“Being under the control of passion and lust, Rama’s father, Maharaja Dasharatha, wanted to fulfill Kaikeyi’s cherished desire, thus he did not go through with Rama’s installation ceremony.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 47.12)
कामार्तस्तु महातेजाः पिता दशरथस्स्वयम्।।
कैकेय्याः प्रियकामार्थं तं रामं नाभ्यषेचयत्।
kāmārtastu mahātejāḥ pitā daśarathassvayam।।
kaikeyyāḥ priyakāmārthaṃ taṃ rāmaṃ nābhyaṣecayat।
“It is difficult to use outside reference points in trying to explain the Ramayana to people. It is not merely a book belonging to a particular faith. It is not some type of mythology. It is not just a holy text to be relied upon by the followers.
“Valmiki presents that great history in poetry form, in the Sanskrit language. The original sounds persist to this day. You can try to translate to the best extent possible, but the verses themselves have so much potency. Just as Rama would fire amazing arrows empowered through incantations, so the shakti in the shabda of the verses describing Rama and His journey can bring liberation.
“The Ramayana is a way to connect with God. Plain and simple. We cannot understand nirguna. We don’t know what it means to be without material qualities. We have no way to gather enough clothes to cover the entire universe and more. We don’t have enough time in this birth to adequately glorify the one whose glories know no limit.
“He is kind enough to appear in this world, every now and then. Rama is the avatara who is supposedly human, which fits perfectly into the lone vulnerability in the powerful Rakshasa named Ravana. What strikes me is the nature of difficulty Rama endures. As this tale is about the Supreme Lord, one would expect boundless bliss, optimism, kindness, friendship, and triumph.
“In fact, there is much heartache, sorrow, loss, tragedy, and duplicity. Some of the things Rama has to endure are unimaginable to the common man. Being kicked out of your community. Losing your wife. Having no friends anywhere. Witnessing someone else’s torture. Selfless sacrifice on the part of others, all for your benefit.
“Do you not find any of this incompatible with the idea of God? I understand that the story ends well, but so many bad things happen. Some of them are too difficult to relive, if you ask me.”
The Supreme Lord shows through His example, as the best person, Purushottama, how difficult the journey through material life is. Things don’t always work out as planned. You could be surrounded by friends and family, and their desires could end up killing you.
King Dasharatha had no reason to feel concern. He had three beautiful and capable sons. The kingdom would remain in good hands. Yet everything changed in an instant. Through the desires rooted in envy of his youngest wife, Kaikeyi, Dasharatha lost what was most dear to him.
The king had to change his mind. Instead of Rama ascending the throne, it would be Bharata. That transfer would take place sooner than expected. Dasharatha could not live with the separation from Rama. The pious ruler quit his body while longing for the association of the one most dear to him.
Such tragedies have taken place since time immemorial. Though things may appear bleak today, with the worst in society rising to prominence, crushing any semblance of religious practice in public, the struggle between good and evil has been ongoing since before anyone can remember.
The only light in this world is the shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That lesson stands out from the Ramayana story. Darkness does not remain for long. The transcendental effulgence of Rama is so strong that enemies quickly scatter. Rama’s arrows chase them to wherever they flee; there is no relief.
Amazing beyond belief,
Enemies not finding relief.
The arrows like missiles to chase,
Threat of danger to erase.
From Shri Rama the source,
Following proper course.
Such that tragedy corrected,
By God again directed.