Indic Varta

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Being the God himself, he upheld Dharma on earth protecting the good ones, at the same time, for other’s sake sacrificed everything he had the right to possess, from his kingdom to his beloved wife. In his cosmic plan, the way the Lord himself plays between his dilemmas and resolutions stuck between mortal limitations and limited power makes his character more engrossing.

Personality traits of Maryada Purushottam Sri Rama under the light of Vaishnavism (Part 1)

From the time of Rishi Valmiki, the original composer of Ramayana till today, various authors, poets and media have been making their hard attempt to draw the ideal picture of Ramcharit or Rama’s character successfully. In doing this, almost every one of them has somehow admitted that there is no end if one begins to praise him. Though throughout the epic he is depicted as a human being, but if we see through a Vaishnavite’s eye we will find him as the avatar of Lord Vishnu who descended among us to remove the evils. He always spoke pleasing words to others and had immense control of his senses with a great quality of gratitude too. Here, some of the special quality traits of Lord Rama are highlighted keeping the original story of Valmiki in mind. The references to the shlokas are taken from original Valmiki Ramayana.  Especially, those who favor Srimad Bhagavatam can be be keen and pleased on studying Rama’s multi-faceted personality as demonstrated here under the lens of Vaishnavism. In many places Rama is equated with the supreme Brahman who has an immeasurable influence on everybody. One who accepts Valmiki Ramayana as the authoritative text cannot surely deny and doubt his divinity.

His divinity:

Rama is considered the human incarnation of absolute Brahma or the eternal bliss, who Himself his Paramatman and Bhagavan. One can find this mention in various places of Valmiki’s Ramayana. As terrorism and violence were continuously increasing on earth, the sages and gods getting fed up with torture and humiliation rushed to Lord Brahma with a worried face. In the following slokas, the appearance of Lord Vishnu is uttered from the mouth of Brahma.

etasmin anantare viṣṇuḥ upayāto mahādyutiḥ |

śṅkha cakra gadā pāṇiḥ pīta vāsā jagatpatiḥ || 1-115-16

vainateyam samārūhya bhāskara toyadam yathā |

tapta hāṭaka keyūro vandyamānaḥ surottamaiḥ || 1-15-17

This means, like the clouded sun, at that time Sri Vishnu, who is worshipped by every brilliant demigod landed on the scenario proudly seated on Garuda, the son of Vinata. He was dressed in yellow with conch, chakra and mace in his hands with the golden jewelry on his arm was adding more glamour to it. On hearing the requests coming from every side he agreed to incarnate in the family of King Dasaratha and disappeared by solving the issue.

Once Lord Parashurama came on Rama’s way and blocked his path while he was returning to Ayodhya after marriage. He challenged the newly married prince to tie the thread of his bow. Accepting his threat as he held the bow and accomplished the task, Rama also politely accepted and appreciated that the chord of the weapon is not ordinary but definitely belonged to a divine Vaishnav. Hence, it has to be handled and applied properly. Parashurama was astonished by Rama’s quality and all his power came out and got merged with Rama’s aura. He praised Rama saying,

akṣhayyam madhu hantāram jānāmi tvām sureśhvaram |

dhanuṣho asya parāmarśhāt svasti te astu paraṃtapa || 1-76-17

That is, “O Shatrusudan Sriram, I am impressed by the way you hold this bow and may you be blessed every time. I am now assured that you are the one who slayed Madhusudana and master of all demi-gods, Sri Vishnu”.

In the future, after Ravana was killed and all the gods came to visit him, Rama asked them about his real identity. Then, Brahma, the best among the Brahmins described his greatness in the following way-

Bhavanmarabno Devah Srimanchakrayudhah prabhuh

Ek shungo barahswang bhootbhavyas popujit..

Aksarang brahma satyang nadhye chande cha raghava,

Loknang twang paro dharmo vishwakaksenschatu bhujah..

Shaing hrishikesh purush purushottam

Ajit khangadhig vishnu krishnaschaiva krishnaraschaiva brihadbalah

This means, “Oh, Rama, you are yourself the holder of chakra, husband of Sri Lakshmi and the shining Prabhu Narayana. You have vanquished the enemies off and appeared to us in the form of the one-horned divine boar in your Varaha avatar. Hey, the lamp of the Raghu dynasty, you are the epitome of truth, the indestructible Brahman always there every time. You are the best of all men, Purushottama and Lord of the Senses, Rishikesha, besides being the four-handed Vishnu, the supreme Dharma for every one of us.”

In the form of a human, he does everything that he could do to avoid his father’s past mistakes. Again, being the God himself, he upheld Dharma on earth protecting the good ones, at the same time, for other’s sake sacrificed everything he had the right to possess, from his kingdom to his beloved wife. In his cosmic plan, the way the Lord himself plays between his dilemmas and resolutions stuck between mortal limitations and limited power makes his character more engrossing.

