Swami teaches....Part 62
Links to Swami Teaches.....61
Swami teaches... 7 - 8 April
The Rama Principle Forever. Part 2
The Ramayana demonstrates that anything can be achieved through sincerity and devotion. The story of the Ramayana is so enchanting and captivating that one feels like listening to it again and again.
The period of the Mahabharata was well over 5000 years ago, and the Ramayana was enacted aeons earlier. Even after the passage of countless ages, if it is still occupying the hearts of the people at large, you can well imagine its importance. Rama stood as a shining example of upholding the moral values in the society. Rama displayed this virtue of equanimity.
There are two kinds of messages dominating the Ramayana: one pertains to Rama and the other to Ravana. Sathya (truth) is the very form of human; dharma (righteousness) is the innate propensity. Sathya and dharma are the two eyes of human. These eyes are the very forms of all the scriptures. Rama's message to humanity was to uphold dharma and sathya, to stay in the path of these and fulfill one's life. Rama was engaged in the welfare of all. He was the embodiment of all good qualities.
On the other hand, the two principles of sathya and dharma were the very opposites of Ravana's propensities. Though Rama and Ravana were equally well versed in all forms of knowledge, sage Valmiki condemned Ravana as a foolish one. Ravana did not translate into action the knowledge he had acquired; on the contrary he used it for wicked purposes. At the point of death, Ravana sent the following message to his people: 'Oh my people, do not follow my example. I am the personification of all evil qualities. Falling into excessive desires, I have lost my progeny. I have destroyed my entire kingdom ansd myself. Rama achieved universal fame and I have ended up accumulating ill-fame.'
Fame and disrepute are cognates. There is no Rama without Ravana or Ravana without Rama. It is the bringing together of Rama and Ravana that is the Ramayana. Good and bad are intricately mixed and it is not possible for anybody to entirely disentangle them. If Ravana never existed, Rama's reputation would not have been so popular and widespread amongst people.
Through Ravana the king of city Lanka Valmiki has showed that the ordeals are the concomitants of those who are associated with Maya. With the help of Sugriva and Hanuman, Rama crossed the ocean of moha (delusion) to enter Lanka. Once again he encounterd the three gunas -Satwa, Rajas and Tamas (qualities of serenity, passion and passivity), in Lanka in the form of Vibhishana, Ravana and Kumbakarna. He vanquished Ravana and Kumbhakarna (Rajo and Tamo gunas) and crowned Vibhishana (Satwa guna) as King. He recovered Sita who now assumed the form of Anubhavajnana (wisdom born of experience) and reentered Ayodhya with her.
Here the unique features of Lanka may be noted. Its ruler was the ten-headed Ravana. He was the one who was enjoying the ten senses as a sensualist. Without control over his senses, a person who may have conquered the three worlds, will be a slave of his impulses. As is the ruler, so are the subjects, says the adage. Lanka was thus immersed in carnal pleasures. Pleasures of the flesh were their sole preoccupation. But at the same time, they carried on ritualistic practices like yagas and yajnas (sacrificial rites and rituals).
The epic first of all expounds the duties and morality of the individual. In the everyday world, any person's form is termed as the individual. The duties of the individual taught by Ramayana are not relating to this external form of the individual. The unmanifest, immanent and hidden human values are the essence of the Ramayana.
The inner reality and the divinity resident in the heart constitute the true individuality. Individual does not mean the form; the individual in action is the true individual. Rama was exemplifying such individual values to humanity. To uphold the promise of his father, He went through the inconveniences of forest life, but He did not look on these hardships as hardships. In this way, He upheld His family traditions also. It is well known that the scions of the Ikshvaku family never swerved from their promises. Under any circumstances, upholding the values of one's parents, relations, and wife and children constitutes this three-fold dharma. How has Rama done this?
Wearing bark clothes, He came to Kausalya to take leave of her. Smilingly Rama told Kausalya. 'Today I have been commanded by my father to become the ruler of the forests. To rule the forests is also part of our family tradition.' Rama continued, "Nothing happens in this world without a cause. Father wouldn't give Me such an instruction without proper reason. Please keep your emotions under control.'
At the time of Lakshmana's departure to the forest along with Rama and Sita, Sumitra counseled the son thus: 'Never be under the impression that you are going to the forest. Wherever Rama and Sita are present, that itself is Ayodhya. Consider Sita and Rama as your mother and father and serve them to the best of your ability with all love, sincerity, faith and devotion.' Such noble mothers like Sumitra and sons like Lakshmana with total devotion to God are needed today.
What was the cause of Rama-Sita's exile?
