“Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna, of such beautiful and auspicious names – remembering those four sons of King Dasharatha and worshiping them fulfills all the desires of the mind.” (Dohavali, 121)
rāma bharata lacimana lalita satru samana subha nāma |
sumirata dasaratha suvana saba pūjahiṃ saba mana kāma ||
God has no name, since He cannot be limited in any way. There is not a single sound vibration, exclusive of every other, used for calling Him, for sending out prayers from the distressed, the saved, the satisfied, the grateful, or the inquisitive. As He is accessible to everyone through the expansion residing within the heart, He can understand any language.
“An old woman in Vrindavana, present at the time of Krishna’s pastimes, once stated in surprise: ‘How wonderful it is that Krishna, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Brajabhumi, can nicely speak the language of Brajabhumi with the gopis, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmere Province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Krishna is so expressive!’” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 21)
While there is no single name, there are many names. In Vedic culture there is the Vishnu-sahasra-nama, or the chanting of the thousand names of Vishnu, who is the personal form of God. Vishnu is so kind that He appears on this earth from time to time in the incarnation form. Those forms have characteristics and activities, and so many names for the Divine arise as a result.
King Dasharatha of Ayodhya had the good fortune of seeing Vishnu appear in his family as four sons. After being without an heir to the throne for a long time, Dasharatha’s desire was finally fulfilled. Those four sons have many names due to their lila, or pastimes, but even taking just the four primary forms of address brings great auspiciousness.
He is considered the direct avatara of Vishnu. God in the complete form; non-different from the original. Rama means one who holds all transcendental pleasure. That bliss and joy was shared with the parents and well-wishers in the community, who held so much affection for the darling child.
Even prior to growing up Rama had auspicious characteristics. In Vedic culture the astrological signs at the time of birth are calculated soon after the child is born. From this study different names for the child are suggested, and the future is predicted, as well.
When the incarnations of Vishnu appear, they bring with them all auspicious indications. The sound of Rama’s name relieves distress, it provides comfort and support, and it transforms the consciousness from material to spiritual. That is to say the mind goes from succumbing to the illusion of the material nature to seeing things as they really are, with the hand of God visible in every aspect and corner of living.
Dasharatha had more than one wife, which was not uncommon for pious rulers at the time. Rama appeared through the womb of Queen Kausalya. From Kaikeyi’s womb came Bharata. The three younger brothers are considered partial incarnations of Vishnu, as described in authorized works like the Shrimad Bhagavatam.
The three younger brothers each can go by the name of Ramanuja. They follow the lead of the eldest, who is Rama. They are loyal supporters, which means that nothing can break their love for the Almighty.
In Rama’s pastimes one distinction that Bharata holds is that he gets everything from renouncing. The Vanara named Sugriva received a kingdom as a reward for helping Rama. The same for the Rakshasa Vibhishana. Bharata is famous today for not wanting a kingdom, which was handed to him in an improper way, through the temporary jealousy of his mother against Rama’s mother.
Bharata maintained the kingdom during a fourteen year absence of the beloved Rama. He did so by meditating in a simple dwelling. The object of focus was Rama’s sandals, which were on the throne to symbolically represent Rama’s claim to the head title. As he was a son of a king and trained in the military arts, Bharata was also a great warrior who could adequately defend the innocent.
He is one of the twins born to Queen Sumitra. Lakshmana’s distinction is that he cannot tolerate physical separation from Rama. He is also Ramanuja, but he doesn’t take anything, either. Lakshmana does not look for Rama to solve his problems or for Rama to do everything for him.
Quite to the contrary, Lakshmana views himself as Rama’s personal bodyguard. The younger brother will forego sleep if it is necessary to keep Rama happy. If bad things happen to the eldest son of Dasharatha, Lakshmana is ready to fight the entire family to right the injustice.
“Rama’s younger brother, Lakshmana, has reddish eyes and a voice that resounds like a kettledrum. His strength matches that of Rama’s, and his face shines like a full moon. Just as wind gives aid to a raging fire, Lakshmana has joined forces with his brother. It is that best of kings, Shriman Rama, who has brought down the Rakshasas fighting in Janasthana.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.16-17)
He is also a terrific fighter. The enemies describe Lakshmana to be like the wind that fans the flames coming from the fire that is Rama. Together, the brothers protect the sages residing in the forest. They are personal bodyguards at a very young age to the venerable Vishvamitra Muni.
Lakshmana is one with auspicious marks or indications on the body. He is also considered an incarnation of Ananta Shesha Naga, who is the serpent with unlimited hoods serving as the resting surface for Lord Vishnu in the spiritual world.
His name means “the killer of enemies.” He is the twin-brother of Lakshmana appearing from the womb of Sumitra. From the time of birth, the brothers split into pairs with respect to association. Lakshmana is always with Rama and Shatrughna with Bharata.
Shatrughna is just as eager to offer service to Rama. He gets sent by the eldest brother to defeat a wicked character name Lavana. Not afraid of the enemy, having the kshatriya spirit inside of him, Shatrughna accepts the sacrifice of separating from his beloved brothers in order to carry out assigned duties.
In his Dohavali, Goswami Tulsidas says that those four names are auspicious and beautiful. Any person who remembers those names and worships them will have all their desires fulfilled. The secret is understood through practice, the same as with the magic of the maha-mantra, which is easily said one time and millions of times thereafter: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
For fulfilled desires to make,
Just four names take.
Sons to Dasharatha the king,
Immortal glories to sing.
Rama the eldest, to Vishnu exact,
Bharata looking nothing to extract.
Lakshmana always by the side,
Enemies from Shatrughna to hide.
Categories: the four