Ramanavami: Expression of a Divine Hope
Lord Rama the Supreme Lord incarnated as an ideal king
An ideal kingdom is established on the basis of a spiritual understanding of life. By the knowledge imparted in the Vedas and presented in unsurpassable summary in the Bhagavad-Gita, the living being is understood to be a spiritual spark that inhabits a body constituted of matter. For the soul, a material body is a cloak of suffering. Forced to undergo the tribulations of birth, old age, disease and death, the body constantly challenges the state of peacefulness and well being of the living entity. Hence it is necessary for the soul in material existence to shed the bodily covering so that he may resume his life of eternity, knowledge and bliss.
Ideal kings in the former times strived to establish nation states that would facilitate the freedom of the soul by inculcating knowledge, culture, discipline and spiritual training among the people so that each person would advance towards liberation from material suffering.
All the workings of the state were conducted under the guidance of the Vedas. Learned Brahmanas advised powerful Kshatriyas who administered the state with the welfare of the citizens as their prime consideration. The economic systems established on Vedic teachings, were in harmony with nature. Even without exploitative technologies, there was abundance of all natural resources and the citizens lived in prosperity without greed. The thrust for spiritual advancement permeated every sphere of human activity.
Lord Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared on earth to teach humanity the character of an ideal king and the functioning of an ideal state. He appeared on the ninth day of the waxing moon of the month of Chaitra in the Treta Yuga at Ayodhya, present day Uttar Pradesh. He was born to mother Kaushalya the eldest queen of King Dasharatha. He was the Supreme Lord Himself who was answering the prayers of the demigods for relief from the atrocities of Ravana.
Lord Rama as a prince, along with His younger brother Lakshmana had brought peace to sage Vishwamitra by slaying demons like Tadaka who were desecrating their sacrificial fires and thus obstructing his daily rituals for spiritual advancement and welfare of humanity. Such activities and affectionate attitude towards citizens had made Lord Rama very dear to the citizens of Ayodhya. King Dasharatha was also very fond of his righteous son and was eager to enthrone Him as the emperor. Yet, when by the intrigues of his youngest queen Kaikeyi, Dasharatha ordered
Rama into exile practically on the day of His coronation as the emperor of Ayodhya, Lord
Rama gave up the Kingdom and all royal paraphernalia without protest and proceeded to the forest accompanied by His faithful younger brother Lakshmana and devout wife Sita Devi
They spent 14 years wandering in forests and performing wonderful pastimes in sweet dealings with Their devotees. In the last phase of their exile they went through the grave dangers inflicted by Ravana. Ravana kidnapped mother Sita deceitfully and took her to his capital in Lanka.
Lord Rama, with the help of an army made of powerful monkeys like Hanuman, Sugriva and Angadacrossed the ocean at the present day temple town of Rameshwaram on a bridge made of stones that floated by His supreme will and decimated the entire clan of Ravana except for his righteous younger brother Vibheeshana whom he installed as the King of Lanka.
Then Lord Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman returned to Ayodhya on the famous Pushpaka Vimana – a wonderful airplane. His day of return to Ayodhya was such a joyous event that even today a million years later it is enthusiastically celebrated all over India in a great festival called Diwali. The victory of Lord Rama over Ravana remains the quintessential example of the unerring victory of good over evil.
The rule of Lord Rama over Ayodhya showed how a benign monarch should care for his citizens. There was abundance of all necessities of all the living beings regardless of species. His management was so nice that there was not even excessive heat or cold. When a citizen lost his son, he blamed it on the mismanagement of the state that in the presence of the father the son had died. Such was the high standard of the Lord Rama’s ruling. In contrast with that rule, the resource starved, crises ridden modern countries of the world with unspeakable torture of innocent beings in the forms of children, women, men and animals bear mute testimony to the fact that without following the spiritual principles taught by Lord Rama through His exemplary life, no government can deliver peace and prosperity on earth.
The celebration of Ramanavami is thus, not only an expression of joy on the appearance of the Supreme Lord for the sake of giving pleasure to His devotees and annihilating the demons, but also a reminder of a divine period of time when resources were abundant, the people righteous and there existed peace and vigorous activities of spiritual advancement on earth. It denotes a hope that if Lord Rama were to be once again brought to the centre of everyone’s life, then that sublime situation would definitely return.
Images courtesy Bhaktivedanta Book Trust & ISKCON Bangalore