“Of all the aquatics the shark is one of the biggest and is certainly the most dangerous to man. Thus the shark represents Krishna. And of rivers, the greatest in India is the Mother Ganges. Lord Ramachandra, of the Ramayana, an incarnation of Krishna, is the mightiest of warriors.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.31 Purport)
It is a date marked in bold on the Vedic calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. This means that the observance does not necessarily fall on the same date every year in the modern calendar, but the season and month are more or less predictable. The occasion of Rama Navami is for celebrating the appearance in this world of the Supreme Lord Rama. He is considered an avatara, or one who descends. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita, there is a specific purpose along with accompanying conditions to trigger the travel from another world.
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य
ग्लानिर् भवति भारत
तदात्मानं सृजाम्य् अहम्
yadā yadā hi dharmasya
glānir bhavati bhārata
tadātmānaṁ sṛjāmy aham
“Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion – at that time I descend Myself.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.7)
Displaying a human-like form, Shri Rama is relatable. Though He walked this earth during an ancient time period, where the primary method of travel was horse and chariot and governments were monarchies, the lessons from the events described in the Ramayana are timeless.
There is significance to everything Bhagavan does. The image of Vishnu lying down in rest, for instance, has extensive symbolism. Vishnu creates the universes, and the work gets accomplished effortlessly. He lies down and breathes. That is it. Upon exhaling everything manifests and upon the subsequent inhaled breath everything returns to the origin.
With Shri Ramachandra, the hero of the Raghu dynasty, the interactions with friends and foes provide lessons applicable to every person in this world, at whichever stage of progress they may find themselves.
Gave service to others
As shown with Vishnu, God can accomplish the most difficult work without much exertion. I struggle to wake up on time in the morning to get ready for work. I am bogged down by requests coming from every direction. I am tired of having to carry supplies into the house every day. When will I find peace?
As visible in the Varaha incarnation, the Supreme Lord can put the entire burden of the world on His shoulders. He does not shrug or show signs of fatigue. This means that Rama could have done whatever was necessary, whenever the time was right.
Instead, He allowed others to serve Him. They were eager to do so. The wife Sita Devi would not leave His side, if she had the choice. The younger brother Lakshmana would sacrifice sleep in order to ensure the safety of Sita and Rama.
Hanuman, who was not a direct relative, put everything at risk in his service to Rama. He travelled to foreign territories, inhabited by hostile combatants, only for the purpose of search and locate. Hanuman’s friends, numbering in the many thousands, also contributed efforts on Rama’s behalf.
Showed His allegiance to devotees
This service spirit is inherent within all of us. The new father makes sacrifices he never before thought possible. He gets up in the middle of the night to drive the baby to the hospital, when needed. He may change diapers, prepare formula, or even walk around with the child to help them fall asleep.
The ideal match for the drive for service is the Supreme Lord. This is the dharma of the individual. They cannot live without this property. Shri Rama allows others to serve Him because He knows that will make them happiest.
Though they seek nothing in return, Rama is forever loyal to them. He accepts the monkey-like person named Sugriva as an equal. He gives liberation to the departing vulture known as Jatayu. Rama risks spoiling His own reputation in order to preserve the good name of His wife.
Fought alone against the greatest materialist
The material world is conducive to challenging God. That is the fuel of the engine of reincarnation. For as long as a person wants to try to become the supreme being themselves, they get to remain in a shadow copy of the spiritual realm. Life after life, birth after birth, until they finally tire and wave the white flag of surrender.
Rama matched up against the greatest materialist. The ten-headed king of Lanka thought he had everything necessary to dominate in perpetuity. Ravana was living comfortably, but he was uneasy in consciousness. His senses drove him instead of the other way around.
Because of the many despicable acts committed, Ravana had amassed a large debt of punishment ready to mature. Rama could have taken care of Ravana in so many ways, but in the end He decided to fight in seemingly neutral circumstances. On the battlefield, in Ravana’s home territory, using weapons of the time.
Ravana had the advantage of ten heads and twenty arms; Rama was just standing on His chariot. The materialist was allowed to challenge however they wanted, but they still lost. Rama and the dharma He supported prevailed, as they always do. On the occasion of Rama Navami we remember that most merciful one, who is the life and soul of heroes like Shri Hanuman and saints like Goswami Tulsidas.
By just releasing arrow or two,
Shri Rama easily can do.
Not having on others reliance,
But still with Sugriva an alliance.
And Hanuman’s bravery accepting,
The turncoat brother not rejecting.
Since the service spirit facilitating,
Honored on Rama Navami celebrating.