Episode 62 – Sage Vishwaamithra takes Rama & Lakshmana to “Kaamaashramam”

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In the last couple of episodes we were witnessing that Sage Vishwaamithra is taking the two children Rama and Lakshmana along with him and during their way, they halt for a night at a place along the banks of the river Sarayu, where the famous sloka of “Kaushalyaa Suprajaa Raama..” was born. We also saw the in-depth meaning of this important sloka in due course of our discussion. Now moving forward, in today’s episode we are going to see that Sage Vishwaamithra takes the two children to his ashram located at a place called “Siddhaashramam”. This place can be worshipped today also. This “Siddhaashramam” in the modern day can be traced to the city of “Buxar” in the north Indian state of Bihar. How did the three reach Siddhaashramam? Which were the places that they passed through? We shall commence our discussion with the following slokas:

“Thou prayaanthou mahaaveeryou divyaanthri pathathaam nadhim!

Dadrushaade tathastathra saravyaa sangame shubhe!!

Tathra aashrama padam punyam rishinaam bhaavithaathmanaam!

Bahu varsha sahasraani Tapyathaam paramam tapaha!!

Tham drishtvaa paramafpreethou raaghavo punyamaashramam!”

The above slokas signify that Sage Vishwaamithra is taking along Rama and Lakshmana along the river Sarayu, and at one place there is a huge sound of fast-flowing water. Rama asks Sage Vishwaamithra as to why is there such a huge sound? Sage Vishwaamithra replies to the child that there is the point nearby wherein the River Sarayu joins the River Ganges (Dadrushaade tathastathra saravyaa sangame shubhe”). Here, “Sangamam” means “to join”. Thus, they are now at the meeting point of the two rivers Sarayu and the Ganges. They walk on further and reach the next point called “Punyaashramam”. This “Punyaashramam” is also known as “Kaamaashramam”, which was once the dwelling place of the famous “Anga Deva” or “Manmathan” (The most handsome man according to the Hindu Mythology). There is a small story behind this place and Sage Vishwaamtithra narrates it to the children. Let us also see the story in brief:

Once upon a time at this particular place, Lord Shiva was doing a deep penance. At that time, unknowingly, this Manmathan tried to induce a desire into the mind of Lord Shiva towards his wife Paarvathi Devi. Hence he tried to seduce Lord Shiva with the help of his arrow made of sweet smelling flowers and ended up disturbing Lord Shiva’s penance. Upon opening his eyes, Lord Shiva was extremely angry on Manmathan for disturbing his penance and thus he opened his “Third Eye” on his forehead and burnt Manmathan to death on the spot! Hence this is the place where the “Kaama Dahanam” (Destruction of desires) took place. Sage Vishwaamithra narrates this story to the children Rama and Lakshmana and shows them the place.

“Nyavatatsa sukham tathra kaamaashrama pathe tathaa!

Tathra vaabihiraaneethaa munibhir suvruthaissaha!!”

Sage Vishwaamithra continues his conversation with the two children and says, “Oh Rama! Since Lord Shiva himself has sat in this place in deep ‘Tapas’, this is a very holy and an auspicious place! This is the reason why there are numerous great saints and maharishis living around this spot. I want you to bow down to all of the maharishis and seek their blessings!” Immediately the two children bow down in all the directions shown by Sage Vishwaamithra and seek the blessings of all the saints who live there. Rama says, “Oh great Maharishis! I bow down to all of you and seek your blessings for all the events that are going to unfold from now on!”

After this episode at the “Kaamaashramam”, the three of them continue to walk through. Where did they go next? What did Rama do there? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 61 – “Kaushalyaa Suprajaa Raama…”

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In the previous episode, we started to discuss the in-depth meaning of a very famous sloka that might be known to most of us! In the course of yesterday’s discussion we also saw the importance that the Shaastras and Vedas give for our parents – especially our mother! We also saw what does Valmiki Maharishi has to say on the importance of a mother in this world! There are a few other things that need to be discussed as part of our Indian Dharma, with respect to this particular and important sloka. For our easier understanding, let’s look at the sloka again:

“Kaushalyaa suprajaa raama poorvaa sandhyaa pravarthathe!

Utthishta narasaardhoola karthavyam deivamaanhikam!!”

As we move on from the phrase of “Kaushalyaa suprajaa raama”, the next phrase signifies a very important “Dharma” that all of us should meticulously follow: “Poorvaa Sandhyaa Pravarthathe” – It means that we should not be on the bed after sunrise! This clearly establishes and re-establishes the idea that we should wake up at the “Brahma-Muhurtham” time – Between 4 AM and 6 AM. Of course we have discussed this at length in one of our previous episodes, however, there is one more important point to be stressed here, with respect to this “Dharma”. Scientifically in the modern day, we say that the rays of the early morning Sun is extremely good for our health and is a direct source of Vitamin D. Thus, this is a very good time to do our regular spiritual practices, facing the Sun. Here we can interestingly note how our ancient Maharishis have linked spirituality and science! Of course, they’ve not used the “Scientific” terminologies that we use today, but the procedures laid down by them in simple language, signifies lot of hidden scientific meaning. It is highly unfortunate in the modern day world that many of us fail to realize all this and we get carried away by the bad aspects of the “Western culture”. (Again, I’m not saying here that the entire western culture is bad. All I’m saying is that, we conveniently choose what to follow and what not to follow from the western society, and unfortunately, most of whatever we choose to follow as per our convenience are bad and detrimental to our physical and mental health!) Hence, it is important for us to realize that we need to make sure that we start following all these small “Dharmas” for the betterment of our lives!

