Monday, March 5, 2018

How the (female) opponents saw Rama - concluding part

            Rama, central to Indian civilization, has influenced it for millennia and today, ironically, lots of negative narrations are foisted on not just to sully his reputation, but to undermine India itself. To counter this, we merely looked at some of the male opponents of Rama and how they viewed him in Valmiki Ramayana, which has pulverized a lot of falsities. Just as millions of years of darkness in a cave have no chance against the light of a lamp, a mountain load of untruth has no chance before reading the original scriptures, doing consistent svadhyaya and Sadhana.  In this segment, we will look at how three prominent feminine opponents perceived Rama.

Rama – as seen by female opponents

            Shoorpanaka is the real connecting link between Rama and his real mission, eradicate the hordes of rakshasas under the leadership of Ravana. In fact, the way Valmiki describes her meeting of Rama­, Sita and Lakshmana is usually quoted as the haasya rasa in Ramayana. She represented the diametrical opposite of Rama, the real epitome of Tamas. Leftists in India with shallow scholarship, amplified by half baked media and the masses that have practically grown on a mental diet, devoid of scriptures, usually showcase Shoorpanaka as a victim or a poor lady who was punished for expressing her love. Since Valmiki is the authority, let us submit to his account.

            Panchavati on the banks of River Godavari is the abode of peace with Rama and Sita, served by Lakshmana. Fortuitously Shoorpanaka sees Rama, who outshone Kamadeva and she got intensely passionate (काम मोहिता). Valmiki is so amused that he gives a long list of contrasts between Rama and Shoorpanaka. Shoorpanaka’s beauty is not the focus as much as her character. Physical beauty is a factor of the beholder. One must note, when there is pure Sattva (Rama), it is hard even for the most Tamasic mind not to fall in love, but as evident in this case, this love usually tainted as lust, jealousy, possessiveness or greed. 

            Her very first words were, what is an ascetic with a wife, doing amidst a forest frequented by rakshasas, which clearly indicates that her lust had no place with Rama. Rama patiently responds to her in detail, before even inquiring about her background. In fact, Rama complements as मनोज्ञाङ्गी, someone who is enthralling. While many deem it as jest, some feel it insulting. But in reality, seen from the Supreme Absolute’s eyes, there is nothing but beauty, a reflection of its own SELF, so either interpretation is untenable. In her formal introduction she calls herself as a कामरूपिणी, which is usually interpreted as one who takes any form she desired, though no actual evidence is available in Ramayana, but only from caricatured media portrayal and imaginations. 

            As she boasts about herself, she informs him that she sees him as a husband (भावेन भर्तारम्). She mocks at Sita’s appearance and claims that she alone deserves to be Rama’s wife. One must not forget that she is used to seeing Ravana with a harem of women, obviously felt Rama may find it palatable to follow the same. She offers an easy solution to dispose the ugly Sita and his brother by eating both of them (सह भ्रात्रा भक्षयिष्यामि मानुषीम्). She adds an enticement to ramble lustily in the forests after disposing them off. 

Rama’s critics seem to be worse than Shoorpanaka in their intellectual Tamas. They fail to note Rama’s reaction. He smiles and talks very gently, having noticed her lust, and merely observes that it is very painful to be co-wife, especially for the likes of her. Rama highlights that Lakshmana is the one without a wife, besides highlighting his qualities. Again this is not a lie, as Rama’s observation is only in the present situation and is using pun. The minute her attention got focused on Lakshmana, all her lust over Rama vaporized. Shoorpanaka supporters seem to follow only her Tamas rather than explaining. She proposes to be Lakshmana’s wife and Lakshmana wastes not a second in claiming to be a dasa, servant of his brother. He uses Shoorpanaka’s own adjectives to address her, in jest and also to redirect her back to Rama. The words are a beauty of samaskrita that different commentators have interpreted differently.

