RAMAYANA – A SACRED WAY OF LIFE
sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the
Name of Rama. Constant repetition of this sweet Name gives
one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, one should
contemplate on the Name of Rama incessantly. (Telugu
The Ramayana represents a sacred path, a sacred
door to Divinity, a sacred way of life. The Ramayana is not
merely the biography of an individual. All characters in the
Ramayana are equally important. Dasaratha distributed the
sacred pudding he received from the Yajna Purusha equally
among his three wives. Kausalya received her share of pudding
joyfully and took it to her Puja (worship) room. Kaikeyi also
did the same. Each of them was happy thinking that her son
would be the heir apparent to the Ayodhya throne. However,
Sumitra had no such desire. She carried her bowl of pudding
to the terrace and placed it on the parapet wall while drying
her hair in the sun. All the while, she was contemplating
on God. As she watched helplessly, an eagle swooped down and
carried away the bowl of sacred pudding. She was shocked and
disturbed thinking of the reprimand she would have to face
from her husband for being careless. She at once rushed downstairs
and informed Kausalya and Kaikeyi about what had happened.
Unlike the co-wives of the present time, the three queens
had utmost love and affection for each other. Kausalya and
Kaikeyi hugged Sumitra and consoled her, saying, “Sister,
why are you disturbed so much? We three are one and we will
share our pudding with you. Kausalya and Kaikeyi at once went
into their respective shrine rooms and brought their pudding
cups. Each of them gave half of her share of pudding to Sumitra.
Sumitra felt greatly relieved and expressed her gratitude
to her sisters. The three queens offered their pudding to
God and partook of it. Very soon, they conceived. It was Kausalya
who developed labour pains first and gave birth to a male
child. Then Kaikeyi was blessed with a son. Soon Sumitra developed
labour pains and gave birth to two sons. In fact, Sumitra
never had any desire to have children. But she was blessed
with two sons. She accepted it as the Will of God and was
very happy about it. The three queens were waiting for King
Dasaratha to come and bless the children. Dasaratha went to
each of them and showered his blessings on the children. It
was then that Sumitra revealed to King Dasaratha about the
incident of the eagle carrying away her bowl of pudding, and
her sisters Kausalya and Kaikeyi giving half of their share
of pudding to her. That was the reason she was blessed with
King Dasaratha requested Sage Vasistha, the
family preceptor, to christen the newborn children. Sage Viswamitra
was also invited for the function. Many sages, Vedic scholars
and eminent personalities who attended the naming ceremony
were spellbound by the ethereal beauty of the children. Sage
Vasistha, Sage Viswamitra and other sages blessed the children
by chanting Vedic Mantras. Everyone was wondering how Sumitra
had two sons while Kausalya and Kaikeyi were blessed with
only one son each. How can anybody comprehend the ways of
God? Everything happened according to God’s Will. Sage
Vasistha named Kausalya’s son as Sri Rama as He had
the power of attraction in Him. Ramayathi
Ithi Ramah (that which attracts is the principle of
Rama). The name ‘Rama’ was given to Him according
to His birth star. His form was highly brilliant and resplendent.
As per the tradition, Vasishtha wrote the name Rama on rice.
Then Vasistha named Sumitra’s first son as Lakshmana
as he looked one of valour and his face shone with all auspicious
attributes. He named her second son as Satrughna, saying he
would destroy all Satrus (enemies). Vasistha then went to
the place where Kaikeyi was seated with her son on her lap.
She was bubbling with joy as she remembered the promise made
by Dasaratha that her son would be made the crown prince of
Ayodhya. She was thinking that her son would rule over the
kingdom of Bharat. Keeping this in mind, Vasistha named her
son as Bharata. In this manner, the naming ceremony came to
a happy conclusion.
The sons of Kausalya and Kaikeyi were having
timely food and sleep and were happily playing in their cradles.
On the other hand, Sumitra’s sons were crying all the
time, day and night, without even taking food. Sumitra became
restless seeing the plight of her sons. When she mentioned
this to King Dasaratha, he consoled her saying, “Everything
happens according to God’s Will. Pray to Him. He will
take care of the rest.” There was little he could do
about it. Three days passed, the situation remained the same.
