Episode 22: Valmiki Maharishi curses a hunter!!

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In the previous episode we saw that Valmiki Maharishi and his sishya (student) Sage Bharadwaja go to the banks of the river Tamasa for taking bath. This was after Sage Naarada leaves the Valmiki Ashram after narrating the “Samkshepa Ramayana” to Valmiki Maharishi. What did Valmiki Maharishi and Sage Bharadwaja do after taking bath? Did they head back to the ashram? Or where did they go instead? Let’s see the interesting set of events that unfolded in today’s episode!

Valmiki Maharishi, instead of going back to his ashram, on this particular day heads into a beautiful garden, which is full of greenery on all four sides. Both he and his sishya were somehow attracted towards the natural beauty of that particular place and they enter into the garden.

“Tasyaabhyaasethu mithunam charantham anapaayinam!

Dadharsha bhagawanshtathra crounchayo chaaro nishchvanam!!

Tasmaath mithunaadeham pumaamsam papa nischayaha!

Jagaana vaira nilayaha nishaadastascha pashyataha!!”

From the above slokas, we can understand that once Valmiki Maharishi enters the beautiful garden, he comes across a big banyan tree, upon which two beautiful “Crouncha” birds were sitting – One male and one female bird, together. He starts to admire these two birds enjoying the nature around them in complete bliss. Seeing these two beautiful birds, Valmiki Maharishi also enters into a state of bliss, carried away by the beauty of the surroundings as well as the beauty of these two little birds.

But at that moment, a hunter comes in the middle, releases his arrow on one of those beautiful little birds. The arrow hit one of them and it falls on the ground dead! Upon seeing this, Valmiki Maharishi was extremely disturbed! Just like during a music concert, while we’re deeply engrossed into the beautiful music, somebody from behind drags a chair or a mobile phone starts to ring in an awkward way, our concentration gets disturbed and all of a sudden we would never know what’s happening around us and we get frustrated, here too, Valmiki Maharishi gets extremely frustrated when the hunter comes in and puts one of the beautiful birds to death!! Immediately he blurts out a curse to that hunter – But the most interesting and important point here is that, this curse came from Valmiki’s mouth in the form of a “Sloka”. Thus, the “Shoka” (Distress) in his mind, came out through his mouth in the form of a “Sloka” (verse). It is to be noted that Valmiki Maharishi has never sung a sloka till this point of time in his entire life.

“Purohpeete thataakasya parirvaahaha prathihkriyaa”!!

This is a common saying in Sanskrit. It means, whatever we have in our mind it’s better to pour it out through words. We should never keep too much of both happiness and sadness in our mind, just like in a big lake, which is about to overflow with excess water, the exit points in the lakes (pipes) should be opened up so as to prevent the entire lake from breaching its walls and destroying an entire town/city. Hence we can also see in this case, that Valmiki Maharishi had extreme sorrow for that poor bird in his mind, and this sorrow came out through words in the form of a “Sloka”.

“Maa nishaada prathistaanthamagamah shaashwatheessamaaha!

Yath crouncha mithunaath deham avadih kaama mohitham!!”

In the above sloka, Avadih kaama mohitham – Yath crouncha mithunaath” means, “These two beautiful “Crouncha” birds which were in complete bliss with each other were separated by you – Oh hunter!” and thus Valmiki Maharishi continues in his curse, “Hey Nishaada (Nishaada means hunter), you’ll face all kinds of bad omens (Shaashwathee samaaha) in your life and your entire life would be ruined!” Once he cursed that hunter, Valmiki Maharishi didn’t like to be at that beautiful garden even for a minute more, and he takes Sage Bharadwaja along with him and returns to his ashram with anger and disbelief.

After returning back to his ashram, Valmiki Maharishi tries to recollect the curse that he gave, which had come out in the form of a “Sloka”, and he’s amazed with himself as to how did he compose such a grammatically correct sloka, all by himself! What happens next? What are the next series of events that unfolded after this? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

 

Episode 21: Valmiki Maharishi goes for a bath to the banks of River Tamasa

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Till yesterday we saw the various incidents that took place as part of the “Naarada – Valmiki Samvaadham” (The conversation between Sage Naarada and Vaalmiki Maharishi). We saw that Valmiki Maharishi asked Sage Naarada a set of sixteen questions and in turn, Sage Naarada explained Lord Rama’s life in a brief, which is called as “Samkshepa Ramayana”. However, Sage Narada thinks and feels for a while that this story has to be elaborated in a bigger detail, so that all the people in the world would be able to enjoy it and follow it’s principles in their lives. It is at this point that Bhagawan showers His grace and the next series of events commences. In today’s episode we shall start with what happened after Sage Naarada left the Valmiki Ashram.

Now we’re going into the next Sarga (Chapter) and let’s look at the sloka for better understanding:

“Naaradassathu thath vaakyam shruthvaa vaakya vishaarathaha!

Poojayaamaasa dharmaathma sahasishyo mahaamunim!!”