Again blinded in lust, she believes that Sita is the only hindrance and getting rid of her will earn a place beside Rama. She declares her intention to eat Sita (अद्य इमाम् भक्षयिष्यामि पश्यतः तव मानुषीम्) and menacingly approaches her in great fury. Rama restrains Shoorpanaka by intervening and reprimands Lakshmana for his untimely jest with an uncivilized person that has endangered Sita’s life (क्रूरैः अनार्यैः सौमित्रे परिहासः कथंचन). Rama has always approached many rakshasas with a sympathetic heart. He was hesitant to kill Tataka (Why Rama's and Krishna's first kill was a woman?), spared Maricha multiple times and spared Ravana in the battlefield when he meets him first. In the same vein, he sets a low punishment of defacement for the threat of murder and cannibalism of his beloved Sita.  (राक्षसीम् पुरुषव्याघ्र विरूपयितुम् अर्हसि). Lakshmana makes Rama’s command a reality to send her packing to Khara, her cousin brother, responsible for Janasthana.

It’s time for Shoorpanaka fans and Rama’s critics to wake up. A horrified Khara demands whom he must kill for seeing his sister in such a plight. She gives a description that shows her level of lust intoxication, which even the nose/ear loss and bleeding doesn’t bother.

तरुणौ रूप संपन्नौ सुकूमारौ महाबलौ | पुण्डरीक विशालाक्षौ चीर कृष्ण अजिन अंबरौ || -१९-१४
फल मूल अशिनौ दान्तौ तापसौ ब्रह्मचारिणौ |पुत्रौ दशरथस्य आस्ताम् भ्रातरौ राम लक्ष्मनौ || -१९-१५
गन्धर्व राज प्रतिमौ पार्थिव व्यन्जन अन्वितौ | देवौ वा मानुषौ - वा तौ तर्कयितुम् उत्सहे || -१९-१६

            The first two verses have been interpreted variedly, depending on how the commentators see the bhava of Shoorpanaka as lust, belittle Rama-Lakshmana or incite Khara. Note these verses are the best example of dual which is special in samskrita, besides singular and plural. For brevity, we will stick to literal meaning:

            These two very good looking youths are brothers, sons of Dasaratha, gentle, very strong, broad lotus eyes, attired in blackdeer-skin and bark, subsisting on tubers and fruits, self-restrained like ascetics and adhering dharmic path. They both are royal and she is incapable of distinguishing if they are humans (Some versions say danavas) or devas.

            Then she throws her trick to bait about Sita. One must remember Shoorpanaka’s world view is colored by lust. Khara doesn’t take the bait, but later Ravana does as he has very similar mindset. Now she wants to drink the blood of all the three. (Leftist tamasic critics must explain how this sudden transformation of love into hate happens). For a traditional deeper insight read Desire – a genealogical approach. With Khara’s first fourteen rakshasas killed by Rama, Shoorpanaka returns to trade barbs. She later witnesses, Khara, his brother Dhushana, along with their fourteen thousand army, get dispatched to Yamapatna in one and half muhurtas by the lone foot soldier Rama.

            Knowing Rama’s prowess, Shoorpanaka goes to meet Ravana (who already has information of Janasthana through Akampana) and abuses him to incite. She said a single handed, indefatigable Rama annihilated his subjects when Ravana’s pomp and ego was in vain display. Note, Maricha’s advice perhaps kept Ravana still pondering. When challenged to describe Rama, the lustful Shoorpanaka claims him to be like Kamadeva(कन्दर्प सम रूपः). She exclaimed she could not see the difference when Rama picked an arrow from the quiver, stretched the bow, released it and hit the target, a continuation of her infatuation. She twists her tale, after giving a detailed description of Sita, that she got punished by Lakshmana who stopped her from fetching Sita for Ravana

            Shoorpanka is indicative of our own Tamas, where we are busy chasing one desire after another, fixing one problem after another. We want that desire for the moment, we are ready for substitutes and then we get vengeful and angry or sad when obstructed. She wanted Rama, ready to settle with Lakshmana, wanted to gobble up Sita whom she deemed as the reason for her plight. She plays the story to the mental makeup of her listeners. Selfishness, inflamed by passion of lust is a very self destructive force which places a thick veil of ignorance over oneself. We see how Shoorpanaka, despite seeing the death of the fourteen rakshasas goads the death of Khara-Dhushana and still wants to avenge by using a twisted tale to influence Ravana, who merely displays a bigger level of Tamas ignoring all the good advice given to him. Let us stay focused on identifying the inner Shoorpanaka in us, which is making us run from pillar to post like a merciless slave master with new desires bubbling all the time.

