One of the students in the class asked, why did Kaikeyee ask Rama to be sent to Forest for 14 years.
Is there any significance associated with 14 years
By January 2015: Chapters 1 to 5
By May 2015: Chapters 6 to 10
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayanandaji (Head, Chinmaya Mission Worldwide) observed: “When I was teaching Vedanta course in Sandeepany Himalayas, Sidhabari, Pujya Gurudev asked me to teach Ramayana and it became a part of me in my life. After studying Ramayana, Vedanta became sweeter than before!
It is not just a story or history or poetry or epic only. It is much more than all these! Ramayana is a vast ocean…the first composer of this great epic is Lord Shiva. In Tulsi Ramayan the teacher and the student – both are Sri Tulsidasji himself, for he is addressing his own mind!”
The beauty of Ramayan is the beautiful description of the characters:
Bharata’s mind is like a bee who always hovers around the lotus flower of Sri Rama’s feet!
Lakshmana is like a pole in which the glory of Sri Rama always flutters!
Shatrughna is servant of the Bharata who is the servant of Sri Rama
Hanuman is glorious whose greatness sung by Sri Rama Himself
Sitaji is the mother of the universe and her beauty is in her unsullied love for Sri Rama.
Let our mind ever dwell in the beauty of Sri Rama and his teachings!
Rame chitta-laya sadaa bhavatu me – May my mind be ever absorbed in Sri Rama!!!!!
Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji explains the story of Ramayana in his own inimitable style:
The Ramayana started with a miracle. One day, the sage Valmiki was going to a river to take a bath, when he saw a pair of curlews (birds) sitting on the branch of a tree. A hunter shot one of the birds; it fluttered and fell down dead. The tragic sight inspired Valmiki to compose a poem. The gods were moved by this poem and requested Valmiki to write an epic poem ‑ thus came the Ramayana.
The poem was written by a man established in the ultimate Reality who was expressing through the work pure Advaita philosophy, the contents of the Upanisads. The glory of the poem is that ideal states of living are described ‑ the ideal brother, son, king, enemy, friend, and the ideal man living in society. But all of this is of secondary importance. The beauty of the epic poem is its pure divinity.
What’s the meaning of Rama?
Rama means “that which revels in everything” ‑ the pure light of Consciousness, the Atman, the Self. This spiritual essence in us can come out only as the son of Dasharatha, the one who has conquered all the ten Indriyas (sense organs) ‑ the five Gyana Indriyas (organs of perception) and five Karma Indriyas (organs of action).
This spiritual essence is born in each person and reborn only in Ayodhya, which in Sanskrit means “where there is no conflict:” In Ayodhya, which is ruled only by a self-controlled individual, anyone given to self-indulgence and sensual pleasures can have no peace and tranquillity. Dasharatha’s son Rama is born.
This Rama, the pure Self, cannot enter into active participation in life unless wedded to Sita, the mind. She is not born to King Janaka through natural causes; while ploughing the land. he finds Sita. Later this same Sita disappears back into Mother Earth. When Rama returns, wedded to Sita (mind), he finds he cannot live in Ayodhya. Once the mind has come, one starts expressing through it. One has to enter the forest of life, self-exiled, as it were.
Why Sita suffered?
So long as Sita looks up to Rama, lives in Rama, for Rama, by Rama, she never finds any difference between Ayodhya and a jungle. But how long can the mind remain constantly centered in the higher divine potential in us? It has to become extroverted. And this is just what happens the moment Sita looks away from Rama. She notices the golden deer. The finite, ephemeral, ever-changing objects start pulling her toward them. The mind demands them. Rama argues and all the scriptures argue that it is all Maya, it is not real; it is only a raakshasa (demon). Yet even Sita, Rama’s own consort, will not accept it, and she exiles Rama in search of the sense objects. Once desire-polluted, she falls.
When Rama goes, he winks at Lakshmana, and they both understand that the poor deluded girl is suffering. Sita is left in charge of Laksmana. Sita’s words leave much to be desired; even an ordinary woman would not employ such language. Valmiki is an honest poet. His goal is not merely to bring out the ideal character of a woman, but his is a spiritual ideal. He paints her in coal tar.
The beautiful image of Sita is deliberately tarnished by the poet. Why? When the ideal woman Sita utters such malignant words, Laksmana is shocked into silence. He goes away, drawing a line of demarcation around the hut, urging her not to go beyond it. For the ordinary individual, once desire enters the bosom, he or she cannot constantly live in tapas. But he can at least draw a line ‑ thus far, no further. But once tapas has been given up, such lines are of no use.
