Rama (/ˈrɑːmə/; Sanskrit: राम Rāma) also known as Raghava, is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and a king of Ayodhya. Rama is also the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which narrates his idealistic ideas and his greatness. Rama is one of the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important avatars of Vishnu. In a few Rama-centric sects, he is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar.
Born as the eldest son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Rama is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. His wife Sita is considered by Hindus to be an avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
Rama's life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. For the sake of his father's honour, Rama abandons his claim to Ayodhaya's throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana's armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice - a period known as Ram Rajya.
The legend of Rama is deeply influential and popular in the societies of the Indian subcontinent and across South East Asia. Rama is revered for his unending compassion, courage and devotion to religious values and duty.
The name Rama appears repeatedly in Hindu scriptures. Besides the name of the protagonist of the Ramayana (subject of the current article), the name is also given to other heroes including Parashu-Rama (Bhargava Rama) and Balarama (Bala-Rama).
In the Vishnu sahasranama, Rama is the 394th name of Vishnu. In the interpretation of Adi Shankara's commentary, translated by Swami Tapasyananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, Rama has two meanings: the supreme Brahman who is the eternally blissful spiritual Self in whom yogis delight, or the One (i.e., Vishnu) who out of His own will assumed the enchanting form of Rama, the son of Dasaratha.
Other names of Rama include Ramavijaya (Javanese), Phreah Ream (Khmer), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai), Megat Seri Rama (Malay), Raja Bantugan (Maranao) and Ramar (Tamil).
The greatness of chanting of Rama's name is mentioned in the Ramacharitamanasa.
In Sanskrit, the word Rama (राम) means 'charming'. The name is commonly given to male in India and Nepal.
Some of the popular names of Rama are:
Rama - charming
Ramachandra - Rama with a moon Raghava - descendent of Raghu
Siyaavar - husband of Sita
Ayodhyapati - king of Ayodhya
Dashrathaputra - son of Dasharatha
Maryada-Purushottam - best ideal man
Dashrathi - Son of King Dashrath
The primary source of the life and journey of Rama is the epic Ramayana as composed by the Rishi Valmiki. The Vishnu Purana also recounts Rama as Vishnu's seventh avatar, and in the Bhagavata Purana, ninth skandha, adhyayas 10 & 11, the story of the Ramayana is again recounted in brief up to and including the slaying of Ravana and Prince Rama's return to Ayodhya. Additionally, the tales of Rama are reverently spoken of in the Mahabharata. The earliest documentation of Ram is in the Buddhist text of Dasharatha Jataka.
Composition of Ramayana in its current form is usually dated to 7th - 4th Century BCE. However, other scriptures in Sanskrit also reflect the life of Ramayana. The followers of Madhvacharya believe that an older version of the Ramayana, the mula-Ramayana, previously existed. They consider it to have been more authoritative than the version by Valmiki. Another important shortened version of the epic in Sanskrit is the Adhyatma Ramayana. The seventh century CE Sanskrit "Bhatti's Poem" Bhaṭṭikāvya of Bhatti who lived in Gujarat, is a retelling of the epic that simultaneously illustrates the grammatical examples for Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as the major figures of speech and the Prakrit language.
Versions of the Ramayana exist in most major Indian languages; examples that elaborate on the life, deeds and divine philosophies of Rama include the epic poem Ramavataram by the 12th-century poet Kambar in Tamil, and Ramcharitmanas, a Hindi version of the Ramayana by the 16th-century saint, Tulsidas. Contemporary versions of the Ramayana include Sri Ramayana Darshanam by Kuvempu in Kannada and Ramayana Kalpavruksham by Viswanatha Satyanarayana in Telugu, both of which have been awarded the Jnanpith Award. The epic has transformed across the diverse regions of India, which boast their own unique languages and cultural traditions.
The essential tale of Rama has also spread across Southeast Asia, and evolved into unique renditions of the epic – incorporating local history, folktales, religious values as well as unique features from the languages and literary discourse. The Kakawin Ramayana of Java, Indonesia, the Ramakavaca of Bali, Hikayat Seri Rama of Malaysia, Maradia Lawana of the Philippines, Ramakien of Thailand (which calls him Phra Ram) are great works with many unique characteristics and differences in accounts and portrayals of the legend of Rama. The legends of Rama are witnessed in elaborate illustration at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in Bangkok. The national epic of Myanmar, Yama Zatdaw is essentially the Burmese Ramayana, where Rama is named Yama. In the Reamker of Cambodia, Rama is known as Preah Ream. In the Phra Lak Phra Lam of Laos, Gautama Buddha is regarded as an incarnation of Rama.
The mythological sources propose that Rama was born about 1.2 million years ago, during the Treta Yuga, age that lasted 1,296,000 years and his birthday Rama Navami is celebrated in the month of April/May To the Valmiki Ramayana, Rama was born in Ayodhya, India, on 9th day (now celebrated across India as Ram Navami) of Chaitra lunar month (March–April), when Moon and Jupiter were rising in the east in Cancer sign and four other planets (Sun, Mars, Saturn, Venus) were exalted in their exaltation signs. Based on these star alignments, a few astrologers claimed to have calculated the exact date of birth of Lord Rama as 10 January 5114 BC between 12 noon and 1pm.
BIRTH AS AN AVATAR
The Ramayana speaks of how the earth goddess Bhudevi, came to the creator-god Brahma begging to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life through bloody wars and evil conduct. The deva (gods) also came to Brahma fearful of the rule of Ravana, the ten-headed rakshasa emperor of Lanka. Ravana had overpowered the devas and now ruled the heavens, the earth and the netherworlds. Although a powerful and noble monarch, he was also arrogant, destructive and a patron of evil doers. He had boons that gave him immense strength and was invulnerable to all living and celestial beings, except man and animals.
