A beautiful digital painting seen at the temple – drawn by a close devotee friend of mine, Arun.
May your day be filled with spiritual activities today, wherever you are.
What can we learn from Ramayana?
Power of Bad Association: It was a known fact in Ayodhya that Kaikeyi loved Lord Rama more than her own son Bharath, then how could she become so evil. It is by her bad association with Mantara.
Attachment to service & not to the position: Lord Raam was willing to become the king as a service to Maharaj Dasarath and He was also willing to go to the forest as a service to His father.
Mission of Life should be to vanquish the demoniac tendencies in our heart: Lord Raam’s purpose to kill the demons was fulfilled by His banishment to the forest.
Even extreme reversals if taken in the proper spirit will help us fulfill our mission in life: For example, Law of gravity is only in effect in the Earth’s sphere and not beyond. So also Laws of material nature act only in material consciousness not in spiritual consciousness.
Raam or Aaram, A test for every seeker: Citizens of Ayodhya wanted to go with Lord Raam to forest and leave behind all the comforts (Aaram) of the City Ayodhya.
Alertness in Spiritual Life: Lord Raam leaves Ayodhyavasis when they were asleep. If one is inattentive or lazy, one will loose taste in Bhakti.
(Sometimes) Saintly persons might cause pain to others not to hurt them but benefit them: Bharat disowns Kaikeyi, or Prahlad disregards Hiranyakashipu, a Doctor may cause pain (operation) to patient to cure him.
Goal is to please the Lord: For Bharat, he wanted to stay in the forest which was easier than to return and rule the Kingdom but he did it to please Lord Raam.
Lord is the Proprietor: Bhoktaram Yajna tapasam (Bhagavad Gita 5.29). Bharat was ruling the kingdom on Lord Raam’s behalf by keeping the Paduka’s on the Throne. We are only caretakers, He is the real proprietor, He can give and take away. The Caretaker acts according to the will of the owner.
Anybody can make a show of greatness: The reversals test us who we are. When Lakshmana cuts Surpanaka’s nose, gone was the charming form, gone was the facade and then the real ugly form manifested. One’s greatness is tested by one’s ability to tolerate provoking situations.
Bhakti (Sita) cannot be achieved by Deception: Ravana wanted to kidnap Sitadevi by deception, but he gets Maya-Sita at the end. Greed and lust are never satiated, they lead to arrogance and envy.
Attachments create traps and make us suffer: Marichi takes up a golden dear form to which Sitadevi developed deep attachment to have it and thus trapped Sitadevi. We should see the substance through the eyes of the scripture. Marichi was all about false promises. For example, spider web is most attractive to the fly but actually it’s a trap.
Maya knows our weaknesses: She can make our strength into weaknesses and take us away from the circle of instructions of great souls. Ravana uses Sitadevi’s attitude to serve great souls to disobey Lakshmana.
Always stand by the Right: Jatayu’s integrity. Real success is to please the Lord. Jatayu lost his life fighting for Lord Raam but achieved the purpose of Life to please the Lord. It is better to lose & win than to win & lose.
Patience, Determination & Enthusiasm: Example of Shabari. Long time ago, Guru had asked her to wait for Lord Raam while all other disciples and Guru himself went back to Godhead. She showed her enthusiasm by working hard everyday to clean the place, plucking flowers & fruits for the Lord. She had complete faith in the words of Guru and patiently waited with determination. The Lord reveals only when He wants.
Honesty, We can’t put a facade before the Lord: Hanumanji disguises when he went to meet Lord Raam. Lord knows within who we are, we have to be honest to receive the mercy of the Lord. Lord Raam didn’t speak to Hanuman for four months.
Obstacles on the path of Bhakti: The demons who came to stop Hanuman during his jumping across the ocean. Mainaka (Gold Mountain) – temptation to seek comfort before achieving our real purpose. Simhika (Shadow catching demoness) – While striving for Bhakti, people will chastise, criticize and misunderstand us, we should have the willingness to tolerate. Surasa (Serpent): Being envious of people in higher position and try to stop their progress. This is jealousy of the mind. By devotional service, we have to devour Simhika who represents Envy.
Arrogance cannot understand wellwishers: The world is a mirror of our own consciousness. Ravana was thinking Mandodari was envious of Sita, but actually he was envious of Lord Raam. Ravana was thinking Vibhisana was disloyal and taking the side of Lord Raam, but he was disloyal to Kubera, his cousin brother. When we think we know, we are not willing to listen to good counsel. Spiritual progress means simplicity and humility. If they are lacking, we won’t listen thinking that we know better, that was Ravana.
Big or Small, we can swim the ocean of Samsara by chanting Lord Raam’s holy name: Big or Small, all the stones floated by writing Lord Raam’s name.
Pride or Attachment leads to loss of intelligence: dhyayato visayan pumsah (Bhagavad Gita 2.62). Every stage of this sloka was exhibited by Ravana. Loss of intelligence – Even when all his stalwart warriors including Kumbakarna, Indrajit died but he still didn’t give up.
Hearing about the Lord – Revival of dormant love: Lord Raam being Paramatma in the heart of everyone including Ravana could have killed him just by turning off Ravana’s heart. But the Lord and His pleasure potency Sitadevi went through this whole ordeal so that we can hear about the Lord and revive our dormant love.
Righteousness: Vibhishana comes to take shelter of Lord Raam, all the monkeys were against, except Hanumanji. Vibhishana was willing to be misunderstood or even chastised to surrender to the Lord.
Counsel and Advise in battle against Illusion: In battle against Illusion, at every stage association of devotees to put us straight without which we will fall. Lord Raam doesn’t need but takes the counsel of Vibhishana.
Grace of a Sadhu needed to kill demons within: Agastya muni had given a divine arrow to Lord Raam. That arrow was used by Lord Raam to kill Ravan by piercing his heart.
Welcoming the Lord in hearts with lamps: That is Dipavali festival. Lord Raam is welcomed back into Ayodhya with lamps. Dipavali is not just physical fire but lighting the hearts with light of Lord’s grace and process of devotional service. When heart is fully illuminated, then we can experience Lord Raam within ourself. When our love awakens, in that love, compassion for all living beings awakens. Then Raamrajya is awakened within the heart and then without (i.e. out in the world).