Ramayana: The story of eternal values – Summary of Divine Discourse on 14 April, 2016
There are six relatives for every person – they are nothing but the eternal values: Sathyam or Truth is the mother; Jnanam or wisdom is the father; Daya or compassion is the friend; Dharma or right conduct, is the brother; Shanthi or peace of mind is the wife and Kshama or forgiveness, is the son. These are the six eternal values which are your true relatives. There are only two things which are permanent and remain with us: Sathya and Dharma, truth and righteousness.
For Rama, who was the true father? Father was Jnana or wisdom and Truth was His mother. Rama did not go to the forest in order to obey either His father or mother. He renounced the palace and kingdom and went away to the forest in order to practice adherence to Sathya and Dharma, truth and righteousness. Ramayana emerged from the word ‘Rama Ayana‘ which means the eye of Rama. ‘Ayana’ means tears. The story of the tears of Rama is ‘Ramayana’. Rama incarnated into the world in order to set a spiritual ideal for mankind. What is this ideal that He set? His name is ‘ideal man’ or ‘Maryada purushottama’.
What is true character? Character is the ability to always do truthful and righteous acts at all times. For every act that Rama did the basis was Dharma or righteousness. Rama was the very embodiment of Dharma. Rama came to hear of what Kaikeyi had asked of His father. He taught His father that being a king you should forgive your wife, grant her wishes and demonstrate that you are an ideal king. For Dasharatha, there was a clash between his individual Dharma (the father’s Dharma) and the Dharma of the King. He gave up his individual Dharma and practiced what is good for the society. You can sacrifice an individual for the sake of a family; you can sacrifice a family for the sake of society; a community or society can be sacrificed for the sake of a kingdom; a nation can be sacrificed for the good of the world; ultimately, we can give up everything and sacrifice the whole world, for the sake of God. Therefore, if you make any sacrifices in order to practice Sathya and Dharma, it becomes eternal.
Who is a true brother? A true brother is one who practices true righteousness or Dharma. Because of his divine acts, Bharata started looking just like Rama. Finally when Rama returned, people could not make out who was Rama and who was Bharata. He merged his individual personality into the personality of Rama. A person who can practice this kind of Dharma is a true brother. That is why Dharma is the brother.
Sita, despite all difficulties that they had to face in the forest always followed Rama and never gave up Rama. She gave up all comforts of the palace and went into the forest. Pain or pleasure, all the time with great peace of mind, she always chanted the name of Rama. That is why we say peace is the true wife. When Rama became the king, the king’s duty was more important than that of a husband. When He was just a husband, and not the king He tried to protect the interests of Sita by sacrificing everything. But once He became the king, His Dharma became different. Sita also left Rama and went away in order to practice Dharma. Her own sons, Lava Kusha, questioned her many times but she never spoke ill of Rama; she also enjoyed the singing of Ramayana by Lava and Kusha.
Rama being the very embodiment of Dharma, whatever He did, was to uphold Dharma. Rama towards the end of His life also sacrificed His own brother, Lakshmana, whom He loved more than Himself. Vibheeshana also sacrificed his own kingdom and came to seek the shelter of Rama; he was even ready to lose his life thus demonstrating the qualities of a true friend. Though Rama was God, when He came in the form of a human being, in order to set ideals for mankind, He had to undergo great hardships. Finally, He coronated His son as the king and gave up His life in the River Sarayu.
In every character of Ramayana, you find so much of value. When we say, ‘Father is Wisdom’, the father here, Dasharatha, gave up his attachment to the son and practiced his Dharma. That is what exactly Rama also did. Bharata was not only a brother to Rama, he also practiced Dharma and he was the very shadow of Rama. Sita, in times of happiness and difficulty was always peaceful.
You may ask the question: was Kaikeyi not wrong? Kaikeyi loved Rama as much as her own life. In fact, Rama told Kaikeyi, “You have to seek these boons from Dasharatha. If I have to vanquish all the demons, I have to go to the forest. But father aspires that I should become the king. I will not be practicing my Dharma if I do not obey the command of my father; therefore, you have to do this.” Kaikeyi was filled with so much of pain and went to Dasharatha. She was a true mother. She recognised the truth, that Rama was God Himself and followed His words.
When young men, women and students understand the values and the principles of Ramayana and practice them, they will find true fulfillment in their lives.