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By Srila Vyasadeva

SB 9.10: The Pastimes of the Supreme Lord, Rāmacandra

This Tenth Chapter describes how Lord Ramacandra appeared in the dynasty of Maharaja Khatvanga. It also describes the Lord’s activities, telling how He killed Ravana and returned to Ayodhya, the capital of His kingdom.

The son of Maharaja Khatvanga was Dirghabahu, and his son was Raghu. The son of Raghu was Aja, the son of Aja was Dasaratha, and the son of Dasaratha was Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When the Lord descended into this world in His full quadruple expansion — as Lord Ramacandra, Laksmana, Bharata and Satrughna — great sages like Valmiki who were actually in knowledge of the Absolute Truth described His transcendental pastimes. Srila Sukadeva Gosvami describes these pastimes in brief.

Lord Ramacandra went with Visvamitra and killed Raksasas like Marica. After breaking the stout and strong bow known as Haradhanu, the Lord married mother Sita and cut down the prestige of Parasurama. To obey the order of His father, He entered the forest, accompanied by Laksmana and Sita. There He cut off the nose of Surpanakha and killed the associates of Ravana, headed by Khara and Dusana. Ravana’s kidnapping of Sitadevi was the beginning of this demon’s misfortune. When Marica assumed the form of a golden deer, Lord Ramacandra went to bring the deer to please Sitadevi, but in the meantime Ravana took advantage of the Lord’s absence to kidnap her. When Sitadevi was kidnapped, Lord Ramacandra, accompanied by Laksmana, searched for her throughout the forest. In the course of this search, They met Jatayu. Then the Lord killed the demon Kabandha and the commander Vali and established a friendly relationship with Sugriva. After organizing the military strength of the monkeys and going with them to the shore of the sea, the Lord awaited the arrival of Samudra, the ocean personified, but when Samudra did not come, the Lord, the master of Samudra, became angry. Then Samudra came to the Lord with great haste and surrendered to Him, wanting to help Him in every way. The Lord then attempted to bridge the ocean, and, with the help of advice from Vibhisana, He attacked Ravana’s capital, Lanka. Previously, Hanuman, the eternal servant of the Lord, had set fire to Lanka, and now, with the help of Laksmana, the forces of Lord Ramacandra killed all the Raksasa soldiers. Then Lord Ramacandra personally killed Ravana. Mandodari and other wives lamented for Ravana, and in accordance with Lord Ramacandra’s order, Vibhisana performed the funeral ceremonies for all the dead in the family. Lord Ramacandra then gave Vibhisana the right to rule Lanka and also granted him a long duration of life. The Lord delivered Sitadevi from the Asoka forest and carried her in a flower airplane to His capital Ayodhya, where He was received by His brother Bharata. When Lord Ramacandra entered Ayodhya, Bharata brought His wooden shoes, Vibhisana and Sugriva held a whisk and fan, Hanuman carried an umbrella, Satrughna carried the Lord’s bow and two quivers, and Sitadevi carried a waterpot containing water from holy places. Angada carried a sword, and Jambavan (Rksaraja) carried a shield. After Lord Ramacandra, accompanied by Lord Laksmana and mother Sitadevi, met all His relatives, the great sage Vasistha enthroned Him as King. The chapter ends with a short description of Lord Ramacandra’s rule in Ayodhya.

SB 9.10.1 — Sukadeva Gosvami said: The son of Maharaja Khatvanga was Dirghabahu, and his son was the celebrated Maharaja Raghu. From Maharaja Raghu came Aja, and from Aja was born the great personality Maharaja Dasaratha.

SB 9.10.2 — Being prayed for by the demigods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Absolute Truth Himself, directly appeared with His expansion and expansions of the expansion. Their holy names were Rama, Laksmana, Bharata and Satrughna. These celebrated incarnations thus appeared in four forms as the sons of Maharaja Dasaratha.

SB 9.10.3 — O King Pariksit, the transcendental activities of Lord Ramacandra have been described by great saintly persons who have seen the truth. Because you have heard again and again about Lord Ramacandra, the husband of mother Sita, I shall describe these activities only in brief. Please listen.

SB 9.10.4 — To keep the promise of His father intact, Lord Ramacandra immediately gave up the position of king and, accompanied by His wife, mother Sita, wandered from one forest to another on His lotus feet, which were so delicate that they were unable to bear even the touch of Sita’s palms. The Lord was also accompanied by Hanuman [or by another monkey, Sugriva], king of the monkeys, and by His own younger brother Lord Laksmana, both of whom gave Him relief from the fatigue of wandering in the forest. Having cut off the nose and ears of Surpanakha, thus disfiguring her, the Lord was separated from mother Sita. He therefore became angry, moving His eyebrows and thus frightening the ocean, who then allowed the Lord to construct a bridge to cross the ocean. Subsequently, the Lord entered the kingdom of Ravana to kill him, like a fire devouring a forest. May that Supreme Lord, Ramacandra, give us all protection.

SB 9.10.5 — In the arena of the sacrifice performed by Visvamitra, Lord Ramacandra, the King of Ayodhya, killed many demons, Raksasas and uncivilized men who wandered at night in the mode of darkness. May Lord Ramacandra, who killed these demons in the presence of Laksmana, be kind enough to give us protection.

SB 9.10.6-7 — O King, the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra were wonderful, like those of a baby elephant. In the assembly where mother Sita was to choose her husband, in the midst of the heroes of this world, He broke the bow belonging to Lord Siva. This bow was so heavy that it was carried by three hundred men, but Lord Ramacandra bent and strung it and broke it in the middle, just as a baby elephant breaks a stick of sugarcane. Thus the Lord achieved the hand of mother Sita, who was equally as endowed with transcendental qualities of form, beauty, behavior, age and nature. Indeed, she was the goddess of fortune who constantly rests on the chest of the Lord. While returning from Sita’s home after gaining her at the assembly of competitors, Lord Ramacandra met Parasurama. Although Parasurama was very proud, having rid the earth of the royal order twenty-one times, he was defeated by the Lord, who appeared to be a ksatriya of the royal order.

SB 9.10.8 — Carrying out the order of His father, who was bound by a promise to his wife, Lord Ramacandra left behind His kingdom, opulence, friends, well-wishers, residence and everything else, just as a liberated soul gives up his life, and went to the forest with Sita.

SB 9.10.9 — While wandering in the forest, where He accepted a life of hardship, carrying His invincible bow and arrows in His hand, Lord Ramacandra deformed Ravana’s sister, who was polluted with lusty desires, by cutting off her nose and ears. He also killed her fourteen thousand Raksasa friends, headed by Khara, Trisira and Dusana.

SB 9.10.10 — O King Pariksit, when Ravana, who had ten heads on his shoulders, heard about the beautiful and attractive features of Sita, his mind was agitated by lusty desires, and he went to kidnap her. To distract Lord Ramacandra from His asrama, Ravana sent Marica in the form of a golden deer, and when Lord Ramacandra saw that wonderful deer, He left His residence and followed it and finally killed it with a sharp arrow, just as Lord Siva killed Daksa.

SB 9.10.11 — When Ramacandra entered the forest and Laksmana was also absent, the worst of the Raksasas, Ravana, kidnapped Sitadevi, the daughter of the King of Videha, just as a tiger seizes unprotected sheep when the shepherd is absent. Then Lord Ramacandra wandered in the forest with His brother Laksmana as if very much distressed due to separation from His wife. Thus He showed by His personal example the condition of a person attached to women.

SB 9.10.12 — Lord Ramacandra, whose lotus feet are worshiped by Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, had assumed the form of a human being. Thus He performed the funeral ceremony of Jatayu, who was killed by Ravana. The Lord then killed the demon named Kabandha, and after making friends with the monkey chiefs, killing Vali and arranging for the deliverance of mother Sita, He went to the beach of the ocean.

SB 9.10.13 — After reaching the beach, Lord Ramacandra fasted for three days, awaiting the arrival of the ocean personified. When the ocean did not come, the Lord exhibited His pastimes of anger, and simply by His glancing over the ocean, all the living entities within it, including the crocodiles and sharks, were agitated by fear. Then the personified ocean fearfully approached Lord Ramacandra, taking all paraphernalia to worship Him. Falling at the Lord’s lotus feet, the personified ocean spoke as follows.

SB 9.10.14 — O all-pervading Supreme Person, we are dull-minded and did not understand who You are, but now we understand that You are the Supreme Person, the master of the entire universe, the unchanging and original Personality of Godhead. The demigods are infatuated with the mode of goodness, the Prajapatis with the mode of passion, and the lord of ghosts with the mode of ignorance, but You are the master of all these qualities.

SB 9.10.15 — My Lord, You may use my water as You like. Indeed, You may cross it and go to the abode of Ravana, who is the great source of disturbance and crying for the three worlds. He is the son of Visrava, but is condemned like urine. Please go kill him and thus regain Your wife, Sitadevi. O great hero, although my water presents no impediment to Your going to Lanka, please construct a bridge over it to spread Your transcendental fame. Upon seeing this wonderfully uncommon deed of Your Lordship, all the great heroes and kings in the future will glorify You.

SB 9.10.16 — Sukadeva Gosvami said: After constructing a bridge over the ocean by throwing into the water the peaks of mountains whose trees and other vegetation had been shaken by the hands of great monkeys, Lord Ramacandra went to Lanka to release Sitadevi from the clutches of Ravana. With the direction and help of Vibhisana, Ravana’s brother, the Lord, along with the monkey soldiers, headed by Sugriva, Nila and Hanuman, entered Ravana’s kingdom, Lanka, which had previously been burnt by Hanuman.

SB 9.10.17 — After entering Lanka, the monkey soldiers, led by chiefs like Sugriva, Nila and Hanuman, occupied all the sporting houses, granaries, treasuries, palace doorways, city gates, assembly houses, palace frontages and even the resting houses of the pigeons. When the city’s crossroads, platforms, flags and golden waterpots on its domes were all destroyed, the entire city of Lanka appeared like a river disturbed by a herd of elephants.

SB 9.10.18 — When Ravana, the master of the Raksasas, saw the disturbances created by the monkey soldiers, he called for Nikumbha, Kumbha, Dhumraksa, Durmukha, Surantaka, Narantaka and other Raksasas and also his son Indrajit. Thereafter he called for Prahasta, Atikaya, Vikampana and finally Kumbhakarna. Then he induced all his followers to fight against the enemies.

SB 9.10.19 — Lord Ramacandra, surrounded by Laksmana and monkey soldiers like Sugriva, Hanuman, Gandhamada, Nila, Angada, Jambavan and Panasa, attacked the soldiers of the Raksasas, who were fully equipped with various invincible weapons like swords, lances, bows, prasas, rstis, sakti arrows, khadgas and tomaras.

SB 9.10.20 — Angada and the other commanders of the soldiers of Ramacandra faced the elephants, infantry, horses and chariots of the enemy and hurled against them big trees, mountain peaks, clubs and arrows. Thus the soldiers of Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana’s soldiers, who had lost all good fortune because Ravana had been condemned by the anger of mother Sita.

SB 9.10.21 — Thereafter, when Ravana, the king of the Raksasas, observed that his soldiers had been lost, he was extremely angry. Thus he mounted his airplane, which was decorated with flowers, and proceeded toward Lord Ramacandra, who sat on the effulgent chariot brought by Matali, the chariot driver of Indra. Then Ravana struck Lord Ramacandra with sharp arrows.

SB 9.10.22 — Lord Ramacandra said to Ravana: You are the most abominable of the man-eaters. Indeed, you are like their stool. You resemble a dog, for as a dog steals eatables from the kitchen in the absence of the householder, in My absence you kidnapped My wife, Sitadevi. Therefore as Yamaraja punishes sinful men, I shall also punish you. You are most abominable, sinful and shameless. Today, therefore, I, whose attempt never fails, shall punish you.

SB 9.10.23 — After thus rebuking Ravana, Lord Ramacandra fixed an arrow to His bow, aimed at Ravana, and released the arrow, which pierced Ravana’s heart like a thunderbolt. Upon seeing this, Ravana’s followers raised a tumultuous sound, crying, “Alas! Alas! What has happened? What has happened?” as Ravana, vomiting blood from his ten mouths, fell from his airplane, just as a pious man falls to earth from the heavenly planets when the results of his pious activities are exhausted.

SB 9.10.24 — Thereafter, all the women whose husbands had fallen in the battle, headed by Mandodari, the wife of Ravana, came out of Lanka. Continuously crying, they approached the dead bodies of Ravana and the other Raksasas.

SB 9.10.25 — Striking their breasts in affliction because their husbands had been killed by the arrows of Laksmana, the women embraced their respective husbands and cried piteously in voices appealing to everyone.

SB 9.10.26 — O my lord, O master! You epitomized trouble for others, and therefore you were called Ravana. But now that you have been defeated, we also are defeated, for without you the state of Lanka has been conquered by the enemy. To whom will it go for shelter?

SB 9.10.27 — O greatly fortunate one, you came under the influence of lusty desires, and therefore you could not understand the influence of mother Sita. Now, because of her curse, you have been reduced to this state, having been killed by Lord Ramacandra.

SB 9.10.28 — O pleasure of the Raksasa dynasty, because of you the state of Lanka and also we ourselves now have no protector. By your deeds you have made your body fit to be eaten by vultures and your soul fit to go to hell.

SB 9.10.29 — Sri Sukadeva Gosvami said: Vibhisana, the pious brother of Ravana and devotee of Lord Ramacandra, received approval from Lord Ramacandra, the King of Kosala. Then he performed the prescribed funeral ceremonies for his family members to save them from the path to hell.

SB 9.10.30 — Thereafter, Lord Ramacandra found Sitadevi sitting in a small cottage beneath the tree named Simsapa in a forest of Asoka trees. She was lean and thin, being aggrieved because of separation from Him.

SB 9.10.31 — Seeing His wife in that condition, Lord Ramacandra was very compassionate. When Ramacandra came before her, she was exceedingly happy to see her beloved, and her lotuslike mouth showed her joy.

SB 9.10.32 — After giving Vibhisana the power to rule the Raksasa population of Lanka for the duration of one kalpa, Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead [Bhagavan], placed Sitadevi on an airplane decorated with flowers and then got on the plane Himself. The period for His living in the forest having ended, the Lord returned to Ayodhya, accompanied by Hanuman, Sugriva and His brother Laksmana.

SB 9.10.33 — When Lord Ramacandra returned to His capital, Ayodhya, He was greeted on the road by the princely order, who showered His body with beautiful, fragrant flowers, while great personalities like Lord Brahma and other demigods glorified the activities of the Lord in great jubilation.

SB 9.10.34 — Upon reaching Ayodhya, Lord Ramacandra heard that in His absence His brother Bharata was eating barley cooked in the urine of a cow, covering His body with the bark of trees, wearing matted locks of hair, and lying on a mattress of kusa. The most merciful Lord very much lamented this.

SB 9.10.35-38 — When Lord Bharata understood that Lord Ramacandra was returning to the capital, Ayodhya, He immediately took upon His own head Lord Ramacandra’s wooden shoes and came out from His camp at Nandigrama. Lord Bharata was accompanied by ministers, priests and other respectable citizens, by professional musicians vibrating pleasing musical sounds, and by learned brahmanas loudly chanting Vedic hymns. Following in the procession were chariots drawn by beautiful horses with harnesses of golden rope. These chariots were decorated by flags with golden embroidery and by other flags of various sizes and patterns. There were soldiers bedecked with golden armor, servants bearing betel nut, and many well-known and beautiful prostitutes. Many servants followed on foot, bearing an umbrella, whisks, different grades of precious jewels, and other paraphernalia befitting a royal reception. Accompanied in this way, Lord Bharata, His heart softened in ecstasy and His eyes full of tears, approached Lord Ramacandra and fell at His lotus feet with great ecstatic love.

SB 9.10.39-40 — After offering the wooden shoes before Lord Ramacandra, Lord Bharata stood with folded hands, His eyes full of tears, and Lord Ramacandra bathed Bharata with tears while embracing Him with both arms for a long time. Accompanied by mother Sita and Laksmana, Lord Ramacandra then offered His respectful obeisances unto the learned brahmanas and the elderly persons in the family, and all the citizens of Ayodhya offered their respectful obeisances unto the Lord.

SB 9.10.41 — The citizens of Ayodhya, upon seeing their King return after a long absence, offered Him flower garlands, waved their upper cloths, and danced in great jubilation.

SB 9.10.42-43 — O King, Lord Bharata carried Lord Ramacandra’s wooden shoes, Sugriva and Vibhisana carried a whisk and an excellent fan, Hanuman carried a white umbrella, Satrughna carried a bow and two quivers, and Sitadevi carried a waterpot filled with water from holy places. Angada carried a sword, and Jambavan, King of the Rksas, carried a golden shield.

SB 9.10.44 — O King Pariksit, as the Lord sat on His airplane of flowers, with women offering Him prayers and reciters chanting about His characteristics, He appeared like the moon with the stars and planets.

SB 9.10.45-46 — Thereafter, having been welcomed by His brother Bharata, Lord Ramacandra entered the city of Ayodhya in the midst of a festival. When He entered the palace, He offered obeisances to all the mothers, including Kaikeyi and the other wives of Maharaja Dasaratha, and especially His own mother, Kausalya. He also offered obeisances to the spiritual preceptors, such as Vasistha. Friends of His own age and younger friends worshiped Him, and He returned their respectful obeisances, as did Laksmana and mother Sita. In this way they all entered the palace.

SB 9.10.47 — Upon seeing their sons, the mothers of Rama, Laksmana, Bharata and Satrughna immediately arose, like unconscious bodies returning to consciousness. The mothers placed their sons on their laps and bathed Them with tears, thus relieving themselves of the grief of long separation.

SB 9.10.48 — The family priest or spiritual master, Vasistha, had Lord Ramacandra cleanly shaved, freeing Him from His matted locks of hair. Then, with the cooperation of the elderly members of the family, he performed the bathing ceremony [abhiseka] for Lord Ramacandra with the water of the four seas and with other substances, just as it was performed for King Indra.

SB 9.10.49 — Lord Ramacandra, fully bathed and His head clean-shaven, dressed Himself very nicely and was decorated with a garland and ornaments. Thus He shone brightly, surrounded by His brothers and wife, who were similarly dressed and ornamented.

SB 9.10.50 — Being pleased by the full surrender and submission of Lord Bharata, Lord Ramacandra then accepted the throne of the state. He cared for the citizens exactly like a father, and the citizens, being fully engaged in their occupational duties of varna and asrama, accepted Him as their father.

SB 9.10.51 — Lord Ramacandra became King during Treta-yuga, but because of His good government, the age was like Satya-yuga. Everyone was religious and completely happy.

SB 9.10.52 — O Maharaja Pariksit, best of the Bharata dynasty, during the reign of Lord Ramacandra the forests, the rivers, the hills and mountains, the states, the seven islands and the seven seas were all favorable in supplying the necessities of life for all living beings.

SB 9.10.53 — When Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, was the King of this world, all bodily and mental suffering, disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear and fatigue were completely absent. There was even no death for those who did not want it.

SB 9.10.54 — Lord Ramacandra took a vow to accept only one wife and have no connection with any other women. He was a saintly king, and everything in His character was good, untinged by qualities like anger. He taught good behavior for everyone, especially for householders, in terms of varnasrama-dharma. Thus He taught the general public by His personal activities.

SB 9.10.55 — Mother Sita was very submissive, faithful, shy and chaste, always understanding the attitude of her husband. Thus by her character and her love and service she completely attracted the mind of the Lord.

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From Back to Godhead

Just to attract us to His service, God appeared on earth more than one million years ago as Lord Ramacandra the most benevolent ruler and valiant hero the world has ever known.

The incarnations of Godhead are as numerous as the waves of the sea, yet Krsna, the original Supreme Personality of Godhead, is the source of them all. Just as from one original candle we may light many other candles equal in potency, so Krsna expands Himself in many incarnations, each as powerful as Himself. Each incarnation has the same objective in human society namely, to establish the principles of religion and to destroy demonic, irreligious influences. To accomplish this mission, the Lord once appeared as Sri Ramacandra, the ideal God-conscious king. The poet Valmiki tells the full history of Lord Ramacandra in theRamayana, and the great sage Sukadeva Gosvami summarizes the Ramayana in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. To this day people in India worship Lord Ramacandra in thousands of temples and regard His reign the famous “Rama-rajya” as the model of God-conscious government.

Lord Ramacandra appeared in India more than one million years ago as the son of the great saintly king Maharaja Dasaratha. Early in His life the Lord began ridding the world of unwanted, irreligious elements. In the sacrificial arena of the sage Visvamitra, He killed many Raksasas (demons). Later He married Sita, who is actually the Goddess of Fortune (His eternal consort) and the universal mother. Lord Ramacandra entered the assembly of kings and heroes from whom Sita was to choose her husband. Sita’s father, King Janaka, had declared that whoever could break the bow of Lord Siva would win Sita’s hand in marriage. This bow was so heavy that it took three hundred men to carry, but Lord Ramacandra bent it and strung it and broke it in the middle, just as a baby elephant breaks a stick of sugar cane. In that way He achieved the hand of Sita, who was equal to Him in the transcendental opulences of beauty, behavior, age, and nature.

In Vedic times it was the custom that a man could have more than one wife, and Lord Ramacandra’s father, Maharaja Dasaratha, had three. Since the one named Kaikeyi had served him very pleasingly, King Dasaratha had granted her a benediction. However, the prudent Kaikeyi had said she would ask for this benediction later, and the king had agreed. When the time came for the coronation of Prince Ramacandra, who was the son of one of Kaikeyi’s co-wives, Kaikeyi requested her husband to enthrone her own son, Bharata, instead and to send Ramacandra to the forest. Aggrieved but nonetheless bound by his promise, Maharaja Dasaratha ordered Ramacandra to go to Dandakaranya Forest for fourteen years, and the Lord, as an obedient son, followed the order immediately. He gave up His kingdom, palace, opulence, friends, and everything else. Then He went to the forest with Sita and His brother Laksmana.

While wandering in DandakaranyaForest, Lord Rama and His companions faced many dangers. On one occasion they encountered Surpanakha, the sister of the ten-headed demon Ravana. Because Surpanakha approached Him with lust, Lord Ramacandra cut off her ears and nose. Then he annihilated her fourteen thousand demonic friends with His invincible bow and arrows.

When Ravana heard about the beautiful features of Lord Ramacandra’s wife, Sita, he also became agitated with lust-and he formulated a plan to kidnap her. Ravana ordered the mystic yogi Marica to assume the form of a golden deer, approach Ramacandra’s forest campsite, and in that way distract the Lord. By the Lord’s own arrangement, the ruse worked. When Lord Ramacandra saw that wonderful deer, He followed it for a great distance and finally killed it. Meanwhile, seeing that both Laksmana and Ramacandra were out of the way, Ravana swiftly kidnapped Sita, just as a tiger seizes unprotected sheep when the shepherd is absent.

(In this connection His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada comments, “A woman, however powerful she may be in the material world, must be given protection, for as soon as she is unprotected she will be exploited by Raksasas like Ravana.” According to the Vedic system, a woman must be protected at every stage of life first by her father, then by her husband, and finally by her grown-up sons.)

Although a large bird named Jatayu tried bravely to stop Ravana’s attack, Ravana defeated him and cut one of his wings. When Lord Ramacandra returned and found Sita missing, He behaved as if very much distressed, and He and Laksmana began to search for her. They came upon the dying Jatayu, who told Ramacandra how Ravana had taken Sita Then Lord Ramacandra went on to kill a demon named Kabandha, and afterward He made an alliance with Sugriva, Nila, and Hanuman, the chiefs of the monkeys. They promised to help Him save Sita from Ravana, who had removed her to his island kingdom of Lanka, present-day Ceylon.

Lord Ramacandra proceeded with His monkey allies to the shore of the Indian Ocean, where He fasted for three days, awaiting the appearance of the personified ocean. When the ocean did not come, Lord Ramacandra glanced angrily over the waters with red-hot eyes, and the ocean became so hot that all the sharks, crocodiles, and other aquatic creatures were in great distress. Finally, the personified ocean fearfully approached the Lord, fell at His lotus feet, and began to pray: “O all-pervading Supreme Person, I am dull-minded and did not understand who You were, but now I understand that You are the Supreme Person, the master of the universe, the unchanging and original Personality of Godhead. My Lord, You may use my water as You like. You may cross it and go to the abode of Ravana. Please go kill him and thus regain Your wife, Sita. Please construct a bridge over my waters. Upon seeing this great deed, all the exalted heroes and kings in the future will glorify You.”

