Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sri Ramayana Part 1: Unique Question of Rishi Valmiki to Deva-Rishi Narada



जय श्री राम !
( Jai Sri Ram )

शुक्ल अम्बरा धरां विष्णुं,
शशि वर्णं चतुर भुजं ।
प्रसन्ना वदनं ध्यायेत्,
सर्व विघ्न  उपाशन्तयेत्  ॥

( Shuklambharadaram vishnum,
Shashivarnam chaturbhujam |
prasannavadanam dhyayet,
sarvavignopshantayet || )


नमस्ते अस्तु भगवन्  विश्वेश्वराय महादेवाय त्रियम्बकाय त्रिपुरान्तकाय त्रिकग्निकालय ,
कालाग्निरुद्राय निलकन्ताय मृत्युञ्जयाय सर्वेश्वराय सदाशिवाय श्रीमन् महादेवाय नमः ।
( Namaste astu bhagawan Vishveshvaraya, Mahadevaya,
Triyamabakaya Tripurantakaya Trikaganikalaya,
Kalagnirudraya Nilakantaya Mrityunjayaya,
Sarveshvaraya Sadashivaya Sriman Mahadevaya namah | )


वनमाली  गदी शन्गी शङ्की चक्री च नन्दकी ,
श्रीमन् नारायणो विष्णु वसुदेवोभि रक्षतु ।

( Vanamali gadhisangi shanki chakri cha nandaki,
Sriman Narayano Vishnu Vasudevobhi rakshatu | )



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 Sri Ramayana(Bala Kaanda) Part 1:

Unique Question of Rishi Valmiki to Deva-Rishi Narada

Ok guys, I am starting the magnificent story of the great ancient Indian epic named Srimadh Ramayana. Before I start, let me request that if there are any inaccuracies in the story, please feel free to correct me. I will try and narrate the story to the best of my abilities and knowledge. Of course, no one can ever claim to know Ramayana exchaustively. It is such a mine of knowledge that everytime one reads it, one learns something new and fantastic. So, I'll try to write what I have understood.

Why write it?
It is a valid question. There are several others who have written on Ramayana, and there are several more who are writing on it. So, why should I write on the same subject?
'Kavi Samrat' Vishvanatha Satyanarayana  wrote 'Ramayana Kalpavriksham' in Telugu. He raised the same question and answered it thus:
"Why am I eating, when everyone else is eating? Because, I have my own palate to satisfy.
Why do I marry and have a marital life, when everyone else is doing the same? Because, I want to have my own experience.
Why do I write Ramayana, when several others have already done it? Because, I want to express my own devotion of Lord Rama in my own words."

Tyagaraja Swamy said," Great Rishis like Valmiki (and others ) have composed eulogies on You(Rama), but does it satisfy my desire(to praise you)? "

So, my answer is same. Many have written on Ramayana and many more will write. It is a most wonderful and captivating story. I would like to share what I have understood.

Srimad Ramayana is not just a time-pass story to be casually read. It is considered a divine sport of the Lord in human incarnation. It is ardently worshiped daily by innumerable saints, sages and devotees in India and elsewhere. They vouch that this stupendous epic has provided them with proper guidance, inspiration, and divine blessings whenever and wherever they were in need of it. I just mentioned about Telugu Poem named 'Ramayana Kalpavriksham'. According to Hinduism, 'Kalpavriksham' is a wish-fulfilling heavenly tree. That tree fulfills any wish of those that are in its vicinity. This tree is found in Swarga (heaven). It originated during the great churning of ocean of milk. Ramayana has been called a Kalpavriksham i.e. Ramayana, also, is  wish-fulfilling just like Kalpavriksham.

Srimad Ramayana was composed by the great sage Valmiki in Sanskrit language. One can understand this wonderful epic at several levels. The first level/layer of the epic is the story of Lord Rama, the challenges of life faced by Rama and Sita in a valiant and gracious manner. There are several other layers which enunciate the ancient secrets of practical subjects like Business Management(or Management of any organisation from a great state to a small venture ), War Strategies, Spying Techniques, Political Tactics, Diplomatic ambassadors & their roles, Human Welfare & Development, Personality Development, Motivational Talks, Communication Skills, Anger Management, Time Management, Personal Relations & Managing relations with friends/family ( which includes techniques on how to win friends and influence people), Managing marital life, ...etc. These subjects are of interest to modern audience especially youngsters.

