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Lord Rama

Lord RamaDusshera marks the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, of good over evil and the demonstration of the promise by the Lord that whenever there is a rise of irreligiosity, He will descend to vanquish evil and protect His devotees. The circumstances leading to the descent of Lord Rama are related by the great sage Valmiki in the epic Ramayana.

King Dasaratha
In the Treta yuga, King Dasaratha was a great ruler of the kingdom of Ayodhya (which means city that cannot be conquered in war). He belonged to the illustrious Surya-vansa (Solar dynasty) and was a very pious and religious king. However despite the fact that he had 350 wives, he was without a son. Since it was his duty to continue the dynasty, he resolved to perform the Ashvamedha yajna to get a son. At this time, Sumantra, his close confidante and charioteer related to him, that at one time the great sage Sanat Kumar had spoken about the dynasty of King Dasaratha to a group of sages. In this he had predicted that the sacrifice of King Dasaratha would only be successful if it is performed by a sage name Rishyasringa, the son of sage Vibandaka and the grandson of Kasyapa Muni.

Sage Rishyasringa
When Rishyasringa was born, his father, Vibandaka, carefully kept him isolated in a forest, bringing him up in a pure, serene and pious environment. The boy thus acquired great mystic powers by virtue of his celibacy and purity. Nearby was the kingdom of Anga ruled by King Romapada, a pious monarch. His kingdom had been suffering from drought and famine for a while and the king requested the Brahmans to find a solution. The Brahmans suggested that if Rishyasringa would agree to come and live in Anga, then his purity and austerity would drive away all calamities.

King Romapada however realized that Vibandaka would never agree to part with his son. So with his ministers he devised a plan for the benefit of his citizens. At a time when Rishyasringa was alone, the king sent some young girls to play with him. Since Rishyasringa had always been alone, he greatly enjoyed the company of these young maidens and would look forward to them every day. Eventually he agreed to accompany them to the kingdom of King Romapada and live there.

With the arrival of Rishyasringa, the rains began to fall, a spring breeze began to blow and the citizens of Anga were overjoyed at the end of the long drought. At the request of King Romapada, Rishyasringa married his adopted daughter Santa and began to live in Anga.

Dasaratha approaches Romapada
Greatly enthused by the predictions of Sanat Kumar, King Dasaratha went to meet King Romapada, where he was greeted with great affection and respect. King Romapada readily agreed to the proposal of his son-in-law, Rishyasringa performing the sacrifice. When Rishyasringa arrived to Ayodhya with the king, spring flowers and fragrant breezes started blowing and the people understood that a great personality had arrived. Rishyasringa instructed King Dasaratha to collect the necessary ingredients for the performance of the Ashvamedha yajna as well as the putra-kameshi yajna. Since the sacrifice required large quantities gold, gems, precious stones, clarified butter etc. the sage gave the king one year to collect the necessary paraphernalia. An overjoyed Dasaratha sent out invitations to all the kings, began the construction of huge palaces and instructed Sumantra to supervise the collection of required materials.

Demigods approach Lord Vishnu
As preparation of the yajna commenced the demigods headed by Lord Brahma approached Lord Vishnu and prayed to Him to descend as the son of King Dasaratha. The demigods were being greatly harassed by a powerful rakshasa named Ravana, who had performed severe austerities and obtained boons from Lord Brahma that made by invincible from demigods, rakshasa, yaksha and all kinds of celestial beings. However, since he considered humans and animals no match for his prowess, in his pride he did not ask for any protection from them.

Pleased by the prayers of the demigods and in order to uphold His promise to protect good against evil, Lord Vishnu agreed to descend with His expansions as the sons of King Dasaratha. He predicted, that as a human, he will vanquish Ravana and many other rakshasas. With His three expansions He will rule the Earth planet for eleven thousand years and then return to His abode.

