Jai Sri Rama
śrī rāma rāma raghu pungava rāma rāma
śrī rāma rāma bharatagraja rāma rāma
śrī rāma rāma ranakkarkasha rāma rāma
śrī rāma rāma śaraṇaṁbhava rāma rāma
O Sri Rama, O best of Raghu clan, older brother of Bharata, You slew the demons in battle, You are my refuge Sri Rama!
On caitra śuddha navami (the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the lunar month of Chaitra), we celebrate Sri Rama Kalyanam (Sri Rama’s divine wedding) along with Sri Rama Navami. When we do that, all auspiciousness comes to us. The worlds will be protected by His grace. God took many incarnations and uplifted the worlds. Each incarnation is special in itself. Yet, Sri Rama and Sri Krishna are very special. Sri Rama incarnated in Treta Yuga – that was two yugas ago. Treta Yuga is over, Dwapara Yuga is also over. Now Kaliyuga has been going on for 5121 years, yet even today we have not forgotten Sri Rama and are continuing to worship Him. From this, we can understand the greatness of Sri Rama.
There are two key reasons for worshiping Sri Rama. One is that He is an incarnation of Srimannarayana and second is that He is the repository of all virtues. Even though both these are important factors, if we observe Sri Rama’s history, we see that Sri Rama really liked to be known as Dasaratha’s son. We understand that that while being the best among men, Sri Rama wanted mankind to walk the path of Dharma just as he did. Therefore, let us try to learn about His glories.
Sri Rama brought fame to the Raghu lineage. Even though all kings in the lineage were great and we remember them, it is only Sri Rama that we worship. Sri Hari acceded to the prayers of the Gods and became son to King Dasaratha and was born to Kausalya Mata. The day Sri Rama was born is celebrated as Sri Rama Navami. Right from birth, Sri Rama had all the virtues that are described in the Vedic scriptures. He respected His parents, elders and Guru and worshiped them with great devotion. He looked upon his younger brothers, friends, peers and those younger than him with great love and affection. Sri Rama had so many virtues that even while the best of kings, King Dasaratha, was still alive, people wished for Sri Rama to be king. Sri Rama was so great.
Srimad Ramayana began with the conversation between Sage Narada and Sage Valmiki. Sage Valmiki began the Ramayana with the word “tapas”. Sage Valmiki did a lot of tapas and gave us the Ramayana as the essence of the Vedas. Sri Rama showed us how the Vedas instruct us to conduct ourselves. It can be said that the Vedas are the theory while Ramayana is the practical aspect of it.
Sage Vasishtha who was delighted by the tender smiles of Sri Rama gave the infant Sri Rama his name. Thinking of the form of Sri Rama and chanting his name removes all sorrows and brings joy. Sri Rama and Lakshmana set out with Sage Vishwamitra to the forests. They served the Guru devoutly, presented questions humbly and learned many great secrets of knowledge. We can learn this trait from Sri Rama. There is nothing that cannot be gained from service to Guru. Service to Guru bestows great grace. The Guru and the disciples’ first encounter was with demoness Tataka. She was tormenting people and was a danger to the world. There was no choice but to kill her. The Sage asked Sri Rama to aim His arrow at her and kill her, but the young Sri Rama hesitated because despite being a demon, she was a woman. Sri Rama had immense respect for women. Sage Vishwamitra said: O Sri Rama, I understand the reason for your hesitation. You hesitate because she is a woman. But she is a demoness. She is tormenting everyone. Sri Rama could not refuse the Guru’s command for universal welfare. That is when he slew Tataka. That was his first victory.
King Dasaratha had asked Sri Rama to protect the Yajna and return. But Guru Vishwamitra wanted to take him further. Sri Rama did not question the Guru. As they went along, they saw a dilapidated Ashrama. Sri Rama enquired about whose Ashrama it was. Sage Vishwamitra said that it belonged to Sage Gautama and narrated to Sri Rama the story of Ahalya. Sri Rama then, with the touch of his foot, relieved Ahalya Mata of her curse. Sri Rama’s greatness lay in the fact that he first held the feet of Mother Ahalya. He uplifted her and then he held her feet. That is his greatness. That is the respect Sri Rama had for women. Sri Rama did not question about whether Ahalya had sinned or whether she was right. Nor did he take pride in relieving her from the curse. Thus, the Lord resurrected Sage Gautama’s family.
Then, with His Guru He entered the capital city of Mithila. There, he waited until the Guru’s command. All the great suitors who arrived could not lift Shiva’s bow and had lowered their heads in humiliation. Despite His strength, Sri Rama did not think about putting it on display. He only wanted to do what His Guru wanted him to. Sage Vishwamitra then gently hinted to Sri Rama to see about the bow. Sri Rama bowed to his Guru, strung the bow and broke it. Then, Sri Rama and Sita’s wedding was decided. Rather than immediately wed the bride he got, Sri Rama wanted to get his parents’ approval first. Such is his culture. This is Sri Rama’s lesson to the young people of today. King Dasaratha agreed to the wedding which took place in a grand manner.
