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Self-Growth by study of Ramayana

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Well-known member
Ramayana is one of the greatest epic the world has ever known. It is seemingly based on historical events and embellished with the poetic license of its original poet Valmiki.

Sri Rama Navami is celebrated over several millennia and Sri Rama is worshipped as Bhagavan.

In this thread, my intent is to share few messages from Ramayana that can possibly lead to one's self growth.

A great thing about Hindu tradition and the Hindu religion overall is that it is not based on 'one size fits all' approach. Based on the nature and preparedness of the audience, scriptures are available that anyone can relate to.

If we look at ourselves we are endowed with three distinct capacities.

1. Ability to act using our hands, legs, and speech etc. (physical power)
2. Ability to emote and express our likes and dislikes even if they are not supported by reasons (Power of desires and emotions)
3. Ability to think which could lead to discriminative thinking and wisdom (Power of intellect and Viveka)

Corresponding to each of these capacities, we have scriptures that teach 'how to use these powers' for our growth . For example:

- Power to act : We have rituals prescribed in detail in the Vedas
- Power to emote : We have Puranic stories that can help develop a devotional sense to relate to Bhagavan
- Power of Viveka and thinking : We have Upanishads that teach the true nature and purpose of human life

Depending on Adhikari-beda, namely differences in the audience and their preparedness one can relate to one of more of the above. For most part, the messages of each of the above are very different and yet at another level are not contradictory.

Ramayana has a message regardless of where one is in their relationship to Isvara.

In this thread, I just want to share few examples using the story of Ramayana as to how it can teach us how to act, help develop our emotive capacity to relate to Bhagavan in our lives and offer supporting insights about how the story of Ramayana communicates the seminal teachings of the Upanishad.

Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram


Well-known member
A human being like all life forms is a conscious being.

Consciousness expresses itself as our power to know (Jnana Shakthi) that enable us understand, and as our power to feel emotions such as desire (Iccha Shakthi). Both of the above enables us to speak and act with our hands and legs (Kriya Shakthi).

This Jnana shakthi in turn powers our sense organs enabling perception, powers our intellect to reason and powers our capacity to be wise by enabling our sense of discriminatory thinking (Viveka). If our life is guided by this power of discriminatory thinking, our speech and actions naturally conform to a conflict free life.

The entire story of Ramayana rests on one premise - the power of the spoken word.

King Dasharatha gave a 'word' in terms of certain boons to one of his wives Kaikeyi and that too in the setting of a battlefield.
Later after many years Kaikeyi insists on using the promises made as boons and tells the old King to send his loving son Sri Rama who is about to be coronated to the forest for 14 years and crown her own son instead.

There was not any witness to this incident of the boon being given by Dasharatha. It was given a very long time ago. There could have been ample means to re-interpret the promise or spin the word or deny what was offered.

The great and powerful king was simply bound by the power of his own word. He could not bring himself to deny or lie. He was willing to die and in fact died but could not bring himself to go back on a word given many years ago which had no other witnesses.

Even more significant, Sri Rama honored those words given by his father and went to the forest without any questions in his mind. In fact, poet Valmiki describes in a moving manner how Sri Rama prepares to go to forest. He liquidates voluntarily all his possessions lest there is any doubt one anyone's part of his intent of coming back. His commitment to keep his father's word is total.

The story illustrates how human beings have to learn to live with Integrity which is much more than honesty. In the word of Stephen Covey, "Honesty is telling the truth—in other words, conforming our words to reality. Integrity is conforming reality to our words—in other words, keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. This requires an integrated character, a oneness, primarily with self but also with life”

The story also illustrates how Sri Rama is unwavering in his convictions. He is not bothered by the challenge or fear of being committed to the forest. He is not worried that he is not being loved or displays any insecurity. His integrity is enabled by total clarity of what is needed to be done and how to conform to Dharma.

In today's life, it is rare to find people of integrity who act in alignment with Dharma especially in the face of adversity. There is also lack of clarity as to what Dharma is. Story of Ramayana teaches in a compelling manner what it means to lead a life of Dharma.

In today's world, where the edict is 'end justifies the means', some have questioned the need to pay so much price to keep one's word.

If the powerful king Dasharatha or Sri Rama had refused or re-interpreted the promise, story of Ramayana as we know would not have happened.

By keeping the word, the great King died, Sri Rama went to the forest, and lost his wife to a kidnapper. The war that followed killed many.

Now is it all really worth the price of keeping one's word?

We see all around us people that seem to get away and get ahead with lies. Is following Dharma just a myth? Why should one act in accordance with Dharma in the face of adversity?

To be continued ...


Well-known member
Well the story goes that Dasharatha had promised Kaikeyis father that her son would be King but Dasharatha tried to go back on his word and coronate Rama when Bharatha was at his maternal uncles kingdom.

