Ramayana – Rama meets Vibishana

Hanuman returns to Rameswaram after seeing Sita in Lanka. He confirms her presence to Rama who then fixes an auspicious hour for their departure to Lanka. Meanwhile in Lanka, Ravana convenes a meeting of all his ministers to discuss about what happened in Lanka. All the asuras and demons that are present there eulogize on their collective strength and encourage Ravana by misleading him to think that they are actually stronger. Ravana also thinks that the entire army of Rama is like Jatayu whom he killed while bringing Sita to Lanka.

Vibishana, Ravana’s brother, begs to differ. He offers words of morality to his brother king and his ministers. He also advices Ravana to send Sita back to her husband so that the impending war could be avoided. After hearing these words from Vibishana, Ravana goes to his court and asks Prahasta to defend the city. In his court, seeing that he is enraged, a very strong demon named Mahaparsva advices Ravana to take Sita by force. But Ravana knows fully well that he cannot do that due to a curse that he has earned from Brahma.

Sensing that the discussions are going in the wrong direction and that Ravana is being misled by all the demons surrounding him, Vibishana talks in length about Rama’s valor and the strength of his arrows. He urges and even pleads with Ravana to send Sita back to avoid bloodshed. But he finds that all his counsels are falling into deaf ears. So he leaves the sides of Ravana and comes to Rama.

On seeing him all the monkeys are agitated. They are ready to attack him and kill him once he lands on this side. Sugriva announces that Vibishana has come and that he wants to join hands with them. Rama is happy and asks Sugriva to bring Vibishana to him. Sugriva and the others try to persuade Rama against this move as they suspect that this is a ploy by Ravana and that Vibishana is dangerous.

Rama dismisses this argument and instinctively but casually remarks that if he wished, he could kill all the devilish beings, demons, ogres and supernatural beings living on this earth with just a tip of his finger.

Now how many human beings could say that? In typical Rama style, Godliness and Humaneness keeps bursting out alternately in his acts, talks and emotions. Rama keeps establishing again and again that he is God and he uses that fact to steer all those around him towards the path of dharma in the Ramayana.

Ramayana – Rama releases Jatayu

Jatayu is lying down in Rama’s arms, making them his death bed. Rama is crying that Jatayu is going to pass away and is complaining about his fate to Lakshmana. After Jatayu’s death, Rama performs all the last rites that are usually performed for one’s own paternal people. Then the brothers took funeral bath in the waters of river Godavari and Rama oblates waters from the river for the king of vultures.

Before all these duties, he looks at the departed Jatayu and says

“”Oh, greatly mighty king of eagles, by me cremated ritually and by me aptly consented to, you depart to the unexcelled heavenly worlds… you depart to those worlds that are destined for the virtuosos of Vedic-rituals, and to those worlds that are destined for the practicing people of ascesis amid Five-Ritual-fires, and to those that are destined for un-retreating combatants, and to those worlds that destined for the donors of lands…”

In short, he gives Moksha or Mukti to the bird instinctively. At one instance, he is crying and the next instance he gives moksha. Two extreme emotions are coming out from Rama as seen frequently before.

Now, release from the cycle of birth and death can only be granted by The Supreme Being. Also, he overrides some very important rules that have been laid down for humans for obtaining Moksha. He who has no familiarity with the path of Yoga (Yoga Margam), he who is born as something that cannot practice the means for obtaining Mukti and he who has been killed by a Brahmin- is not eligible for the final release. Jatayu breaks all these rules. He is a bird and is killed by Ravana(however bad he may be) who is a Brahmin. But still Rama overrides all the rules that he set forth and grants Moksha because he does not need a reason to do what he thinks. When god wishes to do something, he does it.

On one side, Rama is stricken with sorrow, wails over Sita’s loss and reaches out to Lakshmana for counsel. But on the other side, he grants the ultimate wish any jivatma would ask for and which ONLY he can grant. Happenings like these throughout Ramayana keep reinforcing the fact that Rama is God, although he wants the world to feel otherwise.

Ramayana – Rama and Jatayu

Sita has been abducted by Ravana and is being taken to Lanka in his pushpaka viman. Rama and Lakshmana know the general direction in which the Viman went, but they do not know the exact location. So they go in search of her through the forest.

While on flight, Ravana is blocked by the vulture king – Jatayu. Jatayu is one of Dasaratha’s close friends. He is the son of Lord Aruna  who is the son of sage Kashyap, brother of Garuda and the charioteer of Surya, the sun god. He very well knows that Ravana is abducting Sita and tries to stop Ravana by putting up a brave fight. Ravana easily slays Jatayu by cutting both his wings during the fight.

Now that the wings are gone, Jatayu falls down. He is holding his life, for he knows that Rama would come following Ravana. He realizes that he needs to guide Rama in the right direction. Rama comes to the spot where Jatayu is lying and becomes crestfallen after seeing his spate. He embraces Jatayu and starts crying bringing to the fore, his human nature.

He tells Lakshmana that it is because of his luck that all those who are associated with him are facing miseries in their lives inferring to his brother, his father, his wife and now Jatayu, whom Rama considers to be his father’s brother. He goes to the extent of saying that if he sits under a tree, the tree would fall and if he drinks the water from a river, it would dry up. Then he remembers his human duties, as Jatayu, whom he considers his own uncle, is dying in his arms. He embraces Jatayu knowing very well that he is breathing his last. After Jatayu dies, he performs the last rites according to the vedas. He feels that since he could not perform the last rites for his father, he could at least perform them for Jatayu.

After the death of Jatayu in Rama’s arms, he feels, emotes and acts like any other human being would do (on seeing one of his close relatives die).  He cries and rues about his fate, feeling very lowly about himself. While what he does after Jatayu died are his humanely duties,  he also did something that is astonishing and proves without any doubt what august seers like Vishwamitra knew – that Rama is God in plain clothes!