According to Valmiki’s Uttara Ramayana, Rama ruled his kingdom from Ayodhya for 11 thousand years. The way he ruled his country was so prosperous, dharmic and wonderful that ‘Ramarajya’ as a word used to symbolize the best ideal of rule to emulate.
During Rama’s rule, all his subjects lead a virtuous life; there were no thiefs and there was no dacoity. There was no enemy attack on the kingdom. Dharmas and shastras were the guiding principles of life. Rishis and sadhus were the leading lights of the society. There was no draught, no floods or other natural calamities.
After Rama ruled Ayodhya for 11 thousand years, Lord Yama (Lord of Time) came to meet Lord Rama in disguise at the king’s palace in Ayodhya. He wanted a total private talk with Rama on an important matter. Rama asked Lakshmana to stand outside the doors as a guard to prevent anyone from entering the room and gave a warning that whomsoever intruded into the room during the private discussions would be killed by Him.
Once alone, Lord Yama conveyed Lord Brahma’s message that since the purpose of Lord Vishnu’s Avatar as Rama had been over after annihilating Ravana and also His wish to rule the kingdom for 11 thousand years too was over, it was now time for Rama to return to His heavenly abode as Vishnu, if he so wished to leave his earthly divine play.
Rama agreed that he too preferred to return to his abode rather than continuing in this world.
As the conversation was taking place, Rishi Durvasa came to the palace and wanted to meet Rama urgently. When Lakshmana told Durvasa about Rama being busy on an urgent matter, Rishi Durvasa, known for his short temper and capacity to curse people, threatened Lakshmana with dire consequences if he was not allowed to meet Lord Rama.
Lakshmana had to yield. He went into the room to inform Lord Rama about the arrival of Durvasa. Rama bade farewell to Lord Yama and came out to meet Durvasa. Durvasa wanted Rama to feed him sumptuously as he was in extreme hunger after doing a penance for a long time by taking fasting as a vow. Rama arranged it immediately.
However Rama became woeful as he had to keep his word that he had uttered earlier (that he would kill any intruder during his private talk with Yama). Taking a cue from the scriptures that said that renouncing a person is equivalent to killing that person, Rama, with heavy heart said to Lakshmana that he was renouncing all the ties with Lakshmana.
Lakshmana felt that his end had come. He went to River Sarayu and stopped his breath and entered into samadhi. He left his mortal body; his soul which was one fourth part of Lord VIshnu returned to the heavenly abode.
Grief stricken Rama called all his citizens and ministers and announced his decision to relinquish the kingdom and retire to the woods so as to leave his life like Lakshmana. He asked Bharata to take over the kingdom of Ayodhya. The devout Bharata stoutly refused the proposal as he too wanted to accompany Rama.
Rama with his sons Lava & Kusa (A still from the film Lava Kusa)
As advised by Bharata, Rama gave the Southern Kosala portion of the Kosala kingdom to his son to Kusa and the Northern Kosala zone to his son Lava to rule.
The entire population of Ayodya had no desire to live after their beloved Rama was no longer the king. They too expressed their desire to follow Rama.
News was sent to Satrughna, who was by that time ruling the kingdom of Mathura. Satrughna too had no desire to live if his beloved brother was gone. He handed over his kingdom (Mathura and Vidisha) to his two sons to rule and rushed to Ayodhya.
Having heard the news, Rama’s erstwhile associates and well wishers — Hanuman, Sugriva and his vanaras (monkeys), Jambavan and the other bears, Vibhishana and his loyal Rakshasas came to Ayodhya. All of them wished to go with Rama when he exited the earth.
However, Rama blessed Hanuman and Vibhishana to be Chiranjeevi’s — ever living. He wanted Hanuman to enjoy the company of devotees of Rama wherever they sang the glory of Rama. He wished Vibhishana to keep ruling the his kingdom of Sri Lanka. He blessed Jambavan and his five associates to live till Kaliyuga.
Sugriva said he had given charge of his kingdom to his son Angata and had no longer any desire to live. All the monkeys too said so.
Thus Rama, followed by Bharata, Satrughna, their families and servants, the ministers, the vanaras, bears and Rakshasas and the entire populace of Ayodhya with their cattle and birds left the city and went to the River Sarayu, chanting vedic hymns. None of them had any worries and every one was extremely happy. Whomsoever saw Rama leaving, including animals and creatures gleefully joined him so as to ascend to the heavenly abode.
All the celestial Gods headed by Lord Brahma had assembled at the skies near the river Sarayu to welcome their Lord. They chanted hymns praising their Lord Vishnu and welcoming him back.
Rama requested Lord Brahma to allow all his citizens, followers and lovers including the animals and creatures who had served him with respect and devotion into the heavenly world. Brahma said that he would accommodate all of them unmindful of any sins committed by them into the region known as Santanaka, which was next only to Brahma Loka. He also said all those celestial beings who had earlier taken up various forms and descended to earth to assist Rama in his activities of the avatar would regain their original divine forms.
All of them headed by Rama joyfully immersed themselves in the waters of Sarayu, left their bodies and ascended to the higher worlds.
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/End-of-Rama.jpg466702C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2019-01-20 14:46:212019-01-20 14:46:21How did the end of Rama Avatar happen? How did Rama Rajya end?