            Tara, the wife of Vaali, endowed with beauty par-excellence and with an intellect outshining her beauty is our next subject. She had vociferously advised Vaali, not to entertain attacking Sugriva, on account of Rama’s presence, only to be ignored. She is deeply pained and in extreme sorrow, hearing his fall due to Rama’s arrow. (Read more in: Subtle dharma behind Vaali vadam) In her long lamentations, she gives us the real reason for Rama’s punishment as Vaali forcibly taking away Ruma, Sugriva’s wife, away from him.
Tara is very angry and sorry for her situation and feels Rama should be the one to face her ire and approaches him.  One must note she is a person with high intellect, indicating her level of Sattva.  Vaishnava traditions indicate that Bhagwan Rama is made of Shuddha Sattva, one that is beyond the 3 gunas – Sattva-Rajas-Tamas. Approaching HIM, a person of higher caliber Sattva, lose their Rajas and Tamas. We find the exact situation with Tara. She launches herself into glorifying Rama, as she is one of the few who gives us a real glimpse of Rama.
त्वम् अप्रमेयः दुरासदः जितेन्द्रियः उत्तम धर्मकः |
अक्षीण कीर्तिः विचक्षणः क्षिति क्षमवान् क्षतजोपमा अक्षः || -२४-३१
tvam aprameyaH ca dur aasadaH ca jita indriyaH ca uttama dharmakaH ca |
akshiiNa kiirtiH ca vicakshaNaH ca kshiti kshamavaan kshataja upamaa akshaH ||
            You are immeasurable, inaccessible, self controlled (beyond senses), highest dharmika (righteous), one with unmitigated glory, with clear discrimination, one with forbearance like Mother Earth, eyes are red cornered (indicating like an emperor, Royal).
            While many great acharyas have written wonderful commentaries of this one sloka, it will suffice our purpose to note that Tara is not trying to placate an angry Rama for favors, but able to see the real divinity of Rama, which he has been desperately trying to cloak. Her request to kill her as a mercy plea has been rejected summarily by Rama, whose few measured words bring solace to the distressed minds of Tara.
            For a person with elevated Sattva and Buddhi, when encountering emotional turbulence like anger or extreme sorrow, when reminded of the true nature of things, their mind returns to normal. When their mind comes in contact with a higher state of Sattva (Guru, Bhagwan or HIS teachings), their mind gets easily elevated to tap into this higher state of consciousness. The veil of emotions has very limited effect on their Buddhi or manas.