Brahma, Bhumidevi and the other gods requested Vishnu, the Preserver, to intervene and free the Earth from Ravana's tyrannical rule. Vishnu promised to kill Ravana by incarnating as a man – the eldest son of Kosala's king Dasharatha. According to the Ramayana, king Dasharata remained childless for a long time and finally decided to perform a putrakameshti yaga under the supervision of the royal priest. During the ritual, Prajapati arose from the sacrificial fire and gave a vessel of sacred potion to Dasharata for distribution to his three wives. The three queens drank the divine potion and conceived four sons: Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna.
Goddess Lakshmi took birth as Sita in order to accompany her consort Vishnu and was found by king Janaka of Mithila while he was ploughing a field. Vishnu's eternal companion, the Shesha is said to have incarnated as Lakshmana to stay at his Lord's side on earth. Throughout his life, no one, except a few select sages (among which are included Vasishta, Sharabhanga, Agastya and Vishwamitra) know of his destiny. Rama is continually revered by the many sages he encounters through his life, but only the most learned and exalted know of his true identity. At the end of the war between Rama and Ravana, just as Sita passes her Agni pariskha, Brahma, Indra and the gods, the celestial sages and Shiva appear out of the sky. They affirm Sita's purity and ask him to end this terrible test. Thanking the avatar for delivering the universe from the grips of evil, they reveal Rama's divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.
Other scriptures provide other reasons for the avatar. The chastity of Vrinda, wife of the demon Jalandhara, that protects the life of her husband is destroyed by Vishnu by deceit so that Shiva can slay the demon. She curses Vishnu to be born on earth and that in this birth of his, his wife's (Lakshmi as Sita) purity and chastity will be a question in his mind throughout his life and he will be separated from her and live with sadness and grief.
Another legend narrates that Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers of Vishnu, were cursed by the Four Kumaras to be born on earth three lives; Vishnu took avatars each time to free them of their earthy existence. They as born as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna, who are both killed by Rama. Also, due to a boon, Kashyapa and Aditi are born as the parents of Rama, Dasharatha and Kausalya. In another version, Svayambhuva Manu and his wife Satarupa are blessed to be born as Rama's parents.
Another tale says that the sage Narada cursed Vishnu to be born on earth as a king, to be helped by monkeys and suffer separation from his wife. Narada also curses Jaya and Vijaya to be born as the demon brothers.
INITIATION OF THE AVATAR
Sage Vishwamitra takes the two princes, Rama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needs Rama's help in slaying several Rakshasas that have been harassing him and several other sages living in the area. Rama's first encounter is with a Rakshasi named Taataka, who is a celestial nymph cursed to take the form of a demoness. Vishwamitra explains that she has polluted much of the habitat where the sages reside and there will not be any contentment until she is destroyed. Rama has some reservations about killing a woman, but since Taataka poses such a big threat to the Rishis and he is expected to follow their word, he fights with Taataka and kills her with an arrow. After her death, the surrounding forest becomes greener and cleaner. Vishwamitra presents Rama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that will be of use to him in the future, and Rama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. Vishwamitra then tells Rama and Lakshmana that soon, he along with some of his disciples, will perform a yagna for seven days and nights that will be of great benefit to the world, and the two princes must keep close watch for the two sons of Taadaka, Mareecha and Subahu, who will try to defile the yagna at all costs. The princes therefore keep a strong vigil for all of the days, and on the seventh day they spot Maricha and Subahu coming with a whole host of Raakshasas ready to pour bones and blood into the fire. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean. Rama deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully
Rama also frees Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi, from a curse. She was cursed to turn into stone by her husband after a displeasing incident. However, the dust on Rama's feet touched the stone and turned it back into a woman again. Gautama Maharishi was gratified that everything was back to normal again.
Sage Vishwamitra then takes the two princes to the Swayamvara a wedding ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva (Pinaka) and shoot an arrow from it. This task is considered impossible for any ordinary king or living being, as this is the personal weapon of Shiva, more powerful, holy and of divine creation than conceivable. While attempting to string the bow, Rama breaks it in two. This feat of strength spreads his fame across the worlds and seals his marriage to Sita, celebrated as Vivaha Panchami.
After Rama weds Sita and the entire royal family and the Ayodhya army begin their journey back, the great rishi Parashurama (Bhargava Rama) appears before them, having descended from his mountainous hermitage. Parashurama is an extremely powerful rishi, responsible for killing all of the world's tyrannical and oppressive emperors and kings 21 times. He is the sixth Avatara of Vishnu, and finds it unbelievable that anybody could break the bow of Shiva. Considering himself to still be the most powerful warrior-rishi on earth, he brings with them the bow of Vishnu (Saranga), and intends to challenge Rama to prove his strength by stringing it, and then fighting a battle with him to prove superiority. Although the entire Ayodhya army is forestalled by his mystical power, Rama is himself angered. He respectfully bows to Parashurama, and within a twinkling of an eyelid snatches the bow of Vishnu, (that is his own, an example of irony here) strings it, places an arrow and points it straight at the challenger's heart. Rama asks Parashurama what he will give as a target to the arrow. At this point, Parashurama feels himself devoid of the tremendous mystical energy he possessed for so long. He realizes that Rama is Vishnu incarnate, his successor and definitely his superior. He accepts Rama's superiority, devotes his tapasya to him, pays homage to Rama and promises to return to his hermitage and leave the world of men.Rama then shoots the arrow up into the sky with Vishnu's bow, performing a feat true to his supreme, divine nature with his natural weapon. His overpowering of Parashurama and using the supreme weapon with incredible ease and perfection dazzle the spectators and his relatives, but no one save Parashurama and Vasishta associate this with his true identity. It is said that the Rama's arrow is still flying across space, across time and across all of the universe. The day it will return to earth, it is said, it will bring the end of the world. Others say that the flying arrow destroys all evil on earth to uphold dharma and righteousness.
