Tag Archives: Ramayana

Dussehra : Sri Rama’s victory over Ravana!

Seeta, Lord Rama’s wife had been abducted by the ten-headed Ravana. She was held captive in Lanka. Rama and Lakshmana along with the army of vanaras headed by their King Sugreeva, his wise minister Hanuman and others crossed the ocean and reached Lanka and waged a war against Ravana. When Ravana lost all his mighty warriors, his brother Kumbhakarna and his sons, he finally came to the war-field to fight Lord Rama. There was a fierce battle between the two of them which was incomparable. A divine chariot and charioteer descended from the heavens for Lord Rama. Every time Rama cut off one of Ravana’s head, another one manifested in its place! Ravana countered Rama with all his might and strength.

When Rama became exhausted, Sage Agastya came forward and taught the “ADITYA HRIDAYA” (a powerful invocation glorifying Lord Surya Bhagavan) to Sri Rama. As instructed by Sage Agastya, Lord Rama invoked Lord Surya by chanting the ADITYA HRIDAYA. With the grace and blessings, the power and strength of Surya Bhagavan, Rama was able to defeat and kill Ravana. Accompanied by Seeta and others, Rama went back to Ayodhya. He was crowned the King of Ayodhya. RAMA RAJYA was established.

Significance: Rama represents the INTELLECT and Lakshmana represents the MIND. Seeta stands for ABSOLUTE PEACE. The ten-headed Ravana is the EGO in the seeker with the ten heads representing the five sense-organs of perception and five organs of action. All of them are turned outward and hence Ravana is known as DASHAMUKHA. To conquer and destroy the EGO is extremely difficult. When one head is cut off, another one appears. When one sense impulse is conquered, another one gets strengthened. At that point of time, the Guru (Man of Realization) represented by Sage Agastya appears. Agastya Rishi is “Kumbhodbhava” (born out of a pot). Kumbha represents POORNATVA or “fullness”. He points out, directs and guides the advanced seeker to the “INNER (Hridaya) CONSCIOUSNESS (Aditya)” – Aditya Hridaya!

At this stage, the process of INTELLECTION is taken over by INTUITION and the seeker is able to liquidate the EGO (Ravana) within himself. This is the real DUSSEHRA or DASHA-PAPA-HARA which happens within the spiritual seeker and bestows on him the ETERNAL and EVERLASTING VICTORY – the VIJAYADASAMI. INNER PEACE (Seeta) is restored back. The couple SEETA-RAMA represents a Man of Inner Quietude or a Man of Realization. He alone can reach the REALM OF NO-CONFLICT (Ayodhya or A – yudha). Seated on the SEAT OF DHARMA (simha-asana) within himself, he is able to establish RAMA-RAJYA within! The VICTORY of GOOD over the EVIL within oneself and over the external circumstances is the real CELEBRATION OF DUSSEHRA!

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Lord Rama meets Shabari!

Shabari was from the tribal community. She left everyone and everything in search of a Mahatma who would initiate her into spiritual knowledge. At last she came to the ashram of Sage Matanga at the foothills of Rishyamukha. The Sage accepted her as his disciple and initiated her into the higher knowledge. She served the sage very faithfully and devotedly. Many years passed. 

Desiring to fold up his manifestation, Matanga rishi called Shabari and told her of his decision. Shabari prayed to her teacher to bestow liberation on her also. The far-sighted rishi told her that it was not yet time for her to leave her physical body. He told her that in time, Lord Rama would come this way and she could give up her life and reach the Highest State of Liberation after meeting him. Having advised her, Rishi Matanga left for his heavenly abode. 

Shabari eagerly waited for the arrival of Lord Rama. Every day she would clear the pathway of stones and twigs and decorate the path with wild forest flowers. She would bring fresh clean water from the nearby lake to wash the Lord’s feet. And she would daily collect fruits for the Lord. She would taste every fruit. She would discard unripe and tasteless fruits and set aside the sweet fruits for the Lord. Years passed. Shabari became old, but did not lose hope. She knew that the Lord would come one day – her Guru’s words would indeed come true. So Shabari waited and waited…..

