nervous system of the chanter of the Mantra is set in vibration–a vibration which brings about rhythm, harmony and equilibrium in it. When the nervous system is in such a harmonized state, the breath, too flows rhythmically and the mind rests in a state of tranquillity. It is in this peaceful state of the mind that the divine Consciousness is reflected and the supernal joy of the Eternal is experienced.
The idea of the Divine Being generated in the mind at the time of the repetition of the Name, gives a direct fillip to the mind in its attempt to unite itself with the Divine Being. The nervous system is in a state of perfect harmony when the vibration produced by the chanting of the Divine Name pervades it with a force of integration. The Divine Name is not merely a sound; it is a force which can overcome all the destructive forces in the human system and render it pure and make it fit for the experience of Sattva, the highly transparent medium through which the Immortal Being is reflected.
Ram Nam like the Ashtakshara or the Dvadasakshara Mantras, is a powerful aid in destroying the animal passions in man. Passions are agitative forces, and Ram Nam is a tranquil force. When one adheres to Ram Nam with exclusive and genuine devotion, it becomes the destroyer of all pains. But one’s faith must not be divided between two or more Mantras. One should stick to ‘Ram Nam’ with full confidence in it. The more the faith and concentration, the quicker does the Lord’s Name destroy the evils in man. The votary of Rama prays:
“Apadam-apahartaram dataram sarva sampadam; Lokabhiramam Sri Ramam bhuyo bhuyo namamyaham–I prostrate myself, again and again, before Sri Rama, the Saviour from all calamities, the Giver of all prosperity, the Delight of the world.” Such is the glory of Ram Nam. It bestows on one the beatitude of Absolute Independence or Kaivalya. But Ram Nam should not be used for the sake of obtaining worldly ends. Ram Nam is the saviour of man from the afflictions of mortality itself. It raises man from all penury and exalts him to the status of an undaunted sovereign over himself. Why do you use a gun to destroy a mosquito? Ram Nam can cure the disease of Samsara itself; what to speak of lesser wants and turmoils. Therefore, use Ram Nam as a Moksha Mantra and not as a servant to fetch you the glittering glass-pieces shining in the form of the objects of the world. Ram Nam is the guardian in your body, protecting you at all times against all attacks, preserving your purity and virtue, and warding off the inimical urges of desire, passion and anger.
The repetition of the Mantra should be done with Bhava or deep feeling. A tremendous effect is produced when repetition of the name is attended with a consciousness of the relation of the chanter to the deity of the Name. This, however, does not mean that a mechanical repetition of the Mantra without feeling is absolutely devoid of all beneficial results. The Name is potent enough to cause a change in the psychological and the physical being of man even when it is mechanically repeated. Ram Nam is a Mantra, and a Mantra is formed by significant letters, which by the very fact of their being uttered, produce a result, even if this result may not be directly connected with the consciousness of the chanter of the Mantra. There is a very peculiar process of physical and psychical transformation taking place at the time when the Mantra is repeated. Unconscious and mechanical repetition produces no direct psychical change, but causes biological change through the nervous system which is immediately influenced by the vibrations set up by the chanting of the Mantra, and these biological changes indirectly, bring about psychological changes; for these two natures in man are related to each other as effect and cause, respectively and the effects are so intimately related to their causes that any change in the effects will be felt by the causes, and vice versa.
The devotee should not test the Lord by the chanting of His Name. For example, one should not use the Name as an excuse for the deliberate perpetration of evil acts. The Name can overcome the effects of even such acts, but the implications of such acts would be that the devotee who uses the Name thus has not genuine aspiration and devotion to the Lord, and his mind is still being attracted to things other than those that pertain to the Lord and to His Way. Hence the condition for chanting the Divine Name is well laid out.
“Trinadapi sunichena tarorapi sahishnuna, Amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih–He who is humbler than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree, who does not crave for respect, but respects others, is the one fit to repeat the Name of Hari.”
