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Hanuman: The Trusted Lieutenant Of Lord Rama

As the Hindu deity known for love, compassion, devotion, strength and intelligence, Hanuman is one of the most widely worshipped Gods of this faith. Across India and beyond, countless people are seen devoting their Tuesday and Saturday mornings to Hanuman Puja. India is filled with the temples of Hanuman in every corner and his temple can be found in almost every village of India. Also, he is one of the central figures of the Hindu epic–Ramayana.

There is an interesting story behind the name of Hanuman. In Sanskrit, ‘Hanu’ means ‘jaw’ and ‘mana’ means ‘disfigured’. This name, according to epic, is derived from an incident when Hanuman was a kid and flew to the sun, mistaking it for a fruit. Angered, Lord Indra attacked Hanuman with his ultimate weapon–his Vajra–which struck Hanuman, causing him to fall down to the ground unconsciously. His father Maruta – The God of Wind – became furious and stopped all the air from flowing. This caused the whole planet to suffocate and slowly the living organisms started to die. Seeing this, the Gods persuaded Maruta to stop his actions and to save the planet. Maruta took his vows back and Hanuman was blessed by the Gods with the ability to withstand the Vajra of Lord Indra. It is because of this he is also known as Vajrangabali.

As a child, Hanuman was notorious and at times got into trouble because of his antics. In one incident he was cursed by a sage, leading him to forget all his divine powers. A lot later, only upon Jamvanta’s call to remember them, Hanuman realised his strengths, which he then used to search for Sita’s whereabouts.

In another incident mentioned in the Ramayana, when Sita told Hanuman that she applied Sindoor (vermillion) for the long life of Lord Rama, Hanuman smeared his whole body with Sindoor with a hope that this will extend Lord Rama’s life even more. Such was his devotion to Lord Rama. This is also the reason why many use saffron coloured vermillion to worship Hanuman and to please him.

When Lakshmana, brother of Lord Rama, got grievously injured in a battle against the army of Ravana, it was Hanuman who flew to the Himalayas and brought the Sanjeevni herb, thus saving the life of lakshmana. It was because of his deeds like this that Lord Rama considered Hanuman no less than his own brother.

In spite of the bond between Lord Rama and Hanuman, Ramayana mentions that the two were once forced to fight a battle against each other. Once, Guru Vishwamitra ordered Lord Rama to kill Yayati who had already sought refuge under Hanuman. Hanuman believed that anyone and everyone who seeks his refuge should be saved, agreed to fight a battle with Lord Rama. However, he did not use any weapons. He only chanted Lord Rama’s name and no arrow could touch him. This impressed Guru Vishwamitra who then asked Lord Rama to pardon Yayati.

Hanuman is a versatile figure and one of the central characters of the epic Ramayana. For him, every word uttered by Lord Rama is a command and Lord Rama’s sorrows are his own sorrows. One seldom comes across a person whose devotion is comparable to that of Hanuman’s. More than a deity, Hanuman is an embodiment of devotion and faith, something that the entire mankind can emulate.


Siddha Pedia

The Times of India

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What makes a villain ?

Every great legend has broadly two primary teachings for mankind: what to do and what not to.So is the story of The Ramayana, where Lord Rama is the propagator of good while Ravana is the best explanation of how one is responsible for his/her own success and failures.

As opposed to what we see of Ravana as an evil, narcissistic demon who prefers the path of ‘Adharma’, we miss out some of the significant contributions he has made to art and various realms of knowledge. We cannot overlook the fact that his devotion to Lord Shiva is still an inspiration to many devotees. Let us find out his backstory mentioned in Ramayana –

Ravana was the first child of Kaikasi–second wife of Vishwashrava. His father was a Brahmin and mother belonged to the Asura or demon clan, hence he was a Brahmasura (half Brahmin and half Asura) by birth. His real name was Dashanan or Dashagriva which means a demon with 10 heads.