Lord Vishnu also instructed the demigods to appear on the planets as monkeys and bears to help Him in His pastime. As per these instructions, the powerful demigods sired offspring's from Apsaras, Ganadharvas and other celestial ladies. From Brahma was born the powerful bear king Jambavana. From Indra came Vali, the king of the vanaras (monkeys). Sugriva was born for Surya, the Sun god. The celebrated Hanumana was born from Vayu, the wind god. Brihaspati, the spiritual master of the demigods begot Tara, who was wise as his father and acted as the counselor to the monkey chiefs. The celestial architect Visvakarma begot the mighty Nala who would later build the bridge to Lanka. These monkeys and bears were expansions of the demigods and therefore full of mystic powers. Though they appeared in animal forms, they were experts in the Vedic scriptures and very powerful. They amassed in the thousands and began to await the descent of Lord Rama.

Rishyasringa performs the yajna
After the completion of an year, sage Rishyasringa came and as promised performed the Ashvamedha and the putra-kameshi yajna. At the conclusion of the yajna a divine, effulgent being appeared in the sacrificial fire and offered a pot of sweet rice (payasam) to King Dasaratha to give to his wives. An overjoyed Dasaratha first gave the pot to his eldest wife Kaushaliya, who drank half of it. Half of the remaining was taken by Sumitra. Kaikeyi drank half of the remaining payasam and Sumitra finished the remaining payasam.

In due course of time Kaushaliya gave birth to a divine son named Ramachandra, Who appeared on the ninth day of the waxing moon. Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata and since Sumitra had drunk the payasam twice, she gave birth to twins Laksmana and Satrughna. Lord Rama was Vishnu Himself and His brothers were His expansions, non different from Him. As time went by, Laksmana became very attached to Rama. He was constantly by His side and soon the two were inseparable. The same thing happened between Satrughna and the elder Bharata. In this way the royal family grew and prospered.

Setting the scene
Thus was set the scene for the annihilation of Ravana and his kingdom of demons. The entire pastime has been related by the great sage Valmiki thousands of years before the appearance of Lord Rama.

Valmiki was a great sage in an earlier era, who had received the mercy of Narada Muni to become a devotee of the Lord. He then performed great austerities for sixty thousand years and thus pleased Lord Brahma. Once while enjoying the songs of a pair of courting krauncha birds, he was shocked to see a hunter mercilessly shoot down one of the birds. Moved by the cries of anguish from the devastated mate, Valmiki cursed the hunter to die.

Later when Valmiki was reflecting on his curse he was surprised at the musical meter in which the curse was spoken. Thus from the sorrow of Valmiki (which is called 'shoka' in Sanskrit) came the first 'shloka' sung in the musical meter called 'anushtup'.

Valmiki composes the Ramayana
Blessed with divine vision (sphurti) from Lord Brahma, Valmiki could look into the future and clearly see all the pastimes related to Lord Rama. He thus composed the epic Ramayana in twenty-four thousand verses (shlokas) divided into six sections and five hundred chapters. The recitation of Ramayana is considered to be most auspicious as it gives one the opportunity to directly associate with the glorious pastimes of Lord Rama.


The Glories of Lord Sri Ram Chandra

Lord RamaLord Sri Ramachandra appeared in Ayodhya, as a warrior prince in the Surya (Sun) dynasty that emanates from Iksvaku, the Sun god. Sri Ram, an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared as the Yuga Avatar (incarnation) of the Treta Yuga. more than 2 million years ago. The scriptures describe Sri Ram as being of light green in color, the color of a fresh spring blade of grass. He was the eldest son of Dasharatha, the king of Ayodhya, and Kaushalya. Whenever the Lord incarnates, He appears with His intimate associates. Accordingly, Lord Ram appeared with Lakshman, Bharat and Shatrughana as His brothers, Who were the incarnations of Baladeva, Anirudha and Pradyumna respectively . In addition to them, there were many demi-gods who also incarnated to assist the Lord in His pastimes. Sri Krishna mentions in the Bhagavad Gita (4.7-8), that He appears on this planet to fight the rise of irreligion and reestablish the faith of His devotees. At that time, Earth was overrun by many powerful demons, the chief amongst them being Ravan. Under the protection of Ravan, the demons were harassing the devotees of the Lord, spreading infamy and irreligion in the world. It was to fight these demoniac powers and restore the religious principles that Lord Ram, Who is non different from Krishna, incarnated.

