Narrations from the Srimad Bhagavatam
On the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra in the Treta Yuga Lord Rāmacandra appeared in Ayodhyā in northern India. This day has since been celebrated in human society as Srī Rāmanavami.
Modern Rākṣasas, posing to be educationally advanced have tried to prove that Lord Rāmacandra is not the Supreme Personality of Godhead but an ordinary person. But those who are learned and spiritually advanced will never accept such notions; they will accept the descriptions of Lord Rāmacandra and His activities only as presented by tattva-darśīs, those who know the Absolute Truth. In Bhagavad-gītā (4.34) the Supreme Personality of Godhead advises: “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
The Pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Ramachandra
Srimad Bhagavatam Canto Nine, Chapter Ten describes how Lord Rāmacandra appeared in the dynasty of Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga. It also describes the Lord’s activities, telling how He killed Rāvaṇa and returned to Ayodhyā, the capital of His kingdom.
The son of Mahārāja Khaṭvāṅga was Dīrghabāhu, and his son was Raghu. The son of Raghu was Aja, the son of Aja was Daśaratha, and the son of Daśaratha was Lord Rāmacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Lord descended into this world in His full quadruple expansion—as Lord Rāmacandra, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, and Śatrughna—great sages like Vālmīki who were actually possessed knowledge of the Absolute Truth described His transcendental pastimes. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī describes these pastimes in brief.
When still a boy, Lord Rāmacandra went with Viśvāmitra and killed Rākṣasas like Mārīca. After breaking the stout and strong bow known as Haradhanu, the Lord married mother Sītā and cut down the prestige of Paraśurāma. To obey the order of His father, He entered the forest, accompanied by Lakṣmaṇa and Sītā. There He cut off the nose of Śūrpaṇakhā and killed the associates of Rāvaṇa, headed by Khara and Dūṣaṇa. Rāvaṇa’s kidnapping of Sītādevī was the beginning of this demon’s misfortune.
When Mārīca assumed the form of a golden deer, Lord Rāmacandra went to bring the deer to please Sītādevī, but in the meantime, Rāvaṇa took advantage of the Lord’s absence to kidnap her. When Sītādevī was kidnapped, Lord Rāmacandra, accompanied by Lakṣmaṇa, searched for her throughout the forest. In the course of this search, they met Jaṭāyu. Then the Lord killed the demon Kabandha and the commander Vāli and established a friendly relationship with Sugrīva.
After organizing the military strength of the monkeys and going with them to the shore of the sea, the Lord awaited the arrival of Samudra, the ocean personified, but when Samudra did not come, the Lord, the master of Samudra, became angry and raised a questioning eyebrow. Then Samudra came to the Lord with great haste and surrendered to Him, wanting to help Him in every way.
The Lord then built a bridge of floating stones over the ocean, and, with the help of advice from Vibhīṣaṇa, He attacked Rāvaṇa’s capital, Laṅkā. Previously, Hanumān, the eternal servant of the Lord, had set fire to Laṅkā, and now, with the help of Lakṣmaṇa, the forces of Lord Rāmacandra killed all the Rākṣasa soldiers. Then Lord Rāmacandra personally killed Rāvaṇa.
Mandodarī and other wives lamented for Rāvaṇa, and in accordance with Lord Rāmacandra’s order, Vibhīṣaṇa performed the funeral ceremonies for all the dead in the family. Lord Rāmacandra then gave Vibhīṣaṇa the right to rule Laṅkā and also granted him a long duration of life. The Lord delivered Sītādevī from the Aśoka forest and carried her in a flower airplane to His capital Ayodhyā, where He was received by His brother Bharata.
When Lord Rāmacandra entered Ayodhyā, Bharata brought His wooden shoes, Vibhīṣaṇa and Sugrīva held a whisk and fan, Hanumān carried an umbrella, Śatrughna carried the Lord’s bow and two quivers, and Sītādevī carried a waterpot containing water from holy places. Aṅgada carried a sword, and Jāmbavān (Ṛkṣarāja) carried a shield. After Lord Rāmacandra, accompanied by Lord Lakṣmaṇa and mother Sītādevī, met all His relatives, the great sage Vasiṣṭha enthroned Him as King. The chapter ends with a short description of Lord Rāmacandra’s rule in Ayodhyā.