One of the fundamental facets of Hinduism is the faith that God descends to earth as an Avatar at appropriate times for the benefit of humanity; He comes to eradicate evil doers and safeguard good and pious people, to uplift dharma (righteous living), to curtail adharma (anarchy), to give divine bliss to His earnest devotees and to preach dharma suited to the times of the arrival and to the imminent generations to come.
Out of the human forms of Avatar that Lord Vishnu had taken according to Hindu scriptures, Rama Avatar that took place in Treta Yuga and Krishna Avatar that happened later in Dwapara Yuga are considered to be the two greatest avatars, wherein divinely qualities of the Avatara purushas (incarnated persons) were exhibited in a vast measure.
Treta Yuga was a time period in Hindu belief that dates back to several thousands of years and it is the second yuga after Satya Yuga. Unlike Satya yuga when people in earth were mostly leading highly righteous lives, Treta yuga saw a gradual deterioration in the practice of dharma; it is said that in Treta yuga, three quarters of the people in earth were righteous and a quarter of the population followed unrighteous ways in life. And it was at appropriate time in Treta Yuga that Lord Vishnu descended on earth as Rama Avatar. Ramayanam is the life story of Rama, a very revered king of Ayodhya, whose very life exemplified dharma. Ramayana was originally written in twenty-four thousand Sanskrit verses by Saint Valmiki, who was a contemporary of Rama and a caretaker of Sita, Rama’s wife, during her exile to forest. Ramayanam is one of the twogreat itihas (epics of historical happenings) of Hindu scriptures.
The purpose of Rama Avatar was primarily to eradicate the evil Asura (demonic) king Ravana and his associates. However, In this process, Lord Rama lead such an exemplary life — as a youth, as a prince, as a house holder, as a devoted son, as an affectionate brother, as a loving husband wedded to just one woman, as a humble and spiritually evolved human being, as a great and powerful warrior, as a great king and as a non-compromising stickler to dharma — that throughout his very life, he set innumerable examples on righteous living for people to emulate.
The Beauty and Greatness of Rama
Another striking feature of Rama’s life is that despite his innate awareness that he was an Avatar with a divine mission, Rama (except on a very few occasions) opted to live just as a human being, exhibiting human nature and human emotions, always trying to hide his divinity and insisting on being just ‘Rama, the son of Dasaratha’. This is in total contrast to his next Avatar in the following Dwapara Yuga where he came as Krishna and openly demonstrated his divinity through extraordinary display of unearthly powers at every occasion of need. Unlike Krishna, Rama did very little preaching of dharma, but lived it in day to day life. The beauty of Rama avatar does not end with Rama alone. There are so many relatives and associates of him that too lead lives of stellar values and extraordinary human qualities worthy of inspiration for generations to come.
Let us now briefly see Rama’s wonderful life story as narrated in Valmiki Ramayana. The story spreads through 6 major chapters (Cantos), called Kandams.
Part 1 BALA KANDAM (Boyhood of Rama)
King Dasarata was a very reputed king of the Sun Dynasty, who ruled the kingdom Kosala from its capital Ayodhya in the northern part of India. He had three queens — Kousalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Kaikeyi was the youngest and was particularly the sweetheart of king Dasarata. The king had no offspring.
As the king advanced in age, he was tormented by worry about the lack of progeny. He consulted his ministers, priests and sages and he was advised to conduct a grand Ashwameta Yaga (Horse sacrifice ritual) as a “Putra Kameshti Yaga” — a sacred fire sacrifice aimed pleasing celestial Gods specifically to get a boon of children. He invited a famous saint Rushyasringa to conduct the yaga. A very grand yajnya (yaga – fire sacrifice) was conducted inviting kings, priests and brahmins from all over the sub-continent. People were fed sumptuously and gifts were given lavishly. The fire sacrifice was conducted faultlessly as per rules of the scriptures, to the satisfaction of all.
Ravana the Demon king – the Cause of the Avatar
During that period, down south in the country Lanka (now Srilanka), Ravana, an extremely powerful demonic king was ruling the country. He was born with 10 heads (and hence known as Dasagriva). Early in his life, he did intense austerities by undertaking total fasting for many years aimed at pleasing Lord Brahma; by cutting off his heads one by one and sacrificing them into the fire, he did terrific tapas (penance). Pleased, Lord Brahma appeared before him and gave him the boon he wished: no being in earth, in heavens or in nether worlds (excluding a human beings, whom he thought too insignificant to pose a threat to him) could ever kill him. Brahma also restored his 10 heads and voluntarily gave him the power to assume any physical form he liked.
Having acquired such unearthly powers , Ravana became extremely arrogant, unlawful and adharmic (unrighteous). He was an incurable war monger and whomsoever was known to be very powerful in all the three worlds, he would challenge them for fight . He grew into such a big threat that he attacked and conquered many celestial Gods, many rulers in the higher worlds ,earth and the nether world and killed many saints and sages. He was a womanizer too and he captured beautiful women from all the worlds for his enjoyment.
As the celestial Gods with their king Indra could not bear the onslaught of Ravana any longer, they, along with Lord Brahma, met Lord Vishnu (the Lord of protection) and poured out their woes. Hearing their plight, lord Vishnu said “I shall take birth as the son of King Dasarata at appropriate time and annihilate Ravana; Don’t worry”.