The above sloka says that Valmiki Maharishi, along with his “Sishya” (Student) Sage Bharadwaja, offers all the respects to Sage Naarada while he’s leaving from their ashram. After Sage Naarada leaves, Valmiki Maharishi looks at Sage Bharadwaja and tells him, “Just now Sage Naarada has left. It’s getting late for our “Nithya – Naimitthika Karma” (Daily routine prayers) and hence let’s quickly go, have a bath and come back”. Normally the two of them go to the banks of the river Ganges daily for their bath and their daily routine prayers. Even today we can see that the Bittur ashram of Valmiki, is quite close to the banks of the river Ganges, but even before reaching the Ganges, there’s another river by name “Tamasa”, which is a small tributary of river Ganges that flows very close to their ashram. Valmiki Maharishi thinks that a majority of the time in the day had gone in the conversation between himself and Sage Naarada and now there’s no time to walk up to the Ganges for their bath and hence, for this day we shall go to the river Tamasa for the day’s bath and duties.

“Samuhurtham gadhe tasmin deva lokham munistathaa!

Janaama tamasaa dheeram jaanhavyaastvavi dhoorakaha!!”

Here in this sloka we can see the detail in much more clarity. “Jaanhavi” is another name of river Ganges. Valmiki Maharishi says that this Jaanhavi River is very far to walk down. However, there’s this river Tamasa that is not very far off (avi dhoorakaha). So both of them start walking down towards River Tamasa now.

“Satudheeram samaasaadhyam tamasaayaa munistathaa!

Sishyamaahashitham paarshve drishtvaa teerthamakarthamam!!

Akarthamavitham theertham bharadwaaja nishaamaya!

Ramaneeyam prasannaambu sanmanushyamano yathaa!!”

For people who know Sanskrit, it might be very interesting to note here that the second sloka is incomplete. This kind of “Incomplete slokas” can be found at various places in the entire Ramayana text and this can be considered as the specialty and the uniqueness of this great text. If we see the commentaries that were done by the Aalwars and the Aacharyaas, these “half-slokas” would be mentioned in atleast a hundred places. The gross meaning of this half sloka is as follows:

Valmiki Maharishi talks with his sishya Sage Bharadwaja and exclaims to him, “Oh Bharadwaja.. Look at the clear water in this Tamasa River! Such is the natural beauty of this place!” He says “Ramaneeyam prasannaambu sanmanushyamano yathaa!!” He continues to convey this message with a beautiful comparison – Just as the hearts and minds of “Saadhus” (Good people) are so clear and pure, the water that flows through this river is also so pure…

Here’s an important message for all of us:

If we’re amidst people who are pure and clear in their minds and hearts (Saadhu Samaagamam), even our minds and hearts would become as pure as theirs. This is the main reason why people say that we need to choose our friends/companions very carefully in our lives! If by mistake, we end up choosing the wrong people as our companions, then we would be pulled into the wrong path and ultimately we would fail to realize the purpose of our birth in this world! Also, if we have a healthy relationship with Bhaagavathaas (Ardent devotees of Bhagawan), they would clear away all the confusions that we have in our minds and pull us into the “Bhakti Maarga” (Path of devotion towards the Lord).

Hence we see here that both Valmiki Maharishi and Sage Bharadwaja enter inside the river Tamasa for their bath. After finishing bathing and their regular prayers, normally great sages and aacharyas head back to their home/ashram straightaway and never waste their time in doing unwanted stuff like gossiping, roaming around needlessly, etc. However on this day quite peculiarly Valmiki Maharishi and his sishya did not return home directly, but they went somewhere else!

Where did they go and what happened next? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!

Episode 20: From “Samkshepa Ramayana” to “Valmiki Ramayana” – The transformation!!

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Till the previous episode we saw various important excerpts from the “Samkshepa Ramayana” narrated by Sage Naarada to Valmiki Maharishi. In that we saw primarily the unique physical characteristics of Lord Rama that makes Him beautiful and also His unique personal character that can be a role model for all of us today! What happened next after Sage Naarada completed his “Samkshepa Ramayana”? What was the thought process of Sage Naarada and how did Bhagawan answer his thoughts? Let’s see in today’s episode!

Sage Naarada concludes his brief narration of Lord Rama’s story with the “Phalasthuthi” which can also be inferred as “The Benefits of reading/reciting the Ramayana”.

“Idam pavithram paapagnam punyam vedaiyscha samyatham!

Yaf pateth raama charithram sarva paapaihi pramuchyathe!!

Yethathaakyaanamaarushya patham raamaayanam naraha!

Saputhra pouthra saganaha prethyasvarge maheeyathe!!”

In the above slokas, Sage Naarada proclaims to Valmiki Maharishi that this “Rama Charithram” is equivalent to that of the Vedas and whoever reads or recites or chants or writes this Ramayana story will be totally freed from all types of sins he/she had committed in their lives so far. Moreover, those who recite the Ramayana will get the unique opportunity to reach heaven along with his/her family members. We can infer from here as to how Ramayana is capable of giving the ultimate “Moksha” (Salvation) to all of us who tend to read or recite it with full devotion and Lord Rama becomes pleased by this act of ours!

Here, it’s very important for all of us to note that, at this point in time, the so-called Ramayana that we have today, never existed – Let’s remind ourselves for a moment that we’re still at the point wherein Valmiki Maharishi has just asked the sixteen questions and he has just come to know who Lord Rama is.