So Dasharatha was no big Sathyvan to have kept his promise..he tried to not instal Bharata as the actual promise he made to Kaikeyis father.

So technically Dasharatha had no choice..he had to keep his word..in fact Kaikeyi didnt even need to ask the 1st boon to install Bharata cos that was no boon..it was an earlier made promise that Dasharatha did not want to keep.

When one reads Ramayan one starts to wonder why Dasharatha sort of prefered Bharatha to be away at his maternal uncle Yudhajit's kingdom most of the time.

In Ramayan ..Kaikeyi does lament that Dasharatha never bonded with Bharata.

Dasharatha was a person who practiced favortism.

He favored Kaikeyi over other wives..Kaushalya cries to Rama saying Dasharatha is partial and if Rama is not king..she would just be like a maid for Kaikeyi.

Kaushalya wanted the Rajmata status to be glorified cos she was never the prefered queen

Then when Dasharatha gets it royally from Kaikeyi he comes running back to Kaushalya.

Sumitra is totally non existent in all these happenings.

So is it really Dharma or Drama?



Well-known member
We indeed see the world the way we are

Continuing from Post #3

Questions posed in Post #3 will be answered later. If there are scholarly responses to those questions, without deviating from the topic area, they are welcome.

There are two essential principles we discern from the premise of the epic Ramayana

1. Power of the spoken word which translates to value of Integrity
2. Power of clarity in understanding Dharma

We see that Dasharatha is indeed conflicted due to lack of clarity of the situation. On one hand he is bound by his word that was given unconditionally. On the other hand he suffers immensely and could not dismiss the entire demand of Kaikeyi as not appropriate using his positional power.

First he gave his commitment unconditionally and then forgot about it. That itself is a major blunder. He is reminded about this boon at a time when he was euphoric and was sharing his happiness with Kaikeyi about his coronating plans of Sri Rama. He was clueless about the promises he had made.

Dasharatha pleads with Kaikeyi by falling on her feet, by calling her names and even saying that even Bharatha will not accept the plan because Bharatha is even more dharmic than even Rama. But Dasharatha is still bound by the words given in private. In any case he pleads that let Rama not be banished to the forest for 14 years. When he is unable to convince Kaikeyi to take back her request he loses consciousness bound by the power of his own words.

In contrast, when Sri Rama is told about the boons by none other than Kaikeyi, Rama is least bit affected. He cheerfully accepts the words as commands and moves on to execution. One has to think and reflect if such a reaction is natural to anyone other than someone who is extraordinary.

The value of spoken word is taken very seriously by both Sri Rama and Dasharatha but Sri Rama has absolute clarity which obviously the king Dasharatha lacks.

Our own personal growth is not possibly by knowing the right things alone but to know that with absolute clarity. Many of us are exposed to teachings of our scriptures but their impact is muted more often than not because we lack the clarity of understanding along with lack of preparation.

Often we do not learn the subject matter properly under proper setting fulfilling all the prerequisites. We may even lack the ability to focus being distracted by all kinds of sensual objects that are constantly vying for our attention.

In many different contexts, Sri Krishna teaches in B.Gita about the value of clarity leading to Nischaya - firmness in understanding. A well cultivated mind is a pre-requisite for making progress, especially when it is related to personal growth. For example, in B. Gita verse 2.41, Sri Krishna describes ' vyavasathmika Buddhi' as a requirement which is all about clarity of what one seeks.

Since most of us have read Ramayana and know the story somewhat superficially, we are often unable to relate to the feelings of the characters portrayed. None of the characters shine as perfect beings but many try to live by their understanding of Dharma. Even Sri Rama is alluded indirectly to have faltered at least in the words of Valmiki after the killing Vali while hiding.

It is not easy for a parent to decree own son to the forest for 14 years. If someone holds our word and asks our son or daughter to be banished to some far away land as a worker, I am sure none of us would agree to that in order to keep a promise made a long time ago. It is easy to understand the plight of Dasharatha in this context. However his understanding lacks clarity in many areas resulting in enormous suffering leading to his death.

Our actions conforming to Dharma is only possible if there is clarity.

If however, we are conflicted in trying to do the right thing , our growth still is possible if we use that feeling as a feedback for introspection.

In this forum we have had threads on Ramayana often doing psychoanalysis of the characters. That itself may be fun to do but it cannot help with our self-growth which is the focus of this thread.

We indeed see the world the way we are. If we are cynical, we see the world as cynical. Our mind projects on the external world our inner attitudes, pride and prejudices and superimposes our attitude towards life.

If a person is striving to lead of Dharma, they will see enormous wisdom in how the characters are portrayed in an epic like Ramayana which has stood the test of time.