Sumitra could no longer bear the suffering of the children.
She went to sage Vasishtha and told him about her predicament.
Sage Vasishtha closed his eyes. His Yogic vision enabled him
to know the truth. He said to Sumitra,”As you partook
of the sacred pudding given by Kausalya, you gave birth to
Lakshmana who is an Amsa (part) of Rama. Similarly, Satrughna
is born out of the share of pudding given to you by Kaikeyi.
So, he is a part of Bharata. Put Lakshmana by the side of
Rama and Satrughna by the side of Bharata. Then they will
rest peacefully.” Sumitra did as instructed by Vasishtha.
The children became peaceful and stopped crying. Watching
this, everyone heaved a sigh of relief. As the children grew
up, it became very clear to Sumitra that Lakshmana was an
Amsa (part) of Rama and Satrughna, an Amsa of Bharata. One
day, she told Kausalya and Kaikeyi, “Dear sisters, your
sons may ascend the throne of Ayodhya in future. I have no
such ambitions. I am happy to see my sons being in the company
of their elder brothers and serve them.” Accordingly
Lakshmana and Satrughna were always in the company of Rama
and Bharata respectively. They served them and spent their
time blissfully. King Dasaratha and the three queens were
very happy to see such unity and harmony among their children.
It is but natural that both happiness and difficulties follow
each other. As King Dasaratha was spending his time blissfully,
one day Sage Viswamitra came with a request which caused great
anxiety to the king. Viswamitra said, “Oh king! I want
you to do me a favour.” Without a second thought, Dasaratha
promised to do the needful. Then the sage said, “I have
decided to perform a Yajna. I request you to send your son,
Rama to protect the Yajna from the demons.” Dasaratha
was in a dilemma. He thought, “Rama is very young and
tender. He knows no hardship. How can I send Him to the forest
with the sage? How can He fight the cruel demons?” When
he expressed his feelings to the sage, Viswamitra became furious
and said, “Oh King! It is a great folly to go back on
your word, for no one in the noble lineage of Ikshvaku has,
until now, ever broken his word. You are tainting their glory
by breaking the promise given to me.”
Dasaratha became frightened on hearing the words of Viswamitra.
He consulted Sage Vasistha in this regard and ultimately decided
to send Rama with the sage. He left everything to God’s
Will. He called Rama to his presence. Rama came there with
all valour and courage. It was natural for Lakshmana to follow
Rama wherever He went. Hence, Lakshmana also came to Dasaratha
in fact, with Rama. Nobody had called Lakshmana. He came of
his own accord and sat next to Rama. The king did not want
to dissuade Lakshmana from following Rama. The Ritwiks chanted
Mantras and blessed Rama and Lakshmana before the two brothers
set out with Sage Viswamitra.
When they reached the banks of the Sarayu river, Sage Viswamitra
said, “My dear ones! This is a very sacred place. Hence,
you may perform Sandhya Vandana here.” Rama and Lakshmana
offered their prayers as instructed by the sage. They closed
their eyes and sat in meditation for sometime. Then Viswamitra
thought that it would be very difficult for the royal princes,
who are used to palatial comforts and luxuries, to keep awake
day and night to guard the Yajna. They cannot even think of
food as they have to be on high alert all the time to fight
the demons. It was then that the sage taught them the sacred
Mantras of Bala and Atibala which would help them overcome
sleep and hunger.
Viswamitra, accompanied by Rama and Lakshmana reached Siddhasrama
and started the performance of the Yajna. Rama and Lakshmana
guarded the Yajna night and day chanting the Mantras taught
by the sage. They never felt the pangs of hunger nor did they
feel sleepy. They were on high alert all the time in all enthusiasm
and exuberance. All of a sudden the demons appeared in their
frightening forms and tried to disrupt the Yajna. They were
making deafening sounds. But, the princes were least perturbed.