            Mandodari, the Queen consort of Ravana, gives a similar display at the death of Ravana. Her lamentations are heart rending like those of Tara and very similar to hers, is filled with words of extreme wisdom. She mocks the dead Ravana how he got overcome by a mere human ( त्वं मानुषमात्रेण रामेण युधि निर्जितः), implying there is a superhuman behind this façade, the one Ravana refused to accept. She reasoned that it was very evident that Rama was superhuman (divine) when Ravana’s brother, Khara was eliminated with his entire army in minutes (खरस्तव हतो भ्राता तदैवानौ मानुषः) as also when Hanuma leaped across to Lanka, causing extreme misery. How was it possible for humans to build a bridge and land a huge army across the ocean?  She gives a very deep insight about Rama, on account of her sagaciousness and extreme sattva.
व्यक्तमेष महायोगी परमात्मा सनातनः | अनादिमध्यनिधनो महतः परमो महान् || -१११-१४
तमसः परमो धाता शङ्खचक्रगदाधरः | श्रीवत्सवक्षा नित्यश्रीरजय्यः शाश्वतो ध्रुवः || -१११-१५
मानुषं रूपमास्थाय विष्णुः सत्यपराक्रमः | सर्वैः परिवृतो देवैर्वानरत्वमुपागतैः || -१११-१६
सर्वलोकेश्वरः श्रीमान् लोकानां हितकाम्यया | सराक्षस परीवारम् हतवांस्त्वां महाद्युतिः || -१११-१७
vyaktameShaH mahaayogii paramatma sanaatanaH | anaadimaadhya nidhanaH mahataH paramaH mahaan||
tamasaH paramo dhaataa shaNkha chakragadaadharaH | shriivatsa vakShaaH nitya shriiH ajayyaH shaashvataH dhruvaH ||
maanuShaM ruupam aasthaaya viShNuH satya paraakramaH| sarvaiH parivRitaH daivair vanaratvam UpagatiH||
sarva lokeshvaraH shriimaan lokaanaam hitakaamyaya saraakShapariivaaram hatavaan tvaam mahaadyutiH ||

            This Rama is certainly a great sage, Supreme SELF, eternal one, one with no beginning or end, greater than even distinguished Brahma, the one beyond ignorance, the nourisher, wielding a conch and sudarshana chakra, with Srivatsa mark on his chest, always with Shri (indicates Lakshmi) and also all Kalyana gunas (expression of Shri), the one who cannot be conquered, the perpetual one, the only constant in the Universe, the real might, the Lord of all the worlds, the one with Shri, the consort of Shri, the one who maintains the world in its interests, the one with great splendor, who has assumed the form of a human, surrounded by vanaras, who are disguised devas, that Rama has killed you, the one surrounded by rakshasas.
            Mandodari, after having such a clear insight goes on to tell that Ravana, who had conquered his senses to obtain rare boons seems to have succumbed to revenge of the senses. Her lamentations are replete with deepest viveka. She is able to clearly isolate the reasons for Ravana’s fall. She regrets Ravana’s rejection of Vibhishana’s wisdom and the words of Maricha, Kumbhakarna, herself and her father (Mayasura).
            The non practicing critic’s best potshot is these are inserted lines. If one were to read throughout Valmiki Ramayan, the fingerprints of the SUPREME SELF, though it was trying its best to masquerade as a mere human.
Mandodari, like Vibhishana, has been constant in telling the truth and challenging the adharmic actions of Ravana. Unlike Vibhishana, she could not forsake Ravana, owing to her marriage. Yet her level of Sattva remains very high to clearly discern even at her worst crisis. Her reasoning and understanding is not only able to identify good and bad, but also peer through at the divinity in Rama.
One must note both Tara and Mandodari, are overcome by extreme grief and seek no favors from Rama, who had just killed their husbands. In fact Tara seeks a mercy killing only to be rejected. Neither of them have no reason to extol Rama’s virtues. But both of them know that Rama is not a mere human and their Sattvic guna coupled by their immense buddhi can make them realize the Supreme Divinity operating as Rama.
            The perception of Rama, be it in Ramayana or in our real lives (in the Universe) is purely a factor of our gunas. We saw this in detail in Why can I not feel the God within. Depending of the level of Sattva, one is able to see the subtler aspects of the SUPREME SELF’s presence. In this two part analysis, we find how people perceive Rama, purely out of their guna-karma-vasana prism. The lesson for all of us, as we work on ourselves, our perception of divinity will alter for the better. Every effort we put towards lifting our minds off tamas and rajas, sattva shines naturally, assures Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
            Let us follow the exalted example Vibhishana to renounce everything to serve the SUPREME SELF. If we cannot, can we atleast refine our buddhi to such a fine level like Tara or Mandodari to accept our karmaphala as Bhagavad prasada? May we keep striving harder to increase the Sattva quotient in ourselves and realize the ever resplendent Paramatma shining through us.