The question still remains which is that Dasharatha could have simply refused to abide by the requests because the boon involves another person (Sri Rama) being sent to forest and also creating possible issues in running the kingdom. But he chose not to do that. Is that wise? Why not admit he made a mistake in giving his word during a moment of weakness and simply refuse to abide by those boons?.

Next post will be about Dharma itself..


New member
In this forum we have had threads on Ramayana
It was nice to see this old thread and read it through. I am impressed with what Shri Sangom had to say then.

On an other note, shri mskmoorthy had pasted two links that talk about the verious tribes across India, and the various flora and fauna. I am suddenly struck by the thought that the author "Valimiki" need not have been one poet... rather like how ants build up anthills (hence the name Valmiki), many poets could have contributed to the epic thus giving it the accuracy of the diverse details depicted in it.


Well-known member
What is Dharma?

The word Dharma is intuitively understood correctly and a human mind can easily interpret its application in a given situation. Often religious, cultural and political dogmas come in the way of its proper application. The description of Dharma occurs in many of our scriptures and one definition that is most popular is this.
धारणाद्धर्ममित्याहु: धर्मो धारयते प्रजा: |
यस्याद्धारणसंयुक्तं स धर्म इति निश्चय: ||

dharanaddharmamityahu: dharmo dharayate praja: |
yasyaddharanasanyuktam sa dharma iti nishchaya: ||
Simple translation: Dharma (representing universal principle and order) holds the cosmos together. Therefore if something is able to hold a society together then it is definite that it is an expression of dharma.

A set of physical laws of universe represent Dharmic laws. A constitution of a country need not be Dharmic but if it is aligned with Dharmic laws then it will be successful in holding the society together. If there are deviations from Dharmic laws in one's conduct, which only humans endowed with free will are capable of doing, the universal order will destroy those actions restoring Dharma. But this may not all happen in real time.

Animals and all other beings, not endowed with free will experience or wisdom, naturally live in accordance with Dharma.

Dharma is a Sanskrit word that has no corresponding word in any other language. A simple definition is not possible but can be only explained in many varied contexts. The human mind that has the 'free will' experience is capable of knowing what Dharma is without the need of any scriptures. Its meaning is often imparted and amplified through stories.

Ramayana is one such epic that, and if studied with Shraddha can lead one to appreciate what Dharma is and why Sri Rama is often said to be a personification of Dharma itself.

Sri Rama is not portrayed as a perfect being in Valmiki's version of Ramayana. As a human being he has uttered statements that cannot be considered divine by some people. In Kishkinda Kandam , Sri Rama while describing the Sharad season used descriptions that borders on sensually and even salaciousness in the understanding of some people. Sri Rama continues thus:

चंचत् चन्द्र कर स्पर्श हर्ष उन्मीलित तारका |
अहो रागवती संध्या जहाति स्वयम् अंबरम् || ४-३०-४५

There are two legitimate translations.

  1. "Aha! By the touch of the moonbeam of the shining moon, the damsel called twilight is delightedly unfolding the stars releasing her ochre hue off the sky on her own, in all her love for the moon.

  1. "Aha! By the touch of the hand of her twinkling hero a damsel in all her love to him is delightedly widening her pupils and disrobing her ochre robe on her own.
Further down Sri Rama continues:

दर्शयन्ति शरन् नद्यः पुलिनानि शनैः शनैः |
नव संगम सव्रीडा जघनानि इव योषितः || ४-३०-५८
Here it is unmistakable as to what was in Sri Rama's mind according to the poet.
Translation: The autumnal rivers are showing their dunes slowly and slowly, as with shying brides showing hips in their new trysts, slowly and slowly.

These expression of humanness of a person lonely and missing his wife does not imply he is adharmic. Only a mind that is judgmental of others will call this immoral. Some scholars think that Valmiki the poet should not have used Sri Rama's character to describe the season in this manner.

The entirely of Ramayana has to be read and learned from a proper teacher to appreciate what it means to lead a Dharmic life. A casual reading of translation alone cannot provide the needed insight that is useful for adoption in our life. In fact by describing Sri Rama in human terms that we can all relate to, the epic is even more glorious since it enable us to get past our limitations in our quest to follow Dharma.

A simplistic attempt at a definition of Dharma would be to state that it is which contains and upholds the entire cosmos. In that sense, when one follows Dharma one is actually worshiping Isvara. In this thinking, Dharma is not a destination but a journey itself. The attitude of being aligned with natural order and focus on the underlying 'process' is all about being aligned with Dharma.

Dharma sustains all life forms in harmony with natural laws which are Isvara's laws. By our commitment to Dharma we are in alignment with the order that holds the universe together.