DHARMA OF EXILE
King Dasaratha announces to Ayodhya that he plans to crown Rama, his eldest child the Yuvaraja (crown prince). While the news is welcomed by everyone in the kingdom, the mind of queen Kaikeyi is poisoned by her wicked maid-servant, Manthara. Kaikeyi, who is initially pleased for Rama, is made to fear for the safety and future of her son Bharata. Fearing that Rama would ignore or possibly victimize his younger brother for the sake of power, Kaikeyi demands that Dasaratha banish Rama to a forest exile for fourteen years, and that Bharata be crowned in Rama's place. She had been granted two boons by the king when she had saved his life a long time ago in battle, and the queen now used them to serve her purpose. The king's court and the people are outraged at this turn of events. Dasaratha loved and cherished Rama dearly, and is in personal turmoil. Completely estranged now from his younger wife, he abhors the prospect of separation from Rama. But Rama realizes that the king must not break a solemn promise at any time, and neither should a son disobey his father's command. Sita joins her husband in exile despite his discouraging her, as it is her duty and out of love for Rama that she must be at his side at all times. His younger brother Lakshmana also immediately decides to join Rama rather than remain in the city. As he leaves for exile, the people of Ayodhya are deeply saddened and angered at Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Dasaratha's heart is broken and he collapses and dies during the night of the sixth day, unable to bear the agony of separation from Rama. Despite the reasoning of Vashistha and the pleas of his brothers, Rama refuses to return. Although horrified at the news of his father's death, Rama finds it impossible that he should break his dead father's word. Rama does not bear any anger towards Kaikeyi, believing firmly in the power of destiny. According to the explanation of the classic, this exile actually presents Rama the opportunity to confront Ravana and his evil empire.
RAMA AND SITA
Rama and Sita are the protagonists in one of the most famous[peacock term] love stories of all time. Described as being deeply in love, Sita and Rama are theologically understood as Incarnations of Lakshmi and Vishnu respectively. When Rama is banished from the kingdom, he attempts to convince Sita not to join him in a potentially dangerous and certainly arduous existence in the jungle, but Sita rejects this. When Rama orders her in his capacity as husband, Sita rejects it, asserting that it was an essential duty of a wife to be at her husband's side come good or ill. Rama in turn is assiduously protective and caring for Sita throughout the exile.
When Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, both Sita and Rama undergo great personal hardships during their separation. Sita protects her chastity assiduously, and survives over a year in captivity on the strength of her love and attention to religious values and duty. She is completely unfettered in her resolve despite Ravana's courting, cajoling and threats. Meanwhile, Rama, not knowing who had kidnapped Sita or where was she taken, often succumbs to despair and tears, denouncing himself for failing to defend her and agonizing over her safety and pain. Sita knows that it is in Rama's destiny to fight to rescue her (she refuses to be rescued thus by Hanuman, who discovers her), but is deeply anxious for his safety and fearful of Ravana's power.
The 'Wedding of Rama and Sita' concerns two entities coming together to form a whole. An Indian marriage forges an alliance not only between two people, but also two families. The marriage of Sita and Rama creates an alliance between two people, two families, and two kingdoms: Mithila, home of Sita, and Kosala, home of Rama. Furthermore, Rama's marriage to Sita on earth parallels the celestial union of Vishnu and Lakshmi; each deity took birth on earth, and so when Rama marries Sita, he is actually reuniting with his divine consort Lakshmi, Goddess of Good Fortune, who brings prosperity to Kosala. At an allegorical level, the union of Rama and Sita represents the relationship between God and the devotee, with Rama as the beloved divine king and Sita as his devotee. Finally, at a societal level, the dance drama brings together north and south Indian dance traditions.
Lord Rama sent a messenger to Ravana that said, "Come to me and I will forgive you," before he slays Ravana. After Rama slays Ravana and wins the war, Sita wants to come before him in the state which over a year's imprisonment had reduced her to, but Rama arranges for Sita to be bathed and given beautiful garments before they are re-united. But even as Sita comes before him in great excitement and happiness,the society starts doubting Sita's purity so Rama decided to prove that his Sita is still pure and chaste in front of the society, so he tells her that she has to give Agni pariksha. At this sudden turn of events, all the vanaras, rakshasas, Sugriva, Hanuman and Lakshmana are deeply shocked.
Sita begs Lakshmana to build her a pyre upon which she could end her life, as she could not live without Rama. At this point, Lakshmana is angered at Rama for the first time in his life, but following Rama's nod, he builds a pyre for Sita. At the great shock and sorrow of the watchers, Sita sits into the flames. But to their astonishment and wonder, she is completely unharmed. Instead, she glows radiantly from the centre of the pyre. But the gods headed by Brahma and Shiva appear, reveal Rama's and Sita's true identity and requests that Rama take Sita back as she is truly pure. Rama replies that he had never doubted her purity for a second, but, the people of the world would not have accepted or honoured her as a queen or a woman if she had not passed this Agni pariksha before the eyes of hundreds. Agni would destroy the impure and sinful, but not touch the pure and innocent, irrespective of Parvati's/Adishakti's curse on him. There is a version of Tulsidas's Ramacharitamanasa, which is popular, which states that Rama had Sita under the protection of Agni God. After Sita was released it was necessary to bring her out of security of Agni god. This finds echo in the sthala purana of Tirupathi. Another version of this, used in Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan, was that Rama had known Sita was going to be abducted by Ravana ahead of time. So he entrusted her to Agni, the god of fire. Rama did this so that he, who in reality was Vishnu, could kill Ravana. Sita, in turn, left behind a "shadow", or twin-like version of herself behind. The "shadow" Sita had been abducted by Ravana. Therefore, the lila of Agni Pariksha was to retrieve the genuine Sita from the temporary care of Agni Deva. Rama explains this to Lakshmana before the "Pariksha" is done. This version has also been written in the Ram Charit Manas.