Then, there are other layers/levels interwoven in Ramayana that deal with subjects like Dharma Shastra(treatise of justice and righteousness), Ayurveda Shastra(Ayurveda is an Indian medicinal science), Vastu Shaastra (Vastu Shaastra is an Indian architectural science), Mantra Shastra, Yoga Shastra(Yoga is a form of meditative excercise invented in India), Shilpa Shaastra(Idol-making), Natya Shaastra(Dance), Tantra Shastra, Yantra Shastra, Guidelines of Worship, Secrets of Siddhi, Procedures of Kundalini Vidya, Sri Vidya, ....etc. These are more advanced subjects that will be of interest to those who are interested or working in that particular field. Of course, these subjects are useful to everyone.

All these topics are couched in a fantastic and fascinating story making it both superbly entertaining and immensely enlightening(in philosophical and practical ways).Thus, the story has different layers dealing with different subjects some of which are classified. It is the main reason why Ramayana continues to be popular and relevant through out ages, among people of diverse temperaments and mindsets. A literature of a particular time and place is, generally, not relevant or popular in another time and place. A work that is generally targeted at one set of audience, does not find favor with others. Ramayana has conquered these limitations and boundaries. It is wildly sought-after and utterly fascinating to one and all. From times immemorial, generation after generation has continued to read, regard and revere the Ramayana. Lets dive into such marvelous story.

I will mostly stick to the essential story of Lord Rama.

Ramayana Story:

The story starts in the ashram of Valmiki(see following picture). The ashrams are generally places where rishis live. These ashrams are at a distance from cities or villages because the rishis like to live in peace and do not want to be disturbed by people. One day devarshi(divine rishi) Narada came to Valmiki. Narada is tapasvi and vadvidamvaram. Tapasvi is a person who does certain kind of vratas.

They eat 16 nivalas(gulps of rice) per day on full moon day, from there they decrease one nivala everyday till the new moon day. From there they increase one nivala every day till full moon day. Also, they spend their time in meditation(dhyanam). Their goal is to become one with brahman(the supreme god). They continously make dhyan on the brahman. Devarshi Narad was that kind of tapasvi. He was one with brahman. He had the knowlege of past, present and future. He was always blissful because he knew the true nature of this world and universe and because he was one with the supreme brahman. Narada was also vagvidamvaram. Which means that his words were always truthful. If he said something it would become true.

That Narada came to meet Valmiki. Valmiki was also a tapsavi. He also had vrats and regularly meditated. Before I continue, one more thing, the time when Narada came to meet Valmiki, Sitadevi was living in Valmiki's ashram. That means Sitadevi had already gone to Lanka, comeback, and then Rama sent her to forest, where Valmiki found her and gave refuge in his ashram along with his numerous disciples and their wives. So, in short, the Ramayanam had already happened, infact it was at its fagend. Now, Devarsi Narada who was a tapasvi and vagvidamvaram had come to meet tapasvi and rishi Valmiki.

When Narada(a pictorial depiction to left) came Valmiki prayed to him, welcomed him and asked him a question. This question is the root for the birth of the epic named ramayana. This question gave birth to the great indian epic which was written millenias before yet is popular even today. What is this question?

The rishi valmiki asked:

Is there any person in my lifetime who has following 16 qualities?
gunah, viryam, dharma, krutagnasya, drudvrata, satyavakya, Charitra, Vidvaan, sarvabutah hitah, samartah, priya darshanah, aatmavaan, jitakrodho, dhyutimaan, anasuyukah, kasya bibyati devah ca jyata rosaya myuge,

1) gunah = good qualities,
2) viryam = courage, one who does not get shaken in his heart but is able to accomplish even very hard tasks,
3) krutagnasya = one who remembers the help given to him by others
4) drudvrata = firm resolved
5) satyavrata = one who speaks only truth and nothing else
6) charitra = character
7) Charitra = character, conduct,
8) Vidvaan = knowlegable, wise,
9) sarvabutah hitah = one who wishes the best for every butah(living thing).
10) samartah = one is abled, one who can achieve any given task,
11) priya darshanah = handsome always in all attires at all times,
12) aatmavan = one who has mastered his aatma,
13) itakrodho = one who has mastered his anger,
14) dhyutiman = one who has great shine,
15) anasuyakah = one without jealousy,
16) kasya bibyati devah ca jyata rosaya myuge = even gods will tremble when he gets angry.