Sri Rama seem to have had understood this very clearly. It is that clarity that enabled him to act so decisively in many situations. Rather than immerse oneself in specific events in the epic, let me summarize two main take-aways (principles) for our own action.

Many of us have read Rajaji's version of Ramayana. I found one book that I read a long time ago to be particularly well written and it is a book that was derived from 30 lectures given by the Right Honorable V.S. Srinivasa Sastry in 1944 under the auspices of Madras Sanskrit Academy . In those lectures the story is analyzed from many perspectives. My comments below are not from that book but used the analysis to provide a different perspective.

Dharma as a purushartha is often taken to mean religious activities to gain Punya that can enable one to go to heaven after death. Some people interpret Dharma to mean the laws of Manu. In studying Ramayana with a view to adopt useful aspects in our own life, these interpretations are not the focus.

If Dharma is embodiment of a set of universal principles how do we conduct our life in accordance with those principles?
In the next post I will go into two specific principles that describe Dharma in a way we all can relate to. A reader can then explore if Sri Rama's life as described by Valmiki is in accordance with those two principles.


Well-known member
Sri Rama is not portrayed as a perfect being in Valmiki's version of Ramayana. As a human being he has uttered statements that cannot be considered divine by some people. In Kishkinda Kandam , Sri Rama while describing the Sharad season used descriptions that borders on sensually and even salaciousness in the understanding of some people. Sri Rama continues thus:

चंचत् चन्द्र कर स्पर्श हर्ष उन्मीलित तारका |
अहो रागवती संध्या जहाति स्वयम् अंबरम् || ४-३०-४५

There are two legitimate translations.

  1. "Aha! By the touch of the moonbeam of the shining moon, the damsel called twilight is delightedly unfolding the stars releasing her ochre hue off the sky on her own, in all her love for the moon.

  1. "Aha! By the touch of the hand of her twinkling hero a damsel in all her love to him is delightedly widening her pupils and disrobing her ochre robe on her own.
Further down Sri Rama continues:

दर्शयन्ति शरन् नद्यः पुलिनानि शनैः शनैः |
नव संगम सव्रीडा जघनानि इव योषितः || ४-३०-५८
Here it is unmistakable as to what was in Sri Rama's mind according to the poet.
Translation: The autumnal rivers are showing their dunes slowly and slowly, as with shying brides showing hips in their new trysts, slowly and slowly.

These expression of humanness of a person lonely and missing his wife does not imply he is adharmic. Only a mind that is judgmental of others will call this immoral. Some scholars think that Valmiki the poet should not have used Sri Rama's character to describe the season in this manner.

I dont see any reason for these two verses to be considered salacious in any way.

Sensuality is the ultimate expression of union of mind,body and soul..where the difference between physical and non physical disappears...it totally appears like a lover pining for his beloved but in a higher sense its much more that..physical union of even lovers are a micro-cosmic enactment of the macro-cosmic act of creation.

Even Sufi poems are full of Love and Lover scenarios.

The human emotions usually relate to Love of the Lover Beloved kind cos that does not limit the mind and lets us explore the depths of our hearts and desires.

Rama is Purusha and Sita is Prakirti(Nature)..these two can not be separated and yearn a union in a higher sense,

Rama was describing the beauty of Prakirti at its best and how much He misses Her that everything reminds Him of Her for Nature is verily Her.

To the average intellect these expressions would only seem "Adharmic" cos average humans can not go beyond duality that is tainted by Pride and Prejudice.

It takes a very evolved mindset to see God even in Sense and Sensuality.


Well-known member
Before taking up the discussion on the two Dharmic principles that need to guide our actions, let me recap some points for context.
The epic Ramayana, that has stood the test of time, is like an ocean of information that enables one to make comments from many diverse perspectives. In this thread however, the ONLY FOCUS is self-growth through study of Ramayana which is the name of the thread itself.

To limit the scope even further in this modest presentation, my intent is to consider the opportunity for growth in terms of

  1. how we act & speak,
  2. how we manage our emotions and
  3. how we leverage our faculty of wisdom.

Each of these areas correspond to our organs of actions, mind & sense organs, and Buddhi & wisdom respectively.

In this post, I would like to conclude the first item above using Ramayana's teaching as a basis.

How we act and speak

Ramayana's story emphasizes the of value of integrity and the power of spoken word. The end is NOT shown to justify the means. For example, a simple reinterpretation of Dasaratha's boons and its applicability could have avoided all the hardships. But there was focus on following the word given even if it was done anonymously.
But we do find one place where lying is justified. Here the end seems to be justified by a grand lie. For example, Seetha says

गते हि हरि शार्दूल पुनः आगमनाय तु |
प्राणानाम् अपि संदेहो मम स्यान् न अत्र संशयः || ५-३९-२२

"O Hanuman the lion among the monkeys! If after that, there is any doubt about your return, there is a doubt even for my survival too. There is no suspicion about this matter."

