“In the childhood form, wearing nice jewelry and clothing, He plays in the dirt and His limbs become full of dust. With child-like speech, Rama plays with all the brothers and children.” (Dohavali, 117)
Everyone is celebrating in Ayodhya. It’s something like Christmas, but the scene is completely pure. There is no personal desire, for receiving this gift or that. There isn’t even concern over increasing the material fortunes of others.
Rather, everyone feels so fortunate to have the association of Dasharatha’s eldest son, Shri Rama. That child plays with His three younger brothers and also other children from the community. Rama’s every movement is a cause for celebration, and so it is like every day is a holiday, nityotsava.
This is happening because Shri Rama is Divine. The identification is made in shastra and confirmed by the special features. Experts study His body and notice the auspicious indications rarely found. There are important marks in important places, and the future will provide further confirmation.
On the other side of things are the Rakshasas. These are identified both by species and mentality. They are known as man-eating ogres, who during Rama’s time were concentrated on the island of Lanka and left home every now and then for the purpose of harassing the saints. If they were to view the scene in Ayodhya, several contentious questions might emerge.
1. How can God speak like a child?
Rama is God, you say? Why can’t He speak like an expert, though? Advanced scholars know Sanskrit. They compose their sentences in such a way that the words can be sung and remembered after hearing just one time. Here Rama is trying to speak, but is not entirely successful. It is like baby-talk.
2. How can He have limbs covered with dirt?
Rama is playing with the other children. He started off clean, but now dirt is accumulating on the body. If He is God, shouldn’t He know better? Why ruin the clothing so nicely put on by the parents? Why can’t He walk like an adult, who can identify unclean situations and avoid them?
3. How can He be dependent on others for feeding?
This is a mere child, which means that they can’t do anything on their own. Were it not for the adults, the children would die of starvation. If Rama were God, He would be entirely independent. He wouldn’t need to rely on anyone else for help.
Indeed, later on in the manifest pastimes the leader of Lanka would have more reason to be suspicious. Rama’s leaving the kingdom for fourteen years at the request of the step-mother bewilders the atheists and those focused on the accumulation of material possessions and power.
Ravana would never think of following dharma to maintain the honor of someone else. He had no honor to begin with, so what would he care about others in the family? He mistook Rama’s kindness and mercy for weakness. He mistook Rama’s renunciation of royal ties as a vulnerability in warfare, should the opportunity arise.
Of course, Ravana and the Rakshasas were wrong. They saw Rama directly and still did not properly identify Him. This means that simply giving the image of God to a doubting soul is not enough. It will serve little value as long as the consciousness is clouded. For the staunch non-believers, the only direct interaction with the Almighty will come in the gruesome, awe-inspiring form of death.
On the other side, the saints will continue to enjoy celebrations like those that occurred in Ayodhya, traveling on a sort of time machine back to that auspicious situation through reading about the events in works like the Ramayana and Puranas. Goswami Tulsidas goes one step further by composing beautiful poetry in the language of the time. This allows him to remember and celebrate alongside everyone else.
If Rakshasas the child Rama to see,
Wondering how that God could be.
Since like young one speaking,
Into dirt during play reaching.
On others dependent for feeding,
God should without others needing.
Mistake the futility of image showing,
Better Him through authority knowing.
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