Sri Swami Sivananda
This article is from the book Hindu Gods and Goddesses.
The Birth of the Lord
The Divine Virtues of Rama
Sri Rama’s Dedication to Truth and Duty
Rama Nama Mahima
Why Lord Rama Behaved Like a Man
The Transcendent Divinity That Is Rama
Sri Rama Navami
O Lord Rama! O Raghava!
Thou art an ocean of mercy.
Thou art Maryada Purushottama.
Thou art the refuge of devotees.
I have filled my being
With Thy love.
I installed Thee
In my heart.
Om Sri Ramaya Namah.
THE gods, the Gandharvas, Siddhas and holy Rishis approached Brahma and said, “O venerable Lord! The demon Ravana is harassing us in various ways through his power on account of Your boon to him. We are not able to check him. Please protect us.”
In the meanwhile, Lord Hari arrived. He said to the gods, “O gods! Be not afraid. I shall incarnate on earth to protect you all and destroy the wicked Ravana.”
Lord Vishnu divided Himself into four portions and chose King Dasaratha for His father.
The Birth of the Lord
King Dasaratha who was endowed with good fortune, who was devoted to truth, who vas brave and famous, was without a son. He was very much troubled in his heart. He approached his family preceptor Vasishtha and said, “O my venerable master! I have no issue to carry on the line. I am troubled with the sorrow of being childless.”
Vasishtha said, “O righteous king! You will beget four mighty sons. Bring Rishya Sringa. Perform at once the sacrifice called the Putrakameshti.”
Dasaratha brought the Rishi to Ayodhya and performed the sacrifice. The God of Fire appeared from the fire of the sacrifice. He had a golden vessel full of divine Payasa. He said, “O best of kings! Take this Payasa made by the gods in heaven. Give it to your worthy wives. You shall beget by them mighty sons.”
Dasaratha obtained the permission of Vasishtha and Rishya Sringa and gave the Payasa half and half to his queens Kausalya and Kaikeyi. Sumitra also went there. She also wanted to take a portion of the Payasa. Kausalya joyfully gave her half of her share. Kaikeyi also gave her half of her share with immense joy. All the queens became pregnant.
In the tenth month, Kausalya gave birth to a son of superhuman form. On the ninth lunar day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra, under the star Punarvasu, and Lagna Karkata (the auspicious zodiacal sign of cancer), the five constellations in the ascendent, appeared on earth the great and prosperous Sri Rama with mighty arms, the eternal Lord, the Master of the world, the joy of Dasaratha. He bore all the auspicious marks on His fair body. His form was effulgent like a thousand suns.
Bharata was born to Kaikeyi. Sumitra gave birth to two sons, twins, Lakshmana and Satrughna. At their birth, the Gandharvas sang and the Apsaras danced in joy. There was a shower of flowers from above.
King Dasaratha gave to Brahmins a thousand villages, gold, clothes, jewels and cows. He performed the birth ceremony of Jatakarma.
Vasishtha conferred the names. Kausalya’s son was named Rama, because He gave joy and happiness to all, because the Munis found in Him delight through Knowledge in order to cross this ocean of ignorance.
Bharata was so named, because he protected all. Lakshmana was so named, because he was endowed with auspicious attributes. Satrughna was given that name, as he was the destroyer of enemies.
Sri Rama was an Avatara of Lord Hari; Lakshmana was an Avatara of Adisesha; Bharata and Satrughna were Avataras of Conch and Discus. Sita was an Avatara of Sri Lakshmi.
All the sons of Dasaratha were heroic and virtuous. They were well-versed in the Vedas. They were also very well trained in horsemanship, in encounters with sword and shield, in warcraft and kingcraft.
These princes were extremely handsome, strong, virtuous, holy and contented from their very boyhood. They were patient, brave, truthful and firm. They soon captivated the heart of the public.
Sri Rama excelled His brothers in bravery and truthfulness. Of all the four brothers, Sri Rama was a paragon of virtues.
The Divine Virtues of Rama
He was well accomplished, beautiful and endowed with royal marks. He was the foremost of those who were skilled in bows and arrows. He had His sway all over the world.
He had eyes like lotus-petals and a countenance like full moon. He had a deep voice. He had equally proportionate limbs. His gait was slow and majestic. It was that of a lion. He had four lines on His thumb. He had a pointed nose. He had high forehead.
Sri Rama possessed red eyes and arms that were sinewy. His steps were like those of an elephant. He had long arms, broad shoulders, and black and curly hair. He was valiant and glowing with splendour. He was in no way inferior to Indra himself in battle. He was well-versed in holy scriptures and equal to Brihaspati in wisdom. He was skilled in every science. He was an object of love and reverence with all people. He had His senses under perfect control. Even His enemies were pleased to see Him. He was the terror of the wicked and the protector of the virtuous. He was endowed with keen intelligence. He could never be vanquished by anyone.