One day she saw Sri Rama accompanied by his brother Lakshmana approaching the ashram. Shabari was overwhelmed. She received the Lord with her heart filled with joy. The Lord smilingly acknowledged her devotion. Shabari offered a seat to the Lord and washed his feet. And then she brought the fruits that she had lovingly gathered for him. She gave the tasted fruits to the Lord. Lakshmana noticed that the fruits were bitten and protested that the fruits offered were already tasted and therefore not fit to be offered to the Lord.

Lord Rama smiled at Lakshmana and told him that the fruits were very sweet, infact doubly sweet! Lakshmana looked at Rama questioningly. Rama told him that not only the fruits were sweet by their own nature but they were doubly sweet because they contained the sweetness of Shabari’s devotion! On hearing this, Shabari’s eyes were brimming with tears. She prostrated to the Lord and asked him to bestow on her the kaivalya-pada. The Lord smiled and told her that her devotion alone had already made her the recipient of mukti! Infact it was her devotion that had led the Lord to her simple hut. Lord Rama enumerated the “Nava Bhakti Sadhana” to Shabari – the nine steps to reach that State of Devotion which in turn is nothing but the State of Enlightenment. 

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Taraka Mantra – Sri Rama

Sri Rama

The city of Ayodhya was in a great festive mood. It was the auspicious day of “Namakarana” – the naming ceremony of the sons of King Dasaratha. Sage Vasishtha who was also the family Guru was given the sacred responsibility to suggest suitable names for the four children. The three younger children were given the names: Lakshmana (one who is endowed with noble qualities), Bharata (one who revels in the light of knowledge) and Shatrughna (one who destroys all enemies). 

The eldest son of King Dasaratha and his queen Kausalya had to be named. Sage Vasishtha, the great Brahma-rishi knew that this was no ordinary child. Lord Narayana himself had chosen to come down in human manifestation (manav-avatar) to destroy the demonic forces, protect the virtuous and re-establish dharma in all its pristine glory. The name should not only reflect the infinite glory of the Lord, but it should also become a ferry for seekers to cross over the ocean of samsara (transmigration). It should be short, and yet ambrosial to utter and hear. It should be simple, and yet most powerful!

Sage Vasishtha contemplated on the great and most powerful 8-lettered Vaishnava Mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya” and the 5-lettered Shaiva Mantra “Namah Shivaya”. 
Om Namo Narayanaya, means ‘Salutations unto Narayana’. Nara + Ayana means ‘the path (Ayana) taken by Nara (individual) to ultimately reach the State of Narayana’. If RA is removed from the mantra, the meaning becomes ‘no path to reach the Higher’. Therefore, RA is the ‘life’ of the 8-lettered mantra. Namah Shivaya means ‘Salutations unto Shiva’. Shiva means ‘Auspicious’. If MA is removed from the mantra, the meaning becomes ‘na Shivaya or inauspicious’. Therefore, MA is the ‘life’ of the 5-lettered mantra.

When the two letters RA and MA come together it becomes RAMA. Hence the two-lettered word RAMA carries with it the power of both the mantras. RA also represents the Ultimate Reality, the Spiritual GOAL, because it originates from the word Narayanaya. MA originates from Namah and therefore it represents surrender, the PATH to be taken to reach the Goal. Hence the word RAMA is complete by itself because it represents the GOAL and the PATH to be taken by the seeker. RAMA NAMA is known as the Taraka Mantra – the mantra which will help an individual to cross (tara) the ocean of samsara and reach the State of Absolute Bliss (ka). 

“Rama” means “sarve ramanti iti ramah”. That Life Divine or Absolute Reality that enlivens all things and beings is RAMA – the Supreme Brahman. RA is associated with the number 2, and MA is associated with the number 5. A combine of the two letters RAMA therefore becomes 2×5=10. Hence uttering RAMA once is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 10 times. To utter RAMA twice (10×10) is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 100 times. To utter RAMA thrice (10×10×10) is equivalent to chanting the Lord’s name 1000 times and hence equal to the chanting of the Lord’s Sahasranama. 

