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Sri Rama Navami on March 27

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The Ramayana is not merely the story of Rama. It is an epic which
proclaims the greatness of three cities--Mithila, Ayodhya and Lanka.
The Rama principle has brought out and demonstrated the significance
of these three cities.
Rama is the embodiment of Dharma (righteousness), Lakshmana is the
embodiment of Sraddha (dedication). Bharata embodies Bhakti
(devotion), Shatrughna personifies Sakti(valour). Dharma is
associated with Sraddha. The protecting cover for Bhakti is Sakti.
Hence Rama and Lakshmana were always together as a pair, and Bharata and Satrughna as another.
Hardly had Rama reached the age of sixteen when sage Viswamitra
arrived on the scene. With his coming, the epic career of Rama (Rama-
ayana) began. From then on the destruction of the Raakshasas started.
Beginning with the protection of Viswamitra's yajna, it is one
continuous saga of ceaseless action: liberating Ahalya from her
curse, proceeding to Mithila, breaking Siva's bow, marrying Sita (the
incarnation of Maha Maya), humbling of Parasurama on the way to
Ayodhya, leaving for the forest as an exile, searching for Sita,
invading Lanka, destroying Ravana, installing Vibhishana on the
throne, and triumphantly returning to Ayodhya. During all this
period, Rama's career was filled with action and adventures with no
Ramayana is the joint epic of Rama and Sita:
The term "Rama" means one who is pleasing and lovable. "Ayana" means
movement or journey. "Ra" refers to Atma and "Ma" refers to Mind. The
Rama principle means merging the mind in the Atma. "Ramayana" means
suffusing the world with the bliss of the Rama principle. But it is
not Sri Rama alone that is involved in this process; Sita is also an
epic personality. "Rama" is another name for Sita. The Ramayana is
thus a joint epic of Rama and Sita or Sita-Rama Ramayanam.
Rarely in the world do we see married couples who are identical in
their physical features, their qualities, behavior, thoughts and
capacities. But in the case of Rama and Sita the similarity was
complete in every respect. There were no differences in features,
qualities or other aspects. The truth of this is evident from what
Hanuman experienced. Once Hanuman happened to look at Sita when she
was alone. He got a doubt whether Rama himself had assumed a feminine
form. Looking at Sita, he thought it was Rama himself. Hence Rama and
Sita should be regarded as one identical entity and not as separate
Role of three cities in Ramayana:
The inner significance of the Sita-Rama story will be clear when we
consider the role of the three cities in the Ramayana. First is
Mithila. Emperor Janaka was its ruler. He was a Brahmajnaani
(identity of individual self with the cosmic being) who had renounced
everything. Like water on a lotus leaf, he was completely detached,
with no concern for worldly things. Having no children of his own, he
brought up with great love a foundling (Sita). There were two
powerful entities in his kingdom: Siva's bow and Sita. Once, while
engaging in play, Sita lifted the giant bow of Siva with astonishing
ease. Struck by this feat, Janaka decided that Sita should be given
in marriage only to one who could handle Siva's bow and be worthy of
Sita's hand. With this resolve, he invited all the .rinces for Sita's
svayamvara. Rama arrived and lifted Siva's bow as lightly as Sita had
done. Janaka realized that Rama and Sita were well matched in every
respect--beauty, character and strength.
Sita was no ordinary woman. She was the embodiment of Maha Maya
(supreme divine illusion). Rama acquired Maha Maya as his mate. Sita,
for her part, sought oneness with the Atma principle represented by
Rama. The marriage of Rama and Sita represents the association of the
Atma and the Maya. It is in this combined form of Atma and Maya that
Rama entered Ayodhya.
"Ayodhya" means "invincible". Its ruler was Dasaratha. Dasaratha
means one who has made his ten indriyas (sense organs), the five
organs of action and the five organs of perception,his chariot.
Allegorically, this means that Dasaratha represents the body, with
its ten organs. These sense organs are related to the three gunas
{qualities, Satwa, Rajas, Tamas. Dasaratha's three wives, Kausalya,
Sumitra and Kaikeyi,symbolize these three gunas.
Dasarata's four sons represent four Vedas:
When one is influenced by gunas, he develops desires. The four sons
of Dasaratha were the embodiments of his desires. Rama, Lakshmana,
Bharatha and Satrughna symbolize the four Vedas-Rig, Yajur, Sama and
Atharvana. The Rig Veda figures in the Yajur and Sama Vedas to
varying extent. It is the embodiment of Dharma. Yajur-Veda embodies
mantras (sacred formulae). Lakshmana was continually engaged in
contemplating about Rama and immersing himself in the Rama mantra.
