The essence of Rama Navami
Ram Navami is the birthday of Bhagwan Shri Rama. On this beautiful birthday of Bhagwan Rama, let us ask ourselves the meaning of his birth. What lessons do we learn from the Ramayan, from the glorious example of Bhagwan Rama's life?
Rama is a symbol of sacrifice, a model of brotherhood, an ideal administrator, and a warrior unparalleled. The term Rama Rajya stands for the most exalted concept of a welfare state. Rama was not only divine; he was invested with the highest values of an enriched tradition started by Raghu. The essence of Rama is, therefore, the essence of excellence in every pursuit.
As an avatar, Rama had to enact his 'Leela' in human form. As a child, he let Kaushalya enjoy the divine pleasure of treating him as a child, but he wanted her to share a cosmic vision of his real self. Goswami Tulsidas describes that once Kaushalya bathed and fed Rama and placed him in his cradle. Then she prepared prasad and offered it to the Kuldevata in the puja room. She went and checked if the child was sleeping. He was. She went to complete the puja and found Rama there, eating the prasad.
Kaushalya ran back to the cradle to find the child was asleep. But when she returned to the puja room, he was there, eating the prasad. She was dumbfounded. Then Rama revealed to her his swarupa, the universe itself, where birth and death, time and space, causality and effect were a seamless One. A bewildered Kaushalya prayed that she be allowed to see Rama as a child and nothing more. Infinitely compassionate, the Lord consented.
The principle of humanity is yet another essence of being Rama. When the ways of crossing the ocean were being discussed, and it was suggested that Rama should make the ocean dry up, he resisted. With great humility, Rama initiated a puja to placate the sea god to allow for an opening. Three days passed, but the sea god was unrelenting. Then Rama decided to use his divine astras, and dry up the ocean. This made the god appear before him. With folded hands, he entreated Rama not to dry the ocean, as it would mean death to all sea creatures. The compassion of Rama made the sea god suggest the expertise of Nala and Neela to bridge the ocean.
Rama, before crossing the ocean, installed the Shivalingam at Rameswaram, and said: "The Mahakaal is dear to me". Once he defeated Ravana, Rama anointed Vibheeshana as the king. Traditionally the victor had the right to the riches and the kingdom, but Rama was uninterested.
It has been said of Rama's reign in Ayodhya, "... it was such that no suffering of a mental, bodily or physical nature afflicts in citizens. There is no animus and every one is conscious of his duty. There is no poverty, no untimely death, no want. The forests are lush and the ecosystem healthy."
Rama's philosophy was that the ultimate Dharma was doing good to the people. There was no greater adharma than causing others to suffer. When people do not perform their duties according to their dharma, they do not get the right results. Out of ignorance, they blame the cosmic scheme for their misfortunes. Rama in the Uttarkand speaks of an action that seeks no reward, conduct which seeks no fruit, and faith which seeks no expectation.
Despite his divine nature, Rama the prince requested Sage Vasistha to explain to him the nature of the universe and the real truth of 'Being'. This great treatise, known as the Yoga Vasistha or the Maharamayana, is one of the clearest expositions of the core of Vedanta, holding that only Consciousness, the real truth, is the essence of Brahman.
Bhagwan Rama exemplified the perfect person; he showed us how to embody the divine on Earth, how to live our lives in accordance with dharma and the divine principles.
The story of the Ramayan is a classic, eternal, universal message of dharma versus adharma, of deva versus demon.
Ravana was a brahmin; he was a great Vedic scholar who wrote numerous works on scriptural philosophy. He was powerful, dynamic, and beautiful in appearance. As the brilliant, handsome king of Lanka, he had everything one would need to be happy and peaceful. Yet, what made him a demon? He was arrogant, egoistic, greedy and lustful. His insatiable desires led him to crave more and more power, more and more money, and more and more beautiful ladies to fulfill his every whim.
Covetous desires can never be fulfilled, and the ceaseless quest for them brings only frustration. Therefore, regardless of how smart we are, how rich we are, or how beautiful we are, we are demons if our hearts are filled with anger and greed. This is, in essence, the difference between Bhagwan Rama and Ravana. Both were kings; both were learned in the scriptures; both were charismatic; both were beautiful. What makes Rama a god and Ravana a demon?
There is one main difference: Bhagwan Rama's heart overflowed with love, generosity, humility, and a sense of duty. Ravana's heart, in contrast, was filled with avarice, hatred, and egoism. Under Bhagwan Rama's divine touch, the animals became his devotees and his divine helpers. Under Ravana's touch, even humans became animals.
But we ask, how to be like Bhagwan Rama? How to be godly and peaceful and righteous? How to win the "war of Lanka" within ourselves? Bhagwan Rama has given us the perfect example through his life and his actions. The way to attain divinity, the way to be "perfect," the way to be in peace instead of pieces, is to follow his clear example.
Bhagwan Rama's primary message is: fulfill your duty without any selfish motives; put other people before yourself. When he was exiled to the forest, Bhagwan Rama did not complain, "but that's not fair." He did not fight back in anger. Rather, he helped his father fulfill a promise; he lived according to his duty as a son and as a future king. He did not once think about himself, his own comforts, his own "rights." Rather, he abided by his dharma and his duty.
Ravana's ego led to his own demise, first the demise of his spirit and heart and then the demise of his body. He thought he was the one who ran everything. He thought that he was the "doer" of it all. On the other hand, Bhagwan Rama was always humble, and he never took credit for anything. Even after he victoriously slew Ravana, he reported it to Sitaji only as "and this is where Ravana died."
"Has the Rama taken birth inside us? Has the good in our hearts taken birth?" Ram Navami is not only a holiday about Bhagwan Rama. It is a holy day, about examining ourselves. Life is so short. We never know when the end will come. For how long do we want to let Ravana live in us? For how long do we want to be controlled by Ravana? We must give birth today to Bhagwan Rama in our hearts.
The Rama Principle is manifested in the Gayatri Mantra. Rama is the embodiment of three aspects of time. He is the Lord of the three worlds and is the embodiment of the three Gunas. Hence, Sri Rama is the indwelling spirit in every being.
Ramanavami is when nature puts on her new vesture after shedding the old. Rama thus represents all that is beautiful in nature.
Rama is the supreme example of how people should conduct themselves in the world, how a country should be governed, how the integrity and morality of human beings should be protected. High-minded actions, ideal qualities, and sacred thoughts are basic foundations of character. Rama is the very embodiment of these three attributes.
The Rama Principle is a combination of the Divine in the human and the human in the Divine. The inspiring story of Rama presents the triple ethical code relating to the individual, the family, and the society. If society is to progress properly, the family should be happy, harmonious and united. For unity in the family, the individuals composing it must have a spirit of sacrifice
Rama is immanent in the entire cosmos. Rama is present everywhere. Hence, you have to love all, serve all... then one becomes eligible for Rama's grace
Rama Rajya is the reign of morality, truth, and virtues. 'Rama Rajya' means that which engenders happiness (Ramayati) where there is no ill will towards anybody.