Kaikeyi was in fact fonder of Rama than Bharata, but Manthara intervened. If you start enquiring what the principle is behind actions of Manthra, you will discover that this is also part of the Vedic principle. Once, when the King of the land of Kekaya was hunting, he aimed an arrow and killed a male deer.
The female deer went to her mother and said, 'Mother, the King of Kekaya has killed my husband. Now, what is my fate?' The mother deer said, 'My child, don't cry, I shall revive your dead husband.' The mother deer went to the King of Kekaya and told him, 'O king, it is not a proper action that you have done, killing the husband of my daughter. Just as I am suffering now by the loss of my son-in-law, you will suffer the loss of your son-in law. I shall see to it that this event takes place.'
That mother deer was born as Manthara and was the cause of the death of Dasaratha and the consequent loss of son-in-law of Kaikeyi's father.
Manthara never forgot her past resolve and therefore decided to poison Kaikeyi's mind against her natural affection and her duties towards Dasaratha. Kaikeyi who was so fond of Rama till then turned against Him in a moment afrer Manthara's words.
Manthara was the personification of jealousy. Her jealousy was so potent as to change Kaikeyi's great motherly love for Rama.
The Ramayana gives examples of Ravana and Manthara as both had evil propensities in them. Ravana was slain in the battle, but Manthara is alive even today in the form of jealousy. There is none who can destroy this 'Manthara'. We have to ignore this 'Manthara' and carry on with our duties. Three-fourths of the world is ruined because of jealousy. Jealousy has no limits whatsoever. People are jealous of others' prosperity, beauty and education, and try to cause their downfall.
It is very dangerous to cultivate association with anyone with evil habits. Even a little contact can pollute you with their qualities. Desire, jealousy, anger and greed are the greatest impediments in the path of spirituality. what promotes spirit of unity.
So it happened that soon after Rama's entry into Ayodhya in the company of Sita as Maya, Rama had to enter the jungle of life. Rama gave up the kingdom and, to honour the pledge given by his father, chose to face the ordeals of life in the forest as an exile. He demonstrated to the world that one should never go back on his plighted word. Ramayana shows that in life, it is not difficulties and calamities that are important. The supreme importance of truth was that Rama wanted to hold forth to the world.
Rama exemplified three kinds of righteous behaviour (dharma), namely, the dharmas relating to (1) the individual (2) the family and (3) society. To uphold this threefold dharma, Divinity manifested in a triangular flow, in the form of the Trimurtis (the Triune form). The Ramayana manifested to elaborate the human values.
Once, while moving about in the forest, Rama and Lakshmana sat under a tree. At that time, they heard the neighing of horses and the cries of elephants at a distance. Rama asked Lakshmana to find out how horses and elephants happened to appear in the forest. Lakshmana climbed a tree and noticed a huge army. Immediately he exclaimed' "Brother! Get ready for battle. Take up your bow and arrows." Rama smiled at Lakshmana and said, "Why are you so excited? Do not be hasty. Calm yourself. What has happened?"
Lakshmana replied, "Bharatha is coming with an army to kill us." Rama said' "Lakshmana! What a serious mistake you are making. It is impossible for any action of the Ikshvaaku clan to think of such a preposterous idea even in dream. Because we two were not present in Ayodhya when Bharatha and Shatrughna returned to the capital, they are now coming to see us." Rama sought to pacify Lakshmana.
Lakshmana replied: "What is this forbearance and sympathy on your part? If they merely wanted to see us, will they come with a huge army?"
Even as Rama was speaking thus, Bharatha came rushing towards Rama, fell at his feet crying: "Rama! I am not competent to rule over Ayodhya. You alone are fit to role over the kingdom properly and establish Rama Rajya. Please return to Ayodhya." As Bharatha was entreating in this manner, Rama looked smilingly at Lakshmana. "Compare your feelings with the expressions of Bharatha," he said.
Sage Vashishtha also joined in the appeal to Rama to return to Ayodhya. But Rama did not yield to Bharata's entreaties and, acting according to Vashishtha's directions, offered his sandals to Bharatha and asked Bharatha to perform the coronation for the Padhukas (Divine sandals).
You must recognise the inner significance of this episode. People generally regard the sandals as objects to be despised. But Rama taught a different lesson about them. Rama treated the kingdom and the sandals on par. "I don't want a crown. Enthrone my sandals." Quoting the Vedic dictum Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava (revere the mother and father as God) Rama exhorted Bharata to obey the command of the father and fulfill the desire of his mother by becoming king of Ayodhya.
After instructing Bharatha regarding the principles of good government, Rama told Bharatha: "You must revere the parents, the preceptors and all elders. If any person misbehaves within your kingdom, do not punish him. Banish him. That will be punishment enough."