He was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. To take the Lord’s blessings he once decided to visit Kailash, the residence of Lord Shiva according to Hindu texts. Nandi, Lord Shiva’s gatekeeper, did not let him in as his Lord was immersed in deep meditation. To prove his devotion, Ravana tried to lift the mountain of Kailash, this angered Lord Shiva and He set His toe on the mountain crushing Ravana’s hand. Ravana let out a painful scream. Enduring the pain yet completely devoted to his Lord, Ravana composed the Shiva Tandava Stotram, a hymn in praise of Lord Shiva which beautifully describes tandava dance. This hymn is chanted till date. It is a source of immense power, strength and beauty. Pleased by his devotion, Lord Shiva gave him the name ‘Ravana’ which is the Sanskrit word for ‘the one with a terrifying roar’ because his scream shook the entire world.

There are several tales that show Ravana’s true devotion to Lord Shiva. During a colossal penance, he had sacrificed all his heads. Pleased by this Lord Shiva restored all his 10 heads with immense knowledge. His heads indicated the 6 Shastras and 4 Vedas that he had imbibed.

Ravana’s contribution to literature and science was also great. He is credited as an author of the books Ravana Samhita, Arka Prakasham and book on Ayurvedic medicine and infant diseases, Kumar Tantraya. He was also the inventor of Arka Shastra.

Apart, he had also made contributions to music and art. He had created the instrument named ‘Ravana hasta veena’ now known as Ravanhatta. It is a beautiful instrument played using a fiddle.

What turned him into an immoral abductor? He soon developed various traits that finally led to his death. Blinded by power, Ravana’s 10 heads now became the representation of his 10 negative qualities: Amanavta (Cruelty), Kama Vasana (Lust), Ahankara (Ego), Krodha (Anger), Anyaaya (Injustice), Swartha (Selfishness), Lobha (Greed), Matsara (Jealousy) and Mada (Arrogance). Adoption of these traits was the turning point of his life and made him the paragon of evil.


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What Were The Boons And Curses That Led To The Ramayana?

Ever wondered why The Ramayana occurred ? Why was Lord Vishnu incarnated as Lord Rama ? And why did he have to go through untold miseries and suffering? The root cause of the occurrence of The Ramayana was to teach the whole mankind invaluable and timeless lessons and to follow the path of Dharma. But, there are several reasons why Ramayana exists in the form that is. There is an interesting spiral of boons and curses that led to the creation of this legend.

The Boon to Manu and Satrupa

Manu and his wife Satrupa, as per Hindu texts, were the first man and woman on Earth. Devoted to Lord Vishnu, they prayed to him for thousands of years. Pleased by their penance, Lord Vishnu granted them one boon. They wished to be Lord Vishnu’s parents for one life. God blessed them to be born as King Dasharatha and Queen Kaushalya, parents of Lord Rama, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu.

The Curse on the Gatekeepers

Hindu texts mention that Jaya and Vijaya are the dwarpals (gatekeepers) of Lord Vishnu’s residence – Vaikuntha. They were cursed to be born as humans and suffer the vicious cycles of birth, death and rebirth by Lord Brahma’s sons as they refused entry to them, not knowing their real identity. When Lord Vishnu entered the scene, the gatekeepers pleaded for mercy from the curse. Lord Vishnu said that the curse could not be reversed but can be altered so that Jaya and Vijaya could choose their form of life as humans. He gave them two alternatives:

To be born 7 times as devotees of Lord Vishnu or to be born 3 times as enemies of Lord Vishnu. Jaya and Vijaya were truly devoted to their lord and could not live without him for long, hence they chose to be born as His enemies for 3 lives. In their first life they were born as Hiranyanksha and Hiranyakashipu, in their second as Ravana and Kumbhakarana, and in their third as Dantavakra and Shishupala. In all three lives they were killed by their deity Lord Vishnu.

Boons from Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva

Ravana was a Brahmasura – half Brahmin and half Asura (demon). His father Vishwashrava was a Brahmin and his mother Kaikasi belonged to a demon clan. However, Kuber, Ravana’s half brother was crowned as the king of Lanka, something that Ravana wanted for himself. Thus, he and Kumbhakarna sat on a penance and asked for miraculous powers from Lord Brahma, to which he agreed. Ravana used these powers to dethrone his brother Kubera and conquered the city of Lanka.

Ravana performed two more penances to please Lord Brahma. In one penance he asked for immortality. Lord Brahma refused to grant this, but he gave him an alternative of concentrating his life in his navel. Hence Lord Rama shot Ravana in his navel leading to his death.