                                                       तत् सत्

Sunday, February 25, 2018

How the opponents saw Rama - Part 1

            Rama has influenced the Indian civilization for millennia. We had a peep at just the impact of his name in Rama naama – its impact on the ethos of India. But of late we hear more about Rama in a negative connotation from self styled critics of Rama, folks who have never cracked open Ramayana, conversion machines without a brain or conscience, Breaking India forces and even foreign scholars who never have practiced Sanatana Dharma to realize its values, but fake with Indian attire to make believe that their Indic understanding is supreme. To add to the mix, we have hinduphobic media megaphones and politicians of lowest order who either create more lies or stories about Rama for their petty perceived gains. 

            To counter all this, one can merely open Valmiki Ramayana, where Valmiki is a mere contemporary scribe of actual events. Some foreign critics have mischievously misinterpreted that the case of the Itihasa was to promote some sections of the society. Nothing can be more absurd, but the one with a twisted mind can only act so far. Let us see Rama through the eyes of the opponents who faced him and try to gain some precious insight. In the first part we will see only the male opponents and in the second one we will deep dive from a female perspective.

Rama – as seen by male opponents

            Viraadha was a formidable rakhsasa who intended to carry Sita as his wife and holds Rama and Lakshmana menacingly. As they chop his hands to escape and cause a lot of damage, yet unable to kill him, Rama instructs Lakshmana to bury this cannibal. Hearing their names, the rakshasa realizes his blunder as he was not aware of the identity of the trio. He recalls why he is in this accursed form and Rama’s act of killing the body was the release from the curse. He not only instructs Rama to seek out Rishi Sharabhanga’s advice and give them the directions, but also desires safety in their journey ahead. This indicates he is quite aware of the divine mission. The predominant attitude of Viraadha is that of gratitude – 

तव प्रसादान् मुक्तो अहम् अभिशापात् सु दारुणात् || --१९
Tava prasadan muktyo aham abhishapaat su daarunaat
            Kabandha was another rakshasa, who tries to capture Rama-Lakshmana, after Sita’s abduction, for food. The vice grip even deflates the ever high spirited Lakshmana and makes Rama wonder about the sway of time on all beings. It is only after the Raghavas lop Kabandha’s hands, he wishes to know their identity. This leads to a mutual intro and the backstory of Kabandha, who requests them to finish the process of his termination by burning him in a huge fire. Kabandha, true to his words, upon being burnt assumes a divine form and gives him complete instructions to seek out Sugriva, who can be his aid to find the missing Mythili

            Both Viradha and Kabandha, flesh eating rakshasas, get back to their true selves; get out of their curse when they come in contact with Rama. They also provide valuable guidance to Rama with his onward journey.  One may be in deepest tamas, yet when they come into the contact of the UNIVERSAL SELF, DIVINE NATURE, it can help them out of tamas into their real forms, provided there is an intense longing, as exhibited by these two. Though living at the lowest level, their hearts were set on the way out.

            Akampana, a spy of Ravana whose prime area of focus was Janasthana, had an irony when he faced Rama, indirectly. His name literally means one who does not shiver. After receiving abhaya(protection) from Ravana, he proceeds to give us two pictures of Rama – one of his physical and another of his capabilities. Per Akampana’s description Rama is a youth, built like a lion (a hint to remind Narasimha) with mighty shoulders, long limbs, black in complexion, renowned hero of fame with unmatched might and valor. (Interesting use of the word श्रीमान् indicating a connection with Vishnu and Sri)

पुत्रो दशरथः ते सिंह संहननो युवा | रामो नाम महास्कंधो वृत्त आयत महाभुजः || -३१-१०
श्यामः पृथुयशाः श्रीमान् अतुल्य बल विक्रमः | हतः तेन जनस्थाने खरः सह दूषणः || -३१-११
putro dasharathah te sinh sanhanano yuva | ramo nama mahaskando vritta aayat mahabhujaha||
shyama prithuyasha shreeman athulya bala vikrama| hatah tena janastana khara ca saha dhushana||