In the Uttara Kanda, Rama banishes his wife Sita, even as she is pregnant, asking Lakshmana to deliver her safely to the forest. He does so after receiving word that some of his subjects in Ayodhya believed that Sita was unfit due to her long captivity in Ravana's city. As a king is expected to uphold moral principles, Rama reluctantly banished Sita in order to uphold his duty. Sita took refuge under the noble sage Valmiki.
A legend by Rishi Agastya in the epic states that Vishnu in a previous age had been cursed by Rishi Bhrigu, whose wife had been killed by Vishnu for sheltering his enemies escaping from battle. The Rishi condemns Vishnu to be denied for a long age the companionship of his soul mate, just as Vishnu, had deprived the Rishi of his loving wife. Thus Rama, Vishnu's incarnation, must live the rest of his life without Sita.
Many Hindus, such as the followers of Sri Vaishnavism, consider this entire section of the Ramayana to be interpolated, and thus they do not accept the authenticity of this story claiming that Sita was banished. An alternate narration of Ramayana does not state it so. It says that Sita later lived in her father's kingdom of Mithila with her sons Lava and Kusha as per the North Indian (especially in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar) custom that children be brought up in their nanihal, or maternal grandmother's place. Sita and her sons later live in Valmiki's ashram for the boys' education and military training. As per Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas, both the princes grew extremely intelligent and strong under Rishi Valmiki's tutelage.
According to legend, Kusha and Lava are the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita. Born in the forest after the banishment of Sita from Ayodhya, the twins were educated and trained in military skills as their mother took refuge in Sage Valmiki's ashram, located in a forest on the banks of the River Tamsa.
As Rama performed the Ashvamedha Yajna, a horse strayed into their forest, Rama sent Hanuman to retrieve the horses. Rama's sons Luv and Kush captured the horses. Hanuman, seeing Luv and Kush recognised that they were the son's of Rama. He let them capture him and tie him up. There Hanuman started meditating on the name Rama. Worried Rama sent his brothers to look for the horses. As they saw Hanuman tied up and two boys guarding him, they thought that the two boy had stolen the horses. So Ramas brothers started attacking Luv and Kush. Although Rama's brothers should have won, but Luv and Kush defeated them all, knocking them unconscious. Luv and Kush were protected by Hanuman. Then Rama himself went looking for the horses fearing that Hanuman and his brothers had been attacked. On his way there, Rama intuitively knew that Luv and Kush were his sons and purposely slept on his chariot to delay tension and confrontation with his sons as he knew it would be inappropriate for a father to fight his sons. Upon reaching the battlefield, the sage Valmiki interrupted the potential battle between father and sons by explaining to Rama that Luv and Kush were his sons. A familial reunion took place.
When Devi Sita found out that Lava and Kusha had defeated Ayodhya's forces, she proudly revealed their/her identity. Rama desired Sita and his sons to live with him in his kingdom but as this took place, the general population of the kingdom resented Sita from returning. In response, Sita forsaked her like and sought final refuge in the arms of her mother Bhumidevi, the Goddess Mother Earth and ultimately returned to Rama in the form of Vishnu in Vishnu's abode - indicating that forced separation from her beloved husband is only limited in life on earth compared to her eternal union with her beloved in life after death.
Rama's reign is known as the Rama Rajya which lasted for 11,000 years. During this period, people were healthy, holy, satisfied and lived with complete peace and harmony. There was no evil, no wars, no natural calamity and no diseases. Rama ruled the whole earth without using military force as all kings submitted themselves to him. His brothers Bharata and Shatrughna settled in their later lives. Bharata, with the help of his uncle Yudhajita, conquered the eastern land of the Gandharvas and ruled it. Shatrughna slew the Asura Lavana and founded the city of Mathura. Rama acquired a rare gem from Rishi Agastya which entombed the powers of the gods Indra, Varuna, Yama and Kubera, which helped the king rule efficiently. After his reign, Rama and his brothers and his allies peacefully left the earth on the river Sarayu abandoning their mortal bodies. Valmiki Ramayana mentions an abode named Santanaka invested with all spiritual qualities and located beyond Brahmaloka, which was attained by all followers of Rama, after Rama along with his brothers, entered into Vaishnava potency. Lava and Kusha ruled Kosala and continued the solar race.
As a person, Rama personifies the characteristics of an ideal person (purushottama) who is to be emulated. He had within him all the desirable virtues that any individual would seek to aspire, and he fulfils all his moral obligations (maryada). Rama's purity and piety in his intentions and actions inspires affection and devotion for him from a variety of characters from different backgrounds. For example, he gave up his rightful claim to the throne, and agreed to go into exile for fourteen years, to fulfill the vow that his father had given to Kaikeyi, one of King Dashratha's wives. This is in spite of the fact that Kaikeyi's son, Bharat, begged him to return to Ayodhya and said that he did not want to rule in place of Rama. But Rama considered his dharma as a son above that of his own birthright and his life's ambition. For such supreme sacrifices, and many other qualities, Rama is considered a maryada purushottamor the best of upholders of Dharma, a basically human but exemplary figure Some of his ideals are as follows: 1. At the time when it was normal for kings to have more than one wife, Rama gave the ideal of having a single wife. In Balakanda of Valmiki Ramayana it is written that Rama and Sita resided in each other's heart.
