The main point that you have to understand is the story of Ramayana is a history of our land. We have only two epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ramayana penned by Valmiki in Treta-Yuga. Mahabharata penned by Vyasa Deva at the end of Dwapara-Yuga. It is something very great. An epic itself is history and depiction of history, but in a very, very interpretative manner. While enunciating the incidents which took place in the past, they also explain it, the back and forth of it, the inside and outside of it with a view to lay down and impart the values and ideals of life. Then it becomes an epic, otherwise it is only a history.
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Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.
As you know, yesterday I went for inaugurating a four-day jñāna-yajña, so to say, in a temple. Yesterday was Sri Rama Navami, the birthday of Sri Rama. So I was discussing some of the elements of Ramayanam as written by Valmiki Maharishi.
I don’t know whether all of you know how the Ramayana writing commenced. I have no time to discuss the whole subject but I would like you to at least think about it. You can ask me, I will explain it further.
Valmiki himself was a convert. He was a dacoit. When he was told that what he was doing was wrong, “Oh! Is there any right and wrong consideration? What is the wrong?”
It was pointed out. “Whenever you do something wrong, there is an inner consequence for it. You go and ask your wife and children whether they will share the pāpa-phala of whatever you do.”
Innocent Ratnākara rushed to and found out that they would not share. “It is your duty to look after. By what means you gain your income, it is not our concern. You should do things properly. Impropriety in your action will rest with you and we will not share it.”
He was very much shocked to find it. Then suddenly he decided, “Now, what shall I do to absolve myself of all the sins what I have done?”
They said, “The only way is to do tapasya.”
“What is the tapasya?”
“Atleast chanting of Bhagvan’s name.”
So he was given the name, “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama.” He went on chanting. Initially, the chanting was loud. It became lesser and lesser noisy. It became a mutter by the lips. He closed the lips. It was mentally there. Finally the mind also stopped chanting and he was immersed in his own self-expanse.
Nobody knows how much time had elapsed. By the time he got up, he got up from an ant hill that had covered his body. When there is something still, the ants will crawl there. That is how it is. The little plants that were around when he went into that japa, all of them had become very huge trees. So he understood what had happened to him. “Because of the contact and association with the sages which I am likely, one, a forest dweller is likely to have, I have been saved. What about the people of the plains for whom there is no possibility for a saintly contact? How to rid the human mind of all sins and sinful tendencies? What can be done? As it happened in my case, it can happen in many cases. What is the way to help and guide the process?” He was very much involved in the process.
Every day he would think about it. He was known as Valmiki Mahararishi having come out from an ant hill. Bharadwaja and others were his disciples. One day, when he came to the Tamasa river for taking bath, the river was very, very beautiful. There was no dirty water, it was a clean water, flowing beautifully. The bottom of the river could be seen. It was so clear. He said, “This is the way our mental flow also should become clean, then you will understand the soul beneath”. Suddenly he turned his gaze sideward, there was a hunter who shot one of the two birds perching on the branch of a tree and that bird fell, hit by the arrow, bleeding. The other bird was neither able to go near the falling bird nor it was able to go away from it. You can imagine the agony the other suffered from the bereavement. This mood hit and moved Valmiki Maharishi’s mind beyond measure and the grief he expressed, it became the first poetry of our land.
yat krounchamithunādegamavadhīḥ kāmamohitam
What did the birds do to the hunter? They were living, they were perching. The hunter himself would like to sit with his wife and chat. What he likes himself, he denies to another. What is this philosophy? What is this motivation?
When he went home, went to his kuteeram back, cottage back, he started thinking about what he said. He found it was beautiful poetry. There was a lot of meaning. So he was thinking how to bring about a change in the human mind. What can be done? That was the time Narada Maharshi happened to visit him. He was very happy, he greeted the visitor and then asked him, “Oh Maharshi, You are roaming about in all the three worlds unhinderedly. So whatever transpires anywhere, you will be knowing. Tell me precisely one point. Is there anybody living now? Don’t tell me somebody lived earlier and I have heard about it. Is there anybody living now who is very righteous, good, noble, kind, considerate, at the same time who is valorous, powerful? I don’t want to know the story of a weak man. He must have all valor, strength, power to combat enemies, at the same time, good, noble and considerate.”
I always say Bhārat is always a dharma-prasuḥ. She always delivers people of dharma. And such people were never absent in any age. Narada said, “Yes! I know. He is still a boy. He is not yet an adult. He is the first son of Dasaratha. To the extent he has grown and I have known, I will tell you. The rest you find out.” So he gave a beautiful description of what Rama was, as he knew it. He was still a boy, the Prince. The enquiry is couched in beautiful terms:
Is there anybody living now, who is of qualities, at the same time, heroic and valorous? And he puts a few more words. That is how he came to know of Rama. He sat there, meditated upon his life, found out some elements. He could verify it from the palace of Ayodhya, living on the Tamasa bank and then he started composing. That is the time Brahma went to him and said, “It was my machination that I brought a hunter before you and the hunter enacted what he did, so that it will evoke an unstoppable, merciful flow in your mind. Unless you are hit by affliction and agony, you will not be able to be involved in a great work like this. So the entire work should be aimed at removal of greed, possessiveness, intolerance and the like.”
He started writing Ramayana and Brahma said, “As long as the firmaments and the mountains last, your Ramayana will also be. It will be sung. It will be learnt. It will be disseminated by people”. This is the Ramayana that we have.