As King Dasaratha’s Yagna was brought to a successful completion by saint Rushyasringa through the chanting appropriate mantras and offerings to the fire precisely as stipulated in the scriptures , an effulgent divine messenger sent by Lord Vishnu emanated from the sacrificial fire. He handed over a golden pot containing sweet pudding to Dasarata and said “Please give this pudding to your wives and they will bear children for you”.
Very pleased, Dasarata gave half the contents in the pot to his first wife Kousalya to drink. He shared the balance equally and gave to Sumitra and Kaikeyi to consume. Noticing some pudding still sticking to the pot, he wiped it and gave it to Sumitra again.
The Birth of Rama and his three brothers
Soon the three wives became pregnant . In due course, Kousalya gave birth to Rama, followed by Kaikeyi who gave birth to Bharata. Shortly soon, Sumitra ,who got the sweet pudding twice, gave birth to twins who were named Lakshmana and Shatrughna . The royal family and the entire people of the country were overwhelmed with joy upon the arrival of the divinely children.
The four royal children were very beautiful and charming. They were of very refined manners, intelligent and obedient. The first son Rama was rather dark skinned, but his aura was so powerful that everyone who came to contact with him felt instantly attracted by his charm, pleasing manners, humility and poise. The children underwent formal education, scriptural study and also in practice of armory and weaponry under Saint Vasishta. Rama particularly excelled in archery. King Dasara’s love on Rama was very intense. Right from early childhood, Rama and Lashmana became very close to each other and likewise, Bharata and Shatrughna always sought each other’s company.
Saint Vishwamitra’s request
Some time before Rama reached his 16th age, a very revered sage Vishwamitra visited Ayodhya. King Dasarata received him at his palace with lots of respect and reverence. The purpose of visit of the sage was to seek a help from the king and Dasaratha promised to offer him whatever Vishwamitra asked for. The sage wanted help to protect a Yaga (fire sacrifice) he was conducting at the forest which was frequently disturbed by Asuras (demons) and he asked for Rama to be sent with him to fight the demonic forces and protect his yaga. This request was rather shocking and unpalatable to Dasaratha, as he could not bear getting separated from Rama even for a short while; he was also concerned that the young boy may not be equipped enough to fight with demons and he offered his own services instead.
But the sage was adamant and was getting angry about Dasarata’s refusal to send Rama. Vasishta, the saintly minister intervened immediately and counseled Dasaratha that he should keep his promise and that the saint’s request was indeed a blessing in disguise for Rama. He made the king agree to send Rama with Vishwamitra. The king summoned Rama and Lakshmana. Lakshmana, as his wont, accompanied Rama whom he could not get separated from. The young princes soon departed with the saint after paying obeisance to parents and elders.
On their way they stayed at the banks of River Sarayu for the night and the sage taught 2 mantras — Bala and Athibala to Rama that could give him lots of strength even when he had to go without food or water for days.
Killing of Tataka, the woman giant
On their way through a very dense forest, they encountered a female giant called Tataka who loved devouring human beings . She and her son son Maricha were constant trouble makers to hermits and the Saint Vishwamitra wanted Rama to kill her. Rama was reluctant at first, because he did not want to kill a woman, as a matter of principle ordained in dharma.
Tataka ferociously charged towards all of them and rained huge boulders over them . Rama sent powerful arrows to thwart the boulders and chop her limbs with the intention of crippling her totally without the need of killing her. However, Tataka had occult powers to take any form she liked ; chopping off her limbs had no effect on her. The saint advised Rama that it was indeed a dharma to kill such a horrendous female devil and Rama consented; he sent another powerful arrow that pierced through her chest and killed the woman giant. The sage appreciated Rama for his valor.
As they travelled further, stopping at various hermitages en route, the sage gave Rama several Divyastras (powerful celestial arms which were used as missiles that can cause varying degrees of destruction when deployed in a warfare ) and taught the specific Mantras to activate each of them. This way he equipped Rama to face powerful demons whom he had to face very soon. Based on Rama’s request, he also taught mantras on how to restrain the missiles once they were deployed.
Protecting Vishwamitra’s Yaga
Finally they reached Vishwamitra’s hermitage in the forest known as Siddhasramam, a very holy and sacred place where Lord Vishnu in his previous incarnation as Vamana had stayed there for long years and done austerities. All the hermits received Rama and Lakshmana with love. The saint decided to start the Yaga meant for the welfare of the mankind immediately, which would go on over 6 days and nights continuously. As Rama and Lakshmana kept a wakeful vigil, the Rakshasas lead by two demons Maricha and Subhahu arrived at the scene on the sixth day, floating high on the sky. They had brought flesh, bones and blood to be dropped on to the sacrificial fire and mar the holy proceedings.
Rama and Lakshmana started their fight with the Rakshasas using their bows and diyastras (power packed arrows). With a mighty knock Rama hit Maricha and sent him skywards in exile miles and miles beyond the seas. He killed Maricha on the spot with another arrow. Rama and Lakshmana then killed all the other evil rakshasas and ensured that the yaga was completed successfully without any hitch.
Saint Vishwamitra and his associates were extremely happy and they profusely showered their praises on Rama and Lakshmana for their dedication, alertness and valor.