Sri Rama loved Sita Mata very dearly. Why? Sage Valmiki answers this question – since this was the wedding decided and approved by the parents, Sri Rama had immense love for Sita Mata. Sri Rama and Sita Mata communicated through the language of heart. They did not have to talk with their eyes even. Their hearts spoke the same language. They showed us how an ideal man and an ideal woman should be. They showed us how the ideal couple should live in harmony.
Sri Rama won Mother Kaikeyi’s heart. Kaikeyi used to have greater affection for Sri Rama than for her own son Bharata. But due to the influence of time, she fell prey to Manthara’s words and asked King Dasaratha to banish Sri Rama into exile and coronate Bharata the king. Sri Rama considered this his father’s command and set out to the forests even though his father had not uttered those words himself. In this instance, Sri Rama’s mental strength and firmness are greatly extolled by Sage Valmiki. Sri Rama did not even look at the exquisite items selected for his coronation. He did not once lament that what came so close to him was now being denied to him. Like a virtuous man who does not look at things that do not belong to him, Sri Rama went away without even casting a glance at the items for coronation. Moreover, he traversed the journey from Kaikeyi’s chamber of anger to Kausalya’s chambers on foot. That indicates that he had already mentally prepared himself for the exile. He did not even let an umbrella be held for him at that time. That is his greatness.
Sri Rama wanted his exile to be useful to others. He made the forests his kingdom. Sri Rama knew very well how much tribulation enmity with demons brings. Yet, he considered universal welfare his own welfare. That is why, he stood for protection of the pious and the saintly. He considered that his father gave Ayodhya to Bharata and the forests to him. That is what he told everyone too. He even conducted himself as if the forests were his kingdom. In the meanwhile, Bharata came to him in the forests and begged him to return to the kingdom. Mother Kaikeyi was there too and she prayed to Sri Rama and sought his forgiveness. An ordinary man would have grabbed this opportunity and returned to the kingdom, leaving behind his exile. But Sri Rama did not do that. Sri Rama was extraordinary, and his actions were too. That is why he sent Bharata back. We can understand the tremendous influence Sri Rama had on Bharata when Bharata rejected the kingdom that fell into his lap and instead came to the forests in search of Sri Rama.
To serve Sri Rama, Lord Shiva himself came as the son of Pavana. Sri Rama chose him as the right one to find Sita Mata. That shows Sri Rama’s intelligence. That is why, he gave his ring to Anjaneya Swamy. Anjaneya Swamy crossed the ocean, had darshan of Sita Mata and sang glories of Sri Rama. He learned of the greatness of Sri Rama from Sita Mata, tried to instill sense into Ravana, set fire to the land and returned to Sri Rama. Then, the ocean joined Sri Rama’s side as did Vibheeshana, the brother of Ravana. This points to Sri Rama’s steadfast adherence to Dharma.
The battle between Sri Rama and Ravana took place. How was the battle? It was incomparable. It can only be compared to the battle between Sri Rama and Ravana. There was no other battle like it. Ravana fell. The goal of Sri Rama’s incarnation was fulfilled. Then, Sita Mata’s episode of entering the fire came up. Sri Rama knew Sita Mata’s power. Sri Rama wanted to show the world with clarity what her power was. Sri Rama did not ask her to enter the fire. He said that she was free to go wherever she wanted to. It was Sita Mata who decided to enter the fire. She proved herself pure and reunited with Sri Rama.
Sri Rama did not take over Lanka. Even though a demon, Vibheeshana was righteous and Sri Rama made him the king of Lanka. Vibheeshana lived righteously. Sri Rama also made arrangements for the kingdom of Lanka to be happy and prosperous. Then, Sri Rama set out on his return journey to Ayodhya and sent Anjaneya Swamy ahead because if Bharata was on the throne, Sri Rama did not want to go back to Ayodhya. Sri Rama found out that Bharata was in Nandigram and had placed Sri Rama’s Padukas (footwear) on the throne and was himself living like a hermit. Had Bharata been sitting on the throne, Sri Rama would have let him be king and would have returned to the forests. With Sri Rama’s arrival, people were overjoyed. Their happiness knew no bounds. Ayodhya without Sri Rama had become a forest. Sri Rama’s presence in the forest made it Ayodhya. Ayodhya now got its life back. Sri Rama was coronated king. He ruled righteously for 11,000 years.
People in his kingdom faced no hardship whatsoever. Everyone lived happily in the path of Dharma. That is the kingdom of Sri Rama. There has never been a rule like that ever again. That kind of rule should come again. Our entire country should become Rama Rajya (Sri Rama’s kingdom). Let us pray that our country always have Rama Rajya. May Sri Rama’s grace always be on you.
Sri Ramachandra Parabrahmane Namaha.