               Ravana’s disbelief and query makes Akampana give more description of Rama as very resplendent, the best of archers among the best, endowed with many divine missiles, divine qualities and one who conducts even warfare according to the highest dharma (some versions give as purandarasamo yudhi, implying fights equal to Indra)

रामो नाम महातेजाः श्रेष्टः सर्व धनुष्मताम् | दिव्य अस्त्र गुण संपन्नः परंधर्म गतो युधि || -३१-१५
Ramo Nama Mahateja shreshta Sarv  Dhanushamatam | Divya astra guna sampanna paramdharma gatho yudhi ||

He adds, when infuriated, Rama, the highly renowned, is invincible and can stall the flow of an overflowing, rushing river with arrows.

असाध्यः कुपितो रामो विक्रमेण महायशाः | आप गायाः तु पूर्णाया वेगम् परिहरेत् शरैः || -३१-२३
Asadhya kupitho ramo vikramena mahayasha | aapa gaaya tu poornayo vegama pariharet sharau

Having witnessed Rama’s exploits, Akampana tells that he can collapse firmament along with the stars and planets or elevate the earth if it were to collapse. Rama in his opinion can regulate even the wind and oceans, thereby hinting that there is no escape in an island. He tells that Ravana with all his supporters together will be no match to Rama in a war, even with devas on Ravana’s side.

Akampana is the first one to appeal to Ravana’s lust to defeat Rama, he must abduct Sita, an idea Shoorpanaka echoes shortly thereafter. Akamapana’s tamas may be the same level, but he is devoid of a desire to either realize his true nature or rise above, unlike Viradha or Kabandha. As a witness of Rama’s single handed decimation of Khara-Dhushana’s and their army of 14000 strong rakshasas in one and half muhurtas (Roughly 72 minutes), Akampana can maximum comprehend the physical features and a slice of Rama’s prowess. Modern day Akampanas, may not exhibit the gory side of his tamas, yet do not comprehend more than few aspects of Rama.

Vaali, the brother of Sugriva, was killed by Rama and we saw in great detail on the subtle dharma behind his vada. Despite Tara’s repeated pleas not to confront Sugriva and the prior warning of Rama’s pact with him, Vaali ignored only to perish. But he engages in a lengthy conversation with Rama. He accuses him on various faults, but gets a befitting response from Rama. Rama’s words soothe and elevate Vaali who concludes दोषम् राघवे दध्यौ धर्मे अधिगत निश्चयः (na dosham raghave dadyo dharma adhigata nishchaya), implying Rama has most certainly not violated any limits of dharma. He deems Rama is the best among men – नरश्रेष्ठ and apologizes profusely for accusing Rama of violating dharma

Vaali realizes the true self of Rama and we can realize this in the following sloka:

त्वम् हि दृष्टार्थ तत्त्वज्ञः प्रजानाम् हिते रतः | कार्य कारण सिद्धौ प्रसन्ना बुद्धिः अव्यया || -१८-४७ 
Tvam hi drshtartha tatvajna prajanam ca hite rata | karya karana siddhau  prasanna buddhi avyaya

            Vaali expounds that Rama is the real knowledge of all means and recourses, namely Purushartha – dharma artha kama Moksha and that his actions are based on having a complete understanding of cause and effect. In fact, he thanks Rama for killing him, as this was a release from making new papa and also it is a paapavimochana, a way out of his sins. His faith in Rama’s probity is such that he seeks Rama’s protection for his son, Angada and his wife, Tara. He pleads to treat Angada on par with Sugriva with compassion and to tolerate his childishness. He requests Rama to ensure no ill-treatment occurs to Tara on account of his harsh behavior to Sugriva.  Vaali gives elaborate instructions to Sugriva to fulfill Rama’s mission and Angada to remain obedient to Sugriva.