Sri Rama’s glory and powers were unlimited. He was peerless on earth. He was free from malice. He was gentle and was the protector of His people. He always addressed the people in gentle words. He never used any harsh words even when somebody addressed Him rudely.
Rama was not only kind and affectionate, but generous and considerate for the feelings of all around Him. He had a splendid physique and winning manners. He had a magnanimous personality. He was extremely noble, generous, chivalrous and fearless. He was very simple and absolutely free from ostentation.
Sri Rama was wise and virtuous. He was effulgent like the sun, in forgiveness like the earth, in intelligence like Brihaspati, in frame like Vasava, in prowess like Indra. He observed ascetic vows and honoured saints. He would forget hundreds of evils done to Him, but would gratefully remember a single act of kindness ever shown.
In the leisure when He was not engaged in His martial exercises, He had discussions on the Shastras with the wise and the aged people. He always followed the right in every walk of His life and never swerved from His royal duties.
If anybody would approach Him, He would talk to him first. He was exceedingly powerful, but never haughty for that. He was the upholder of the four castes. He conferred honour upon people. He was worshipped by all. He was well-versed in polity and was greatly devoted to the Brahmins.
Rama was a friend of the poor and chastiser of the wicked. He was a cosmic benefactor. He was well-versed in religion, social customs and laws. He looked after the welfare of His subjects, and the people too loved Him immensely. He never indulged in profane and irrelevant talks. He had mastery over Yajurveda, Dhanur Veda, the Vedangas, etc. Whenever people put a question to Him, He answered them wisely, like Brihaspati. He was skilful in the use of all arms. He was honoured by the scholars of the Vedas. He was proficient in philosophy and poetry.
Sri Rama never spoke a lie even in extreme danger or peril. He was brave, candid and modest. He was the source of all good. He always respected His superiors. He was free from idleness. He was ever vigilant. He sought no evil. He had perfect control over anger.
He was ever ready to keep a vigilant watch over His own faults. He had aged and pious Brahmins for His guide.
He was an expert rider, a great warrior, a valiant general. He had great skill in the military manoeuvres. He was unconquered even by the gods. He was free from the evil habit of carping.
Sri Rama was happy in adversity, calm in miseries, intrepid in dangers.
Rama was a mighty hero. He was the hero of heroes. He killed single-handed great and renowned warriors like Khara and Dushana. He vanquished the invincible Vali.
Sri Rama’s Dedication to Truth and Duty
Sri Rama, the hero of Valmiki’s Ramayana, is an embodiment of every social and domestic virtue. His sense of filial duty is unparalleled in the history of the world.
He kicked off the throne and the pleasures of the senses and the world to fulfil the words of His father.
If Rama would have longed for the throne, it was quite easy for Him to get it. He was very popular. He was the mightiest of heroes; He destroyed the Rakshasas and bent the tremendous bow of Lord Siva. But, He did not show the least physical force. He gladly accepted what was dictated by the cruel and wicked Kaikeyi. Throne possessed less fascination for Him than the obedience to His father’s behests. He kicked off the kingdom and the comforts of a king. He gladly accepted the exile. The laudable virtues of Sri Rama cannot be adequately described.
Sri Rama’s life was a life of holy obedience, of stainless purity, of matchless simplicity, laudable contentment, commendable self-sacrifice, and remarkable renunciation. He paid equal respect to His mother and His step-mothers, and revered His Guru.
Sri Rama is known as Maryada Purushottama. He adhered to the injunctions of the Shastras. He led the life of an ideal householder to teach the world the Dharmas of a Grihastha. He never swerved an inch from truth and duty.
His adherence to duty was remarkable and illustrious. He even abandoned His wife who was His life, heart and soul to ensure the good of His subjects, and sacrificed His personal happiness. He was prepared to sacrifice His very life even to secure the contentment of His people and to stick to His duty. He lived for His people.
Sita once told Rama to seek shelter in a safe place and to let the forest dwellers alone, as there was much danger there. Rama’s reply revealed His firm determination to adhere to truth and to His duty, as a king, to protect those who took shelter under Him. Sri Rama said, “O Sita, I may even give up life, or you, or Lakshmana; but can never give up the performance of My word, given particularly to helpless Brahmins. Rama speaks but once and never fails to keep up His promise.”