(note the difference between controlling and mastering. Mastering anger is different from controlling anger. We can control anger in certain situations but can lose its control sometimes. But once you master you something, its always in your control. Mastering anger means understanding the trigger for anger and why it erupts. Thus one gets to a situation where he does not get angry. There could be a doubt quality 13 and quality 16 are possible simulaneously. Rama does not get angry, he has mastered it, but he uses anger as a tool to get his work done when required. He expresses anger to get a work done. He does not get into the grip of anger like us.)

This was the question asked by rishi Valmiki. He asked," is there any person with these 16 qualities. If there is such a person, please tell me who he is. And I want to know about a person who is alive not some historical figure." 16 qualities are generally possessed by moon in hindu literature. Thats is the reason Sri Rama is also called Ramachandra. So, now Valmiki has asked the question . This is the scene of epic Ramayana's birth. Then the devarshi Narada replied as follows, "You have asked a rare question and people with such qualities do not ordinarily exist(that means the one with all such qualities is an extra-ordinary person).Yes, Valmiki, such a person exists. He belongs to Ikshavaku kula(dynasty), he is the son of King Dasharatha, people call him Rama. He has all the qualities you mentioned and along with it he is a vasi(one who has mastered his senses). He has great willpower and great physical power. He knows all sciences. He has great riches. He has strong shoulders and high cheeks. He knows use of all weapons. He can control enemies. He knows all vedas. He is equal to Sri Maha Vishnu. He protects all the beings and dharma. He can protect the entire world. He protects his own dharma. He protects people who depend on him for protection. He is extremely handsome and pleasing to those who see him. He is satyaparakram(truth is his strength)." Then Devarshi Narada tells the entire Ramayana to rishi Valmiki in a brief manner. The Ramayana told by Narada to Valmiki is called Sankshep Ramayana. It is about 100 shlokas. It is called a mala mantram. It is supposed to have great powers to those who pray through it.


Bramarshi Narada narrated the entire Ramayana very briefly,"The mighty Emperor Dasharatha, who ruled the kingdom of Khosala with its capital city Ayodhya, was childless. So, he performed the rare Ashvamedha Yagam( a type of yagam) to wash away his papam(bad karma or sins). When he successfully performed the yagam, he received a prasadam( a food item consecrated with the blessing of god). He distributed it to his three wives. Then, Rama was born as the eldest son to his first wife Kaushalya. After due course of time, Rama was married to Sita, daughter of King Janaka of Mithila Kingdom.