God helps those who help themselves. The best possible effort that one is capable of exercising under the intellectual circumstances provided by God should be put forth, and only beyond this effort, should one seek the grace of God. Idleness is not self-surrender. Surrender of the self to God becomes complete only when the individual consciousness is flooded over the love for the Divine. God’s grace descends when the efforts exercised are found to be inadequate for the realisation of God.
Ram Nam has a transforming effect not only on the psycholgical but also the biological personality. Even physical ailments can be overcome by the chanting of the Divine Name. Ram Nam is unfailing in its action, infallible in its operation. Ram Nam, properly understood, is the same as Omkara, the symbol of the Absolute, and Rama to the true devotee is the Absolute itself. Sri Rama is all-pervading; He is in the heart of all beings as the Antaryamin. What a power and glory should His Name possess! Even ordinary names of things of the world have the power of stimulating a corresponding mode of consciousness in man. How much more powerful should the Name of God be!
Saint Tulasidas says: The name is even superior to the Lord, because the Nirguna and Saguna aspects of Brahman are tasted and realised by the power of the Name. Rama delivered a single woman, Ahalya, while His Name has purified crores of wicked people. Rama gave salvation to two of his faithful servants, Jatayu and Sabari, but His Name has been the saviour of countless wicked persons. Blessed is the son and blessed are his parents who remember Sri Rama in whatsoever way it may be. Blessed are even the Chandalas who repeat the Name of Rama day and night. What is the use of high birth to one who does not repeat Ram Nam!
What a mighty power is latent in Ram Nam! Only those who are endowed with devotion know it. The scientists now declare that sound vibrations have such a tremendous force that they can direct this power to silk fabrics and clean them of all dirt more thoroughly than a washerman can.
The moment you utter the word Rama, the form of the Lord is aroused in your consciousness. So the advanced devotees say that the Divine Name is the exclusive support of those afflicted by the tribulations of Samsara.
The Valmiki Ramayana is the standard history of Sri Ram:
“Vedavedye pare punsi jate Dasarathatmaje; vedah prachetasadasit sakshadramayanatmana.–Verily, a Veda by itself was revealed by Maharshi Valmiki, in the form of Ramayana when the Supreme Being, to be known through the Vedas, manifested Himself as the son of Dasaratha.” The Ramayana of Valmiki is a majestic epic, expounding Dharma by way of depicting the great heroic life of the ideal person, Sri Rama. The greatness of the Valmiki Ramayana cannot be adequately described. It is a huge didactic poem which has its main aim in constraining people to follow the path of righteousness, and towards this end, it employs the popular technique of appealing to the hearts of people by narrating in a homely style, the story of a life devoted to Dharma. The picturesque life of Sri Rama described by Valmiki is a grand glorification of the greatness of Sri Rama. Hence the Ramayana is in a way an expanded form of the Name and glory of Sri Rama.
The hearing or the study of the Ramayana is a contemplation on the various divine qualities of Sri Rama, which purifies the mind of man and renders it spiritual.
May Sri Ramachandra bless all with spiritual illumination, prosperity and Kaivalya Moksha!
In the history of the nations of the world, there has been no sovereign, so noble, majestic, kind and illustrious like Rama. Apart from the attributes that he possessed, it was Rama who conquered with the consent of the people, entire South India and conquered Ceylon, defeating the mighty King Ravana and annexed Burma, Siam, Java, Sumatra and the Bali Islands. At all these places, he appointed Viceroys and he became the King Emperor of greater and united India. Rama gave us the gift of the Rich Soil whereon we live. Five hundred years later, Krishna gave us the philosophy of life. Rama was the ideal king emperor of India like whom none has since appeared (except after several years in a lesser degree, Asoka, who was perhaps the last Emperor of greater and united India). The people of India have not seen such happy days as they enjoyed in the time of Rama. This fact alone entitles Rama to the unstinted allegiance and gratitude of every son of the Mother Land. Glory to Sri Rama.
The queen, Mother Sita, is undoubtedly the ideal queen and the mother of the Indian people. She was the first and only Queen Empress of the greater and united India of the time of Rama. No son of the soil can afford to forget the deep debt of gratitude that he owes to the first and the only Queen Empress–the Great Mother of the motherland.