Right at that time, in the city Mithila, the capital of the country of Vidheha, the saintly king Janaka was preparing to conduct a grand Ashamedha Yaga ; Viswamitra decided to attend the grand ceremony along with his fellow hermits and he wanted Rama and Lakshmana to accompany them. He was desirous of showing to Rama a very holy Danus (Bow) of Lord Shiva that king Janaka possessed which no human being was ever able to lift. En route, they stayed at the banks of holy river Ganga and also at several other holy places. To keep the young boys entertained, Vishwamitra told them several mythological stories including the story of Himavan and his two daughters Uma and Ganga. He also told the elaborate story of how the holy river Ganga came to earth by the untiring efforts of king Bhagiratha.
Vishwamitra also told the famous mythological story of churning of milky ocean by Devas and Asuras together to get the nectar of immortality.
Rama resurrects Ahalya, the cursed wife of saint Gautama
As they reached the outskirts of Mithila, Rama noticed a deserted Hermitage on their way. Vishwamitra told him that it was once a holy ashram of Saint Gautama who lived there with his beautiful wife Ahalya and practiced austerities. The king of devas, Indra once got lured by the captivating beauty of Ahalya; One day at predawn hours, when the sage was away for his early morning ablutions,Indra came to the ashram in the disguise of the sage Gautama. He lured Ahalya to have a sexual union with him, and Ahalya, in a moment of mental weakness yielded to him, though she sensed that it was Indra, the celestial chief who had come in the guise of her husband.
The saint came to know of the happenings and he cursed his wife to remain there incognito for years; however, he told her that her sin would be washed away when Rama would visit the hermitage in the distant future.
As Rama walked in there, suddenly a lady sprang up to life. She was indeed Ahalya. Rama and Lakshmana paid their respects to the saint lady and she extended her hospitality to the princes. Saint Gautama too appeared there and paid his respects to Rama. Purified of her sin, Ahalya got reunited with her husband. The visitors bade farewell to the saintly couple and proceeded to enter Mithila.
Rama Lakshmana at Mithila
As they arrived at Mithila, they were pleased to notice that very elaborate arrangements had been made for the comfortable stay of visitors who had arrived there to attend the king’s grand yaga. King Janaka came personally along with his minister Satananda to pay respects to Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra introduced Rama and Lakshmana to the king Janaka.
Satananda was the son of Saint Goutama and he felt extremely pleased to learn that his mother Ahalya was resurrected by Rama and got reunuited with his father; he could immediately grasp that Rama was a divine personality. Satananda felt that Rama was indeed very blessed to get the association, guidance and blessings of Saint Vishwamitra and he took the opportunity to narrate to Rama the captivating life history of Vishwamitra (a former king who through his unceasing practice of severe austerities amidst so many trials and tribulations attained the knowledge of Brahman).
The next day, king Janaka invited his distinguished guests to his palace. Upon Vishwamitra’s request, he narrated how his ancestors got the possession of Shiva Danus.
He continued, “Years ago, when I ploughed a piece of land as a preparatory ritual for conducting a Yagna there, my furrow got stuck and as I dug the spot I noticed a box buried there that contained a very beautiful and live female infant there. I was overjoyed to get the baby as a divine gift to be my daughter and named her Sita (furrow). Knowing that she had divine qualities, I wanted to get her married only to a truly valiant King. I made an announcement that anyone who can lift up the Shiva danus and tie the bow-string to it can get married to my daughter. Kings from far and wide came to my court and none of them could lift the bow. In fact I had earned the wrath of many kings on account of it and waged very taxing and tiring wars against them to drive them away”.
Rama breaks Shiva danus and weds Sita
“Would you please arrange to bring the bow of Shiva to the Yagnya Hall so that the princes of Dasarata and the various kings and guests arrived here could have a look?” asked Vishwamitra.
The king ordered for it immediately. The sacred bow, kept in a large iron box fitted with 8 wheels was rolled in to the Yagnya Hall, pulled strenuously my numerous soldiers. King Janaka announced that anyone in the gathering was welcome to try lifting and tying the string to the holy bow and the one who succeeds could get wedded to Sita.
“Rama, you can try and see whether you can succeed” said Vishwamitra.
Rama got up, sought the blessings of the saint and went near the bow. He bent and picked up the mighty bow with his left hand as if it is a child play. As the whole gathering watched with abated breath, Rama held one end of the bow with his toe fingers, bend the bow and pulled the string so as to tie it to the other end. Suddenly the bow broke at the middle with a thunderous noise. Cries of cheer from the whole gathering rent the air. Vishwamitra beamed joyously and king Janaka went speechless, shedding tears of joy, for he had now got the right match for his beloved daughter Sita.
After getting Vishwamitra’s consent, king Janaka despatched fast travelling envoys to Ayodhya to inform king Dasaratha of the joyful happenings at Mithila, seek his consent for the marriage and invite the king, his royal family and all other distinguished guests to come to Mithila and conduct Rama’s marriage in their presence with their blessings.
After eight days, King Dasarata arrived at Mithila with all his family members, priests and ministers ; they were given a grand and royal reception. The Ashwamedha Yaga was also completed successfully by that time. Considering the greatness of the lineage of the two emperors, elders discussed and decided that along with Rama’s marriage, the marriage of the other three princes too were to be conducted then and there; brides of right age and beauty from the royal family of Janaka were indeed available as if by divine dispensation. It was decided to marry king Janaka’s (second) daughter Urmila to Lakshmana; Janaka’s younger brother Kushadhvaja’s elder daughter Mandavi to Bharata and the younger daughter Srutakirti to Shatrughnan.