She further worries how an army of Vanaras can possibly cross the ocean or if Rama & Lakshmana as human beings will ever be able to cross the ocean. Her destiny, she feels is to die rather than yield to Ravana's desires and ultimatum.

Hanuman consoles her by telling a lie that "You do not know the power of the Vanaras. More than once they have gone around the world with the oceans and land between them" . He concludes that
मत् विशिष्टाः च तुल्याः च सन्ति तत्र वन ओकसः |
मत्तः प्रत्यवरः कश्चिन् न अस्ति सुग्रीव सम्निधौ || ५-३९-३८
"In them, some of the monkeys are superior to me and some are even equal to me. No one in the vicinity of Sugreeva is inferior to me."
अहम् तावत् इह प्राप्तः किम् पुनः ते महाबलाः |
न हि प्रकृष्टाः प्रेष्यन्ते प्रेष्यन्ते हि इतरे जनाः || ५-३९-३९
"When I have arrived here, why to talk about the mighty ones? Generally, superior ones are not sent for errands. Only others are indeed sent."

The above is a grand lie to keep Seetha from feeling pessimistic.

I will let the readers figure out if the above lie is justified where the end is justified by the means (a lie)

Sri Rama is portrayed as a human being in Valmiki Ramayana, which is a blessing

When it comes to our growth in interpreting dharmic actions in our lives, it is useful not to view Sri Rama as a deity but as a human being going through struggles of a human being. In studying Ramayana, Sri Rama's actions reveals to us that his life represents personification of Dharma itself.

Valmiki does not portray a perfect human being in Sri Rama, which is a blessing because it allows us to relate to Sri Rama in a personal manner. If the Bhagavan that we perceive is remote and belongs to another order of reality, it is not possible to have a personal relation with that Bhagavan. This is particularly true when we sift through our own actions in our quest to follow Dharma.

Two important principles of duty
Dharma is the universal principles that hold the universe together. Now we need to ask how the universe appears to each of us. We first sense ourselves as an individual, and as we grow up we realize we are part of a human society which include various other subgroups defined by identities such as family, extended families, religion, town, state, country etc. We realize that we belong to various such groups which has influence on us and that there is an interdependent relation with each of these entities.

In addition, we realize our body (and mind) itself is part of nature and nature includes Jadam (inanimate objects) and Chetana (animals and all kinds of such conscious beings). Here again we have an interdependent relationship with nature.

To the extent, we feel that we may survive death some of us may realize we have a connection to an unknowable entity that seem to be all powerful driver of this intelligent universe and that our lives are not ruled by our wishes alone.

We have a duty toward each of these relationships

  1. Self as an entity - Vyashti Dharma
  2. Self as an interdependent part of human society - Samashti Dharma that has elements for each group we belong to
  3. Self as interdependent part of nature - Srishti Dharma (includes our attitudes towards life forms and our actions towards environment)
  4. Self in relation to a universal power of hidden variables - Parameshti Dharma
Items 2, and 3 could be covered for this discussion as an all-encompassing Samashti Dharma that include our duty towards our family, extended families, our country (or countries) of birth and growth, animals and other living beings, and earth & environment.

Item 4 is a topic more appropriately discussed in the context of growth of mind and wisdom (covered in later posts).

Vyashti Dharma is all about how we conduct ourselves even when no one is observing us. Sri Rama exhibits Vyashti Dharma as to how he handles numerous situations. One example may suffice for the discussion here.

Locked in mortal battle with Ravana, Sri Rama gives him a second chance when Ravana finds himself in a major disadvantage. Sri Rama tells him " Now Ravana, you are at a great disadvantage, today I have seen you at your best… Still you are tired .. I give you time .., come tomorrow to fight "

Has anyone heard of such an action by any hero in a mortal battle? These are not isolated instances in Ramayana. When it comes to doing one's duty we must but admire the actions of Lakshmana and Bharatha.

Ramayana illustrates throughout the epic the power of following one's Samashti dharma. Many seemingly conflicting situations could be understood if one examines many episodes within Ramayana from the perspectives of following both Vyashti and Samashti Dharma.
The practical way to follow Dharma in our lives is to ask ourselves how we are doing in the area Vyashti Dharma and Samashti Dharma.
Focusing on these two principles of Dharma can help one lead a conflict free life. Ramayana can assist if one studies the actions of various characters from the view point of Vyashti and Samashti Dharma.

We can bring these notions of Dharma to even ordinary actions. How we 'show up' at this forum itself is an expression of our commitment to samashti dharma. Do our actions enhance the value of this forum for example?

