These are too many to be covered in this article. A few that stand out are:
Relationships v/s Money :
The prominent characters in Ramayana teach us to make personal sacrifices for the welfare of others. Lakshmana accompanied Lord Rama to the forest for fourteen years although he was not obliged to. He considered his service to Rama as his greatest wealth; he gave up food and sleep during the exile to serve Rama and Sita. Rama’s wife Sita is another example of one who left her comforts to assist her husband. Bharat could have taken over the kingdom of Ayodhya, claiming it came to him, without his asking. However he not only relinquished his right to the throne, he performed severe austerities to atone for Rama’s banishment. He held himself responsible for Rama’s exile, and served the citizens of Ayodhya in absence of Rama without taking any facilities for his own enjoyment.
After Ravana was killed by Rama, Hanuman approached mother Sita to convey the good news. He then asked her permission to kill the various demons who harassed her during her imprisonment in Lanka. Sita refrained Hanuman from doing that; she explained how her suffering was due to her own destiny, and those who perpetuated violence towards her need to be forgiven. And since Ravana was killed, she said it serves no purpose to attack the demons. She thus taught the need to avoid unnecessary violence.
She told an interesting story to illustrate this point:
Once, a tiger chased a man in a forest. He climbed a tree to save himself, but discovered a bear staying atop the tree. The tiger urged the bear to push down the man, who was after all a common enemy. The bear refused, claiming he is now a guest. The tiger patiently waited under the tree to eat his prey. After some time, the bear went to sleep. The tiger then reasoned to the man that if he threw the bear down, the tiger would eat him instead. This way the man could escape. Tempted, the man slowly climbed the upper branch, and pushed the bear down. However, the bear woke up and retained his balance. Now the tiger turned to the bear and said the man had shown his true colours by his ungrateful act. Hence, the tiger argued to the bear, he should push the man down, for he deserved to die. Again the bear refused, saying he may be an ungrateful human, but since he (the bear) was the host, he would serve and protect his guest.
Mother Sita then told Hanuman that we should never abandon our good nature even in face of provocations.
Protecting the weak:
The vulture Jatayu’s exemplary sacrifice teaches us how we should be willing to even lay down our lives to protect the weak and oppressed.
When Ravana kidnapped Sita, she saw Jatayu perched on a tree. She frantically called out to him, and told him to immediately inform her husband Rama that she was being taken away by the cruel demon. Jatayu was old and weak; moreover Sita just asked him to inform Rama. Yet Jatayu confronted Ravana, knowing very well that he was no match for the demon king. He roared at the Rakshasa to fight him before taking the princess away. He censured Ravana in strong words, and called him a coward for escaping without fighting Rama.
In the ensuing fight with Ravana, Jatayu lost his life. However Rama declared him to be a true hero, and granted him residence in the spiritual world. Lord Rama even performed the final rites for Jatayu, a ritual that he couldn’t do even for his own father. Although born as a vulture, Jatayu was bestowed with the honour that the Lord didn’t bestow on his own father. Lord Rama and Jatayu thus taught the sacred virtue of protecting the weak and oppressed.
Equality of race and creed:
Lord Rama’s best friend was Guha, a tribesman from a low caste. The Lord shared his heart with him, while crossing the river. Rama also ate heartily the berries offered by an old woman, Shabari, a daughter of a hunter. Her love for the Lord conquered Rama so much so that he even ate the fruits after she had first tasted them to see if they were sweet. She thus offered her remnants to the Lord, which the Lord happily ate, without any hesitation. Lord Rama’s most intimate associates were the monkey soldiers, of whom Hanuman, is the most celebrated devotee of the Lord. Any Ramayana rendition is incomplete without the glorification of Hanuman.
To be continued…