Now let’s move on to the next line: The phrase “Karthavyam deivamaanhikam” means that we should never compromise on our daily and regular spiritual practices, come what may! If we look at this context in the Valmiki Ramayana, why is Sage Vishwaamithra reminding Rama, who in itself is an incarnation of Bhagawan? We might all wonder as to why Bhagawan Himself should perform the “Nithya Anushtaanam” (Daily spiritual practices)? What is Bhagawan going to gain from all this? The answer is very simple: Only if Bhagawan performs the “Nitha Anushtaanam” properly, people like us would follow that as an example. Else, we always wait for a reason – We would immediately start arguing “Oh! Bhagawan himself hasn’t performed anything, and hence why should we perform?” Thus, in a nutshell, Bhagawan performs the regular spiritual practices, to set an example to the world that all these need to be performed by all of us regularly without fail!

Thus, as a summary, Sage Vishwaamithra is waking up the children Rama and Lakshmana early in the morning and reminds them of performing the daily routine spiritual practices! It would be very interesting for us to note here that this same sloka is nowadays recited as the first sloka in the “Venkateswara Suprabhaatham” (Lord Venkateshwara is the presiding deity of the very important “Divya-Desam” called “Tirupathi”, situated in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh). To be upfront, this sloka “Kaushalya Supraja Rama…” is in the Valmiki Ramayana and is sung in the praise of Lord Rama. Whereas, all the slokas, suprabhaathams, mangalams, etc. for Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupathi were composed by “Kaanchi Prathibhaathibhayankaram Annaaswaami”. However, interestingly we can see that this particular sloka is nowadays known as the first sloka of the “Venkatsha Suprabhaatham”, however, it is to be noted that this sloka is actually present in the “Baala Kaanda” of Valmiki Ramayana and was later incorporated into the “Suprabhaatham” of Lord Venkateshwara. (Of course, one has to remember that Lord Rama is afterall an incarnation of Lord Venkateshwara!)

So much for this one particular sloka! Now let’s move on further with the Valmiki Ramayana. What happened next? What are the next series of events that unfolded after this? Let’s wait to find out till the next episode!

 

 

Episode 60 – Vidyaa-Pradhaanam – Significance of a mother!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed a very important aspect of our Indian Dharma – Chanting of a “Manthra”. We witnessed in the course of yesterday’s discussion that, any “Manthra” should be chanted as per the procedure designed by our great maharishis and only then it would bear the fruits. Moreover, the “Manthra” should be obtained through a proper channel – From a highly realized Spiritual Master. Today, let’s move on with the next event of the Ramayana story.

Till now we’ve seen that Sage Vishwaamithra sets out with the two children Rama and Lakshmana and they walk all along the southern bank of the river Sarayu. It is quite a long and a tiring journey for all three of them. Sage Vishwaamithra, given his stature of a “Brahmarishi”,obviously has the ability and the knowledge to talk about high-level Vedantas, but will these two children understand all that? They are just 12 years old! Hence, all along the way, Sage Vishwaamithra narrates numerous interesting stories to these children. Valmiki Maharishi explains each of the stories in the subsequent “Sargas” (Chapters). We shall see a few of them here too, one by one. As part of these stories, Sage Vishwaamithra also narrates his own story – How was he born, what did he do till date, etc. He also narrates the historical significance of each place through which they walk, significance of various rivers that they cross, etc. There are extensive discussions about the rivers of Ganges, Shrona, Ghantaki, Sarayu, etc. in the Valmiki Ramayana and are very interesting. In the due course, he also gives a beautiful narrative of how did the river Ganges originate in this earth and what is the story behind it, the significance of Lord Shiva and Paarvathi Devi and birth of Subramanya (Lord Muruga). Thus, Sage Vishwaamithra narrates each of these stories to these two kids as they walk along to finally reach Mithilapuri.

Now the three of them reach a place called “Kaamaashramam”. By the time they reach this place, it was late evening and they halted here for the night. They spend the night here and it is now 4 AM in the morning. Sage Vishwaamithra wakes up first and he sees these two beautiful children in their sleep. He admires their beauty and forgets himself with tears in his eyes, and in the course of time, he tries to wake up Rama and Lakshmana. Valmiki Maharishi beautifully portrays this in the following sloka:

“Kaushalyaa suprajaa raama poorvaa sandhyaa pravarthathe!

Utthishta narasaardhoola karthavyam deivamaanhikam!!”

