“Smelling the fragrance of Rama and Lakshmana, like a dog smelling a tiger, certainly you will not be able to stand.” (Sita Devi speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 21.31-32)
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न हि गन्धमुपाघ्राय रामलक्ष्मणयोस्त्वया ||
शक्यं संदर्शने स्थातुं शुना शार्दूलयोरिव |
na hi gandhamupāghrāya rāmalakṣmaṇayostvayā ||
śakyaṃ saṃdarśane sthātuṃ śunā śārdūlayoriva |
It is understandable that a person might become a little proud after wracking up accomplishments. Especially if the transition was from nothing to something, it is easy to forget what the previous mode of living was like. In the case of Ravana, the pride reached the highest level possible. More than mere forgetfulness of the awesome power of the Almighty, there was a genuine rivalry. On the occasion of Rama Navami, we remember how the wife of Shri Rama thoroughly embarrassed that king of Lanka in reminding him of his many obvious shortcomings.
The avatara descends from the spiritual realm. That place is of a different nature. That realm is neither created nor destroyed. It remains intact, while the manifest realm undergoes the typical cycle of creation, maintenance, and destruction.
The avatara descends to remind the living beings that they are part of the superior energy. The higher beings belong to the higher realm. They should not waste their time in a lower mode of living. The avatara is the highest being of them all, so there is the best chance to learn through association, either in person or by instruction.
Only those who have an interest will accept the message and make the best use of the opportunity. It is something like going door-to-door in sales. Not every person who answers the door will be willing to purchase what you are selling.
With the avatara, the gift is of the highest value. Therefore, it is a shame if someone does not take the time to listen. If they fail to take notice, they have missed a golden opportunity. In the travels of the avatara, there are meetings with adversaries. Not only do they fail to learn the difference between matter and spirit, but they are intent on proving the avatara wrong.
The adversaries want to show that there is no God. There is no higher realm. There is no such thing as an avatara, in the true sense. Ravana, the king of Lanka from ancient times, was the best of adversaries. To highlight the embarrassing nature of his defeat at the hands of Shri Rama, an avatara of Vishnu, we can take the hypothetical situation of a supporter living within the kingdom of Lanka.
This supporter has a few questions for Ravana. The king has just returned from a mission. This is not out of the ordinary, as Ravana was not isolated to the island of Lanka. Since he was feared throughout the world, any foreign expedition would certainly yield benefits.
1. Where is Maricha?
“Bro, where is Maricha? I know that he went with you. Not that you need any help, but he is your guy. Maricha is like your ride-or-die. He would never do you wrong. I heard that you guys strategized before leaving. You could try explaining to me, but I don’t think I could follow. You two are too smart for me.
“So, umm, where is he? I didn’t see Maricha come back with you. Is he taking a separate plane? Did he decide to hang around there a little longer? Is he busy plotting the next scheme to help you?”
2. How long did it take you to win?
“Bro, how long did it take to win? I know that Rama somehow survived fourteen thousand of your men attacking at a single time. He defended the Dandaka forest like it was impenetrable. Rama was like a human fort. At least this is what I heard from Akampana.
“But bro, no one compares to you. I can’t imagine the fight lasting long. You must have mopped the floor with Him. You are at least twenty times as strong as Rama. Get it? It’s because you have twenty arms. Rama only has two. Oh wait, that would mean you’re only ten times as strong. Never mind.”
3. Did Rama run away in fear?
“You’re saying there wasn’t a fight? Bro, what does that even mean? Didn’t you go there to defend your sister’s honor? You never back down from anyone.
“Oh, so does that mean Rama ran away? I could see that. He probably was too afraid to stand up to you. He seemed to have no problem against the fourteen thousand Rakshasas, though. Weird.”
4. Why is Rama’s wife living separately from you?
“Bro, I see that you brought Rama’s wife back with you. The weird thing is that she is living separately. Is it because she got used to the forest? Moving into a giant palace would be too much of a stretch? Are you going to live in the grove of Ashoka trees with her?”
5. Why do you look so worried?
“Bro, what’s going on? Why do you look so worried? You came back successful, right? You are victorious. No one is better than you. You should be at peace. Once Maricha returns, we should throw a party. An epic celebration to be remembered.”
The reality was far different from what anyone would expect. In the beginning, someone like Ravana could never conceive of defeat. He had already sent fourteen thousand of his best men to take on Shri Rama in the forest of Dandaka. Somehow the one person survived. The rest were annihilated. They were chased away by arrows that looked like serpents ready to devour.
नैव देवा महात्मानो नात्र कार्या विचारणा।
शरा रामेण तूत्सृष्टा रुक्मपुङ्खाः पतत्रिणः।।
सर्पाः पञ्चानना भूत्वा भक्षयन्ति स्म राक्षसान्।
येन येन च गच्छन्ति राक्षसा भयकर्शिताः।
तेन तेन स्म पश्यन्ति राममेवाग्रतः स्थितम्।
इत्थं विनाशितं तेन जनस्थानं तवानघ।।
naiva devā mahātmāno nātra kāryā vicāraṇā।
śarā rāmeṇa tūtsṛṣṭā rukmapuṅkhāḥ patatriṇaḥ।।
sarpāḥ pañcānanā bhūtvā bhakṣayanti sma rākṣasān।
yena yena ca gacchanti rākṣasā bhayakarśitāḥ।
tena tena sma paśyanti rāmamevāgrataḥ sthitam।
itthaṃ vināśitaṃ tena janasthānaṃ tavānagha।।
“Neither the demigods nor any exalted personalities were there helping Rama, for He acted alone. You should not entertain any doubt on this matter. Indeed, Rama shot feathered arrows, plated with gold, which turned into five-headed serpents that devoured all the Rakshasas. The Rakshasas were oppressed with fear, and wherever they went and wherever they turned, they saw Rama in front of them. In this way, O spotless one, have your Rakshasas been destroyed in the forest of Janasthana by Rama.” (Akampana speaking to Ravana, Valmiki Ramayana, Aranya Kand, 31.18-19)
Ravana then forced his advisor Maricha to accompany him. Maricha was against the idea. He knew that no one could defeat Rama in battle. He had previous firsthand experience. Maricha tried his best to dissuade the leader of Lanka, but the advice fell on deaf ears.
In the end, there was no fight. Ravana was smart enough to know that he would be doomed in any fair conflict. He instead chose the path of deception. The protectors, Rama and Lakshmana, were lured away by the diversion created by Maricha. Ravana then forced himself on Sita, dragging her back to Lanka against her will.
This was actually an embarrassing admission of the lack of superiority. Sita insulted the leader to his face by comparing him to a dog. Upon getting just a whiff of an approaching Rama and Lakshmana, who were like tigers, Ravana would run away in fear.
One thing from incident clear,
That Ravana to run away in fear.
Upon Rama and Lakshmana to see,
Scared like dog to flee.
Who whiff of tiger getting,
Into retreat mode setting.
Because adversaries deep down to know,
That Supreme infallible so.
Categories: holiday, rama navami
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