In the next penance he beseeched that no God, demon, Kinnar or Gandharva could ever kill him. He did not mention human beings as he thought they were beneath his power. As a result Lord Vishnu took His seventh Avatar as a human, Lord Rama.

Ravana was also a devotee of Lord Shiva. He performed a colossal penance at the banks of river Narmada to please Lord Shiva. Ravana sacrificed his head 10 times during this penance. These 10 heads indicated the 4 Shastras and 6 Vedas that he had mastered. Lord Shiva was extremely pleased by this devotion. Lord Shiva returned all the heads and blessed him with immense power and divine weapons.

With these boons Ravana was drenched in power and caused devastating damage to all of mankind, thereby forcing Lord Vishnu to be incarnated as Lord Rama to kill his trepidation and relieve both humans and Gods from his terror.

Curses given to Ravana

After gaining extensive power and weaponry education, Ravana was infected by his own ego, which gained him 6 curses.

Curse of Anarnay : Ravana fought a fierce battle against the majestic King Anarnay. Before dying King Anarnay cursed him that he would be killed by a man born in Anarnay’s lineage – The Raghuvansha.

Curse of Nandi : After vanquishing Lanka, Ravana wanted to meet Lord Shiva, but he was stopped by Nandi the bull, Lord Shiva’s gatekeeper. Ravana mocked Nandi, and received a curse that his tyranny will be destroyed by an army of monkeys.

Curse of Rambha : Ravana, attracted by her flawless beauty, mistreated Rambha – Nalkubera’s (Kubera’s son) wife and wanted to take her back to his kingdom. Nalkubera cursed him that his head would explode into 100 pieces if he repeated this atrocious act again.

Curse of Shurpanakha : In his quest to conquer the whole world Ravana killed his sister Shurpanakha’s husband. Engaged by this, she cursed him that she would be a cause of his death.

Curse of Maya :Ravana laid a lustful eye on his sister-in- law, Maya. He tried to abduct her in the absence of her husband Shambhar. She cast a curse on him that he would die due to a similar sequence of events.

Curse of devotee of Lord Vishnu :While flying in his ‘Pushpak Viman’, Ravana tried to kidnap a beautiful woman who was worshipping Lord Vishnu. She burnt herself and cursed him that he would die because of a woman.

This intricate series of boons and curses finally led to one of the greatest epics of mankind, The Ramayana.

Ravana’s contribution to literature and science was also great. He is credited as an author of the books Ravana Samhita, Arka Prakasham and book on Ayurvedic medicine and infant diseases, Kumar Tantraya. He was also the inventor of Arka Shastra.


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Bharata was the second son of Dasharatha and the only born of Mother Kaikeyi, the daughter of the king of Kekaye Kingdom. He was married to Mandavi, a cousin of Sita. The Ramayana portrays the four brothers as extremely closely bonded to each other.

Bharata’s character is considered amongst the highest in The Ramayana, next only to that of Lord Rama. An extremely loyal and devoted brother, he never intended to rule Ayodhya as a king.

It’s only when Queen Kaikeyi, whose intellect and intentions were poisoned by her maid Manthara, sent Bharata away for a week away from Ayodhya, that she asked the two boons from King Dasharatha. Consequently Lord Rama was sent away for exile and Bharata was to be crowned as the new king. When Bharata returned home and discovered that Lord Rama had been exiled by his mother, his anger and sorrow were indescribable upon realising his mother’s intentions. In his anger, he even cursed his mother for thinking something so cruel and for executing it. He immediately left Ayodhya for the forest to meet him and request him to come back to Ayodhya and rule it as the rightful king.

However, Lord Rama, the ever abider of dharma, refused to come back to Ayodhya as it was his dharma to honour his father’s words. Even after hearing news of their father’s demise, Rama and Lakshmana refused to go back. Finally it was King Janaka, Sita’s father, who was able to convince Bharata to stop persuading Rama. King Janaka explained to him that as his love for his brother, Lord Rama is unparalleled, it is his duty to let Rama follow his dharma and that returning back to Ayodhya would not be right.

Reluctantly, Bharata returned to Ayodhya after receiving Rama’s promise to return home after their 14 years’ exile got over, and that Bharata would immolate himself if he delayed his return by even a day.

