Yoga & Meditation

The Light of Rama and Ramayana

On the auspicious occasion of the laying of the foundation of the Rama temple at Rama’s birthplace in Ayodha (‘Bhoomipooja’), a small tribute to Sri Rama and the Ramayana.

 
In the whole of Rama’s realm there was no one who suffered from bodily pains, ill fortune or evil circumstances. Every man loved his neighbor and, contented with the state of life to which he had been born, conformed to sound morality and the teaching of scripture.
The four pillars of religion were established throughout the world. No one even dreamt of sin. Men and women alike were devoted to Råma’s worship and enjoyed the blessings of highest heaven.
There was no sickness and no premature death. Everyone was trim and sound of body. No one was in poverty, in sorrow or in distress. No one was ignorant or unlucky. All men and women were naturally good and pious, clever and intelligent. Everyone appreciated the merits of his neighbor and was himself learned and wise. Everyone was grateful for kindness and sincerely prudent.
 
दैहिक दैविक भौतिक तापा। राम राज नहिं काहुहि ब्यापा।।
सब नर करहिं परस्पर प्रीती। चलहिं स्वधर्म निरत श्रुति नीती।।
चारिउ चरन धर्म जग माहीं। पूरि रहा सपनेहुँ अघ नाहीं।।
राम भगति रत नर अरु नारी। सकल परम गति के अधिकारी।।
अल्पमृत्यु नहिं कवनिउ पीरा। सब सुंदर सब बिरुज सरीरा।।
नहिं दरिद्र कोउ दुखी न दीना। नहिं कोउ अबुध न लच्छन हीना।।
सब निर्दंभ धर्मरत पुनी। नर अरु नारि चतुर सब गुनी।।
सब गुनग्य पंडित सब ग्यानी। सब कृतग्य नहिं कपट सयानी।।
दो0-राम राज नभगेस सुनु सचराचर जग माहिं।।
काल कर्म सुभाव गुन कृत दुख काहुहि नाहिं।


– Rama Charita Maanas, Uttara Kanda (21); translation of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Sri Rama is one of the most beloved and revered personalities for us in India and Ramayana, the most sacred of texts. Through the story we learn of exalted human conduct and qualities but through a subtler understanding we grasp an inner meaning, as if the story is happening within ourselves. Perhaps this is why it is said that Sage Valmiki wrote the Ramayana even before it happened. It is because it represents eternal Truth.

Symbolism in the Ramayana story

The significance of Ramayana is that it is the story of highest human attainment. Rama is called MaryAda Purushottam, having attained to the highest a human being can.

As Swami Sivananda explained,

“The secret of Ramayana is the attainment of Jivanmukti through control of mind. Killing the ten-headed monster, Ravana of Lanka, is the annihilation of the ten evil Vrittis of mind, viz. , Raga (love), Dvesha (hatred), Kama (lust), Krodha (anger), Lobha (miserliness), Moha (infatuation, delusion), Mada (pride), Ahamkara (egoism), Matsarya (Jealousy) and Dambha (ostentation or vanity). Sita represents mind. Rama represents Brahman. Sita unites with her husband Rama. Mind merges in Brahman by concentration and incessant meditation on Rama. This is the esoteric teaching of the Ramayana.”

Rama, the man, belonged to the Solar dynasty (Suryavanshi) just as the Self is sometimes invoked through the symbolism of the Sun. Sita, the mind or the Jivatman is separated from and then returns back to the Heart in the human story. Sita’s character, as Dr David Frawley beautifully writes, “embodies an exalted philosophical and creative refinement. Sita is related to Sarasvati as the supreme muse of artistic inspiration, to Lakshmi as the capacity to nourish all creatures through the Earth, and to Parvati as the yogini who can renounce and transcend all limitations. The Atma Shakti or power of consciousness that Sita holds arises from the receptive and silent mind, which is far beyond any outer powers born of self-assertion or material becoming.” Sita is described as a feminine reflection of Rama, and represents a mind that is refined and has been prepared for union with Brahman.

Lakshmana is the power of jnana, discrimination, intellect and will. When the intellect is in devotional service to the Self, it brings the mind into union with the Self. Lakshmana represents the second expansion of Vishnu into manifestation – Sankarshana, Ananta or Sheshnag – on whom Vishnu rests and who always accompanies Vishnu’s avatars. He is the manifestation in which jnana and bala (spiritual strength) are most prominent (Krishna’s associate, Balarama was also a manifestation of this aspect). Ananta upholds, protects and assists and is also associated with Kundalini shakti which awakens and assists in the process of union with Brahman.

Hanuman, son of VAyu (VAyuputra) can be seen to represent the power of loving devotion (the Anahata chakra in the heart region, associated with the emotion of love is also associated with the element air). Lakshman and Hanuman then may represent jnana and bhakti, the two wings of the bird that enable the chaste or inward turned mind to merge in the Heart.

Ma Sita is tested through agnipariksha (fire ritual): the mind has to continually face the fire of jnana if any doubts arise. Finally, Ma Sita returns to the Earth from where she arose; the mind dissolves, becomes one with all Existence. 

May the the true Rama Rajya be one where the Light of Rama as the Power of Consciousness is honoured and embraced in the Heart.

 

Beyond Symbolisms, a Literal Power

The beautiful thing about the Ramayana is that it is not even just a symbolic story. Every part of it is beneficial – a scripture of Truth, a story that invokes the noblest human values, devotional poetry that inspires love and adoration and so on. The name Rama as a mantra in itself is immensely powerful as so many saints and sages have attested through the ages. 

From ‘Spiritual Stories told by Ramana Maharshi’:

A devotee asked Sri Ramana Maharshi, “Swami, what is the easiest way to attain moksha?”