At this moment of narrating the above sloka, Sage Naarada has a deep look at Valmiki Maharishi once and stops here. He thinks for a moment that this Ramayana story is not yet sung and documented in detail, in a way so that it reaches people around the world! Now how will that happen? Who would sing and propagate this “Rama Charithra” (Lord Rama’s story) to the world? Who’s that right person who would be able to take up the responsibility to elaborate this story and propagate this to the world? If great people have such questions in mind, which are extremely beneficial to the world, it’s Bhagawan’s duty to answer and fulfill their wishes. In that way, the moment Sage Naarada had these questions in mind, Bhagawan had his answers ready and He decided that the person who would be elaborating and propagating the Ramayana to the world would be none other than Valmiki Maharishi himself! Hence, with His grace, He sequenced all the further events that followed, in a way that Valmiki Maharishi became an instrument in the hands of the Lord for propagating His own “Charithra” (Story).

How did the further events unfold? What happened next? What were the further incidents that motivated Valmiki Maharishi to start writing the Ramayana text? Let’s witness those interesting events in the next episode!

 

Episode 19 – Excerpts from the “Samkshepa Ramayana” – How long is the “Rama Rajya”?

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In the previous episode we experienced the different unique physical features of our beloved Bhagawan in the form of Lord Rama, as described by Sage Naarada to Valmiki Maharishi. Of course, Sage Naarada doesn’t stop with just describing His unique physical features alone and he continues to describe His specialties in various other aspects too. What are those aspects? Let’s witness today!

Sage Naarada continues in his description of Lord Rama:

“Rakshita jeevalokasya dharmasya parirakshitaa!

Rakshita svasya dharmasya svajansscha rakshitaa!!”

Here, Sage Naarada describes that Lord Rama had a very beautiful quality of looking after everybody and everything equally. In other words, it means that Lord Rama knows how to balance between looking after his family as well as His kingdom. In modern day corporate we talk about the concept of “Work-life Balance”, that is, the capability of a person to focus equally on his/her professional life as well as family or personal life. It can be of great interest to the readers that this particular concept was already in existence thousands of years ago and this is exactly what Lord Rama was known for. Since He was able to govern the Ayodhya kingdom without even the smallest blemish and this is the reason why we still praise His governance as the “Rama Rajya” and this also serves as a benchmark for the modern day functioning of our present-day government too! However at the same time, He never compromised the quality time that He spent with His beloved wife – Goddess Sita Devi. That’s why even today when we talk about Lord Rama we never talk about him alone. He’s described as “Mythilithan manavaalan” in Tamil and “Siya ke Ram” in Hindi – both of them mean that He’s always Goddess Sita’s Rama. Hence, Sage Naarada concludes by saying that it is this Rama who’s also the dearest son of Kaushalya Devi (Wife of King Dasaratha) who is also the embodiment of all the sixteen noble qualities that Valmiki Maharishi asked!

It is to be noted by the readers here that when Sage Naarada mentions all the above qualities of Lord Rama, it can be implied that by the time Sage Naarada meets Valmiki in his ashram, the entire story of Ramayana had already taken place. In other words, Rama had returned back to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile and has been crowned the King of Ayodhya and it’s only after this, that the meeting between Valmiki Maharishi and Sage Naarada is taking place. But, it is also to be noted that Lord Rama is still continuing to rule Ayodhya at this point in time and He had not yet returned to his abode of “Vaikunta”.

Dhanadena samathyaage satve dharma ivaaparaha!

Tamevam guna sampannam raamam sathya paraakramam!!

 

Avizchitha lankaayaam raakshasendram vibheeshanam!

Kritha krityastathaa raamaha vijraaha pramamodaha!!”

Thus, Sage Naarada concludes, “Oh Valmiki, so far I’ve been speaking about Lord Rama, who’s an embodiment of all the noble qualities that you had mentioned. And, He, with all his might and valor destroyed the entire Raakshasa (Demon) clan and coronated Vibhishana (Brother of Ravana) to the throne of Lanka and thus got into the “Pushpaka Vimaana” and returned back to Ayodhya! Hope you must have listened to it carefully!” In this way, Sage Naarada narrates the entire Ramayana story within 32 slokas and it’s known as “Samkshepa Ramayana”.

“Prahurshta mudhithor lokaha tushtaha pushtaha sudhaarmikaha!

Raamaha seethaamanuppraapya raajyam punaravaapthavaan!!”

With the above sloka, Sage Naarada also adds that Lord Rama had got both His beloved wife Sita Devi as well as the kingdom that He had lost. This implies that by this time, Rama had already got back his kingdom and had started ruling it. He also adds how many years would Lord Rama rule Ayodhya and when would be return back to Vaikunta. It’s a beautiful sloka that follows:

“Dasha varsha sahasraani dasha varsha shataani cha!

Raamo raajyamupaa shruthvaa brahmalokham prayaaschathi!!”

Sage Naarada says that Rama would rule the Ayodhya kingdom for the next eleven thousand years before he descends back to Vaikunta. Let’s look at the beautiful way in which this count of eleven thousand is mentioned here: In Sanskrit, “Sahasram” means thousand; “Dasha sahasram” means ten thousand; “Shata” means hundred; “Dasha Shata” means, ten multiplied by hundred, which is thousand. So, ten thousand plus thousand is equal to eleven thousand!! Thus, by this sloka, Sage Naarada conveys to Valmiki Maharishi that this “Rama Rajya” is going to last for eleven thousand years and after that, Lord Rama would descend back to Vaikunta.

Every text in the Hindu Literature would consist of something called as “Phalastuthi” at the end, which means “The benefits of reciting this text”. Sage Naarada, before leaving Valmiki’s ashram describes this “Phalastuthi” to Valmiki Maharishi at the end of his “Samkshepa Ramayana”. What does he say in that? What are the benefits of reciting the Ramayana as per Sage Naarada? Let’s wait to find out in the next episode!