Bharata was one who could not bear separation from Rama and who was
ever dwelling on Rama's name and form. He was the embodiment of Sama
Veda. Shatrughna was one who had mastered all the sciences and used
his powers for protecting his brothers. He was skilled in the use of
all kinds of weapons. Thus the four Vedas, taking the form of the
four brothers, were sporting in Dasaratha's palace.
Symbolic meaning of characters of Ramayana:
Soon after his entry into Ayodhya in the company of Sita as Maya,
Rama had to enter the jungle of life. These ordeals are the
concomitants of those who are associated with Maya. As a result he
had to embark on a search for Sita. On the way, he met Sugriva.
Sugriva and Vali--the brothers--represent the qualities of Viveka
(discrimination) and Dheeratva (valor). Rama made common cause with
Sugriva to overcome Vali. He got the friendship of Anjaneya who
symbolizes Dhairyam (dauntless courage). With the help of Sugriva and
Hanuman, Rama crossed the ocean of moha (delusion) to enter Lanka.
Once again he encountered the three gunas--Satwa, Rajas and Tamas
(qualities of serenity, passion and passivity) in Lanka in the form
of Vibhishana, Ravana and Kumbakarna. He vanquished Ravana and
Kumbhakama (Rajo and Tamo gunas) and crowned Vibhishana (Satwa guna)
as King. He recovered Sita who now assumed the form of Anubhavajnana
(wisdom born of experience) and reentered Ayodhya with her.
The Ramayana epic carries these significant messages when the
symbolic meaning of the characters and events in it are properly
Here the unique features of Lanka may be noted. Its ruler was the ten-
headed Ravana. Although he was endowed with all powers, he was
perpetually immersed in Moha (infatuation for women). He had the
appellation "Dasagriva"--the one with ten heads. In Ayodhya,
Dasaratha was the ruler and in Lanka it was Dasagriva. Dasaratha had
ten indriyas (sense organs) as his chariot. Ravana was the one who
was enjoying the ten senses as a sensualist. Whatever one's
scholarship or wealth or strength, if he has no control over his
senses, he descends to the depths of degradation. Without control
over his senses, a person who may have conquered the three worlds
will be a slave of his impulses. The bad traits of Ravana were shared
by all the people of Lanka. As is the ruler, so are the subjects,
says the adage. When the ruler indulges in sensual pleasures, the
subjects also do likewise. Lanka was thus immersed in carnal
pleasures. The people were not aware of human virtues, much less of
divine qualities. Pleasures of the flesh were their sole
preoccupation. But at the same time, they carried on ritualistic
practices like yagas and yajnas (sacrificial rites and rituals).
Transformation of demonic nature to divinity
Witnessing the grandeur and beauty of Lanka, with its huge mansions
and beautiful gardens and seeing the sacrificial fires burning in
every home, Hanuman at first wondered whether the ruler of such a
paradise on earth could commit the heinous crime of abducting Sita.
Later Hanuman realized that Lanka was like the fig fruit, which is
very attractive on the outside but is full of worms inside. In spite
of all its external beauty and grandeur, Lanka contained within it,
forces of evil and wickedness. The conversion of such an abode of
evil into a kingdom of righteousness by the installation of
Vibhishana is the climax of the Ramayana story.
Good exists in the midst of evil and vice-versa:
The epic theme of the Ramayana is the transformation of the demonic
nature to divinity. During the war in Lanka, an arrow released by
Lakshmana struck a child whom its mother was carrying. Lakshmana
noticed that the mother, instead of caring for the dead child, was
fleeing to save herself. He remarked to Rama that this callous lack
of maternal affection revealed the demonic nature of the woman. Rama
counseled patience and told Lakshmana that the woman's heart had been
purified by seeing Rama. She had given up all desires and
attachments. He asked Lakshmana to beckon her and ascertain whether
she was running away for the sake of personal safety or for higher
reasons. A monkey was sent to fetch her. When questioned, the woman
said: "Ramachandra, it is not as if I have no love for my child.