Furthermore, he decided to rule Ayodhya as Rama’s representative. Though the people of Ayodhya loved Bharata and were ready to accept him as their king, he placed Lord Rama’s sandals on the throne, signifying that he was not the King, but just the representative of Lord Rama, the rightful King. This act has made him an epitome of selfless dedication and love towards one’s siblings. Infact, when Rama decided to retire, Bharata and Shatrughna also joined him and walked into the river Sarayu with him.

During the 14 years of Rama’s exile, Bharata never forgave his mother Kaikeyi, and instead, served Kausalya (Rama’s mother) and Sumitra (Lakshman’s mother).

Under his reign, the kingdom was safe and prosperous. A proof of Bharata’s recognition in India is the Koodalman- ikyam Temple in Kerala, where Bharata is worshipped.


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Here Is What Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Ramayana

There are several factors that one needs to remember while setting up and leading a business. Successful businesspersons have certain traits in common such as clarity of thought, perseverance, strategic thinking, good communication skills, and valuing efficiency, amongst others. All of these lessons can be learnt through a quick read of the Indian Epic – Ramayana. Here are some of them:

1. Maintain your composure in all situations.

Even after being ordered to live a 14 year long period in forests from the palace of Ayodhya, Lord Rama did not let anger conquer him. He maintained his calm. In the course of business life, many such situations arise which can only be solved using a calm demeanour. As goes the Sanskrit term, elaborated in Bhagawat Gita, for it – by remaining ‘Sthitapragnya’.

2. Miscommunication or communication gap is a sure path for disasters.

The cause of undue enmity between Vali, the king of Kishkindha and his brother Sugriva was sheer miscommunication. The expense of miscommunication is paid in terms of financial as well as human costs. Miscommunication, even in its simplest of forms, can lead to massive resentment. Example- a poorly constructed memo caused massive repercussions for Yahoo, just a few years back.

3. Build strategic relationships that can grow into trustworthy partnerships later on.

As goes the oft used adage, “Your network is your net worth”. Lord Rama made an alliance with Sugriva, who was mistreated by his elder brother Bali. Rama helped Sugriva to regain his kingdom and in return Sugriva promised to employ his army in the search of Sita and to win the war against Ravana. Similarly, building alliances with different partners, be it for marketing or finance or operations or technological insights, or just on a personal level, does pay off in the long run in the form of business expansion.

4. Carefully choosing the heir.

Dasharatha, the ruler of Ayodhya, had originally chosen Rama as his successor. Rama was capable of handling the responsibilities of such a vast empire as he displayed the traits to be an efficient ruler. Thus, it is essential for an entrepreneur to select an appropriate successor who has the capacity to manage and strengthen the existing territory. The fall of one of the most prominent political parties in India is a classic example of what a bad succession can do to even the best of establishments.

5. Never promise what you cannot deliver.

King Dasharatha granted 2 blank promises to his Queen Kaikeyi. She used these promises to send Lord Rama to exile and asked the throne of Ayodhya for her son Bharata. A cautious entrepreneur will never make hollow promises to his/her customers. The dangers of over promising are inconceivable and the dissatisfaction of under delivery can lead to a complete downfall. A prominent example is the massive crash in the valuation of one of the largest cab hailing firms, as it could not live up to its word to its investors.

6. Know and never undermine the capabilities of your opponents.

Ravana was always under the false impression that an army of monkeys cannot fight his mighty army of demons. He misinterpreted their strength, ultimately leading to the downfall of his empire. An entrepreneur should keep a track of their competitor’s prowess. On the same note, an entrepreneur should never look down on enterprises of much smaller scale, lest they become an existential threat to the entrepreneur tomorrow. Example- Android leading to the downfall of Nokia and Blackberry.

7. Do not be surrounded by “Yes-Men”.

Ravana was surrounded by people who always agreed and supported all his decisions. This flattery promoted irrational decisions such as the abduction of Sita. There were some courtiers who were against this but a vast majority was in his support. A leader should pick their team mates sagaciously so that their opinions help to prevent such disasters and aid in formulating efficient policies, regardless of whether their opinions are music to his ears or not, as long as they are backed by proper reasoning.