Episode – 18 – Excerpts from the “Samkshepa Ramayana” – Experiencing the beauty of Lord Rama

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In the previous episode we saw the continuation of the “Naarada-Valmiki Samvaadham” and as part of this we saw how the “Samkshepa Ramayana” was born. I had given a brief explanation about “Samkshepa Ramayana” that it comprises of 32 slokas (verses) and it narrates the entire story of Lord Rama’s life within this. In today’s episode we shall see some excerpts from it and let’s experience the beauty of our beloved Bhagawan, in the form of Lord Rama, as described by Sage Naarada.

Sage Naarada continues in his reply to Valmiki Maharishi’s sixteen questions. We’ve seen in the previous episodes that Valmiki Maharishi was focused to know more about the internal characteristics and qualities of Lord Rama rather than his physical or external characteristics or features. However if we closely look at Sage Naarada’s reply, it’s just the opposite – He starts his reply by describing Lord Rama’s external appearance first, and then goes into the sixteen internal noble qualities. Why does he do so? Let’s have a  look at the slokas to get a closer understanding. Narada’s detailed reply is as follows:

Ikshvaaku vamsapprabhavaha raamo naama janaishruthaha!

Niyataathma mahaveeryaha dhyuthimaan druthimaan vashi!!

Buddhimaan shrimaan vaagmi shriman shatru nibarganaha!

Vipulaamsaha mahabaahuhu kambugreevaha mahaahanuhu!!

Mahorasthaha maheshvaasaha goodaschathru arindamaha!

Aajaanu baahuhu sishiraaha sulalaataha suvikramaha!!

Shamassama vibhaktaankaha snigdha varnaha prathaapavaan!

Veenavakshaha visaalaakshaha lakshmeevaan shubha lakshanaha!!”

Here we can see the importance that Sage Naarada gives to Lord Rama’s physical appearance and dedicates eight slokas in describing the same, and then goes on to describe the sixteen noble qualities of Him. He also gives the justification for it by saying that it was Rama’s extraordinarily beautiful physical characteristics that attracted me towards Him, more than His noble internal qualities and he continues to say that perhaps if Valmiki Maharishi also gets to see the appearance of Lord Rama, even he would no longer talk about His inner qualities but talk only about the beautiful external features of Him.

Even in our day to day life, if someone says that Bhagawan is the ultimate “Parabrahma”, He’s omni-present, He’s the person who’s responsible for the entire birth and death cycle in this world, He’s an embodiment of the “Pancha Bhootaas” (Earth, fire, wind, water and air), etc., how much would our minds involve into “Bhakti” (devotion) towards Him and how would we be able to focus and pray? This is a human limitation – We’ve never seen Bhagawan in reality in today’s world and if we’re asked to focus on a thing that we’ve never seen or experienced in our lives, how would we be able to focus our mind upon? Of course, I’m not saying that all the above-mentioned statements are false, however, only if we have a photo or an idol of Bhagawan with beautiful physical features and a handsome looking face with a smile, we would be able to portray a mental image of Him and be able to focus on our prayer! Hence from this explanation, we can see how significant and relevant for a person to consider Bhagawan in all His beautiful physical appearance, so as to inculcate the “Bhakti” or “Devotion towards Him. For instance, if we talk about Lord Rama, what do we immediately relate to? A tall, well-built figure with a beautiful smile and His eyes full of “Karuna” (Mercy), a bow in His hand, the ever-beautiful Goddess Sita Devi to His right, and His younger brother Lakshmana to His left – Only if we remember this image, our minds and hearts are going to dwell in “Bhakti”!

Sage Naarada has beautifully portrayed Lord Rama’s physical appearance – “Mahorasthaha” – Meaning, very tall and well-built (96 “Ankulas” which can be equated to almost 8 feet in height) “Maheshvaasaha” – For that 8-feet height, He holds a bow in Hands that is just a little less than His height, “Aajaanu baahuhu” – Meaning, He has broad shoulders, “Sishiraaha.. Sulalaataha.. Suvikramaha..” – Meaning, all His body parts, right from His head, shoulders, arms, stomach, abdomen, thighs and legs are evenly and so beautifully built, “Shamaha.. Sama vibhaktaankaha.. Snigdha varnaha” – Meaning, His eyes are full with “Karuna” (Mercy) and kindness towards all His devotees, and His entire body is bluish black in color, “Veenavakshaha..” – Meaning, He has a broad chest; “Visaalaakshaha” – Meaning, He has beautiful and elongated eyes, that come as far as His devotees are situated.

Such is the beauty of Lord Rama in His external appearance!! There are a few more important aspects to be discussed as part of the “Samkshepa Ramayana” description of Sage Naarada, before moving forward. What are they? Let’s wait till the next episode!!

Episode 17 – “Naarada – Valmiki Samvaadham” – Sage Naarada replies Valmiki Maharishi

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Till the previous episode we saw a series of sixteen questions that Valmiki Maharishi asked Sage Narada, upon his arrival to meet him. We discussed each of the sixteen qualities in detail and also tried to relate it to the modern day leadership aspects. In today’s episode let’s continue the conversation between Sage Narada and Valmiki Maharishi as part of the “Naarada-Valmiki Samvaadham”, and see what Sage Naarada had got to reply.

