We confess the pages of the Ramayana reveal to us picture after picture of fascinating beauty in the life of India in that period in our history. The essence of the India of the long go was the ideal of Dharma, the acceptance of Dharma, the willing and joyful acceptance of all suffering for the sake of Dharma. Above earthly possessions, above silver and gold is the treasure, the wealth of dharma. Therefore, is there in our heart a great love for this ancient land.
Traditions, is the word which modern educated Indians may not appreciate. Yet was not dharma the secret of India’s great traditions of which the custodians were the brahmins of old and the Rishis at whose feet Rama learnt the lessons of life?
The emphasis in education, as it was imparted in the ashram as of Rama’s heroic age, was on tradition. And tradition was deep laid in dharma. The custodians of tradition were the brahmins. They became the educators of children. Brahmins were teachers. Poor were they in material wealth, but they were rich in the wealth of the spirit. No fees were paid to brahmins, but only voluntary gifts. And these poor but pure-hearted brahmins became the pillars of the state. Not without reason was the utmost reverence paid to them.
The brahmin symbolized the community of culture. And the state, in Sri Rama’s days, was, (1) a culture state, and (2) a welfare state. The brahmin was a man of self-control. And he abstained from Kama (lust), Krodha (anger) and Lobha (greed). Above all a brahmin never did harm to living being.
What a beautiful picture this of ‘Brahmin’ in Valmiki’s Ramayana! At the top of the ladder of society stood the brahmin, not the merchant, nor the soldier. Sri Rama’s state not a Vaishya state, but a welfare state, aiming at the good of the lowest and the poorest in the state. And the peasant was respected and given facilities to till the soil. The soil, indeed, became the basis of Aryan patriotism in the long ago. Over and over again, the thought is given us in Ramayana that every member of the state must build his life in dharma. Dharma was interpreted as a code of conduct, a code affirming definite rules of moral life. The modern clamour for power and greed of gold did not disfigure the life of the educated in ancient India’s in Rama’s India. Dharma was interpreted as the law inherent in the heart of man. In dharma was the state built. The laws of the state were not rules of imperical statesmanship in the Rama’s days, which are rooted in the wisdom of the heart. Dharma was not rooted in utilitarian motives. Dharma was morality inherent in life. In a moral vision of birth, not birth-control, was rooted the whole concept of marriage. Children were regarded not as fruits of pleasure (bhoga) but (1) As spiritual entities to be trained for the life beyond this life; (2) As economic assets to their parents to support them in old age; and (3) As transmitters of spiritual life to continue the worship of their ancestors and to make their contributions to the higher life of humanity. The father rejoiced in his children. Here is one of the strong points in Aryan Civilisation, respect for the child. Parents were proud to have many children. What a beautiful picture of Aryan civilization in the heroic age of Sri Rama! Wonderful were the Aryan people: their great Leader and Inspirer was Sri Rama. And when he returned to Ayodhya from Lanka, having freed Sita and won Lanka’s emancipation, the Aryan greeted him in a way which was at once impressive and spiritual. Every home in Aryavarta kindled lights of little lamps: from every home. Came the song in which men and women, youths and children joined: “Blessed be Sri Rama! Victory unto Light and Purity and Fredom.” We have, in our mind, reviewed the beautiful picture of Hindu society as shown in Valmiki’s Ramayana. And the following among others, are the features with which we have been deeply struck:- (1)True morality must be rooted in dharma and dharma means “rule”, “discipline”, the rule of life. The western conception of “do as you like” was unknown to India of Rama’s days. Society cannot live and grow without obedience to dharma, the “Rule of life.”