            Vaali can be seen to represent Rajas. Typical to this guna, he remains deaf to Tara’s deep insights and also cannot reconcile with Sugriva. He accuses Rama on a litany of charges. Yet on account of the brief association with Rama and also as the Rajas gets calmer due to Rama baana, his Sattva is able to comprehend Rama’s points clearly. He is not only able to realize his faults, but also see a glimpse of Rama’s greatness. There holds our key to realizing the greatness of Rama – work on minimizing Rajo-Tamas and increase our Sattva.
            Mareecha, a rakshasa who has been spared by Rama twice already is being approached by Ravana to assist in Sita’s kidnapping through deceit. Akampana’s report makes Ravana convinced not to go frontally against Rama. Mareecha asks him not to go after Rama or Sita and strongly condemns the advisors who prompt the destruction of Lanka.

            Shoorpanaka puts a spin on the incidents by playing to Ravana’s infamous lusting side that without Sita, his life will remain incomplete, besides lying that it was for Ravana’s sake she had to undergo the humiliation. Again Ravana visits Mareecha, who was living like an ascetic, to aid him with his expertise in trickery. 

            Mareecha gives a detailed picture of his deep understanding of Rama, whom he deems as powerful as Mahendra and Varuna (महेन्द्र वरुण उपमम्). He warns that an angry Rama will make the world devoid of rakshasas (अपि रामो संक्रुद्धः कुर्यात् लोकम् अराक्षसम्). He demolishes Ravana’s perception that Rama got banished and could not even have the courage to resist his expulsion, extolling his virtues of strongly abiding in dharma

            Mareecha, on account of his little tapas is able to get a real deep insight into Rama, as he is continuously meditating upon HIM with fear. Perhaps, the best insight on Rama is provided by Mareecha as:

रामो विग्रहवान् धर्मः साधुः सत्य पराक्रमः | राजा सर्वस्य लोकस्य देवानाम् इव वासवः ||
Ramo vigrahvan dharma sadhu satya parakram| rajah sarvasya lokasya devanam iva vasavah||

            Rama is the very embodiment of all dharma in the universe, very good person, very valorous. The choice of the word sadhu implies all the multidimensional qualities associated with it are found in Rama. He also claims him to be like the Indra of all the lokas, implying he is more powerful than Indra.

            Mareecha recalled his two prior encounters with Rama. In Dandakavana, to aid Vishwamitra Rishi, Rama throws back Mareecha, a hundred yojanas by a single arrow, when he ignored the prowess of a boy less than twelve years. He noted that if an untrained Rama, prior to acquiring divyastras can be so potent, what can happen when he is enraged now. He could not understand why he alone was spared in that encounter, when all his cohorts and brother were eliminated with such an ease.

            A few years later, when Mareecha took a heinous form of animal and cannibalized and terrorized the rishis of dandakavana, he was confronted by three arrows of Rama. Two of his aides perished, but he noted that even Rama baana did not attack him as he was retreating in fear.  Since that incident, Mareecha said he is living a life of a hermit, more out of fear than desire. He perceives Rama by the thousands and reflected in all beings of the forest, due to his fear.

अपि राम सहस्राणि भीतः पश्यामि रावण | राम भूतम् इदम् सर्वम् अरण्यम् प्रतिभाति मे || -३९-१६
Api rama sahasrani beeta pashyami ravana | rama butam idam sarvam aranya pratibati me

            Mareecha confesses that Rama is even in his dreams. Just the syllable Ra is making him scared wondering if the next syllable is ma. Even the words like ratna, ratha create so much fear as do any words that begin with ra.

कार अदीनि नामानि राम त्रस्तस्य रवण | रत्नानि रथाः एव वित्रासम् जनयन्ति मे || -३९-१८
Ra kaara adeeni naamani rama trastasya ravana | ratnani ca ratha ca eva vitrasama janyanti me

            He strongly advises Ravana to understand that Khara-Dhushana and Shoorpanaka got their retributions for their actions and not to pursue any vengeful thoughts against Rama. He declares that Rama is exceptionally resplendent (on account of his actions and intensity), powerful, strong and can make the world rid of all rakshasas. Despite all the elevated thoughts shared, Ravana’s resolve to meet his death only grew stronger. Mareecha thought it was better to die at the hands of Rama than Ravana, who was hurtling to his own death.