 Sage Naarada says the following:

“Bahavo durlabhhaaschaiva yethvaya keerthithaa gunaaha!

Mune vakshyaamyaham budhvaa thairyukthashruyathaam varaaha!!”

Valmiki Maharishi initially surprises sage Naarada with his non-stop sixteen questions and now Sage Naarada composes himself to reply to him. He says “Bahavo Durlabhaaha” which means that, “All these sixteen noble qualities that you had mentioned so far, is very rare and is almost impossible to find integrated into one individual. However, I’m not saying that there’s no answer to your questions. But give me a few minutes to recoup myself and then let me give you the answer!” The phrase “Aham budhvaa” means, “I’ll let you know”. Hence, Sage Naarada conveys here that he’ll recoup his thought process for a moment and get back to Valmiki Maharishi. After saying this, Sage Naarada is silent for five minutes.

There’s an interesting and a deeper explanation to this, as follows:

Valmiki Maharishi looks at Sage Naarada and thinks for a moment if he doesn’t know the answer. He gets this sort of a feeling because normally when a Sishya (Student) asks a doubt, the Guru (Teacher/Master) should give an answer immediately. But here, Sage Naarada asks Valmiki Maharishi to wait for a few minutes. But Sage Naarada is not keeping silence because he doesn’t know the answer. The moment he listens to the sixteen questions from Valmiki Maharishi, he immediately knew the answer. But at that moment when the answer flashes in Sage Naarada’s mind, he is overwhelmed and his devotion knew no bounds for that person who’s supposed to be the answer! Hence, in the above sloka, the word “Budhva” doesn’t mean “I’ll get back after knowing the answer”. It means that, “I already know whom are you asking about, however, I’ll recoup and compose myself within a few moments and then give you the answer!”

 Now, Sage Naarada replies back: “Oh Valmiki Maharishi! You had asked me sixteen questions. But for all the sixteen put together, I have only one answer for you!” He says,

Ikshvaaku vamsapprabhavaha raamo naama janaishruthaha!”

 The answer is very simple! That person who is an embodiment of all the sixteen noble qualities is none other than the king who’s born in the “Ikshvaaku” dynasty, Lord Rama – Son of the great king Dasaratha! He’s born in the clan of Surya (The Sun God), and also born to the ancestral tradition of the great king Manu and Kaakutsa!

Sage Naarada continues and says to Valmiki Maharishi “Now, I’ll tell you in a brief accord about Lord Rama. Listen to me very carefully. The apt time will come for further actions on this and let’s wait!” Saying this, Sage Naarada narrates the entire story of the Ramayana within just thirty-two (32) slokas (verses). It’s called as “Samskhepa Ramayanam”, meaning “Ramayana in brief”!! (If that was the case today, it would have been extremely easy for us too and we needn’t have to write this many episodes!! 🙂 ) It’s only because it has more than 24,000 slokas (verses) composed as a “Mahaa Kaavyam” we’re taking this much of time to see it in detail. But having said that on a lighter note, we can listen to the Ramayana in nine days, nine years or we can even read one sloka per day – Such is the amount of in-depth and a rich meaning, this great Ramayana has. “Vengya Kaavyam” is Ramayana’s nickname – It means that the Ramayana has more in-depth meanings to each and every sloka, rather than just the outer meaning to it. We can infer thousands of inner meanings to each of the sloka and thus is the significance of this great epic!

What did Sage Naarada describe about Lord Rama in his “Samskhepa Ramayanam”? Let’s wait to find out in the next episode!!

Episode 16 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” – Significance of a “Bhakta” (Devotee)

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In the previous episode while continuing our discussion on the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble Qualities) of Lord Rama, we witnessed the significance of the “Aatman” or the “Inner Soul” of every living being in this world. In due course of that discussion we also emphasised that we should give equal importance to our Aatman and our Deham (Physical Body) and also stressed on the importance of “Seva” or “Service” to the mankind. Today we shall see the last three of the sixteen qualities and in that, we shall specially talk about the significance of a “Bhakta” or a “Devotee”How does Bhagawan respects his devotees?

We shall first talk about the remaining qualities:

  1. Dyuthimaan – A person who has immense “Tejas” (Radiance) in him/her. What is “Tejas”? Tejas is a phenomenon wherein a person develops a kind of “Magnetic power” that automatically attracts people towards him/her. How do we realise that a person has a “Tejas” in him/her? I remember a simple explanation which I heard during my childhood and it goes like this: If a person passes by a group of people, he/she should be able to gain their attention without uttering even a single word to them, and this attention should automatically make them stand up in respect for this person!! This is real “Tejas” or the “Radiance”. It is only this quality of Lord Rama that made Hanuman surrender to Him, the moment he saw Lord Rama coming towards him. I’ve discussed this in my previous blog series “Hanumad Prabhaavam” wherein, Valmiki Maharishi says that, the moment Hanuman set his sight on Lord Rama’s face, he felt that his bones were melting, he felt goose bumps all over his body and tears of joy and love started flowing automatically from his eyes. This is called “Tejas”.