In addition to freeing the world of these demoniac forces. Lord Ram also demonstrated the ideal code of conduct as per Vedic scriptures. His life serves as a model for people to learn and draw inspiration from, for all ages to come. Even though He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself and is beyond any scriptural injunctions, Lord Ram lived strictly by these injunctions, to show that even the Supreme Personality of Godhead chooses to respect the code of Vedic conduct, thereby teaching by His own example. This is also explained by Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (3-21), that whatever actions great men perform, common men follow.

On the instructions of His guru, Lord Ram at the tender age of 14 was able to kill powerful demons like Taraka. He thus showed that a disciple who is fully surrendered to his spiritual master gets transcendental power, which is far more potent than material power. As an ideal son, He unflinchingly followed all His father's instructions. When King Dasharatha, to honor the boons he had promised his younger wife, Kaikeya, deprived Ram of His right to the throne and ordered Him to 14 years of banishment in the jungles, Lord Ram unquestioningly followed His father's orders. Indeed, on witnessing the profound grief of Maharaja Dashartha, Lord Ram as an ideal son, berated Himself for being the cause of any distress to His father.

In abandoning the opulence of the royal life and embracing the austerities of the forest life, Lord Ram demonstrated the attitude of a self-realized person towards material comforts. He showed that while any one may enjoy material opulence, he must never get attached to it. He thus demonstrated the symptoms of transcendental consciousness, as later explained by Sri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita (2-56), 'One who is not disturbed in mind amongst miseries or elated in happiness, and who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is considered to be situated in transcendental consciousness'.

Ravan, himself typifies the attitude of the demoniac people. Ravan was vastly learned, a great scholar of the Vedas. He had become extremely powerful by obtaining several boons from Lord Brahma by practicing severe austerities and was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Despite all his knowledge, austerities, and devotion, he lacked the intrinsic attitude of a devotee. He was proud of his prowess and envious of Ram. In Ravan, we thus see that no amount of knowledge, austerity or devotional practices for material gains will get a person close to the Lord. It is only by complete surrender and acknowledgement of one's subordinate position to the Lord can one hope to become His devotee.

The abduction of Mother Sita, the wife of Lord Ram, by Ravan, is typical of the actions of materialists even in this day. Mother Sita is an incarnation of Lakshmi, the Goddess of good fortune, who bestows wealth and fortune on her devotees. However, Ravan tried to enjoy her separately from her lord and master, Sri Ram, and for this he was killed. The modern day materialist by fruitive actions are trying to amass wealth and fortune, without recognizing the predominant position of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As the faithful wife and servitor of Ram, Mother Lakshmi will only stay where her husband is glorified, and any body trying to forcibly keep her will meet the same end as Ravan did.

Finally, Lord Ram was the perfect king. Under His rule, the conditions were said to be the same as that in the bygone Satya Yuga, and His people lived in complete harmony. To demonstrate the duty of a king to his citizens, Lord Ram even banished Mother Sita to the forest. His intense bereavement at the separation of Mother Sita, and the subsequent pastime of banishing her to the forest is explained by Srila Prabhupada in his purports in Canto 9, Chapter 10 of Srimad Bhagavtam. At one level, Lord Ram demonstrated the effects of 'stri-sangha' (company of women) that can bewilder the senses of even the most self-controlled persons. At another level He demonstrated that the Supreme Personality of Godhead is not devoid of emotions and is indeed the fountainhead of all emotions in the spiritual realm.

So on the appearance day of Lord Ram, we must pray to Him to help us live our lives in an exemplary fashion, discharge our duties in the manner prescribed by the scriptures and thank the Lord for His mercy of actually showing us how to live by example (as Lord Ram) and by instructions (as Lord Krishna did in Bhagavad Gita).


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