As the whole world celebrates Friendship Day, I am forced to ponder on whom we resonate with the most. I have to confess as I pen, rather type this article, I have been driven to write, not a choice. We idealize and idolize the ones we adore mirror ourselves. It is a psychological fact that we connect and like others whom we are like. This likeness may be incipient idea or maybe something exactly identical, while the former is easily spotted the latter is seen only in exalted states of meditation.
It is also easily observed that the ones we think about constantly, our psyche molds itself to such a passionate outlook. In my personal experience, I have come across many couples married for few decades, who are still deeply in love with each other, resembling each other like brother-sister, though their wedding pictures show the contrary. Such an amazing transformation can be seen even in their thoughts for it has been observed such couple even communicate with each other without any words or gestures.
If the above observations can be a guide, it is easy for us to interpolate having a greater ideal closer to the heart mold us into this higher state. For centuries Rama has been the ideal that guided the psyche of the masses. Even in Mahabharata times, he is being recounted as a model, as a person to emulate not mere avatar. Rama personifies the highest human ideals and no example can be better than his life.
The Indian society has always emphasized reading Ramayana and Mahabharata on a daily basis to influence these values in a subtle way into our lives. Apart from this daily reading, there were pravachans, bhajans, kirtans etc which effused this divine aroma of greater ideals in our day-to-day living.
Rama lived this highest ideal and hence he is lovingly adored as Maryada Purushottama. The standards set by Rama are very extraordinary and stretch the normal humans beyond their fixated basal stance of mundane existence. His virtues are countless as his nature. He sets the example of an ideal son by listening to the commands of his father, even though they were wishes of his step-mother. He demonstrates Tyaga. He is able to renounce the kingdom despite being the next in line.
Rama sets an example for ideal friendship. He not only makes Guha, the boatsman and Sugriva, the vanara living in fear of his angered brother Vali, but also the enemy's brother who surrendered, Vibhishana as his friend, his brother and lives by that pact. The ability to look past the negatives surrounding others is a great virtue lived by Rama. He does not give in to the doubts of even Lakshmana or Vanaras to view Vibhishana with suspicion.
The idea is not enumerate the great virtues of Rama to emulate at this juncture. It may have to be for another day. But as easily understood these great innumerable virtues were seeping into the nation's psyche subconsiously and this has halted with the current way of living. Neither are these values extolled nor are the sources like Ramayana. In certain cases, due to motivated elements, great effort is being made to downgrade Ramayana as Iliad of Homer or some other great works of Shakespeare.
Ramayana means in the Path of Rama. The nation that had been silently walking behind this ideal Rama is now marching to the beat of EGO. An interesting acronym for EGO is Edge God Out. As long as we were including Rama in our lives we were having his ideals and virtues as a guideline.
Yajnovai Vishnu says Vishnu Purana. The highest Sacrifice that God has made is create this universe in one sense,though he has not left his true nature. This Universe will not be in existence but for his sacrifice to give up a portion of HIS nature. This example of the highest Divinity to do Tyaga is embodied in Rama Avatar.
Rama doesn't hesitate to Tyaga the throne. Rama Tyag's the false values of pride and ego when he makes Guha, Sugriva and Vibhishana as his brothers. Rama Tyags ego when he demonstrates humility when he meets great Rishis and Sages. Rama chooses the higher dharmic path when it comes to Vaali vad, even though it has become controversial today. Interestingly, Vaali, the so called victim tells Rama that he did the right thing before giving up the last breath. Rama demonstrates this spirit when he asks Sita Mata to demonstrate her virtue by jumping into fire. Though it must have pained Rama the most, he is ready to do the right thing. (Rama does not actually ask Sita to jump into fire, Sita makes this call herself to protect Rama's honor. We will be seeing this exclusively in an upcoming article - Sita's Agnipariksha)
Rama sets the bar for ideal ruling. Even today in India , we call a great rule as RamRajya. It is said all the denizens of Ayodhya entered Sarayu river and got Moksha when Rama left his body. But even with such display of Grace, there is a heart-wrenching episode of pregnant Sita Mata being asked to be left at Valmiki Muni's ashram. This evokes numerous question, did he even love Sita, why display such cruelty to a pregnant wife, etc.
Rama wanted to provide an encore example. He again displays Tyaga. As a ruler, he sets aside his personal likes, dislikes and puts the subjects of his kingdom at the core of his actions. The smallest rumor from the worst critic can flare up to consume the peace in the kingdom. No amount of proofs can silence the nature of tongue wagging detractor, except such a clinical approach. Rama showed that swallowing such a poison has evoked criticisms only on his actions thereby nullifying the potential critic's focus on his beloved's chastity.
All this came together in my mind's eye when I heard Swami Tejomayananda recite an incident where Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was asked to give a concise insight into Bhagavad Gita. He simply kept chanting Gita..Gita..Gita..Gita.. till it phonetically flipped and appeared as Tyagi Tyagi. Tyaga is the real essence of Gita. Tyaga is at the heart of Indian spirituality. There is no one who signifies Tyaga better than Rama.
Hence Rama, despite radiating all great virtues outshines the other virtues when it comes to Tyaga. Rama has guided millions over time. May this real boatman, Rama be my guide to cross this Sansar of misery and ego. May his grace continue to guide all those who chose to emulate his life. May we cultivate Tyaga, not based on vrakti(dejection) or vairagya(dispassion) or situational compulsion, but one based on choice. This Tyaga will help us to discover our real state of our mind and rise from the basal animal state. May Rama be our moral compass, our hero but most importantly our true friend and guide. May his life be a milestone when we reach cross-roads in our own lives. May his examples continue to be a beacon in our lives filled with all sorts of distractions.
Om Tat Sat