Sita is superior to Arundhati and Rohini in every respect. Her fortitude is unparalleled. She is more forbearing than the earth. She can stand everything. She is more beautiful than beauty itself, the splendour of all splendours. She was highly devoted to her husband. Through the fire of her chastity, she passed successfully through the fire ordeal.
Sri Hanuman is the eldest son of Keshari and is quick like the wind. It is impossible to describe his valour and beauty. He can assume any form at his will.
Anjana, known also as Punjikasthala, was the wife of the Kapi chief, Keshari. She was the daughter of Kunjara. Spotless Anjana was reputed for her beauty in the three worlds. There was none like her on the earth. On account of a curse, she was born as a vanara woman. She could assume any form at her will. She was endowed with heavenly virtues.
Once Anjana was strolling about over the green hills. The wind god gently wafted her garment. Her body was exposed. He was charmed by her beauty. He embraced her in love. Anjana was frightened by this. She asked. “Who is molesting me like this?”
The wind god replied, “Do not be afraid. O Anjana. I am not doing you any harm. I and entering your body in thought. You will bear in your womb a strong and intelligent boy. He will possess the power of moving like me.”
Anjana was very much delighted at these words of the wind god. She delivered Hanuman in a cave. As soon as he was born, he saw the sun rising in the sky. He sprang up three hundred Yojanas, and yet he was not affected by the heat of the sun. Indra became angry and hurled his thunder at Hanuman. As he was struck by it, he fell down on a rock. His left jaw was broken. Since then he was named Hanuman.
When the wind god saw that Hanuman was struck by Indra, he ceased to blow. The people of the three worlds became frightened by this. The gods tried to please the wind god. Brahma said, “Your son Hanuman will not be destroyed by arms, on account of my blessing.” Indra was struck with astonishment when he saw that Hanuman survived, even though he was struck by thunder. He blessed Hanuman and said, “The son of the wind god will die only at his will, on account of my blessing.”
Hanumanji is undoubtedly the greatest military genius that the world has ever produced. He raised a huge army counting over 30 lakhs of soldiers and espousing the cause of Rama, led his vast armies with no military equipment, except what was turned out from stumps and boughs of trees and stones, to fight the great battle with the mighty King of Ceylon. This intrepid warrior was the greatest military engineer and it was he who constructed the miraculous bridge with stones, across the sea, over to Ceylon. Neela assisted Hanuman. He crushed the King of Ceylon by the sheer force of his unrivalled military genius and devotion to duty. He was the greatest physical culturist, accomplished in the art and practice of first aid, nursing and ambulance. Out of the millions that were slain on the battle field, with his rare knowledge of elementary surgery, first aid and medicine, he saved a very large number of them and brought them back to life.
A real son of the soil and with brown skin, but highly developed intellect, a man accomplished in military strategy as none else has been, a bachelor in life and with moral principles of the highest order, a statesman and a diplomat and yet possessing a noble and stout heart overflowing with kindness and taking pride in calling himself the humblest Sevaka of the King Emperor–such a personality has never since been born on this earth. Hanumanji is the saviour of India. Hanumanji was as civilised and cultured a man as any in the Court of Rama and the legendary tail stands only for the unending train of armies that he commanded. Such a personality has attained the mark of Divinity and has become the guiding and Guardian Angel in military camps, as well as in physical culture schools and in schools of Bhakti. Wherever there is enterprise, right effort, devotion to duty and singleness of purpose, there abides the spirit of Hanumanji.
Dasaratha literally means one who has restrained or controlled his ten organs or one who has the ten organs under control. It is the Jiva proper and so we find Dasaratha being addressed as Jiva in Ramayana. This Dasaratha or Jiva is always very anxious to get out of this ocean of Samsara. But for Dasaratha (Jiva personified), it was in no case possible to do so, unless he realised Brahman or the Self who is no other than Rama. The Jiva has to become one with the Self and as such Dasaratha, the Jiva, had to do proper Sadhana or penance for putting under full restraint all his ten Indriyas or organs, to make it one with the Self. Dasaratha ruled over this body, the city of ten organs or gates for full 1100 years. It is only after controlling the organs and becoming one with the Self, that Dasaratha, the Jiva, is in a position to get the Divine vision–Divya Chakshu or Jnana, the eternal light or illumination in the form of Payasa, Sringi Rishi being the Higher Manas or the Intellect proper (personified), the guide or the Acharya thereof.