As I mentioned before, it is 4 AM now and Sage Vishwaamithra starts to wake up Rama and Lakshmana during the “Brahma-Muhurtham”. The moment he looks at the beautiful face of Rama, he immediately thinks of Kaushalya – How fortunate is she to enjoy the status of a mother to this noble child!! When he says “Kaushalya suprajaa raama”, it means that Kaushalya Devi is perhaps the luckiest woman in the world to be a mother of this child! What kind of an austerity did she practise, so as to be blessed with such a son?

Here is an important message for all of us – The significance of a mother: It is interesting to see how much of significance is placed in our Shaastraas for a mother. Even in today’s world if a boy or a girl is extraordinarily successful in this world, we immediately praise their mother for her contribution to their success. Not many praise the father of the boy or the girl! Sometimes it might make us feel that there is no contribution from the father’s side for the success of the boy or girl. But there is a reason behind this. The mother is the one who has undergone the pain of bearing the child within her for 10 months, which nothing in this world can be equal to! We need to understand that! Sometimes in the modern day, we come across many instances wherein some people disregard and disrespect their aged parents, torture them, chase them out of the home, put them in some old-age homes, etc. It is really painful to see such situations happening in this modern day. All of us have to remember one thing – As a son or a daughter, it is our bound duty to take care and protect our parents during their old age. This is a very important Dharma that is given to us by Bhagawan. In this context too, why is it that Sage Vishwaamithra praises Kaushalya Devi? It is because of the significance that she is the person who has undergone that pain in giving birth to Rama. Through this, we can see the amount of significance that our Shaastras place for a mother and we should understand this. Only if we understand this, we would be able to practise this Dharma in our day-to-day life.

Now, coming back to the context of Sage Vishwaamithra, Rama and Lakshmana, we are currently witnessing that Sage Vishwaamithra is trying to wake up the two children. This is a very important sloka that we are discussing currently and hence we are taking lot of time to understand this phrase by phrase. Sage Vishwaamithra continues.. “Poorvaa sandhyaa pravarthathe..”, which means that “It is the auspicious time of the early morning”. He further says, “Utthista” (Please get up!), “Narashaardhoola” (The boy who is like a tiger amongst all human beings in this world) “Karthavyam Deivamaanhikam” (The regular morning duties and spiritual practices need to be done). In a nutshell, Sage Vishwaamithra says, “Oh Rama, the beautiful son of Kaushalya Devi! It is morning 4 AM, and the daily spiritual practices need to be performed! Hence, wake up from your sleep!”

There are many more important discussions behind this one sloka itself. What are they? Let’s continue this trail of discussions in the next episode!

Episode 59 – Significance of a “Manthra”

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In the previous episode, we witnessed that Sage Vishwaamithra was finally able to take king Dasharata’s two sons – Rama and Lakshmana along with him to his ashram and all the three of them started to walk along the southern banks of the river Sarayu. We also saw that while they were progressing in their way forward, Sage Vishwaamithra thinks within himself that these two children should have the strength and the will power to handle the tough situations that are going to unfold later during this journey. Hence he teaches the two great manthras “Bala” and “Athi Bala” to Rama and Lakshmana. In due course, Sage Vishwaamithra himself explains the significance of these two manthras. Let’s recollect the sloka for our easy understanding, and move forward from there.

“Balaam athibalaamschaiva patakastaatha raaghava!

Na soubhaagye na daakshinye na gnyaane buddhi nischaye!!”

Here, Sage Vishwaamithra says to Rama, “Oh Raaghava (Rama)! If you learn these two manthras, you’ll never face a decline in your health, your knowledge and your intellect would be constantly in the active mode every minute!”

In the modern day, may a time we too go in search of “Manthras”. We approach numerous ways in obtaining them and we try to use them for our personal gains. There is a general opinion prevailing amongst many of us that if we chant a “Manthra” for ‘n’ number of times a day, whatever we wish for in this world would come true! My opinion is that, all these kind of narratives are false! Some people publish a few slokas and some “Yanthras” (Divine Symbols) in a weekly or a monthly magazine and propagate to their viewers and readers that “If you keep this ‘yanthra’ in your house, you’ll have uninterrupted flow of money!” Trust me… Nothing like that would ever happen! We should note here that things are not so easy as we think and our ancient “Maharishis” were not fools! Why am I saying this with such an authority is that, we never even know who published the article with that sloka, we never have the proof that if something really has happened like that before and we also do not know where and how was that “yanthra” made. Just for the sake of getting more money, name and fame, if we keep all these divine symbols at home – This is what I call “Superstition”! In the Vedas and the Shaastraas there is absolutely no room for superstitions. We should understand this point very clearly! I shall justify it in the following description.

All of us are in the wrong notion that those people who learn the Vedas and the Shaastraas are in a “superstitious world”! It is not the case. Also, sadly many of us are nowadays under an impression that only those people who go to a proper university and graduate in engineering, management, etc. are brilliant and those who opt for the Vedas and Upanishads as their line of education are dull people – This is a very wrong attitude! If we look into the arguments and the discussions the Vedas and the Upanishads put forth on the table, we cannot even stand there to counter-argue continuously for five minutes! The Vedas speak extensively about the modern day subjects of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Astro-Sciences, Botany, Zoology and even Management. There is also a consensus emerging amongst many modern day scholars that the “Bhagavat Gita” can probably be the richest source of the modern-day Management concepts. Hence, we should learn to appreciate our Vedas and Shaastraas and try to spend some time to learn it.