The main point that you have to understand is the story of Ramayana is a history of our land. We have only two epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ramayana penned by Valmiki in Treta-Yuga. Mahabharata penned by Vyasa Deva at the end of Dwapara-Yuga. It is something very great. An epic itself is history and depiction of history, but in a very, very interpretative manner. While enunciating the incidents which took place in the past, they also explain it, the back and forth of it, the inside and outside of it with a view to lay down and impart the values and ideals of life. Then it becomes an epic, otherwise it is only a history. Unlike the other books, this epic is read by the people, reflected upon by people, preached by the people, heard by the people, followed by the people. We have, in various degrees Ramas even now. Rama is described not as a God by Valmiki. He describes him as “maryādā purushottamma” - A model man in whom values are present in ample measure.
While describing Rama’s story, he has always mentioned the good and great points but wherever Rama has difficulty and failure, that also he has described, he has not concealed them. If Dasharatha gave half of the pudding, the prasada he got from the sacrificial fir, half of it to Kausalya, then when he went to Sumitra and Kaikeyi, he divided it and gave one half to Sumitra i.e. one-fourth. When he went to Kaikeyi, his hand did not allow him. He divided it again. So only one-eighth, she got and the remaining he gave to Sumitra. Why did he do so? He was a great poet Valmiki. You will find explanations for it. How did he arise at the coronation? There also, there was an undue haste and hurry, that is why he got into trouble. So everything is beautifully explained there.
So I was explaining some instances in Rama’s life and saying that the epic author always describes an incident and he also brings forth the arguments and reasoning behind it. Whether it is a wrong action, what is the reason for the wrong? Whether it is a right action, what is the reason for it? So it is always explaining the right and wrong, explaining the inner story as well as the outer event. It is a very, very educative and enlightening program. And everywhere you will find our narrations are full of rationality. Our acharyas argue that whatever is mentioned in the scriptures cannot be accepted. They have to become reasonable and proper. If they cannot stand the test of reason and propriety, it cannot be accepted. In the scriptures or scriptural writings, many things may be there.
Now in Kerala, we had a fireworks accident. Who told you that fireworks is a religious item? It is not a religious item. It is not associated with the deity at all. Fireworks is something that has to be done meters and meters away from the idol, the sanctum sanctorum and the temple. It cannot be anywhere near because there will be splinters and other things flying. You can see if at all, a firework only from a safe distance. Everywhere, we are flouting the law.
I feel ashamed that the Hindu Dharma has to be intercepted, corrected and halted and corrected by the Court of Law. People say, the Court should not interfere in religious matters. Let me ask you, who else will interfere? Who were doing child marriage? Who were denying widow marriage? Who were denying part of the wealth to the girls? Was there any missionary or effort on our part to correct them? Do we have any religious law in the country? Are not our civil and criminal matters under the constitution and the constitutional machineries? Can we have a religious practice which is besides the constitution?
Many of the temples were held by Vuralas, their owners and they mismanaged. The huge temple, Tirupathi temple was run at one time by a Sannyasin I was heard, I am subject to correction. All of them had to be taken over by the government. Even in Travancore and Cochin, our Maharajas were in charge of the temples; not the Hindu society. Does the Hindu society have any mechanism by virtue of which good and noble people will be entrusted the task of administering as our administrators of the government are entrusted with? You know the bureaucracy is very strong. Only the elected machinery changes. Somebody told me, our Prime Minister has many good things to do but the bureaucracy will not allow, it has not changed at all. So there is a very strong force. So it is easy to say.
You know, I am feeling ashamed that our Dharma-Sastras, Vedas, Upanishads etc. are very, very vociferous in laying down rules, regulations, fundamental principles of life, action, propriety etc. in spite of this, why is it that we finally lodge our matters to the Court to decide? And when we take it to the Court, people will say, “They should not interfere in religious matters”. Then who will see to the propriety of devotion and devotional practices? Thousands and crores and lakhs of people assemble in the name of devotion. Who will manage the crowd? Who will enforce the right discipline? Do we have any machinery? So you want the government to interfere and give you safety but they have no voice in the administration. Can it ever be? I think these are all perverted points. I am feeling very much ashamed that the Hindu Dharma which is so great, so honorable, so edifying, it is being crucified by our people.
This elephant, a wild animal. It is not a domestic animal like the dog or the cow. Why do you want to bring it and why do you want to put the Lord on top? Where? There is an accouterment that it wears – netti-pattam and there is a cloth covering it. That cloth is folded, unfolded and put on the elephant’s head, neck etc. That is where the Tantri takes the idol and sits. And this particular cloth never is given a bath. How can the Tantri sit there with the idol? And this Tāntric says “None of you should touch me.” So he can pollute the idol and himself by sitting on the cloth which is old, full of sweat, and elephant can pass stool and urine inside the temple, that is not pollutional. But if a crow comes and discharges something, it becomes polluted. Where is it written? What do you understand by all this? Don’t you think very deep delusion and perversion are there?
Our devotion to God should be expressed by our own. Let us take a palanquin, put the idol there and let us carry the palanquin. Let us have a chariot if necessary. But how can you catch hold of the wild animal? And what are we doing? Piercing it with a knife, hooking and pulling it with a hook, and using a spear you are hitting him. The elephant is kept under fear for obeyance. Can you not love the elephant, handle it with a lot of love? If, “My dear, come here”, it should come. “My dear, go there”, it should go. Then it is okay. But even then, the stool and urine are not acceptable and the cloth is not acceptable. How can it be? But still our tantris and the devotees and these people say…..I cannot understand this. I was also a boy, I was a lover of elephants. I used to be after the festival but when I came to think of these things… And they are giving non-vegetarian food also to the vegetarian animal. Any nonsense is done under religion. It doesn’t have any religious sanction or purity. I was mentioning some of these points yesterday. I thought of sharing it with you.
Harih Om Tat Sat. Jai Guru. Jai Guru.