Sita crosses over the line, and once the line is crossed, permissiveness sets in, and Dashamukha (the ten-headed one, Ravana) ensnares Sita.
Who is Lakshmana?
Laksmana represents tapas (austerity). He has no reason to go to the jungle, but he leaves of his own accord, and lives in perfect brahmacharya (self-control), even without sleep. It is perfect tapas. But then, one cannot live in tapas. The delusion of the outer world will force him to give it up. The moment Sita hears the sound of Rama’s voice she forgets Rama’s glory and might and becomes anxious about his safety. She even urges Laksmana to go to her husband’s aid. And when Laksmana assures her that the great Rama will never come to any harm, for there is none to match him in skill and valor, Sita severely rebuffs him.
Ravana & Lanka
The five Gyana indriyas and the five karma indriyas constitute Dashamukha. A totally extroverted man lives in flesh, for the flesh, and by the flesh — it is the rule of the flesh. Such a man is a sensualist and a total extrovert. Materially he can become great as did Ravana, who rules over the prosperous land, Lanka. Compared to this land, Ayodhya is underdeveloped and village-like, with bullock carts plying the roads; while in Lanka, the country boasts of pushpaka vimana ‑ airplanes. In Lanka, nobody works; everybody is supported by the government. And people from all over the world come to pay homage to Ravana, who is supremely powerful.
In the epic, Sita is abducted and taken away. But look at the beauty of it. Valmiki decides that she should no more be a citizen of Ayodhya. She may be the consort of Rama, yet she is no longer the citizen of this cultural land. She will be given a place in Lanka, another island. It is no doubt very near, but altogether another island. Even there she is exiled. To gain back Ayodhya what should she do? Sita realizes she has fallen down, and to prevent a further fall, she firmly says “no” to Ravana and remains in the garden under an asoka tree (soka means “sorrow”; a‑soka means “no‑sorrow”). She has sorrow but does not recognize it. This is the “Asoka state”. Under the tree of non-recognition of sorrows, when she wants to remain steadfast in character, Sita will doubtless be tempted. But in that asoka attitude she should remain steadfast, constantly remembering Rama.
Sita constantly and vigorously thinks of Rama and Rama responds. The more intense Sita’s cry, the more frenzied becomes Rama’s search for her. He weeps like an ordinary mortal, not because he is attached to her, but because of his longing to help a devotee.
The spiritual essence in man can kill and destroy Ravana, the ten-headed monstrosity of extrovertedness. It can do it with the army of monkeys. The monkeys in the epic refer to the two thought qualities in the mind ‑ instability and restlessness. A monkey cannot remain on one branch; it jumps from one branch to another and from tree to tree. If it gets tired and sits on a tree, it will still be restless and scratch all over. It cannot keep quiet. So, too, are thoughts. They can never remain quiet, but keep jumping from topic to topic.
The army of thoughts is to be controlled. But at this moment, Vali (lust) controls them. This lust has to be destroyed. How? It can only be done from behind, not from the front. It is like a person wanting to curb his desire for alcohol. He cannot do it by sitting in front of the bottle, for the moment he does this, not only is half his strength gone, but the pull of the bottle is three times as strong. So, if ever lust is to be conquered, it has to be shot from behind. Vali had such great power that any time an enemy approached him, half the enemy’s strength would drain away and Vali himself would become three times stronger. Rama has to kill him from behind.
Having destroyed Vali, to whom could Rama then give the kingship of the monkey clan (thoughts)? Who better than Sugriva? Griva means “reins”; Suqriva means “well-reined”, or “well-controlled.” When thoughts are under one’s control, the army is then available to cross the frontiers to Lanka and kill the ten-headed monster and bring back Sita.
When Rama regains Sita, after having destroyed extrovertedness, the mind that is no longer extrovert is no mind at all. It (Sita) disappears. Yet without Sita, Rama cannot bring about Ramarajya (the rule of Rama). He cannot rule without a wife. Therefore Sage Kapila comes and offers him a mithya (illusory) Sita or Maya Sita. And with Maya Sita, Rama returns to rule Ayodhya with a tranquil and poised mind, having regained his spiritual status.
Though he returns with a mind, it is not really there. It is like the sky, which allows everything to remain in space, without space getting contaminated. So too, Rama, the man of perfection, allows the mind to remain in him, but is not affected by it.
Welcome to Ramayana characters. We will use this media to communicate among all CMLA Balavihar teachers currently teaching this subject. Ramayana Characters is usually taught in the CMLA Balavihar’s 5th grade classes. The teachers are welcome to exchange ideas to improve our overall experience as teachers. Hope you enjoy communicating with the group. If you have any questions, face any challenges, or have great ideas to share with the other teachers, this is the right place.