“That best among men would not go to sleep without Him, nor would he eat without Him, even if the food brought was very palatable.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kand, 18.30)
It goes in cycles. Man is in trouble. This is society in general, not just a single person. The cause is always the same: forgetfulness of God. The original person, the creator, Lord Brahma received instruction from within the heart. He thus became the first spiritual master, ready to start a chain of disciplic succession.
As can be expected, along the way some people don’t follow. They create their own rules and regulations, driven by the mode of passion. Dharma and adharma trade places. A simple example is the thief. For them the nighttime and acting in secret are auspicious. Honesty and respect for private property are sinful.
As is explained in the Bhagavad-gita, when the original knowledge is lost the Supreme Lord Himself reinstates the teachings, suited for time and circumstance. He picks a powerful, pious and fearless individual to start the succession again, knowing that they won’t let Him down.
“This supreme science was thus received through the chain of disciplic succession, and the saintly kings understood it in that way. But in course of time the succession was broken, and therefore the science as it is appears to be lost.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.2)
In other cases He sends an empowered representative. One such person was Ramanujacharya, who helped to widely distribute and popularize the concept of duality in worship. Monism is where the individual identifies completely with the Self, which is the full collection of the spiritual energy. Dualism, or dvaita, is where the worship occurs between two separate entities, namely the individual and God, or the Divinity.
The name of that acharya is not accidental or random. Ramanuja was fearless, a staunch protector of the personal God, and also considered an incarnation of Lakshmana, whose deeds and character are well-known through the Ramayana poem. Lakshmana and two other people are known as Ramanuja, and with good reason.
1. Younger brother of Rama
This is the literal meaning. Rama is the eldest in the family, the first son to King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. This is from many thousands of years ago based on the present timeline of creation. Since Rama is an avatara of Vishnu, or God the person, the appearances and disappearances occur in cycles.
“In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I advent Myself millennium after millennium.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.8)
Dasharatha desperately wanted a son, an heir to the throne. He was blessed with four of them, born through the three queens. The name Ramanuja can address Bharata, Lakshmana or Shatrughna.
The term anuja implies a follower. After birth, the brothers sort of broke out into pairs. They loved Rama the same; He was their leader. But in association Rama and Lakshmana stayed together, as did Bharata and Shatrughna.
Lakshmana is worthy of the name Ramanuja because he is so devoted. It is said that he wouldn’t eat or sleep unless Rama had done so. This is such a sign of respect. In Vedic culture the wives are taught to eat after their husbands. This is a kind of sacrifice, a way to show love in service.
Shri Rama is greatly pleased by Lakshmana’s show of loyalty. One time there was the bad news of Rama being forced out of the kingdom. Family infighting and jealousy led to the unfortunate order. Lakshmana refused to accept the idea. He was ready to overthrow the father and put Rama on the throne. If anyone objected, Lakshmana was ready to fight them singlehandedly.
3. Dedicated follower
The elder brother sets the example and the younger ones follow. Rama appreciated Lakshmana’s sentiment, but followed through on the plan of the parents. He left the kingdom, as was the request of Queen Kaikeyi. Lakshmana refused to stay at home. He was married, but not seeing Rama for fourteen years would be more devastating.
He left the comforts of the royal palace in favor of the brushes, wild beasts, and unfixed residence of life in the forest. He did this so that Rama would not be alone. Lakshmana always looks out for the elder brother’s interests, and for this reason He is the inspiration to the spiritual master, who follows in the footsteps by courageously defending against bogus theories that deny the existence and influence of the Almighty.
Lakshmana as Ramanuja known,
Befitting through service shown.
Without Rama first not to eat,
Happily to side taking seat.
Loyal, to forest with Him to go,
So that never brother pain to know.
Fierce defender, the guru inspiring,
Who fighting the atheists never tiring.
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