2. Rama always followed his promise at any cost. In fact, he went to forest to make his father's promise to Kaikeyi true. Another instance was when, he had promised the Spirit of Time that during their conversation, if anyone was to intrude, Rama would have pronounce an instant death sentence upon the individual. They were intruded upon by his beloved younger brother Lakshmana, and to keep his part of the promise, pronounced the death sentence. There are many examples of Rama's promises which he kept. Most important are the promise to sages to save their lives from Rakshasas, getting back Sugreeva's kingdom, making Vibhishana the king of Lanka.
3. Excellent friend: Rama had very touching relations with his friends irrespective of their status. Some of his friends are Nishada-raja Guha, King of Nishaadas (a caste whose profession was hunting the birds), Sugreeva (the Vanara king) and Vibhishana a Rakshasa.
4. Even towards his enemies, Rama showed great nobility and virtue. To gather information about the enemy army's strengths and weaknesses, Ravana sent two of his spies, Suka and Sarana, to the Vanara camps. Disguised as Vanaras they blended into the enemy camp, but Vibhishana saw through their deceit. The duo sought Rama's protection when the monkey warriors thrashed them. Rama gave them refuge. He then asked them what their mission was and whether they fulfilled it. After listening to them, he sent for a Vanara to give them a proper tour of all the Vanara camps and give them all the information they desired about the major soldiers and their strengths. He then told the spies to give this message to Ravana. "Tomorrow morning, I will destroy all of Lanka. Keep all sides of your palace well defended and be ready with all of your men by sunrise." The spies were greatly astonished with Rama's charisma, courage, and adherence to the codes of war. After Rama gave them leave, they knew that their king was bound to lose against this virtuous and courageous man. When Ravana first fought with Rama, Rama defeated him to such an extent that Ravana lost his charioteer, horses, chariot, flag, weapons and armor. Though the situation was at his advantage, Rama instead praised Ravana for a great fight that day, and asked him to retire and take rest, as he must be quite tired. Ravana was greatly embarrassed at this, but he was also gratified that Rama saved his life, and this led him to consider for a moment whether to retreat and give Sita back...
Even as Rama is the ideal conception of manhood, he is often aided and complemented in different situations by the characteristics by those who accompany him. They serve Rama devotedly, at great personal risk and sacrifice.
BHARATA AND LAKSHMANA
Absent when Rama is exiled, upon his return Bharata is appalled to learn of the events. And even though Kaikeyi had done all this for his benefit, Bharata is angered at the suggestion that he should take Ayodhya's throne. Denouncing his mother, Bharata proclaims to the city that he would go to the forest to fetch Rama back, and would serve out his term of exile himself. Although initially resentful and suspicious, the people of Ayodhya hail Bharata's selfless nature and courageous act. Despite his fervent pleas to return, Rama asserts that he must stay in the forest to keep his father's word. He orders Bharata to perform his duty as king of Ayodhya, especially important after Dasaratha's death, and orders Shatrughna to support and serve him. Returning saddened to the city, Bharata refuses to wear the crown or sit on the throne. Instead, he places the slippers of Rama that he had taken back with him on the throne, and rules Ayodhya assiduously keeping Rama's beliefs and values in mind. When Rama finally returns, Bharata runs personally to welcome him back. Bharata is hailed for his devotion to his elder brother and dharma, distinguished from Lakshmana as he is left on his own for fourteen years. But he unfailingly denies self-interest throughout this time, ruling the kingdom only in Rama's name. Vasishtha proclaims that no one had better learnt dharma than Bharata, and for this piety he forms an essential part of the conception of perfect manhood, of the Seventh Avatara of Vishnu. Shatrughna's role to Bharata is akin to that of Lakshmana to Rama. Believed to be one-quarter of Vishnu incarnated, or as the incarnation of his eternal companion, Ananta Sesha, Lakshmana is always at Rama's side. Although unconstrained by Dasaratha's promise to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana resists Rama's arguments and accompanies him and Sita into the forest. During the years of exile, Lakshmana constantly serves Rama and Sita – building huts, standing guard and finding new routes. When Sita is kidnapped, Rama blazes with his divine power and in his immense rage, expresses the desire to destroy all creation. Lakshmana prays and pleads for Rama to calm himself, and despite the shock of the moment and the promise of travails to come, begin an arduous but systematic search for Sita. During times when the search is proving fruitless and Rama fears for Sita, and expresses despair in his grief and loneliness, Lakshmana encourages him, providing hope and solace.When Rama in his despair fears that Sugriva has forgotten his promise to help him trace Sita, Lakshmana goes to Kishkindha to remind the complacent monarch of his promise to help. Lakshmana twangs the bow inside the hall quaking the entire building and threatens to destroy Sugriva and the monkey kingdom with his own divine power. Lakshmana is unable to tolerate Sugriva breaking his vow to Rama while enjoying material and sensual pleasures while Rama suffers alone. It is only through the diplomatic intervention of Queen Tara, Sugriva's wife, that Lakshmana is pacified. Tara then scolds and galvanises Sugriva into honoring his promise to Rama. Sugriva and Rama are then reconciled with the help of Lakshmana and Tara. Sugriva sends the monkey hoards to find the location of Sita and lead the monkey army into battle against the demonic forces of Ravana.Lakshmana is uniquely responsible for slaying Indrajit, the invincible son of Ravana who had humiliated Indra and the devas, and outwitted the brothers and the Vanaras on several occasions. Rishi Agastya later points out that this victory was the turning point of the conflict. Rama is often overcome with emotion and deep affection for Lakshmana, acknowledging how important and crucial Lakshmana's love and support was for him. He also trusts Lakshmana to carry out difficult orders – Lakshmana was asked to take Sita to the ashrama of Valmiki, where she was to spend her exile. Lakshmana's deep love for Rama, his unconditional service and sacrifice, as well as qualities of practical judgment and clear-headedness make him Rama's superior in certain situations and perspectives. Lakshmana symbolizes a man's duty to his family, brothers and friends, and forms an essential part of the conception of ideal manhood, that Rama primarily embodies.