Ravana was well versed in the Vedas and Vedanta. He was a great Yogi. He was chief amongst the performers of the Agnihotra sacrifice and other rites. He was a great hero whom even the gods could not conquer. He granted more than what was asked of him. He supported his dependants and friends liberally. He contributed to the prosperity of his friends and to the destruction of his enemies.
Ravana was not a monster. He was a great and mighty king. He ruled his country Lanka with masterfulness and skill. He was an autocrat.
THE RING EPISODE
According to Goswami Tulasidas, Hanuman saw Sita exclaiming to herself, “Heaven is unkind, my troubles cannot come to an end without fire. Trijata said there is no fire to be had at night. She too has gone away. I see the heaven all bright with sparks but not one of them, not a single star drops to this earth. The moon is all ablaze but no fire comes from it, as if all these knew, what a poor wretch I am. Ye, Asoka trees, would you not hear my prayers and answer to your name and rid me of my pain. You are shining with your flame coloured opening buds, please supply me with fire to consume my body.” This, Hanuman saw with his own eyes and to him also, a single moment seemed to be a Yuga and after thinking to himself, he threw down the signet ring, as though a spark had fallen from the Asoka tree. Sita stared up with joy and clasped it in her hand.
A fine clue and an explanation to this “ring problem” has been discovered in the Ramayana Reliefs, from Prambanan in Java.
Ravana in his magic aircraft carried off Sita. Ravana, with his ten heads and twenty hands was holding Sita. The bird Jatayu fought with Ravana and received a death wound from Ravana. Sita made haste to give to Jatayu, the bird, her ring to be handed over to Rama. Jatayu handed over to Sri Rama the ring on his arrival.
In the epic of Ramayana there is much exaggeration and over-statement of facts, which are necessary for the education and edification of the devout masses. The epic was not composed with a view to create history or record facts, but a rationalist student may find in the epic, ample testimony of facts which enhance and redound to the glory of the divine personalities. Before the exile of Rama, the limit of the Empire of India was up to the Vindhya Mountains. Rama with the assistance of the native tribes of South India, conquered South India and proceeded to Ceylon and defeated and killed the mighty King Ravana with the assistance of Sri Hanumanji, who came to the rescue of Sri Rama, with his vast and mighty army of native soldiers, who were not mercenaries but who willingly offered their services as soldiers to fight in the righteous war. It was thus that Ceylon was conquered and subsequently Sumatra, Java and the Bali Islands, as also Burma and Siam. Sri Rama was thus the first great King, Emperor of greater and united India, and the like of whom has never since appeared on the surface of this earth.
The epic war was not waged merely for the rescue of Sri Janaki Devi. The wicked, invincible Ravana could not be killed by any other person than Sri Rama. Rama alone could slay him.
In the history of the world, there are no two such sublime personages as King Rama and his Queen Sita. Rama is considered to be the ideal king and the ideal husband. The benevolent and democratic rule of the nation which was happy under his rule has never been seen since then.
The holy stream of the Ramayana rises from Mount Valmiki and joins the ocean Rama. May she, like Ganga, purify the three worlds!
Birth of Rama
Ravana became a tyrant,
He oppressed the people very much.
Earth assumed the form of a cow
And went to Brahma with the gods and the Rishis.
Brahma took them to Lord Hari
And said, “O Lord! incarnate as man
And kill Ravana, the enemy of the gods.
He has become cruel and haughty.”
Lord Hari said, “Be not afraid, O gods!
I shall take birth as Dasaratha’s son,
The gods will incarnate as monkeys,
My Yoga Maya will become Sita.
“Sesha will incarnate as Lakshmana,
Conch will become Bharata,
Discus will take the form of Satrughna,
Ravana will be killed in no time.”
Dasaratha was without a son
And so he became sunk in grief.