Moreover, people who are skilled in our Vedas and Shaastraas tend to talk very precisely and “directly to the point” and they do not bluff around. For instance, if a topic has to be spoken within 10 minutes, many of us tend to speak for more than 10 minutes and never come to the point of the discussion. Whereas, those who are scholars of the Vedas and Upanishads would easily be able to make their point authoritatively and also within the stipulated time frame! This is because they do not have any confusion in their minds while talking. They are very clear in their approach, concepts, related slokas and their meanings to substantiate their arguments! This is the significance of our great Vedic scholars and we should learn to appreciate their brilliance!

Now, having discussed all the above things, you might ask me whether it is advisable to chant any “Manthra” or not. My answer to the question is, “Yes! We should chant ‘Manthras’!” However, the austerities that are required to be practiced while chanting the “Manthras” are extremely important. If we chant the “Manthras” as per the instructions of our great “Maharishis” I’m sure that they would have a positive effect in our lives. Moreover, we should follow the correct procedure to obtain the “Manthra”. We should approach the right “Sadguru” (The Spiritual Master), learn it from him/her in the proper way and then follow it meticulously with all our concentration, austerities and determination. It is a kind of a spiritual practice. If we adopt this proper procedure, I’m sure that we would reap the benefits of chanting the “Manthra”. As we move forward and when the context comes, I shall elucidate in detail, the benefits of chanting a “Manthra”.

Hence, coming back to the context again, Sage Vishwaamithra teaches the children Rama and Lakshmana the two important Manthras. Where did the three of them go? What happened next? Let us wait to find out till the next episode!

Episode 58 – Rama & Lakshmana commence their journey with Sage Vishwaamithra!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed that Sage Vasishtaachaarya intervenes during the unfortunate happenings in king Dasharata’s courtroom and instructs Dasharata to send his son Rama along with Sage Vishwaamithra. In the due course we also saw the exhibition of ardent “Guru-Bhakthi” of king Dasharata wherein, the moment Sage Vasishtaachaarya asked him to send Rama, he never spoke even a word against it and immediately obeyed the words of his “Guru” (The master). At the end of yesterday’s episode we also saw that king Dasharata also sent Lakshmana along with Rama and Sage Vishwaamithra. In today’s episode let’s take this forward and witness what happened next!

Rama and Lakshmana are getting ready to commence their “Yaatra” (Journey) with Sage Vishwaamithra and king Dasharata meets both of them before they leave. He hugs his dearest son Rama with him and says, “Oh my dearest Rama.. I’ve never been separated from you for the past twelve years but today I’m in a state of separation from you! But it is for a good cause and I’m happy for it! My only instruction to you at this point is that, obey each and every word of Sage Vishwaamithra and act as per his instructions!” Rama was very happy to hear it from his father and vowed to him that he would follow his words. Here too, we can find the exhibition of “Pithru-Bhakthi” (Devotion of the son to his father) by Bhagawan himself! We shall see many more instances as the story progresses further.

Thus the three of them commence their journey from the city of Ayodhya. Where are they going? Valmiki Maharishi beautifully describes in the following sloka.

“Adhyardha yojanam gadhwaa saravyaa dakshine tate!”

Here, Valmiki Maharishi describes that the three of them walk for one and a half (Ardhyardha) “Yojanas” (“Yojana” is a mythological measure of distance. There are numerous explanations given to this measure in modern day measurements, however, grossly we can assume that 1 “Yojana” is approximately equal to 13.2 kilometers or around 8.2 miles). Thus we can see here that Sage Vishwaamithra along with Rama and Lakshmana are walking along the southern bank of River Sarayu for a distance of around 19-20 kilometers.

Valmiki Maharishi continues to explain:

“Manthra graamam gruhaanathvam balaam athibalaam tathaa!

Nasshramo najjvalo vaadhena roopasya viparyayaha!!

Na cha suktham pramartham vaa darshayanthi nairruthaaha!

Na vaakvoovoo chadursho veerye prithivyaamaschi kaschana!!

Balaam athibalaamschaiva patakastaatha raaghava!

Na soubhaagye na daakshinye na gnyaane buddhi nischaye!!”

Thus Sage Vishwaamithra takes along the two children Rama and Lakshmana with him and he realizes that these children have to walk long distances, fight demons, etc. Hence, he decides to teach them two important “Manthras”“Balaa” and “Athibalaa”. Sage Vishwaamithra teaches the children these two important manthras that had directly come from Lord Brahma (The Universal Creator) and explains to the children that they would never get tired (“Na soubhaagye”), they would never feel fatigued mentally (“Na Daakshinye”, “Na Gnyaane”) and their brain would be active every time (“Buddhi Nischaye”). Thus, Sage Vishwaamithra says that upon chanting these two manthras “Bala” and “Athibala” there would be no problems with regards to both physical and mental fatigue!

