Rama. The two-syllable name spells worlds of incomparable beauty.
Rama was born on the Navami of waxing moon of Chaitra, the moon rising in the fourth paada of the Punarvasu nakshatra, Jupiter and Moon occupying Cancer, Mars occupying Capricorn, Venus in Pices, and the Sun and Mercury posited in Aries. This is Valmiki’s word.
Rama is not only real for us, he is the greatest Reality. Guru Vydhyanatha says that Rama’s spiritual sphere is close to the earth, an orange mandala of divine energy.
Rama is fact, fiction, fantasy and philosophy rolled into one…everything that the eyes can see, the mind imagine and the soul divine.
What a resounding impact Rama made! A man like no other, his life, the greatest story ever told to humanity.
If he is just an overblown fiction to pseudo secularists, thatha astu for them.
Apparenty, Rama is the reality that hare-brained realists cannot touch! They cry out that Rama is a mere mortal…brave and self-righteous…..a man who was banished to the forests by his step mother, and lost his wife to another king. And this is the man whom some chaps worship, what fools!
Even when these know-alls consider the life of Rama as a story, they prefer to dwell on details of their own choice.
What about the underpinnings of the story…that Vishnu, in deference to the wishes of the gods, chose to be born as the son of Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya? Conveniently forgotten. Interpolation or extrapolation perhaps. Rama, by axiom, cannot have been anything worthwhile.
When god was born as man, he chose to tread the earth as man, as a great man with great aspirations great standards and great might no doubt…but as a man…incomplete, unknowing, faltering. How great a concept, how beautiful!
Hindus of course worship Rama in a million images, but they don’t claim that he is above all doubt and humanity. They don’t make a law of his every act, they don’t take out statutes about what is right and wrong from his life. In short, they don’t make a burden of his life. In fact, in the manner of Joseph Campbell, they have internalised Rama’s life as an ever-living myth, its grand dimensions flowing in and out of their lives for ever. Rama is not a historical character — though he well might have trod this earth once — frozen for ever in the chilly arctics of time. Rama has to be a myth, in the best sense of the word, so that Rama is happening for all time. Rama is a not a sepulchre…Rama does not have to rise from his death…he is the ever living reality for whoever will see….Rama is happening today, the day of his birth millenias before, and will keep on happening…because he is endless.
If Rama was a passing earthling, how come the Tiruvaiyyaru bard hitched his creative cavalcade to him and rose as a god himself in the pantheon of eternal composers?
If Rama was a blundering mortal, how come Kamban, whom Bharati celebrated as the greatest Tamil of all times, delved into the Rama’s life and leapt into the skies as a cloudburst of immense creativity? Bharati held that Kamban was trying to point to infinitude through signs and symbols.
If Rama’s story was just a fancy tale and nothing else, how come it has a myriad meanings for millions of people!
I dwell with him and savour the extraordinary human aspects of his personality.
When Rama’s stepmother, even after having easily secured an aye for his banishment, goads him into leaving Ayodhya swiftly, he is forced to make a stirring declaration which is almost a slap on her face…
”Who do you think I am? I am not one who greeds for wealth and royalty. Know me to be a rishi, walking the unsullied path of righteousness!”.
When Rama leaves Ayodhya, he salutes the city of his forefathers….honouring it with his respect and reverence. Do we urbanites think for a moment about the city that gives us our life, our dwelling and our world? That we need to give back something to the city that gave us all.
Based on Valmiki’s descriptions, Kamban pictures Rama meeting the people of his city with great love and consideration. Wasn’t he the Poorvabhaashi, ever the one to take the initiative in conversing with people?
When Rama came to the banks of the Ganges, and sighted Guha, the hunter and leader of boatmen, he alighted from his chariot and walked towards him in warm friendship.
Vibheeshana was unwilling to perform the obsequies of Ravana, but Rama declared that all enmity dies with death. And the phrase that follows is unbelievable…’He is to me now, what he is to you’ (A brother).
Can people who fight under cover of darkness and stab in the back understand the nobility of a warrior who even gave the kidnapper of his wife another chance to come back and fight?
Not only Rama, but all those who came within his ambit…his mother Kausalya, his other stepmother Sumitra, his brothers Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna, his friends the boatman Guha, his envoy and adorer Hanuman, his devotee the tribal woman Shabari…all of them are not names and tales and characters floating in our minds…they are living realities…they are our blessings. In the words of Sri Aurobindo, they are the living human images of India’s ideals.
As Rajaji said, they not only live in our hearts but also envelop us in their worlds….When the children of India know their Ramayana truly, India will be a great nation in the world. A nation that lives by great ideas and uplifting values.
The life of Rama (as embodied in the Valmiki Ramayana and its variations in the other languages of India) signifies for the Indian imagination, ”its highest and tenderest human ideals of character, making strength and courage and gentleness and purity and fidelity and self sacrifice familiar to it in the suavest and most harmonious forms” (Sri Aurobindo).
Rama is near to us as a human…Rama is our ideal as a follower of dharma…In these days when fake politics speaks of love and equality and democracy and every man’s right and loots people in their own name, Rama’s righteousness is a far cry. But it is a stirring word for the likes of the Satyendra Dubeys, Manjunaths and Satish Shettys. In the Rama way, Truth is Supreme.
Let Rama take birth in your heart today…your life will enlarge into fragrant spiritual horizons.
Rama visual – From Gods and Goddesses of India, and Temples of India – Tamil Nadu written and directed by Vamanan ; cinematography B. Sainanda