Lord Ramacandra thus ordered His mighty monkey soldiers to lop off mountain peaks trees and all and throw them into the water. By the Lord’s supreme will, they began to float. (This is not very remarkable. By the same supreme will, countless planets are floating in the vast ocean of space. The Lord is never limited by the laws of nature, because nature is under His complete control.) Then, to rescue Mother Sita, Lord Ramacandra and the monkey armies headed by Sugriva, Nila, and Hanuman marched across the Indian Ocean on the bridge of floating stones and launched an assault on Lanka, Ravana’s capital. The monkey soldiers immediately occupied all the strategic points, such as the city gates, granaries, treasuries, and assembly houses. The attack was so devastating that the entire city of Lanka appeared like a river disturbed by a herd of elephants.

When Ravana saw what was happening, he summoned his army of Raksasas and led them into a fierce battle with the forces led by Lord Ramacandra. The Raksasas had all kinds of sophisticated weapons and rode proudly on elephants, horses, and chariots. However, condemned by the curse of Mother Sita, the Raksasas had lost all good fortune. Thus, even though Lord Ramacandra’s devoted monkey soldiers were armed with little more than tree trunks, huge boulders, and crude clubs, they were able to kill all of Ravana’s henchmen. Transcendental, spiritual power always defeats the power of materialistic demons. Although the monkeys’ weapons were primitive, the Lord fought on the monkeys’ side-that was the decisive factor.

When Ravana saw that his soldiers had all been killed, he became furious. The ten-headed demon boarded his mystic flower-decorated airplane and steered it toward Lord Ramacandra, who sat on an effulgent chariot. When Ravana began shooting razor-sharp arrows at Ramacandra, the Lord loudly rebuked him: “Ravana, you are an abominable, sinful, and shameless dog, for just as a dog steals food from the kitchen when his master is gone, so in My absence you kidnapped My wife, Sita. Today I shall punish you without fail.”

After rebuking Ravana, Lord Ramacandra shot an arrow that pierced his heart like a thunderbolt. Vomiting blood from each of his ten mouths, Ravana fell down dead from his airplane. Seeing their leader so ignominiously slain, all of Ravana’s followers cried tumultuously, “Alas! Alas! What has happened!” Then Ravana’s wife Mandodari and the other slain Raksasas’ wives came out of Lanka, striking their breasts and crying piteously. Seeing her husband’s corpse, Mandodari said, “My husband, you were always causing others to weep, and thus you were called Ravana. Driven by lust, you could not know Mother Sita’s influence. But now, because of her curse, you have been destroyed by Lord Rama. O delight of the demons, you have made your body fit to be eaten by vultures and your soul fit to go to hell!”

Thereafter, Lord Ramacandra found Sita sitting inside a small cottage deep within a forest of Asoka trees. Seeing how lean and thin she had grown due to her captivity and separation from Him, the Lord felt great compassion for her and came before her. When she saw her beloved husband, her joy knew no bounds. Then Lord Ramacandra raised Sita onto a flower-bedecked airplane and boarded the plane Himself, along with Laksmana, Hanuman, and Sugriva. Together they flew back to Lord Ramacandra’s capital, Ayodhya. The Lord’s fourteen-year exile had ended.

As Lord Ramacandra approached Ayodhya, the princely order greeted Him with showers of beautiful, fragrant flowers, and common citizens offered Him garlands and danced in great jubilation. Women sung poetic prayers and professional reciters chanted His glories. Seated beside Mother Sita on His airplane of flowers, Lord Ramacandra appeared like a beautiful full moon rising amidst glowing stars and planets.

Lord Bharata had been ruling Ayodhya in His brother Ramacandra’s absence. When Bharata heard the news of Ramacandra’s return to the capital, He immediately took Ramacandra’s wooden shoes upon His own head and came forth with His retinue to receive Him. Ministers, musicians, priests, and learned brahmanas joined the royal reception party. The musicians vibrated pleasing music while the brahmanas loudly chanted the Vedic hymns, and beautiful horses with golden harnesses drew gaily decorated chariots. Many soldiers and servants bearing precious gifts followed in the procession. His heart melting with affection and His eyes overflowing with tears, Lord Bharata approached His brother and fell at His feet in deep ecstatic love.

After offering the wooden shoes before Lord Ramacandra, Lord Bharata stood before Him with folded hands. Then Ramacandra embraced Bharata for a long time, all the while bathing Him with tears of joy. Finally, Bharata fervently requested His elder brother to accept the throne, and Ramacandra agreed.

Lord Ramacandra began His reign as emperor by sending His brothers out to conquer the world and establish His authority. Meanwhile, He personally supervised the affairs of His kingdom for the benefit of all the citizens. In fact, He cared for the citizens exactly like a father. He saw to it that everyone observed religious principles, and as a result everyone was completely happy. During the reign of Lord Ramacandra, the bountiful earth freely supplied the necessities of life for all living beings, and all physical and mental suffering disease, old age, bereavement, lamentation, distress, fear, fatigue were completely absent. For those who did not want it, there was even no death.

Lord Ramacandra vowed to accept only one wife and to have no connection with any other woman. He was arajarsi (saintly king) and everything in His character was perfect. Thus He taught the general public by His personal example. Especially exemplary was His behavior towards the brahmanas, the spiritual teachers of society, who in Vedic times held a higher social position than even the ruling kings and princes. Thinking that thebrahmanas’ unselfishness entitled them to possess the entire world, Lord Ramacandra gave them all the land and wealth in His kingdom east, west, north, and south. Upon receiving the gift, the brahmanaswere very pleased and spoke to the Lord with great affection: “O Lord, You are the master of the entire universe. What have You not given us? You have entered the core of our hearts and dissipated the darkness of our ignorance by Your effulgence. This is the supreme gift. We do not need anything else.” So the brahmanas remained satisfied with only the bare necessities of life and returned all the land to Lord Ramacandra for Him to rule, with their blessings.

To ascertain what the citizens of Ayodhya thought of Him, Lord Ramacandra would sometimes walk among them incognito. One night while He was walking about in disguise, He happened to hear a foolish man of heinous character criticize Mother Sita. To his own unchaste wife the man said, “You go to another man’s house, and therefore you are unchaste and polluted. I shall not maintain you anymore. A henpecked husband like Lord Rama may accept a wife like Sita, who went to another man’s house; but I am not henpecked like Him, and therefore I shall not accept you again.” Although such talk was sheer nonsense, Lord Ramacandra nonetheless feared that it might ruin His reputation as a religious ruler. Thus He parted from His wife, who was then with child, and she retired to the hermitage of Valmiki Muni. After giving birth to two sons, Sita absorbed herself in meditation upon the lotus feet of Lord Ramacandra and then entered into the earth, unable to bear the separation from her beloved husband.

Upon hearing of Sita’s fate, Lord Ramacandra was apparently overcome with grief. (Actually, the Lord can never be disturbed by any mundane emotion. In reality He felt the intense spiritual bliss of separation from the beloved, which can be experienced only on the highest transcendental platform.) Thereafter, Lord Ramacandra observed complete celibacy and performed an uninterrupted fire sacrifice for thirteen thousand years. After completing the sacrifice, He returned to His eternal abode in Vaikuntha, the spiritual sky though He remains in the hearts of those who always think of Him. All the citizens of Ayodhya accompanied Lord Ramacandra to His planet, where He reigns eternally with Mother Sita (the Goddess of Fortune), His brother Laksmana, and His faithful monkey servant Hanuman.

Epilogue

Whereas in an age long ago Krsna descended in the form of Ramacandra, in the present age He has descended in the form of His holy names: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. When we chant these transcendental names according to the directions of the bona fide spiritual master, Rama and Krsna are still present in this age. This is because the names of Krsna and Rama are absolute and thus non-different from Krsna and Rama Themselves. So the holy name of Rama has the same power as Rama Himself to defeat the modern Ravanas. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says, “The kingdom of Rama was immensely popular and beneficial, and the spreading of this Hare Krsna movement can immediately introduce a similar situation, even in this Kali-yuga [Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy].”

 

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26310

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Today, in observance of Sri Rama-navami, we shall read a verse from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Seven: “Scheduled Incarnations.”

TEXT 24

yasma adad udadhir udha-bhayanga-vepo
margam sapady ari-puram haravad didhaksoh
dure suhrn-mathita-rosa-susona-drstya
tatapyamana-makaroraga-nakra-cakrah

TRANSLATION

The Personality of Godhead Ramacandra, being aggrieved for His distant intimate friend [Sita], glanced over the city of the enemy Ravana with red-hot eyes like those of Hara [who wanted to burn the kingdom of heaven]. The great ocean, trembling in fear, gave Him His way because its family members, the aquatics like the sharks, snakes, and crocodiles, were being burnt by the heat of the angry red-hot eyes of the Lord.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

The Personality of Godhead has every sentiment of a sentient being, like all other living beings, because He is the chief and original living entity, the supreme source of all other living beings. He is the nitya, or the chief eternal amongst all other eternals. He is the chief one, and all others are the dependent many. The many eternals are supported by the one eternal, and thus both the eternals are qualitatively one. Due to such oneness, both the eternals constitutionally have a complete range of sentiments, but the difference is that the sentiments of the chief eternal are different in quantity from the sentiments of the dependent eternals. When Ramacandra was angry and showed His red-hot eyes, the whole ocean became heated with that energy, so much so that the aquatics within the great ocean felt the heat, and the personified ocean trembled in fear and offered the Lord an easy path for reaching the enemy’s city. The impersonalists will see havoc in this red-hot sentiment of the Lord because they want to see negation in perfection. Because the Lord is absolute, the impersonalists imagine that in the Absolute the sentiment of anger, which resembles mundane sentiments, must be conspicuous by absence. Due to a poor fund of knowledge, they do not realize that the sentiment of the Absolute Person is transcendental to all mundane concepts of quality and quantity. Had Lord Ramacandra’s sentiment been of mundane origin, how could it disturb the whole ocean and its inhabitants? Can any mundane red-hot eye generate heat in the great ocean? These are factors to be distinguished in terms of the personal and impersonal conceptions of the Absolute Truth. As it is said in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, so the Absolute Person cannot be devoid of the sentiments that are reflected in the temporary mundane world. Rather, the different sentiments found in the Absolute, either in anger or in mercy, have the same qualitative influence, or, in other words, there is no mundane difference of value because these sentiments are all on the absolute plane. Such sentiments are definitely not absent in the Absolute, as the impersonalists think, making their mundane estimation of the transcendental world.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The Vedanta-sutra begins with the aphorism janmady asya yatah: “The Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates.” Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the same words (janmady asya yatah) and explains that the Absolute Truth, the origin of everything, is a person—the Supreme Person, Krsna (krsnas tu bhagavan svayam). He is origin of everything spiritual and material, and in the Bhagavad-gita He confirms, “I am the origin of everything. From me everything emanates.”

aham sarvasya prabhavo
mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam
budha bhava-samanvitah

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Bg 10.8) Further, He says, aham adir hi devanam: “I am the source of the devas.” (Bg 10.2) Srila Prabhupada explains that the three primal devas, or gods, are Brahma, Visnu, and Mahesa and that Krsna is the origin of them all—even of Visnu.

Srimad-Bhagavatam describes the Absolute Truth in detail. It lists twenty-six incarnations of Godhead and at the end of the list states, ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: “All of these incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (SB 1.3.28) As such, Krsna includes all of the other incarnations, including the incarnation of Lord Ramacandra. Thus we need not worship Lord Ramacandra separately. By worshiping Krsna, we automatically worship Lord Rama simultaneously.

Krsna, being the origin of everything and everyone, is also the origin of us, the living entities. So whatever qualities we have must also exist in Krsna—originally. We have individuality, so Krsna must too. We have form, and so must Krsna. We have thinking and feeling and willing, so Krsna must too. And we have activities, so Krsna must too. Krsna, the Absolute Truth, has everything that we have plus more—and in greater quantity.

In the specific incarnation of Rama, the Lord acts as the ideal human being—the ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal king. The Ramayana, the history of Lord Rama, is filled with the exemplary behavior of the Lord and His associates, and they all show ideal examples. Sita shows the ideal of a chaste wife, Laksmana and Bharata of faithful brothers. The Ramayana is full of ideal examples that we are meant to follow—ideal father, ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal wife, ideal servant, ideal ruler, and so on.

Lord Rama, who is ideal in every respect, still becomes angry—and aggrieved. Both are mentioned here. He became aggrieved because of separation from Sita, and He became angry at Ravana. Such sentiments as grief and anger exist in the Absolute Truth, in particular here in the person of the incarnation of Godhead who shows the ideal in all respects. So we living entities also have such sentiments even in perfection, after liberation. Of course, our experience in the material world is with conditioned souls, so what we have experienced of grief or anger is largely mundane. But we should not think that the Lord’s sentiments are mundane or that the Lord, being beyond material sentiment, is devoid of all sentiments. The impersonalists think, “We, conditioned souls, have anger and sorrow, so how can the Lord, who is liberated and pure, have anger or sorrow? In fact, He cannot have anything—no name, no form, no qualities, no activities, no relationships with others or sentiments and emotions—nothing.” They want to make everything zero. Thus statements such as “the red-hot burning eyes of Ramacandra” cause havoc for the impersonalists.

We, as conditioned souls, tend toward impersonalism. Every conditioned soul has two conditioned tendencies: one is toward sense gratification, and the other is toward impersonalism. So we carry impersonal conceptions with us even when we come to devotional service, and our impersonal conceptions may influence us to deal in impersonal ways even though we know in theory that we all are eternal persons and that Krsna is the supreme eternal person. Still, in practice we may tend to act in impersonal ways, because we may still have impersonal ideas that devotees should not feel sorrow or anger—or any “negative” emotion. And we may try to avoid responsibility for how our behavior affects other devotees by saying, “Prabhu, why are you getting upset? You shouldn’t get upset.” Although there may be truth to the notion that under certain circumstances a devotee should not become upset, we also should not act in such a way as to upset the prabhu. “Prabhu” means “master.” We are meant to see each other as masters and ourselves as servants. So we shouldn’t say, “Now, Prabhu, don’t get upset.” One wouldn’t tell one’s master not to get upset. Rather, we should say, “Oh, I am so sorry, my dear master. I am sorry that I made a mistake. I am sorry that I upset you. Please forgive me. Please rectify me.” That is the meaning of prabhu.

The same pastimes that are described here in brief, in three verses in the Second Canto, are elaborated upon in the Ninth Canto in two full chapters. The entire Ramayana is summarized in tenth and eleventh chapters of the Ninth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam. And there Sukadeva Gosvami elaborates on these two points: the Lord’s being aggrieved in separation from Sita, and the Lord’s becoming angry.

In relation to Rama’s separation from Sita, who had been kidnapped by the great demon Ravana, externally the Lord was lamenting. The Bhagavatam says that the Lord showed by His personal example the condition of a man who is attached to women—that is the material side of attachment. But the situation of Lord Rama is spiritual, beyond material conditions. The Lord and His pleasure potency—whether Sita-Rama or Radha-Krsna—are not of the material world. They are completely spiritual, and their activities are within the internal energy. The separation of the Lord from His consort is an activity of the Lord’s pleasure potency (hladini-sakti) and serves to increases their transcendental bliss. So although externally the Lord appears to lament in separation from His devotee or His devotees appear to lament in separation from Him, internally they experience transcendental bliss and actually relish the feelings of separation (vipralambha) as the highest ecstasy.

Once, when Rama was wandering through the forest searching for Sita and lamenting, Parvati, Lord Siva’s consort, saw Him but did not recognize Him. She thought that He was an ordinary man in grief. She told her husband and guru, Lord Siva, what she had seen, and he replied, “That was no ordinary man. That was the Personality of Godhead Ramacandra. Believe me.” But Siva could detect that she had some doubt in her mind, so he warned her, “Do not try to test Him. He is the Personality of Godhead, Lord Rama.” Still, she wasn’t convinced. She harbored some doubt within her heart.

She disguised herself as Sita and went out to trick this man. She appeared before Lord Rama looking in every respect exactly like Sita. In effect, she was saying, “Here I am, Your beloved Sita,” but He did not even see her. He ignored her, as if she didn’t exist. Lord Rama just continued searching for Sita. But from her side, wherever Parvati looked she saw Rama, because He had expanded Himself into many, many forms such that wherever she looked she saw the Personality of Godhead Ramacandra. Then she realized that her husband was right. She had made a mistake, but she didn’t want to admit it.

So she left the area, resumed her original feature as Parvati, and returned to her husband—and didn’t say anything about what had happened. But Lord Siva knew, so he asked, “Did you see anything unusual in the forest?” She replied, “No, not in particular.” So he became angry—not just because she had disobeyed him but because she had withheld the truth from him. And he was ready to burn her to ashes.

So, Lord Ramacandra is the Personality of Godhead. He is not an ordinary person, although He appeared to lament like one. And Lord Siva, a pure devotee beyond the modes of material nature, became angry, as was appropriate.

Returning to the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam: After searching for Sita in the forest and being unable to find her, He ultimately learned that she had been kidnapped by Ravana and carried to his capital of Lanka. So He made His way to the southern tip of India, to the Indian Ocean, and He glanced over the golden city of Lanka, angry that Ravana had kidnapped Sita and thus insulted the Raghu dynasty.

The ocean, in a sense, created an impediment to Rama and His army reaching Lanka, but the anger in Lord Rama’s eyes created so much heat that the aquatics in the ocean were burning and the ocean was trembling. Thus the ocean personified came before the Lord and offered to give Him way—to not impede His travel. Commenting on this incident as described in the Ninth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada raises the question of why suffering is necessary. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja/ aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah: one who surrenders to Me is relieved of all sinful reactions. So from where does the surrendered devotee’s suffering come? Just by chanting the holy name of the Lord once, like Ajamila, in namabhasa, without offense, one is freed from the reactions to more sins than one is able to commit. From where, then, does the suffering of a devotee come?

Srila Prabhupada explains that sometimes people become so covered by material attachments and illusion that they cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead or His purpose. And he gives the example that an animal is supposed to understand the indications of the master and that if he doesn’t the master may have to beat him until he does. When the ocean personified came before Lord Rama and apologized for not having given Him way earlier, she referred to herself as jada-dhiyah, “dull-minded,” or “possessing intelligence like that of an animal.” Srila Prabhupada remarks that sometimes an animal, to understand the purpose of a man, has to be beaten, and that similarly, people whose intelligence is dull like an animal’s sometimes have to be punished so that they can come to their senses and understand, “This is our master. He wants our service. This is what He wants us to do.” “Therefore,” Srila Prabhupada concludes, “punishment by the Lord through material nature is necessary in human society, for without it men forget the supremacy of the Lord due to their dull, blunt intelligence.” (SB 9.10.14 purport)

Eventually Rama and His army crossed the ocean to Lanka, and ultimately Rama killed Ravana, as described so beautifully in the next verse and translation, which I shall read for you.

TEXT 25

vaksah-sthala-sparsa-rugna-mahendra-vaha-
dantair vidambita-kakubjusa udha-hasam
sadyo ’subhih saha vinesyati dara-hartur
visphurjitair dhanusa uccarato ’dhisainye

TRANSLATION

When Ravana was engaged in the battle, the trunk of the elephant which carried the king of heaven, Indra, broke in pieces, having collided with the chest of Ravana, and the scattered broken parts illuminated all directions. Ravana therefore felt proud of his prowess and began to loiter in the midst of the fighting soldiers, thinking himself the conqueror of all directions. But his laughter, overtaken by joy, along with his very air of life, suddenly ceased with the tingling sound of the bow of Ramacandra, the Personality of Godhead.

COMMENT (continued)

The culmination of Ravana’s kidnapping Sita and taking her to Lanka was that Ramacandra killed him and freed Sita. And for us, there is a great lesson to be learned. Sita is the Lord’s energy, the Lord’s property, and if we try to take the Lord’s energy, or property, for our own purposes, for our own enjoyment, we will lose everything, and we will be destroyed. In other words, the mentality of enjoying the Lord’s energy or using the Lord’s property for one’s own purposes is demonic. And if we persist, we may be destroyed like Ravana and his dynasty, and our property may be devastated and lost. Even as devotees we may have some vestiges of the demonic mentality—the desire to take the Lord’s place and enjoy His property—and so we pray to Lord Rama and Laksmana, who have so kindly appeared in Kali-yuga as Gaura-Nitai, to destroy our sinful mentality.

After defeating Ravana and his armies, Lord Rama found Sita, who had been kept captive in a forest of asoka trees. She had become thin, being aggrieved because of separation from Him. And naturally, she was delighted to see her eternal Lord and master. But according to strict Vedic custom, a lady who spends the night outside of her home is considered to be tainted. In the orthodox Hindu system, the girls do not spend the night out of their homes. They stay first under the care of their fathers; after marriage, under the care of their husbands; and after their husbands pass away, under the care of their grown sons. So Lord Rama refused to accept Sita. Naturally, she was heartbroken, but He refused to accept her, because she had spent the night outside and thus her position was unknown. Finally, it was concluded that Sita’s chastity would be tested. She would be placed in a fire. If she survived the fire, she was pure. And if she was burned in the fire, it meant that she had not remained chaste.

So Sita was placed in the fire, and she emerged unscathed. But there are some secret facts, which we can learn by the mercy of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Once, when Lord Caitanya was traveling in South India, near Madurai, He was invited for lunch by a learned brahmana who was a rama-bhakta, a devotee of Rama. After taking His bath in the river, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu went to the brahamana’s house to have lunch, but the food was not ready, because the brahmana had not cooked. Finally, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, Lord Caitanya took His lunch, but the brahmana fasted. Mahaprabhu asked him, “What is the matter? You seem so worried. Why are you so morose?” The brahmana replied, “Hearing that Mother Sita, the mother of the universe and the supreme goddess of fortune, has been touched by the demon Ravana, I am so distressed that I prefer not to live.” Lord Caitanya appreciated the brahmana’s mood of devotion, but He assured him that Ravana could never touch Sita. “Sita has a spiritual form full of bliss, and material senses cannot even see her, what to speak of touch her,” He explained. “What Ravana kidnapped was not actually Sita but an illusory material form of Sita [maya-sita].”

Lord Caitanya continued His travels in South India and at a temple in Ramesvara heard a reading from the Kurma Purana about the chastity of Mother Sita. That scripture says that when Ravana came to kidnap Sita, the wife of Lord Ramacandra and mother of the three worlds, she took shelter of Agni, the fire-god, who covered Sita’s original form and provided an illusory representation of Sita that Ravana took. Thus the original Sita was never abducted by Ravana—only the maya-sita. And when Rama killed Ravana and Sita was released and brought before the fire, Agni made the illusory form disappear and delivered the real form of Sita to Lord Ramacandra. Thus the original Sitadevi was reunited with her eternal Lord and master, Ramacandra.

There is a lesson for us here, which is, as Srila Prabhupada often said, that the same thing that is material when used for sense gratification becomes spiritual when engaged in the service of the Lord—and vice versa. Take, for example, rice. If someone prepares rice to eat for sense gratification, it is material—and sinful. But the same rice when prepared for Krsna and offered to Him with love and devotion, becomes spiritual and releases one from all sins. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):

yajna-sistasinah santo
mucyante sarva-kilbisaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa
ye pacanty atma-karanat

“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” When one eats even vegetarian food prepared for one’s own bodily nourishment, one is eating lumps of sin. And when one eats the same ingredients prepared and offered in love to Krsna—in other words, krsna-prasada—one becomes purified and liberated from all sins. The same item can act either materially or spiritually depending on how it is used, in what consciousness. So we should be careful to use whatever facility we receive by the grace of the Lord exclusively for the Lord’s service and not for sense gratification.

Once, a gentleman who had recently wedded came before Srila Gaurakisora dasa Babaji Maharaja. When Babaji Maharaja heard about his marriage, he remarked, “It is good that Sambu Babu has married. Now every day he should personally cook for Krsna, offer the food, and serve the prasada to his wife. If he thinks of her more or less as his worshipable guru—not someone to be enjoyed or exploited by him—he will benefit. Everything that exists is Krsna’s property, meant for Krsna’s enjoyment, and should be used for Krsna’s service. Sambu should not think of his wife as his servant. Rather, he should respect her as Krsna’s servant.” So whatever it may be, we should see the person or the object as Krsna property, meant to be engaged in Krsna’s service. Then we can move in the world without becoming entangled. But as soon as we think, “Oh, here is something nice for me to enjoy,” we may be entangled. That demonic mentality of wanting to enjoy apart from the Lord may become prominent, and then we may require some special mercy to free ourselves from that contamination. Krsna may take from us the object of our material attachment and remove that obstacle to our spiritual progress (yasyaham anugrhnami harisye tad-dhanam sanaih).

