Ramayana – Rama wants to fight

“What would King of Mithila, Janak, think of himself to get Rama – a woman in the form of a man – as his son-in-law?”

“It is a pity that the people of Ayodhya are preaching a falsehood that Rama is like the blazing sun and full of valor

We would be surprised to know that these strong statements about Rama came from none other than Sita!

Rama tells her that he has to go to the forest and that she cannot accompany him as life in the forest is full of hardships. Sita tries her best to persuade Rama to take her, but fails as he is steadfast in his decision. First, she pleads and then she requests. But nothing moves Rama. Then she becomes aggressive and utters the above two statements to him after which she makes him understand that she is totally dependent on him and cannot imagine a life without him. Rama finally agrees to take her with him.

In the forest, they are living a peaceful life, till Surpanaka enters the scene. She lusts for Rama and Lakshmana, gets her ears cut by Lakshmana and reports this to her brother Khara. She misguides him to think that she has been punished unjustly and this act needs to be avenged. Khara first sends 14 demons to Rama. Rama asks Lakshmana to stay away from the fight and takes on the 14 dreaded asuras himself. Rama easily slays them in no time. Surpanaka reports the slaying to Khara and asks him to wage a war on the brothers, adding that they might ask khara to a battle, if not attacked first. Khara hesitates to do that, but finally succumbs to his sisters’ pressure tactics and comes to fight Rama with 14,000 asuras.

On seeing the big army, Rama is very happy. Although Laskhmana gets ready for the fight, Rama stops him once again and assigns him, the duty of guarding Sita. The younger brother takes her to a distant cave, although puzzled at why Rama insisted on fighting alone. He knows that Rama possesses an array of missiles that they obtained from Vishwamitra, but he also knew that if both stood together, the army of asuras was nothing and could be destroyed without breaking a sweat.

So, why would Rama, who does not want unnecessary fights, happy to get into this fight wantonly and alone at that?

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Ramayana – Rama slays Subahu

After Tadaka was killed by Rama, it was the turn of her sons – Maricha and Subahu who came roaring from the skies and poured blood in the ritual altar on the last day of the yagna. Rama and Laskhmana were now stronger than before due to their new found knowledge of the divine astras.

Rama used an astra called Maanava on Maricha. The astra hit the asura on his chest and threw him away a hundred yojanas into the sea but did not kill him. Rama realized that the astras that he was using were acting in accordance to his thoughts and that this blessing was due to Vishwamitra. But even after this warning, Subahu continued to dirty the altar. Hence Rama used another astra called Aagneya to kill Subahu. Then he used the Vaayavya astra to decimate the remaining asuras.

Maricha who was let off by Rama, was so clearly shaken by Rama’s valor. We will see about the impact that this meeting had in him in subsequent posts.

But why did Rama kill one asura and let one asura live? While the story is straight forward, the inner meaning is not.

We, as Jivatmas, commit loads of sins in our lives. But after we surrender ourselves to the feet of the lord, he completely washes away the sins that we have committed till that point of time like cotton destroyed in a fire. But what about the sins that we commit after the surrender? Those that we commit unwittingly after the surrender (please note the word unwittingly!)-he whisks them away from us like water from the surface of the lotus leaves so that they don’t stick to us. While killing of Subahu is an allegory to the first situation, throwing Maricha into the sea to remove him from the scene, is a parable to the second situation.

Clearly shows that every little story in our scriptures have more substance and context than what meets our eyes.

In this instance, Rama showed that he was God, although indirectly. But there was another situation in which he acted like a human and true to his role of a husband…

Ramayana – Tadaka killed by Rama

The Ramavatar is the seventh avatar of Dasavatar. In this, the lord takes the form of an human being and lived the life of one, to show the world who a perfect human being is. Our ancient scriptures have clearly differentiated between his birth as a human and our births. While we are born as a result of our karma, He decides to be born into this world and chooses his own parents.

In the Ramavatar, he chose King Dasaratha and Queen Kousalya as his parents. He always introduced himself as “the son of Dasaratha” ! showing all of us how humble he was, as Rama. Throughout his life he always displayed humanly characters, underwent all the tribulations like any other person, cried and laughed and made mistakes. At the same time, he showed his godly side from time to time too.

Let us look at both these characteristics of Lord Rama in the next few posts.

Sage Vishwamitra took Rama and Lakshmana to safeguard his yagna. Although king Dasaratha was very reluctant to send them at first, he finally heeded to the words of his Guru Vasishta and let them accompany Vishwamitra in what he perceived to be a dangerous mission.

But we all know how this mission turned out to be, for Rama and Lakshmana. Actually Vishwamitra wanted to test Rama’s resolve for upholding dharma and the law of the land as he knew Rama would become king soon. The first test was killing Tadaka who was an Yakshi turned asura. Although Rama hesitated to kill her at first since she was a woman, he soon realized that she was no ordinary woman and that she deserved to be killed. After the death of Tadaka, the sage was so happy that he taught about the various astras or missiles and their usages to Rama and Laskhmana knowing fully well that the techniques were in safe hands. But Rama was more interested in the annulment of such supernatural missiles rather than their usage!

so what happened next? who followed tadaka to the Yagna? in the next post…

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Vamana Avatar – 5

We have seen about Vamana Avatar in the previous posts. So what’s the importance of the Avatar?

For starters – the all-pervading lord showed the world that he will do anything to protect those who surrender to him, by taking the form of a dwarf. Thus he is also called Raksha Vaamana. From Bali’s perspective, he surrendered to the lord at the end and Hari took the form of a watchman to protect Bali!

Next is the fact that the Supreme Being went begging. During Nrsimha Avatar, He promised Prahlaada that he will not harm any of his family members and descendants. So when Indra asked for help, he knew that he could not kill Bali since Bali was Prahlaada’s grandson. So he performed the lowly act of begging to complete what he could not complete by force-defeat bali. This shows that as the Paramatma, he will stoop to any level to protect us.

Also, the Lord who always likes to be identified with Goddess Lakshmi (that is why he is called Sreeman Narayanan – Lakshmi’s name always comes first) took the vamana avatar without any association with the Goddess – as a Brahmacari. It is said that He went to her and asked her to alight from her permanent place (the right side chest) so that he could go to Bali as a Brahmacari (This was because he was going to take everything away from Bali. But if Bali was seen by Lakshmi- he would get everything back due to Lakshmi Kadaksham!). But she refused the suggestion outright and made it clear that she will not forego her place and it was up to him to manage his business. So he used a vastram to cover her.

It is clear that this reincarnation was taken to tell everyone the significance of Saranagathi. If we leave everything to the lord and fall in his feet, he will do whatever it takes to fulfil our wishes and keep us safe even if it means that he is belittled in that process. One who helps others but expects something in return is a adhaman. One who helps others without expecting anything in return is a madhyaman. But the one who belittles himself and does not mind being dishonored while helping others is a Uthaman.

That is why we call him Uthaman.

We have seen about the lesser known Avatars in the Dashavatar series till now. From the nest post we will start seeing about some interesting stories in Krishna Avatar and Rama Avatar.( not the Avatars themselves, but some interesting stories that happened during their times on earth)