His bravery:

One who has read the full description of him from Ramayana, what more can be left to say about his strength, bravery, power and mantra techniques? As we go through any context of fight from protecting Rishi Viswamitra’s yajna, killing Taraka and Subahu with confidence and repelling Maricha with Manavastra hundred yojanas away into the sea we get reflections of his war techniques and sense of virtues. Rama lifted the bow at King Janaka’s home with much ease that contemporary warriors and kings could not shake with all their might. He also seized the power of Parashurama, the greatest of all warriors. In the Panchavati forest, he punished a crowd of enemies in a flash, all by own and captivated them. The monkey king Vali’s life was taken in a single arrow and even when the sea god was ignoring his urge, the tang of his bow made the sea level rise with storm and stirring make the god frightened and hurriedly take shelter in his feet. Above all, he visited Lanka with his men’s power and killed all the Rakshashas facing fierce opposition and ringing the bell of victory on the earth.

His forgiveness:

Though an epitome of forgiving, he never went against anybody for his own personal sake. His whole anger and skills of fight were spent towards those who committed the crime against his dependants and sages. Also, his intention was to ultimately save the soul of sinners. Remember, he never punished Manthara who made the servere conspiracy against him that turned his life.

His devotion towards his mothers:

Though Mata Kaikeyi was cruel to him, he always showed respect for her from his end. As he noticed the sign of rage against Kaikeyi’s plan on his brother Lakshmana’s face, he replied to him in the following way.

yasyā madabhiṣekārthaṃ mānasaṃ paritapyate |

mātā naḥ sā yathā na syāt saviśaṅkā tathā kuru ||19.4||

tasyāḥ śaṅkāmayaṃ duḥkhaṃ muhūrtamapi notsahe |

manasi pratisaṃjātaṃ saumitre’hamupekṣitum || 19.5 ||

na buddhipūrvaṃ nābuddhaṃ smarāmīha kadā cana |

mātṝṇāṃ vā piturvāhaṃ kṛtamalpaṃ ca vipriyam || 19.6 ||

“Brother, make the preparations of my coronations in such a way that mother Kaikeyi, whose heart is troubled by my promotion should not have any slightest doubt about me. I cannot bear the sorrow of distrust present in her mind because of me. Knowingly or unknowingly I cannot do any unpleasant task for my parents.”

Also, later on, we find his same motherly devotion in the story.  Way back to Chitrakuta hill, he asked Bharata, “O my dear brother, for my and also your elder sister Sita’s sake, please never let any annoyance cherish in Mata Kaikeyi’s heart. Always take care of her”.  Again, once during their time of exile, Lakshmana was harshly criticizing Kaikeyi. Hearing those words, disheartened Rama also told him, “This is not correct to accuse the mother of both of us”.

While Rama was leaving his palace at Ayodhya, other women of his King Dasaratha were lamenting speaking the following words.

tyeṣvacoditaḥ pitrā sarvasyāntaḥ purasya ca |

gatiryaḥ śaraṇam cāsīt sa roomo.adya pravatsyati || 2-20-2

kausalyāyām yathā yukto jananyām vartate sadā |

tathaiva vartate.asmāsu janmaprabhṛti rāghavaḥ || 2-20-3

 

“Look, despite not getting any order from his father, he, who has always made all necessary arrangements for us to live peacefully always inside this place, is leaving us for the forest life. She has looked after us in the same way he has always behaved with his own mother Kausalya”.

His devotion towards his father:

His respect for his father was also unique. Rama always used to carry enough enthusiasm and determination in his heart to act according to his father’s orders that are seen from his childhood. During his conversation with Kaikeyi he was found saying:

Ahang hi bachnad rayen pateyapi pabake

Bhaksartheyong bishang tikshnong pateyomapi chanabe (2/28,28-29)

Na hyato dharmacharnang kinchidasti mahoram.

Yatha pitar shushrusha tasya ba bachankriya (92/19/22)

“I can jump into the fire, drink poison and jump off towards the sea to serve the objectives of my father. There is nothing more for me to do than what he orders.”

Rama continues saying:

Nasti shaktih pitrubakyong samati kramitung mama

Prasadaye twang pirsa gantumisthamyahang vanam.

(2/21/30)

This means, “I fall at your feet to please you. I do not have enough power to violate my father’s instructions, following which I intend to enter into the forest”.

Moreover, later during his conversation with Lakshmana, Bharata and other sages many examples of valuable words about devotion to father are found in Valmiki Ramayana.

Rama as an ideal friend:

Whatever he did for his friends, he always maintained a beautiful tone of voice while speaking with them keeping a genial behavior. On the other hand, whenever his friends did anything for his sake, he showed high appreciation for them even for the small deeds. While his coronation was over at Ayodhya and it was time to send his friends from the monkey tribes back to home, with an affectionate eye he addressed them saying:

Sahrido me bhavantusch sharirang vratrastha..