They fought the demons with courage and valour and ultimately
vanquished them. Viswamitra was very happy that he could complete
the performance of the Yajna without any interruption. He
showered his love and blessings on Rama and Lakshmana.
In the meantime, a letter arrived from Janaka, the king of
Mithila, inviting the sage to take part in a Yajna. Viswamitra
told the princes, “My dear ones! We have received an
invitation from the noble King Janaka. I am proceeding to
Mithila and I wish that you two should accompany me.”
At first, Rama was not inclined to go to Mithila and said
to Lakshmana, “Dear younger brother, our father instructed
us to follow Sage Viswamitra and protect his Yajna. We don’t
have his permission to go to Mithila and take part in the
Yajna performed by King Janaka.” When the same was conveyed
to Viswamitra, he convinced them saying, “My dear ones,
your father commanded you to follow me and it is your duty
to follow me wherever I go.” The princes had no option
but to obey the command of Viswamitra.
The arrival of Rama and Lakshmana in Mithila created a sensation.
People admired them and began talking about them. As they
were moving in the streets, they attracted everybody’s
attention. “Who are these handsome princes? They look
strong and valorous. Have they come to marry the daughters
of King Janaka?”, people started talking to themselves
in this manner. They reached the royal palace allotted to
them and rested. The Yajna was to commence on the next day.
A meeting was also being arranged for which the gallant heroes
of Bharat were invited. It was to see if anyone could break
the bow of Siva. The victor could win the hand of Janaka’s
daughter, Sita. One after the other, the princes tried to
lift the bow of Siva, but had to return to their seats humiliated.
At the instance of Viswamitra, Rama gently walked towards
the bow, and raised it with His left hand. There was a thunderous
applause. When He bent the bow to tie the string, it broke
with a thunderous sound. Sita was brought there ready with
a garland. Then Viswamitra asked Rama whether He was ready
to marry Sita. He was ready to undertake any task entrusted
to Him by Viswamitra, but was certainly not prepared for the
marriage. Rama offered His salutations to Viswamitra and politely
said, “Swami! You have brought us with you to safeguard
your Yajna and not for performing our marriage. I would not
think of marriage unless I get the consent of My father.”
The sage was in a fix. There was absolute silence in the assembly.
Everyone was surprised at Rama’s reply. Rama was firm
in His stand. Thereupon King Janaka sent his messengers along
with a few disciples of Viswamitra with an invitation to King
Dasaratha. Viswamitra’s disciples narrated to Dasaratha
all that had happened. The king, the queens and the people
of Ayodhya were filled with joy and jubilation at the prospect
of the marriage between Rama and Sita. Dasaratha accompanied
by his queens, Bharata and Satrughna and a host of others,
arrived at Mithila.
The womenfolk proceeded to the venue of the wedding in all
enthusiasm, singing joyously, exhorting each other to witness
the celestial wedding of Sita and Rama.
Welcome to all for Rama’s
together we shall witness the joyous scene.
Many have gathered already,
decked up in all their finery.
With necklaces the ladies are adorned
of jewels pure and gleaming.
Rama shall tie the knot today
to beauteous Sita, oh what a fine match they make.
Father Dasaratha has made ready bounteous feasts.
All learned sages are assembled with Vasishtha presiding.
Oh, what a multitude has assembled
to rejoice, hearts with joy overflowing.
Wedding of the holy pair
Rama and Sita, such a sight is indeed rare.
The sight shall confer great merit.
Rama looks the cool full moon,
and Sita is a matching double.
The compassionate Rama who loves all
will confer his grace on us all.
Come quickly to witness the holy wedding of Rama and Sita.
The men folk were also ecstatic and joined
the festivity by singing thus:
Come let us go and see the
marriage of Rama and Sita,
The sight shall confer great merit.
The lives of those who see this marriage will be sanctified.
Oh come one and all to see the sacred marriage,
Rama, who is riding on an elephant, is shining effulgently.
Mother Sita is by His side,
The brothers are at their service.
Sita and Rama will smilingly enquire about our well-being;
What else can we aspire for!