Without delay, the grand marriage function was arranged. With moist eyes, king Janaka took the hand of his daughter Sita to gave to Rama’s hand and solemnized the marriage saying “Here is my dear daughter Sita, who will share the sacred duties of your life; she is blessed; please accept her hand and take care; she will be most faithful to you as wife and follow you as your shade; “. The marriage of the other three princes too were solemnized next.
Having accomplished his divine task, Vishwamitra bid farewell to one and all and departed to the northern mountains. Soon it was time for King Dasaratha’s family to depart. King Janaka gifted his daughters lavishly with gold, jewels, servant maids and so on and honored the all the guests.
Rama subdues Parashurama
As the journey towards Ayodhya was going joyfully, suddenly the sage Vashishta noticed some bad omens. A storm rose up, uprooting trees and whipping up dust. And right in front of the caravan, there stood Parashurama (considered as another Avatar of Vishnu, in the role of a destroyer), the notorious slayer of numerous kings and destroyer of the ruling class.
Saint Vashishta extended a formal reception to the Brahmin. Ignoring the formalities, with his famous weapon axe hanging on his right shoulders and a mighty bow on his left hand, Parashurama, the son of saintly Brahmin Jamadagni addressed Rama “Hey Rama, I heard the news that you broke the bow of Shiva at Mithila. Yeons ago, the celestial Architect Vishwakarma once made two identical bows and presented to Lord Shiva and Vishu. Do you know that it was that bow that Lord Shiva discarded after he failed in a combat against lord Vishnu? The bow used by Vishnu is here with me which is far more powerful. Now show me your real valor by holding this bow and shooting an arrow from it!”
Dasaratha, gripped in fear said, “Oh mighty Brahmin; I have heard that you had stopped your killing spree, donated the kingdoms won by you to saint Kashyapa and retired to Mahindra hills to engage in austerities. I beg you not to harm my son and if done, none of us would live any longer”.
However, totally unperturbed, Rama accepted the challenge. He picked up the Vishnu Danus with ease from the hand of Parashurama, mounted the arrow, pulled the string and aimed it against Parashurama. With words brimming with anger, Rama addressed Parashurama: “Now I have done what you have challenged me to do. The arrow mounted and drawn on this great bow shall not go waste without hitting a target. Great Parashurama, tell me what should I hit with it; I don’t want to kill you because you are a Brahmin and hence respectable; with this I can either destroy the power you have attained to be a deathless and swift wanderer or the privilege of higher worlds you are entitled to enjoy gained by you through your austerities”
Parashurama stood stupefied; his pride thus crushed by Rama, he became sober; he immediately understood that the person who handled Vishnu Danus with such an ease was none other than lord Vishnu in human form. He prayed to Rama: “Hail, hail, Oh Vishnu, the lord of all Gods! I wish to retain my prowess to be a swift wanderer on this earth. You may please destroy my path to reach the higher worlds with arrow!” Rama shot the arrow and destroyed the fortune of higher worlds and Parasurama. After reverently circumambulating Rama, Parashurama swiftly left the place to return to Mehendra hills where he was meditating earlier.
The marriage party soon returned to Ayodhya. A grand reception awaited them there.
Happy life at Ayodhya
The newlywed royal couples settled in their palaces in Ayodhya and enjoyed their life thoroughly. Sita, who was verily the incarnate of Lakshmi ( the consort of Lord Vishnu) showered love on Rama with her beauty, behavior and words; She was so much tuned to Rama that she could read Rama’s mind and act according to his wish without the need of words. Rama with his pleasing manners and manly personality loved Sita from the bottom of his heart.
After some days passed, Yudajith, the maternal uncle of Bharata visited Ayodhya with the intention of taking Bharata with him to his father’s kingdom Kekeya. Accompanied by Shatrughna, Bharata bid farewell to parents and brothers and left for Kekeya.
Rama assisted his father in the administrative aspects of Government. King Dasaratha was captivated by Rama’s maturity, mental poise, care and concern for the welfare of citizens and so on. King Dasaratha seemed to be the happiest of all.
End of Bala Kandam.
To be continued in Part:2 Ayodhya Kandam
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Lord-Rama1.jpg372496C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2018-03-17 15:02:202018-04-14 22:10:16The story of Rama – Rama Avatar
Ramayana is just not a mythological story—it is one of the two most widely read “Itihas,” and revered by Hindus everywhere. Itihas means “thus happened.” As per Hindu belief, Ramayana is the true story of Rama—the king of Ayodhya who is considered to be the very incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Great sage poet Valmiki, who wrote the magnum opus “Ramayana,” was a caretaker for Sita, Rama’s wife during the turbulent, tail end period of her life.
The historic period (or Yuga) that Rama lived in was known as Treta Yuga. This was during a timewhen people’s righteousness (dharma) and moral standards were of a high order. In subsequent yugas (namely Dwapar Yuga, when the story of Mahabharata took place; and the present day Kali yuga that we live in), dharma and morality seem to be steadily declining. Thus, the story of “Ramayana,” whenever read, tends to give us great insight to the very high moral and ethical standards of yore. During times of mental turmoil, we can often find enlightenment from reading “Ramayana.”
Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu, the Hero of the epic story Ramayana.
Here are some of the lessons one can learn from reading Ramayana:
The relationship between Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha.
