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.
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
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
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
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
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 bondage,
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. (Telugu Poem)
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.