“SRI RAM”: SRI represents Prakriti and RAM represents Purusha. Therefore, SRI RAM represents the Prakriti-Purusha or Matter-Spirit Concept – complete by itself.
When the hunter-turned-Valmiki was initiated by Sage Narada with Rama Nama, he found it difficult to chant it. So he started chanting MARA..MARA…which when chanted continuously becomes RAMA..RAMA. The word MARA means ‘death, change, finite and mortal’. The reverse of this word which is RAMA therefore means ‘life, changeless, infinite and immortal’. 

# “Is it possible to comprehend the glory of the 2-lettered RAMA mantra. When an individual opens the mouth and utters RA the negativities within oneself are thrown out and by uttering MA when one closes the mouth, the negativities are prevented from entering our personality. Lord Shiva, Sage Valmiki and Lord Hanuman alone are fully aware of the glory of Rama Mantra” ~ Sri Purandaradasa.
# “Oh Mind! Do not waste any more time. Take to the chanting of Rama Nama, the life-saving mantra”~ Swami Thyagaraja.
# “Oh Rama! Extremely sweet is your name. More sweeter than all the fruits and sweets put together!” ~ Bhadrachala Ramadasa.

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Lord Rama and Kevat

Sri Rama started on his fourteen years of exile to the forest along with Seeta and Lakshmana, to keep up his father Dasaratha’s promise to Kaikeyi. He met Guha, the tribal chieftain and asked him to arrange for a boatsman (Kevat) to take them across the river Ganga. Guha sent for the Kevat and asked him to take them across the river. But the Kevat refused saying that unless Rama let him personally wash His feet, he would not allow them to enter the boat. Guha angrily asked him why. The Kevat told him that he had heard that by the touch of the dust of the Lord’s feet, an inert and hard stone had transformed into a woman. His boat was made of softer material and if it comes in contact with the dust of Rama’s feet, surely and definitely it would also get transformed into a woman. Not only he would lose the boat which helped in his livelihood, but he would also have to look after another woman along with maintaining his family! That would not be possible for him at all. Guha was wonderstruck at his innocence. Lord Rama smiled and agreed to His feet being washed.

The Kevat brought a small plate and asked the Lord to place His feet in them. The Lord put His right foot on the plate. There wasn’t much space for His left foot in the plate. The Lord looked at the Kevat. It would be difficult for Him to balance Himself with both His feet in the small plate! The Kevat looked up and asked the Lord to place His hand on his head, and then place His left foot in the plate. In doing so, He would be able to maintain His balance! The Lord understood the humble and simple desire of the boatsman. All that he wanted was Bhagavan’s hand on his head as a sign of blessing. Rama placed His hand on Kevat’s head and put both His feet on the plate. Kevat was overwhelmed, and with eyes brimming with tears, he lovingly washed the Lord’s feet using the waters from Ganges. When the Lord was about to place His feet on the ground and enter the boat, Kevat stretched out his hand for the Lord to place His feet on his palm, and then enter the boat! What a great devotee and what a blessing!

Rama, Seeta and Lakshmana got into the boat and the Kevat took them across the river onto the other side. They stepped out of the boat and the Lord had to give him something for rowing them across. The Lord looked at Seeta and she removed her ring from her finger and gave it to Rama. Rama offered the ring to Kevat for taking them across the river. Kevat politely declined the offer saying that there is no “give and take” between two people in the same profession! The Lord was surprised and asked him how both of them were in the same profession?

The Kevat very beautifully told the Lord, “I ferry people across the river. You ferry people across the ocean of samsara! Are we both not in the same profession?”

Every one there was surprised and amazed at the Kevat’s knowledge and devotion. He requested the Lord that on his return journey back from the forest after fourteen years, he should be again given the fortune of rowing them back to this side which the Lord promised.

 
The Kevat had ferried the Lord to and fro across the river. It was now the responsibility of the Lord to ferry the Kevat across the river of life!!

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