Human life is often lost while chasing materialism—known as Artha, and sensory pleasures—known as Kama. The story of “Ramayana” makes it clear that these two pursuits should never be sought at the cost of righteousness—Dharma. The ultimate goal of life is liberation—or Moksha, and this can be attained only by relinquishing Artha and Kama and by strictly following a life of Dharma.
The importance of one man being wedded to only one wife
During the Ramayana period, practice of polygamy (by men) was quite prevalent and it was quite an acceptable social norm for kings to marry many women. Rama’s own father, Dasaratha, was wedded to three wives, and he also had innumerable concubines at his palace. In a stark contrast to his father, Rama remained wedded and staunchly loyal to his only wife, Sita. From this practice, he held his head high as the greatest king ever to rule in Bharat, India. He set a good example for future generations of men as to what was considered the gold standard for a respectable man in society.
Adherence to truth and the need to honor one’s word
When Rama was a young boy, the love and affection his father Dasarata had for him was immense. He would never want to get separated from his loving son. When Sage Viswamitra visited his palace and asked for help to ward off demons who were disturbing his spiritual practices at his forest hermitage, Dasarata promised to offer whatever help he could give. The Sage asked the king to send young Rama with him to fight the demons at the forest and naturally Dasarata was terribly shocked. Still, though, he agreed to part with Rama, to honor his promise to the Sage.
Later on, his third wife Kaikeyi wanted the throne of Ayodhya for her own son Bharata. She also wanted Rama to be exiled to the forest. This was nothing short of a deathly blow to Dasarata, but, still, he never used his authority as king to veto her request. This is because of the promise he had made long ago to Kaikeyi to grant her two boons whenever she chose to ask.
Respecting a father’s word of honor
On the night before Rama’s crowning ceremony, Kaikeyi made use of her boons not only to deny Rama his rightful ascend to the kingdom, but also to send him into exile in the forest. Rama, as a kshatriya (a person belonging to a ruler or warrior class), had every right to question such an injustice. He was also not duty bound to honor his father’s unjust promises, either. However, true to his greatness, Rama, with total mental equipoise and without even a trace of disappointment on his face, conceded to both the demands. For him, “pitru vakya paripalanam” (honoring his father’s words) was one of the highest dharmas.
The futility of listening to vicious counseling
Kaikeyi, who was an essentially good-natured woman, meekly allowed her very loyal maid servant Mandara to brainwash her into demanding these two atrocious boons from Dasarata. Though she was not enthusiastic in the beginning, she gradually allowed Mandara’s venomous words to poison her mind. Did she gain anything finally? No. In fact, she lost her beloved husband Dasarata who died very soon thereafter, on account of the shock and the pain of separation he experienced from having from his beloved son Rama being sent off. Bharata, Kaikeyi’s son, for whom she obtained the very kingdom, reprimanded her for her atrocious act. He never ever took charge of the kingdom as a King.
Now, notice this contrast: Upon hearing about these developments, Lakshmana, Rama’s brother, (who was very short-tempered), like a true Kshatriya, got angry. He could not tolerate the injustice doled out to Rama. He wanted Rama to fight for his rights, he also wanted to proceed and fight with his father and imprison Kaikeyi. However, Rama never heeded to his counsel. He pacified Lakshmana with calming words, pointing out the need for adhering to dharma. The effect of Rama’s counseling not only pacified Lakshmana, but this also gave him a steely resolution to relinquish his own comforts of the palace to accompany Rama to the forest, despite the latter’s objections to it.
Not accepting any booty that came in an unjust way
Bharata, Kaikeyi’s son, also could not tolerate the very idea of bequeathing the throne that rightfully belong to his elder brother Rama, which was wrongly acquired for his sake by his mother. He felt wrath towards his mother on this issue and took her to task for having asked for such a boon. So, he went to the forest in search of his brother and pled for his return to the country to rightfully rule it. Rama refused to concede, of course, so he took Rama’s shoes, carried it on his head, and placed them on Ayodhya’s throne. He took care of administration of the country as a representative of Rama till Rama returned from exile.
The futility of getting swayed by dubious attractions
Sita, who was in the forest, grew madly attracted to a beautiful golden deer. She wanted her husband Rama to catch the deer. She refused to listen to Lakshmana’s warning that such a deer was not natural, and that it could be a demon in disguise. Because of her incessant pestering to acquire the deer to be her playmate, Rama had to go behind it. Unfortunately, this led to her getting separated from him, and she then got forcibly abducted by Ravana, the demon.
The importance of being watchful about one’s utterances
Afterwards, Rama killed the demon. Then, Maricha, the demon who was disguised as the golden deer, called out “Ha Lakshmana! Ha Sita!” mimicking Rama’s voice, and died. Sita, upon hearing it, urged Lakshmana, who was standing guard next to her, to go and help Rama (who was actually not in any trouble). Lakshmana tried his best to counsel her, but he could not convince her that Rama was fine. In a fit of rage, Sita accused Lakshmana of wanting to have an illicit relationship with her in Rama’s absence. Lakshmana, who was then shell-shocked from hearing such an abominable accusation, left immediately, leaving her alone. Ravana then utilized this opportunity to abduct her.
Some interpreters of Ramayana say that Sita was forced to prove her chastity by the test of fire by Rama (after she was freed from the clutches of Ravana) only because of her intemperate and terrible accusation against the saintly and devout Lakshmana.
