Values taught in Ramayana – 2
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…