Relevance of Lord Ram for Truth, Peace and Harmony
22 May 2017 – Among the Hindu gods and deities Lord Krishna and Lord Ram are perhaps the most popular ones all over the world. The gospel and teachings of Krishna have been spread by several international organisations including ISKCON-International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Next to Krishna, Ram is admired and revered the most. His life has been beautifully brought out in the epic Ramayan (in Sanskrit language by Valmiki) and as Ram Charit Manas by Tulsidas. There are many temples of Ram depicting his legend in many parts of the world including in Nepal, Sri Lanka and even in Bali in Indonesia.
We know the broad story of Ram, his marriage to Sita (who is admired in her own right), his banvas (banishment from his father’s kingdom) for 14 years, the ordeals that he faced and how he overcame them. The biggest tragedy he endured — Sita’s abduction by Ravana (King of Lanka) and how with the help of another beloved character Hanuman, he was able to kill Ravana and rescue Sita have been beautifully conveyed in the epic. His victorious return to Ayodhya after 14 years is celebrated with great devotion by millions of people especially his Bhakts (disciples). There are many temples of Ram in India but one principal one was in Ayodhya that was demolished and was renamed as the Babri Masjid by the Moghul king Babar.
These aspects of Lord Ram are well known. I wish to touch upon his personal qualities of love, truth, devotion that are characteristic of this great being and how these values can inspire us in the complex contemporary world that we live in to be better human beings, to have love and compassion for all human beings and our biodiversity. There is so much distrust, injustice and violence in today’s world — the legend of Ram can help us to overcome some of these frailties and allow us to live with compassion, truth and harmony.
Why Ram had to be banished for fourteen years is a long story but once his father, King Dashrath reluctantly gave him the order, Ram faithfully followed his father’s desire even though it was ethically wrong. Ram was a faithful and truthful person as a son, as a brother and husband. Having lived as a prince with princely comforts, he did not hesitate when he found his father’s desire to send him in exile and nominated his younger brother Bharat to become the king of Ayodhya after Dashrath. But Bharat also was a morally upright person and he placed Ram’s slippers on the throne saying that Ram was still the king and he (Bharat) was just acting as his regent temporarily.
When Ram decided to leave, his wife Sita and his other younger brother Lakshman also decided to accompany him in exile. During his travels and travails in the jungles, all the three faced many hardships and difficulties. But they carried on. In one place they had to cross a river by boat. The boatman named Kewat helped the three to cross the river but would not accept any reward since he knew the reason of Ram’s exile and felt that this was done to spread the message of peace and harmony.
Another moral story in their journey was their meeting with a poor tribal woman called Shabri. Ram and his two companions had no hesitation in accepting a fruit –local berries that she served them with when they were hungry. In today’s situation many people would not accept anything – food or fruit from such a person because of caste considerations since it would be considered below one’s dignity to do so. But Ram was above these prejudices – he loved and respected all human beings.
Ravana is considered a demon king of Lanka and is reviled for having kidnapped Sita through trickery. But Ravana is also considered a great scholar and is respected and celebrated in some parts of the world today especially in Bali in Indonesia.
Carrying on in their journey, they met the legendary Hanuman who helped them and accompanied them throughout. Hanuman also has a prominent place in the epic Ramayana. He helped Ram in restoring the kingdom Kishkinda to the rightful king Sugriva who had been wrongly overthrown by his brother. So Ram was able to overcome intrigues and treachery which are also quite common in the contemporary world today.
After Sita had been abducted by Ravana, all the three – Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman’s main concern was to release her from her abduction. The story of how this objective was achieved is a long one and full of adventure and surprises. But ultimately Ravana was killed in battle and Sita was freed. Fortunately Sita had been physically treated well by Ravana in her captivity.
This part of the story ends with Ram and his companions returning to hero’s welcome in Ayodhya after completing 14 years in exile.
As we have seen the story of Ramayan enlightens us with several instances of high moral values and behaviour. It is no wonder that Hindus all over the world and some people belonging to other faiths admire culturally various aspects and celebrate Ram’s adventures and travails with devotion and enthusiasm.
Mahatma Gandhi was a deeply religious person and lived by the ideals of Gita and Ramayan. When he was shot on 30 January 1948, the last words he uttered before he passed away were “He Ram”.
Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 22 May 2017.
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