The other fragment from Ramayana. In order to demonstrate to the world the ideal character of Lakshmana, Rama subjected him to a test. When Sita, Rama and Lakshmana were residing on Chitrakoota mountain, one day Lakshmana went into the forest to fetch some food. Taking this opportunity, Rama decided to test Lakshmana. He asked Sita to play her role in this divine drama. As Lakshmana was returning with food, Sita pretended to be asleep under a tree, keeping her head on the lap of Rama. Rama asked Lakshmana to keep Sita's head on his lap without disturbing her sleep as He had some other important work to attend to.
Rama wanted to observe the feelings of Lakshmana. So, He assumed the form of a parrot and perched on the same tree. Considering Sita as his mother, Lakshmana closed his eyes and went into deep contemplation of Lord Rama. Rama in the form of a parrot started singing, "It is easy to wake up someone who is fast asleep, but is it possible for anyone to wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep?" The Divine methods and actions are indeed unforeseen and unknown.
How is possible to understand and foreseen the Divine actions ans search for Him, who is moving about with billions of feet, billions of eyes, and billions of ears? When you get rid of body attachment and develop attachment towards the Self, you can understand the Divine Atmic Principle. The body is the field, and the Atmic Principle is the indweller of all fields. So, the field and the knower of the field are within you. Intellect will blossom only when there is transformation. (As a rule, today human is interested in information and not transformation).
The whole world is a book, and conscience is your real guru. Follow the conscience and experience divinity. The Principle of the Atma, which reveals the secrets of mind, is your true guru. Guru is one who is formless and beyond all attributes. Take God as guru, follow Him and merge in Him.(Reet's compilation from, Sathya Sai Speaks,Vol. 20. "The play of the Divine," Chapter 7; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 27. "Shri Raama : the ideal for humanity," Chapter 12; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 28. "Install Raama Raajya in your hearts," Chapter 8; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 32. "Relevance of Ramayana to modern life," Chapter 8; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 33. "Ramayana - The Essence Of The Vedas," Chapter 6).
Namaste - Reet
Swami teaches... 5 - 7 April
The Rama Principle Forever. Part 1
Life is like a game of chess; not merely that, it is like a battlefield. The Ramayana teaches the threefold Dharma (code of conduct) pertaining to the individual, the family and the society and underlines the importance of human values.
Describing the greatness and grandeur of Rama's Divine power, the poet Thyagaraja composed a beautiful song, 'Oh Rama, without Your Divine power, would a mere monkey cross the ocean? Would Lakshmana worship you! Would Lakshmi Devi, the goddess of wealth, become Your consort? Would the intelligent Bharata be subservient to You? Words are inadequate to describe Your Divine Power.'
Tulasidas was the great one who proclaimed that human life is redeemed when every talent and every moment are utilized by humanity for realising the Divine. To God all objects in the Universe are alike because they are manifestations of the Divine.
The Ramayana shows us the way to lead an ideal life. That is why people of all countries and all languages hold the Ramayana in high esteem. This sacred epic has stood the test of time because of the sacred ideals it stands for. People have been celebrating Rama's birthday for the past thousands of years. Celebration of any festival becomes meaningful only when there is transformation in human's heart.
The sage Valmiki, who was pure, holy and utterly selfless, wrote the Ramayana in hundred crores of stanzas for the redemption of mankind. But the devas and rishis, realising the supreme greatness of the Ramayana, sought from Valmiki a share in his great work. (Earlier Valmiki was Ratnakara, a robber, on being advised by Narada started chanting the name of Rama incessantly, as a result of which the radiance of Rama was seen on his countenance and he became sage Valmiki, the composer of the holy hymns).
Responding to devas and rishis appeal, Valmiki distributed the slokas (verses) among the denizens of the three worlds. After the distribution of the slokas in equal shares among the three one shloka of 32 syllables remained. After distributing in equal measure 30 of them, two syllables remained. These syllables were the letters RA-MA, which he gave to the dwellers of the three worlds. Whomsoever you may worship it is the one Divine who delights the heart.
The name "Rama" means one who is pleasing and lovable. "Ayana" means movement or journey. "Ra" refers to Atma and "Ma" refers to mind. The Rama Principle means merging the mind in the Atma. Rama is closest to humanity. Rama was born as a child of Dasaratha. He was not born from the womb of Kausalya, but actually from the fire of sacrifice. The Vedas are personified by the yajnas (sacrifice) and Rama is the very personification of yajna. This is not related to objects of nature. The Rama principle transcends the mind and the intellect. Wherever they may be, to whatever land or clime they may belong, people everywhere have to undersold the Rama Principle. "Ramayana" means suffusing the world with the bliss of the Rama Principle. But it is not Sri Rama alone that is involved in this process, Sita is also an epic personality. "Rama" is another name for Sita. The Ramayana is thus a joint epic of Rama and Sita or Sita-Rama Ramayanam.
