Sri Rama Navami

Sri Rama
Marriage of Sri Rama

Sri Rama Navami is celebrated all over the world by Hindus as the birthday of Sri Rama the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, scion of the Solar Dynasty, pinnacle of human perfection. The sage Valmiki wrote about the life of this great incarnation in his famous book “The Ramayana” – The Way of Rama. It is the story of the life of an exemplary human being which has enthralled the minds of all who have read it , not only in India, the land of its origin, but in all the parts of the world. The story of Rama has spread to Tibet, Turkey, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. In India, Thailand and Bali, Sri Rama is worshipped as God incarnate. The Supreme, formless, Brahman took a form to set an example to all human beings as to how a person should act and behave in the world in order to attain the summum bonum of life which is union with the Formless.

Sita as portrayed in Balanise Ramayana

Ramayana – the story of Rama is the very first poem composed in the world and Valmiki is acclaimed as the Adi Kavi or the first poet. One may well marvel at the fact that this story which took place some thousands of years ago has had such world wide appeal and has continued to cast its spell through the ages up to the present age which is noted for its cynicism and contempt of anything which lies beyond the ken of the scientific mind. The reason for this is that the story is based on certain eternal verities which appeal to the best in human nature. These values have a universal appeal.  The character of Sri Rama has risen above the limits of sect, religion, race and country. Though it is an ancient chronicle, the Ramayana has a deep message for the modern man and woman. We live in a crazy age which is at a loss to know the meaning of human existence, which places money above character, personal greed before compassion or consideration of others rights. Even those of us who still retain a small amount of sanity are at a loss to understand how we can act according to the “dharma”, the cosmic law of righteousness, in a world in which the meaning of honour, truth and high principles seem to be dead – where hate and self interest seem to be the only rule of conduct starting right up from the rulers down to the citizens. The only way to change a society which seems to act in an inhuman way is to give examples of individuals who act in an exemplary fashion. We can only change ourselves, we cannot change the society but the fact is that the society is made up of individuals and if more and more individuals begin to act in a righteous fashion, the society will be forced to change. In fact the individual can and must change if the society has to change. All our ancient scriptures try to give us the methods of achieving this change first in the individual and then in the society.

Sri Rama: Classic Kerala Kathakali Style

For this purpose the life of Sri Rama is an example beyond parallel. In him we find that the Supreme took on a human form with all its frailties in order to show us how our aspirations for a dharmic (righteous) life can be fulfilled despite the shortcomings of the human nature. In the life of Rama, Valmiki has portrayed a man who becomes divine by shaking off the limitations of humanity by his strict adherence to truth and honour. He has all the qualities of the average man – the attachments, the desires, the anger, the love, and the compassion. His greatness lies in the fact that he surmounted these obstacles in his character so that he became a superhuman - one who put his duty above all personal considerations.

The Hindu religion has always advocated acting according to one’s own swadharma which is the duty that each one of us has in the orbit of one’s own milieu, in the particular position that we are placed in our life. Sri Rama was a king and he depicts very clearly the nature of the dharma that a ruler owes to his people. A ruler or the head of a state cannot afford to place his own petty desires before the need of the citizens who have placed their faith in him and expect him to do his best for them. This ideal of course is totally at variance with that of the British king who abdicated in order to marry the woman of his choice at the precise time when his country desperately needed him. On the other hand Rama was prepared to banish his most beloved wife in order to keep to the standards expected of him by his people and also to set an example. At a time when all kings were free to marry many times, Rama refused to take another wife. He had enshrined Sita in his heart and no other woman had any appeal for him. He led his lonely and solitary life till the end of his days faithfully carrying out the duties allotted to him. His reign has been extolled as a utopia of grace and plenty where all sorrows were dealt with instantaneously and where the earth gave in abundance and all people were happy and content.

Time according to the Hindu calendar is cyclical as we see it in Nature. Just as there are twenty four hours in a day and seven days in a week and four weeks in a month and twelve months in a year, we have a sixty-year cycle for the years and each of them have their own names. This year 2018, is known as the Vilambi Nama Samvatsara day, which comes once in the sixty year cycles. The birthday of Sri Rama, known as Sri Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra, which happens to be the twenty fifth of March. So let us all take this as a unique opportunity to set right this society which seems to have only one object in life and that is to make money. Let us concentrate on making our own countries into a Rama Rajya where people can live without fear, with head held high and who are proud of their own heritage. Let us pray that our leaders will come to their right senses and realise that their first and foremost duty is to their country. If the name of Rama is used sincerely this change can be effected.

The word “Rama” is a mantra in its own right. In fact it is known as a “taraka mantra” which is one that is capable of elevating us from the entanglements of the world of the senses and lifting us into the liberating atmosphere of the divine. This mantra should thus be chanted by everyone as many times as possible in order to bring about a change in the world.

Jai Sri Rama