In the modern day we can equate this “Tejas” to something called “Charisma”. Today we talk about something called “Charismatic Leadership” wherein certain leaders possess this “Tejas” or the so-called “Charisma” in them that makes their followers to follow them blindly. The mere presence of the leader amongst his/her followers enlightens them and serves the purpose of being associated with their leader. Thus, because of this Charisma, the leader gains the ultimate power to dictate terms and people are ready to even sacrifice their lives for their beloved leader. We can see this characteristic mainly in Spiritual Masters like Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Gautama Buddha, Vardhamaan Mahaveer, and also in the modern day spiritual masters like Shirdi Sai Baba, Puttaparthi Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, etc. wherein we see thousands of devotees thronging to have a glimpse of their Spiritual Master (Sathguru) everyday. Hence, this noble quality called “Dyuthimaan” takes center-stage in the ideology of Charismatic Leadership.

  1. Anasuyakaha – A person who doesn’t have even a bit of jealousy and/or greed in him/her and he/she is un-envious by nature. This is also an extremely important quality of a successful leader. The explanation for this can be continued from that of the previous quality – What makes a leader an admirable personality amongst his/her followers? Of course, the main quality is the “Charisma” and as part of the charisma, there might be a danger of a downfall. How? If the followers start following a leader blindly without any expectations, there’s always a slight probability that the leader, at some point of time might take them for granted and the greed and jealousy within him/her might start to grow and in turn, this might end up in a situation where the leader tends to misuse his/her power to attain selfish goals. In order to curb this, the quality of “Anasuya” plays a significant role. It makes the leader more balanced and calm headed and enables him/her to be down to the earth. Thus we can say that “Tejas” (Charisma) and “Anasuya” go hand in hand with each other, that is, the quality of “Tejas” would suffice well for a leader only if he/she is bounded by the quality of “Anasuya” (Absence of jealousy and greed).
  1. Bibyati devaha – A person who when gets angry, is even feared by all living beings in the world and even the “Devas” (the celestial beings). This is the last and an extremely important quality. This intends to convey the message that when Bhagawan gets angry, there’s nobody who can stand in front of Him during that particular time.

Here, you might be tempted to point out a controversy. What’s that controversy? In the previous episodes, when we spoke about a quality called “Jithakrodaha” I had mentioned that Bhagawan has his anger (Rajo Guna) under complete control and is calm and composed at any time. But here we’re seeing that if Bhagawan gets angry, nobody can stand before him. You might ask me a question: Either Bhagawan should get angry, or He should’nt get angry. How can we say both together? The simple explanation to this is that, Bhagawan normally never gets angry when He’s abused by anybody. But, the moment His “Bhakta” (Devotee) is abused by someone, His anger knows no bounds. We can see this in an example from the Ramayana itself: During the Rama-Ravana war, when Ravana attacked Rama with his arrows and other weapons, Rama was standing in front of him patiently without getting much angry, but the moment Ravana sent his first arrow on Hanuman – the ardent devotee of Lord Rama, it is only then that He got terribly angry and started to fight Ravana in the war! Hence, this characteristic “Bibyati devaha” is very important in describing the significance of a Bhakta or a Devotee and how Bhagawan respects his/her devotion and in turn protects them from danger.

With this, we’ve covered all the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” or the Noble qualities of Lord Rama and we learnt valuable lessons on modern day leadership. Upon asking the sixteen questions to Sage Narada, Valmiki Maharishi is waiting for an answer from him. Now, how did Sage Narada respond to Valmiki Maharishi’s questions? What was his answer? Let’s find out in the next episode!

 

 

 

Episode 15 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” – Significance of the “Aatman” (Inner Soul)

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In the last episode, we saw three very important noble qualities that are to be inherited within an ideal leader, and how significant are they in modern-day life. Today we shall continue this discussion forward by talking about a couple of very important noble qualities and how significant are they in the context of modern-day leadership.

  1. Aatmavaankaha – A person who knows the significance of the “Aatman” (Inner soul) and is a master of all living beings. This is one of the most important qualities that differentiates normal leaders from a well-established “Spiritual Leader” or a “Spiritual Master’. Knowing the inner significance of the “Aatman” is of paramount importance for all of us. Let’s view the philosophy of the “Aatman” (The Inner soul) in this way – If someone comes and asks us, what is the “Aatman” and who is it, what would be our reply?

Let me explain this question in a simpler way for better understanding: We see numerous things around us in this world everyday, like plants, animals, human beings and other various objects. For instance, if someone points out to a chair and asks us, “What’s this object?” Our reply would be that, “It’s a chair”. If someone points out to a cloth and asks us, “What’s this item?” We would give an emphatic reply that “It’s a piece of cloth!” Similarly if someone asks us “What’s Aatman?” What answer would we give? It’s important for all of us to find out a proper and a definitive answer for this! Let’s now try to see an answer for this question. In Sanskrit, Aatman is something, which is beautifully described as “Nyaathruthvam” which means “The embodiment of the knowledge of the supreme “(Parabrahma). The explanation doesn’t stop there. The Aatman is also described as “Aanandamayathvam” which means “The embodiment of permanent happiness”. There’s a third explanation to it – The Aatman is also described as “Seshabhootha” which means that every Aatman living in this world is a “Servant” of Bhagawan and is expected to perform “Seva” or “Kainkariya” to it’s Lord. That’s why all the Spiritual Masters (Gurus) emphasise the fact that all of us should do service to mankind. “Service to mankind is service to Bhagawan” is a well-known proverb for many!

