“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 ||
Goswami Tulsidas is so appreciative of the Supreme Lord appearing in the human-like form of Shri Rama. Everything looked like what is typically expected. A birth. A growth period. Walking, talking, taking instruction from a guru. When everything was said and done, leaving.
“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.9)
As Shri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, the janma and karma for God are divyam. This means “Divine.” Just as Krishna is an appearance of Bhagavan on earth as a nara, or man, so is the descent of Shri Rama.
Though a man, Rama was not ordinary. It is impossible for Bhagavan to fully mask His transcendental nature. The effect of the material energy is also a factor. If I am so immersed in a particular desire and meeting it, I may not notice what is around me. So with many asuras during Rama’s time and also Krishna’s, they witnessed amazing things directly performed by the Supreme Lord and still did not change from their stance in atheism.
Not surprisingly, Rama’s activities were amazing, but this is not limited to one side. There was amazing lila, or pastimes, on the side of greatness, but Rama also showed signs of being ordinary, or not Divine. This was just as amazing, as many purposes were served through the exhibition.
1. Playing as an ordinary child
King Dasharatha was blessed to have four sons, after waiting so long just to have one. The extra perk was that each was Divine. Rama is Vishnu Himself and the three younger brothers expansions of Vishnu. Their appearance alone is sufficient testimony of the high character of the king.
If the Almighty appears in your home, how will you act? Likely there will be awe and reverence. Say nice things. Pay attention to etiquette and hospitality. Don’t make any foolish remarks.
How will the person on the receiving end feel? Is this what they are looking for? In the case of Bhagavan, the three worlds continue to sing His glories, and the process started before anyone can remember. It will never end, either, as Bhagavan is limitless.
With the avatara of Shri Rama, the desire was not to get more attention from a distance. By playing as an ordinary child, Rama elicited loving sentiments from the parents. They had a protective mentality. They were willing to do anything for their child, and Rama obliged by playing the perfect one.
2. Needing a ride across the river
Later on in the timeline of events from the Ramayana, Shri Rama is an adult traveling through the forest. He is accompanied by His wife Sita and the younger brother Lakshmana. Per the stipulations laid down by the step-mother, the group was to travel like ascetics. This meant no retinue, no chariots, no personal driver, as was available previously in the kingdom of Ayodhya.
At one point the group needed to get across the river. There was a boatman to provide the service. Kevata had one stipulation. He would not let Rama board the vessel until Rama’s feet had been washed. Kevata would personally see to this.
The excuse was that previously Rama’s lotus feet had liberated the wife of a saint through just contact. She had been cursed to remain in a stone form, and when Rama’s feet touched her she was liberated and returned to her husband, Gautama Rishi.
Kevata was worried that if his boat turned into a human being gone would be his livelihood. Let Rama’s feet be washed first, as this was the service preferred. Those feet are the very definition of purity and the water emanating from contact is pure, as well. Rama can travel as fast as the wind, so He doesn’t require anyone’s help in crossing a river. Kevata received the wonderful opportunity because of his pure devotion.
3. Chasing after a golden deer
While living in an ashrama one time a golden deer appeared. It caught Sita’s attention and she wanted to have it, preferably alive. She was shy in asking her husband for anything, but she mustered up the courage to make the request.
Rama will do anything to please His devotees, including chasing after a golden deer He knows to be a trick. The deer was actually the wicked character named Maricha, who had the ability to mask his true shape. Rama chased after the deer and eventually shot it. His departure from the ashrama allowed the heinous crime of Sita’s kidnapping by the king of Lanka, Ravana, to take place.
This was a show of vulnerability that allows the atheists to this day to continue to deny the existence of God. That is their original desire, after all, and Bhagavan does not interfere. The chase after the deer allowed for important events subsequent to occur.
4. Lamenting separation from Sita
Bhagavan is atmarama. This means “self-satisfied.” He is never bored. He doesn’t need to watch television. He doesn’t need a smartphone by His side to constantly check the news, scores, or stock prices. He is complete in Himself, purna.
Still, Rama lamented greatly after Sita went missing. He shows tremendous love for those who love Him. The expression of emotion was not necessary, but it is genuine nonetheless. As devotees are always thinking of Him, He is never lost to them, and they are never lost to Him.
“For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 6.30)
5. Relying on monkeys for help
Rama was the son of a king, a great one at that. Dasharatha earned his name by being able to defend against chariot-fighters coming from the ten directions simultaneously. Rama appeared in that blessed family, and so He had every right to use the royal army.
To find Sita and then overthrow Ravana the help came from monkeys and bears. Ravana and his men used black magic and amazing arrows with the power of nuclear weapons, while Rama’s side hurled trees and rocks.
Since Rama was on their side, victory for the monkey-army was assured. The power of the Divine is such that nothing can overcome it, no matter what the external situation predicts. Rama is so kind that He looks to glorify others, those who serve Him, like Vibhishana and Hanuman.
Odds stacked against,
From arrows of Rakshasas sent.
But Shri Rama on their side,
So victorious monkeys to preside.
Sometimes vulnerable in this way,
Like as child in king’s home to play.
Or chasing golden deer after,
Arrow than Maricha faster.
Categories: the five