A Tattvic Perspective of Lord Rama
Lord Rāmacandra, and His brothers, Lakṣmaṇa, Bharata, and Śatrughna, are all Vishnu-tattva, not jiva-tattva and are equally powerful. The Supreme Personality of Godhead expands into many, many forms. Although they are all one and the same, Vishnu-tattva has many forms and incarnations.
One who does not know the spiritual potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead thinks the Lord an ordinary human being. But the Lord’s mind, intelligence, and senses can never be affected by material conditions. This understanding can be derived from the example that it was actually impossible for Rāvaṇa to take away Sītā. The form of Sītā taken by Rāvaṇa was an illusory representation of mother Sītā—maya-sītā. When Sītā was tested in the fire, this māyā-sītā was burnt, and the real Sītā came out of the fire.
Understanding the Lord’s Feelings of Separation from Sita
The separation of Lord Rāmacandra from Sītā is spiritually understood as vipralambha, which is an activity of the hlādinī potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead belonging to the śṛṅgāra-rasa, the mellow of conjugal love in the spiritual world. Lord is sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha [Bs. 5.1], the eternal form of knowledge and bliss. Thus He has all the symptoms of spiritual bliss. Feeling separation from one’s beloved is also an item of spiritual bliss. Lord Rāmacandra, therefore, manifested the truth both spiritually and materially. Materially those who are attached to women suffer, but spiritually when there are feelings of separation between the Lord and His pleasure potency the spiritual bliss of the Lord increases.
One feature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Rāmacandra is omnipotence. The Lord can act without regard to material impediments or inconveniences, but to prove that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and was not merely advertised as Godhead or elected by popular vote, He constructed a wonderful bridge over the ocean. This is proof of God’s uncommonly wonderful power. We accept Lord Rāmacandra as the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He constructed this bridge, and we accept Lord Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He lifted Govardhana Hill when He was only seven years old. For Lord Rāmacandra to construct a bridge over the Indian Ocean is not at all wonderful; it is wonderful only in the sense that it has kept the name and fame of Lord Rāmacandra eternally celebrated.
The strength of the Transcendence
The soldiers Lord Rāmacandra recruited in the jungle were all monkeys and did not have proper equipment with which to fight the soldiers of Rāvaṇa. But because the soldiers of Rāvaṇa were condemned by the curse of mother Sītā, the monkeys were able to kill them simply by throwing stones and trees. There are two kinds of strength—daiva and puruṣākāra. Daiva refers to the strength achieved from the Transcendence, and puruṣākāra refers to the strength organized by one’s own intelligence and power. Transcendental power is always superior to the power of the materialist. Depending on the mercy of the Supreme Lord, one must fight one’s enemies even though one may not be equipped with modern weapons. Therefore Kṛṣṇa instructed Arjuna,[Bg. 8.7] “Think of Me and fight.” We should fight our enemy to the best of our ability, but for victory, we must depend on the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Qualities of a Chaste Women
Not only was Mother Sītā powerful, but any woman who follows in the footsteps of Mother Sītā can also become similarly powerful. There are many instances of this in the history of Vedic literature. Whenever we find a description of ideal chaste women, mother Sītā is among them. Mandodarī, the wife of Rāvaṇa, was also very chaste. Similarly, Draupadī was one of five exalted chaste women. As a man must follow great personalities like Brahmā and Nārada, a woman must follow the path of such ideal women as Sītā, Mandodarī, and Draupadī. By staying chaste and faithful to her husband, a woman enriches herself with supernatural power. It is a moral principle that one should not be influenced by lusty desires for another’s wife. Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu: an intelligent person must look upon another’s wife as being like his mother.
Thus Rāvaṇa was condemned not only by Lord Rāmacandra but even by his own wife, Mandodarī. Because she was a chaste woman, she knew the power of another chaste woman, especially such a wife as mother Sītādevī.
Influence of the Material Modes
In Bhagavad-gītā (9.21) it is said: “When the results of their pious activities are exhausted, those who have enjoyed in the heavenly planets fall again to earth.” Rāvaṇa was raised to an exalted position as the king of a great kingdom with all material opulences, but because of his sinful act of kidnapping mother Sītā, all the results of his pious activities were destroyed. It is therefore advised that one transcend both pious and impious activities and remain in the pure state of freedom from all designations. When one is fixed in devotional service, he is above the material platform. On the material platform there are higher and lower positions, but when one is above the material platform he is always fixed in a spiritual position.