Come let us go anon to see the holy wedding of Rama and Sita.
Sita was Janaka’s foster daughter. He had another
daughter by name Urmila. His brother Kushadwaja also had two
daughters by name Mandavi and Srutakeerthi. With the consent
of King Dasaratha, it was decided that the four brides would
be given in marriage to the four brothers. Dasaratha was happy
that all his four sons who were born on the same day were
getting married on the same day and same time. The marriage
function was celebrated in all grandeur.
Sweet notes of auspicious music reverberated
in the air. The Vedic priests chanted the sacred Mantras full-throated
and blessed the couples. King Dasaratha shed tears of joy.
Everyone was filled with divine bliss watching the marriage
proceedings. It is customary during the occasion that the
bride and the bridegroom exchange garlands. Sita had to garland
Rama first, before the other brides could garland their respective
bridegrooms. Sita, being short in stature, could not garland
Rama who was Ajanubahu (tall personality).Unless Rama bent
His head before Sita, she could not garland Him. But He did
not want to bend His head lest people should blame Him for
not maintaining the honour of His lineage. Unable to garland
Rama, Sita was holding the garland in her hand for a long
time. There is another secret in this act of Rama. Lakshmana
was the incarnation of Adisesha who carried the mother earth
on his hood. Rama looked at Lakshmana as if to say, “Look,
why don’t you raise that part of the earth where Sita
is standing to enable her to garland Me.” Then Lakshmana
indicated to Rama that it was not possible to raise any particular
area. If he tried to raise that part of the earth where Sita
was standing, simultaneously Rama would be raised and so also
others. Lakshmana, being endowed with intelligence, thought
of a plan to solve the problem. All of a sudden, he fell at
the feet of Rama and did not get up for a long time. Then
Rama had to bend to lift Lakshmana up. Sita seized the opportunity
and lost no time in garlanding Rama. Then the other three
brides garlanded their respective grooms. The four brothers
and their brides shone like brilliant gemstones. The onlookers
shed tears of joy watching the grand spectacle.
As they were returning to Ayodhya, they heard a loud
and frightening sound. Rama instructed Lakshmana to be ready
for the battle. Parasurama appeared on the scene and challenged
Rama saying, “Oh Rama! I have heard that you have broken
the bow of Siva. It is of no consequence and is not at all
difficult to lift. If you really have strength, you should
break this weapon of mine. So saying, Parasurama hurled his
weapon at the feet of Rama. Rama calmly picked it up and broke
the weapon. Parasurama at once fell at the feet of Rama. The
people of Ayodhya welcomed the newly-wed couples. At the main
entrance, Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi gave the brides and
grooms Mangalarati and took them inside. The entire city of
Ayodhya bore a festive look and everyone rejoiced.
Today, everyone is celebrating the marriage of
Sita and Rama. But after the marriage Rama had to face many
ordeals; He overcame them all with fortitude. He decimated
the demonic forces. Lakshmana was His main weapon. With his
help, Rama emerged victorious in the battle with demons. Many
a time He lavished praises on His brothers saying, “My
brothers are greater than Me. I owe My victory to them. I
could win over the enemies because of the strength of unity
among us.” The lives of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and
Satrughna demonstrated the ideal of brotherhood to the entire
world. Such ideal brotherhood is not noticed today. Many wonderful
events took place in the life of Lord Rama.
of Lord Vishnu are amazing,
They purify the lives of the people in all the three worlds,
They are like the sickles that cut the creepers of worldly
They are like good friends who help you in times of need,
They are like shelters for the sages and seers doing penance
in the forest.
It is not enough to merely celebrate the Rama
Navami as the birthday of Sri Rama. You should understand
the purpose of His birth and practise the ideals He demonstrated.
Rama Kalyana does not mean the marriage of Rama and Sita at
physical level. Rama Kalyana is Atma Kalyana; it signifies
the merging of Atma (individual soul) with Paramatma (universal
soul). The Ramayana is not the story of an individual. Rama
symbolises the cosmic and universal spirit.