“Na utthare prathivarthavye samaa lokhe thavaadhana!”

Sage Vishwaamithra further adds that after learning these two manthras, your grasping powers, your ability to answer critical questions, acting smart, etc. would increase manifold. Also, he adds that all along the treacherous path that they are going to take, the two children would never feel hungry, never feel sleepy and they would be active continuously for all the twenty-four hours of the day! Thus Sage Vishwaamithra teaches the two children these two very important “Manthras”.

At times, in the modern day, we also go in search of some “Manthras”. What is the significance of a “Manthra”? How should be practise it in our day-to-day life? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 57 – Sage Vasishtaachaarya intervenes – King Dasharata’s “Guru-Bhakthi”!!

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In the previous episode we witnessed the next important incident in king Dasharata’s courtroom after he refused to send his son Rama along with Sage Vishwaamithra to his ashram. Upon hearing king Dasharata’s negative reply, Sage Vishwaamithra feels insulted and let down by the king and gets up from his chair, fumes in anger and starts to leave the courtroom! This reaction from Sage Vishwaamithra leaves everyone in the courtroom stunned – Including King Dasharata himself! He is perplexed and sinks to a helpless state! In today’s episode we shall witness what happened next!

At the moment when Sage Vishwaamithra starts to leave the courtroom, Sage Vasishtaacharya who is the “Kula-Guru” of the entire Ikshvaaku Dynasty, intervenes and sends an eye-signal to king Dasharata. So far, Sage Vasishtaachaarya was supervising what was going on in the courtroom and at the crucial point when he sees that Sage Vishwaamithra starts to leave the courtroom in great fury, he sees danger and sends the signal to king Dasharata. Sage Vasishtaachaarya conveys to king Dasharata that “Oh Dasharata! You are committing a blunder here! You’ve promised to offer whatever Sage Vishwaamithra had asked for and now you are not keeping up the promise that you have made!”

“Na raama gamane raajan samsayam gandhumarhasi!

Teshaam nighrahane sapthaha svayamcha kuchithaathmanaha!!”

Sage Vasishtaachaarya continues in his advice to king Dasharata.. “Oh Dasharata! You not keeping up your promise to a Brahma Rishi accumulates to your sins in life. I’m not even talking about that as of now. But there is a more significant meaning as to why Sage Vishwaamithra is calling Rama with him! You’re failing to realize it!” He continues to say,

“Tava puthra hithaarthaaya tvaamupedhya abheeyaachathe!

Krithasvastvayanam maathra pithraa dasharathena cha!!”

Sage Vasishtaachaarya continues to say, “Oh Dasharata! Please realize that Sage Vishwaamithra is doing this for the good of your son (Tava puthra hithaarthaaya)! You are succumbing to your ‘Puthra-Vaatsalya’ without seeing the long-term benefit of your son’s life!”

The moment king Dasharata hears these words from Sage Vasishtaachaarya, he looks in surprise and makes up his mind by mustering up some courage. He thinks to himself “If Sage Vasishtaachaarya himself is advising me to send Rama along, then there should be some greater meaning to it and I should not refuse beyond this point!”

“Purothasaa vasishtena mangalairabhi mantritham!

Sa puthran vibhaagraaya raajaa dasharastathaa!!”

King Dasharata thus thinks for a moment and immediately changes his stance. Here we can see the great extent of the “Guru-Bhakthi” that king Dasharata exhibits. Upon changing his mind he immediately offers his son Rama to Sage Vishwaamithra. Here, Valmiki Maharishi has beautifully brought out the “Guru-Bhakthi” and “Pithru-Bhakthi” in just one line!

“Dadau kuchitha puthraaya supreethena antharaathmanaa!!”

The above line starts with the word “Dadau” – It means, “To give”. Normally in Sanskrit, we use this word “Dadau” only if we give a non-living object. To make it much clearer, I shall explain in simple English terms. For instance, if we send our child to someone’s house, what do we say? We say, “I’ve sent my son to his/her house.” Whereas if we offer a vegetable to someone, we do not say that “I’ve sent a vegetable to him/her.” Isn’t it? We normally say “I’ve offered or given a vegetable to him/her.” Hence we can see here that the verb of “Give” is used differently for living beings and non-living beings. Here in this context, Valmiki Maharishi uses the word “Dadau”, which is normally the form of the verb used to indicate non-living objects. Why does he do that? There is an inner significance to this usage: It is that, Rama was such an obedient son to king Dasharata and he was ready to do whatever his father wanted him to! This shows the significance of “Pithru-Bhakthi”. We should also recollect at this point that the very purpose of Lord Rama’s incarnation was to set an example to the world that a son should be obedient to his father in whatever situation it may be!

Thus, from the above explanation we see that King Dasharata is convinced with the intervention of Sage Vasishtaachaarya and decides to send his son Rama along with Sage Vishwaamithra to fight the “Raakshasaas”. But to Sage Vishwaamithra’s surprise, King Dasharata also called his another son Lakshmana and asked him to accompany Rama. Now the two children get ready to start their journey with Sage Vishwaamithra.