8. Base your judgements only on concrete facts and not on uninhibited emotions.

When Lakshmana was protecting Sita while Lord Rama caught the deer, Sita gave in to her emotions upon hearing the call for help. This call was actually of the demon Mareecha who had used his sorcery to take the form of a golden deer. Out of her unconditional love for her beloved husband, she compelled Lakshmana to go to him. After Lakshmana had left the hut. Sita was abducted by Ravana. Such uncontrolled emotions can lead to huge losses in a business.

9. Conduct discussions with your team before arriving at a significant conclusion. Give equal importance to everyone’s opinion.

All kings in The Ramayana, King Dasharatha, Rama and Bharata have always consulted their court ministers before taking important decisions. All the firms that have grown into giant companies are known for giving weightage to the opinions, concern, as well as the welfare of their employees and shareholders.

The Ramayana has numerous lessons that are applicable in all realms of life. This epic has left humankind a path to follow on, in order to succeed in any sphere of life, entrepreneurship being one of them.


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When Kaikeyi asked Dashratha for her Two Boons

After brief discussions with the Parishad, Dashratha along with Sage Vashishta and the ministers unanimously decided to appoint Rama his successor. Dashratha then wanted to share this news with his dear wives and he was sure they’d be delighted. After a long day in the court, he went to Kaikeyi to spend quality time with her but to his surprise, Kaikeyi was in the KrodhaBhavan. A place where the queens used to retreat when she felt that she wasn’t being treated right by the king or wanted extra attention.

In the KrodhaBhavan, Kaikeyi was lying on the floor with disheveled hair and she was breathing heavily. There were flowers and jewels scattered all around. To Dashratha, she looked like a heavenly creature that had fallen to the Earth. Seeing Kaikeyi in this state Dashratha was alarmed. But, he was also overcome with passion. Dashratha walked towards Kaikeyi and asked her what had happened, why was she angry and what could he do to make things better? Kaikeyi knew that Dashratha would do anything for her. Kaikeyi then said, “My Lord, I have a desire in my heart and only you can fulfill it. Promise me first that you will do as I ask of you”.

Dashratha went on to listen to her carefully. He said, “There is no one dearer to me than you, except Rama. And so I swear by the name of Rama, the invincible and without whom I cannot live for a moment”. The irony in these lines cannot be ignored by any! Dashratha’s very promise was about to take his beloved Rama away from him. Kaikeyi then reminded Dashratha that how a long time ago she had saved Dashratha’s life in a great battle and in turn Dashratha had granted her two boons. Kaikeyi had then said that she would ask for them later and Dashratha shall not deny them at any point of time.
Today, Kaikeyi was about to ask for those two boons and her asks were-

  1. Bharat be crowned as Dashratha’s successor
  2. Rama be sent off to exile in the Dandakaranya forest as an ascetic for 14 years

Hearing this, Dashratha was stunned. He couldn’t believe what he had heard! He sank down to the floor and lay there speechless for a long time. Dashratha was so struck with grief that he at first thought that it was all a bad dream. His feelings were all mixed up. Anger, grief, incomprehension, despair, Dashratha felt it all. Dashratha could simply not believe that Kaikeyi had asked for something like this.

He reminded Kaikeyi that how she used to say that to her Rama was her eldest son and the most righteous one. How she had held him as dear as Bharat. Now, why was she so bent on destroying him? But to Kaikeyi, Rama was now a rival. Manthara had successfully poisoned her mind and made her believe that it was Kaikeyi’s duty to get the kingdom for Bharat and discarding Rama was the only way to do so. Rama’s destruction was just collateral damage for Manthara’s political agenda.

Dashratha tried to reason with Kaikeyi. Told her that according to everyone Rama was the most qualified for the role. Rama had won over people’s trust and support through his exemplary behaviour. But Kaikeyi was not interested in facts. Dashratha lost his temper and said to Kaikeyi, “O, you cruel and wicked woman, you are bent on destroying this family. You are just like a hunter that attracts a deer only to trap it and kill it. You are like wine that is ever so attractive, but only after drinking it does a man realize that it was poisoned”. But Kaikeyi knew that the king’s rage was now impotent.

