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Rama – The Ideal
Mankind has progressed much in exploiting the material resources of the earth in order to promote the standard of life. But, neither the individual nor society has learnt the way to inner peace and contentment. Envy and greed have fouled the relations between nations and between persons, suppressing the awareness of the Unity that underlies all Creation. The main cause of this calamitous situation is rank egoism; each one tries to grab for himself whatever adds to power and comfort. The ego is making puppets of them all. The words and deeds of men reflect this tendency of selfish aggrandizement. Every move is decided by the needs of the selfish interests.
In order to restore peace in the individual and in society, the mind where desires are born and resolutions are framed, has to be purged of attachment to the self. The mind has desires, as its warp and woof. When desires are ego-oriented time and effort are wasted; duty is neglected; the body and its skills are misused. And all this when life is being shortened every day that passes. With every second, life drips, as water from a leaky pot. But man is not aware of the tragedy that is imminent every moment.
Embodiments of the Universal Atma! Man has in him the capacity to grow into a pure Divine personality. But, due to ignorance and waywardness, he has become stunted. He has chained himself to low ideals and so, he has fallen into fear and grief. The Upanishads exhort man to awaken and become master of himself. “Utthishta, Jagratha, praapya vaaraan nibodhatha” – they warn. Man is overcome by the sleep of ignorance. He has to be aroused and taught by elders who know the precious heritage he is losing. The sleep is caused by the “eeshana” or attachments – to the mate, to the children and to riches. Of course, a person must have enough to lead a simple life. But, wealth accumulated beyond reasonable levels intoxicates the self and breeds evil desires and habits Wealth has to be held in trust for activities that are beneficial, for promoting righteous living and for fulfilling one’s duties to Society.
India has been very fortunate. It has had seers and sages throughout the centuries who have held forth the value of high ideals. It has the example of Avathars of Godhead. The emphasis has all along been on the Atma that is the core of every being – a teaching that can confer courage, contentment, peace and harmony. It is indeed pathetic to see people following the vagaries of the mind and courting disaster, instead of using the intellect to discriminate between the transient and the permanent.
The mind should be checked by the intellect. Or else, evil resolutions will result in sorrow. Resolve on good actions and reap joy. Of course, if one can desist from desires and the tendency to pursuer them, one can have unshaken peace. If the mind is let loose and given the mastery, man is driven from the iniquity to another. He loses his self respect. He sets a naught law and justice, rules of conduct and regulations of social behavior. His life becomes a frantic rush from place to place and object to object.
Detachment alone can give happiness. Tyaga is the real Yoga. Three evil qualities have to be renounced before man can rise to his real role. Anger which smothers wisdom (Jnana), Lust which pollutes the deed (Karma) and Greed, which destroys one’s love for God and man. The touchstone which pronounces an act as meritorious is ‘renunciation’. If an act is self-directed, if it helps to inflate the ego, it is a sin. There are four types of persons. Those who confess their own faults and mention the excellences of others are the highest type; those who highlight their own excellences and also the excellences in others are the middling type; those who speak of their own excellences and decry the faults of others are worse; those who parade their own faults as excellences and deride the excellences in others as faults are the worst. The last type is nowadays most rampant.
What India needs most today is neither a new creed nor a new ism, neither a new society, nor a new ideal but men and women who adore and follow pure feelings and motives, persons who renounce anger, lust and greed.
The story of Rama embodies this vital message. It is the cream if the Vedas, a veritable Ocean of Milk. Valmiki has named each section of the epic, “Kaanda”, a name which means a length of sugarcane. However crooked the cane may be, every slice is as sweet as every other. Similarly whatever the situation depicted or motion delineated, whether coronation or exile, victory of defeat, heroism or dispiritedness, love or hate, joy or grief, the epic is equally sweet and charming. There are two predominant rasas or streams of emotion in the Rama story, the stream of compassion (Karuna) as Rama and the stream of Love (Prem) as Lakshmana. It is the mergence of the two that evokes Ananda (Bliss). Ananda is the very nature of Rama (Svabhava). He is Bhagavan Himself, though Valmiki has not explicitly declared it anywhere. He refers to Rama as ‘equal in valor to Vishnu’, but not as Vishnu Himself. It is only through the mouths of Rama’s own sons that the mystery is revealed. Bhagavan means: Bha (effulgence) ga (manifestation) vaan (he who is capable) - He who has the power to manifest Effulgence, Jyothi – the Divine Jyothi, the Atma Jyothi. He is also Sambhartha - He from whom this Created Universe has emerged and He who is intent on fostering it. All who adore Rama as manifesting and protecting the Universe and projecting the Cosmic Effulgence and Intelligence are entitled to be known as Bhaktas.
But, most seekers are but part-time devotees to-day. They are not sathatham (always) Yoginah (in union with the Lord). They are Yogis in the morning, Bhogis (epicures) at noon and Rogis (sick patients) at night!
Rama enlightens every seeker in the spiritual field, since he put into daily practice all that he deemed right. So, He sets the standard for every member of the household, of society, of the nation and of the human race. He went into exile to maintain the highest ideal of a ruler responsive to the reaction of his subjects. The former holds forth the duty of Pitrvakya-paripalana (respecting the command of the father) and the latter, the regal duty of Janavakya paripalana (respecting the wishes of the ruled). The root is the ‘word’ of the parent of the people. The fruit is moksha, liberation. For Liberations is the ultimate foal, through the emerging fruit and the mature fruit to become the sweet ripe fruit. These three stages do follow each other. That is the reason why the Vedas lay down Karma (the bud), which becomes upaasana (the flower) and Jnana (the fruit) in Kaandas – sections. Rama illustrated in His own life this process of the onward evolution of the soul into its Awareness.
Rama was the embodiment of steady adherence to Satya and Dharma. Only those who are saturated in Rama-bhakti can dive into that glory. He is the grand ideal, upon whom you can contemplate. By dong so, you can imbibe and develop his virtues, slowly and silently. A tree grows silently for years before it yields fruits. It does not produce them on the spot or in an instant. The coconut palm, the mango tree, the jack tree and of this type. Their gifts are plenty and full of nourishment. There are plants that yield few fruits pretty quick and die soon after. The fame of divine personalities grows with every word they speak and every deed they condescend to enact. Rama’s glory shines brilliantly even after all these centuries. It will shine as resplendently for ages to come. Rama means He who pleases. Nothing pleases man more than his Atma, which is an eternal unfailing source of joy. One must prefer the awareness of the Atma and the Bliss that the awareness confers, to all other minor momentary joys. The Upanishad says, “Thyagenaike Amrthathvam Aanasuh”. “By renunciation alone can the Bliss of Immortality be won”.
Sathya Sai Baba – Discourse given at
Golden Jubilee Hall, Bangalore 1981
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