Now let’s think deeper for a moment – Do we have this feeling within us today? In the modern day of hi-fi technology and work pressure day on day, do we really have this thinking in us? In the present day, all of us face loads of problems, difficulties and challenges in our day-to-day lives. Some people complain that someone has cheated them; they’ve lost all their money and wealth due to whatsoever reasons, and loads of many other complaints. We also constantly hear people saying every day that they’re suffering from mental depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. and they’re under medication. Why do we hear all this?

Firstly, it’s because of the way of life today and in fact that we’re all running towards something that we ourselves do not know! Secondly, in our life, we should give importance to two things equally – Our Aatman and our body (Deham). Normally, as we progress in our age we should give more importance towards the Aatman and lesser importance to our physical body. If I start talking all this now, then none of you would be interested in reading my blog further  🙂 – This comment is just on a lighter note, but however we need to start from somewhere. For this, we should atleast start treating the Aatman and our body equally. But if we completely focus our attention only on our physical body, if we never think even a bit about our Aatman, then even if there’s a small jolt with respect to our external physical body, we feel that the entire world is jolting around us and we’re unprepared to face the challenges that present before us. Whereas, if we develop an equal thinking about the “Aatman” and our body together, it would make us mentally stronger to face and overcome any kind of challenge in life. If we have the feeling that the “Paramaathma” (Bhagawan) is with us as a guiding light, we would never feel left alone in this world and we shall accomplish any task with ease!

Hence we can understand from the above philosophy that the main reason why people go into mental depression, blood pressure, etc. is because, they are completely unaware of the significance of the “Aatman” and the “Paramaatman”. It’s thus important for all of us to dedicate a portion of our time everyday to introspect within ourselves and think about Bhagawan (Aatma-chintanam) and if we start doing this, we can lead a life without any tension, mental pressure, etc. Let’s try doing this meticulously from today!

  1. Jithakrodaha – A person who is always calm and never gets angry for anything, that is, a person who has conquered his/her anger completely. This is an extremely important character of a successful leader. From the life of Lord Rama, we would be able to see in numerous instances how He had a complete control over his emotions – particularly anger. In modern day too, this is of paramount importance.

It can be observed that the calmer a person is, he/she becomes more and more invincible. This holds well in any domain – be it politics, sports, corporate, etc. Especially in sports nowadays we see many people/teams trying to play “mind games” with their opponents before the commencement of the game. Mind games are nothing but ways to provoke and kindle the emotions of the opponent. Why does this happen? It’s only because of the fact that if the calmness of the opponent is disturbed, it becomes easier for this person/team to win over. Hence, it’s thus important for all of us, in whichever domain we are, not to get carried away by the “mind games” of others and in turn, disturb our emotional stability. It’s thus important to stay calm and composed in whatever situation we are in and this is a very important pre-requisite to be successful!

What are the last three noble qualities of an ideal leader and how important are they in today’s life? Let’s wait and find out in the next episode!!

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 14 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” (Contd.)

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In the past three episodes we’ve so far seen eight of the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble Qualities) of Lord Rama, as described by Valmiki Maharishi, as part of the “Narada-Valmiki Samvaadham”. All these qualities that we’re seeing as part of this, are extremely important in terms of modern day leadership. In today’s episode we shall see some more noble qualities and their applicability to the modern day.

  1. Vidwaan – A person who has a mastery over all subjects. It is believed and also a well-known fact that Lord Rama was an expert in the usage of the bow and arrow, as a “Kshatriya Veera”. Along with the bow and arrow, he was also an expert in the usage of “Asthras” (Can be equated somewhat to the modern day missiles) and other weapons and hence was considered invincible during a war. Apart from this, Lord Rama is also considered an expert in all the “Dharma Shaastras”, the Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas. He was also considered to be the best student of Sage Vasishta and Sage Vishwamithra. Such is the mastery of various subjects that Lord Rama has attained, and hence He’s rightly described as the “Vidwaan”.

How is this relevant to modern day leadership? In today’s studies on this subject, there’s a type of Leadership called “Expert Leadership” wherein the leader gains an “Expert Power” amongst his/her people because of the expertise he/she possesses in his/her domain. This is very crucial in today’s world. If the leader is an expert in whatever domain of work he/she is into, people would automatically come to them for gaining knowledge and for obtaining expert guidance. This is one way through which leaders emerge, rather than proclaiming themselves to be leaders. We can see through numerous examples wherein the leader sustains in his/her position more when he/she emerges as a leader, rather than someone appointing them as a leader. Hence, this quality “Vidwaan” finds lot of significance in the process wherein a leader emerges!

  1. Samartaha – A person who is capable of doing and accomplishing anything in this world. This is a unique quality possessed by Lord Rama. This can be considered as a continuation of the previous quality of “Vidwaan”, wherein, once a leader gains a mastery over his/her domain knowledge, with due experience he/she also gains the capability and confidence of accomplishing anything that comes their way, be it whatever challenge. Lord Rama is considered an epitome of this quality wherein, we can see the way in which he exhibits his mastery over fighting a war. Even as a child, He defeats the raakshasi (Demoness) Thaataka, her sons Maaricha and Subaahu who are also raakshasaas (Demons) single-handedly. He further proceeds to Mithila (Present day country of Nepal), lifts the “Shiva Dhanush” (The bow that is of Lord Shiva) with a single hand, as part of the “Syamvara”  (Marriage) of Goddess Sita Devi and in numerous other instances in his life and thus shows his expertise to accomplish any complicated task in the world with ease!