The importance of fighting against atrocity done to woman
Jatayu, the old and once powerful bird, noticed Ravana abducting Sita forcefully and flying with her in his vehicle towards his country Lanka. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana in an effort to release Sita. Unfortunately, he could not succeed in this effort. The bird sacrificed its very own life on such a noble effort. Before taking his last breath, though, Jatayu managed to convey the news to Rama, who was moved to tears by the old bird’s gallantry. Rama performed its last rites and funeral, as though he was the bird’s son.
Divine love transcends all barriers of caste and creed
Lowly fisherman Guha was was full of devotion to Rama. He helped Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita cross the Ganges river in a boat. Impressed by his devotion and service, Rama accepted him as if his brother. Sabari, an old hunter woman of low caste, became a staunch devotee of Rama, just by hearing about Rama’s greatness.
When Rama was wandering the forests in search of Sita, he happened to visit Sabari’s hut. The old lady, overwhelmed with love for Rama, reportedly offered him fruits after nibbling each a bit to make sure that she did not offer sour fruits to her beloved Rama. Rama treated Sabari as though she was his own mother and showered his grace on her.
The importance of humility as a great virtue
Hanuman, estranged Vanar King Sugriva’s minister, was one of the greatest characters of Ramayana. Hanuman was physically very powerful, a great diplomat, very articulate, and very wise. Despite all his great traits, his humility was still unsurpassed. The moment he met Rama, he was bowled over by Rama’s divinity and charm and he committed himself to be Rama’s lifelong servant. The great feats he subsequently performed in serving Rama were unparalleled. The humility he displayed despite his greatness was unfathomable.
The greatness of true friendship
Rama befriended the estranged Vanar King Sugriva with a mutual promise of help. Sugriva’s brother Vali had forcefully taken Sugriva’s wife. Not only that, but he also denied him his share of the Vanar kingdom. Sugriva and Rama teamed up in an effort to eliminate the immensely powerful Vali. Sugriva, in turn, helped Rama in seeking and locating Sita. He also helped Rama to wage war against Ravana in order to retrieve Sita. Both did a commendable job in honoring their words.
Showing mercy, even to the enemy.
Ravana’s younger brother Vibhishan was an extremely righteous person. In fact, he was bold enough to warn and advise Ravana against abducting another person’s wife just to satisfy his own carnal desires. When the furious Ravana showed his brother to the door, Vibhishana went to Rama and surrendered to him. Despite reservations from Sugriva and others, Rama accepted Vibhishana into his fold.
During the first fiery combat between Rama and Ravana, Rama destroyed all of Ravana’s weapons and armor. So, Ravana stood on the war field unprotected. Rama, who could have easily killed Ravana at that moment, in one of the greatest acts of graciousness, then asked Ravana to retire for the day and return to the war field the next day, fully rearmed, as it was against dharma to kill an un-armed person.
The need for the highest standards in a King
After annihilating Ravana and freeing Sita from confinement, Rama performed one of the most controversial and oft-criticized demands in asking Sita to jump into the fire to prove her chastity. Sita did it, and she came out unscathed. Rama took her into his loving fold once again.
Later, when he became King of Ayodhya, he came to know that a washerman who spoke ill words about Rama for having accepted his wife Sita who had stayed in the confinement of his enemy for months. Rama, whose love for Sita was unfathomable, then made the most painful decision in relinquishing her—simply because he had to maintain a very high order of personal probity as the ruler of Ayodhya.
One can go on discussing many more lessons of morality and dharma that can be found from an in-depth reading of Ramayana. It is no wonder that Ramayana is a wonderful story for both children and elders alike. It’s both a wondrous piece of literature and a great source of guidance on righteous living that has stood up to the test of time. It continues to inspire millions of people, breaking through both religion and linguistic barriers across the world.
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Rama-with-guha.jpg377651C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2018-02-07 13:28:342019-05-14 22:42:32Moral lessons you can learn from the story of Ramayana
A fundamental belief in Hinduism is that God descends to earth to take birth as human or other forms whenever the good and piety suffer and the evil ones have an upper hand. God protects the good, destroys the evil and restores Dharma (righteousness). Such a person is known as an Avatar.
In Hinduism, Lord Vishnu is the “God who protects”. He is attributed with taking 10 such avatars. They are Matsya, Varaha, Koorma, Vamana, Narasimha, Rama, Parasurama, Krishna, Balarama and Kalki.
Narasimha is one ferocious avatar of Vishnu, who came out of a pillar at the behest of his earnest devotee, Prahlada, in the form of human (“nara”) with the head of a lion (“Singa”) to destroy the demon king Hiranya.
The mythological story associated with Narasimha Avatar is one of the favorite bed-time stories (originating from Srimad Bhagavata, a holy mythlogical book) told to Hindu children by grand mothers and parents from time immemorial. It is a highly captivating story containing lots of morals: How unbridled power corrupts human beings, how even wicked men can at times get the grace of God by their sheer power of penance, how egotism and indiscriminate usage of power can lead to destruction, how a child should develop love (“Bhakti”) for God, how unflinching faith in the benevolent power of God can come to the rescue of a devotee at times of distress, how God destroys evil and re-establishes righteousness at the appropriate time and so on.