Lord Rama was Maryada Purushottama. He was a Prema Murti. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, an ideal husband, an ideal friend, and an ideal king. He can be taken to embody all the highest deals of man. He led an ideal life of a householder to teach humanity. He ruled His people so nicely that His rule came to be called Rama Rajya, meaning the rule of righteousness, the rule which bestows on all happiness and prosperity.
Rama was an ideal king. He ruled the kingdom in a wonderful way. He was just and righteous. He was courageous and kind. He was endowed with a gentle and generous disposition. He was civil and courteous.
Therefore His subjects loved Him immensely. Not a single man was unhappy during His regime. He often used to say, “I will do anything and everything to please My subjects; and, if necessary, I can even abandon My dear wife for their sake.” That is the reason why His reign was called “Rama Rajya.” There were not dacoits during His regime. All led a virtuous life. Nobody spoke any untruth. Anybody could place a bag of gold or jewels even in the main street. No one would touch it even.
Rama Rajya was based on truth. Dharma was its foundation. Shastras were the guiding principles. Rishis, Yogis, Munis and Brahma Jnanis were the guiding lights. The Vedas were respected and followed. Therefore, Rama Rajya endured and prospered. And it is even now spoken of as the most perfect form of government.
The government of Sri Rama was an ideal one. Rama’s kingdom was free from evil-doers, thieves and dacoits. People did not put locks to the doors, nor bars to their windows. A bag of gold could be kept quite safe even in the highways. No calamity ever befell anyone. The aged people never performed the funeral rites of the young. No one injured another. Everyone was devoted to Dharma, righteousness or duty. All the people always narrated Sri Rama’s stories. They always uttered Rama, Rama. The whole world reverberated with the Name of Rama.
In due season, rain and shine came. The air was fresh and cool. The trees were laden with plenty of fruits. There were abundant flowers of sweet fragrance. There were plenty of crops in the fields.
Every man had a long life. He had children and grandchildren. Wives were devoted to their husbands. They were chaste and pure.
All the people were hale and hearty. They were rich, contented and virtuous. They were free from disease, greed and sorrow. They were truthful, righteous and self-controlled. They led a pure and taintless life.
The Brahmins were well-versed in the Vedas. They were virtuous. They stuck to their own duties. The Kshatriyas were brave. The Vaishyas and Sudras did their Svadharma. They were free from passion, greed and envy. The twice-born were faithful to the rites and scriptures. They were truthful in their words and deeds. They had God-fearing nature. They had love for all creatures.
The troops were very strong and brave. They were fierce like fire. They never retraced their steps in battle. They guarded the ramparts well.
There were neither want nor fear nor pain anywhere. The sons were noble and manly. The daughters were handsome, modest and pure.
Every town and province had plenty of gold and corn. Fathers never lost their children, nor did wives their husbands.
Poverty was unknown in Rama’s kingdom. Everybody had horses, cattle, gold and grain. Nobody spoke falsehood. No one envied others’ wealth. The poorest man was richly blessed with wealth and knowledge.
Sri Rama’s dominion was free from fire, flood, storm, fever, famine and disease.
Who can describe the glory of Rama’s empire? Hence it was called Rama Rajya.
Rama Nama Mahima
Rama Nama or the Name of Lord Rama 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.
You must learn to take the Name of Rama with full devotion and faith. When you study the Ramayana of Tulsidas, you will learn how great the divine power of that blessed Name is.
Rama’s Name, form and conduct have all been the objects of constant remembrance, contemplation and emulation for people since ages. The word Rama is interpreted in the Ramarahasyopanishad as the combination of the essence of the Narayana-Ashta-Akshara and the Siva-Pancha-Akshara, i.e., Ra and Ma, without which the Ashtakshara and the Panchakshara not only do not give their proper meaning, but give the opposite meaning. Rama Nama is also considered as the essence of the Thousand Names of the Lord. It is the Taraka Mantra, the vessel which takes the mortal across the ocean of Samsara or death. The power of the Name is well realised when it is known that even the incorrect pronunciation thereof turned rogue Ratnakara into sage Valmiki.
Rama Nama burns ignorance, passion and sin. With knowledge or without knowledge, correctly or incorrectly, when the word Rama is pronounced, it showers a rain of good on the devotee. Sri Rama Brahma Tarakam.: Sri Rama is Brahman who takes one across Samsara. Rama is one in whom Yogins sport (Ramante) i.e., the Self within. Once you take refuge in Him, your welfare becomes His responsibility.
Gandhiji writes: “You might ask me why I tell you to use the word Rama and not one of the many other Names of the Creator. True; His Names are as many as and more than the leaves on a tree, and I might, for instance, ask you to use the word God. But what meaning, what associations, would it have for you here? In order to enable you to feel anything when repeating the word God, I should have to teach you some English. I should have to explain to you foreign people’s thoughts and associations.