JATAYU, HANUMAN AND VIBHEESHNA
When Rama and Lakshmana begin the desperate search to discover where Sita had been taken, after traversing a distance in many directions, they come across the magical eagle Jatayu, who is dying. They discover from Jatayu that a rakshasa was flying away with a crying, struggling Sita towards the south. Jatayu had flown to the rescue of Sita, but owing to his age and the rakshasa's power, had been defeated. With this, Jatayu dies in Rama's arms. Rama is overcome with love and affection for the bird which sacrificed its own life for Sita, and the rage of his death returns to him in the climactic battle with Ravana.Rama's only allies in the struggle to find Sita are the Vanaras of Kishkindha. Finding a terrified Sugriva being hunted by his own brother, king Vali, Rama promises to kill Vali and free Sugriva of the terror and the unjust charge of plotting to murder Vali. The two swear everlasting friendship over sacred fire. Rama's natural piety and compassion, his sense of justice and duty, as well as his courage despite great personal suffering after Sita's kidnapping inspire devotion from the Vanaras and Sugriva, but especially Hanuman, Sugriva's minister. Devoted to Rama, Hanuman exerts himself greatly over the search for Sita. He is the first to discover that Sita was taken to Lanka, and volunteers to use his divine gifts in a dangerous reconnaissance of Lanka, where he is to verify Sita's presence. Hanuman hands Rama's ring to Sita, as a mark of Rama's love and his imminent intention of rescuing her. Though captured, he candidly delivers Rama's message to Ravana to immediately release Sita, and when his tail is burned, he flies and sets Lanka on fire. When Lakshmana is struck down and near death and Rama overcome with love and concern for his brother, Hanuman flies to the Himalayas on the urgent mission to fetch the sanjeevani medicinal herbs, bringing the entire mountain to Lanka so that no time is lost in saving Lakshmana. The Vanaras fight the rakshasas, completely devoted to Rama's cause. They angrily dismiss Ravana's efforts to create international divisions within their army when he suggested that Rama considered them, monkeys, as mere animals. At the end of the war, Indra restores life to the millions of fallen Vanaras.Before the onset of war, rakshasa prince Vibheeshana, Ravana's youngest brother comes to join Rama. Although he loves his brother and Lanka, he fails in repeated efforts to make Ravana follow religious values and return Sita. Vibheeshana believes that Ravana's arrogance and callousness will cause the destruction of Lanka, which is a gross violation of a king's duty, and that Ravana's actions have only propagated evil. Vibheeshana refuses to defend the evil of Ravana's ways and inspired by Rama's compassion and piety, leaves Lanka to join the Vanara Army. His knowledge of rakshasa ways and Ravana's mind help Rama and the Vanaras overcome black magic and mystical weapons. At the end of the war, Rama crowns Vibheeshana as the king of Lanka. Vibheeshana, and to a greater extent Hanuman, embody the perfect devotee in the wider conception of perfect manhood.
RAMA IN WAR
When Rama is thirteen years old, he and his brother Lakshmana are taken by Vishwamitra to the forests, with the purpose of killing rakshasas who are wrecking the tapasya and sacrifices of brahmins. When asked to slay the demoness, Rama demurs, considering it sinful to kill a woman. But Vishwamitra explains that evil has no gender. Rama replies that "My father asked me to follow your orders, I will obey them even if it is a sin". Rama proceeds to slay Tadaka, a cursed yaksha demoness. The killing of Tadaka liberates the yaksha soul who was cursed for a sin, and had to adopt a rakshasi's body. It restores the purity of the sacrifices of the brahmins who live nearby, and protects the animals who live in the forest, and travelers. Rama and Lakshmana are taught the advanced military arts and given the knowledge of all celestial weapons by Vishwamitra. The main purpose of Vishwamitra's exursion is to conduct his yagna without interruption from two evil demons, Maricha and Subahu sons of Tadaka. Rama and Lakshmana guard the sacrifice, and when the two demons appear, Rama shoots an arrow named Manava Astra that carries Maricha across the lands and into the ocean, but does not kill him. Rama and his brother then proceed to kill Subahu and accompanying demons. Rama explains to Lakshmana that leaving Maricha alive was an act of compassion, but the others did not heed the point and chose to attack. During the forest exile, sages plead for protection and help against evil rakshasas who spoil their sacrifices and religious activities and terrorize them. Many rakshasas had even killed and eaten sages and innocent people. At Janasthana, Rama uses his exceptional prowess to single-handedly kill over fourteen thousand demon hordes led by the powerful Khara, who is a cousin of Ravana and Dushana . . .
Bishnupur is a town and a municipality in Bankura District in the state of West Bengal, India. It is famous for its terracotta temples and the balucheri sarees.
Supreme Goddess in Hinduism
This article is about Supreme Goddess in Hinduism. For common term for a Hindu goddess, see Devi. For the personification of power, see Shakti. For the concept of Shaivism, see Parashakti.
Mahadevi (Sanskrit: महादेवी, IAST: Mahādevī), also referred to as Devi, Shakti, Adi Parashakti and Adi-Shakti, is the primordial Goddess or Divine Mother - The Supreme Energy who possesses all riches, all strength, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge and all renunciation in Hinduism. The Shaivas consider Parvati, The Vaishnavas consider Lakshmi, while Shaktas consider Tripura Sundari respectively to be her primary form.
Shiva Purana says Adi Parashakti incarnated in materialistic form as Parama Prakriti from the left half of Lord Shiva i.e.Parabrahman during the beginning of the Universe. Linga Purana states that Adi Shakti brings forth the evolution of life in every Universe through the union of every Parvati and Shiva in all of the Universes. Skanda Purana and Markandeya Purana talks about Parvati as divine mother of all creation and truest material form of Adi Shakti.