We have many lessons to learn from the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra, but in relation to today’s verse, in particular, Srila Prabhupada is pointing out the most fundamental of all lessons, that the Personality of Godhead is a person with all of the sentiments of a person and that we too are persons, eternally. Even in the liberated stage we have such sentiments, and we should respect them. We do not necessarily reject “negative” emotions that arise within us as being material, because they may in fact be spiritual. Even a “negative” emotion engaged in Krsna’s service is spiritual, and a so-called noble sentiment outside of Krsna consciousness is material.

‘dvaite’ bhadrabhadra-jnana, saba—‘manodharma’
‘ei bhala, ei manda’,—ei saba ‘bhrama’

“In the material world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental speculations. Therefore, saying ‘This is good’ and ‘This is bad’ is all a mistake.” (Cc Antya 4.176) In other words, nothing is really good or bad. If it is favorable to Krsna’s service, it is real—and good. Otherwise, it is illusory.

We do not reject sentiments as the Mayavadis do—“Oh, you should not get angry.” Actually, Mayavadis themselves get angry, but they try to conceal it—“Oh, we can’t get angry.” Actually, sometimes it is our duty to get angry. Once, a young American who happened to attend the first Delhi pandal became so inspired by Srila Prabhupada and the devotees that he came to meet Prabhupada after the program. In a heartfelt display of eloquence, he expressed his appreciation to Srila Prabhupada: “If the world could just become Krsna conscious, there could be peace and happiness. People would learn to love each other, and give up their hatred and anger.” Srila Prabhupada replied, “Anger? Is there something wrong with anger? So did someone tell you that anger is wrong?” The young man didn’t know what to say. Then Srila Prabhupada explained, “Krsna spoke the whole Bhagavad-gita just to make Arjuna angry. He wanted to convince Arjuna to fight and kill the enemy, and how can you fight and kill unless you are angry? He spoke the whole Bhagavad-gita just to make Arjuna angry.” So anger, when used in the service of the Lord, is spiritual.

After Ravana kidnapped Sita, Rama sent Hanuman to Lanka to find her. Eventually he did, in the asoka grove, but he was soon apprehended by Ravana’s soldiers. To punish and humiliate him, they set fire to his tail. But Hanuman was no ordinary monkey. He was a great devotee, powerful as a demigod, and he went on a rampage through the whole of Lanka, setting it ablaze. He was so furious. And so we see that anger can also be used in the service of the Lord, as demonstrated by Hanuman and Arjuna.

Not only anger, but lust too can be dovetailed in the service of the Lord. The Bhagavad-gita (3.37) says,

kama esa krodha esa
rajo-guna-samudbhavah
mahasano maha-papma
viddhy enam iha vairinam

“Lust is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath; it is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.” Srila Prabhupada explains in his purport to this verse that when a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for Krsna is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. And lust, when frustrated, turns into wrath, which is a manifestation of the mode of ignorance. But lust and anger, which exist originally in the Lord, the Absolute Truth, dovetailed in the service of the Lord can help the living entity revive his original Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada explains, “If, therefore, lust is transformed into love for the Supreme, or transformed into Krsna consciousness—or, in other words, desiring everything for Krsna—then both lust and wrath can be spiritualized. Hanuman, the great servitor of Lord Rama, exhibited his wrath by burning the golden city of Ravana, but by doing so he became the greatest devotee of the Lord. Here also, in Bhagavad-gita, the Lord induces Arjuna to engage his wrath upon his enemies for the satisfaction of the Lord. Therefore, lust and wrath, when they are employed in Krsna consciousness, become our friends instead of our enemies.”

Anything and everything can be used in the service of the Lord, and that is the basic principle of Krsna consciousness.

anasaktasya visayan
yatharham upayunjatah
nirbandhah krsna-sambandhe
yuktam vairagyam ucyate

prapancikataya buddhya
hari-sambandhi-vastunah
mumuksubhih parityago
vairagyam phalgu kathyate

“When one is not attached to anything but at the same time accepts anything in relation to Krsna, one is rightly situated above possessiveness. On the other hand, one who rejects everything without knowledge of its relationship to Krsna is not as complete in his renunciation.” (Brs 1.2.255-6)

Because spiritual sentiments and activities can resemble mundane ones, we can easily misunderstand the Lord or His pure devotees. We may think that such transcendental sentiments are mundane, or we may think that the Lord and His pure devotees have no such sentiments. Thus one may develop an artificial view of the Lord and His devotees.

From our experience with Srila Prabhupada, we know that a pure devotee (like the Lord) has the full range of emotions—but all in relation to Krsna. And a pure devotee may temporarily become angry or distressed, according to the situation. Sometimes Prabhupada became discouraged—or encouraged—by what others said and did. He was fixed in his relationship with Krsna and in his service to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and his guru maharaja—those were the center of his life—but with temporary changes of circumstances related to Krsna’s service, he could display temporary changes of emotion.

After we finally got the Juhu land in ISKCON’s name, Srila Prabhupada wanted to immediately start to raise funds to build the temple for Krsna, Sri Sri Radha-Rasabihari. He said to his friend Dr. C. P. Patel, “Now we want to begin the collection for the construction.” And Dr. Patel replied, “People won’t give.” Srila Prabhupada countered, “Bombay is such a rich city that if the people of Bombay wanted, they could give the entire amount in one day.” And Dr. Patel replied, “They don’t want. You have to bring the money from America.” Prabhupada responded, “I could bring the money from America, but then what is your credit?” Dr. Patel began, “Prabhupada, I don’t want to discourage you . . .” And Srila Prabhupada interjected, “But you are discouraging me.” So, Prabhupada could become discouraged.

Similarly, he could become encouraged. Once, Srila Prabhupada called me into his room to discuss book distribution in India, and at the end he said, “Seeing you all so enthusiastic to distribute books, I become enthusiastic.” Being a relatively new devotee, I thought, “Srila Prabhupada is always in transcendental bliss. How can our enthusiasm increase his enthusiasm?” In time, I began to overcome my impersonal conceptions and to realize that liberated souls (like Krsna) are always persons, with the full range of emotions, and that they can be encouraged or discouraged. So, when we deal with devotees, we should always be careful—and considerate.

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was considerate. Every year Sivananda Sena would lead the devotees from Bengal to Jagannatha Puri for Ratha-yatra, and it was a major effort. The party, which numbered two or three hundred, went by foot, and he arranged prasada and accommodations for them and sometimes boats to take them across rivers. One day when the party was being checked by a toll collector, the other devotees went ahead while Sivananda Sena remained behind to pay the taxes. Because no one else could arrange for their accommodations, the devotees waited beneath a tree. Meanwhile, Nityananda Prabhu, who was with the party that year, became very hungry and upset. And when Sivananda finally arrived, Nityananda stood up and kicked him severely. Of course, Sivananda accepted the kicking as the greatest blessing. After bringing Nityananda Prabhu to His residence, he told Him, “The dust of Your lotus feet is not attainable even by Lord Brahma, yet Your lotus feet have touched my wretched body. Today my birth, my family, and my activities have all become successful.” But Sivananda’s nephew, who was only a boy, felt offended and left the group. On his own, he traveled to Jagannatha Puri to meet Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When he reached Mahaprabhu’s residence, Lord Caitanya’s servant told him to remove his coat and shirt, because the rule is that when one comes before the Deity one must remove such garments. But Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Don’t disturb him. He has come in a distressed state of mind. Let him do as he pleases.” Lord Caitanya considered the person’s emotional state, the person’s psychology. And when someone is in a distressed state, you don’t disturb him. Rather, you try to help him, to pacify him, and then talk of other things.

Once, Srila Prabhupada told Tejiyas Prabhu, then the temple president in Delhi, that the problem with his disciples was that they didn’t understand common psychology. We may want to give someone some instruction, but we may have to wait until they are ready to hear. We may have to pacify them first, and then they may be more open to what we have to say. We may have to wait for the right time. The speaker is responsible to present his message in such a way that his audience will appreciate and accept it. If our audience becomes discouraged—or inimical—we should feel responsible. We should think how we can improve and perhaps act to rectify the situation—by the grace of the Lord and the devotees.

Hare Krsna.

Narottamananda dasa: Thank you for the wonderful class, Maharaja. I read the Valmiki Ramayana produced by Bhakti Vikasa Maharaja. In that account, after Rama returns to His capital, Ayodhya, with Sita, He hears the slanderous (that is word the book uses) statements of some of the residents, such as “How has Rama accepted Sita back when she sat on the lap of a raksasa? How has Rama accepted Sita back after she lived in the house of that villain for over a year?” And Rama, the representative of the Iksvaku dynasty, became disturbed. And He asked His brother Laksmana to leave her in the forest near Valmiki Rsi’s asrama. Actually, Sita herself had a desire to visit the sages along the bank of the river, so on the plea of satisfying that request, Laksmana took her there, explained the situation to her and left her there, near Valmiki’s asrama. Earlier, Rama had inquired in His court, “What are the citizens saying about us? Without knowing what they are saying, we can never improve ourselves.” Rama had made that point. He insisted, and finally His ministers came out with these criticisms, from the residents of Ayodhya.

Then an incredible pastime took place, when Valmiki brought Sita back to Ayodhya to establish her purity before the citizens. He proclaimed, “I have performed austerities for sixty thousand years, and I state that if this woman is in any way unchaste, let all the results of my austerities be taken from me.” Then Rama asked Sita to show her purity. And she declared, “If the residents of Ayodhya don’t accept me, then at least, if I have been chaste to You, let my mother, Bhumidevi, the earth-goddess, take me back.” Then a huge earthquake took place and a crevice opened and from within the earth Goddess Bhumi came out on a golden throne surrounded by celestial snakes (nagas). She announced to all that Sita was chaste and that she would accept her. Tearfully, she embraced Sita and took Sita with her; they vanished into the earth, and the earth closed. And Rama fell off His throne, crying and lamenting in separation from Sita. Thereafter Rama made a golden deity of Sita, which He kept by His side. And so it was established that Sita was perfect in every respect.

Now, how are we to view the residents of Ayodhya in that position? Personally, I have a lot of harsh feelings when I see that even after Sita showed her purity in that test of fire, they criticized Rama for taking her back.

Giriraj Swami: There are different perspectives. When one accepts a position of leadership, he does so with the intention to help the people, even those who are ignorant and offensive. And so the leader may adjust his behavior. Sita was pure and Rama was pure, but when He found that some of the residents were finding fault with Him, He sent her away. He didn’t want people to criticize Him, not because He minded the criticism personally, but because to rule effectively and guide the population, He had to have their complete support and faith. Still, where this incident is described in the Ninth Canto, Srila Prabhupada refers to those critics as rascals. He says that Lord Ramacandra, fearing such rascals, abandoned His wife, Sitadevi.

We find that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu also adjusted His behavior when He was criticized. Sometimes someone in a high position will make an adjustment for a rascal—but not always.

Devotee: Maharaja, can we see the residents of Ayodhya as being instruments in that pastime that Lord Ramacandra displayed? Can they be seen as parts of the Lord’s whole pastime, in which everyone was meant to take part?

Giriraj Swami: We can always see a higher arrangement, but we cannot assume that they were impelled by yogamaya to find fault. For example, in special cases some demons in the Lord’s pastimes were actually the Lord’s eternal associates, but in other cases they were just demons. Rupa Gosvami explains that Sisupala and Dantavraka in one appearance were Jaya and Vijaya, eternal associates of the Lord, but in other appearances of the Lord they were just demons—not eternal associates. We can’t say that all the residents of Ayodhya were necessarily eternal associates who were being guided by yogamaya, but we can certainly say that they were fortunate, because, as citizens of Ayodhya, they got to see the Lord. And in the end they all were liberated by the Lord’s grace. So we can also see a higher arrangement.

Narottamananda dasa: After Sita exhibited that pastime of entering into the earth, the demigods from heaven showered flowers from above and praised her, and all the people present, and even those whose minds had been confused and who had been blasphemous, began to praise Sita and Rama again and again. It was glorious. But Rama Himself, seeing this and being separated from Sita, was devastated.

Giriraj Swami: In the end, Lord Rama delivered all the residents of Ayodhya. Srimad-Bhagavatam explains,

tata urdhvam brahmacaryam
dharyann ajuhot prabhuh
trayodasabda-sahasram
agnihotram akhanditam

“After Mother Sita entered the earth, Lord Ramacandra observed complete celibacy and performed an uninterrupted Agnihotra-yajna for thirteen thousand years.

smaratam hrdi vinyasya
viddham dandaka-kantakaih
sva-pada-pallavam rama
atma-jyotir agat tatah

“After completing the sacrifice, Lord Ramacandra, whose lotus feet were sometimes pierced by thorns when He lived in Dandakaranya, placed those lotus feet in the hearts of those who always think of Him. Then He entered His own abode, the Vaikuntha planet beyond the brahmajyoti.

sa yaih sprsto ’bhidrsto va
samvisto ’nugato ’pi va
kosalas te yayuh sthanam
yatra gacchanti yoginah

“Lord Ramacandra returned to His abode, to which bhakti-yogis are promoted. This is the place to which all the inhabitants of Ayodhya went after they served the Lord in His manifest pastimes by offering Him obeisances, touching His lotus feet, fully observing Him as a fatherlike king, sitting or lying down with Him like equals, or even just accompanying Him.” (SB 9.11.18-19, 22)

Sri Sri Sita-Rama-Laksmana-Hanuman ki jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
Nitai-gaura-premanande hari-haribol!

[A talk by Giriraj Swami on April 6, 2006, in Dallas.]

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=9478

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The story of Rama is divided into four parts:
1. Early life of Rama
2. Rama’s exile
3. Abduction of Sita (Rama’s wife) and
4. Slaying of Ravana, the abductor of Sita, and Rama’s coronation.

Dasharatha was the king of Kosala, an ancient kingdom that was located in present day Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya was its capital. Dasharatha was loved by one and all. His subjects were happy and his kingdom was prosperous. Even though Dasharatha had everything that he desired, he was very sad at heart; he had no children.

During the same time, there lived a powerful Rakshasa king in the island of Ceylon, located just south of India. He was called Ravana. His tyranny knew no bounds, his subjects disturbed the prayers of holy men.

The childless Dasharatha was advised by his family priest Vashishtha to perform a fire sacrifice ceremony to seek the blessings of God for children. Vishnu, the preserver of the universe, decided to manifest himself as the eldest son of Dasharatha in order to kill Ravana. While performing the fire worship ceremony, a majestic figure rose from the sacrificial fire and handed to Dasharatha a bowl of rice pudding, saying, “God is pleased with you and has asked you to distribute this rice pudding (payasa) to your wives – they will soon bear your children.”

The king received the gift joyfully and distributed the payasa to his three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. Kausalya, the eldest queen, gave birth to the eldest son Rama. Bharata, the second son was born to Kaikeyi and Sumitra gave birth to the twins Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama’s birthday is celebrated now as Ramanavami.

The four princes grew up to be tall, strong, handsome, and brave. Of the four brothers, Rama was closest to Lakshmana and Bharata to Shatrughna. One day, the revered sage Viswamitra came to Ayodhya. Dasharatha was overjoyed and immediately got down from his throne and received him with great honor.

Viswamitra blessed Dasharatha and asked him to send Rama to kill the Rakshasas who were disturbing his fire sacrifice. Rama was then only fifteen years old. Dasharatha was taken aback. Rama was too young for the job. He offered himself, but sage Viswamitra knew better. The sage insisted upon his request and assured the king that Rama would be safe in his hands. Ultimately, Dasharatha agreed to send Rama, along with Lakshmana, to go with Viswamitra. Dasharatha strictly ordered his sons to obey Rishi Viswamitra and fulfill all his wishes. The parents blessed the two young princes. They then departed with the sage (Rishi).

The party of Viswamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana soon reached Dandaka forest where the Rakshasi Tadaka lived with her son Maricha. Viswamitra asked Rama to challenge her. Rama strung his bow and twanged the string. The wild animals ran helter-skelter in fear. Tadaka heard the sound and she became incensed. Mad with rage, roaring thunderously, she rushed at Rama. A fierce battle ensued between the huge Rakshasi and Rama. Finally, Rama pierced her heart with a deadly arrow and Tadaka crashed down to the earth. Viswamitra was pleased. He taught Rama several Mantras (divine chants), with which Rama could summon many divine weapons (by meditation) in order to fight against evil

Viswamitra then proceeded, with Rama and Lakshmana, towards his ashram. When they started the fire sacrifice, Rama and Lakshmana were guarding the place. Suddenly Maricha, Tadaka’s ferocious son, arrived with his followers. Rama silently prayed and discharged the newly acquired divine weapons at Maricha. Maricha was thrown many, many miles away into the sea. All other demons were slain by Rama and Lakshmana. Viswamitra completed the sacrifice and the sages rejoiced and blessed the princes.

The next morning, Viswamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana headed towards the city of Mithila, the capital of the kingdom of Janaka. King Janaka invited Viswamitra to attend the great fire sacrifice ceremony that he had arranged. Viswamitra had something in mind – to get Rama married to the lovely daughter of Janaka.

Janaka was a saintly king. He received a bow from Lord Siva. It was strong and heavy.

He wanted his beautiful daughter Sita to marry the bravest and strongest prince in the country. So he had vowed that he would give Sita in marriage only to the one who could string that great bow of Siva. Many had tried before. None could even move the bow, let alone string it.

When Viswamitra arrived with Rama and Lakshmana at the court, King Janaka received them with great respect. Viswamitra introduced Rama and Lakshmana to Janaka and requested that he show the bow of Siva to Rama so that he could try to string it. Janaka looked at the young prince and assented doubtfully. The bow was stored in an iron box mounted on an eight-wheeled chariot. Janaka ordered his men to bring the bow and place it in the middle of a big hall filled with many dignitaries.

Rama then stood up in all humility, picked up the bow with ease, and got ready for the stringing. He placed one end of the bow against his toe, put forth his might, and bent the bow to string it-when to everyone’s surprise the bow snapped in two! Sita was relieved. She had liked Rama right at the first sight.

Dasharatha was immediately informed. He gladly gave his consent to the marriage and came to Mithila with his retinue. Janaka arranged for a grand wedding. Rama and Sita were married. At the same time, the three other brothers were also provided with brides. Lakshmana married Sita’s sister Urmila. Bharata and Shatrughna married Sita’s cousins Mandavi and Shrutakirti. After the wedding, Viswamitra blessed them all and left for the Himalayas to meditate. Dasharatha returned to Ayodhya with his sons and their new brides. People celebrated the marriage with great pomp and show.

For the next twelve years Rama and Sita lived happily in Ayodhya. Rama was loved by all. He was a joy to his father, Dasharatha, whose heart nearly burst with pride when he beheld his son. As Dasharatha was growing older, he summoned his ministers seeking their opinion about crowning Rama as prince of Ayodhya. They unanimously welcomed the suggestion. Then Dasharatha announced the decision and gave orders for the coronation of Rama. During this time, Bharata and his favorite brother, Shatrughna, had gone to see their maternal grandfather and were absent from Ayodhya.

Kaikeyi, Bharata’s mother, was in the palace rejoicing with the other queens, sharing the happy news of Rama’s coronation. She loved Rama as her own son; but her wicked maid, Manthara, was unhappy. Manthara wanted Bharata to be the king so she devised a heinous plan to thwart Ramas coronation. As soon as the plan was set firmly in her mind, she rushed to Kaikeyi to tell her.

“What a fool you are!” Manthara said to Kaikeyi, “The king has always loved you more than the other queens. But the moment Rama is crowned, Kausalya will become all powerful and she will make you her slave.”

Manthara repeatedly gave her poisoned suggestions, clouding Kaikeyis mind and heart with suspicion and doubt. Kaikeyi, confused and distraught, finally agreed to Mantharas plan.

“But what can I do to change it?” asked Kaikeyi with a puzzled mind.

Manthara was clever enough to chalk out her plan all the way. She had been waiting for Kaikeyi to ask her advice.

“You may recall that long ago when Dasharatha was badly wounded in the battle field, while fighting with the Asuras, you saved Dasraratha’s life by swiftly driving his chariot to safety? At that time Dasharatha offered you two boons. You said you would ask for the boons some other time.” Kaikeyi readily remembered.

Manthara continued, “Now the time has come to demand those boons. Ask Dasharatha for your first boon to make Bharat the king of Kosal and for the second boon to banish Rama to the forest for fourteen years.”

Kakeyi was a noble-hearted queen, now trapped by Manthara. She agreed to do what Manthara said. Both of them knew that Dasharatha would never fall back on his words.

The night before the coronation, Dasharatha came to Kakeyi to share his happiness at seeing Rama the crown prince of Kosala. But Kakeyi was missing from her apartment. She was in her “anger room”. When Dasharatha came to her anger room to inquire, he found his beloved queen lying on the floor with her hair loose and her ornaments cast away.

Dasharatha gently took Kakeyi’s head on his lap and asked in a caressing voice, “What is wrong?”

But Kakeyi angrily shook herself free and firmly said; “You have promised me two boons. Now please grant me these two boons. Let Bharata be crowned as king and not Rama. Rama should be banished from the kingdom for fourteen years.”

Dasharatha could hardly believe his ears. Unable to bear what he had heard, he fell down unconscious. When he returned to his senses, he cried out in helpless anger, “What has come over you? What harm has Rama done to you? Please ask for anything else but these.”

Kakeyi stood firm and refused to yield. Dasharatha fainted and lay on the floor the rest of the night. The next morning, Sumantra, the minister, came to inform Dasharatha that all the preparations for the coronation were ready. But Dasharatha was not in a position to speak to anyone. Kakeyi asked Sumantra to call Rama immediately. When Rama arrived, Dasharatha was sobbing uncontrollably and could only utter “Rama! Rama!”

Rama was alarmed and looked at Kakeyi with surprise, “Did I do anything wrong, mother? I have never seen my father like this before.”

“He has something unpleasant to tell you, Rama,” replied Kakeyi. “Long ago your father had offered me two boons. Now I demand it.” Then Kakeyi told Rama about the boons.

“Is that all mother?” asked Rama with a smile. “Please take it that your boons are granted. Call for Bharata. I shall start for the forest today.”

Rama did his pranams to his revered father, Dasharatha, and to his stepmother, Kakeyi, and then left the room. Dasharatha was in shock. He painfully asked his attendants to move him to Kaushalya’s apartment. He was waiting for death to ease his pain.

The news of Rama’s exile spread like a fire. Lakshmana was furious with his father’s decision. Rama simply replied, “Is it worthwhile to sacrifice your principle for the sake of this small kingdom?”

Tears sprang from Lakshmana’s eyes and he said in a low voice, “If you must go to the forest, take me along with you.” Rama agreed.

Then Rama proceeded to Sita and asked her to stay behind. “Look after my mother, Kausalya, in my absence.”

Sita begged, “Have pity on me. A wife’s position is always beside her husband. Don’t leave me behind. Ill die without you.” At last Rama permitted Sita to follow him.

Urmila, Lakshamans wife, also wanted to go with Lakshmana to the forest. But Lakshmana explained to her the life that he plans to lead for the protection of Rama and Sita.

“If you accompany me, Urmila,” Lakshmana said, “I may not be able to fulfill my duties. Please take care of our grieved family members.” So Urmila stayed behind on Lakshmana’s request.

By that evening Rama, Sita and Lakshmana left Ayodhya on a chariot driven by Sumatra. They were dressed like mendicants (Rishis). The people of Ayodhya ran behind the chariot crying loudly for Rama. By nightfall they all reached the bank of the river, Tamasa. Early the next morning Rama awoke and told Sumantra, “The people of Ayodhya love us very much but we have to be on our own. We must lead the life of a hermit, as I promised. Let us continue our journey before they wake up.”

So, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, driven by Sumantra, continued their journey alone. After travelling the entire day they reached the bank of the Ganges and decided to spend the night under a tree near a village of hunters. The chieftain, Guha, came and offered them all the comforts of his house. But Rama replied, “Thank you Guha, I appreciate your offer as a good friend but by accepting your hospitality I will break my promise. Please allow us to sleep here as the hermits do.”

Next morning the three, Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, said goodbye to Sumantra and Guha and got into a boat to cross the river, Ganges. Rama addressed Sumantra, “Return to Ayodhya and console my father.”

By the time Sumantra reached Ayodhya Dasharatha was dead, crying until his last breath, “Rama, Rama, Rama!” Vasishtha sent a messenger to Bharata asking him to return to Ayodhya without disclosing the details.

Bharata immediately returned with Shatrughna. As he entered the city of Ayodhya, he realized that something was terribly wrong. The city was strangely silent. He went straight to his mother, Kaikeyi. She looked pale. Bharat impatiently asked, “Where is father?” He was stunned by the news. Slowly he learned about Ramas exile for fourteen years and Dasharathas demise with the departure of Rama.

