“The mighty Rama, who possessed extraordinary strength, consecrating in accordance with the mantras prescribed in the Vedas, taking that great arrow – which was capable of removing the fears of the entire world and the Ikshvaku dynasty, capable of taking away the glory of His enemies, and conducive to His own happiness – fixed it on His bow.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Kand, 108.13-14)
It is not just a religious holiday to be observed as part of tradition or what others in the community pressure you into. It is not merely for paying respect, as one look at this vast creation is enough to be spellbound at the artistic ability of the creator.
Like other notable occasions in the annual Vaishnava calendar, Dussehra is meant for giving pleasure. The soul is naturally blissful. The property is known as ananda, and it descends from the Supreme Lord, who is always full of bliss and knowledge.
Events relating to the triumph of Vishnu over the asura elements of society give pleasure to the fallen souls who are struggling through the myriad births in various species. The elevated, important personalities also take great joy in both witnessing the original event and commemorating on the subsequent anniversary days.
The jar-born one is an important rishi of the Vedic tradition. Shri Rama, who is the incarnation of Vishnu central to the Dussehra celebration, offers Agastya the highest praise. Rama tells His younger brother Lakshmana that Agastya’s piety is at such a high level that the wrongdoers cannot even approach the rishi’s ashrama.
Agastya takes pleasure in the event of Rama slaying the Rakshasa leader named Ravana. Though God does not require help in accomplishing a task, He allows others to participate, giving opportunities for the active tendency in service to manifest. Prior to finally defeating Ravana in a long, drawn-out battle, Rama receives assistance from Agastya on how to proceed.
2. The sun-god
The help is in the form of a mantra. Agastya advises Rama to worship the sun-god. This is appropriate for many reasons. The sun dissipates darkness. The sun is light, or the mode of goodness, and darkness is the mode of ignorance. Rama is the original effulgence of this universe, as hinted at by Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita.
न तद् भासयते सूर्यो
न शशाङ्को न पावकः
यद् गत्वा न निवर्तन्ते
तद् धाम परमं मम
na tad bhāsayate sūryo
na śaśāṅko na pāvakaḥ
yad gatvā na nivartante
tad dhāma paramaṁ mama
“That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by electricity. One who reaches it never returns to this material world.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.6)
Rama also appears in a dynasty of kings that originates with the sun-god, Vivasvan. Therefore, it is something like the family tradition to be blessed by the maker of the day. The sun-god is a distinct personality, and he takes great pleasure in playing a role in the defeat of the dread of the saintly class, Ravana.
3. Lord Brahma
He is the creator. Also known as Svayambhu, he is the first living entity. Not knowing what to do at first, he meditates. He hears the sound of tapa, which means “austerity.” Through that practice he receives further guidance from the Supreme Lord on how to proceed in life.
स चिन्तयन् द्व्य्-अक्षरम् एकदाम्भस्य्
उपाशृणोद् द्विर्-गदितं वचो विभुः
स्पर्शेषु यत् षोडशम् एकविंशं
निष्किञ्चनानां नृप यद् धनं विदुः
sa cintayan dvy-akṣaram ekadāmbhasy
upāśṛṇod dvir-gaditaṁ vaco vibhuḥ
sparśeṣu yat ṣoḍaśam ekaviṁśaṁ
niṣkiñcanānāṁ nṛpa yad dhanaṁ viduḥ
“While thus engaged in thinking, in the water, Brahmaji heard twice from nearby two syllables joined together. One of the syllables was taken from the sixteenth and the other from the twenty-first of the sparsha alphabets, and both joined to become the wealth of the renounced order of life.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.9.6)
It is Brahma’s arrow which gets released to deal the final blow to Ravana. Thus Brahma is an integral part of the origin of the Dussehra event. Though he helps both saints and sinners alike, Brahma’s actual interest is on the side of good. Whatever boons Ravana may have received previously were nullified through another blessing from Brahma, but this time offered to Rama.
4. Durga Devi
Dussehra occurs at the end of a series of days dedicated to worshiping the wife of Lord Shiva. One of her names is Durga, and she is something like the manager of the fort that is the material world. That fort is difficult to cross over; hence her name.
Rama killing Ravana gives her great pleasure, as she is always on the side of good, like her husband. She is associated with the event, as well, for the Supreme Lord includes others in festive occasions. Just as the Vanaras from Kishkindha helped in defeating the Rakshasa army in Lanka, so Durga Devi was there to offer assistance.
This is interesting for the reason that it is well-known that Ravana was a devotee of Shiva. In truth, the relationship started out differently. As he was towards practically any powerful person, Ravana tried to compete with Lord Shiva. After being defeated and releasing a loud scream of pain, he finally surrendered.
Mahadeva is a great devotee of Rama, though. The relationship with Ravana was something like business associates, though there was no real interest for Shiva to meet. The husband of Durga Devi rejoices in Rama’s victory. He is also associated in a way, since Rama prays to Mahadeva for a successful outcome just prior to the battle. During the return trip home to Ayodhya, Rama points out the location of the puja to His wife Sita Devi. He specifically says Shiva gave his prasada, or mercy.
The victory is more than just the triumph of good over evil. The suras and the asuras have been at odds since the beginning of time. Like the changing of seasons, sometimes the influence of good rises, and sometimes the most sinful ascend to the top.
The uniqueness of Ravana’s fall is that it took place directly at the hands of the Supreme Lord. Thus there is added significance, which can be studied, remembered, and discussed for years and years, with further enlightenment taking place throughout the process.
On further enlightened ground,
When topics of Dussehra to sound.
Annual occasion worth celebrating,
Where God His power demonstrating.
Brahma and others included too,
When Rama that arrow drew.
For the benefit of mankind released,
After too much asuras increased.