Shaktas conceive the Goddess as the supreme, ultimate, eternal reality of all existence, or same as the Brahman concept of Hinduism. She is considered to be simultaneously the source of all creation, its embodiment and the energy that animates and governs it, and that into which everything will ultimately dissolve.
In the Devi Gita, it is suggested that before incarnating as Parvati, she appeared to King Himalaya and revealed divine, eternal knowledge to him. She explained herself, in the words of the Vedas, as having neither beginning nor end. She is the only, eternal truth. The whole universe is her creation. She is the only victor and the manifestation of victory itself. She is a manifested, un-manifested and transcendent divinity. She then displayed her scarcely seen form to him: Satyaloka was located in her forehead; the created universe were her hairs; the sun and moon were her eyes; in her ears were the four directions; the Vedas were her words; death, affection and emotion were her teeth; maya was manifested by her smile. The goddess Parvati as Kushmanda gives birth to the universe in the form of an cosmic egg which manifests as the universe. Ultimately, Adi Shakti herself is the zero energy which exists even after destruction of the universe and before its creation.
The Devi Bhagavata Purana described her in the form of Bhuvaneshvari. It mentioned that Shiva worshipped and meditated on Adi Parashakti for thousands of years, using the beeja mantra "Hreem". The Goddess Adi Parashakti is also considered to be both the truly supreme spirit without form (Param Atman) and Saguna with form. In her Saguna form she is described as the Mother of the Universe and is residing in Sarvaloka Manidweepa above all of the other realms. She is the Great Goddess, and all other goddesses and even all the Gods are her various forms, says the Devi Gita. In Devi Mahatmyam, Trimurti and demigods praises Adi Shakti:
In the third canto of Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Lord Vishnu states Adi Parashakti as mother of Trimurti.
SDB 03.03.66:67 original Sanskrit:
गायन्ती दोलयन्ती च बालभावान्मयि स्थिते ।
सेयं सुनिश्चितं ज्ञातं जातं मे दर्शनादिव ।।
कामं नो जननी सैषा शृणु तं प्रवदाम्यहम् ।
अनुभूतं मया पूर्व प्रत्यभिज्ञा समत्थिता ॥
Now I recollect all what I felt before at Her sight and recognize that She is the Bhagavati. These very things I now communicate to you. Hear attentively that She is this Lady and She is our Mother.
— Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Canto 03, Chapter 03, Verse 66:67
Role in creation
In Third canto of Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Devi addressed Trimurti as follows:
There is oneness always between me and the Purusha; there is no difference whatsoever at any time between me and the Purusha (the Supreme Self). Who is I, that is Purusha; who is Purusha, that is I. The difference between force and the receptacle of force is due to error. He who knows the subtle difference between us two, is certainly intelligent; he is freed from this bondage of Samsara; there is no manner of doubt in this. The One Second less Eternal ever lasting Brahman substance becomes dual at the time of creation.
— Srimad Devi Bhagavatam Canto 03, Chapter 06, Verse 02:03
According to the Tripura Rahasya, only goddess existed before the beginning of the universe. She created the Trimurti and began the creation of the universe.
Long ago, at the time of creation, Tripura the Universal Consciousness was all alone. There was nothing other than Her. She, the embodiment of Power, who is Self independent wanted to create; the desire developed. From desire, knowledge was born and then action. From Her three glances the three gods were born. Pashupati represented desire, Hari knowledge and Brahma action. They were looked at by Sankari and became naturally powerful and Truth abiding.
— Shri Tripura Rahasya (Mahatmya Khanda), Chapter 10, Verses 18 to 22
Adi Parashakti's forms
Devi Parvati is the full and complete physical embodiment of the Adi Parashakti. Parvati was Sati in her previous birth. Sati was also a direct incarnation of Adi Parashakti. However, Sati died and was reborn as Parvati. Parvati is shown as kind and loving mother goddess. She can take various forms including Kali, Durga, Chandi, etc.
According to Shakta traditions, Tripura Sundari is the ultimate goddess and complete physical embodiments of Adi Parashakti. She holds a sugarcane bow, flower arrows, noose, and goad. She came down from Manidweepa above this Brahmanda to destroy Bhandasura, later resided in Kamakoti Peetha as Kamakshi Para Bhattarika. Her abode is pictorially represented as Sri Chakra. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva of this Brahmanda are her subordinates and cannot function without her power. Thus, she is considered the supreme Goddess and primary deity in Shaktism as she is the nearest representative of Adi Parashakti who further incarnated as Parvati. Whatever deity one is worshiping, ultimately, they are worshiping Adi Parashakti.
She took various incarnations over a period of time for upholding Dharma. As per the yogis of the highest order, she is the power who resides in the Kundalini in the form of Amba, she is 31/2 coil in size and when the Kundalini is raised from the sacrum bone of every human being by a highly realized soul whose kundalini is also awakened then she rises through the back bone of the human opening all chakras mooladhara, Swadisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddi, Agnya and finally through sahasrara chakras and connects the soul to the all pervading power (or collective consciousness) of the divine.
On the three nadis, Ida (Left channel- Tamo guna), Pingala (Right channel-Rajo Guna) and Sushumna (central channel-Sattva guna), the kundalini passes through the central channel balancing all the left and right channel.
Kali is the third part of Goddess Adi Para Shakti. She is the goddess of power, spiritual fulfillment, time, as well as presiding over the destruction of the universe. She gives salvation to mankind. She is the incarnation of Parvati and consort of Shiva's incarnation Mahakala. She helped Lord Maha Vishnu slay the demons Madhu and Kaitabha in the form of Mahamaya. It is she who also slew Shumbha and Nishumbha in the form of Kaushiki, who are symbols of ignorance. She is also known as Yogmaya. She is also called as Tamsi Devi and Chandi Devi as per Durga Saptashati. She wears red or black and presides over the TamasGuna.