This quality can be viewed in the modern day context as a combination of “Expertise” and “Experience”. A leader with this combination is considered to be invincible and gains the capability to foresee and handle any complex and challenging situations in his/her career. We can see numerous examples of leaders who have struggled their way up and have been successful at the end. It’s because of this combination of expertise and experience, that they know exactly how to handle tough situations. Hence, this quality of “Samartha” gains extreme importance for a leader to be successful.

  1. Priyadarshanaha – A person who has a captivating, handsome and pleasant look. This might be quite familiar to all of us. So far we’ve been talking about the qualities that are to be exhibited by a leader, but is that enough? Physical appearance also matters in lot of things in life! Only if a person has that captivating physical appearance, people would be able to admire him/her along with what they do! Hence we can see here that the quality pertaining to the physical appearance is very predominant in terms of leadership. It’s a well-known fact that Lord Rama is a handsome, well-built person (96 “Ankulam” – A type of measurement, as per the Valmiki Ramayana that can be equated to almost nine to ten feet in height. Perhaps people in the “Tretha Yuga” were that tall!) Lord Rama is also described as “Aajaanu Baahum” and “Aravinda Lochana”, which means tall, well built and handsome in look. The moment we look at his face; it’s very difficult for us to take our eyes off Him!! Such is his handsomeness!!

This is why, in modern day corporate, we give so much of stress to physical appearance of a person. We have a formal clothing (blazer, tie, etc.) to enhance our physical appeal. The moment we have a good physical outlook, lot of other things automatically fall in place. This can be seen especially among those people who are into Sales and marketing, because, sales people have the direct interface with the clients of their organization. With a neat and a clean physical appearance, the sales person enhances not only his/her personal reputation, but also enhances the brand of his/her company, in front of the customer! It is only because of this significance, the quality “Priyadarshana” finds ample relevance in today’s corporate world.

What are the other important qualities mentioned by Valmiki Maharishi? Let’s find out in the next episode!

Episode 13 – Leadership lessons from Lord Rama’s “Kalyaana Gunas” (Contd.)

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So far we’ve seen five of the sixteen “Kalyaana Gunas” (Noble qualities) of Lord Rama, from which we’re in the process of learning some important lessons for modern day leadership. Let’s look into some more from the sixteen in today’s episode:

 

  1. Drudavrathaha – It means, A person who is self-determined, steadfast in his/her attitude towards truth, righteousness and resolute. It is said that anything in this world can be achieved with a positive attitude or intent. We can see this quite significantly in Lord Rama’s life – When he was instructed to go on an exile to the forest for fourteen years by his mother Kaikeyi, he took it in an extremely positive sense and without talking another word, proceeded forward. And when Rama’s brother, Bharata came to him later on and requested Rama to return back to the kingdom, he refused to come back. Here we can see how Rama was self-determined and steadfast towards Dharma so as to accomplish His mission in the forest for the next fourteen years.

This can be easily correlated with the modern-day talk and debate about self-determination, positive attitude and self-confidence. We might have seen in day-to-day life, numerous success stories of people with respect to their self-determination – Be it the case of our great ex President of India, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, our cricketing legend, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, etc. If we read through the stories of these great leaders, we might be able to see ample relevance to these two aspects – Positive attitude towards their goal and in turn, the self-determination to achieve. It is believed in the context of leadership that, if the leader exhibits a positive body language towards his/her team, the entire team gets that motivation to move forward. Hence, positivity finds extreme importance in successful leadership.

  1. Chaarithrenacha koyuktaha – A person with an impeccable character and without any blemish. All of us might be aware of a proverb – “If wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost; But, when character is lost, everything is lost!” Here we can see the importance given to “Character” of a human being and this is why Valmiki Maharishi lays so much stress on the character for a leader. It simply implies that, if a leader has to be a role model for his/her followers, he/she has to exhibit an impeccable character.
  1. Sarvabhuteshu hitaha – A person who is a benign well-wisher and takes care of all beings in the world equally. This again correlates to an extent with “Sousheelyam” which we discussed before. However, the important point to be stressed here is that, everybody should be equal under the eyes of a leader. This is an extremely important quality that was exhibited by Lord Rama throughout his life – He treats Guha – the hunter as his own brother, Sugriva – the monkey as his own brother and all the “Vaanaraas” (Monkeys) as his own brothers. There was no differentiation or discrimination against anyone in the eyes of Lord Rama, and also when He later became the King of Ayodhya after his fourteen years of exile, he made sure that he treated all people in his kingdom with equality. To add more to this point, Lord Rama is also known to have given equal status to women, in the erstwhile male-dominated society.

Modern-day world has given us both good and bad examples of this quality – Be it politics or corporate. Today we talk about “Dynasty politics”, “Family rule”, etc. which is proving to be detrimental to a country’s progress. We also speak about a concept in modern day Human Resources Management called “Nepotism” or “Favoritism”, wherein one person might be “favored” more than the other just on the pretext of closeness to a leader. Such things have the huge risk of demoralizing the entire organization and those people who put in their heart and soul to their work may develop a feeling of being left out from the organization, if they’re not given the appropriate recognition for their extraordinary contribution. All these finally lead to “job dissatisfaction” amongst employees and finally the organization might face the grave risk of losing its potential employees to the competitor. Hence, this quality of Sarvabhuteshu hitaha” assumes lot of significance in today’s leadership arena!

What are the other important qualities that make a leader successful? Let’s discuss in the next episode!!