Final food for thought on this topic of Vyashti and Samashti Dharma
My view is that Indians in modern India are still striving to follow Vyashti Dharma in their lives though that is changing for the worst with the wave of western culture enveloping the Indian thinking. Study of Ramayana can be very helpful here.

However, we Indians (both in India and elsewhere) seemingly have little regard for our Samashti Dharma. People have no issues spitting on the ground just to give one example. Condoning corruption is another example.

In the west, Vyashti dharma is lacking. Children born outside marriage has reached alarming proportion leading to millions of single parents which has impacted many other aspects of life. That is just one example though there are many.

However, the west has been far more strong in asserting their Samashti Dharma. To give an example, I am reminded of an incident that took place quarter century ago. From wikipedia here is an excerpt about the story of one Rodney King

"Rodney Glen King (April 2, 1965 – June 17, 2012) was a taxi driver who became internationally known after being beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers following a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991. A witness, George Holliday, videotaped much of the beating from his balcony, and sent the footage to local news station KTLA. The footage shows four officers surrounding King, several of them striking him repeatedly, while other officers stood by. Parts of the footage were aired around the world, and raised public concern about police treatment of minorities in the United States.

Four officers were charged with assault with a deadly weapon and use of excessive force. Three were acquitted of all charges. The jury acquitted the fourth of assault with a deadly weapon but failed to reach a verdict on the use of excessive force. The jury deadlocked at 8–4 in favor of acquittal at the state level. Within hours of the acquittals, the six-day 1992 Los Angeles riots started, in which 55 people were killed and over 2,000 were injured, ending only when the California national guard was called in.

The acquittals also led to the federal government's obtaining grand jury indictments for violations of King's civil rights. The trial of the four in a federal district court ended on April 16, 1993, with two of the officers being found guilty and subsequently imprisoned. The other two were acquitted again."

This black man, a drug addict, was not an exemplary citizen. The reason why justice was served to the police men using excessive force is because most people wanted to see justice.

American people are seemingly slipping in their commitment to samashti Dharma of late.

In all these, the focus is not on the behavior of a Government but by ordinary people as to how they conduct their commitments to both Vyashti and samashti Dharma even if they do not know these terms.

A country and its people that emphasize both Vyashti and Samashti Dharma in their lives is likely to be a great nation. Ramayana if studied properly from this perspective can be a great help.

Next post will be about how life of Sri Rama can help in managing our emotive faculty.


Well-known member
Scientific research in the last 30 years has confirmed enormous benefits of Meditation to the practitioners.
Specifically the cover page and main set of articles of Scientific American (November 2014 edition) was all about the benefits of meditation. Neuroscience research has confirmed the benefit even more directly in terms of how our brain is positively altered due to meditation. Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, and mental stress as claimed by many bloggers.

Mindfulness meditation is a western name for the tradition arising from the Buddhists methods of meditation and has been well researched in terms of its benefits. Our teaching (example : Chapter 6 of B. Gita) emphasizes Dhyana which is meditation as understood in the western world and much more. Dhyana involves mental activity that is focused on Bhagavan. In this context, one needs to have some understanding of this Isvara (Bhagavan) in order to have all the benefits which include development one's emotive faculties in addition to all the benefits touted by today's research.

In our life, we find that most things in the world are accomplished by a well-developed emotive faculty. In Kathopanishad, there is a metaphor of Life's journey to that of a charioteer driving a chariot. There, chariot is taken as our body, the charioteer is our intellect along with our abilities to do discriminative thinking (Viveka in Buddhi) and the horses are taken to represent our emotive faculty. It is the horses that accomplish the travel guided by the charioteer. Similarly major accomplishments are possible only when the emotive faculties are well honed in a person. Even the desire to attain Moksha in this life is guided by this emotive desire.
Epic Ramayana provides a framework to relate to Bhagavan for the believers. Belief itself arises out of emotion and intellect has no role in this. Buddhi is actually beyond intellect and includes wisdom as well. In fact, Buddhi is said to be residing in our Hridayam which is not exactly the location of the physical heart. The universal language of this wisdom seated in Hridayam can be called LOVE. I am using capital letters to distinguish from the love-hate emotions that arise due to our attachments. LOVE has no opposite and it is unconditional involving no intellect.
An example of unadulterated LOVE is what a mother feels towards her baby. It is spontaneous and we feel that LOVE unconditionally in many situation when the mind/intellect has not interfered. Adulterated love is one where a parent may feel affection connected to a sense of ego and attachment ("my child"). Even animals have exhibited this LOVE. See this Youtube Video for an example
Incredible leopard and baby baboon interaction

Human beings have lost this capacity to sense this LOVE, primarily due to misplaced intellect. That LOVE itself is nothing but manifestation of Isvara and meditation is but one manner to develop our sense of self to be in touch with Isvara in a direct manner.
One meaning of the word Rama is stated as
रम्यतेSनेन इति रामः -- that which is pleasing to all and refers to this LOVE in our Hridayam.