What happens next? Where did Sage Vishwaamithra take Rama and Lakshmana? Let us wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 56 – Sage Vishwaamithra fumes in anger and walks out!

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Till the last few episodes we had seen that king Dasharata was giving his reply to Sage Vishwaamithra. He gives a list of reasons and at the end asserts that he is not going to send his son Rama along with Sage Vishwaamithra to his ashram. To recall the list of the reasons in a nutshell, king Dasharata says that his son Rama is less than sixteen years of age, which is the eligibility age for a prince to go for war. Secondly he says that Rama is a small child with his eyes like a beautiful lotus flower. Also, he stresses on the fact that Rama is “his son”. We’ve seen the detailed explanation of this too! Thus at last king Dasharata concludes that because of all the above-mentioned reasons he is not willing to send his son Rama anywhere! How did Sage Vishwamithra react to king Dasharata’s answer? What happened next? Let’s witness today!

Upon hearing king Dasharata’s answer, Sage Vishwaamithra is shocked and fumes with anger! He just gets up from his seat and starts walking away, but not before giving a mouthful banter to king Dasharata. What did he say? Let’s look at the sloka:

“Thatchruthva vadanam tasya snehapariyaa kulaaksharam!

Samanyuhu kausiko vaakyam prathyuvaacha maheepathim!!”

Here, “Samanyuhu” means, “Fuming with anger”. The above sloka says that upon hearing king Dasharata’s reply, Sage Vishwaamithra’s facial expression changes. He becomes terribly angry and utters the following:

“Ikshvaakunaam kule jaathaha saakshaad dharma ivaaparaha!

Dhyuthimaan suvrathasshreemaan na dharmam haathumarhasi!!”

Now, Sage Vishwaamithra starts to talk – “Oh Dasharata! You proclaim proudly that you are part of the great Ikshvaaku Dynasty, but I never expected that you would talk like this to a Brahma-Rishi! Every king in this dynasty of yours have never failed to keep up their word or a promise, but today you have failed to keep up your word!” (Here, the readers need to be reminded that, king Dasharata, in the beginning had promised Sage Vishwaamithra that he would offer him anything according to his needs!)

“Raaghavaanaam ayukthoyam kulasaasya viparyayaha!

Nithyaa prathignyaha kaakutsa skukheebhava sabhaangavaha!!”

Sage Vishwaamithra continues in extreme anger, “Oh Dasharata! Today you have committed the biggest blunder in the entire ‘Raghu-Kula’ (Another name for the Ikshvaaku Dynasty)! You’ve made a ‘false-promise’ (“Nithyaa Prathignyaha”), being from the great dynasty of “Kakutsa”. May you live ‘happily’ (“Sukheebhava”) with your wives and children (“Sabhaangavaha”)!

The above sentence has a pun on the word “happily” and has two meanings! For instance, we can say to someone “May you live happily forever with your family!” in the normal happy tone. Or, we can also say “May you live ‘HAPPILY’ forever with your family!” I hope you can understand the difference between the tones! 🙂 The second tone is that which is not in a happy sense – It is fuming in anger! Here, Sage Vishwaamithra also is in a state of fury. When he says “Sukheebhava sabhaangavaha” to king Dasharata, it is not that he is giving his “Aashirvaad” (Blessings). Rather he says to king Dasharata, “I’ll ensure that you and your family will not get any more happiness in the future hereafter!”

After the above words, Sage Vishwaamithra quickly gets up from his chair and starts walking away from the courtroom! King Dasharata is stunned and he is in an utter state of shock and disbelief! He couldn’t believe himself that he has in a way “insulted” a great Sage like Vishwaamithra! What happened next? Did someone in his courtroom come to king Dasharata’s rescue? Was he able to manage convincing Sage Vishwaamithra again and reduce his fury? Let’s witness the proceedings in the next episode!

Episode 55 – King Dasharata’s reply – The importance of maintaining our “individuality”!

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In the previous episode, we discussed a very important message from the episode of the “Dasharata-Vishwaamithra Samvaadham”. In that we saw the importance of having a sound sleep and not being awake during the wee hours of the night unnecessarily. In due course, we also saw the significance of the “Brahma-Muhurtham” timing from 4 AM till 6 AM, wherein our minds are fresh after a sound sleep and this is the best time to learn/study whatever we want to!

Today let us extend this discussion a bit further, before we go into the next part of the story. This is another very important message to all of us, specially for my Indian readers: We, as inhabitants of this great country called “Bhaarata-Desha” or India, should always remember that wherever we go in the world and wherever we live in this world (Maybe the US, Europe, Australia, Singapore, Dubai, etc.) each one of us should ensure that we maintain our own individuality – By the word “individuality”, I mean that we should make sure that we follow our traditional, cultural and spiritual practices, in whichever part of the world we might be in! This is an extremely important aspect of our “Indian Dharma” and we should also in this way, ensure that we do not get carried away completely by the “Western Influence”. Of course I’m not saying that the culture in the west is bad – In fact, there are a lot of good aspects that we can learn from the west, for instance, cleanliness, time punctuality, perfection in whatever action we do, etc. We should of course imbibe these excellent qualities from them. However, we should be able to draw the thin line within ourselves to not cross the limits beyond this. In a way, we should be able to strike a fine balance between imbibing the good qualities from the western world and also in maintaining and following the richness of our Indian culture and tradition!