Rarely in the world do we see married couples who are identical - man and wife - in their physical features, their qualities, behaviour, thoughts and capacities. But in the case of Rama and Sita the similarity was complete in every respect.
The truth of this is evident from what Hanuman experienced. Once Hanuman happened to look at Sita when she was alone. He got a doubt whether Rama himself had assumed a feminine form. Looking at Sita, he thought it was Rama himself. Hence Rama and Sita should be regarded as one identical entity and not as separate beings.
Sita was the embodiment of Maha Maya (supreme Divine illusion). Rama acquired Maha Maya as his mate. Sita, for her part, sought oneness with the Atma principle represented by Rama. The marriage of Rama and Sita represents the association of the Atma and the Maya. Or by the other words the wedding of Rama and Sita is not a wedding of one young man and one young woman. This wedding is a union of Prakrithi (Nature) with the Purusha (Supreme Lord).
Nature is not different from Paramatma (Supreme Self). Nature is the effect and God is the cause. Nature is the expression of this relationship between cause and effect.
(God indulges in dramatic acts like these to demonstrate His omnipresence in the Universe and to teach the world the greatness of Nature. Human has to realise own divinity and look at all Nature from the Divine point of view).
Rama is the supreme exemplar of how people should conduct themselves in the world, how a country should be governed, how the integrity and morality of human beings should be protected. High-minded actions, ideal qualities and sacred thoughts are basic foundations of character.
Rama demonstrated by his words, thoughts and actions how such a life can be lived. The whole world seemed to rejoice at the wedding of Rama and Sita, because it had its cosmic significance. Every being in the cosmos, whatever may be the gender, in external form, is essentially feminine. Prakrithi (Nature) is feminine. She represents one half of the Lord. Together, Prakrithi and Purusha represent the concept of the Divine conceived as half-male and half female. This union of male and female is found in every human being.
One word, one arrow, one wife was the rule for Rama. What is the reason? In the body there are many organs. But all of them are animated, nourished and sustained by the heart alone. In the same manner the wife, for the husband is only one and the husband for the wife is only one. To demonstrate to the world this ideal of monogamy, Rama set the example. When Sita was abducted, Rama felt the loss as if he had lost half his body. He never thought of a second wife. (Every husband in the world should have a similar conviction).
The Ramayana teaches the moral, social, and spiritual values in the simplest way. The relationship that existed between the brothers of Rama is an ideal to the rest of the humanity. All of us live on the same earth. The same sky is above all of us. We breathe the same air and drink the same water. The Ramayana centers on the principle of unity in diversity. What we need today is to see unity in diversity and the divinity behind this unity.
Rama was an ideal son, brother, husband, friend and ideal enemy. He adhered to the noble heroic path even in dealing with his enemies.
For example, when Rama was engaged in battle with Ravana, he could not stand up to the arrows of Rama. Rama noticed that Ravana was tired and weaponless. There is no heroism, in killing a weak or powerless man. Recognizing the plight of Ravana, Rama laid down his arms and told, "O, Ravana! you are tired and without weapons. Go home, take rest and return to battle tomorrow. We shall resume the fight tomorrow."
The inner significance of the Sita-Rama story will be clear when we consider the role of the three cities in the Ramayana. Emperor Janaka was ruler of Mithila. He was a Brahmajnani (one who possesses knowledge of identity of individual self with the cosmic being) who had renounced everything. Having no children of his own, he brought up with great love a foundling (Sita). There were two powerful entities in his kingdom' Siva's bow and Sita. Once, while engaging in play, Sita lifted the giant bow of Siva with astonishing ease. Struck by this feat, Janaka decided that Sita should be given in marriage only to one who could handle Siva's bow and be worthy of Sita's hand. With this resolve, he invited princes for Sita's svayamvara (self selection of a husband by the bride herself). Rama arrived and lifted Siva's bow as lightly as Sita had done.
It is in this combined form of Atma and Maya that Rama entered Ayodhya what means "invincible." Its ruler was Dasaratha. He represents the body, with its ten organs. These sense organs are related to the three gunas (qualities) Satwa, Rajas, Tamas. Dasaratha's three wives - Kausalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi - symbolise these three gunas. Four sons of Dasaratha were the embodiments of his desires. Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Satrughna symbolise the four Vedas Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana.