Bharata could not believe that his mother was the cause of the disaster. Kakyei tried to make Bharata understand that she did it all for him. But Bharata turned away from her with disgust and said, “Don’t you know how much I love Rama? This kingdom is worth nothing in his absence. I am ashamed to call you my mother. You are heartless. You killed my father and banished my beloved brother. I will not have anything to do with you for as long as I live.” Then Bharata left for Kaushalyas apartment. Kakyei realized the mistake she made.

Kaushalya received Bharata with love and affection. Addressing Bharata she said, “Bharata, the kingdom is waiting for you. No one will oppose you for ascending the throne. Now that your father is gone, I would also like to go to the forest and live with Rama.”

Bharata could not contain himself any further. He burst into tears and promised Kaushalya to bring Rama back to Ayodhya as quickly as possible. He understood the throne rightfully belonged to Rama. After completing the funeral rites for Dasharatha, Bharata started for Chitrakut where Rama was staying. Bharata halted the army at a respectful distance and walked alone to meet Rama. Seeing Rama, Bharata fell at his feet begging forgiveness for all the wrong doings.

When Rama asked, “How is father?” Bharat began to cry and broke the sad news; “Our father has left for heaven. At the time of his death, he constantly took your name and never recovered from the shock of your departure.” Rama collapsed. When he came to senses he went to river, Mandakini, to offer prayers for his departed father.

The next day, Bharata asked Rama to return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. But Rama firmly replied, “I cannot possibly disobey my father. You rule the kingdom and I shall carry out my pledge. I will come back home only after fourteen years.”

When Bharata realized Ramas firmness in fulfilling his promises, he begged Rama to give him his sandals. Bharata told Rama the sandals will represent Rama and he would carry out the duties of the kingdom only as Ramas representative. Rama gracefully agreed. Bharata carried the sandals to Ayodhya with great reverence. After reaching the capital, he placed the sandals on the throne and ruled the kingdom in Ramas name. He left the palace and lived like a hermit, as Rama did, counting the days of Ramas return.

When Bharata left, Rama went to visit Sage Agastha. Agastha asked Rama to move to Panchavati on the bank of Godavari River. It was a beautiful place. Rama planned to stay at Panchavati for some time. So, Lakshamana quickly put up an elegant hut and they all settled down.

Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, lived in Panchavati. Ravana was then the most powerful Asura king who lived in Lanka (today’s Ceylon). One day Surpanakha happened to see Rama and instantly fell in love with him. She requested Rama to be her husband.

Rama was amused, and smilingly said, “As you see I am already married. You can request Lakshmana. He is young, handsome and is alone without his wife.”

Surpanakha took Rama’s word seriously and approached Lakshmana. Lakshmana said, “I am Rama’s servant. You should marry my master and not me, the servant.”

Surpanakha got furious with the rejection and attacked Sita in order to devour her. Lakshmana swiftly intervened, and cut off her nose with his dagger. Surpanakha ran away with her bleeding nose, crying in pain, to seek help from her Asura brothers, Khara and Dushana. Both the brothers got red with anger and marched their army towards Panchavati. Rama and Lakshmana faced the Rakshasas and finally they were all killed.

Surpanakha was terror stricken. She immediately flew to Lanka to seek her brother Ravana’s protection. Ravana was outraged to see her sister mutilated. Surpanakha described all that happened. Ravana was interested when he heard that Sita is the most beautiful woman in the world, Ravana decided to abduct Sita. Rama loved Sita very much and could not live without her.

Ravana made a plan and went to see Maricha. Maricha had the power of changing himself into any form he wanted along with the appropriate voice imitation. But Maricha was afraid of Rama. He still could not get over the experience he had when Rama shot an arrow that hurled him far into the sea. This happened in Vashishtha’s hermitage. Maricha tried to persuade Ravana to stay away from Rama but Ravana was determined.

“Maricha!” shouted Ravana, “You have only two choices, help me to carry out my plan or prepare for death.” Maricha preferred to die in Rama’s hand than be killed by Ravana. So he agreed to help Ravana in the abduction of Sita.

Maricha took the form of a beautiful golden deer and began to graze near Rama’s cottage in Panchavati. Sita was attracted towards the golden deer and requested Rama to get the golden deer for her. Lakshmana warned that the golden deer may be a demon in disguise. By then Rama already started to chase the deer. He hurriedly instructed Lakshmana to look after Sita and ran after the deer. Very soon Rama realized that the deer is not a real one. He shot an arrow which hit the deer and Maricha was exposed.

Before dying, Maricha imitated Ram’s voice and shouted, “Oh Lakshmana! Oh Sita,! Help! Help!”

Sita heard the voice and asked Lakshmana to run and rescue Rama. Lakshmana was hesitant. He was confident that Rama is invincible and the voice was only a fake. He tried to convince Sita but she insisted. Finally Lakshmana agreed. Before his departure, he drew a magic circle, with the tip of his arrow, around the cottage and asked her not to cross the line.

“As long as you stay within the circle you will be safe with the grace of God” said Lakshmana and hurriedly left in search of Rama.

From his hiding place Ravana was watching all that was happening. He was glad that his trick worked. As soon as he found Sita alone, he disguised himself as a hermit and came near Sita’s cottage. He stood beyond the protection line of Lakshmana, and asked for alms (bhiksha). Sita came out with a bowl full of rice to offer to the holy man, while staying within the protection line drawn by Lakshmana. The hermit asked her to come near and offer. Sita was unwilling to cross the line when Ravana pretended to leave the place without alms. As Sita did not want to annoy the sage, she crossed the line to offer the alms.

Ravana did not lose the opportunity. He quickly pounced on Sita and seized her hands, declaring, “I am Ravana, the king of Lanka. Come with me and be my queen.” Very soon Ravana’s chariot left the ground and flew over the clouds on way to Lanka.

Rama felt distressed when he saw Lakshmana. “Why did you leave Sita alone? The golden deer was Maricha in disguise. ”

Lakshman tried to explain the situation when both the brothers suspected a foul play and ran towards the cottage. The cottage was empty, as they feared. They searched, and called out her name but all in vain. Finally they were exhausted. Lakshmana tried to console Rama as best as he could. Suddenly they heard a cry. They ran towards the source and found a wounded eagle lying at the floor. It was Jatayu, the king of eagles and a friend of Dasharatha.

Jatayu narrated with great pain, “I saw Ravana abducting Sita. I attacked him when Ravana cut my wing and made me helpless. Then he flew towards the south.” After saying this, Jatayu died on the lap of Rama. Rama and Lakshmana burried Jatayu and then moved towards the south.

On their way, Rama and Lakshmana met a ferocious demon, called Kabandha. Kabandha attacked Rama and Lakshmana. When he was about to devour them, Rama struck Kabandha with a fatal arrow. Before his death, Kabandh disclosed his identity. He had a beautiful form which was changed by a curse to the form of a monster. Kabandha requested Rama and Lakshmana to burn him into ashes and that will bring him back to the old form. He also advised Rama to go to the monkey king Sugrive, who lived in the Rishyamukha mountain, to get help in regaining Sita.

On his way to meet Sugriva, Rama visited the hermitage of an old pious woman, Shabari. She was waiting for Rama for a long time before she could give up her body. When Rama and Lakshmana made their appearance, Shabari’s dream was fulfilled. She washed their feet, offered them the best nuts and fruits that she collected for years. Then she took Rama’s blessings and departed for the heaven.

After a long walk, Rama and Lakshmana reached the Rishyamukha mountain to meet Sugriva. Sugriva had a brother Vali, the king of Kishkindha. They were once good friends. This changed when they went to fight with a giant. The giant ran into a cave and Vali followed him, asking Sugriva to wait outside. Sugriva waited for a long time and then returned to the palace in grief, thinking that Vali was killed. He then became the king upon the request of the minister. After sometime, Vali suddenly appeared. He was mad with Sugriva and blamed him to be a cheater. Vali was strong. He drove Sugriva out of his kingdom and took away his wife. Ever since, Sugriva had been living in the Rishyamukha mountain, which was out of bound for Vali because of a Rishi’s curse.

On seeing Rama and Lakshmana from a distance, and not knowing the purpose of their visit, Sugriva sent his close friend Hanuman to find out their identity. Hanuman, disguised as an ascetic, came to Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers told Hanuman of their intention to meet Sugriva because they wanted his help to find Sita. Hanuman was impressed by their courteous behavior and removed his garb. Then he carried the princes on his shoulder to Sugriva. There Hanuman introduced the brothers and narrated their story. He then told Sugriva of their intention to come to him.

In return, Sugriva told his story and sought help from Rama to kill Vali, otherwise, he could not help even if he wanted to. Rama agreed. Hanuman then kindled a fire to bear witness to the alliance made.

In due course, Vali was killed and Sugriva became the king of Kishkindha. Soon after Sugriva took over the kingdom of Vali, he ordered his army to proceed in the search of Sita.

Rama specially called Hanuman and gave his ring saying, “If any one finds Sita, it will be you Hanuman. Keep this ring to prove your identity as my messenger. Give it to Sita when you meet her.” Hanuman most respectfully tied up the ring to his waist and joined the search party.

As Sita flew, she dropped her ornaments on the ground. These were traced by the monkey army and it was concluded that Sita was carried southwards. When the monkey (Vanara) army reached the Mahendra Hill, located on the south shore of India, they met Sampati, the brother of Jatayu. Sampati confirmed that Ravana took Sita to Lanka. The monkeys were perplexed , how to cross the huge sea that stretched in front of them.

Angada, the son of Sugriva, asked, “Who can cross the ocean?” silence prevailed, until Hanuman came up to give a try.

Hanuman was the son of Pavana, the wind god. He had a secret gift from his father. He could fly. Hanuman enlarged himself to a huge size and took a jump to cross the ocean. After overcoming many obstacles, at last Hanuman reached Lanka. He soon contracted his body and alighted as a tiny insignificant creature. He soon passed through the city unnoticed and managed to enter the palace quietly. He went through every chamber but could not see Sita.

Finally, Hanuman located Sita in one of the gardens of Ravana, called Ashoka grove (Vana). She was surrounded by the Rakshashis who were guarding her. Hanuman hid on a tree and watched Sita from a distance. She was in deep distress, crying and praying to God for her relief. Hanuman’s heart melted in pity. He took Sita as his mother.

Just then Ravana entered the garden and approached Sita. “I have waited enough. Be sensible and become my queen. Rama can not cross the ocean and come through this impregnable city. You better forget about him.”

Sita sternly replied, “I have repeatedly told you to return me to Lord Rama before his wrath falls upon you.”

Ravana got furious, “You have gone beyond the limits of my patience. You give me no choice than to kill you unless you change your mind. Within a few days I shall be back.”

As soon as Ravana left, other Rakshashis, who were attending Sita, came back and suggested her to marry Ravana and enjoy the enviable wealth of Lanka.” Sita kept quiet.

Slowly the Rakshashis wandered away, Hanuman came down from his hiding place and gave Rama’s ring to Sita. Sita was thrilled. She wanted to hear about Rama and Lakshmana. After conversing for a while Hanuman asked Sita to take a ride on her back to return to Rama. Sita did not agree.

“I do not want to return home secretly” said Sita, “I want Rama to defeat Ravana and take me back with honor.”

Hanuman agreed. Then Sita gave her necklace to Hanuman as an evidence confirming their meeting.

Before departing from the Ashoka grove (Vana), Hanuman wanted Ravana to have a lesson for his misconduct. So he began to destroy the Ashoka grove by uprooting the trees. Soon the Rakshasa warriors came running to catch the monkey but were beaten up. The message reached Ravana. He was enraged. He asked Indrajeet, his able son, to capture Hanuman. A fierce battle ensued and Hanuman was finally captured when Indrajeet used the most powerful weapon, the Brahmastra missile. Hanuman was taken to Ravana’s court and the captive stood in front of the king.

Hanuman introduced himself as the messenger of Rama. “You have abducted the wife of my all powerful master, Lord Rama. If you want peace, return her with honor to my master or else, you and your kingdom will be destroyed.”

Ravana was wild with rage. He ordered to kill Hanuman instantly when his younger brother Vibhishana objected. “You can not kill a king’s envoy” said Vibhishana. Then Ravana ordered Hanuman’s tail to be set on fire.

The Rakshasa army took Hanuman outside the hall, while Hanuman increased his size and lengthened his tail. It was wrapped with rags and ropes and soaked in oil. He was then paraded through the streets of Lanka and a big mob followed to have fun. The tail was set on fire but because of his divine blessing Hanuman did not feel the heat. He soon shrank his size and shook off the ropes that bound him and escaped. Then, with the torch of his burning tail, he jumped from roof to roof to set the city of Lanka on fire. People began to run, creating chaos and hideous cries. Finally, Hanuman went to the sea shore and put off the fire in the sea water. The he began his homeward flight.

When Hanuman joined the monkey army and narrated his experience, they all laughed. Soon the army returned to Kishkindha.

Then Hanuman quickly went to Rama to give his first-hand account. He took out the jewel that Sita gave and placed it in Rama’s hands. Rama burst into tears when he saw the jewel.

He addressed Hanuman and said, “Hanuman! You have achieved what none else could. What can I do for you?” Hanuman prostrated before Rama and sought his divine blessing.

Sugriva then discussed in detail with Rama their next course of action. On an auspicious hour the entire monkey army set out from Kishkindha towards Mahendra Hill, located on the opposite side of Lanka. Upon reaching Mahendra Hill, Rama faced the same problem, how to cross the ocean with the army. He called for a meeting of all the monkey chiefs, and sought their suggestions for a solution.

When Ravana heard from his messengers that Rama had already arrived at Mahendra Hill, and was preparing to cross the ocean to Lanka, he summoned his ministers for advice. They unanimously decided to fight Rama to his death. To them, Ravana was indestructible and they, undefeatable. Only Vibhishana, the younger brother of Ravana, was cautious and opposed to this.

Vibhishana said, “Brother Ravana, you must return the chaste woman, Sita, to her husband, Rama, seek his forgiveness and restore peace.”

Ravana became upset with Vibhishana and told him to leave the kingdom of Lanka.

Vibhishana, through his magical power, reached Mahendra Hill and sought permission to meet Rama. The monkeys were suspicious but took him to Rama as a captive. Vibhishana explained to Rama all that happened in Ravana’s court and sought his asylum. Rama gave him sanctuary and Vibhishana became the closest adviser to Rama in the war against Ravana. Rama promised Vibhishana to make him the future king of Lanka.

To reach Lanka, Rama decided to build a bridge with the help of the monkey engineer Nala. He also summoned Varuna, the God of the Ocean, to cooperate by staying calm while the bridge was in the making. Immediately thousands of monkeys set about the task of gathering the materials to build the bridge. When the materials were piled up in heaps, Nala, the great architect, started to build the bridge. It was a stupendous undertaking. But the entire monkey army worked hard and completed the bridge in just five days. The army crossed over to Lanka.

After crossing the ocean, Rama sent Angada, the son of Sugrive, to Ravana as a messenger. Angada went to Ravana’s court and delivered Rama’s message, “Return Sita with honor or face destruction.” Ravana became enraged and ordered him out of the court immediately.

Angada returned with Ravanas message and preparation for the war began. The next morning Rama ordered the monkey army to attack. The monkeys rushed forward and hurled huge boulders against the city walls and gates. The battle continued for a long time. Thousands were dead on each side and the ground soaked in blood.

When Ravana’s army was losing, Indrajeet, Ravana’s son, took the command. He had the ability to fight while staying invisible. His arrows tied up Rama and Lakshmana with serpents. The monkeys began to run with the fall of their leaders. Suddenly, Garuda, the king of the birds, and the sworn enemy of the serpents, came to their rescue. All of the snakes slithered away leaving the two brave brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, free.

Hearing this, Ravana himself came forward. He hurled the powerful missile, Shakti, at Lakshmana. It descended like a fierce thunderbolt and hit hard at Lakshmana’s chest. Lakshmana fell down senseless.

Rama wasted no time to come forward and challenged Ravana himself. Following a fierce fight Ravana’s chariot was smashed and Ravana was sorely wounded. Ravana stood helpless before Rama whereupon Rama took pity on him and said, “Go and rest now. Return tomorrow to resume our fight.” In the mean time Lakshmana recovered.

Ravana was shamed and called upon his brother, Kumbhakarna for assistance. Kumbhakarna had the habit of sleeping for six months at a time. Ravana ordered him to be awakened. Kumbhakarna was in a deep sleep and it took the beating of drums, piercing of sharp instruments and elephants walking on him to awaken him. He was informed of Rama’s invasion and Ravana’s orders. After eating a mountain of food, Kumbhakarna appeared in the battlefield. He was huge and strong. When he approached the monkey army, like a walking tower, the monkeys took to their heels in terror. Hanuman called them back and challenged Kumbhakarna. A great fight ensued until Hanuman was wounded. Kumbhakarna headed towards Rama, ignoring the attack of Lakshmana and others. Even Rama found Kumbhakarna difficult to kill. Rama finally discharged the powerful weapon that he obtained from the wind God, Pavana. Kumbhakarna fell dead.

Hearing the news of his brother’s death, Ravana swooned away. After he recovered, he lamented for a long time and then called Indrajeet. Indrajeet consoled him and promised to defeat the enemy quickly.

Indrajeet began to engage in the battle safely hidden behind the clouds and invisible to Rama. Rama and Lakshmana seemed to be helpless to kill him, as he could not be located. Arrows came from all directions and finally one of the powerful arrows hit Lakshmana. Everyone thought this time Lakshmana was dead and Sushena, the physician of the Vanara army, was called. He declared that Lakshmana was only in a deep coma and instructed Hanuman to leave immediately for Gandhamadhana Hill, located near the Himalayas. Gandhamadhana Hill grew the special medicine, called Sanjibani, that was needed to revive Lakshmana. Hanuman lifted himself in the air and traveled the entire distance from Lanka to Himalaya and reached the Gandhamadhana Hill. As he was unable to locate the herb, he lifted the entire mountain and carried it to Lanka. Sushena immediately applied the herb and Lakshmana regained consciousness. Rama was relieved and the battle resumed.

This time Indrajeet played a trick on Rama and his army. He rushed forward in his chariot and created an image of Sita through his magic. Catching the image of Sita by the hair, Indrajeet beheaded Sita in front of the entire army of the Vanaras. Rama collapsed. Vibhishana came to his rescue. When Rama came to senses Vibhishana explained that it was only a trick played by Indrajeet and that Ravana would never allow Sita to be killed.

Vibhishana further explained to Rama that Indrajeet was realizing his limitations to kill Rama. Hence he would soon perform a special sacrificial ceremony in order to acquire that power. If successful, he would become invincible. Vibhishana suggested Lakshmana should go immediately to obstruct that ceremony and slay Indrajeet before he became invisible again.

Rama accordingly sent Lakshmana, accompanied by Vibhishana and Hanuman. They soon reached the spot where Indrajeet was engaged in performing the sacrifice. But before the Rakshasa prince could complete it, Lakshmana attacked him. The battle was fierce and finally Lakshmana severed Indrajeet’s head from his body. Indrajeet fell dead.

With the fall of Indrajeet, Ravanas spirit was in complete despair. He wailed most piteously but sorrow soon gave way to anger. He furiously rushed to the battlefield to conclude the long drawn fight against Rama and his army. Forcing his way, past Lakshmana, Ravana came face to face with Rama. The fight was intense. Finally Rama used his Brahmastra, repeated the mantras as taught by Vashishtha, and hurled it with all his might towards Ravana. The Brahmastra whizzed through the air emitting scorching flames and then pierced the heart of Ravana. Ravana fell dead from his chariot. The Rakshasas stood silent in amazement. They could scarcely believe their eyes. The end was so sudden and final.

After Ravana’s death, Vibhishana was duly crowned as king of Lanka. The message of Rama’s victory was sent to Sita. Happily she bathed and came to Rama in a palanquin. Hanuman and all other monkeys came to pay their respect. Meeting Rama, Sita was overcome by her joyous emotion. Rama, however, seemed to be far away in thought.

At length Rama spoke, “I am happy to rescue you from the hands of Ravana but you have lived a year in enemy’s abode. It is not proper that I should take you back now.”

Sita could not believe what Rama said. Bursting in tears Sita asked, “Was that my fault? The monster carried me away against my wishes. While in his residence, my mind and my heart were fixed on my Lord, Rama, alone.”

Sita felt deeply grieved and decided to end her life in the fire.

She turned to Lakshmana and with tearful eyes she implored him to prepare the fire. Lakshmana looked at his elder brother, hoping for some type of reprieve, but there was no sign of emotion on Ramas face and no words came from his mouth. As instructed, Lakshmana built a large fire. Sita reverently walked around her husband and approached the blazing fire. Joining her palms in salutation, she addressed Agni, the God of fire, “If I am pure, O fire, protect me.” With these words Sita stepped into the flames, to the horror of the spectators.

Then Agni, whom Sita invoked, arose from the flames and gently lifted Sita unharmed, and presented her to Rama.

“Rama!” addressed Agni, “Sita is spotless and pure at heart. Take her to Ayodhya. People are waiting there for you.” Rama delightfully received her. “Don’t I know she is pure? I had to test her for the sake of the world so that the truth may be known to all.”

Rama and Sita were now reunited and ascended on a air chariot (Pushpaka Viman), along with Lakshmana to return to Ayodhya. Hanuman went ahead to apprise Bharata of their arrival.

When the party reached Ayodhya, the entire city was waiting to receive them. Rama was corronated and he took up the reins of government much to the great joy of his subjects.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26382

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Hawaii, March 27, 1969

Spoken by His Divine Grace
Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ramadi murtishu kala-niyamena tishthan
nanavataram akarod bhuvaneshu kintu
krishnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
[Bs. 5.39]

This is a verse from Brahma-samhita in which the incarnation of Lord Ramacandra is described. Ramadi. Not only Rama, but there are many other, innumerable incarnations. They are compared with the waves of a river. As the waves of the river or the waves of the ocean cannot be counted, similarly, how many incarnations are there of the Supreme Lord it is not possible to count. But out of them, the principal names are mentioned in the sastras. Therefore it is said ramadi. Ramadi means Rama and also other, many incarnations. And they are existing. Not that one incarnation appeared and it is finished. No. Not like that. Just like Lord Ramacandra appeared on this planet, say millions of years before. He appeared in the Treta-yuga. Treta-yuga means… We have passed only five thousand years of this age, Kali-yuga. Before that, there was Dvapara-yuga. Dvapara-yuga means 800,000 years. And before that, there was Treta-yuga, which continued for twelve hundred thousands of years. That means at least two million years before Lord Ramacandra appeared on this planet.

So now Lord Ramacandra appeared in Ayodhya. There is a place in Ayodhya, in northern India. There He appeared. As Krishna appeared in Mathura… That is also northern India. And Mathura is about ninety miles down southward from New Delhi. You have heard the name of New Delhi, the capital of India. So Ayodhya is also situated about five hundred miles northeast of New Delhi. So Lord Ramacandra appeared on this day. Today is called Sri Rama Naumi. On the ninth day of the moon Lord Ramacandra appeared. His father was the king of Ayodhya, and he had three wives. So out of… No. He had two wives. So out of two wives he got four sons. Ramacandra is the eldest son. The life and activities of Lord Ramacandra is… [break] …in a book which is called Ramayana. You have heard the name of Ramayana. Ramayana is also accepted as history. Vedic literatures are histories also.

The Puranas, the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Mahabharata, and Ramayana, they are counted amongst the history. The history of Ramacandra is that His father wanted to retire. Dasaratha, Maharaja Dasaratha. And he decided to enthrone Lord Ramacandra and retire. So everything was settled, but just one day before, his youngest wife turned the whole thing into different way. Sometimes Maharaja Dasaratha was suffering from what is called whitlow, some trouble in the finger? And this queen served him very nicely, and he was pleased. And he said, “My dear Sarmishtha, if you want some benediction from me, I can give you.” And she replied that “I shall ask you for the benediction when I require it. Not now.” So just one day before Lord Ramacandra’s coronation, she approached her husband Maharaja Dasaratha and reminded him, “My dear husband, you promised to give me some benediction, and I told you that I shall ask you when I require it.” Maharaja Dasaratha said,

“Yes, I remember. You want some benediction just now?” She said, “Yes.” “And what is that?” She said that “Ramacandra cannot be seated on the throne. My son should be coronated, Bharata.” He was surprised. It is a big demand. So he said, “All right. That will be done. Your son.” Because formerly, the kings… Not only formerly, even up to date, there are many kshatriya kings in India. They have more than one wife. And they are, naturally, there is rivalry between different wives. So the same thing. Human psychology is the same. Even two million years ago the same mentality was there, and she asked that “My son should be the king, not Ramacandra.” Ramacandra happened to be the son of Kausalya, the elder queen.