The Sri Yantra in diagrammatic form, showing how its nine interlocking triangles form a total of 43 smaller triangles.
Shaktas claim that it is assumed that indirectly or directly, everybody worships her. When, someone is utilizing his/her energy in positive aspects of life then they are worshiping her. Hypothetically Shaktas assume, since, she is absolute Energy, so when one knows how to raise his/her inner energy and knows how to balance that energy for daily work then ultimately, they are worshiping her. To balance Energy for day-to-day life, people worship their personal gods/God as per their religion, enlighten candles and lamps at home, do good work for society and much more. All these activities either energize them or serve as methods to gain motivation.
Many scholars like Swami Vivekananda prefers meditation as best practice to stop mental impurities as he said Holy meditation helps to burn out all mental impurities and claims that to know one's own energy is best method to worship Divine Mother.
Though core shakta people believe in direct worship of Adi Shakti through Meditation and Samadhi, Tantra, Sri chakra and traditional deity worship. While worshiping her through yoga, Samadhi or through Tantra, one needs proper adherent guru, who himself or herself must know all the rules and rituals.[unreliable source?] If someone who doesn't have proper guru, then one can also worship her by singing her praise.
Adi Parashakti is generally seen as an abstract goddess but her appearances is described in the Devi Bhagavata Purana, Kalika Purana, Markandeya Purana-Devi Mahatmya, Brahmanda Purana-Lalita Sahasranama, and the Tripura Rahasya. According to the Devi Bhagavata Purana, the goddess once invited the Trimurti to Manidvipa. The Trimurti saw the supreme goddess Bhuvaneshvari sitting on a jeweled seat in a throne. Her face contained the radiance of millions of stars and her celestial beauty was so great that the Trimurti were not able to look at her. She carries the abhaya and varada mudra, pasha, ankusha . They then realized that she was the energy responsible for creating, preserving, and destroying the whole universe.
Association with the nine planets (navagrahas)
Adi Shakti is regarded as the one who can control all the nine planets. She divides herself to Material Shakti i.e. Durga who splits herself to operate nine planets to maintain cosmic order, Vidya Shakti i.e. Mahamaya as source for 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu and Maya Shakti, Yogamaya to delude the beings to illusion and also promotes the beings to Ultimate truth God.
As Durga She is the one who splits herself to Navadurgas provides direction and energy to all planets.
By this contrast Goddess Adi Shakti controls the Navagrahas. Worshipping the nine goddess in Navaratri or nine nights of Durga, saves you from the dangerous effects of the planets.
Association with the Ten incarnations of Vishnu
The Guhyati guyha-tantra associates the Mahavidyas with the ten Avatars of Vishnu, and states that the Mahavidya forms of Mahadevi are the source from which the avatars of Vishnu arose.
Association with demi-gods, living beings, and demons
Adi Parashakti is the one who actually creates maya for gods and teaches them what to do and what not to do so that they can be connected to the ultimate God. She helped Lord Vishnu to slay the demons Madhu and Kaitabha to save the world. Moreover, she is also the one that who takes Lord Vishnu to mystic sleep hence called Yoganidra of Lord Narayana. It is required by yogis, sages and bhaktas, so that they can be connected to God. Shaktas consider her to be goddess Parvati.
She is the goddess that destroys the upfold of illusion. She is the one that creates and destroys maya. She is controlled by Yogmaya and hence subordinate to Yogmaya and senior to Maya. She emerges as seven mothers to destroy evil forces of Shumbha and Nishumbha, with Chamunda being one of them. She is required to gain physical strength, health, satvika attributes and demotes anger, greed and arrogance Shaktas consider her as form of Lakshmi.
She is the one who deludes living beings from god and takes any being to the world of illusion. She promotes greed, anger, and arrogance. It is assumed that in the Age of Kali Yuga, her effect is highest.
- ^Swami Narayanananda (1960). The Primal Power in Man: The Kundalini Shakti. Health Research Books. p. 50. ISBN .
- ^Jones, Constance; Ryan, James (2014). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 399. ISBN .
- ^Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN .
- ^Shastri, J. L. (1970). English translation by J. L. Shastri (ed.). The Shiva Purāṇa(includes glossary) – via Wisdom Library.
- ^Shiva Mahapurana | Gitapress Gorakhpur
- ^"The Devi Gita index". Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- ^Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN .
- ^"Matri - Dhyan - Anandamayi Ma". www.anandamayi.org. London 1998: Shree Shree Ma Anandamayee Devotees.CS1 maint: location (link)
- ^Rao, T.B. Lakshmana (2011). Shri Tripura Rahasya (Mahatmya Khanda). Sri Kailasamanidweepa Trust, Bengaluru. p. 108.
- ^Vasantānanta (Swami.), Nā Irāmaccantiraṉ (1993). Sri Lalita Sahasranamam: Nama-wise Commentary in English with Text in Sanskrit. p. 358.
- ^Śaṅkarācārya; Tapasyananda (Swami.); Lakṣmīdhara (1987). Saundarya-lahari of Sri Sankaracarya: with text and translation, and notes based on Lakṣmīdhara's commentary. Sri Ramakrishna Math. p. 70.
- ^Kinsley, David (1998). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN .
- ^Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN .
- ^Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN .
- ^Bonnefoy, Yves (15 May 1993). Asian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 95. ISBN .
- ^Kinsley, David (1998). Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN .
- ^The Heart of Hinduism: The Eastern Path to Freedom, Empowerment and Illumination. Stephen Knapp. 2005. ISBN . Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- ^Bhagavata Purana, Part 1 (Motilal English Full ed.). Dehli: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. 1950. 1999 reprint.
Parashakti images adi
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