RAMAYAN: The Coming of Ram
Ideally, this story should be timed for Diwali.
But that’s not important because Ramayan is an eternal story
and any time is good time
provided you are ready to listen.
But first things first.
Ramayan, to begin with, is Not a Story or a “Kahani”. It is a “Katha”.
The difference between Kahani and Katha is
that the former has an author, a beginning, a middle and an end to the story while the latter comes down to us as the “Spoken Story”
or that which has been “Said” or better still,
that which has been passed on, down the long line of history, as an oral tradition. Hence, be it remembered, Ramayan is not a Kahani but a Katha.
Unlike the Kahani, the Katha may or may not be written
and may or may not have a single author.
Although we might ascribe authorship to Valmik and Tulsi Das
but when we read the Ramayan,
we find that they are merely recounting the stories they had heard in turn.
So, it is not their original story.
Rather it is a recapitulation of what they heard.
So, we find that the Ramayan opens with a dialogue
between Bharadwaj and Jag Valik Muni
who recount a conversation between Shiv & Parvati…
and thereafter it is stories within stories,
teeming with hundreds of characters…
So, let this be understood that Ramayan
is not a product of some writer’s imagination.
It is the collective wisdom that has come down to us
in the words of Gurus, Saints, Rishis, Munis
and different Gods and Goddesses.
And what’s more, the Katha never ends.
It creates another beginning and, in that sense,
Katha is “ananta” – endless – therefore timeless!
Relevant at all times.
So, what is our understanding of Ramayan?
“Ramayan” is made up two root words: Ram and Ayan. Ram is a common name for an Indian male. And “Ayan” translates as “Coming”. Together, Ramayan translates as “The Coming of Ram”.
But before that, the question arises: Who is Ram?
In popular imagination, Ram is a premier Indian God –
venerated as an avatar of Vishnu
who took birth as the eldest son of Dashrath, King of Ayodhya.
When he was born, Dashrath named him ‘Ram’.
Clearly, the name ‘Ram’ already existed before Ram was born.
So, who was that Ram who existed before Dashrath’s son?
Etymology traces the word’s origin to
that Power or “Shakti” “jo rome rome may basi hai.” Voh “Ram” hai.
Or simply that Power which resides in
every fiber or pore of one’s being.
And that is “Ram.”
The power that lives in the very Heart of Matter.
The beauty of this esoteric thought is best
simplified by Sant Kabir who defines Ram
with four distinct nuances in meaning:
Ek Ram Dashrath ka beta,
One Ram is the son of Dashrath
Ek Ram ghat ghat me baitha
Another Ram resides in every living being.
(Pitaji said if you try to swat a makkhi, it will fly away! That is Ram!
In each and every living creature!)
Ek Ram ka sagal pasara
Another Ram is spread across the heavens as its creator.
Ek Ram hai sabse nyara.
Finally, there is a Ram that is “nyara” – beyond words.
Nyara means Separate, Distinct, Different, that which cannot be put into words.
That Ram who is beyond words is Guru.
So your Ramayan starts the day.
When Ram, the Guru, enters your life.
It is the Guru who reveals that Ramayan is an allegorical tale
where every character is representing
some quality or attribute of your own self.
So, if Ram symbolizes “I” or “me”
then Sita is my “Intent.” ‘Suruti’ in Sanskrit – or my Intentions.
And Ravan is my Intellect, my ability to question everything.
Intellect is never satisfied. You answer its question,
It immediately raises another!
Many heads of Ravan. You cut one. Another pops up…
Hanuman – the Pure of Heart – where Guru resides.
Hanuman is a very interesting concept
Not to be confused with a Monkey with a tail.
It is a whole different story that needs
a fine elaboration for a proper understanding.
Lakshman, one whose ‘Laksha’ – Ultimate Aim – is Ram.
Bali Sugrieve – the Good & Bad sides of my personality.
Similarly, all characters of the Ramayan symbolize some attribute or another.
I asked Pitaji, please tell me more about Ramayan
And He said, it will all come to you by itself. Effortlessly.
It is your “awastha” that determines
the state / quality of your being / mind.
As you absorb Guru’s vichaars – thoughts
Your ‘awastha’ arises
Much like the lotus that rises above the murkey waters
And blooms within your Hriday, by itself!
Ram arrives in you without your efforts….
When that happens,
Ravan is killed and Sita is rescued and redeemed.
The shishya comes home to Guru at Ayodhya
And in happiness people light the lamps
to greet you from darkness into light….