So Maharaja Dasaratha agreed and called for Ramacandra. “My dear boy, your…” She asked also that… She was very diplomatic. She wanted that Ramacandra go to forest for fourteen years. The idea was political, that “The king may agree to install my son just now. Now, after a few days, this Ramacandra may come with His army, and there may be some difficulty to continue the kingdom.” So she wanted that Ramacandra should go to the forest and He should not come back till the end of fourteen years from this day. So Maharaja Dasaratha agreed. Because he was kshatriya. Just see the promise.

A kshatriya never goes back from the promise, never refuses any challenge. If a kshatriya is challenged by somebody, that “I want to fight with you,” oh, he cannot refuse. This is kshatriya spirit. He cannot say that “I am now busy.” Suppose somebody comes to you, that “I want to fight with you.” You may say, “What nonsense fight? I have no time. We are in the temple.” But a kshatriya cannot deny that. A kshatriya at once must accept. “Oh, yes. Come on.” And the weapon should be, if he has no sword or weapon, he should be supplied weapon and fight. This is kshatriya spirit. They were highly charitable and chivalrous and keeping promise and with a great tendency for ruling over. They shall rule over. Administrators. Their business is…

There are different prescription for different classes of men for their livelihood. The brahmanas, they can pull on their livelihood by six ways. Pathana pathana yajana yajana dana pratigraha. Six. And they must be qualified with twelve high qualities. We have many times discussed. Out of that qualification, truthfulness is the first item for a brahmana. A kshatriya may speak lies. That is allowed, because he has to be diplomat, politician. But a brahmana, oh, he’s not allowed to speak lie.

This is the system, caste system or varnasrama system. Everyone was trained. Because these four classes of men are required in a society. For proper upkeep of society, one class of men must be very intelligent, highly qualified, with all good qualities. They must be trained in that way, ideal character so that people can see and follow them. Therefore brahmanas were taken to so much respect because they’re ideal character, learned, and godly, knows the science, spiritual science. Therefore they’re held in high estimation and topmost of the society. The next, the administrator, administrative class, kshatriyas.

They are trained how to kill. The kshatriyas were allowed to hunt in the forest to learn the art of killing because that was necessity for the kshatriyas. Kshatriya, if he… If the king, if he finds somebody is doing wrong, he can immediately chop off his head if he likes. The king was so powerful. And it is not that if there was some war, it is not that the president or the king shall sit down comfortably at home and ordinary soldiers will go and lay down their life. No. Formerly, the king or the head of the state, he should first of all go there in the fight. You see in the picture, the chief men of the fighting in the Kurukshetra, both sides, they were arrayed, this side, that side, with their chariot.

Not that the head man, the chief man, or the commander is taking shelter back side, protecting himself, and poor soldiers are (chuckles) thrown into the fighting. No. These were kshatriya spirit. And it is necessary that a class of men should be trained up in that way, kshatriya, fighting men. In India, because this training was there since a very long time, so there is no difficulty in recruiting soldiers there.

There is a class of men, they are very much forward in fighting still. They are called… Just like the Gurkhas, the Nepalese. You have heard the name of Nepal. Still a small state, independent state. They are not within India. Between China and India. The whole Nepal population, they are kshatriyas. Oh, they are very good fighters. Similarly, the Sikhs, the Jatas. There are classes. So they’re always forward for fighting. And you’ll be surprised that the British Empire was voluntarily liquidated because they lost India. The Britishers, they understood that because we are now losing India, there is no more possibility to keep our eastern empire. Therefore they liquidated. Why? Actually, the whole British Empire were being administered or managed by Indian soldiers, these Sikhs and Gurkhas. They extended their empire. After taking their position with India, they extended British Empire in the Middle East and Far East simply by these Sikhs and Gurkha soldiers. They got supremacy on the Burma and everywhere.

So there is necessity of a class of fighting men. You are finding in your country difficulty in recruiting because the recruiting process is wrong. You are recruiting from persons… You are training persons just like sudras, and you want them to fight. How they can fight? It is not possible. So as it is stated in the Bhagavad-gita, that catur-varnyam maya srishtam guna karma vibhagasah… [Bg. 4.13]. Lord Krishna said that “The four classes or orders of the society, brahmana, kshatriya, vaisya, sudra, is planned by Me according to work and quality.” So this kshatriya quality men is also required, the brahmana quality of men is also required, the mercantile community, they are also required, and the laborer class, they are also required. Of course, laborer class, they do not require any training. Laborer class means one who cannot do anything, neither become brahmana, nor become kshatriya, nor become vaisya. That means the last balance of the population, they are called laborer class, sudra. Sudra means one who has no training. Sudra has no samskara. Samskara means training. Everyone is accepted as sudra by birth. Janmana jayate sudra. Janmana means by birth. By birth, everyone is born a sudra, a fourth-class man. It is to be accepted, and actually so. Just like a child, innocent child, what does he know? He has to be trained. Either you train him as a brahmana or train him as a kshatriya or train him as a vaisya. Or otherwise, he is sudra already, born sudra. Sudra has no training. Everyone, the basic principle, basic foreground, everyone, it is accepted sudra. Now, if you train him as a brahmana, then he becomes a brahmana. If you train him as a kshatriya, then he becomes a kshatriya. If you train him as a vaisya… So I think this is, this system is very scientific so that if you want help of a really intelligent man or God realized man, it is ready, the brahmana class. Just like if you require the help of a lawyer, we have got so many lawyers. If you require the help of medical man… Because there are trained men. Similarly, the society requires to train a certain class of men to become brahmanas. Just like we are training the Krishna conscious. The Krishna consciousness is meant for the brahmanas.

They are not meant for fighting because they are not being trained for fighting. They have been trained for becoming brahmanas. Who is brahmana? Brahma janati iti brahmana. The four divisions are described like this. Janmana jayate sudrah, everyone is born sudra. That is accepted. Samskarad bhaved dvijah. Now if you train him, never mind in which family he’s born, you have to train him. Just like boys are sent to school for being trained. So everyone is accepted as sudra, but you now train him. He goes to the guru-griha.

Guru-griha means teacher’s house. Formerly, for being trained, there was no such big scale school and colleges. Every village… Still, fifty years before in India, in every village there was a small school conducted by the brahmana, and the village children would be trained up there. So he was sent for training. And there was no school fee. The boys will go there, and on behalf of the teacher or spiritual master, they will go, brahmacari, door to door, and beg and bring forth alms, rice, dahl, grains, and everything. That was the system. There was no school fee. There was no problem how to send a boy to the school. Samskara. Now he’s trained up. The teacher sees the psychology of the boy, in which way he should be trained. Either he should be trained as a vaisya or he should be trained as a kshatriya. So everyone was trained like that, but generally, the son of a kshatriya… Just like Maharaja Ramacandra or Arjuna, from the very beginning they were trained as kshatriya.

Naturally, if somebody is the son of a medical man his father trains him to become a medical man in future. That is the natural tendency. If the boy is different altogether that is another question, but naturally, that is the tendency. So a kshatriya’s son was trained as kshatriya. A brahmana’s son was trained as a brahmana and a vaisya’s son was trained as a vaisya, and sudra had no training. So gradually this became a caste system. Brahmana’s son became brahmana. Because formerly, the training was there. But when it is vitiated, although a person born in the family of a brahmana, he is doing the work of a sudra. So according to Vedic scripture, one is classified according to his work and quality, not by birth. That is the classification of sastra. Just like in the Bhagavad-gita the Lord says catur-varnyam maya srishtam guna-karma-vibhagasah [Bg. 4.13]. Guna means quality and karma means work. One must be qualified for the work and he must actually work. Then he is counted classified into that, I mean to say, category. Just like if you are simply trained or educated as a lawyer, and if you are not practicing in the court, nobody comes to you to consult as a lawyer.

Nobody cares for you. You must be practicing also. Similarly, to become a brahmana means first of all, he must know what is Brahman and he must be actually situated in the activities of Brahman. So devotional service are activities of Brahman. Activities in Krishna consciousness means activities in Brahman. Brahme carati iti brahma brahmacari. Carati means acts. Actually, he acts in life, applies the principles of brahmana in his life, he is called brahmacari. So these were the trainings.
So just see how the training was, that a kshatriya cannot refuse his promise. So Maharaja Dasaratha, he fulfilled the promise of his youngest wife and asked his son, eldest son Ramacandra, “My dear boy, You’ll have to go to forest for fourteen years. That is the desire of Your youngest mother. And I promised that I shall fulfill her promise, uh, request. So please accept.” Ramacandra said, “Yes father, I am ready.” Just see. This is the quality. Out of the six opulences of God, this is one quality.

aisvaryasya samagrasya
viryasya yasasah sriyah
jnana-vairagyayos caiva
shannam bhagam itingana
(Vishnu Purana 6.5.47)

How one becomes God? God is not manufactured by vote. There are definition who is God. God must be the proprietor of all the riches. Aisvaryasya samagrasya. Samagra means all. Nobody can compete with Him. Here, in this world, material world, I am rich man, and there is another rich man who can compete with me. There is another rich man who can compete with him. But nobody can compete with God in richness. That is one qualification of God. Nobody can say that “I am richer than God.” You can say “I am richer than Ford or Rockefeller” or this or that. You can say. But nobody can say that “I am richer than God.” Therefore in the Bhagavad-gita it is said mattah parataram nanyat asti kincid dhananjaya. Mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya [Bg. 7.7]. Dhananjaya is a name of Arjuna, and Krishna said that, “My dear Arjuna, there is nobody greater than Me.” So if anyone claims that he is God, he must prove by practical example that nobody is richer than him. That is the first. But unfortunately, we are accepting so many Gods. A rascal in the street, he also claims that “I am God.”

So similarly, the other qualification, nobody can be stronger than God, nobody can be wiser than God, nobody can be more beautiful than God, and nobody can be more renouncer than God. So here Ramacandra, Lord Ramacandra exhibited the quality how He renounced the whole kingdom simply on the order of His father, His obedience to father. He could have argued with His father, “My dear father, you, simply for keeping your promise and actuated by the dictation of a woman, you are doing this. Let us stop it. Everyone is expecting that tomorrow My coronation will be there, and they love Me so much.” Because He… Just like Krishna was so much loved, similarly, Lord Ramacandra was the life of the people. They were very much expecting that Ramacandra was going to be enthroned tomorrow. So how they were celebrating, how they were decorating the whole city. Everything. He never argued. He accepted immediately: “Yes, father. I am ready.”

So then one of the brothers, Lakshmana, He also requested Ramacandra, “My dear brother, You also take Me. I am Your constant companion. I must go with You.” So He said, “That’s Your wish. Voluntarily, if You want to come, You can come with Me.” Then Sita, His wife, young wife, She also said, “I’ll go with You.” Ramacandra requested His wife, “Oh, you cannot go with Me. It is very difficult. You are a king’s daughter, and you are brought up in so nice way, and you are so beautiful. You cannot go. You cannot take the trouble of living in the forest.” So she said, “Oh, I am Your wife. Married wife. So I must go even if You go to hell.” This is ideal wife. She could have refused: “Oh, Your father has ordered to go to forest. You can go. I shall go to my father’s house or I shall remain here.” No. This is ideal wife. She must be prepared to accept any circumstances of the husband. Not that when the husband is rich the wife is very faithful, and when he has come down to be poor or he’s going to forest the wife gives up his company. No. Wife means better half. She must abide.

Just like, it is said, just like a shadow follows the reality, similarly, the wife is the shadow of the husband. Wherever the husband goes, she must go. Whatever the husband wants, she must carry out. Of course, in this country this interpretation is taken differently, that wife is made a slave. But actually, it is not so. When Sita was kidnapped in the jungle, Ramacandra expected that, that she was beautiful, she was young, and “We shall be in open jungle. It may be some demons may come,” and actually it so happened. So for Sita, Lord Ramacandra massacred the whole family of Ravana. Only for Sita. So as the husband, so the wife. The wife was so faithful that she could not remain alone. She must accompany the husband even in the forest. And the husband was so faithful that, “Oh, my wife has been kidnapped.” So He massacred the whole family of Ravana.

So these are ideal history how… Ramacandra, Lord Ramacandra appeared on this world to educate or to place ideal example of a king. How the king should be. Therefore when there is good government… The example is given, Rama-rajya. Rama- rajya. It is the kingdom of Lord Rama. Because everyone was happy, everyone. There are so many instances in the life of Ramacandra. One brahmana… Not brahmana exactly. Somebody came to Ramacandra. Because at that time there was no court like this, that you have to go to a court and apply with stamp fee. Then your judgment will be delivered after six years. It is not like that. Anyone who has got some complaint, he should… The king used to sit in the open audience, and the citizens were allowed to approach the king and place their complaints. Because there was no complaint practically. Everyone was happy. Very minor complaint. So somebody came to Ramacandra, and he charged Ramacandra, “My dear king, my son has died. How is that, in the presence of his father, son can die? There must be something wrong in Your government.” Just see. The charge is “Why my son has died before my death? This is unnatural.” So there was nothing unnatural. The king was responsible even for severe cold, severe heat. That we get from history of Srimad-Bhagavatam. That is stated. So the kings were so much responsible. They were always thinking of the happiness of the citizens, and the citizens were also so nice.

One citizen approached Lord Ramacandra and His next assistant, His brother, Lakshmana, informed Him that “He is a brahmana. You were absent on Your tour for, I think for a fortnight or a month, and this brahmana has not eaten even a drop of water during Your absence.” Why? “Because he comes here to see You, darsana.” Just like we come here in the temple to see the Deity. So Lord Ramacandra was present personally. So he used to come. After seeing Ramacandra, offering his obeisances, then he would go home and take something, his breakfast. That was his vow. And because he could not see for a fortnight or a month Lord Ramacandra because He was out on political tour, he did not eat even. Just see. The citizens were similar to the king. So at that time, there was a statue of Ramacandra which was being worshiped in the family from Maharaja Ikshvaku. Maharaja Ikshvaku, the son of Manu, happens to be the forefather of the family in which Ramacandra appeared. So he was devotee of Lord Rama, and he was worshiping the statue of Lord Rama. So that statue was being worshiped by the family one after another. But when Ramacandra was actually present He kept that statue in the closet of the room, and when this brahmana approached and Ramacandra was informed by Lakshmana that he is so steady and strong in his vow, so Ramacandra ordered that he may be delivered that statue so that in My absence he can offer respect to the statue and do with this. That form, I mean to say, statue, or arca of Ramacandra is still existing in South India. It is being worshiped from that time.

So these were the dealings of Ramacandra. Then He, His younger brother Lakshmana and His wife went to the forest, and His wife was kidnapped by the diplomacy of the demon Ravana, and there was fight between Rama and Ravana. Ravana was very, materialistically, he was very strong. But the thing is for fighting with Ravana, Ramacandra did not come back to His kingdom and take His army. No. He did not come back because He was ordered to live in the forest. So He organized army with the jungle animals, the monkeys. The monkeys. He fought with Ravana, an organized materialist, with the monkeys. You have seen the picture. And He constructed a bridge between India’s last point to the other side. Ceylon is considered to be the kingdom of Ravana. So there was a bridge, and the stones were floating.

So there are so many historical incidences in the life of Ramacandra, and we should remember, because if we remember why we are observing today fasting for Ramacandra… There were many kings like Ramacandra. Because the kings were trained in that way. Maharaja Yudhishthira was also as good as Ramacandra, and Maharaja Parikshit was as good. There were many such kings. But we are not concerned because He was a king. He is the King of all kings, paramesvara. Because He is God, therefore we are observing today. Ramadi-murtishu kala-niyamena tishthan [Bs. 5.39]. So He is not original form of God. The original form of God is Krishna, and Krishna expands Himself in various other forms. Advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam [Bs. 5.33]. Ananta-rupam means millions and millions. The Manu is also incarnation of Krishna. So in one day of Brahma there are fourteen Manus. So Brahma lives for one hundred years. Just see how many incarnation of Manus are there even for one Brahma, and there are innumerable Brahmas also. So, as stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam that nobody can count how many incarnations are there, but some of the chief incarnations are mentioned, and Lord Ramacandra is one of them. So Lord Ramacandra, He killed Ravana and He installed his brother.

His brother was devotee, Vibhishana. So He did not go to conquer Ceylon, because He was emperor. He went to punish that culprit Ravana, and He installed his younger brother Vibhishana in that… And He came back with Sita, and again He was installed after fourteen years, and His brother was so faithful that so long His eldest brother was away, Ramacandra requested Him that “Your mother wants that You should be king, and I also wish that in My absence You should be king.” Bharata, He was so faithful brother, He replied, “No. You are king. So long You are living, nobody can be king. So I cannot be king.” Then He requested, “At least You administer.” Because after the departure of Lord Ramacandra, Maharaja Dasaratha died out of the shock because Ramacandra was very pet son, eldest son. He was going to be king, and by his order He was sent to the forest. The father could not tolerate the shock. He died.

So Ramacandra’s life, God’s activities, pastimes, if we hear, that means we are associating with Ramacandra. There is no difference between His form, His name, His pastimes, and Himself. He’s absolute. Therefore either you chant the holy name of Rama or you see the statue of Rama or you talk of His pastimes, transcendental pastimes, everything, that means you are associating with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So we take advantage of these days when the incarnation of God appears or disappears, and we try to associate with Him. By His association we become purified. Our process is purification. Krishna consciousness means simply we are purifying our consciousness. From the birth, as I have explained, everyone is sudra.

Sudra means one who laments. That is called sudra. For a slight loss or slight inconvenience, one who laments, he is called sudra. And brahmana means one who tolerates. A sudra has no toleration. So kalau sudra sambhava. Kalau means… This age is called Kali. So it is the statement of the sastras that in this age the whole population is sudra. And formerly also, by his birth, everyone was considered sudra, but there was training, samskara. At the present moment, there is no samskara, there is no training. The training is only for earning livelihood. No other training. How one can earn money and enjoy senses—that is the training at the present moment. But actually, to make successful the human life or the mission of human life, the Vedic culture is very nice. And by spreading Krishna consciousness, by adopting the process of Krishna consciousness, you can revive that cultural life, sublime life. If not wholesale, if there are a few people trained up in this line, and they become ideal examples to the society, immense benefit can be derived from their examples of life. What is time? [break] (kirtana) (end)

(A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada 27th March 1969. The Appearance day of Lord Rama – Ramanavami, Hawaii, USA.)

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26277

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108 Names of Lord Sri Rama

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OM SHRI RAMAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Giver of happiness

OM RAMABHADRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Auspicious One

OM RAMACHANDRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, who is as lustrous as the moon

OM SHASHVATAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, to the ever-lasting one

OM RAJIVALOCHANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lotus-eyed

OM SHRIMATE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Abode of Lakshmi

OM RAJENDRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the King of kings

OM RAGHUPUNGAVAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Most Exalted of the Raghu dynasty

OM JANAKI VALLABHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Beloved of Janaki

OM JAITRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Triumphant

OM JITAMITRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Conqueror of His enemies

OM JANARDHANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Refuge of the people

OM VISHVAMITRA PRIYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Beloved of Sage Vishvamitra

OM DANTAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the well-controlled One

OM SHARANATRANA TATPARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who is keen to protect those who take refuge in Him

OM BALI PRAMATHANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Vanquisher of Bali

OM VAGMINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Eloquent

OM SATYAVACHE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One of truthful speech

OM SATYAVIKRAMAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who is valiant in defending Truth

OM SATYAVRATAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One of truthful vows

OM VRATADHARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who faithfully keeps His vows

OM SADA HANUMADASHRITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who is always served by Hanuman

OM KAUSALEYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Son of Kausalya

OM KHARADHVAMSINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Annihilator of the demon Khara

OM VIRADHA VANAPANDITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Expert in destroying the demon Viradha

OM VIBHISHANA PARITRATRE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Protector of Vibhishan

OM KODANDA KHANDANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who broke the mighty bow

OM SAPTATALA PRABHEDRE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who permeates the seven planes of existence

OM DASHAGRIVA SHIROHARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who cut off Ravana’s heads

OM JAMADAGNYA MAHADARPPA DALANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who shattered the pride of Parasurama

OM TATAKANTAKAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Slayer of Tataka

OM VEDANTA SARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Essence of Vedanta

OM VEDATMANE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Self of the Vedas

OM BHAVAROGASYA BHESHAJAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Healer of the disease of Becoming

OM DUSHANATRI SHIROHANTRE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who cut off the head of Dushana

OM TRIMURTAYE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Embodiment of the Three Gods

OM TRIGUNATMAKAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Source of the three gunas

OM TRIVIKRAMAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord as Vamana

OM TRILOKATMANE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the source of the three planetary systems

OM PUNYACHARITRA KIRTANAYA NAMAH

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One whose story is a source of merit to those who sing it

OM TRILOKA RAKSHAKAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Protector of the three world systems

OM DHANVINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the wielder of the bow

OM DANDAKARANYA KARTANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Dweller in the Dandaka forest

OM AHALYA SHAPASHAMANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Remover of Ahalya’s curse

OM PITRU BHAKTAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Worshipper of His father Dasaratha

OM VARA PRADAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the giver of boons

OM JITENDRIYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, THE Conqueror of the senses

OM JITAKRODHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Conqueror of anger

OM JITAMITRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who wins over friends

OM JAGAD GURAVE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Guru of the world

OM RIKSHA VANARA SANGHATINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who organized the hordes of monkeys

OM CHITRAKUTA SAMASHRAYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who took refuge at Chitrakuta Hill

OM JAYANTA TRANA VARADAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who blessed Jayanta

OM SUMITRA PUTRA SEVITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is served by Sumitra’s son (Lakshmana)

OM SARVA DEVADHI DEVAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord of all the gods

OM MRITAVANARA JIVANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who revived the dead monkeys (after the war)

OM MAYAMARICHA HANTRE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Destroyer of the demon Maricha who practiced illusion

OM MAHADEVAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Great Lord

OM MAHABHUJAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord of mighty arms

OM SARVADEVA STUTAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is praised by all the gods

OM SAUMYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Calm One

OM BRAHMANYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Absolute Reality

OM MUNI SAMSTUTAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is praised by sages

OM MAHAYOGINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Great Yogin

OM MAHADARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Noble One

OM SUGRIVEPSITA RAJYADAYE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who returned the kingdom to Sugriva

OM SARVA PUNYADHI KAPHALAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Giver of fruits of pious work, good karmas

OM SMRITA SARVAGHA NASHANAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Remover of all afflictions

OM ADIPURUSHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Primal Being

OM PARAMAPURUSHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Being

OM MAHAPURUSHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Great Being

OM PUNYODAYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Source of all blessings

OM DAYASARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Embodiment of compassion

OM PURANA PURUSHOTTAMAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Most Ancient Person

OM SMITA VAKTRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who smiling speaks

OM MITA BHASHINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One of moderate speech

OM PURVA BHASHINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the One who rarely speaks

OM RAGHAVAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the scion of the Raghu dynasty

OM ANANTA GUNAGAMBHIRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord of infinite majestic qualities

OM DHIRODATTA GUNOTTAMAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord of Valorous qualities

OM MAYA MANUSHA CHARITRAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who incarnated as a man through His maya

OM MAHADEVADI PUJITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is worshiped by Lord Shiva

OM SETUKRITE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, The builder of the bridge (at Setubandha to Sri Lanka)

OM JITA VARASHAYE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Conqueror of desires

OM SARVA TIRTHAMAYAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is the sum of all holy places

OM HARAYE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Destroyer

OM SHYAMANGAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Dark-complexioned One

OM SUNDARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Beautiful One

OM SURAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord

OM PITAVASASE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord clad in yellow raiment

OM DHANURDHARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Bearer of the bow

OM SARVA YAJNADHIPAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord of sacrifice

OM YAJVINE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Sacrificer

OM JARAMARANA VARJITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Conqueror of birth and death

OM VIBHISHANA PRATISHTHATRE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who established Vibhishana on the throne

OM SARVABHARANA VARJITAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who relinquished all adornment

OM PARAMATMANE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Self

OM PARABRAHMANE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Absolute

OM SACHIDANANDA VIGRAHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Embodiment of Existence, Awareness and Bliss

OM PARASMAI JYOTISHE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Light

OM PARASMAI DHAMNE NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Abode

OM PARAKASHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Space

OM PARATPARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme beyond the highest

OM PARESHAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Lord

OM PARAKAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who takes His devotees across (the ocean of
samsara–birth and death)

OM PARAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Being

OM SARVA DEVATMAKAYA NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Lord who is the Source of all gods

OM PARASMAI NAMAHA

Obeisances to Sri Rama, the Supreme Lord

[These prayers are available at www.stephen-knapp.com]

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3134

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The avatara came as Ramachandra
Scion to the dynasty of Raghukula
He is ever seen with Laxmi as Sita,
Laxman and Hanuman, His servitor

Maryada purushottam, the best of humans
Engaging with citizens, rsis and demons
Treated the needy and poor mercifully
Despatched rogues and demons swiftly

Rama spent fourteen years in desolation
With Laxman and Sita, in deportation
Separated from the luxuries of the city
Stoically enduring poverty and paucity

The demon Ravana fancied mother Sita
Kidnapped the one steeped in pativrata
While Sita repelled advances of Ravana
Hanuman found her, and Ram beset Lanka

Ravana spurned counsel for Sita’s return
Fought back, but his tactics were in vain
Many warriors on both sides lost their life
Ram slew Ravana and saved His dear wife

Exile over, Ram ruled Ayodhya kingdom
Reigning with grace, justice and wisdom
His life is a paragon of sacrifice and duty
His beatific pastimes validate His divinity

Often in this event filled historical narration
Rama seems unable to overcome His situation
The Lord appeared to be fallible, almost mortal
Though Krsna or Visnu is eternally immortal  !