Yusaviruddritchahang vatsanat kannaukasah..

Dhanyo raja cha sugribo bhavadavih suhridangbaroi.(7/39/23/24)

“O forest dwellers! All of you are not only my beneficial friends, but you all are my body same as my own brothers and sisters. You have been beside me during every terrible danger. He is indeed blessed who has a benevolent ally like King Sugriva”.

Again, in many other places, Shri Ram has immensely expressed his love for his friends. Valmiki has praised friendship in the form of Sugriva and Rama’s holy love. All his friends were so enthralled by the amusing use of his simple words that they used to forget all the material and sensual pleasures for him. Blessing Sri Rama every time they were always all set to sacrifice their lives for Sri Ramachandra.

Rama’s compassion towards his refuges:

While Vibishana came to take refuge under Ram’s shelter after being dishonored by Ravana, many people from the Vanara army suspected him initially. They thought it to be a conspiracy. However, Rama uttered the following words:

Pishyachan dank an yakshan prithibyang daiva rakshasan

Angulyagren tan hanyamiksan hariganekswar

Baddhancha liputanng danang yachantang sharanagatam

Sakridev prapanmoy tabasmiti cha yachate

Abhayang sarbabritebhya dadamyetyad bratang mama

Anyanang harishrestha uttamsyabhayang maya

Bivishano ba sugrib yadi ba rabanah swamam

That is, “Vibhishan has come to me with the proposal of friendship, so no matter what is wrong, I can never reject him. It is not right to send away anyone who wants to surrender”. Hearing this, Sugriva was not satisfied and gave many examples saying that there is enough possibility of danger and fear. Therefore Rama once again convinced him saying:

Pishyachan daan kan yakshan prithibang daiva rakshasan.

Angulyagren tan honamikson harigneswar.

Badhanch Leeputong Danang Yachantong Sharanagatam.

Sakrideva prapanmoya tabasmiti f jachte.

Abhaydang sarvabhutebhyo dadamyetyad vratang mam.

Anayinang harishrestha uttamsyabhawayang maya.

Vibhishno ba Sugriva yadi ba Ravanaah swamam. – 27/28/23, 27, 33-34

“O, monkey king! If I wish, I can kill all the ghosts, demons, yakshas and demons in the entire world with the touch of my finger. So there is no reason to fear. If an enemy comes and takes shelter and prays for refuge, then he should not be killed. Thus we can preach kindness and preserve non-violence. Give a chance and let others live fearlessly without making them scared. I have sheltered him, so bring him hither, be he Vibhishana or Ravana himself.”

Well, hearing the words of the Lord, everyone was very impressed and brought Vibhishana as soon as possible as per his orders. The brother of Ravana came with his ministers, took refuge at his feet and said “Lord. I have left everything and come to you. Now my kingdom, happiness and life are all yours.” Sri Rama looked at him with a warm welcome and patience. Furthermore, by Rama’s instruction Lakshmana brought water from the sea, took Vibishana’s hand and declared him as the king of the Lanka kingdom.

Rama’s sense of gratitude:

Despite being so strong, he never forgets to express his gratitude in exchange for even a little favour done to him.

Jatayu was lying on the ground waiting for his last breath injured miserably in the fight with Ravana while saving Sita. Rama came rushing to him and grasped his body covered with blood with his two arms asking, “Where has my dear Janaki gone?”. After knowing about the whole incident from the dying person of the bird-community, what a wonderful gratitude Lord Sri Rama has shown for Jatayu by performing his last rites in his own hands is described in the following verses.

nikR^itta pakSham rudhira avasiktam

tam gR^idhra raajam parirabhya raamaH |

kva maithili praaNa samaa mama iti

vimucya vaacam nipapaata bhuumau || 3-67-29

Also, this quality of Rama can be seen many time. For example, while conversing with kings, monkeys, rishis, sages and demi-gods, he says at every place, “I have been able to win my victory over Ravana only with your help and grace.” Also, recalling all the favors Hanumanji has done for him, after his coronation, Rama hugs him saying:

Ekaikasyepakarmya pranan dasyamite kape

Sheshasye hopkaranang vabam ranino bayas

Madange jirnatang yatu matatwopkritang kape

Narang pratyupkaranamapatswayati patratam

(8/40/23-24)

“O dear Hanuman, even if I give my life I cannot repay all your debts on me. May that favor remain within me forever and I do not wish to pay them back. Because, if only danger comes to you, I will get the scope and I do not want any sort of hazard to come on your way”.

Following Rama, we all must accept all our favors done by others with gratitude and thankfulness from heart.

References:

Maryada Purushottam Ramchandra, by Sri Jayanta Brahmachari, Mayapur Chaitanya Math

https://www.litcharts.com/lit/the-ramayana/characters/rama

https://www.thehindu.com/society/faith/lord-ramas-qualities/article37370477.ece


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