In fact, to go deeper into this subject, we need to ponder over this important question as to what do we lack in our Indian cultural values? We have almost everything in it! Most importantly, we have the “intelligence” that is unparalleled in this world! I’ve spoken about this in the previous episode too! It is for this “intelligence” and “brilliance” that we Indians naturally possess , the western world respects us, and we should be aware of it! To go even one step further, people from the west have started following our culture and traditions more than what we do today – They practise yoga, they learn our style of dance, (Bharatanatyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, etc.), they’ve started to show great interest in our traditional musical styles of Carnatic and Hindustani, and the list goes on!! From my experience of living in Paris for the past three years or so, I’ve discovered over time as a professional classical musician that the people here enjoy our classical music more than any other form of music in the world! Hence, the lesson to be learnt from all these discussions is that, at any point of time, even though we might not physically live in India, we should ensure that we do not compromise our rich values and traditions.

Of course, this interest to explore and follow our values and traditions should be cultivated within us individually. Some people may get offended with whatever I say. Some people might not feel it very interesting and relevant to the modern day world. But, let us remember the fact that the very purpose of me writing this entire blog series is to remind ourselves about the rich Indian Dharma, which I can openly challenge, is unparalleled in this entire world! Hence, it is up to us to inculcate these important values within us.

One last point before we move on with the story, we should never compromise to wear our traditional dressDhoti with respect to the gentlemen and Sarees with respect to the ladies. Also, we should never compromise to wear our religious symbols (Vibhuti, Kunkumam, Maangalyam, etc.) Of course, some of you might put forth a point that wearing these things in a few countries might be dangerous and would spark unnecessary controversies. I do agree! However, I would insist at this point that if we are living in such places, we could make it a point that at least when we are at home, we can wear all these things. Moreover, especially in the western countries, I’ve never seen any such restrictions. Nobody really questions if we apply the “Vibhuti” or the “Thiruman” in our forehead and go to our workplace. If this is the case, what prevents us from applying these things? Why should we compromise what we are? Why should we change ourselves completely to the western style? Let us spare a thought for these questions today! Let us try to slowly inculcate all these into our daily routine and trust me, our lives would definitely undergo a huge happy transformation! I shall keep discussing more about these points as we progress further into the story!

Alright! Now let’s move on with the next part of the Ramayana. What happened after king Dasharata’s firm negative reply to Sage Vishwaamithra? How did Sage Vishwaamithra react to it? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 54 –King Dasharata’s reply – The important “Dharma” of “Early to bed & Early to rise”!!

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In the last couple of episodes we’ve been seeing the reply given by king Dasharata to Sage Vishwaamithra. Upon the request of Sage Vishwaamithra to send Rama along with him to the forest, king Dasharata is not interested in fulfilling his request and gives the negative reply. He says that his son Rama has not even attained the eligibility age to fight a war – And that too with the “Raakshasaas” who are also referred to as “Rajaneecharaas”. I had explained the meaning of the phrase “Rajaneecharaas” in the previous episode. In a nutshell, it means that the demons are active more fiercely destructive during the nighttime! Hence with all these reasons king Dasharata decides against sending Rama with Sage Vishwaamithra.

Thus, “Rajaneecharaa” means a person who is active at night! Here’s a very important message for all of us. We perform numerous duties and activities everyday, and it should be ensured that all of them should be performed during the day and not during the wee hours of the night! But unfortunately things are changing in the modern day – We have developed the culture of the so called “Night Life” in lot of places across the world, starting from preparing for an exam till partying or watching a movie during the wee hours of the night! Nowadays we’ve “pushed” our day a little further. Normally we used to get up at around 5:30 AM and go to bed by around 10-10:30 PM. However, because of the extensive nightlife, our bedtime has been stretched to around 2 AM. Thus, subsequently our time to wake up has also been pushed to around 7:30-8 AM. (Some of us even wake up after 10 AM). The direct consequence of this is that, our entire body metabolism gets affected for the entire day – Our food timings get changed, our daily routines get compromised, etc. This might have a big impact on our physical health as we progress in age. Moreover, if we are awake too much into the wee hours of the night we start getting the characteristics of the “Raakshasaas”! Because, just now we’ve seen that the “Raaksasaas” are those who are active during the night! If we are also active during the wee hours of the night, we also tend to imbibe the characteristics of the “Raakshasaas”. This is why our minds today are always roaming and constantly searching for something every time and we are struggling to focus our minds on one particular aspect with concentration. Hence, the message here is that, we should avoid keeping awake during the wee hours of night as much as possible and try to have a sound sleep.