When one is distressed he goes to the church or temple to worship the Lord, but when opulent he forgets the Lord. Therefore, punishment by the Lord through material nature is unavoidable in human society, for without it men forget the supremacy of the Lord due to their dull, blunt intelligence. The demigods are infatuated with the mode of goodness, the Prajāpatis with the mode of passion, and the lord of ghosts with the mode of ignorance, but Lord is the master of all these qualities.
Being pleased by the full surrender and submission of Bharata, Lord Rāmacandra accepted the throne of the state. He cared for the citizens exactly like a father, and the citizens, being fully engaged in their occupational duties of varṇa and āśrama, accepted Him as their father.
People are very fond of the pattern of Rāma-rājya, and even today politicians sometimes form a party called Rāma-rājya, but unfortunately they have no obedience to Lord Rāma. It is sometimes said that people want the kingdom of God without God. Such an aspiration, however, is never to be fulfilled. Good government can exist when the relationship between the citizens and the government is like that exemplified by Lord Rāmacandra and His citizens. Lord Rāmacandra ruled His kingdom exactly as a father takes care of his children, and the citizens, being obliged to the good government of Lord Rāmacandra, accepted the Lord as their father. Thus the relationship between the citizens and the government should be exactly like that between father and son.
The people were good citizens because they accepted the institution of varṇa and āśrama, which arranges society in the varṇa divisions of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra and the āśrama divisions of brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa.
The ideal Householder
Lord Rāmacandra took a vow to accept only one wife and have no connection with any other women. He was a saintly king, and everything in His character was good, untinged by qualities like anger. He taught good behavior to everyone, especially to the householders, in terms of varṇāśrama-dharma. Thus He taught the general public by His personal activities.
Eka-patnī-vrata, accepting only one wife, was the glorious example set by Lord Rāmacandra. One should not accept more than one wife. In those days, of course, people did marry more than one wife. Even Lord Rāmacandra’s father accepted more wives than one. But Lord Rāmacandra, as an ideal king, accepted only one wife, mother Sītā. When mother Sītā was kidnapped by Rāvaṇa and the Rākṣasas, Lord Rāmacandra, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, could have married hundreds and thousands of Sītās, but to teach us how faithful He was to His wife, He fought with Rāvaṇa and finally killed him. The Lord punished Rāvaṇa and rescued His wife to instruct men to have only one wife. Lord Rāmacandra accepted only one wife and manifested sublime character, thus setting an example for householders.
A householder should live according to the ideals of Lord Rāmacandra, who showed how to be a perfect person. Being a householder or living with a wife and children is never condemned, provided he abides by the regulative principles of varṇāśrama-dharma. Those who live in accordance with these principles, whether as householders, brahmacārīs or vānaprasthas, are all equally important.
Mother Sītā was very submissive, faithful, shy and chaste, always understanding the attitude of her husband. Thus by her character and her love and service she completely attracted the mind of the Lord.
As Lord Rāmacandra is the ideal husband (eka-patnī-vrata), mother Sītā is the ideal wife. Such a combination makes family life very happy. Whatever example a great man sets, common people follow. If the kings, the leaders, and the brāhmaṇas, the teachers, would set forth the examples we receive from Vedic literature, the entire world would be heaven; indeed, there would no longer be hellish conditions within this material world.
The Hare Krishna Movement:
Manifesting the Presence of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna in the Kali Yuga
Among the four yugas—Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali—the Kali-yuga is the worst, but if the process of varṇāśrama-dharma is introduced, even in this age of Kali, the situation of Satya-yuga can be invoked. The Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, is meant for this purpose.
“My dear King, although Kali-yuga is full of faults, there is still one good quality about this age: simply by chanting the HareKṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, one can become free from material bondage and be promoted to the transcendental kingdom.” (Srimad Bhāgavatam 12.3.51)
If people take to this saṅkīrtana movement of chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Rāma, they will certainly be freed from the contamination of Kali-yuga, and the people of this age will be happy, as people were in Satya-yuga, the golden age.
All these facilities existed because of Lord Rāmacandra’s presence as the King of the entire world. A similar situation could be introduced immediately, even in this age called Kali, the worst of all ages. It is said, kali-kāle nāma-rūpe kṛṣṇa-avatāra: Kṛṣṇa descends in this Kali-yuga in the form of His holy name—Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Rāma. If we chant offenselessly, Rāma and Kṛṣṇa are still present in this age. The kingdom of Rāma was immensely popular and beneficial, and the spreading of this Hare Kṛṣṇa movement can immediately introduce a similar situation, even in this Kali-yuga.