Rama is the embodiment of Dharma (righteousness), Lakshmana is the embodiment of Sraddha (dedication). Bharata embodies Bhakti (devotion), Shatrughna personifies Sakti (valour).
Dharma is associated with Sraddha. The protecting cover for Bhakti is Sakti. Hence Rama and Lakshmana were always together as a pair, and Bharata and Satrughna as another.
All the dharmas (righteous duties) are no different from the dharmas contained in the Vedas. Dharma is frequently defined as a two-way path. One is pravritti and the other is nivritti. All activities relating to the external world are pravritti dharmas.
Pravritti tells you when you are hungry, 'My child eat.' Nivritti tells you on the other hand, 'Child, merely because you are hungry, don't eat everything that you get hold of.' Nivritti tells you what, when, and how you should eat. Pravritti confuses the mind. Nivritti purifies the heart. That which pertains to external objects is Pravritti; that which concerns internal needs is Nivritti. All the things that Rama taught such a path of Nivritti.
From other words there are two kinds of study: inward looking and outward looking. The stuff that you learn by rote and disgorge into your answer paper is the outward looking study. Taking your studies into your heart, feeling its fullness and experiencing its bliss is the inward looking study. These have been differentiated by the terms education and educare.
Spiritual practices of various kinds, including japa, yoga and the like, will not lead to God realisation at any case. However, at the beginning of path the devotional activities are better than many other useless pastimes. But, if you want to get near to God and to experience God, you have to transform the heart. If you break the branch of a tree and plant it in the sand, will it grow into a tree? It must be planted in soil where it can strike roots. Similarly, the feeling must arise in the heart and get deeply rooted in it. Then the fruits will appear in the external world.
Human is not a mere creature of flesh and blood but the embodiment of the Atma. Concentrating all the time on the physical body as the only reality, time is wasted on external observances. The scriptures have declared: "In the temple of the human body dwells the individual Self which is the eternal Self."
In this context, it may be noted that even scholars and intelligent persons tend to get confused over this matter. People who go to endless trouble to acquire positions, power or reputation do not care to devote even a small fraction of that effort to earn God's grace. The lesson taught by the story of Rama is different and serve as example for all humanity.
Some people say that they are too weak to scale spiritual heights. But you have the strength to commit sins and do wrong actions. The strength required for good or bad actions is the same. In fact, it is more difficult to commit sin than to be good and meritorious. To utter an untruth is difficult. To speak the truth is easy. Speaking the truth calls for no effort. But to declare what is not true as true calls for considerable ingenuity. Uttering an untruth is therefore more difficult. Equally, cheating is more arduous than being honest.
All these truths were taught to the people in the reign of Bharatha and Rama. The whole world needs the advent of Rama Rajya. This means is that the rulers should have three qualities. They are: Sathpravarthana (righteous conduct), Sadhaalochana (good counsel), Sadhguna (good qualities). There should be a combination of all the three. (There should be no place for the wicked who think one thing, speak another thing and act in a different way).
Fill your minds with the ideals of Shri Rama and try to put them into practice as much as possible. This will cost you nothing. You do not have to perform any asanas or go to the forest for practice. Staying in your homes, attending to your duties, purify your hearts. You even do not need to undertake any spiritual practices. Experience the innate Divinity in everyone by following the path of love. Spend your life in selfless service. This is the teaching of Rama.
There, as a rule, purity prevails amidst impurity and impurity exists in the midst of purity. Out of unrest peace ensues; from peace results illumination; that illumination reveals the supreme effulgence of the Divine; in that effulgence is Divinity. Thus santhi (peace) exists within asanthi (restlessness). But it is said that no one who lacks peace cannot have happiness. This is not quite correct. Instead of bemoaning the state of peacelessness one should strive for real peace with courage and faith. This is the difference between the optimist and the pessimist.
Looking at a glass half full of water, the pessimist says, "the glass is half-empty." The optimist says, "it is half-full". The pessimist sees only the thorn in the rose stalk, while the optimist enjoys the beauty of the rose.
Keep your goal in mind and be the recipients of Divine Grace. Chant the Name of Rama wholeheartedly. Rama is present in every heart in the form of the Atma. That is why, He is known as Atma Rama.
(Reet's compilation from, Sathya Sai Speaks,Vol. 20. "The play of the Divine," Chapter 7; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 27. "Shri Raama : the ideal for humanity," Chapter 12; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 28. "Install Raama Raajya in your hearts," Chapter 8; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 32. "Relevance of Ramayana to modern life," Chapter 8; Sathya Sai Speaks. Vol. 33. "Ramayana - The Essence Of The Vedas," Chapter 6).
Namaste - Reet