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Rama-navami by Giriraj Swami

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A Talk by Giriraj Swami Ojai, California

The original Personality of Godhead is Krsna, and He manifests Himself in different forms. One such manifestation is Lord Ramacandra. When Krsna appeared in His original form He acted as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas when He appeared as Rama He acted as the ideal king. In fact, the pastimes of Lord Rama display ideals in many ways. Lord Rama appeared as the son of King Dasaratha, and Dasaratha acted as the ideal father and king. Rama acted as the ideal son and later, after He was coronated, as the ideal ruler. Rama’s brother Laksmana acted as the ideal brother, and Rama’s wife, Sita, acted as the ideal wife. Because Lord Rama acted as the ideal human, He is called maryadha-purusottama. He followed the same types of rules and regulations that we as human beings are meant to follow, whereas Krsna, acting as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, followed no rules or regulations; at least He was not obliged to follow any rules or regulations, because He was manifesting Himself as the Supreme Enjoyer and showing us how we can enjoy pastimes with Him. Therefore Krsna is called lila-purusottama.

The pastimes of Lord Rama are elaborately described in books called Ramayana. Beyond the other Ramayanas, learned scholars and authorities have determined that Srimad-Bhagavatam is the supreme evidence within the Vedic literatures. Srimad-Bhagavatam describes various incarnations of Krsna, including the incarnation of Lord Rama, and so we shall read a few words about Lord Rama as He is described in Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto Two, Chapter Seven: “Scheduled Incarnations.”

TEXT 23

asmat-prasada-sumukhah kalaya kalesa iksvaku-vamsa avatirya guror nidese tisthan vanam sa-dayitanuja avivesa yasmin virudhya dasa-kandhara artim arcchat

TRANSLATION

Due to His causeless mercy upon all living entities within the universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His plenary extensions, appeared in the family of Maharaja Iksvaku as the Lord of His internal potency, Sita. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, He entered the forest and lived there for several years with His wife and younger brother. Ravana, who was very materially powerful, with ten heads on his shoulders, committed a great offense against Him and was thus ultimately vanquished.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His brothers, namely Bharata, Laksmana, and Satrughna, are His plenary expansions. All four brothers are visnu-tattva and were never ordinary human beings. Originally Lord Ramacandra is the incarnation of Vasudeva, Laksmana is the incarnation of Sankarsana, Bharata is the incarnation of Pradyumna, and Satrughna is the incarnation of Aniruddha, expansions of the Personality of Godhead. Laksmiji Sita is the internal potency of the Lord and is neither an ordinary woman nor the external potency incarnation of Durga. Durga is the external potency of the Lord, and she is associated with Lord Siva.

As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7), the Lord appears when there are discrepancies in the discharge of factual religion. Lord Ramacandra also appeared under the same circumstances, accompanied by His brothers, who are expansions of the Lord’s internal potency, and by Laksmiji Sitadevi.

Lord Ramacandra was ordered by His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, to leave home for the forest under awkward circumstances, and the Lord, as the ideal son of His father, carried out the order, even on the occasion of His being declared the king of Ayodhya. One of His younger brothers, Laksmanaji, desired to go with Him, and so also His eternal wife, Sitaji. The Lord agreed to both of them, and all together they entered the Dandakaranya Forest, to live there for fourteen years. During their stay in the forest, there was some quarrel between Ramacandra and Ravana, and Ravana kidnapped the Lord’s wife, Sita. The quarrel ended in the vanquishing of the greatly powerful Ravana, along with all his kingdom and family.

Sita is Laksmiji, or the goddess of fortune, but she is never to be enjoyed by any living being. She is meant to be worshiped by the living being along with her husband, Sri Ramacandra. A materialistic man like Ravana does not understand this great truth, but on the contrary he wants to snatch Sitadevi from the custody of Rama and thus incurs great miseries. The materialists, who are after opulence and material prosperity, may take lessons from the Ramayana that the policy of exploiting the nature of the Lord without acknowledging the supremacy of the Lord is the policy of Ravana. Ravana was very advanced materially, so much so that he turned his kingdom, Lanka, into pure gold, or full material wealth. But because he did not recognize the supremacy of Lord Ramacandra and defied Him by stealing His wife, Sita, Ravana was killed, and all his opulence and power were destroyed.

Lord Ramacandra is a full incarnation with six opulences in full, and therefore He is mentioned in this verse as kalesah, or master of all opulence.

LECTURE by Giriraj Swami

In brief, Lord Ramacandra was the eldest son of Maharaja Dasaratha, and He was loved by all of the citizens in the state. According to the Vedic system, when one reaches a certain age he retires from worldly duties and responsibilities and devotes himself fully to God consciousness, or Krsna consciousness. Maharaja Dasaratha wanted to retire as king and install his son, Ramacandra, as his successor. But on the eve of Rama’s coronation, because of some past events, Maharaja Dasaratha was obliged to ask Him to go into the forest in exile, to fulfill a promise that the king had made. And Lord Ramacandra, as the ideal son, immediately accepted His father’s order without hesitation or lamentation. Still, everyone in the kingdom loved Rama so much that they wanted to accompany Him into the forest, but Lord Rama replied, “No, if you all come into the forest with me, what will happen to the kingdom? You all must remain in Ayodhya.” Rama’s brother Laksmana, however, was so attached to Him that he couldn’t bear being separated from the Lord, and the Lord agreed that he could come with Him. Similarly, the Lord’s wife, Sita, wanted to follow her husband into the forest and serve Him in His difficult position, and Lord Rama agreed for her to accompany Him. Then, while they were in the forest, a very powerful demon, Ravana, kidnapped Sita and abducted her to his kingdom called Lanka.

When we hear such stories we may wonder, “Are these stories real or mythological? Are they stories made up to entertain people and illustrate some moral principles and then frighten people to be good according to some moral standard?” We take the events described in the Ramayana or the Bhagavatam as factual. We read that Ravana had ten heads. Someone may challenge, “How could someone have ten heads? How can anyone expect us to believe that someone had ten heads? It is obviously a myth or an allegory that has some message or meaning, but not a literal record of historical fact.” The fact is that we are very limited in our experience and in our comprehension, and we cannot judge everything by our own limited experience or by what appeals to our limited intelligence. People now are quite reduced in intelligence, in physical strength, and in other powers compared with people in previous ages. Thus our conception of what is possible and what is impossible is very limited, according to our experience. But in previous ages, people were more powerful and they often developed mystic powers.

Some of us may have heard of yogis in India who have mystic powers. Such powers are relatively rare now, but in previous ages they were more common. Srila Prabhupada told us about yogis living as recently as the last century, during the British rule, who were known to the people and to the government. He mentioned one yogi who used to sit naked in meditation. The British authorities arrested him for indecent exposure and put him in jail, but by his mystic powers he reduced himself in size to become smaller than the keyhole to the jail cell, and he escaped. The next thing the authorities knew, he was sitting naked in the street again, so they arrested him again and put him in jail, and again by his mystic powers he shrunk and came out again. After three or four such incidents, the authorities gave up. They decided they couldn’t contain him, and so they left him in peace–naked.

Even Alexander the Great during his conquests came to the precincts of India, and the first person he saw there was a yogi in meditation in the heat of the sun. The yogi was just sitting there completely undisturbed, and Alexander was greatly impressed. He was so impressed that he said to the yogi, “I am Alexander the Great, the emperor of the world. I am ready to give you whatever you desire. You may ask of me whatever you like.” The yogi simply replied, “Can you kindly move aside? You are getting in the way of the sun.” Later, Alexander sent a message to his men: “The people here are very special. Don’t mess with them.”

So, previously people had great control over their minds and senses, and they had mystic powers. Such powers were meant to be used for spiritual elevation, but sometimes it happened that persons with selfish motives acquired such powers and used them for demonic purposes. Of course, people now are generally not so pious, but we can understand in principle that a rich man should use his money for the good of others, for charitable purposes. Still, a rich man can also use his money for evil purposes. In the same way, a powerful person can use mystic powers for the good of others or at the expense of others.

Ravana used his powers for evil purposes, and in the end he was chastised by Lord Rama, and ultimately he and his entire dynasty were vanquished–even though they were materially so powerful. Thus, from the story of the Ramayana we can learn that however powerful we may be materially, if we use our power against the Lord, in the end we will be vanquished.

Of course, one may argue that in the end everyone is vanquished–everyone dies. And true, everyone in the material world does die–but there are differences. When the devotee dies, he is promoted to the spiritual realm, but when a demon dies, he is punished in hellish conditions. Also, a devotee brings all auspiciousness to his family and friends, whereas a demon can bring ruination. Here, Ravana and all of his associates–as well as their kingdom–were destroyed because of their offense against Mother Sita and Lord Rama. Therefore, we should be careful not to commit offenses against the Lord or His devotees. Although indirectly Ravana offended Lord Rama, more directly he offended Sita. He kidnapped Sitadevi. And because she was dear to the Lord, the Lord was all the more aggrieved. The devotees of the Lord are actually more dear to the Lord than the Lord is to Himself, and therefore an offense to the devotee is taken more seriously by the Lord than an offense against the Lord Himself.

Another lesson here is that the energy of the Lord is meant to be used in the service of the Lord and if we try to take the Lord’s energy and use it for our personal gratification or self-aggrandizement, in the end we will suffer. Of course, it is a technical science–the expansions of the Lord and of the Lord’s energy. The Lord’s energy is originally spiritual, and when it remains connected with the Lord directly, it remains spiritual. But when the Lord’s energy is separated from the Lord and instead of being connected to the Lord in service it is misused by people for personal gratification, then it becomes the material energy, or separated energy. So whatever we see–all the basic elements of the material world, such as solids, liquids, and gases–are actually expansions of the Lord’s energy. Thus, they are the Lord’s property and are meant to be used for the Lord’s purposes. If we try to take the Lord’s property and use it for our own purposes against the Lord’s desire, then we commit an offense against the Lord and have to suffer the consequences.

But we have been accustomed to stealing the Lord’s property and using it for ourselves. According to Vedic literatures, we, as spiritual parts of the supreme spirit whole, exist eternally, but we have been transmigrating from one body to another since time immemorial. During the process of transmigration within the material world, we have developed the habit of trying to exploit the material nature for our own gratification. And the result is that we are forced to continue within the material world, within the cycle of birth and death, and to suffer not only the repetition of birth and death but so many other miseries. The way to become free from the cycle of birth and death is to come into harmony with the Lord and the Lord’s nature, rather than to remain in opposition to the Lord and His nature. But because we have been conditioned in material nature since time immemorial, we have a very deep-rooted habit of wanting to exploit the material nature and enjoy her. That perverted mentality or perverse habit can be rectified by chanting, especially by what we just did tonight: chanting the holy names of God. In the present age of Kali the chanting of the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is especially recommended. Those names are Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare–the same names that we just chanted.

Krsna consciousness is not sectarian. God has various names in different languages and cultures, and all the names of the Lord are as good as the others. Similarly, all of the forms of the Lord are as good as the others. Therefore, if someone is attached to a name of God in another scripture, then he or she can chant Jesus, Jesus or Allah, Allah–or another name of the Lord. And if one is not attached to the chanting of any other name, he or she can chant Hare Krsna, and that will purify the heart of material contamination and bring out the original, pure love of Krsna. Then naturally when our pure love for God is manifest, we won’t do anything against the purpose of the Lord but will act in complete harmony with the Lord. So this is one of the lessons to be learned from the story of Lord Ramacandra.

Hare Krsna.

Are there any questions or comments?

Devotee: Yes. I have two questions, and they might be related. First, you were talking about accepting stories as literal, but do we also accept that there is a symbolic dimension to them? And second, What is the actual internal position of Ravana? He is coming into contact with so much pure energy–Sita, who is the internal potency, and Rama–so it doesn’t seem like he would be just any old evil person.

Giriraj Swami: The first question is whether the histories, which we accept as factual, also have a symbolic dimension. I don’t know if “symbolic” would be the best word in most cases. One could say that Ravana “symbolizes” evil and that Rama “symbolizes” good and that the story tells us that good triumphs over evil, but to put it in these terms may minimize the reality of Rama as the Supreme Personality of Godhead or even of Ravana as a historical person. Therefore we might prefer not to say that the stories are symbolic. Rather, we would prefer to say that the stories are factual but that they illustrate certain fundamental principles and that we can benefit from reading and studying and hearing and discussing those principles.

For example, a child might put his or her hand into a fire and get burned. So we can learn from that example that if you touch fire you will be burned, but we wouldn’t want to say that the fire symbolizes something and the child symbolizes something, because they are both real. But yes, we can learn from the example of the child that if we put our hand into fire we will get burned. So I would say that in the same way we can learn from the example of Ravana that if we come into opposition to the Lord we will be vanquished–and so many other lessons can be derived from the histories of the Lord and the devotees and demons recorded in the scriptures.

There is one section in Srimad-Bhagavatam that is allegorical, and that brings us to another point: the Vedic scriptures instruct us to study the Vedic knowledge under the guidance of guru. In our case, we study under Srila Prabhupada, and Srila Prabhupada has told us that several chapters in the Fourth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam are allegorical but that the rest of the histories are factual. The other histories are not just symbolic or metaphorical, and to say that they are is to destroy the reality that the scriptures describe. Still, you might have another point of view.

Devotee: No, I was just curious because, for example, I had heard–and I don’t know how authentic this is–but I had heard that in the Bhagavatam where Krsna is killing the various demons, each demon represents a certain anartha, such as lust or greed. I heard that, and that is why I wanted to ask if there’s a symbolic dimension–not in place of the literal but in addition–thus serving two purposes at once. But I understand your answer.

Giriraj Swami: An advanced devotee could perceive the historical persons in the historical accounts as representative of a general type or even of a principle. Actually, I just had a talk with a friend from the Jewish tradition. She said in relation to the festival of Passover (which is to take place soon) that before Passover adherent Jews take all the grains out of their houses. They consider that sin has entered into the grains and that by taking the grains out of the house they are purifying the house of sin and bad qualities. One of the bad qualities is pride, and according to one commentary on the Bible, the Pharaoh–not that I would say that the Pharaoh did not exist as a historical person–but the Pharaoh is considered to be the symbol of pride, because when Moses came to him on behalf of the Lord, the Pharaoh said, “Who is this God that I am meant to listen to? I listen to no one. Everyone listens to me.” According to that commentary, the ten plagues that were sent upon the Pharaoh–again, not that they didn’t exist, if we accept the version in the Bible–each plague represents a specific counteraction to a specific evil or ill. And I think that sincere followers in any tradition, when they reach a certain stage of spiritual consciousness, are able to see deeper meanings in things than others are able to see. Someone who is more spiritually advanced and realized can see more deeply into the words of the scriptures and the events described there and come out with meanings that may not be apparent from the descriptions but are very real. They are discovered for us by deeply realized souls who apply themselves to the scriptures.

Regarding the question about Ravana, according to Srimad-Bhagavatam Ravana was not just an ordinary person but an associate of the Lord who was cursed to become such a powerful demon that the Lord Himself would come and fight with him. The Lord has all the propensities of other living beings, being their origin. So just as we like to wrestle for pleasure sometimes, the Lord also sometimes likes to fight. But who will fight with the Lord? Only some competent servitor of the Lord can do so. Thus, by the Lord’s arrangement, a great devotee came to play the part of Ravana and fight with the Lord. Still, when that devotee took birth as a demon, he actually thought and felt and acted like a demon.

As far as Ravana’s coming into contact with Sita, according to scripture, because the original Sitadevi is completely spiritual, she could never be touched by a demon. She could never even be seen by a demon. So what Ravana kidnapped was not the original Sita but an illusory expansion of Sita called maya-sita. When he kidnapped the maya Sita, the original Sita was kept hidden in the earth. Then after Ravana was killed and Sita was liberated, the original Sita came back.

Srila Prabhupada has explained that if someone just wants to chant Hare Krsna, he or she can achieve complete perfection just by chanting, but that if one wants to study the science of Godhead, there are volumes and volumes of books. So if one wants, if one has that inquisitive type of intelligence, he or she can just go deeper and deeper into the books. It is like an ocean without limit–the information that we can get about the Lord from the Vedic literature.

Morther Urvasi, you are wise. Please say something to encourage and enlighten us.

Urvasi dasi: I can say something about chanting Hare Krsna. You mentioned that chanting Hare Krsna purifies the heart of material contamination. So, I was thinking of the example that Srila Prabhupada gave, that if we go under a tree that has blackbirds sitting in it and we clap our hands, the birds will automatically fly away. Srila Prabhupada, our teacher, gave the example that when we chant Hare Krsna, it chases away the blackbirds in the heart, and lust and greed and pride–these things peel away, like peeling an onion. They peel away from the heart. The more we really enter into the mood of chanting as a meditation and a prayer to the Lord to purify our hearts and make us more childlike in our love and devotion to God–the more we can enter into that mood–the greater the effect it has on us. So chanting Hare Krsna, as Giriraj Swami said, is really all we need. It is a complete process. But at the same time it is also very nice to understand the philosophy of Krsna consciousness, so that we can talk to others about it as well, and teach it. But chanting Hare Krsna will bring so much joy into our lives because it will connect us with our real selves. We know that we are spiritual beings and that we are covered by these different bodies, just as our bodies are covered by the clothes that we wear, and chanting Hare Krsna will awaken the true happiness and bliss that are inherent to our true self, our spiritual nature.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=8314

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An incident from the story of Lord Rama that depicts unity in diversity

Can two persons be alike in all respects? No! Everybody is an individual with unique thoughts, aspirations, opinions, mannerisms and lifestyles. Although birds of same feather flock together, every bird is an individual and unique. There are differences even within one community of people with multiple commonalities, led by one able leader.

Same Goals – Different Styles

All the followers of a spiritual path have many things in common: (i) the object of their worship i.e., their beloved form of God, (ii) the aspiration and attempt to love and serve Him to the best of their ability, and (iii) the prescribed spiritual practices that enable them to achieve their spiritual goals. Despite these similarities in general, when it comes to minute details of spiritual practice, every spiritual seeker has a unique mood and style.

Devotees are not so faceless that they are fully same in all respects. Rather each one has a unique story. Humility, satisfaction, tolerance, compassion, gratitude, service attitude and many other such aspects of Vaisnava character are common in all devotees of God, yet each devotee exhibits those qualities in unique ways. For instance, the way one devotee renders service to God could be quite different from another’s way, although they both agree to the principle of service to God.

The following is an instance from the story of Lord Ramacandra where some of His dear devotees exhibited differences in their opinions in their sincere intent and effort to serve the Lord’s mission.

Same Person – Different Perceptions

The king of demons Ravana abducted Sitadevi, the consort of Lord Rama, and held her captive in his golden city Lanka. Unlike lusty and proud Ravana, his younger brother Vibhisana was saintly and virtuous. Vibhisana advised Ravana repeatedly to respectfully return Sita to Rama, for otherwise Lanka would soon see its destruction due to the tears of Sita and wrath of Rama. But egoistic Ravana wouldn’t relent. Once he ruthlessly rebuked Vibhisana with harsh words condemning his non-cooperative attitude. Pained at heart, Vibhisana left Lanka and approached the camp of Rama, who was then making His preparations with the monkey army to battle with Ravana, seeking His shelter.

Seeing Vibhisana, Sugriva, the king of the monkeys became very suspicious. All the monkeys started picking up rocks and uprooting trees to attack Vibhisana if needed, and they awaited Sugriva’s orders. It is natural for devotees to always be eager and alert to the best of their physical and mental abilities, in their attempts to serve the Lord. The ever-wise devotee Hanuman, however, didn’t detect any deceit or ill motives in Vibhisana.

Vibhisana, of course, was free from duplicity and had no motive to harm any of the associates of Rama. He humbly spoke to Sugriva, explaining his intentions. But Sugriva was doubtful. And Hanuman, who had the ability to read the minds of people, understood that Vibhisana’s speech and expression were genuine and believed that he sincerely desired to assist Rama.

In this world, even a genuine person’s purity is suspected due to his or her background and association. Yet the good news is that God reveals their glory to the world sooner or later.

Same Intentions – Different Opinions

Sugriva approached Rama and said, “O Lord, a demon from the side of our enemies has arrived seeking Your shelter. He claims to have deserted Ravana.” Sugriva continued, presenting his opinion with a deep concern, “Yet, I think that he cannot be trusted. After all, he is a demon and must be a spy, who might attack us at the least expected moment.” Being highly suspicious, Sugriva added, “I suggest that Vibhisana be killed immediately!”

With a sincere intention to serve Rama, Sugriva was apprehensive and honestly felt that it was harmful to entertain Vibhisana. After all he was a Raksasa and further he was the brother of envious Ravana. Rama, however, didn’t give His verdict immediately. He asked the opinion of other monkey chiefs.

The monkeys replied, “Dear Lord, You are the knower of everything. Still You are inquiring from us just to honor us.” But none of the monkey chiefs like Angada, Saraba, Jambavan, Mainda etc could trust Vibhisana. They either partially agreed with some condition or disagreed to welcome Vibhisana. Ultimately, they all were concerned about what best serves Lord Rama’s interests.

Then wise Hanuman gave his opinion, “Vibhisana’s pleasant demeanor, mindful speech and facial expressions reveal the honesty of his purpose. A deceitful person cannot remain so composed. It is not possible for anyone to fully conceal his inner intentions. I think Vibhisana came here in all sincerity and should be accepted as our ally.”

Hanuman knew the fine art of speech and Lord Rama was pleased by the eloquent and mature words of Hanuman. But Sugriva objected, “Since Vibhisana has deserted his brother in the time of adversity, he could betray anyone.”

Although Sugriva and Hanuman had opposite opinions, they both had the same intentions and a pure purpose of serving Lord Rama to the best of their understanding. Sugriva, with all his intelligence thought that not welcoming Vibhisana would help Rama better. Hanuman, with all his wisdom and sincerity, felt the opposite. So, the difference of opinion amongst devotees doesn’t always indicate a difference in their motives and purpose.

Same God – Different Reciprocations

Finally, Rama said, “I believe that Vibhisana has genuinely rejected Ravana. Let’s welcome him as our ally.” Still not convinced, Sugriva meekly protested, “He may have been sent by Ravana. If we accept him, he may turn on us at any moment. To be safe we should capture and kill him.”

Rama understood Sugriva’s anxiety. He smiled and reassured Sugriva, “Do you truly think this Rak?asa could harm Me? With the mere tip of My finger I could kill all the Rak?asas and demons.” Emphasizing on the importance of protecting the surrendered, Rama said, “The scriptures state that an enemy who arrives with folded hands must be protected by all means.” As the all-merciful Supreme Lord, Rama said, “Moreover, it is My solemn vow and eternal principle that if anyone takes shelter of Me, even once, saying, ‘O Lord, I am Yours,’ then I award that person freedom from all fear. What to speak of Vibhisana, even if Rava?a were to come here to surrender unto Me, I would give him all protection.”

The Supreme Lord doesn’t refuse to accept a supplicant who sincerely seeks His shelter. While egoistic demons abandon their own people as enemies, God and godly people accept even so-called ‘enemies’ as their own friends.

Thus, despite both Hanuman and Sugriva trying their best to serve, Lord Rama was impressed with Hanuman’s opinion and didn’t accept Sugriva’s opinion. But Rama understood the hearts of both of His devotees. Despite rejecting Sugriva’s proposal, Rama’s loving reciprocation towards both of His devotees also remained the same.

