“For the benefit of the devotees, the Supreme Lord, Shri Rama, took the body of a king. He performed the most amazing activities in a manifest form, like an ordinary man.” (Dohavali, 113)
bhagata hetu bhagavāna prabhu rāma dhareu tanu bhūpa |
kie carita pāvana parama prāk।rta nara anurupa ||
Bhagavan is Bhagavan, no matter what the external appearance says. There is authority to confirm. The Vedas describe the different incarnations, though there are too many to count. As many waves as there are in the ocean, that is how many times the Almighty descends to the realm of mortality.
The well-known avataras are described, lest there be any doubt after the fact. Since Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is all-powerful, even when He takes an apparently human form the activities are amazing. Everything is done for the pleasure of the devotees, as was the case with Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya.
1. Swallow Kakabhushundi
A small child playing in the courtyard of the king, Maharaja Dasharatha. Rama was with His three younger brothers, each themselves partial expansions of Bhagavan. Lakshmana stayed close with Rama, while Bharata and Shatrughna were known to be a pair in association.
Usually a crow is considered a lower species, a kind of material body certainly not suitable for self-realization. The crow is juxtaposed with the swan, to describe the differences between non-devotees and devotees. Crows are known to hang around garbage and weeds, while the swan stays pure amidst the lotus flowers. Rama’s wife, the goddess of fortune, Sita Devi, herself made this comparison one time.
“How can that female swan who is accustomed to sporting with the king of swans amidst lotus flowers ever cast her eyes on a water-crow that stays amidst bunches of grass?” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 56.20)
Kakabhushundi was a special kind of crow, a devotee at heart. He got to witness Rama’s pastimes directly. For a brief moment he got caught up in the drama, considering the eldest son of the king to be an ordinary person. At that moment the young child chased after the crow. Finally catching him, the crow was put into Rama’s mouth.
While inside, Kakabhushundi saw a version of the universal form. Everything that exists and more. The vision defied the bounds of space. How could so much fit into a tiny stomach? Rama, of course, was playing with His devotee, and the crow was delighted afterwards, remembering the incident fondly.
2. Shoot Maricha while very young
Dasharatha was very attached to his sons, but he didn’t let that stand in the way of duty. One time the venerable Vishvamitra Muni paid a visit to the kingdom. He was in a dangerous situation. Night-rangers, nishacharas, were attacking the tapo-vanas and disrupting sacrifices, yajnas. These were the forests suitable for tapasya, or austerity. The renounced priest-like men had moved there to better concentrate on their spiritual pursuits.
Bhagavan defends the pious, sadhunam, so Rama was the perfect person to go and act as bodyguard for Vishvamitra. The issue was that Rama was very young at the time. The king relented to the request, and Lakshmana followed along with the elder brother.
Sure enough, an opportunity to defend presented itself. The eyewitness accounts are provided by the attacker, Maricha. He says that Rama did not yet have any signs of manhood on His face. Maricha attacked Vishvamitra’s ashrama, but Rama was there to defend. The avatara of Bhagavan did not hesitate in drawing string to His bow.
“At the time, there were not yet visible any signs of manhood on the boy’s beautiful face, which was dark-blue in complexion and had an all-auspicious gaze. Rama had a gold chain around His neck, a small tuft of hair on His head, wore only one piece of clothing, and held a bow in His hands.” (Maricha speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 38.14)
The arrow released from Rama struck Maricha so hard that the wicked character was hurled several hundred miles away, landing in the ocean. No ordinary human being could accomplish this. Moreover, there was no fear or hesitation. Rama defended as though it were child’s play.
3. Defeat Tataka using just sound
This situation was a little more tricky. Tataka was this large monster-like female. She had been harassing the sages for a long time, and Rama’s duty as a disciple of Vishvamitra was to defeat her. The Supreme Lord hesitated at first. He did not want to kill a female. He thought maybe He would just wound her enough for her to leave.
Vishvamitra restated the purpose, and so Rama obliged. Tataka was expert at black magic, so she could appear and disappear at will. How to fight against someone you can’t see? Rama is antaryami, or the all-pervading witness. He defeated Tataka using just sound, a most impressive feat.
4. Liberate Ahalya through only contact with His feet
The wife of Gautama Rishi was previously cursed for a transgression that she committed accidentally. She was cursed to remain in the form of a stone, but this turned out to be a great blessing. She gained subsequent liberation through only contact with someone’s feet.
Of course those feet were not ordinary. Again with Vishvamitra and Lakshmana, Rama simply brought His feet to the stone and the transformation took place. Those feet are lotus-like and they are the very embodiment of purity. They are the reason Ganga Devi’s water is considered sacred.
5. Defend against 14,000 Rakshasas singlehandedly
Maricha and Tataka were not the only bad characters attacking the tapo-vanas. There were many more where they came from. The place of origin was Lanka, where the leader was the king of Rakshasas, Ravana. He one time sent 14,000 of his men to attack.
This was against one person, Shri Rama. A little later on in the history of the Ramayana, here Rama is only with His wife Sita and Lakshmana. Rama took this battle on Himself. He successfully defended against all the Rakshasas attacking, using only His bow and arrows. God is so amazing that He can defeat anyone using any part of His transcendental body. Indeed, the sound of the names that represent Him have been known to defeat the great enemy of the mind, illusion. For this reason those devoted to Him always chant those names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Sages in forest protection lacking,
From wicked night-rangers attacking.
Rama demon Maricha into distance threw,
Using sound defeated Tataka too.
Against Ravana’s thousands to defend,
Safe against whatever to send.
From spiritual world coming, the eternal home,
So much potency in those lotus feet alone.
Categories: the five