“But in telling you to repeat the Name of Rama, I am giving you a Name worshipped since countless generations by the people of this land,—a Name familiar to the very animals and birds, the very trees and stones of Hindusthan, through many thousand years. You will learn from Ramayana how a stone by the roadside sprang to life at the touch of Rama’s foot as He passed by. You must learn to repeat the blessed Name of Rama with sweetness and such devotion that the birds will pause in their singing to listen to you, that the very trees will bend their leaves towards you, stirred by the divine melody of that Name.
Kabir sent Kamal to Tulsidas. In the presence of Kamal, Tulsidas wrote Ram Nam on a Tulasi leaf and sprinkled the juice over five hundred lepers. All were cured. Kamal was quite astonished. Then Kabir sent Kamal to blind Surdas. Surdas asked Kamal to bring the corpse that was floating in the river. The corpse was brought. Surdas repeated ‘Ram’ (not the full name Rama) only once in one ear of the corpse, and it was brought back to life. Kamal’s heart was filled with awe and wonder. Such is the power of God’s Name.
The Name of Sri Rama is sweeter than the sweetest objects. It is the haven of peace. It is the very life of pure souls. It is the purifier of all purifying agencies. It quenches the consuming fire of worldly desires. It awakens the knowledge of God which is dormant in our hearts. It bathes the aspirant in the ocean of divine bliss. Glory to Sri Rama and His Name.
The means by which Sri Rama can be reached is to take His Name and to remain saturated in it. Always remain drunk, imbibing the Lord’s sweet Name. Let no ideas of purity or impurity enter your mind. There is no unholy object in this world. Should there be any, it becomes the holiest of the holy by contact with the Lord’s Name. Illusion, notwithstanding all her efforts, fails to get hold of him who remains deeply absorbed in the Lord’s Name and love.
Why Lord Rama Behaved Like a Man
Some people say: “Sri Rama is only an ordinary man. He is not an Incarnation of God. He wept bitterly when He lost His wife. His bewailings rent the clouds when Lakshmana fell down on the ground in an unconscious state, being struck with the arrow of Indrajit. Why did Rama, the Supreme Being, forget His real divine nature? He was sunk in the ocean of sorrow at the ordeal of Sita. If Rama always knew His true Self, why did He grieve for the loss of Sita?”
The answer to this question is that verily Rama was the Supreme Self. He never moved or did anything. He was never subject to joy or sorrow, birth or death, pleasure or pain. Through His life, Sri Rama behaved like an ordinary man only. He had to do that, because Ravana had a boon that he could not be killed by Devas, Asuras, Rakshasas, Yakshas, serpents, bears, etc. He belittled the strength of man in his pride. Ravana could only be killed by a man. So Sri Rama had to show that He was an ordinary man only. Otherwise, He would be disqualified for destroying Ravana, if He exhibited Himself to be a God, according to the boon of Brahma.
The Transcendent Divinity That Is Rama
To a devotee, Rama is not simply a good and great person, but God Himself. Rama is the son of Dasaratha, the King of Ayodhya, as well as the divine, omnipresent God; Self, Atman or Brahman. The destruction of the ten-headed Ravana by Rama is the annihilation of the mind with the ten senses. Worship of Rama is the worship of the Virat Purusha Himself. Read the prayers offered by Mandodari and Brahma in the Yuddha-Khanda of the Valmiki Ramayana. They refer to Rama as the one Creator of the universe, the God of all, the Ruler of all.
Sri Rama Navami
Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of the bright half of the month Chaitra (March-April). This is the birthday of Sri Rama, the seventh divine Incarnation. This is the most important festival of the Vaishnava sect of Hindus. All Saivites also do the celebration. Some keep strict fast. Temples are decorated and the image of Rama adorned with costly ornaments. The Ramayana is read in the temples. At Ayodhya in Fyzabad, a big bathing fair is held on this day.
In the south of India, Sri Rama Navami Utsava is celebrated for nine days with great fervour and devotion by the devotees of Lord Rama.
May you all attain the final beatitude of life through intense devotion towards Rama! May you live immersed in the ecstasy of divine love and Suddha Prem! May Sri Rama, who is effulgent like million suns, who is adored by the gods and devotees, protect you all!
May Lord Rama bestow His choicest blessings on you all! May you all live drowned in the ocean of divine ecstasy through constant repetition of Lord Rama’s Name.
May peace be unto all! May prosperity be unto all! May happiness be unto all!
Let us all sing:
Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram
Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram.