Love All Serve All    Help Ever Hurt Never   Visit official website of Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust , Prasanthi Nilayam
What's New

The Brother Among Brothers

The ideal of brother‑hood depicted in the Ramayana story is without parallel in any other epic anywhere in world literature. When, during the battle in Lanka, with the Rakshasa hordes, Lakshmana fell in a faint and could not be revived, Rama lamented the calamity, saying, "Alas! Lakshmana is the breath of my breath, a brother like him has never been available for any one else on earth.” Lakshmana's life and relations with his brother Rama are shining examples for mankind.

It can be said that Lakshmana is the A in the sacred syllable AUM. Bharata, the other brother is the U; Shatrughna, the third one is the M. And, Rama, the eldest, is the full OM (AUM). Rama is the concre­tisation of the Brahmam that emanated first as the Primeval Sound, OM. When Rama and Lakshmana were wading through the jungle, after the loss of Sita, the sages who saw them described them as the `Sun and Moon'. Their mien was so majestic and magnificent. They shone with the splendour of courage and determination. When strength of body and steadfastness of mind reinforce each other, one's mien becomes so attractive. Youth today have neither phy­sical strength nor mental steadfastness. So, they appear too old before their time, 60, even while they are in their teens. When the body is weak, the mind too gets weak. You must try to develop physical well‑being and health, for, a gem has to be treasured in a safe strong box. The gem of divinity that is your reality has to be kept in a strong box namely, the body.

Rama and Lakshmana were, even in boy­hood, careful about the dress they wore. During the period of their early spiritual apprenticeship, they discarded princely robes, even though Dasaratha tempted them to wear costly jewels and clothes. They were particular to wear dress that would be appropriate to the roles they were playing. When in the forest as exiles, they wore deerskin and had the hair knotted on top. They argued that dress must be worn for one's own satisfaction and not as imita­ting some one else. They were never slaves of fashion or convention. They laid down the norms for others; they never accepted what was laid down by others, just to earn their favour.

Heroism was the hall‑mark of the brothers. They met every obstacle squarely and exhi­bited the enterprise necessary to meet and overcome opposition. Youth today have to learn this lesson. They quail before the tiniest obstacle and lose heart at the first difficulty they encounter. Like the heroes of the Ramayana, they should march forward bravely whatever the handicap in either secular, moral, or spiritual fields of activity. Of course, when the truth that there is but One Reality in all and that, that Reality is God, becomes revealed, then, there will be no more room for anger or hatred. You will have to seek and see only the good in every one. The passion in your eye will colour the vision you see. Tulsi Das, while composing his epic poem Ramacharitamanas, wrote that the flowers in the gardens of Lanka were white. Hanuman who was present, unseen, manifested him­self, his face full of dissent; for, he said, they were red and not white, as he had himself seen, with his own eyes. Tulsi Das refused to amend the adjective; Hanuman insisted that the error be corrected. The matter very nearly approached a scuffle. So Rama Himself had to intervene. He told Hanuman that anger against the Rakshasas had reddened his eyes and so, the white flowers appeared red to him!

Lakshmana had a pure heart from his very birth. As he grew up, he was able to overcome the urges of his senses and estab­lish himself as their master. His character was above reproach. He eagerly welcomed any order from Rama and enjoyed fulfilling it to the best of his ability. The first two days of his life, Lakshmana spent in wailing aloud, in the lap of Sumitra, his mother! She tried all remedies‑magical, and ritual. But, the baby could not be consoled or persuaded to feed itself or sleep. She consulted Vasishta, the Royal preceptor, and he advised that Lakshmana be laid beside Rama, in the Palace of Kausalya. She did as directed and, in the company of Rama, the child of Sumitra slept soundly and played most happily. He could not tolerate sepa­ration from Rama. His greatest desire was to be in Rama's presence. He followed Rama like his shadow. He never resided in a Place where Rama was not. Rama was all that he wanted, all that he cared for.

When Rama started out into exile in the forest and wore garments of bark, Lakshmana too wore them and started out with him, though the father's wish according to the boon he had granted to Kaika referred only to Rama. For 14 years, he watched over his brother and his wife, guarding them day and night, without any regard for his own comfort or even for sleep or food. Tulsi Das pays great tribute to Lakshmana for this devoted service. When Rama returned to Ayodhya after the period of exile, Tulsi­das says, the citizens, in their lakhs, cheered at the sight in the distance of the flag on top of the chariot which was bringing him. But, they did not know, he says, that the pole which carried the flag of Rama's triumph was Lakshmana, the devoted brother. How could the flag fly so splendid without the dedicated service, the undaunted courage, the steadfast loyalty of the brother who gladly shared the travails of exile with Rama, be asked.

In the drama enacted by Narayana, where He came down as a Nara (man), the brother had a crucial role, Lakshmana laid his life down for the purpose of realising the mission of the Avatar. He never transgressed by so much as a step the boundary laid down by Rama. When Rama ordered him to raise a fire, into which Sita was advised to jump as part of the fire‑ordeal to prove to the world her chastity, Lakshmana obeyed with a bleeding heart. When Rama ordered him to take Sita out into the forest and leave her there alone and unguarded, Lakshmana obeyed, though his heart was wrung with pain.

There were two occasions, when Laksh­mana had unfortunately to go against the specific orders of Rama. When Maricha, who had assumed the form of the golden deer, had enticed Rama to a long distance and when he was shot by Rama he cried out, O Sita, O Lakshmana, as if Rama him­self was calling out for help. Then, Sita wanted that Lakshmana should go to where the cry came from, though it meant that he would break the command of Rama not to leave Sita alone in the cottage. Lakshmana stoutly refused to leave; he knew that it was a stratagem of the Rakshasa. But, Sita imputed motives and used such harsh words that Lakshmana had to disobey Rama and leave the cottage.

The second instance happened towards the end of the Avatar drama. The Gods sent Rama Himself to Rama, to remind Him that the Avataric career can be closed and all the Divine Participants can return to the Heavenly Abode. When Yama came into the audience hall, Rama directed Lakshmana to be at the entrance and not allow any one to enter and interrupt the conversation. He told him to be vigilant, on pain of death. While Lakshmana was keeping watch, the short‑tempered sage Durvasa approached him and demanded entry. He was furious when he was stopped. He threatened that he will lay a terrible curse of destruction on Ayodhya and its inhabitants, on the entire Raghu clan. Lakshmana weighed the pros and cons. He concluded that his death would indeed be a lesser calamity than the entire population of Ayodhya being destroyed. So, he admitted Durvasa and received the punishment gladly. Lakshmana deci­ded every act of his, on the touchstone of either Rama's wish or the general good. He gave up everything, his wife Urmila, his mother Sumitra, princely life at Ayodhya, for the chance of serving Rama and furthe­ring His mission. When he killed Indrajit in battle, Rama embraced him with unboun­ded joy, and exclaimed, "Ah! Dear Brother! What a great victory you have achieved today. Now, I feel I have already secured Sita back.”

Between Rama and Lakshmana, there was never any trace of envy, or suspicion. Lakshmana was supremely indifferent to what was happening around him, if it did not affect Rama. His greatness is im­measurable. He served Sita for fourteen years, every day of the year; but, he never once raised his eyes up to her face. His con­duct was the height of righteousness. When the bundle of jewels that Sita had thrown down while being abducted by Ravana was retrieved by the Vanaras at Rshyamuka Hill, they handed it over to Sugriva. Sugriva brought it before Rama and Lakshmana for identification. When Rama asked Laksh­mana whether he could identify any of the jewels as belonging to Sita, Lakshmana said that he could vouchsafe for the genuineness of only one jewel, that which Sita wore on the ankles; for, every day, when he fell at the feet of Sita, he could see it and so now recognise it as unmistakably hers. Such was the noble character of Rama's brother.

When Lakshmana was engaged in battle with Indrajit, he fell in a faint and Indrajit wanted to lift him unconscious and carry him into Lanka as a hostage. But, since he is the incarnation of the cosmic serpent, Sesha, he was tremendously heavy; he could not be moved at all. So he gave up the idea and went away. Meanwhile, Hanuman arrived there and when he uttered the name 'Rama, Rama, Rama' his weight was reduced to that of a feather and he could be easily carried to the Divine presence of Rama. Lakshmana was so responsive to the Ramanama. Before that name, even when he was unconscious, his powers were not demonstrated, nor could they be proudly exhibited. This is a measure of the humility and the heroism of this greatest among brothers.

(May 26, 1977)