“That best among men would not go to sleep without Him, nor would he eat without Him, even if the food brought was very palatable.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Bala Kand, 18.30)
न च तेन विना निद्रां लभते पुरुषोत्तम ।।
मृष्टमन्नमुपानीतमश्नाति न हि तं विना ।
na ca tena vinā nidrāṃ labhate puruṣottama ||
mṛṣṭamannamupānītamaśnāti na hi taṃ vinā |
A wonderful name that evokes memories of great people who have made a significant impact on the world, who have rescued countless souls, who were courageous, fearless, knowledgeable, and dedicated to the Absolute Truth, Ramanuja is a direct reference to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Of Ramayana fame, he is the eldest of the three younger brothers to Shri Rama, the prince of Ayodhya. The literal translation of Ramanuja is “younger brother of Rama.” If we further define anuja, we see that it is someone who follows faithfully. The eldest, agraja, takes the lead. Based on seniority, Rama is the one to follow in the next generation in the family of King Dasharatha.
Bharata is worthy of this name through his deeds. He has the misfortune of being away from home when tragedy strikes. There is strong infighting within the family, and it is Bharata’s own mother who instigates the ouster of Rama from the kingdom for fourteen years. The eldest son was on the precipice of taking over for the father, of succeeding in the proper way.
When Bharata returns home, it is too late. The father has passed due to the pain of separation from Rama. The damage is done. Though Bharata is now the king, he does not desire the post. He tries his best to persuade Shri Rama to return home. In the end, a compromise is reached. Rama will rule the kingdom in absentia; symbolically on the throne through His sandals placed there by Bharata, who voluntarily takes up the life of an ascetic until the elder brother’s return home.
He is one of two sons born to Queen Sumitra. Dasharatha’s three wives welcome the expansions of Vishnu into this world. Kausalya gives birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharata, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
Lakshmana is Ramanuja because of the close proximity in association. He is always by Rama’s side. The tendency is there since birth. In a large family, it is sometimes seen that the children pair up. Likely the older generation plays together and the younger forms their own group.
In Dasharatha’s household, Rama and Lakshmana were always together, and so were Bharata and Shatrughna. It is said that Lakshmana would not eat or sleep unless Rama had done so first. This extended to life in the forest, where the younger brother kept watch at night while Rama and His wife Sita slept.
Lakshmana is something like a bodyguard, a person who is always there to protect the elder brother, even though Rama is fully capable of defending Himself. Rama is powerless in prohibiting the exercise of devotion; therefore He cannot keep Lakshmana or Sita away from Him.
The third younger brother, he is Ramanuja because of the same eagerness for service. His opportunity arrives after Rama’s return home and full ascension to the throne. Shatrughna volunteers to take on a powerful enemy known as Lavana. The one whose name means destroyer of the enemy has to subsequently rule over the conquered kingdom, meaning that his sacrifice results in unwanted separation from Rama.
4. The acharya
There is the well-known acharya of the same name, who is actually considered an incarnation of Lakshmana. The origin of the guru is Ananta Deva, who is like the number one servant of God in the form of Vishnu.
The guru has specific traits that identify them. One is fearlessness. Ramanujacharya was bold in his preaching, especially in defeating the philosophy of Monism that still plagues the areas where Vedic culture is prominent. Ramanuja firmly established the duality between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, meaning that there is a difference between me and God, even though I am the same as Him, also.
Ramanuja sacred name,
Worthy that acharya of fame.
Also brothers following at home,
Lakshmana never to leave alone.
Bharata an ashrama making,
Kingdom not for himself taking.
Shatrughna the enemy to defeat,
From challenge never to retreat.
Categories: the four