Ms.Suma Ragavendra

My pranams to Lord Ramachandra,  Guruji and My dear Satsanghiis,

There are 5 accepted philosophies on the Lord, which are shruti, smruti, puranas, santavani and ithihas.  Ramayana and Maha Bharatha are the ithihasas.  This ithihasa is not an imagination of a poet.  Ithi- ha- aasa means, “thus existed once upon a time”, which in this context, refers to Rama-yana which can be traced back to the 3rd century B.C.  Ramayana in Sanskrit means the “Story of Rama.”  It is the first ornate poem of Valmiki, a contemporary of Lord Rama.  It comprises of 7 books and 24,000 shlokas.

This Rama’s story, is a stream of sacred sweetness & has been for centuries the perennial source of solace during sorrow, inspiration in moments of dejection, and guidance while caught in di-lemma.   It is, an intense human drama, where-in god impersonates as man and gathers around him, on the vast world stage, the perfect and the imperfect, the human and the sub-human, the beast and the demon, to teach us all by his own example the importance of this divine human life. It is a story that plays its tender fingers on the heart strings of man evoking responses of pathos, pity, exultation, adoration, ecstasy and surrender transforming us from the animal and the human into the divine, which is in our very core.

Sant Valmiki has given titles to each kanto as Kaanda.  Kaanda means sugarcane. However, crooked the sugarcane maybe, when we chew on any section, the sweetness is uniform.  Similarly Rama’s story, the stream with many curves and twists flows through sadness, wonder, ridicule, awe, terror, love, and despair.  But the main undercurrent is Dharma:  Righteousness.  Here Valmiki by his sheer devotion to the lord and his incomparable poetic imagination brings into life, Rama, not merely as Dasharatha’s son but as a qualified incarnation of Vishnu and also as Brahman Him-self. “ Yes” The same Brahman, which the vedas and the upanishads struggle to comprehend and define. And resort to negations “Neti, Neti”. “ Not this, Not this”. .

The epic play Ramayana opens with “Balakanda”, wherein childless king Dasharatha performs the Putrakamesti Yagna and begets 4 children. The day on which Rama, the first child, manifested himself was the 9th day of the shukla paksha of Chaithra masa. Hence this day is celebrated as “Ramanavami”.  Bala Kanda. takes us through different scenes depicting Dasharatha and his subjects attachment to Rama and his Bala-leelas. Lord Ram shows us here, of his divine prowess when he weds Sitadevi at the swayamvara, performing a superhuman feat.  This, kaanda will be explained in detail by Vidyaji and Priyaji.

The Balance kaandas are well explained by the following Shloka, which gives the picture of Ramayana in a nutshell.

“Aadau Rama Tapovanadi  gamanam , hathva mrugam kaanchanam
Vaidehi haranam Jatayu maranam Sugreeva Sambhashanam,
Vali nirdalanam, samudra taranam lanka puri daahanam
Pashchad Ravana Kumbakarna hananam Yettaddi Ramayanam

In the 2nd kaanda, i.e., the Ayodhyakaanda, we see  “Aadau Rama Tapovanadi gamanam”, Rama leaving to the forest on 14 years exile accompanied by Sita and laxmana, to honor his father’s boon to Kaikeyi. Unable to bear this separation, the king reaches the heavenly abode.  Bharatha on hearing the events is heartbroken.  He rushes to Chitrakuta to placate Rama to return to Ayodhya.  But disappointed, he returns to Ayodhya alone with lord Rama’s padukas.  We shall hear the story in detail from Jaishreeji and Sureshji.

In the Aranyakaanda, we see Shurpanaka’s humiliation & “hatva mrugam kanchanam” the slaying of the illusive golden deer, followed by ‘Vaidehi haranam” abduction of sita by Ravana, & “Jatayu maranam“ the death of Jatayu at Ravana’s hands. Rama laments for Sita and is extremely grieved.  Here ends Aranyakaanda,, which will be taken up in detail by Ushaji and Padmaji.

Kishkinda Kanda starts with  “Sugreeva Sambhashanam,Vali nirdalanam”.     Here Rama meets Sugreeva, forges a friendship with him &  kills his brother Vali.  Hanuman finds out the location of Sita, and prepares to take a gigantic leap to Lanka, wherein she is being kept as a prisoner. This is the gist of Kish Kintha, which will be explained in detail by Devarajanji and Laxmiji.

“Samudra Taranam, Lanka puri Dahanam”.   This forms one of the most beautiful kaandas, of Ramayana,the Sundara kaanda.  Here we get to see the prowess of Lord Hanuman who takes a mighty leap to Lanka, conveys Lord Rama’s message to Sita and sets fire to the city of Lanka.  He then returns to Rama and narrates the incidents occurring at Lanka, setting an end to Sundara kaanda which will be dealt by Soniaji.

“Pashchaad Ravana Kumbarkarana hananam yettaddi Ramayanam”.  We see now the onset of the last kaanda wherein Lord crosses the ocean, slays Ravana, Kumbakarna and rescues Sita.  Then he returns to Ayodhya after the 14 years and is coronated as the king.  Yuddha kaanda will be dealt by Anandiji and Usha Satyanji.

Ramayana imparts two lessons:
The value of detachment, and the need to become aware of the divinity in every being.
Give up sense objects and you gain Rama.

Sita, gave up the luxuries of Ayodhya and so she could be with Rama in the period of  “exile”.  But the moment, she cast longing eyes on the golden deer and craved for it, she lost the presence of Rama.  This clearly depicts that renunciation brings joy.  But attachment brings grief.

Each character in this great epic is a shining example with its own meaning. Dasharatha even-though is the conqueror of the ten indriyas, during times of sorrow is swayed by emotions, as a normal man is susceptible to.  This represents being merely physical with the ten senses.

The three gunas are the three queens.  The four goals of life-the purusharthas are the four sonsLakshmana represents the intellect.  Sugriva is viveka or discrimination.  Vali is despair. Hanuman is the embodiment of courage & devotion.

The bridge is built across the ocean of delusion.  The 3 rakhasa chiefs are the personifications of the 3 qualities. Ravana - Rajasic, Kumbakarna -Thamasic and Vibishana-Satwic qualitiy.  Sita is the BrahmaGYnana or the awareness of the universal truth.  The destruction of the ten-headed Ravana signifies the annihilation of the ten senses.

Devarishi Narada in his Bhakthi Sutras says,

“Harer Nama Harer Nama Harer Namaiva Kevalam Kalau nasthi,
Yevanasthi Yevansthi,Yeva Gathir Anyatha"

He says that only the name Hari or Rama is the ultimate refuge in this age of Kali.  There is no other way, there is no other way.

Valmiki , the once notorious bandit could become a great poet and seer even though he wrongly chanted the name of Lord Rama as “Mara”.  So let us all chant the beautiful name of Srirama and try to cross this ocean of samsara.

Jag mein sundar hein do naam
Chaahe Krishna kaho yaa Raam
Bolo Raam, Raam, Raam.
Bolo Rama, Raam, Raam.

!! Jai Sri Ram !!