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Sunday, August 28, 2011

the pinnacle of sacrifice

रामं दशरथं विद्धि मां विद्धि जनकात्मजाम्।
अयोद्ध्यां अतवीं विद्धि गच्च तात यथ सुखं॥
श्रीमद्वाल्मीकिरामायणे अयोद्ध्याकाण्डे॥ ४०--९॥
rāmaṁ daśa...rathaṁ viddhi māṁ viddhi janakātmajām|
ayoddhyāṁ atavīṁ viddhi gacca tāta yatha sukhaṁ||
śrīmadvālmīkirāmāyaṇe ayoddhyākāṇḍe || 40--9|| 

The human life attains some meaning only through some extaordinarily noble deed. Rama the great and powerful prince willingly abdicated his right to Ayodhya and opted for a sojourn of fourteen years in the forests, just upholding the lofty principle of obeying the father at any cost. He was so popular and loved in the kingdom that the subjects could have risen in revolution and made him the king  but for his steadfastness and devotion to his father. Sita, the dutiful wife readily prepared herself to the forest life in her husband's company. There are duties and obligations attached to these noble deed. But Lakshmana, the half-brother of Rama, out of sheer affection for his brother first tries to revolt against the father's order and was held back by Rama. But Lakshmana could not think of a life in separation with Rama. This is in spite of the fact that Lakshmana was not under any obligation to anyone. It was sheer love for Rama. In fact Lakshmana had, in the bargain,  only to lose the comforts of the royal abode, leave his parents and young wife Urmila and accompany Rama who would be in utter penury and as the younger brother Lakshmana's status would be that of an unpaid servant. This was sacrifice at its zenith. Then take the case of Sumitra....she was always relegated to the third place in her husband's affection after the King's Principal wife Kousalya and favourite wife Kaikeyi. Her only asset was her twin sons Lakshmana and Shatrungna. She permitted these boys, one to be the deputy of Rama and the other to be the deputy of Bharatha. That was great indeed. But to permit her darling son Lakshmana  to adopt the most risky life in forest with no assurance that she will be able to meet that son alive again, is sacrifice beyond human levels. It is sublime. While leaving for the forest when Laksmana pays respect to Sumitra, her advice to the son was..." You please recognize your father Dasaratha in Rama, me in Sita, and Ayodhya in forest and my dearest son, you start on your journey." Which mother could raise to such a level of greatness? There was Dasaratha ready to die for Rama and Kaikeyi ready to die for Bharatha. But were those feeling even anywhere near the sacrifice of Sumitra?
 How much of mental agony Sumitra must have suffered and concealed it within herself? But she is one of the most realized souls, as they are born rarely in this terra firma. She had the jnana to understand the Rama was Lord Narayana Himself and Sita was Mata Lakshmi. And once the Divine couple leaves Ayodhya, the kindgom will lose all its splendour and affluence and will become a mere forest. But wherever Rama and Sita are present, that place will be hallowed and that will be the ideal place for anyone to live. The name Dasaratha, a person who can move his chariot in all the ten directions, will suit more eminently to Rama who is the ubiquitous Vishnu Himself, and Maa.. the mother would be the  most suitable spithet  for the mother of the three worlds, Lakshmi, in the guise of Seetha. And Sumtra's words were really prophetic indeed. Once Rama left Ayodhya, all its wealth dwindled, the King passed away, and Bharatha, in fact ruled Ayodhya for fourteen years as an agent of Rama, after crowning the sandals of Rama in the throne, in the forest area of Nandigramam. So Ayodhya really became forest. The sloka is considered the most sublime in Ramayanam for these reasons. However this can be only an opinion. Sure, there are many slokas in the epic which are equally sublime and beyond description.

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