Dashratha further tried to convince her. The Great Dashratha even begged her to have mercy on him and Rama and not to separate them in Dashratha’s old age. With folded hands Dashratha sank to her feet, pleading to her. But Kaikeyi did not show mercy. Instead, she replied harshly, “You claim to be so righteous and truthful, now why are you not able to stick to your promise? Nothing will change my mind. Rama must go into the forest today itself”.

Seeing that Dashratha was still not convinced, Kaikeyi gave him a long lecture on Dharma and Satya. She even referred to Dashratha as a ‘Villain talking about the highest virtues’. The pleasant evening was now turned into a long, mournful night. Dashratha shuddered at the thought of 14 years of exile for Rama and Sita. The clock ticked with a despondent sound and night turned into morning. Dashratha lay there on the floor like a giant, lifeless tree. He felt helpless. The thing which worried him even more was Rama’s adherence to his words. He knew that Rama wouldn’t defy him and would uphold his father’s word. For it was the King’s promise. It was Dashratha’s promise.

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How did Kausalya and Lakshman react when informed by Ram about Vanvaas

Despite the deadly blow dealt by Kaikeyi, Ram was unmoved. His life had turned upside down but without a single lament he went about doing what had to be done to depart for the forest. He first went to meet his mother Kausalya. Kausalya had no inkling of this calamity that had befallen, and so she was all ready for the coronation, resplendent in a white silk saree.

Upon seeing Ram, she hugged him dearly and said, ‘Son, may you live long and may you always follow the path of righteousness.’ – ‘Dattamasanmalabhya bhojanena nimantritah.’ Offering a seat, she asked him to eat something. A true mother! Amidst all this excitement, she wants to make sure that her son has eaten properly. But Ram declined and told her what had happened with Kaikeyi and Dasharath.

Remember, the same news had sent Dasharath into shock. Now when Kausalya heard it she too collapsed on the ground like the branch of a Sal tree in the forest hacked by an axe. She was struck with a deep heart piercing sorrow. Her heart pained so much that she wondered how come it did not break into pieces? She spoke of the many insults that Kaikeyi habitually heaped on her. And now surely that would only become worse. She asked Ram to take her along and started sobbing inconsolably.

Lakshman, who was present as always by Ram’s side,then spoke. Note that we hardly know much about Lakshman from what Valmiki has told us so far, but that shortcoming is made up for with this explosive monologue by Lakshman, ‘I do not think that Ram should give up the kingdom’ – ‘viparitashya vrudhashya vishayishcha pradharshitah nrupah kimiva nabruyachchadhyamanah samanmadha.’ – ‘The king has become old. He is now overpowered by passions and has developed a perverse nature. Infatuated with Kaikeyi he can speak anything. Why should Ram go into exile ? He has done no wrong. It is grossly unfair to him. Even his adversaries cannot find fault with him, then how can his own father abandon him ? How can a son accept the words of such a father who has become immature and childish in old age ?’ ‘Yavdev na janati kashidarthamimam narah. Tavadev mayaa sardhama aatmasthyam kuru shasanam.’ – ‘Before this news gets out, take control of this empire! I will help you. Who would dare challenge you ? And if they do, I will kill them, I will kill them all, even if it means that there is not a single person left in Ayodhya.’ ‘Nirmanushyamimam sarvaamayodhyam karishyaami’ – ‘And as for Dasharath, we ought not to hold back because he is our father. Even a guru, if he strays from the path of righteousness must be punished. If our father stands against us he ought to be imprisoned or even killed.’

Lakshman had just stated his intention of taking over the empire by force and killing their own father if it came to that, their father, Kausalya’s husband. Kausalya then said to Ram, ‘You heard what your brother said, now do what you think is appropriate. Just as you must abide by your father’s wishes likewise you must abide by my wishes too. And I forbid you from going to the forest. What Kaikeyi has said is against dharma. Your dharma is to stay here, and if you still go away I will stop eating and give up my life. My death will be on you.’ Ram tried to explain his thinking to a mother wallowing in sorrow and to a brother boiling with rage. Ram gave many precedents to argue that abiding by one’s father’s wishes is the highest dharma and in his case Dasharath was – ‘gurushacha raja cha pita’ – his guru, king and father. And interestingly, we know that it was not actually Dashrath’s wish that Ram be sent off. In fact the very thought that Ram would go away was killing Dasharath but he was helpless.