Unfortunately, for the decree of fate it has passed away, while I
have survived. I wish to live so that, after defeating Ravana, when
Rama takes the Rakshasas to Ayodhya, I shall be able to serve Rama
and feast my eyes on him. Some day Rama will bless the people of
Lanka and take them to Ayodhya. I shall then be able to render
service in Rama's palace. I am keeping alive only with this hope."
The moral of this episode is that there is good in the midst of evil
and evil in the midst of good. Likewise purity prevails amidst
impurity and impurity exists in the midst of purity. That is why the
answer to the question, "Where is the Lord to be found?" "Out of
unrest peace ensues; from peace results illumination; that
illumination reveals the supreme effulgence of the Divine; in that
effulgence is Divinity." Thus Santhi (peace) exists within asanthi
(restlessness). But it is said that no one who lacks peace can have
happiness. This is not quite correct. Instead of bemoaning the state
of peacelessness one should strive for real peace with courage and
faith. This is the difference between the optimist and the pessimist.
Looking at a glass half full of water, the pessimist says, "the glass
is half-empty." The optimist says "it is half-full". The pessimist
sees only the thorn in the rose stalk, while the optimist enjoys the
beauty of the rose. Everyone should develop a hopeful and optimistic
outlook. The hopes should be centered not on worldly things but on
self-realization. Even in the Rakshasa dominion of Lanka there were
seekers of the Atma. In Ayodhya all persons appeared to be virtuous
and pious devotees of God. But even in such a sacred land, there were
some petty-minded men who were ready to cast aspersions on Divinity
itself and find fault with God's ways. It was a washerman's
disparaging remarks against Sita and Rama, which led her banishment
to the forest.
Three persons were aware of Rama principle:
There were three persons who were aware of the Rama principle. They
were Hanuman, Sumitra and Viswamitra. Hanuman was no ordinary person.
He was a high-minded, powerful figure endowed with immense knowledge
and wisdom. He was well aware of the divinity of Rama. Kausalya
despite her Satwic {serene} nature was not aware of Rama's divine
power as much as Sumitra. Kausalya shed copious tears on hearing
about Rama's exile to the forest. Sumitra, on the contrary, enjoined
her son Lakshmana to accompany Rama and told him: "Wherever Rama is
there is Ayodhya, where Rama is not, that is the real jungle. Rama is
verily Lord Narayana Himself. Go and serve Rama and Sita with my
blessings." Sumitra explained to Lakshmana how he was an aspect of
Rama from the circumstances of his birth.
Ramayana is a guide on human relationships:

Among the four brothers there was boundless love and regard for each
other. When Rama went to the forest and was in Chitrakuta, Bharatha
came there to entreat him to return to Ayodhya and reign as the
legitimate heir to the throne. Rama refused to return, saying that
Bharatha should rule over Ayodhya in accordance with the promise
given by Dasaratha. The argument between the two was ultimately
resolved by Sage Vasishta who told Bharatha: "Do not cause any pain
to Rama, who is Divinity itself and who has come down to protect the
good and uphold Dharma." Bharatha pleaded for taking Rama's sandals
and administering the kingdom in Rama's name till he returned to
There are a series of episodes in the Ramayana to show how deep was
the love between the four brothers and how devoted were the younger
brothers to Rama. Such fraternal love is an example to the world for
all time.
The Ramayana is a guidebook on the ideal relations between mothers
and children, between husband and wife, between brothers, between the
ruler and the people, between the master and the servants and many
other human relationships. Rama showed compassion to the dying eagle
Jatayu, which had fought with Ravana when he was carrying Sita away
to Lanka and Rama gave refuge to Vibhishana, even against the fears
expressed by Lakshmana.These are examples of Rama's supreme
benevolence and magnanimity towards anyone who revered him or sought
his protection. Rama declared to Lakshmana: "Anyone who comes to me
in a spirit of surrender, whoever he might be, is mine and I am his.
I shall give him asylum. This is my vow." Rama was a man pledged to
one word, to one wife and to a single arrow.
Everyone should install Rama in their hearts and celebrate Ramanavami
for achieving Atmic bliss. Going through the Ramayana epic they
should reach the state of "Atma-Rama" (oneness with the Universal
Spirit). In such a state there is no Ahamkara (ego-sense).

Thanks. Very Lucid.

Is 'Discrimination' for Viveka, your choice or part of the original text ? At the risk of sounding boorish, i think it can be improvised. Shouldn't it be 'Discretion' as in Discretion is the better part of valour.
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