There is also a scientific reason too – The time period between 12 AM and 3 AM is that time wherein we can get the deepest possible sleep. It is because there wouldn’t be any external disturbance that might hamper our deep sleep. At any other time during the day, it would be very difficult for us to get this deep sleep because of numerous external disturbances. And, if we fail to get this deep sleep for atleast 3 hours, the entire next day would become dull and we might feel tired physically and mentally.

It is also important that we wake up early in the morning around 4-4:30 AM. This time period between 4 AM to 6 AM is referred to as the “Brahma-Muhurtham” and this is the time when our mind would be calm and our brain would be fresh after a sound sleep. If we have to learn something new, or prepare for an exam, this “Brahma Muhurtham” is the most auspicious time to do so! This is how exactly our ancient forefathers and our great “Maharishis” have been so brilliant and this is how this “intelligence” is also transferred to us through the generations.

Let us understand one thing very clearly: As Indians, whichever countries to which we go and work, everybody around the world accept the fact that we Indians are very intelligent and brainy. Isn’t it? (Of course, with no offence to people from other nationalities and countries). We’ve to realize as to how did we get this intelligence. We need to understand that this intelligence has come through various generations of our ancestors who had followed this “Dharma” of “Early to bed and early to rise”. In this modern generation, due to various reasons we are disobeying this “Dharma”. If we continue to disobey this “Dharma” for the next 20-30 years, trust me, this great intelligence in us would vanish! Hence, as responsible citizens, we should ensure that we follow this great “Dharma” laid down by our ancestors and it is very important!

There is another important message from this entire context. What is that? Let’s wait till the next episode to talk about it!

Episode 53 – The inner significance and message from King Dasharata’s reply!

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In the previous episode, we had witnessed that king Dasharata had replied to Sage Vishwaamithra and conveyed his decision that he is not prepared to send Rama along with Sage Vishwaamithra to his ashram in the forest. He replies in a very interesting and a through-provoking manner and it is worth re-visiting his reply with a deeper sense of meaning. Let us do this in today’s episode.

Before going into the in-depth meaning, let’s cast a re-visit on the sloka once:

“Uuna shodasa varshaha mey raamaha raajeeva lochanaha!

Na uddha yogyathaamasya pashyaami saha raakshasaihi!!”

We saw the outward meaning of the sloka yesterday wherein king Dasharata says that his son Rama, who has eyes as beautiful as a blossomed lotus flower is less than sixteen years old and is unfit to fight a war and that too with the “Raakshasaas”. Why is he using the phrase “Mey Raamaha”? Of course we saw Periyavaachaanpillai’s commentary yesterday for this, however there is an even more significant deeper meaning to this particular phrase and it goes like this: Normally when we give a “Dhaanam” (Offering) to somebody, especially to a “Rishi” (Saint), we should never give something to them by saying that this particular thing is mine! In other words, if we say that the thing that we are offering is ours, and then give it to saints, normally they would not accept it! This is why we say the following phrase while giving a “Dhaanam”:

“Braahmanaaya thubhramaham sampradathe – Idan namama!!”

This line simply means that whatever I am offering to the Brahmins or the saints is not mine (Idan namama). King Dasharata is a scholar himself and he knows all these shaastras, and hence he purposefully says “Mey Raamaha”, which simply means “My Raama”. He expects that Sage Vishwaamithra upon hearing this particular phrase, would cease to show interest in requesting for Rama anymore and leave the palace but unfortunately for him, Sage Vishwaamithra is adamant and seems to convey the message to king Dasharata that, “Just because you said Rama is yours, I want him!” 🙂 🙂

King Dasharata continues and says “Raajeeva Lochanaha”. One might think here that why is king Dasharata blabbering something like this in the given context. Here, Sage Vishwaamithra is asking Rama to come along and fight, and here what if Rama has eyes of a lotus or a sunflower or any other flower in the world? How does it going to make any sense at all here? There is a meaning attached and let us witness it.

All of us know that “Raajeeva Lochana” means “Eyes like that of a blossomed lotus flower”. Let me ask a question here: When does the lotus flower blossom? Normally in the daytime isn’t it? Normally, the flower blossoms during the day and closes itself as the sun sets in the evening around 6 PM. Now, king Dasharata says that Rama has eyes like that of a blossomed lotus. What does that mean here? It means that Rama is a small child and is awake only during the daytime. He goes off to sleep very early in the night! “Raakshasaas” are also described as “Raja-neecharaas”. It means that the “Raakshasaas” are awake and fully active only during the nighttime! Thus, king Dasharata tends to convey the message to Sage Vishwaamithra indirectly that “Rama is a child who sleeps very early and you are asking this child to go and fight the demons who are mostly awake and active only at night! This is contradictory and is never going to happen!”

Hence from the above accord, we can see the inner meaning of king Dasharata’s reply. It is thus the specialty and uniqueness of the entire Valmiki Ramayana that every sloka has some kind of an in-depth meaning in it, apart from its outward contextual meaning pertaining to the story. From the above explanation, there is also a message for all of us for this modern day! What is that message? Let us wait till the next episode to find out!