Here is the brief story of Narasimha Avatar:
Hiranya Kachipu is a demon (“Asura”) king, who hated lord Vishnu. He did a severe penance to seek divine powers from Lord Brahma (The lord of creation). When Brahma appeared before him, having been pleased with his penance, Hiranya asked for a boon that he should never face death. God said that such a boon is impossible to give since anything subject to creation is subject to death; Hiranya was however given the option of choosing the ways by which he could not die.
Hiranya thought about it well and then finally requested for the boon by which he shall not be killed by an animal or a human being, not by any weapons or poison, not on account of aging, not in day time or nighttime, not inside a house or outside of it, neither on earth nor on skies. He also wanted powers to be the sole lordship over all the living entities and celestial gods, and give him all the glories obtained by that position. Brahma granted the boon and vanished.
During the time Hiranya was away undergoing penance, his detractors (Devas – celestial beings) attacked his palace; Saint Narada saved his wife (who was pregnant at that time) and gave shelter to her in his hut. Saint Narada used to preach the glories of Lord Vishnu to the pregnant lady. The foetus in her womb grew up hearing all the glories of lord Vishnu and right from the birth, the baby boy, named Prahlada became an ardent devotee of Vishnu.
Returning successfully after his penance, Hiranya took charge of his wife and child from Narada and returned to his Palace. Now Hiranya, by virtue of the boons he had obtained, began to terrorize all the three worlds (the heaven, the earth and the lower world) and brought all the rulers under his subjugation. He declared himself to be the sole God of the universe and dictated that no hymns of praise should ever be sung on lord Vishnu and not even the name of Narayana (Vishnu’s other popular name) be ever uttered. Many saints and sages who worshiped Vishnu were put to death. Hiranya’s rule over the universe was atrocious marked by terror, unlawfulness and arrogance. People in all the three worlds lived in constant fear and suffered unendingly under his rule.
Young Prahlada explaining the glory of Lord Vishnu to fellow boys at Gurukulam (school).
In the meanwhile, Prahlada grew up to a young boy, ready for being sent to school. At the school, as per the dictum of Hiranya, the teachers instructed Prahlada to worship Hiranya, his father as the supreme lord. Prahlada flatly refused stating that Lord Narayana was indeed the sole lord of the universe and none other than Him is fit for worship as God. Prahlada, by his magnetic charm, even influenced the fellow students to sing the glories of Lord Narayana. The teachers, highly got inconvenienced by Prahlada, had to bring to the notice of Hiranya about the adamant stance of the boy.
Prahlada singing the glory of Sriman Narayana (Film” Bhakta Prahlad”)
Hiranya got highly infuriated by his own son’s defiance against him; he tried to reason with his son that Narayana was a hapless and non-existent God and that Hiranya himself was the unconquerable lord of the universe. Having failed miserably in his endeavors, the highly agitated Hiranya ordered death sentence to his own son. His ministers took one step after another to kill Prahlada – by not feeding him with food, by throwing him from the high hills, by making him drink poison, by drowning him at the sea and by throwing him over fire. But the totally unruffled Prahlada would pray Lord Narayana earnestly to save him and each time he came out unscathed from the jaws of death.
Crest fallen and baffled by their unsuccessful efforts, the ministers brought Prahlada back to the king. Appalled by the turn of events, Hiranya challenged his son to show him Lord Vishnu. “Where is that treacherous Hari?” he demanded to know. Prahlada said coolly that Hari (Lord Vishnu) was everywhere – he was residing in the pillar as well as in the smallest twig.
Pointing a pillar in the palace, Hiranya asked: “Is your Hari inside this?”.
“Why not?” replied Prahlada.
Hiranya took his massive mace and hit the pillar powerfully. The pillar split into two and out of it came Narasimha – Lord Vishnu with the face of a lion and human body. The massive and ferocious look of the lord startled Hiranya.
It was evening – the sun was about to set (neither day nor night). Narasimha (neither an animal nor a man) grabbed and lifted Hiranya, carried him to the entrance of the place and sat right at the entrance (neither inside nor outside). He placed Hiranya on his lap (neither on earth nor on skies) and using his sharp finger nails (not by any weapon), Narasima pierced and tore the body of Hiranya and killed him instantly.
Thus came the end of the atrocious rule of Hiranya. All the three worlds were freed of subjugation by the demon king. All celestial gods assembled there and showered praise on the Lord Narasimha. Prahlada was made the King and his unparalleled devotion and faith in Lord Vishnu became the hallmark of Bhakti for all the future generations to come.
Lord Narasimha is worshiped in several temples and shrines all over India. Narasima is hailed as the protector of the meek and punisher of the evil.
Ahobilam, a hilly holy place in Andhra pradesh state (in south India) is considered to be the place where the avatar of Narasimha is said to have taken place. There exists a massive pillar rock high at the hills, which is said to be the pillar from which Lord Narasimha came out. Several holy shrines of Narasima are spotted across the lengths and breadths of Ahobilam in difficult-to-access hilly terrain. Ardent devotees visit these holy shrines by trekking and offer their worship in these multiple shrines.
Narasimha emanating from pillar to slain Hiranya. (Film: Bhakta Prahlada)
https://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Nrusimhavatar.jpg552496C.V.Rajanhttps://hinduismwayoflife.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Logo6-Hinduism-Sanatana-dharma-Way-of-life-340-×-140-px-300x124.pngC.V.Rajan2018-02-07 13:12:242018-04-02 12:50:15Narasimha – an Avatar of Vishnu – the captivating story of Prahlada and Hiranya Kasipu