Different Treatments – Same Response

Upon hearing Rama’s sublime statements filled with mercy and sensitivity, everyone was fully satisfied. Sugriva’s heart became melted with love. Although Rama didn’t approve Sugriva’s opinion or analysis, Sugriva wasn’t offended. Moreover, he was impressed with the Lord’s kindness. Ultimately what Sugriva wanted was to serve and please Rama, but if welcoming Vibhisana pleases Him the most, why wouldn’t Sugriva do that? With tear-filled eyes, Sugriva said, “O Lord, Your words and deeds are always just befitting Your supreme position. Let us invite Vibhisana in our company and make friendship with him without delay.”

Hanuman didn’t develop any false pride or superiority complex. Sugriva also didn’t feel any envy or inferiority complex. The relationship between Sugriva and Hanuman continued as it was. The differences of the opinion amongst devotees shouldn’t lead to disruption in their relationships.

Srila Prabhupada writes, “Everyone should be friendly for the service of the Lord. Everyone should praise another’s service to the Lord and not be proud of his own service. This is the way of Vaisnava thinking, Vaikuntha thinking. There may be rivalries and apparent competition between servants in performing service, but in the Vaikuntha planets the service of another servant is appreciated, not condemned. This is Vaikuntha competition. There is no question of enmity between servants. Everyone should be allowed to render service to the Lord to the best of his ability, and everyone should appreciate the service of others. Such are the activities of Vaikuntha. Since everyone is a servant, everyone is on the same platform and is allowed to serve the Lord according to his ability.” (7.5.12 Purport)

Unity in Diversity – Diversity in Unity

The Lord is bhava-grahi, or one who accepts the mood of His devotees. The attitude of service is more pleasing to the Lord than the magnitude or type of service.  Different devotees may be capable and experienced in a service in different ways. But any devotee who tries to sincerely serve the Lord certainly attracts His mercy.

In this case of welcoming Vibhisana, Hanuman’s approach was proved to be better than Sugriva’s way. But sometimes different ways of doing a service could be equally valid and beneficial. It could just be a matter of individual choice rather than an absolute superiority or inferiority of one of the ways. For instance, one could offer either a rose or a jasmine to the Lord with love. It is often a matter of preference of the devotees rather than a comparison between the two flowers. Sensible devotees do not argue with each other to prove that their favorite flower is always the best of the two!

And according to their psycho-physical natures, different devotees prefer to do different services, all with an intent to please the Lord. Some devotees are in a profound missionary spirit, being deeply inspired by the compassionate mood of acaryas, and get involved in preaching of spiritual science. And some devotees who have deep taste in chanting the Lord’s holy names and are gifted singers, are more engrossed in the congregational chanting or sankirtana. Some others are enthusiastic about building temples as centers for spiritual education. And yet others are deeply absorbed in the loving service of the Lord’s deities. That is the varigatedness of spiritual life.

There may be diversity in the tastes, styles and opinions of devotees, but there should be unity in their purpose and intention to serve the Lord. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Actually, in Krsna consciousness there cannot be two opinions. There is only one goal: to serve Krsna to one’s best ability. If there is some disagreement over service, such disagreement is to be taken as spiritual. Those who are actually engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be disunited in any circumstance. This makes the Supreme Personality of Godhead very happy and willing to award all kinds of benediction to His devotees.” (Bhagavatam 4.30.8 Purport)

If the differences of opinions, however, are egoistic and not based on sincere intentions to serve the Lord, they could lead to disunity amongst devotees. Srila Prabhupada writes, “Disunity between individual souls is so strong within this material world that even in a society of Krsna consciousness, members sometimes appear disunited due to their having different opinions and leaning toward material things.” (Bhagavatam 4.30.8 Purport)

Thereafter, Lord Ramacandra and the monkey chiefs heartily welcomed Vibhisana, who then fell flat at the lotus feet of Rama. With deep gratitude and in a mood of full surrender, Vibhisana said, “Dear Lord Rama, I have abandoned my home, family and possessions to serve You in unalloyed love. I now place my life in Your hands and beg You to bless me with Your causeless mercy.” Rama gracefully accepted Vibhisana and Vibhisana gratefully joined Rama’s company.

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From Back to Godhead

By His Divine Grace A.C.B. Swami Prabhupada

Chivalrous leaders guided by wise, Self controlled ministers will ensure the development of a peaceful society.

Amongst the human beings, the king is the representative of Krishna because Krishna is the maintainer of the universe, and the kings, who are appointed on account of their godly qualifications, are maintainers of their kingdoms. Kings like Maharaja Yudhisthira, Maharaja Parikshit and Lord Rama were all highly righteous kings who always thought of the citizens’ welfare. – Bhagavad gita 10.27, purport

Society Needs Ideal Leaders

Lord Rama was so saintly that people even now are anxious to live in the kingdom of Lord Rama (rama rajya), but Lord Rama never showed any cowardice. Ravana was an aggressor against Rama because Ravana kidnapped Rama’s wife, Sita, but Lord Rama gave him sufficient lessons, unparalleled in the history of the world. – Bhagavad gita 1.36, purport

The Srimad Bhagavatam compares the four divisions of society to the different parts of the body the head, the arms, the belly, and the legs. Just as all parts of the body cooperate to keep the body fit, in the ideal state all sections of society cooperate under the leadership of the brahmanas. Comparatively, the head is the most important part of the body, for it gives directions to the other parts of the body. Similarly, the ideal state functions under the directions of the brahmanas, who are not personally interested in political affairs or administration because they have a higher duty. At present this Krishna consciousness movement is training brahmanas. If the administrators take our advice and conduct the state in a Krishna conscious way, there will be an ideal society throughout the world. – Journey of Self Discovery 7.1

So ideal state means the king must be very responsible. There are many instances. Just like Yudhisthira Maharaja, who was a pious king. In Bengali there is a proverb rajar dose raja nasto dose grihastha bhrasta. If the king is not pious, then the whole kingdom is spoiled. Everyone has got this experience. So, the king must be very honest, pious, and religious. Such kings were called rajarsis. Although they were kings, they were great saintly people. . . . If the king is educated nicely in spiritual affairs, if he knows what the purpose of kingdom is, then all citizens automatically become religious, purposeful. And if the king is a rascal, naturally all others will follow, and they will become rascals. – Bhagavad gita 2.32, London, September 2, 1973

A king’s qualification is judged by the temperament of the people in the kingdom. If they are happy in all respects, it is to be understood that the king is honest and is executing his duties rightly. Krishna said that the king in whose kingdom the citizens are happy is very dear to Him. – Krishna Book, Chapter 52

Kings Must Act Under Superior Guidance

Prabhupada: Yes. That is the best quality of state. If we abide by the orders of God, or the king or the government abides by the order of God, that is ideal state.

Hayagriva: He says, “Thus the constitution of the state would be theocratic, but man as priest receiving his bequest directly would build up an aristocratic government,” like the brahmanas would receive the knowledge from God.

Prabhupada: That theocratic government is Manu sahhita. That is Vedic literature given by Manu for the benefit of the human society.

Discussions with Hayagriva Dasa on Immanuel Kant

The state should always serve the devotees of the Lord, and the ideal state should conduct itself according to the instructions of the devotee. Because King Prithu followed this principle, he is highly praised. – Srimad Bhagavatam 4.16.17, purport

The Myth of Democracy

An ideal king thoroughly trained by culture and devotional service with the martial spirit makes a perfect king. Such a personal monarchy is far better than the so called democracy of no training and responsibility. The thieves and rogues of modern democracy seek election by misrepresentation of votes, and the successful rogues and thieves devour the mass of population. One trained monarch is far better than hundreds of useless ministerial rogues, and it is hinted herein that by abolition of a monarchical regime like that of Maharaja Parikshit, the mass of people become open to many attacks of the age of Kali. They are never happy in an overly advertised form of democracy. – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.18.43, purport

Due to the termination of the monarchical regimes and the plundering of the people’s wealth by rogues and thieves, there will be great social disruptions. People will be killed and injured, and animals and women will be stolen. . . . The so called democrats capture the administrative machine without assuming responsibility for the prosperous condition of the citizens. Everyone captures the post for personal gratification, and thus instead of one king, a number of irresponsible kings grow up to tax the citizens. It is foretold herein that in the absence of good monarchical government, everyone will be the cause of disturbance for others by plundering riches, animals, women, etc.- Srimad Bhagavatam 1.18.44, purport

Peace in Pieces

Without religious principles what is the difference between a dog and a man? Man can understand religion, but a dog cannot. That is the difference. So if human society remains on the level of dogs and cats, how can you expect a peaceful society? If you bring a dozen dogs and put them together in a room, will it be possible to keep them peaceful? Similarly, if human society is filled with men whose mentality is on the level of dogs, how can you expect peace? – Science of Self Realization, Chapter 6

The asuras want to enjoy a life of sense gratification, even at the cost of others’ happiness. In order to fulfill this ambition, the asuras, especially atheistic kings or state executive heads, try to equip themselves with all kinds of deadly weapons to bring about a war in a peaceful society. They have no ambition other than personal aggrandizement, and thus mother earth feels overburdened by such undue increases of military strength. By increase of the asuric population, those who follow the principles of religion become unhappy, especially the devotees, or devas. – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.34, purport

Whenever there is some negligence on the part of the king in discharging his duty, the intelligent class of men must dethrone him. The intelligent class of men, however, do not occupy the royal throne, because they have much more important duties for the welfare of the public. Instead of occupying the royal throne, they prayed for the incarnation of the Lord, and the Lord came as Maharaja Prithu. Real intelligent men, or qualified brahmanas, never aspire for political posts. Maharaja Prithu excavated many produces from the earth, and thus not only did the citizens become happy to have such a good king, but the complete sight of the earth also became beautiful and attractive. – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.14, purport

Ideal Qualities of a King

Although Prithu Maharaja was factually an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he rejected those praises because the qualities of the Supreme Person were not yet manifest in him. He wanted to stress that one who does not actually possess these qualities should not try to engage his followers and devotees in offering him glory for them, even though these qualities might be manifest in the future. If a man who does not factually possess the attributes of a great personality engages his followers in praising him with the expectation that such attributes will develop in the future, that sort of praise is actually an insult.- Srimad Bhagavatam 4.15.23, purport

An Ideal King does not Take Credit

As an ideal king, Maharaja Prithu is compared to the earthly planet, for even though some citizens might violate the rules and regulations of the state, he would still be tolerant and maintain them with fruits and grains. In other words, it is the duty of the king to look after the comforts of the citizens, even at the cost of his own personal convenience. This is not the case, however, in Kali yuga, for in Kali yuga the kings and heads of state enjoy life at the cost of taxes exacted from the citizens. Such unfair taxation makes the people dishonest, and the people try to hide their income in so many ways. Eventually the state will not be able to collect taxes and consequently will not be able to meet its huge military and administrative expenses. Everything will collapse, and there will be chaos and disturbance all over the state – Srimad Bhagavatam 4.16.7, purport

Parikshit Maharaja was an ideal king and householder because he was a devotee of the Personality of Godhead. A devotee of the Lord automatically has all good qualifications. And the Emperor was a typical example of this. Personally he had no attachment for all the worldly opulences in his possession. But since he was king for the all around welfare of his citizens, he was always busy in the welfare work of the public, not only for this life, but also for the next. He would not allow slaughterhouses or killing of cows. He was not a foolish and partial administrator who would arrange for the protection of one living being and allow another to be killed. Because he was a devotee of the Lord, he knew perfectly well how to conduct his administration for everyone’s happiness men, animals, plants and all living creatures. He was not selfishly interested. Selfishness is either self centered or self extended. He was neither. His interest was to please the Supreme Truth, Personality of Godhead. The king is the representative of the Supreme Lord, and therefore the king’s interest must be identical with that of the Supreme Lord. The Supreme Lord wants all living beings to be obedient to Him and thereby become happy. Therefore the king’s interest is to guide all subjects back to the kingdom of God. Hence the activities of the citizens should be so coordinated that they can at the end go back home, back to Godhead. Under the administration of a representative king, the kingdom is full of opulence. – Srimad Bhagavatam 1.4.12, purport

To cut off all family affection means to broaden the field of activities. Without doing this, no one can be qualified as a brahmana, a king, a public leader or a devotee of the Lord. The Personality of Godhead, as an ideal king, showed this by example. Sri Ramacandra cut off the tie of affection for His beloved wife to manifest the qualities of an ideal king. – Teachings of Queen Kunti, Chapter 24

Apply Violence when Necessary

In the Parasara smrti, or religious codes made by Parasara, the great sage and father of Vyasadeva, it is stated:

ksatriyo hi praja raksan Sastra panih pradandayan
nirjitya para sainyadi ksitih dharmena palayet

“The ksatriya’s duty is to protect the citizens from all kinds of difficulties, and for that reason he has to apply violence in suitable cases for law and order. Therefore he has to conquer the soldiers of inimical kings, and thus, with religious principles, he should rule over the world.” – Bhagavad gita 2.32, purport

 

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26312

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Though some people do not believe that the present Sri Lanka is the one mentioned in the Ramayana, when we investigate the area, there is still much convincing tradition therein and many sites identified with the Ramayana. A rich legacy of locations and temples can be found in the country where the most significant events of this epic are supposed to have taken place. In fact, you can go on what is called the Ramayana tour and visit so many of these places, many of which we will describe herein.

Sri Lanka is the proud custodian of more than 50 Ramayana sites from the place of Sita Devi’s captivity to the battlefields where vast armies clashed, to the groves of exotic herbs dropped by Hanuman, to the ultimate theater of war where Lord Rama slew Ravana, the ten-headed demon-king.

People living in the areas where great events took place remember to this day the connection of their soil to the great epic. An oath taken at the spot where Sita Devi undertook “Agni Pariksha” is still considered valid in village courts or grama sabhas. The color of the soil of the ancient battlefield is still red today, and is still surrounded by lighter colored earth. One of the airports of Ravana, torched by Hanuman when he came looking for Sita Devi, still has a scorched-earth look. A patch of darker soil surrounded by brown earth. Exotic alpine Himalayan species are found suddenly amidst tropical Sri Lankan vegetation, the legacy of Hanuman’s heroic voyage carrying a mountain with life-restoring herbs.

Incredibly, the names of places have come down to modern times unchanged. Though great social, cultural and religious changes have taken place in Sri Lanka since.

Sri Lanka shares a special bond with India geographically, historically, culturally and spiritually. The Ramayana begins with Ayodhya in India and climaxes at Lankapura.

People in Sri Lanka through generations believed that king Ravana ruled this country. There are many sites in Sri Lanka which are connected to the Ramayana. Below is a list of places which have been identified as connected to the Ramayana and listed in sequential order.

The Kidnapping of Sita by Ravana

Ravana was the king of Lanka and another 9 kingdoms. He was known as Dasis (or Dasa Shirsha) meaning 10 heads, because he had ten crowns, one each for his ten kingdoms.

His sister Surpanakha went to Jambudweepa for some business. Surpanakha chanced upon Rama at his hermitage and became enamored with the handsome prince. Rama being faithful to his wife, Sita, did not respond and asked Surpanakha to approach Lakshmana who was unmarried. Surpanakha, who felt humiliated by this, tried to attack Sita in anger saying Sita was the cause of the men’s contempt for her. Lakshmana then intervened and cut off Surpanakha’s nose.

Surpanakha, terrified and in pain, flew at once to Lanka to seek the protection of Ravana. When Ravana asked his sister for the cause, Surpanakha said that she had seen Sita, a lady of incomparable beauty, and wanted to bring her for Ravana. Ravana resolved to take revenge for the insult his sister had suffered, as well as to get lovely Sita for him self, and set out to abduct Sita and bring her to Lanka.

Ravana, using a golden deer as a decoy, visited Sita when she was alone. In the guise of an old sage, he abducted and brought her to Weragantota in Lanka in his plane, the Pushpaka vimana.

Weragantota means the “place of aircraft landing” in Sinhala. This is the first place Sita Devi was brought to Lankapura (capita city of king Ravana). These jungles are the place where the city of Lankapura once stood. The city had a beautiful palace for Queen Mandothari surrounded by waterfalls, streams and varieties of flora and fauna. Sita Devi was kept at Queen Mandothari’s palace at Lankapura. The place Sita was held captive is called Sita Kotuwa, which means “Sita’s Fort” in Sinhala. It is believed Ravana had an aircraft repair center at Gurulupotha close to Sita Kotuwa. Sita devi was kept in queen Mandothari’s palace until she was moved to Sita Kotuwa and then on to Ashoka Vatika. The remains that are found here are the remnants of later civilizations. In Valmiki’s depiction, King Ravana’s vimana resembled a huge peacock. The vimana in Sinhala language means “Dhandu Monara” which is known as “flying peacock,” and hence the name Gurulupotha, which means “parts of birds” in Sinhala. This is also called Gavagala.
Sita Taken from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika (also known as Ashoka / Asoka Vanam)

Ravana moved Sita from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika the salubrious garden in the mountains. The route too was said to be spectacularly beautiful, as Ravana wanted to show Sita the beauty of his kingdom. The barren land atop the mountain range is believed to be the route in which King Ravana took Sita devi from his capital city Lankapura to Ashoka Vatika, which was a paradise on earth. The Chariot Path atop the mountain range is still visible. Till date no vegetation grows on this passage except grass. King Ravana is believed to have taken this passage on top of these hills to show Sita devi the beauty of his kingdom.

Ashok Vatika
is the garden where Ravana held Sita captive. This is in the area of Sita Eliya, close to the city of Nuwara Eliya. The stream that runs from the hill catered to the needs of Sita devi during her stay at Ashok Vatika. She is said to have bathed in this stream. The Hakgala Gardens located at the base of the Hakgala Rock forms part of the famed Ashok Vatika. The Sita Pokuna is a barren area atop the Hakgala Rock Jungle where Sita was kept captive. The Sita Amman Temple is located at this spot. It is interesting to note that foot prints akin to Hanuman’s are found by this river and some are of small size and some are of large size, which tells us of the immense powers of Hanuman transforming himself into any size.

About a century ago three images were discovered in the stream, one of which was that of Sita. It is believed that the deities have been worshipped at this spot for centuries. Now there is temple for Lord Rama, Sitadevi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman by the side of this stream.

The summit of the mountain next to the mountain range overlooking Frotoft Estate in Pussallawa is the place where Hanuman first set his foot on mainland Lanka. This mountain known as Pawala Malai is visible from this mountain range. These hills stand tall in-between King Ravana’s capital city and Ashoka Vatika.

The Sita tear pond is found en route by the chariot route, and is believed to have been formed by the tears of Sita devi. It has not dried up since, even during severe droughts when the adjoining rivers dry up. Visitors could also see the famed Sita Flowers which are endemic to this area. In this area there are many large trees whose bright red blooms add color to the scenery. These flowers are called Sita flowers. The peculiarity of these flowers is the configuration of the petal’s, stamen and pistils, which resemble a human figure carrying a bow, and is said to represent Lord Rama. These flowers are unique only to this area in the whole of Sri Lanka.
Search for Sita

Sugriva, ruler of the Vanara or special monkey kingdom, ordered his monkey armies to search for Sita in all four corners of the earth. Hanuman, Angada, Jambavan and other heroes traveled southwards. Hanuman was the only one strong enough to cross the ocean to reach Lanka. Whilst crossing the ocean, Hanuman was tested by Surasa Devi, the Naga maiden en-route to Lanka. This place is now called Nagadipa.
Hanuman meets Sita at Ashok Vatika and is Captured by Ravana

Hanuman after meeting Sita at Ashok Vatika, decided to test the strength of King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. He invited battle by uprooting trees and destroying the garden. Upon being captured by the Rakshasa guards, Hanuman was brought in the presence of Ravana. As a punishment, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire. Hanuman in turn set fire to the houses in the city. Ussangoda is one such torched area.

On the way back to India Hanuman rested at Mani Kattuthar. The hilltop where Hanuman is believed to have rested after meeting Sita devi is known as Mani Kattuthar. This is a rock in the Labookelle estate. Hanuman met Sita devi and on his way to announce this happy information to Lord Rama, rested on this hilltop. Today an open temple with statues of Lord Rama, Sita devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman stands on top of it. Locals visit the temple often.

Near by is the village of Kondagala, known as Kondakalai in Tamil, where Sita is said to have deranged her hair whilst passing the place. Kondakalai (Kondagala), like many other cities and villages in Sri Lanka, also derives its name from the Ramayana. When King Ravana took Sita devi in a chariot to Ashoka Vatika, her hairs got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. “Konda kalai” in Tamil means “deranging of hair.” Till date the villagers live with the legacy of this event.

The village also contains Sita Gooli which are rice balls offered by Ravana to Sita; which she refused and threw away. When King Ravana carried Sita devi on his chariot to Ashoka Vatika, he provided her with vitaminized rice balls for refreshment. But Sita devi who did not want to consume anything provided by King Ravana, scattered the rice balls all over the place during her journey, and they are found till date along the chariot track. The local people call these rice balls Sita Gooli and they prescribe them for their children as a cure for stomach disorders and headaches. The farmers too keep them in their cash boxes or grain pots for prosperity. It is claimed that carbon dated testing has been done in Tokyo and Delhi on these rice balls and ascertained them to be more than five thousand years old.
Sita is Hidden after the visit of Hanuman
Upon hearing Hanuman’s threat and seeing his capabilities, King Ravana decided to hide Sita at various secret locations as a precautionary measure. Ravanagoda, which means Ravana’s place in the Kotmale area, is one such complex of tunnels and caves.

Istripura is another ingenious network of paths which are interconnected with all major areas of king Ravana’s city. Istripura means “Area of Women” in Sinhala. This refers to the retinue of ladies Ravana made available to look after Sita.

Konda Kattu Gala
refers to the many intruding tunnels and caves in this area. This seems to be a part of a great ingenious network of paths, which is interconnected to all the major areas of King Ravana’s city. Sita devi took bath in this very stream and had dried her hair sitting on a rock and put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattu Gala. This is situated in the Welimada Area.

Tunnel Network

This tunnel network proves beyond doubt the architectural brilliance of King Ravana. These tunnels served as a quick means of transport through the hills and also as a secret passage and networked all the important cities, airports and dairy farms. A close look at these tunnels indicates that they are man-made and not natural formations. The Buddhist shrine at Kalutara was once where King Ravana’s palace and a tunnel existed. Additional existing tunnel mouths are situated at Welimada, Ravana cave at Bandarawela, Senapitiya at Halagala, Ramboda, Labookelle, Wariyapola/Matale, and Sitakotuwa/Hasalaka, along with many more tunnels. Some have also said that Ravana had a tunnel that went all the way to South America, in which he had stored much of his gold and treasury.
Preparing for Battle

Gayathri Peedum
is believed to be the place from where King Ravana’s son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and pujas, and in turn was granted super natural powers by Lord Shiva prior to the battle. Neelawari is located in the North of the country in the Jaffna peninsula and is where Lord Rama shot an arrow to the ground to obtain water for his army upon arriving at Lanka.

Dondra, Seenigama & Hikkaduwa are places in the South of Lanka where Sugriva (king of Vanaras, the special species of monkeys) prepared for his onslaught on King Ravana’s forces from the Southern flank.
War Breaks Out

During the height of the battle Indrajit, elder son of Ravana beheaded a lookalike of Sita Devi in front of Hanuman to break his spirit. This place is known as Sitawaka in the Avissawella area.

Yudhaganawa, meaning battlefield in Sinhala, is a place in Wasgamuwa where the major battles took place.

Upon being hit by Indrajit’s Brahmastra, both Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army lay unconscious on the battle field. To cure them, Jambavan the veteran monkey instructed Hanuman to go to Sanjeevani Parvatha, the hill of herbs between Rishhaba and Kilasa peaks in the Himalayas and bring the necessary medicinal herbs. As he could not identify which herbs to select, Hanuman uprooted the entire peak with all the herbs growing there from the mountain and returned to Lanka.

Parts of the hill fell on five places in Sri Lanka; namely Rumassala in Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala close to Habarana on the Habarana Anuradhapura road, Talladi in Mannar, and Katchchathivu in the north.

Lord Karthikaya Subramaniyam was requested to go to battle by Lord Indra to protect Lord Rama from king Ravana’s Brahmastra. This was at Kataragama, which is now a very popular place for worship among Sri Lankans.
The Fall of Ravana

Dunuvila lake is a place from which Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra arrow at king Ravana who was directing the war from Laggala. It is here that King Ravana was killed by Lord Rama’s brahmastharam. The top of Laggala is flat and is believed to have been affected by the power of the brahmastharam. “Dhunu” means “arrow” and “Vila” means “Lake,” so it gets its name from this pastime.