(2)The “Rule of life” was revealed not by state legislation, for many of those who enter the assemblies of the state are ordinary men. The revealers of the “Rule of life” were the Rishis, the seers, the sages, who took no direct part in the conflict of life, but who, standing aside, saw better, and so could be impartial in their advice and in the regulations they gave to the people. (3)The dharma, of which the Rishis spoke, was not in dividualistic. Dharma was rooted in tradition. The west is either controlled by a creed or by a self-regarding indulgence in personal likes and dislikes, in desires and appetites. But the life of India was shaped by the great ones, who realized that the true life of society must not be cut off from the past but must be rooted in tradition.(4)Hindu society was divided into classes, misconstrued by Western rationalists as “Castes.” The very word “castes” is a Portuguese one and is not found in any of the recognized codes and institutes of ancient India. Classes there must be. A classless society was not aimed at by the Rishis of India. Classes there must be, because there are diversities of temperaments and talents, and psychological equipments: but each class has its own special work to do, its own place in society as a whole. And the teaching was given, again and again: “Fulfil the duties of the class to which you belong. Do not step into the work of another class. To do so would be to create confusion, anarchy and to destroy the very soul of the society.” So we have the teaching given us in the Gita: “Better is thine own work, though done inperfectly, than doing another’s work, even if done very well.” We have our own destiny and therefore, our own duty to fulfill. Two of the greatest books in the world’s literature are the Ramayana and the Mahabharta. Both sound a note of simplicity which is blended with that of detachment: both have a philosophy of life which is radiant with humanity and intuitions of the spiritual. A Rishi wrote the Ramayana in Sanskrit, another great seer wrote Ramayana in Hindi. The first Rishi was at first a robber but was “transformed” and became a new man: the “light” of the Holy spirit began to shine in him and he became Valmiki, the sage. The second Rishi was a man of the world but his life, too, was transformed, transfigused into something rich and radiant, and he became a great Seer and Poet, Tulsi. In his Hindu Ramayana, Tulsi writes:- “My homely speech and my poor wit will not please everyone: some, indeed, will laugh at me. So those who understand not what bhakti (devotion) to the Lord doth mean, the story of Sri Rama will be insipid, indeed. But to them who worship the Lord as “Hari” (the “Destroyer” of suffering and sin), the story of Sri Rama (Raghuvara) will verily be divinely sweet, sweet as honey, yes, sweet as nectar.” Valmiki, the singer of the Adi Ramayana in Sanskrit, and Tulsi, the singer of the Ramayana in Hindi, both accepted the discipline of Tapasya (penance) in the Forest (tapoban); and both became new through the double power of penance and meditation. Tulsi painted in his Hindi Ramayana a most fascinating picture of Rama. There is one God,” said Tulsi; we call Him Rama: He is the Redeemer of mankind.” Rightly did Mahatma Gandhi say, “I regard the Ramayana of Tulsi as the greatest Book in all devotional literature. In these two Great Books the story is told us (1) of the wanderings of Rama and his wonderful Tapasya (penance), and (2) of Sita’s patient waiting for reunion with Rama. Year follows year, in separation: not once does Sita’s faith fail her: Sita waits patiently for the day when she feels her Beloved will be reunited. Not without reason are Rama and Sita revered as two of the best beloved characters in the whole range of Hindu literature. The story is sung in the gatherings of bhaktas and sages: the story is sung in the gatherings of village-folk. No picture house moves them as does the story in the Ramayana of the great singer and mystic, Tulsi. Was not Rama one of the greatest of men on earth? Was not Sita one of the greatest women? Without them, can India live? The Brahmin sophist, alas! had no better teaching for Rama than this: Give thy people bread and give them little creeds!” Ah! But better than these is wisdom. For they who have wisdom guard the Great mystery of Life: they commune with love which riseth above the ego, the little “1,” there is but the power which is blind, not the true. Sri Rama had a code of honour, which is not found in modern warfare. On learning that Ravana is killed, Sri Rama comes to pay respects to the departed warrior. Rama had no hatred in his heart against Ravana. Sri Rama was a warrior of Dharma. Sri Rama was a model warrior because he was great purifier. How did he purify the life of India? The answer to this is found in Ramayana. Sri Rama had no greed of gold or dominion. He won Lanka but did not keep Lanka to himself. Lanka had great civilization but not the Aryan moral code. Sri Rama gave the throne of Lanka to one who was a man of Dharma and righteousness and himself departed. We, therefore, cannot live without Rama- a great purifier, a great warrior who set traditions for pure, truthful, honest and simple life.Let us remember him on this auspicious “RAM NAVMI DAY”.

editorial article
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