Ram had to go not because Dasharath wanted it so but because of his promise to Kaikeyi. And for Ram, breaking the king’s promise was not an option. And so he said, ‘Na tena shaknomi pitu pratinyamimam na kartum sakalam yathavat’ – ‘It is not possible for me to do anything but execute the promise in every way.’ ‘Nasti shaktih piturvaakyam samatikramintu mama’ – ‘It is not within my powers to transgress the words of my father.’ But still this is just so unfair to Ram. Why do bad things happen to good people ? When life takes a difficult turn why me ?

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As age began to catch up with King Dashratha, he felt that the time had come to hand over the responsibility of the empire. For years he had devoted himself to the welfare of the people, but now he felt weary and was finding it difficult to carry on this heavy burden of duty. No one was better placed to succeed him than Ram. Ram had already demonstrated through his conduct as a prince that he was the most qualified candidate for this role in every respect.

In Ramayana Valmiki says “In archery there was no one who could match him. He is an expert in leading and commanding the troops. Whenever he goes into a battle he never returns without defeating the enemy. He is a great warrior in every way, in fact the greatest of them all. And though he is overwhelmingly mighty, he is never proud of his strength. On taxation and administration, he knows the right means of generating revenue for the state and the right way of expending the resources. On people skills, in demeanour and speech, he is always pleasant. He is ever grateful to those who have done a single good deed, but does not carry the grudge of even a hundred offenses. He is highly adept at attracting and retaining the right individuals and in controlling or removing those who create problems. He is most persuasive in debates and discussions, taking people along and not demanding subservience. With regards to what we call extra-curricular activities, he is an expert in the instruments used for entertainment and sport and is proficient in music too. Ram is always righteous, true to his words and free from envy. He possesses a sound character with forbearance, gentleness and a sense of gratitude. He has attained control over his senses.

In the first two sargas of the Ayodhyakand, Valmiki has described in fascinating detail why Rama was the right choice to succeed Dashratha. He talks about Rama’s physical presence, how he exuded power and grace at the same time. He also mentions very interesting behavioural traits. For instance Rama would go up to people and initiate a conversation and not rely on his stature and wait for them to come up to him. From his lengthy descriptions if we are to distil the essence of Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, it is this – everything he did was driven by prajapalan, or welfare of the people and well-being of all. For most people self-interest comes first, then interest of the near and dear ones and finally if at all the interest and well-being of the society. We usually worry about rules and the right thing to do only to the extent we are forced to do so. For priorities were inverted. His foremost commitment was to the people, his personal interest was simply absent from any of his decision making. He knew that society’s long-term interest could only be secured through Dharma i.e. righteousness and truth.

While it was perfectly clear that Rama was the perfect candidate, it was not up to him to simply appoint Rama and thrust his decision on everyone. Dasharatha had to consult all the stakeholders who were going to be affected by the decision. So he convened a meeting of a parishad or council of other Kings as well as citizen representatives of other janapadas. To the parishad he proposed Rama’s name and said “If you are in favour of my proposal, kindly give me your consent. If not please advise what other course of action I should take. Although I favour this proposal, please do consider if some other option would bring greater good. Deliberations by the unbiased result in a better outcome”. The members of the parishad were unbiased, without any conflict of interest.’

Interestingly, the King of Kekaya, Kaikeyi’s father and Bharata’s grandfather, and King Janak of Mithila, had not been invited. This gathering was not meant to merely rubber stamp a decision already taken, but to arrive at the right choice for succession. The parishad members had internal deliberations and then came back and announced their decision to Dasharatha. Indeed they wholeheartedly endorsed Rama’s name, but upon hearing their decision Dasharatha feigned ignorance and asked them why they were so keen to see Rama ascend the throne. Was he, Dasharatha, not doing a good enough job? Dasharatha wanted to be sure that they had arrived at this decision for the right reasons. The representatives said that the people of all lands wished to see Rama being crowned as Yuvraj. They gave many reasons for their decision, but it is telling what they said first – In this world, Rama is the very embodiment of Satya. This was the Rama the people had chosen.

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K. Clark

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