Later, Emperor Dasharatha desired to annoint Rama as the Emperor of Khosala to look after welfare of the people because people also wanted to see prince Rama as their ruler. But, the dear wife of Dasharatha, Kaikeyi, claimed the boons from Dasharatha. According to these boons, Emperor Dasharatha must banish Rama to Dandaka forests and annoint Bharata(second son of Dasharata and only son of Kaikeyi) as the Emperor of Khosala. To honour the promise given by his father to Kaikeyi, Sri Rama went to Dandaka forest. Younger brother of Rama named Lakshmana also followed his brother out of brotherly love and affection. Sri Rama's wife Sita who was most the beautiful lady, also accompanied her husband. All the people of Ayodhya were immersed in sorrow when this happened. The trio of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana entered the terrible forests, they crossed great rivers and visted many sages and hermits on their way. Finally, they settled at Chitrakuta. Bharata, son of Kaikeyi, returned from his uncle's house and came to know about the promise that his mother Kaikeyi derived from his father. He also came to know about the banishment of his brother and consquently the death of his father. Bharata was plunged into an endless sea of sorrow. He immediately went to Chitrakuta along with all the royal gurus(teachers), citizens of Ayodhya and the vast army to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya and take the throne back since their father, who had given the promise, was no more. Rama did not agree to this adharma and declared that he would spend fourteen years in forests as his father had promised to Kaikeyi . After failing to convince Rama, Bharata, took the Padukas(foot wear) of Rama and ruled the Khosala as Rama's agent and Rama's padukas as royal emblem. Later, Rama left Chitrakuta because it reminded him of his people who had visited him recently. He left chitrakuta and entered the scary Dandaka forest and resided there. Once, a rakshasi(demoness) named Shurpanaka saw Rama. She got attracted to him and lustfully approached him. But Rama cut her nose and ears. Kara and Dhushana(two demons) attacked Rama with a force of 14000 demons, when Shurpanaka complained to them. Rama destroyed the entire 14000 demons within a few minutes. Shurpanaka witnessed this slaughter and informed her brother Ravana. Ravana abducted Sita and imprisoned her in Lanka. Rama befriended Sugreeva(vanara, a monkey clan that has human like qualities) and killed Sugreeva's brother Vali. Then, Rama sent search squads of vanaras in all directions to search for his missing wife Sita. Hanuman(one of the vanaras sent to search for Sita) who went to south direction, discovered Sita in Lanka and informed Rama about it. Rama built a bridge across the sea with the help of Neela(another vanara) and crossed the bridge along with his mighty army of vanaras into Lanka. There he slew Ravana, rescued his wife Sita and returned to Ayodhya. There, he was annointed as the Emperor of Khosala. Rama ruled the earth for 11000 years. He established dharma in his rule. Peace and prosperity were hallmarks of his rule. His rule came to be known as Rama-Rajya to the world.

In Rama Rajya, there were no deaths of minors/childs/kid. There were no widows. There were no fire accidents. There were no viral fevers. There were no starvation deaths. People were free from nasty diseases. There were no deaths of even animals by drowing. There were no turbulances in the world. There were no thefts. Rama performed many Ashvameda Yagams and several other Vedic Yagams. He gifted away great wealth, crores of milch cows and expensive jewels to Brahmanas. He donated extensively to the poor, needy, and deserving. He ruled for 11000years and then after giving up his mortal coil, he reached Brahma Lokam(World of Brahma)."


Brahmarshi Narada also narrates a phalashruti(advantages of listening/reading to a particular devotional saga). The phalashruti he gives for this Ramayana is that those who read it will have a long span of life. They will be able to see their great grand children play. After that they will have a painless death and reach heaven.

Rishi Valmiki listened to this brief Ramayana very attentively. He was delighted to listen the story of Lord Rama. His mind and heart were filled with celestial joy and divine peace.

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जय श्री राम !
( Jai Sri Ram )

गंगा भवानि गायत्री काली लक्ष्मी सरस्वती ।

राजराजेश्वरी बाला श्यामला ललिता दशा ॥
( Ganga Bhavani Gayatri Kali Lakshmi Saraswati |
Rajarajeshwari Bala Shyamala Lalita Dasha || )



कर चरण कृतंवा कर्मा वाक् कायजंवा,
श्रवणा नयनाजं वा मानसंवा आपराधं,
विहितम अविहितं वा सर्वं एतत् शमत्स्व,
शिव शिव करुणाब्धे श्री महादेव शंबो ।

 ( Kara charana kritamva karma vak kayamjam va,
shravana nayanajam va manasamva aparadham,
vihitama avihitam va sarvam etat shamatsva,
shiva shiva karunabdhe sri mahadeva shambo | )



To be contd...(Next Episode: Begining of the Epic Ramayana)

3 comments:

  1. I've been reading The Ramayana and it is such a beautiful story that has touched me deeply! Thank you for sharing this!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am glad to know, Jennifer. :) May I know, which source you were reading from?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Valmiki is a Vedic Sage.
    He wrote the first epic of the human civilization
    to spread kundalini Yoga
    Sundara Kanda is nothing but Kundalini Yoga
    Trijata Swapna in Sundara Kanda is nothing but Gayathri Mantra
    Sita is Aadi Paraa Shakthi .
    Hanuman and Ravana are Kundalini Yogis
    of Samaya and Kaula Paths.
    Please read Shodasi : Secrets of the Ramayana
    by Seshendra Sharma ( http://seshendrasharma.weebly.com )
    Reviews: www.facebook.com/shodasi/

    ReplyDelete