Bhagavan Sri Ramana said with a smile, “As and when the mind goes astray, it should be turned inward and made to steady itself in the thought of the Self.That is the only way.”

Another devotee said, “To do so, the repeating of the name of Rama is good, is it not?”

“Certainly, it is good,” said Bhagavan Sri Ramana “What could be better?

The greatness of the japa of the name of Rama is extraordinary. In the story of Namadeva he is reported to have told one devotee, ’If you want to know the greatness of the name of Rama you must first know what your own name is, what your real nature (swarupa) is, who you are and how you were born. Unless you know your own origin,
you will not know your name!’

This idea is found in the Abhangas of Namadeva written in Marathi language and in the Malayalam Adhyatma Ramayana.”

Thereupon Bhagavan Sri Ramana related a story from the latter.

It is stated in that book that when Anjaneya (Lord Hanuman) went in search of Sita, he seated himself opposite to Ravana in the Darbar Hall on a high pedestal and fearlessly spoke to him thus:

“Oh Ravana, I give you a teaching (upadesa) for attaining liberation (moksha). Please listen to me carefully.
It is certain that the Self (Atma) gets purified by intense devotion to Hari, who is in the lotus of the Heart at all times. The ego gets destroyed and then the sin gets destroyed. Afterwards, in its place, the knowledge of the transcendent Self emerges. With a pure mind and with the Bliss (Ananda) generated by a firm knowledge of the Self, the two letters “Ra” “Ma” which are like mantras, will repeat themselves within you automatically. What more is required for a person who has this knowledge, however little it might be ? Hence worship the lotus feet of Vishnu, which will remove all worldly fears, which are dear to all devotees and which shine as brightly as the light of a crore of Suns.
Give up the ignorance of your mind.”

This has been mentioned in two or three slokas in the Sanskrit Adhyatma Ramayanam but not as elaborately as in the Malayalam text.

Is the greatness of the name of Rama ordinary?

Sri HWL Poonja (Papaji) on “Rama naam” from the book ‘Truth Is’:

Q : I was in Anandashram doing Ram nam, but to no avail. What was I doing wrong?

Sri Papaji : You can chant this name Ram, but nobody knows how to chant it.
It will work to some extent if you don’t know how just because it will keep your mind off distractions. But if you know how it will be much more powerful than this.
The first thing to remember is this:

Chant the name on the breath, not with the tongue. Let the breath chant the name, not the tongue. Don’t put a pressure on anything. Just let the breathing in and out happen
without your notice, naturally and habitually. Then this will continue while working, walking, shopping and sleeping. I have seen people who have chanted this name for crores of time with no effort. Do it this way and within days you will see the one whose name is chanted.

In the Kali yuga there is no time for penance, but the power of the word is tremendous.

Ram purifies.
The word “Ram” will enter your heart. It is a raft to cross the ocean. Let it be the last word of the last breath. Ram will confer Freedom without practice. Beyond everything there is nothing to do and no appearance of anything there is only the Self which is neither subject nor object.

This is the highest experience because there is no experiencer, just Peace. Then you know that: I am That seated in the center of the Heart, and this is Om Mani Padme Hum.

 

Swami Sivananda on the Rama mantra in ‘The Secret  of Ramayana’:

The two-lettered Rama Mantra is the best of all the Mantras. Why? Because it is a combination of Panchakshara and Ashtakshara. RA is taken from OM NAMO NARAYANAYA and MA from OM NAMAH SIVAYA. It is therefore very powerful. The shorter the Mantra, the greater the concentration. So repetition of Rama Mantra brings about greater amount of concentration.

By worship and meditation or Japa of Rama Mantra, the mind is actually shaped into the form Rama. The object of worship is made pure through the purity of the object viz. , Ishtadevata, Rama. By continual practice (Abhyasa) the mind becomes full of the object (Rama) to the exclusion of everything else, steady in purity and does not stray into impurity. So long as mind exists it must have an object to lean upon and the object of Sadhana is to present to the mind with a pure object.

 

Yoga Vasistha, the Highest Wisdom

Leaving you with an excerpt from the Yoga Vasistha, the dialogue between Rama and his Guru Vasistha which is also one of the foremost texts of Advaita Vedanta.

But O Rama, we are beyond confusion. Changes in the unchanging are imagined by ignorant and deluded people; but in the vision of sages who have self-knowledge, no change whatsoever has taken place in consciousness.

When the notion of an external knowable has been removed, self-knowledge arises; and when in it there is the notion of inertia or ignorance, the state of deep sleep has come to it. Hence, since consciousness alone exists at all times, it may be said that space exists and does not exist, the world exists and does not exist.

Even as heat is to fire, whiteness is to a conch-shell, firmness is to a mountain, liquidity is to water, butter is to milk, coolness is to ice, brightness is to illumination, oil is to mustard seed, flow is to a river, sweetness is to honey, ornament is to gold, aroma is to a flower – the universe is to consciousness. The world exists because consciousness is: and the world is the body of consciousness. There is no division, no difference, no distinction. Hence the universe can be said to be both real and unreal; real because of the reality of consciousness which is its own reality, and unreal because the universe does not exist as universe, independent of consciousness. 

But, because of the unreality of the universe, etc., it cannot be said that its own cause, namely, the consciousness, is also unreal: such a statement would only be a set of words with no meaning – for it runs counter to our experience, and the existence of consciousness cannot be denied.



 

Two videos below that you might like:

– Sadhguru on the importance of the Rama temple and a rendition of a song by the saint Bhadrachala Ramadasu a famous devotee of Rama

 

– Swami Ramdas’ Sri Ram Jai Ram chant

 
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