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Why is Ramayana attractive? – part one

A young Indian soldier laid down his life during the Kargill war; his girlfriend/fiancé was just twenty three then. While he became a martyr for the Nation’s cause, she chose to remain unmarried and thus sacrificed for the cause of love. Both stories are touching because there is giving up of one’s pleasure for a higher cause. While generally people seek gratification, those who chose to relinquish their desires soften our hearts; we get emotional and also want to love, serve and give out more.

And that’s exactly what Ramayana does. What’s it about Lord Rama’s pastimes that even millennia after they happened, they remain ever fresh and inspire leaders from all walks of life. Ramayana has always been the foundation of Indian ethos, and has attracted all, be it politicians, housewives, or school teachers because it exemplifies highest character, integrity and sacrifice. And wherever there is compassion and sacrifice, it churns the heart and brings tears to the eyes.

Lord Rama personally displayed unparalleled detachment from any power and position; mother Sita reveals the highest standard of chastity and dedication. Lakshman could have continued to remain in the palace for he was not ordained to go to the forest, but he insisted and accompanied the Lord so that he could serve Him and mother Sita selflessly. He sacrificed eating and sleeping, and attended to every need of Lord Rama as a dutiful servant. While appreciating his services, Lord Rama got emotional and expressed that Lakshman is not His brother but a son and father. A son, because he is dutiful and obedient to Rama’s every desire; and he’s also a father because he is ever protective and caring about the Lord’s well-being.

While Rama’s wife accompanied him to the forest, Urmila the wife of Lakshman lived in the palace. But was she enjoying there? No way, although she badly wanted to go to the forest with her Lord, she gave up that desire. That’s because her husband wished she stayed back in Ayodhya to care for the three mothers who would feel intense separation from the Lord and Sita. Her service was to give hope and encouragement to those who missed the Lord. She didn’t want her presence in the forest to distract her husband in any way from his service to Lord Rama and Sita. Thus her being in the royal palace was as much a sacrifice as Sita’s giving up her royal comforts. In fact Sita at least had the association of her husband whereas Urmila didn’t have that consolation.

Bharat could have easily accepted the throne because it just came onto his lap, without his asking. Yet he lived by truth by insisting that the throne belonged to Lord Rama. With his unconditional love, he convinced the Lord to accept the kingdom but the Lord handed it to Bharat for fourteen years to manage while he served in the forest to fulfill His father’s order. Bharat lived more austerely than even Rama insisting that he was a mere servant of the Lord and a servant could never live more luxuriously than the master. Instead of sitting on the throne, he placed the Lord’s footwear on it while he himself stayed in a small hut, and slept on the ground, eating only roots and fruits.

To be continued……………

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