            Mareecha is a great example of what happens when little Sattva mixes with a lot of Tamas. There is extreme fear perceiving the SUPREME SELF as its actions are perceived only through the lens of fear and not dharma. Mareecha’s living as a sannyasi did make him more perceptible to the qualities of Rama, yet the Tamas kept him grounded in fear. Unless we transform this Tamas into subtler Sattva, we too face the same predicament.

            Vibhishana, the youngest brother rooted in dharma, tried his best to appeal dharma and reasoning in the minds of the boastful rakshasas, in vain. One may recall Shoorpanaka’s introduction of herself to Rama, where she almost complaints to him that Vibhishana, her brother, established in dharma, has no trace of rakshasa in his behavior( विभीषणः तु धर्मात्मा तु राक्षस चेष्टितः|). Vibhishana used their language of fear to make them realize that they are no match for Rama baana. He declares that neither Ravana or Trisheera nor Nikumbha (Kumbhakarna’s son) or Indrajit (Ravana’s son) can match Rama in the battle.

रावणो नाइबलस्त्रीशीर्षो | कुम्भकर्णस्य सुतो निकुभः |
चेन्द्रजिद्दाशरथिम् प्रसोढुम् | त्वम् वा रणे शक्रसमम् समर्थः || -१४-१५
na raavaNo naaibalastriishiirSho | na kumbhakarNasya suto nikubhaH |
na cendrajiddaasharathim prasoDhum | tvam vaa raNe shakrasamam samarthaH ||

            When Ravana proceeds to be stubborn, Vibhishana’s intentions to remain rooted to dharma cleaves him from his own brother and surrenders to the lotus feet of Rama. One must note that he had even renounced his own wife and sons to serve Rama. One can gauge Vibhishana’s depth of Rama perception when he seeks refuge not as a traitor switching sides, but drawn to the Supreme SELF due to his gunas. He declares that he has sought refuge in Rama, the sole refuge for all living beings (भवन्तम् सर्व भूतानाम् शरण्यम् शरणम् गतः |)

                Vibhishana, though on the opposing side, due to his highly sattvic nature is able to remain fixated on dharma and hence he is able to perceive Rama without seeking any favors (unlike Sugriva). It is Rama who chose to confer Lordship over Lanka and a status of brother, due to his actions. Sattvic thoughts must be enacted for them to fructify, else they have no value.

            Malyavan, the elder brother of Ravana’s maternal grandfather, Sumali, gives extensive advice to Ravana, to make peace with Rama, to return Sita, before the war. In return Ravana abuses him. Being an erstwhile King well versed in scriptures and being a reasonable voice of intellect and dharma, he shares his perception of Rama – as Vishnu in human form. (विष्णुम् मन्यामहे रामम् मानुषम् देहम् आस्थितम् |)  

            Malyavan, again gives proof that Sattva can give us a better identity of Rama. Sattva will not allow any negative confrontation with Rama, as the perception is beyond the physical.

Gunas decide how we perceive Rama

            We have walked through the different characters in Ramayana and how they perceived. Even if one happens to be in an opposing situation, our gunas determine whether our perception of the Supreme SELF as a mere awesome, powerful force or something that is all pervading and can transform us like in the case of Vibhishana

            Today’s critics filled with Tamas may reach conclusions akin to Akampana or Ravana and even abuse Rama. But we have two responsibilities to: 

a) Increase our sattva, so we can have better Rama understanding
b) Act like Vibhishana, to not only abandon Adharmic side, but also join the Dharmic forces and contribute our mite. 

Failing to do both will only make us wallow in deep Tamas with no hope for spiritual emancipation or progress. Even if our progress is almost imperceptible, as our Sattva increases, our buddhi becomes sharper to stay rooted in dharma. Then alone we can realize रामो विग्रहवान् धर्मः.

तत् सत्