Some people may not be emotionally moved by the epic Ramayana or by the meaning of the word Rama. However if they have reverence to teachings of Upanishad here is an interesting reference where the word Rama occurs and that is called Kalisantarana Upanaishad . It is called minor Upanishad only because Sri Sankara did not provide commentaries but the truth that it conveys is no less than any other Upanishad.

The Kali-Santarana Upanishad (Sanskrit: कलिसन्तरणोपनिषद्) is found in the the Kṛṣṇa Yajurveda. The Upanishad was likely composed before 1500 CE, and it was popularized in the 16th century by Caitanya in the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition (reference: Wikipedia article).
पुनः पप्रच्छ तन्नाम किमिति । स होवाच हिरण्यगर्भः ।
Translation : Narada asked again: "What are those names ?" Brahma (Hiranyagarbha) replied

Brahma replies:
हरे राम हरे राम राम राम हरे हरे ।
हरे कृष्ण हरे कृष्ण कृष्ण कृष्ण हरे हरे ॥

hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
It does not matter if the name Rama referred to here is the same Rama of Ramayana. If one truly appreciates the story of Ramayana it is possible to sense this LOVE in our Hridayam. Dhyana is about meditation of any Isvara Nama but given all the significance of Rama as noted above, meditation of Rama Nama is significant for the believers.

The language of the Hridayam which is LOVE cannot be confused with intellect driven reasoning that has its root in human ego.
There is Buddhi driven understanding of the same language of Hridayam which is not emphasized in Dwitha and VisishtaDwitha tradtion and is beyond the scope of this thread.

In any case, the benefits of Dhayana that goes beyond scientific research on meditation cannot be explained by words. It has to be experienced and my suggestion is that a serious sadhaka begin a daily practice of Dhayana with Rama Nama.
My next post will be about Ramayana and how it metaphorically communicates some essential teachings of Vedanta and provide a context to develop our sense of discriminative thinking which is just as important as developing our emotive faculty.


Sir: while I find your insights fascinating, I think it important to recognize that first and foremost Ramayana is a human story. Indeed, Rama himself denies that he is an Avatara of Vishnu, proclaiming himself only a human being. Sri Vaishnava acharyas describe how each incident in Adikavi Valmiki Ramayana covers the good qualities of Rama and how we as human beings - to be truly human - should cultivate these good qualities in ourselves to live a long and happy life.

Consequently, as Mareecha himself said, Sri Rama is dharma incarnate, and our serving him in our thoughts and actions is the proper dharma for us.


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Sir: while I find your insights fascinating, I think it important to recognize that first and foremost Ramayana is a human story. Indeed, Rama himself denies that he is an Avatara of Vishnu, proclaiming himself only a human being. Sri Vaishnava acharyas describe how each incident in Adikavi Valmiki Ramayana covers the good qualities of Rama and how we as human beings - to be truly human - should cultivate these good qualities in ourselves to live a long and happy life.

Consequently, as Mareecha himself said, Sri Rama is dharma incarnate, and our serving him in our thoughts and actions is the proper dharma for us.
Sri mraghavan,

You make an important point. There are voluminous commentaries on the qualities of Sri Rama that human beings can aspire towards. Bala Kanda opens with Aage Narada describing the virtues of Sri Rama to Adi Kavi Valmiki. That itself runs into many verses and commentaries on those verses can make up a voluminous text by itself.

In this modest presentation I wanted to cover a not just the 'what' but a bit of 'why' and 'how' so that some of the messages may be realized by a sincere sadhaka.

The point that Sri Rama is presented as a human being is a good segway to my next post.



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As a human being we feel complete even in a mundane sense when our sense organs are operating properly, our body and mind are healthy and that our intellect with associated wisdom is at our disposal. We cannot neglect any one of these faculties in our quest for self-growth.

Without tapping into our unique capacity for discriminative thinking and wisdom, our intellect is at the whim of our sense of doer-ship (often incorrectly translated as ego). Ultimately, sustained liberation from a sense of limitation and sorrow is possible not by doing any rituals or by meditation etc. alone but by the knowledge of our true nature that we are indeed complete (Purnam पूर्णं) the way we are.

Proper study of Upanishad and B. Gita under the guidance and blessings of a qualified teacher alone can lead to this knowledge. If someone Is well versed with Ramayana, it can provide rich metaphors to enable understanding of key concepts.

To illustrate this point, let me just use two metaphors. The intent in this presentation is not to go through all available metaphors which are many.

