“Tulsi says that one who has love for Rama should be friendly towards friends, renounce enmity with enemies, and be easy-going, simple in nature, quiet, and equally disposed towards all.“ (Dohavali, 93)
hita soṃ hita, rati rāma soṃ, ripu soṃ baira bihāu |
udāsīna saba soṃ sarala tulasī sahaja subhāu ||
It was a traumatizing experience for sure. One of those where you remind yourself to never forget. Forgetfulness is known to occur, as that is one effect of time. It is said that time heals all wounds. For some reason you’d rather this wound remain awhile. Let it stay fresh in the mind so that you can remember just how wronged you were. Things worked out in the end, but only after a difficult struggle.
While it is understandable to hold a grudge, to keep the memory of the person or people who caused so much pain, the advisable path is made clearer through the deeds and behavior of the most ideal man Himself. He is Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord, whose heroic exploits are described in many Vedic texts, the Ramayana the most prominent among them.
Rama was wronged by a few characters, but Ravana stands out the most. The king of Lanka stole Rama’s wife in secret. Though he was a king and supposedly very powerful, to the point of being overly proud, Ravana didn’t fight with Rama. The move was made in secret, and when Sita repeatedly refused his advances afterwards, Ravana had his assistants verbally torture her.
Knowing this, Rama had every reason to behave a certain way after finally vanquishing Ravana in battle. When he regained Sita, what Rama didn’t do is as instructive as what He did do.
1. Obsess over what happened for months
The cherished son of Maharaja Dasharatha could have spoken about the incident for months.
“Can you believe what that Ravana guy did? I still can’t understand it. Ten heads, twenty arms, enough food to feed an entire kingdom. Countless palaces made of gold. The most beautiful women in the world as wives. Why did he have to bother anyone?”
2. Maintain lasting enmity with that great sinner
Rama could have chastised any person for ever invoking the name of Ravana. It could have caused great distress to the hero expert at shooting arrows. Rama could have thought about Ravana constantly, not letting go of the enmity.
3. Consider Himself a victim
When Rama returned home to Ayodhya, He was installed as king. This was the plan all along, but family infighting got in the way before. Rama could have considered Himself a victim and asked others to be lenient as a result. “Don’t bother me, please. I just went through a lot. I need time to recover. I’m not in a good place.”
4. Shame an entire race of people
Ravana was the leader of the Rakshasas. These are something like man-eating ogres. The sinful deeds of the Rakshasas weren’t exclusively found in Ravana. His men were known to travel to the remote forests and harass the innocent sages living there. The behavior was something like terrorists attacking a church during the time of a service.
In the battle that saw Ravana’s defeat, many of these Rakshasas were vanquished, as well. Still, Rama did not condemn the entire race. One of Ravana’s brothers actually fought on Rama’s side. Vibhishana had all good qualities, the foremost among them devotion to God. Because of this Rama made him the king of Lanka, even before Ravana’s defeat; the rest was just a formality.
Rama directed Vibhishana to perform Ravana’s funeral rites. There was no lasting enmity. The battle was over. The sinner got the ghastly fruit that he deserved, delivered at the appropriate time.
Rama’s behavior can be summarized in a couplet from Goswami Tulsidas. The poet says that those who love Rama are friendly towards friends and renounce enmity with enemies. They are equally disposed; this is due to their connection with the Supreme Lord. He is the embodiment of forgiveness and tolerance, while at the same time remaining vigilant and attentive to the needs of those He calls friends.
Despite sinful deeds too many to believe,
Rama not infinitely over wrongs to grieve.
On the past misfortune not to dwell,
Daily Ravana’s character not to tell.
Or wallowing in misery, woe is me,
Rather direction for funeral to see.
To brother Vibhishana, Lanka’s ruler new,
Same forgiveness found in devotees too.
Categories: the four