He approached Sri Vasishtha
And opened freely his heart.
Vasishtha consoled Dasaratha
And asked him to do Putreshti.
Dasaratha acted accordingly,
He got Payasa from the fire.
He gave it to his three wives,
Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi.
Then Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata
And Satrughna were born as his sons.
They were well versed in the Vedas.
They became adepts in archery,
They were skilled in horsemanship,
They were experts in warcraft.
Rishi Visvamitra came to Ayodhya
And saw Dasaratha in the hall
And said, “Give me Rama, O king!
To protect well my sacrifice.
“The Rakshasa Maricha and Subahu
Throw bones and blood in the sacrifice,
They all do all sort of mischief,
Brave Rama only can kill them.”
King Dasaratha became anxious;
He consulted Guru Vasishtha
And said, ‘What shall I do?
I cannot bear Rama’s separation.”
Vasishtha said to king Dasaratha,
“O King! Be not troubled at heart.
Rama is not a human being
He is Lord Hari Himself.
“He is born to lighten the load of earth,
He is born to destroy Ravana;
You did Tapas as Kasyapa
To get him as your son.
“Visvamitra has come now
To unite Rama with Sita.
Therefore send him with the Rishi
And obtain his blessings.”
Dasaratha carried out his Guru’s behests.
Rama followed Visvamitra,
Lakshmana also accompanied Rama
With bow and arrow in his hand.
Visvamitra taught Rama
The sciences, Bala and Atibala
To have control over hunger, thirst and sleep,
To be free from fatigue and exhaustion.
Then they all crossed the Ganges
And came to a dense forest
Where the terrible Tataka lived,
Who could assume forms at her will.
Visvamitra said to valiant Rama,
“O Prince, kill this formidable Rakshasi;
She eats Brahmins, Munis and cows,
She is doing terrible havoc here.”
Rama took up his formidable bow
And twanged at once the bow string,
And pierced her chest with arrows;
She dropped down dead in a moment.
Then Rama went to Gautama’s Asram,
Which looked like a deserted one,
Where Ahalya was sitting as a stone,
Unseen by any one and living on air.
Rama touched the stone with His feet.
And lo! Ahalya assumed her original form,
Worshipped Rama with Arghya and the rest
And praised Him to her heart’s content.
Then Rama went to Visvamitra’s Asram.
He killed Subahu,
He threw Maricha into the ocean
And completed Visvamitra’s sacrifice.
Then Visvamitra took Rama, Lakshmana
To Mithila where the wise Janaka ruled.
Janaka paid them due respects.
Visvamitra introduced Rama, Lakshmana.
Visvamitra said, “O king Janaka!
Show your bow to Sri Rama.”
Then Janaka ordered his minister
To bring Siva’s bow forthwith.
Then five thousand strong men
Carried the bow set with diamonds.
Sri Rama put the string to it
And broke it in the presence of the king.
The Gods rained flowers on Rama,
Raja Janaka embraced Rama,
Then Sita put a golden necklace
On the neck of Sri Rama.
Then letters were sent to Dasaratha.
All arrived from Ayodhya in time
With their Guru Sri Vasishtha,
And a day was fixed for Rama’s marriage
Janaka placed Sita’s hand
Over the hand of Rama.
He gave Urmila to Lakshmana,
Srutakirti to Bharata,
And Mandavi to Satrughna.
Janaka then related to all,
The manner of his daughter’s birth,
How Sita appeared in the furrow,
When the sacrificial ground was purified.
Then Janaka praised Sri Rama
And gave rich presents to the bridegroom.
Dasaratha with his party
Started his journey back to Ayodhya.
Fight with Parasurama
Sri Rama met Parasurama on the way,
Parasurama asked Rama to string his bow.
Rama put a string at once
And defeated Parasurama.
Then Parasurama praised Sri Rama.
The arrow shot of destroyed Parasurama’s Karmas.
Parasurama lost all his power,
He proceeded to Mahendra mountain.
King Dasaratha reached Ayodhya,
The sons of Dasaratha lived happily,
Dasaratha’s heart was filled with joy,
The whole of Ayodhya rejoiced heartily.