In Ramayana, Ravana is said to have 10 heads. While movies may portray an actor with 10 heads, in real life such a thing is not possible and even if 10 heads exist in a person, they are a nuisance and curse at best. In the story, if one head is severed another head is supposed to pop up.

Metaphorically, the heads represent desires of the mind. As soon as we satisfy one desire, another one pops up. There is no way to kill all the heads (desires) because there seem to be an endless supply.

The only way Ravana is killed is by a Brahmastra that pierces the heart of Ravana. Metaphorically, this means that the desires and fears of a person cannot be removed except by the Brahmastra of 'Tatvam Asi' knowledge in our Hridayam.

Rama is portrayed as human being in the story. There is a significance to this as well in a metaphorical context. Ravana could not be killed by asuras and Rakshasas. Only a human being could finally slay him. This means that only a human birth endowed with a sense of discriminative wisdom is capable of achieving freedom from desires and fears leading to Moskha.

In summary, the opportunities for personal growth is immense by the study of Ramayana.

It teaches us

  1. The value of integrity and spoken word,
  2. The need to balance Vyashti and Samashti Dharma in our life,
  3. The power of meditation of Rama Nama
  4. Metaphors in our quest to understand Brhama Vidya.

Saint Thyagaraja was one of the greatest Rama Bhkatha whose songs teach people about true Bhakthi. What may not be apparent is that his songs convey vedantic understanding with powerful verses. I want to conclude this thread with reference to a song that I like very much.

It is rendered by Ranjani and Gayatri at the link below
Gnanamosagarada-purvikalyani-rupakam-Tygaraja by Ranjani Gayatri

Om Tat Sat
----------OM SRI RAM JAYA RAM JAYA JAYA RAM -----------------------------------------------------------
Lyrics and meaning of the song referenced above:

Ragam: Purvi Kalyani
Talam: Rupakam
Composer: Thyagaraja

Jnaana Mosaga Raadaa Garuda Gamana Vaadaa

Nee Naamamuche Naa Madi Nirmalamainadi

Paramaatmudu Jeevaatmudu Padinaalugu Lokamulu Nara Kinnara Kimpurushulu Naaradaadi Munulu
Paripoorna Nishkalanka Niravadhi Sukha Daayaka Vara Tyaagaraajarchita Vaaramu Taanane

Meaning: (From TK Govinda Rao’s book)

Lord! Should not (“raada”) grant (“mosaga”) me wisdom (“Jnana”) and redeem me?
O the rider (“gamana”) on Garuda!
Are you cross with me (“Vaada”)?
Constantly chanting your (“nee”) name (“naamamu”) has made (“mainadi”) my (“naa”) mind (“madi”) pure and stainless (“nirmala”).
So, cant you initiate me (“Vaaramu taanane”) into the ultimate advaitic doctrine so that I may realize and experience the unity of the Supreme Paramaatmaa (“Paramaatmudu”) and the individual Jeevatma (“Jeevaatmudu”); and identify myself with the entire creation of the fourteen (“padinaalugu”) worlds (“lokamulu”), human beings (“nara”) and celestials like Kinnaraas, Kimpurushaas (“Kinnara Kimpurushulu”) and sages (“munulu”) like Naarada?
O Supreme and Perfect (“paripurna”)! O the Impeccable one (“nish-kalanka”)!
Bestower (“daayaka”) of eternal (“niravadi”) Bliss (“sukha”)! The one prayed (“archita”) to by tyagaraja!

From <http://www.shivkumar.org/music/jnanamosagarada.htm>


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I have felt that the VR is one of the greatest detective stories of all time. The process followed step by step towards locating Seetha, getting clues all along the way, until the final thrilling moment when Hanuman discovers Seetha under the Simsapa tree, is well worth savouring. That could be the reason why, the poet devoted the maximum lines in the trxt to the description of Seetha as seen by Hanuman. Nowhere else in the text is Seetha described!

Another thing with the VR is, it teaches me that man can never achieve his aims without enlisting the support of others, especially our non-human friends. As I write this in the dead of the night, my sole companion around here is a street dog, man's eternal friend.

Reading the VR, its interesting how the characters come in, have a powerful impact, and then abruptly leave. Rather like life, isnt it? In the introductory Kandas, it is Dasaratha and Bharata who dominate. Then they simply disappear, as we are shown various ashramas with their austere and pious worship. Names like Sutheekshna, Sarabhanga..... all stir our imagination, as possible major characters in older, bygone Ramayanas, who are now reduced to a chapter apiece in Valmiki's retelling. Ravana makes his appearance only from the middle. In the chapter where Seetha welcomes the Sannyasi-Ravana she refers to her age and that of Rama. Rama was 25 at the time of banishment while Seetha was 18 !
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