“Being installed this day, do you following in the footsteps of your fathers and grandfathers cherish and protect us. With you taking the reins of government, we shall live more happily than we did under your ancestors. We seek not earthly comforts or the highest things in this life, for our only wish is to see Rama installed in the kingdom. There is nothing more pleasing to us than the installation of the highly energetic Rama on the throne.” (Citizens of Ayodhya offering benedictions to Rama prior to His installation as king, Valmiki Ramayana, Ayodhya Kand Sec 17)
The king of Ayodhya, Maharaja Dashratha, had announced that his eldest son, Rama, God Himself in human form, would be installed as the new king. On the day of the installation, Lord Rama travelled from His residence to the king’s, and the town citizens praised Him as He went by.
One of the first kings ever was Maharaja Ikshvaku. He was highly pious, considered the lord of earth. From him descended a long line of pious kings, of which Dashratha was one. Not having any sons, the king performed a great sacrifice which awarded him four sons, of which Rama was one. Dashratha’s favorite son from the outset, Rama was loved and adored by all. The king couldn’t wait until the day would come when Rama would succeed him on the throne. One day, after properly consulting the learned brahmanas of the kingdom, Dashratha decided the time was right to crown Rama as his successor.
We can understand from the above referenced verse that the citizens of Ayodhya were highly advanced devotees for they were given the opportunity to directly witness Lord Rama’s pastimes. In the modern day governments of the world, leaders of democratic nations are elected to their posts directly by the citizens. A simple majority vote is usually required to win office, meaning that even the most popular of leaders doesn’t enjoy universal favorability. In America, polling firms take daily tracking polls of a president’s favorability rating. As long as a president is approved of by at least fifty percent of those polled, he is considered to be popular. That still means almost half the population isn’t happy with the job the president is doing.
This was not the case during Lord Rama’s time. The people knew that the Lord loved them all equally and that He didn’t favor any one group over another as leaders do today. They all approved of Him. As a prince following the duties of the kshatriya order, Rama would have to punish people from time to time. Yet even those people couldn’t find any faults in Him.
“I do not find any such man in this world, even amongst great enemies, who, forsaken for heinous sins, can cite, even in His absence, any fault of Him.” (Lakshmana speaking to Kausalya about Lord Rama, Vm, Ayodhya Kand, Sec 21)
As stated previously, Lord Rama was born into a very auspicious family, which had a great heritage dating back many generations to King Ikshvaku. They were all extremely pious men who were dedicated to dharma, or religiosity. The citizens were well aware of the family history, but still they were the most pleased when Rama was to be installed.
The attitude of the people also represents the highest form of devotion to God. People who turn to God can be classified into one of four categories:
“O best among the Bharatas [Arjuna], four kinds of pious men render devotional service unto Me-the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita 7.16)
Most of us fall into either the first or second category. We ask God for things: “Please take away my pain. God, give us our daily bread. God, why am I in such distress?” Undoubtedly, it is always beneficial to us anytime we can think of God.. However, true love means wanting more for the person you love than you want for yourself. The citizens of Ayodhya didn’t want anything from Lord Rama. Instead they only wished to see Him happy, in the same way that a parent wants more for their children than they want for themselves. The citizens had completely renounced all worldly comforts. Their happiness was tied to God’s. Achieving this state of mind means one has perfected their life.
As it turned out, Providence would play its role, and Rama would be denied the kingdom on that day. Banished to the forest by his father, the citizens would have to suffer the pains of separation from the Lord for fourteen years. Fear not, for Rama would triumphantly return and fulfill the wish of his devotees. The lesson we take away from this is that God always hears us. If we truly love Him and always think of Him, then He’ll deliver us from any calamity.
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