The name Laggala is derived from the Sinhala term “Elakke Gala”, which means Target Rock. Laggala served as a sentry point to observe Lord Rama’s army. The cartels behind the Dunuvila lake are called Laggala. It was from this rock the first glimpse of Lord Rama’s army was sighted and informed to King Ravana. This hill is geographically the highest part of the northern region of King Ravana’s city and on a clear day the north east side that is Thiru Koneshwaran and north west side that is Talai Mannar can be seen even today. King Ravana is believed to have done meditation on this rock and prayed to Lord Shiva at Thiru Koneshwaran from this point.

After Ravana’s death, his body was kept at Yahangala, meaning “Bed Rock” in Sinhala. This is situated along the Mahiyanganaya – Wasgamuwa road. King Ravana’s body was kept upon this rock so his countrymen could pay their last respects to their dear departed king. Geographically this rock is visible from miles away on its 3 sides.
After the War

Sita met Rama after the war, and Divurumpola is the place she under went the “Agni” test of fire where she proved her innocence and purity to Rama. Divurumpola means the “Place of Oath” in Sinhala. She came out unscathed and proved her innocence and purity.

The message of Rama’s victory over Ravana was sent to Sita. After a bath and adorned with jewels she was taken on a palanquin before Rama. Meeting her husband after such a long time she was overcome with emotion, but Rama seemed lost in thought. At length he spoke, “I have killed my enemy. I have done my duty as a true king. But you have lived for a year in the enemy’s abode. It is not proper I take you back now.”

Sita was shocked. “You have broken my heart” she said, “only the uncultured speak like this. Have you forgotten the noble family I come from? Is it my fault Ravana carried me off by force? All the time, my mind, my heart, and soul were fixed on you alone, my lord!”

She turned to Lakshmana and said with tears streaming from her eyes, “prepare for me a fire. That is the only remedy for this sorrow of mine.” Lakshmana, in suppressed anger, looked at Rama’s face, but there was no softening, he lighted a big fire. Sita reverently went round her husband and approached the blazing fire. Joining her palms in salutation, she said, “if I am pure, O fire, protect me.” With these words she jumped into the flames. Then arose from out of the flames, Agni the fire-god, whom she had invoked. He lifted Sita from the flames unharmed, and presented her to Rama. “Don’t I know that she is spotless and pure at heart?” cried Rama, standing up to receive her. “It’s for the sake of the world that I made her go through this ordeal of fire, so that the truth may be known to all.”

The spot was initially fenced and walled to protect it from the surrounding wilderness. Then a sapling of the Anuradhapura bodhi tree (one of the 30 original saplings) was planted as a mark of respect for the place. A small pagoda was built subsequently under the Bodhi tree. The temple depicts paintings of the Ramayana epic.

Today the temple is revered for the oath taken by Sita devi and even the legal system permits and accepts the swearing done at this temple while settling disputes between parties.

Vantharamulai is a place that Lord Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman rested after the turmoil of the war. Amaranthakali is believed to be the place where they had the first meal after the war.

When returning to India in one of King Ravana’s vimanas, Rama felt he was followed by a Brahmahasti Dhosham, a malevolent black shadow or dark cloud capable of taking His life, as He had killed Ravana, a Brahmin. When the vimana was passing over Munneswaram, He felt the vimana vibrating, and at Muneswaram realized the “Brahmaasthi Dosham” was not following him at this particular point. So Rama felt safe from the “Brahmahasti Dhosham” at Munneswaram. So Lord Rama stopped the vimana at this juncture and asked Lord Shiva for a remedy. This is the place where Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva and where Shiva blessed Lord Rama and advised installing and praying to four lingams to get rid of the Dhosham. The first Lingam was installed at Manavari about 5 Km from here, near the banks of Deduru Oya. This was followed by the lingams at Thiru Koheneshwaram, Thiru Ketheshwaram, and Rameshwaram in India.

It is believed that Munneswaram predates the Ramayana and a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was located here. Munneswaram means the first temple for Shiva (Munnu + Easwaran). A Shiva Lingam was already here when lord Rama visited the place.

After King Ravana’s death, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana was coroneted as a king of Lanka by Lakshmana at Kelaniya. Kelaniya is the closest site to Colombo connected to the Ramayana.

There exists a Buddhist temple, the Kelaniya Buddhist Temple and shrine for King Vibishana. There are murals enshrined outside the Buddhist temple depicting the crowning of Vibishana. Vibishana is considered one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka, and temples for Vibishana are found throughout Sri Lanka. A painting of King Vibishana also adorns the new Parliament of Sri Lanka. In fact, there are no temples dedicated for Ravana, but many exist for Vibishana; this goes to prove that his stand towards Vedic Dharma & justice made people to revere him as a god in Sri Lanka.

The Kelani River is mentioned in the Valmiki Ramayana and Vibishana’s palace was said to be on the banks of this river. The reason Lakshmana crowned Vibishana was because Lord Rama had to return to India to continue his self-exile of 14 years to honor the commitment to His father, King Dasarath of Ayodhya. King Vibishana was considered a fair king, as he supported Rama against his own brother’s injustice. Many devotees that visit King Vibishana’s shrine pray to him asking his intervention to a fair recourse to their problems.

Other Places of Interests Connected to the Ramayana in Sri Lanka

1. Kanniya
– The place where King Ravana carried out the last rites for his mother.

2. Gavagala or Ghoushala
– King Ravana’s dairy farm.

3. Airports of King Ravana:

Thotupolakanda (means “Mountain Port” in Sinhala) at Horton plains

Weragantota (means “Place of Aircraft” landing in Sinhala) in Mahiyangana

Ussangoda (means “Area of Lift” in Sinhala) in the Southern coast

Wariapola (means “Aircraft Port” in Sinhala) in Matale and Kurunagala.

4. Neelawari
— A place where Lord Rama aimed an arrow to obtain water.

5. Panchamukha Anjanaya Temple, Kalubowila
– This is the first Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka and also the only Panchamukha (five faced) Anjaneyar Temple in Sri Lanka. It is the only temple in the world to have a chariot for Ajanyar. The chariot festival is held annually at end of December to the beginning of January. Hanuman’s mother is Anjan. Hanuman is known as Anjan + Aiyar = Anjaneyar in South India (Hamuman in North India).

6. Rama Temple at Rattota
— One of the few Rama’s temple in Sri Lanka.

7. Maha Ravanagoda / Kuda Ravanagoda
— Ravana’s places in the south.

8. Veedurupola
– Buddhist temple dedicated to research on Ramayana.

9. Sri Baktha Hanuman Temple —
on the hills of Ramboda is a place where Hanuman was searching for Sita Devi. The name is also associated with Rama’s army. Rampadai means Rama’s force in Tamil. The Chinmaya mission of Sri Lanka built a temple with Hanuman as the presiding deity. On every full moon day special pujas are conducted and witnessed by thousands of devotees.

10. Manavari Temple is the first lingam installed and prayed to Lord Rama and till date this lingam is called as Ramalinga Shivan. Rameshwaram is the only other lingam in the world named after Lord Rama.

11. Rama Temple – Rattota. There are a few Rama temples in Sri Lanka, this is one of them. This is the only Rama temple in this area. This is a privately managed temple. This is one of the most scenic routes to travel from Matale to visit Laggala (on the northern side of Knuckles).

12. Kataragama Temple – This is the temple of Lord Karthikeya Subramaniam at Kataragama. Lord Karthikeya was requested to go to the battlefield by Lord Indra on the last day of war. This was done to protect Lord Rama from the wrath of the Brahmastra aimed by King Ravana which otherwise would have weakened Lord Rama. The benefit was that the most powerful brahmasthra weapon aimed at Lord Rama for the second time was rendered useless by the presence of Lord Karthikeya.

13. Ussangoda – According to the Ramayana, after meeting Sita devi, Hanuman dedicated to test the strength of the mighty King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. In the events that unfolded, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire by the Rakshasas, who in turn went on to torch some parts of King Ravana’s empire. Ussangoda is one of the torched areas, which is said to have been an airport used by King Ravana.

14. Vishnu Devala, Dondra – These are the places from where King Sugriva of the Vanara’s started his onslaught on King Ravana’s force.

15. Ravana Goda – This is a place where Sita devi stayed during her transit. This area is also linked with tunnels and caves, which runs through to other parts of King Ravana’s kingdom. This is situated in the Kotmala area opposite to Ramboda rock. The main cave entrance was closed by an earth-slip in 1947. Locals believe this part of the complex was used as a prison by Ravana. The cave complex has not been fully explored.

16. Ravana’s mummy – An additional site connected to local belief, but yet to be discovered is the place where locals believe Ravana’s mummified body is hidden within the mountain range of Harasbatha, Ragala and Walapane.

References include:

http://www.sltda.gov.lk/ramayana and

http://www.tourslanka.com/ramayana-sri-lanka/tours/ramayana-site-tours-excursions.php

Also found at: www.stephen-knapp.com

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26410

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Sri Hanuman, a great devotee in the form of a monkey, prays, “Since Lord Sri Ramacandra is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vasudeva, He is not attached to anything in this material world. He is the most beloved Supersoul of all self-realized souls, and He is their very intimate friend. He is full of all opulences. . . .

“One cannot establish a friendship with the Supreme Lord Ramacandra on the basis of material qualities such as one’s birth in an aristocratic family, one’s personal beauty, one’s eloquence, one’s sharp intelligence or one’s superior race or nation. None of these qualifications is actually a prerequisite for friendship with Lord Sri Ramacandra. Otherwise how is it possible that although we uncivilized inhabitants of the forest have not taken noble births, although we have no physical beauty and although we cannot speak like gentlemen, Lord Ramacandra has nevertheless accepted us as friends?

“Therefore, whether one is a demigod or a demon, a man or a creature other than man, such as a beast or bird, everyone should worship Lord Ramacandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who appears on this earth just like a human being. There is no need of great austerities or penances to worship the Lord, for He accepts even a small service offered by His devotee. Thus He is satisfied, and as soon as He is satisfied, the devotee is successful. Indeed, Lord Sri Ramacandra brought all the devotees of Ayodhya back home, back to Godhead [Vaikuntha].” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.19.6–8)

In his purport, Srila Prabhupada explains, “Lord Sri Ramacandra is so kind and merciful to His devotees that He is very easily satisfied by a little service rendered by anyone, human or not. This is the special advantage of worshiping Lord Ramacandra, and there is the same advantage in worshiping Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Krsna and Lord Ramacandra, in the manner of ksatriyas, sometimes showed Their mercy by killing asuras, but Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu awarded love of God without difficulty even to the asuras. All the incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead—but especially Lord Ramacandra, Lord Krsna and, later, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—delivered many of the living entities present before Them, indeed almost all of them.”

And what of those who were not present before Them, not present before Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu? The answer is revealed in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 2.13–14):

“To deliver people in regions throughout the universe who could not meet Him, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu personally entered the bodies of pure devotees. Thus He empowered living beings [His pure devotees] by manifesting in them so much of His own devotion that people in all other countries became devotees by seeing them.”

Srila Prabhupada elaborates in his purport, “As stated in the Caitanya-caritamrta (Antya 7.11):

kali-kalera dharma—krsna-nama-sankirtana

krsna-sakti vina nahe tara pravartana

Unless one is empowered by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, one cannot spread the holy names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra throughout the world. Persons who do so are empowered. Therefore they are sometimes called avesa-avataras, or empowered incarnations, for they are endowed with the power of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.”

It is only by the causeless mercy of Lord Ramacandra, Lord Krsna, and especially Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu—and His empowered representative Srila Prabhupada—that creatures like us could be delivered and engaged in devotional service (bhakti-yoga), in relishing and distributing their divine, sublime mercy.

Hare Krsna, Hare Rama.

Yours in service,

Giriraj Swami

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=26433

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Rama-navami Observance & Fasting

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                      Maṅgalācaraṇam                     

 

namo brahmaṇya-devāya rāmāyākuṇṭha-medhase
uttamaśloka-dhuryāya nyasta-daṇḍārpitāṅghraye

O Lord, You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who have accepted the brāhmaṇas as Your worshipable deity. Your knowledge and memory are never disturbed by anxiety. You are the chief of all famous persons within this world, and Your lotus feet are worshiped by sages who are beyond the jurisdiction of punishment. O Lord Rāmacandra, let us offer our respectful obeisances unto You. (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 9.11.7)

 

tā-lāvaṇya-pīyūṣa- pāna-pātrāyitekṣaṇaḥ śiveṣvāsa-bhañjano
'sau pātu vo raghunandanaḥ

His eyes turned into lotus leaf shaped vessels due to drinking the nectar of the beauty of the youth of Sītā. May Raghunandana, the breaker of Śiva's bow protect you all. 

             Summary           

 

In this paper, we present research on the length and type of fasting for Rāma-navamī from sādhu, śāstra and guru. We also examine related items such as the concept of completing one’s fasting vow, specific calendar considerations, a comparison with other viṣṇu-tattva appearance days and Ekādaśī, and practices in some ISKCON centers. We then make recommendations at the end of the paper of general principles which we apply to ISKCON leaders, ISKCON members, and suggestions for the calendar listing.

A summary of the main findings upon which we base our recommendations is as follows:

In śāstra there are many types of fasting, such as from all food and water, only food, or from certain types of food. The Sanskrit term for the successful completion of the one’s vow is vrata-pāraṇa, at which time one resumes eating or drinking what one had abstained from. The śāstric reference for how to observe and complete fasting for Rāma-navamī is the 14th Vilāsa (Chapter) of the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa where, as on all viṣṇu-tattva appearance days, fasting is prescribed from sunrise on the appearance day to sunrise on the following day. In another section (atha pūjā-vyatirikta-bhojana-doṣāḥ), there are general instructions that one should daily worship the Lord before eating or drinking. On an appearance day, the main worship of the Lord will only occur at or after the time of His appearance, and The Nirṇaya-sindhuḥ (Pariccheda 2, Caitra-navamī section, page 64) of Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa quotes from the Agastya-saṁhitā that the appearance of Lord Rāma was at noon. Additionally, in verse 12.100 of the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, there are a list of items which do not break a fast, including anything one’s guru’s orders and offerings that a brāhmaṇa desires us to eat.

Śāstra: Regarding time to end one’s fasting vow:

  • fast from sunrise on Rāma-navamī to sunrise the next day
  • minimum time to complete one’s fast (in general) is until after the Lord is worshipped that day (logically one cannot worship the Lord until he appears, and Rāma appears at noon, so at least fast until noon)
  • any food offered by one's guru or a brāhmaṇa does not break a fast

Śāstra: Regarding the type of food one eats at the end of fasting:

  • No mention whatsoever; whatever food or drink one has abstained from

When researching regarding sādhus other than in ISKCON, from interviews with Śrīla Bhakti Prapanna Tīrtha Mahārāja and Gopīnātha Bābājī Mahārāja we learn that among various Maṭhas, there are a variety of standards. Most end their fast at the time of the appearance of the Lord (in this case, noon) and some places serve a full grain feast, and some places serve anukalpa (Ekadasi type). The Śrī Vaiṣṇavas’ tradition is of a fast on, for example, Janmāṣṭamī, from sunrise to sunrise, but in practice members do not generally fast. Madhva sannyāsīs eat once a day in general. On Ekādaśīs and other religious fast days they fast completely. Other Madhvas fast optionally.

Sadhus: Regarding time to end one’s fasting vow:

  • Various Gauḍīya Maṭhas fast until noon or evening. Śrī Vaiṣṇavas and followers of Madha fast only as individual vratās.

Sadhus: Regarding the type of food one eats at the end of fasting:

  • Some Gauḍīya Maṭhas serve a full, regular grain feast; some serve anukalpa (Ekadasi style)

Guru/ Śrīla Prabhupāda:

There is ample evidence that in letters, and in lectures and conversations that did not take place on the day of Rāma-navamī, Śrīla Prabhupāda instructed completing one’s fast in the evening. However, when he was present with devotees on Rāma-navamī day he  consistently directed completing the fast at mid-day and with a full-grain, opulent feast. His directions given on Rāma-navamī day itself often explicitly took into consideration the local needs of devotees and bringing in the outside community.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Regarding time to end one’s fasting vow:

  • Śrīla Prabhupāda instructed to fast until evening or moonrise in letters, and in lectures and conversations that did not take place on the day of Rāma-navamī itself
  • Śrīla Prabhupāda’s verbal instruction on the day of Rāma-navamī itself and his instruction and practice on locations when Rāma-navamī was occurring was to fast until noon
  • Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared to be emphasizing local needs in terms of both the devotees and guests in his decision of the time to break the fast

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Regarding the type of food one eats at the end of fasting:

  • Śrīla Prabhupāda directly instructed opulent and full grain feasts when Rāma- navamī was celebrated in his physical presence
  • Śrīla Prabhupāda appeared to be emphasizing local needs in terms of both the devotees and guests in his decision of the type of prasadam served.

Recommendations based on the above research are in the conclusion of this paper.

               Methodology          

 

The GBC asked the Śāstric Advisory Council (SAC) to research and give recommendations on the length and type of fast that should be followed on Rāma-navamī.

SAC members who contributed to this paper are: Ādi-puruṣa Dāsa, Brijbasi Dāsa, Chaitanya- charan Dāsa, Drutakarmā Dāsa, Gaurāṅga Dāsa, Hari Pārṣada Dāsa, Nārāyaṇī devī dāsī, Sarvajña Dāsa, and Urmilā devī dāsī (chair). We discussed the paper by conference call on 31 May 2017. Each participating member researched various areas. Each member contributed to the Wiki mostly during December 2017 (because from May-November we were working on a complex hermeneutics paper), and could edit and modify others' work. Each member could see a history of changes and each has approved how he or she is credited here. Among the SAC members, we especially note that Hari Pārṣada Dāsa contributed to the maṅgalācaraṇa verses at the beginning and the end as well as the section on fast breaking vs. fast completion. He also translated the verses pertaining to Rāma-navamī from Hari-bhakti-vilāsa along with the commentary of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī as well as the verses from other purāṇas and smṛtis.

For this paper, SAC relied heavily on consultants who were not part of their conference call or their email group discussions. SAC members solicited their advice, shared both their references and outlook with the rest of SAC on the group email for discussion, and then used their contributions in this paper. In some cases, their contributions were used verbatim, in some cases they were used with slight editing for clarity, and in some cases their concepts were used to inform SAC decisions. The contributions of these consultants are as follows: Bhānu Swami (member of the GBC Vaiṣṇava Calendar Committee) contributed to the section on types of fasting, calendar considerations, and the section on the ambiguity and flexibility in fasting on the appearance and disappearance days of the ācāryas. Rukmiṇī Devī dāsi (daughter of Rasarāja Dāsa and Devamayī dāsi) conducted the first interview with Śrīla Bhakti Prapanna Tīrtha Mahārāj, by phone. Her father, Rasarāja Dāsa, interviewed Gopīnāth Bābājī Mahārāj of Gopinath Gauḍīya Math in person. Gopāla- priyā Dāsa (of Slovakia, who programmed GCal) contributed sections from Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, as did Gaura Keśava Dāsa (originally from Australia, disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda who is expert in Deity worship, yajñas, saṁskāras, etc.). Gaura Keśava Dāsa also supplied information about the fasting practices of those in the Śrī and Madhva sampradāyas, the summary of general fasting rules from Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, and contrasting śāstric statements with modern practice. Both Gaura Keśava Dāsa and Bhaktarūpa Dās (member of the GBC Vaiṣṇava Calendar Committee) contributed to the section on the rationale of the times to complete the fast. Bhaktarūpa Dās and Bhānu Swami contributed to the section of types of fasting. Bhaktarūpa Dās also contributed to the section on calendar considerations. Praṇava Dāsa (who wrote Modern Hindu Personalism: The History, Life, and Thought of Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī) contributed the quote from Bhaktisiddhānta about Ekādaśī fasting.

The SAC chair set up most of the headings according to the SAC phone conversation, subsequent emails, and the contributions of the consultants. Other SAC members also added headings and diacritics to the document. The chair also did the final editing for grammar and clarity.

       Types of Fasting and Degrees of Austerity     

In ISKCON, there is some ambiguity in the term “fasting.” This ambiguity is reflected in the GCal computer program, and it is often perpetrated in many printed calendars produced by ISKCON centers. Sometimes "fasting" means fasting from grains all day (anukalpa), as on Ekādaśī. Sometimes it means not eating anything, even non-grain prasāda, until a certain time, as in the phrases "fasting till noon on Ekādaśī" (which is mentioned for the Ekādaśīs that occur before Vāmana and Varāha Dvādaśis) or "fasting till moonrise" (which is mentioned for Gaura-pūrṇīmā). And sometimes the term's meaning is unclear, as in "fasting till noon" on the appearance day of an ācārya. Can one take non-grains before noon on those days? After one "fasts till noon", what does the "break-fast" consist of? On the Ekādaśī before Vāmana-dvādaśī, it must be non-grains, but on the appearance day of an ācārya, it is grains. On Gaura-pūrṇīmā, many centers "break fast" with non-grains, others serve grains.

Breaking the fast would mean taking items which were avoided during the fast. Grains were avoided during the fast so therefore take grains. However, in exceptional cases if one did nirjala, then one could break just by taking water.

           Fast Breaking versus Fast Completion        

Devotees often translate the term “vrata-pāraṇa” as “fast breaking.” While it is understood that the convention is to use the phrase “break the fast” and Śrīla Prabhupāda too used the same phrase on many occasions, it is also a fact that this phrase does not do justice to the original Sanskrit term — vrata-pāraṇam.

The term vrata however does not exactly mean “fasting.” Vrata means “vow.” Fasting (upoṣaṇam) may be one of the activities of a vow. For example, the day of an Ekādaśī-  vrata is ideally supposed to be free from all other encumbrances; a day dedicated to giving that well deserved loving one-pointed attention to the love of our life — Kṛṣṇa.

The term pāraṇam means “successful completion.” (Hindi = पार लगाना/pāra lagānā)

Thus, the term vrata-pāraṇam literally means “successful completion of vows.” We are not supposed to break our vows. We're meant to complete them. Therefore, putting the emphasis on when to eat may miss the point. Before undertaking a vow, a person makes

a saṅkalpa, or resolution, of what the vow will be, and then completes that vow. In the section on Rāma-navamī observance we quote in this paper from Hari-bhakti-vilāsa one can find such recommended resolutions. Here is another example from Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (13.25) in relation to Ekādaśī:

 

atha tatra saṅkalpamantraḥ (Mantra for making a formal vow)
ekādaśyāṁ nirāhāraḥ 
sthitvā’ham apare’hani
bhokṣyāmi puṇḍarīkākṣa śaraṇaṁ me bhavācyuta

Translation: O lotus-eyed Lord! O Acyuta! I will observe fasting on Ekādaśī and eat [grains] on Dvādaśī. Please be merciful to me so that I may not break my vow.

The English term 'breakfast' originally came from Middle English brekefast, brekefaste, equivalent to break +fast) literally “to end the nightly fast.” This term was used because the body would be fasting from all food at night during sleep and the morning meal would break that fast. The word has also been used historically in English to indicate the meal taken at the end of a religious observance of fasting, and we can use it in that sense today, with the understanding that our meal completes our vow rather than “breaking” it.

                     Hari-bhakti-vilāsa                  

Instructions for Rāma-navamī

Summary: Full day (sunrise to sunrise) complete fast, with prior statements of what vow an individual will take—the saṁkalpa.

The 14th Vilāsa (Chapter) of the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa has an entire section describing the Rāma-navamī fast. It is as follows:

 

[Verse 241]
agastya-saṁhitāyāṁ — caitre māsi navamyāṁ tu
śuklāyāṁ hi raghūdvahaḥ prādurāsīt purā brahman

paraṁ brahmaiva kevalam tasmin dine tu
kartavyam upavāsa-vratādikam

Translation: The Agastya-saṁhitā says, "O brāhmaṇa! Long ago, on the ninth day of the bright fortnight of the Caitra month, the non-dual Supreme Brahman, the best among Raghus [named Rāma] appeared in this world. On that day, one must carry out fasting, vows etc."

Commentary by Śrīla Sanatana Gosvāmī: brahman he sutīkṣṇa!

Translation of Commentary: The term brahman (O brāhmaṇa!) in the verse refers to an individual named Sutīkṣṇa.

[Verse 242]
 (Now the eternality of this vow is being described)

atha tad-vratā-nityatvam
tatraiva — mumukṣavo 'pi hi sadā
śrī-rāma-navamī-vratam na tyajanti
ura-śreṣṭho devendro 'pi viśeṣataḥ

Translation: The same literature [Agastya-saṁhitā] says, "Even those who desire liberation from material existence never fail be observe this vow of Rāma-navamī. Indeed, it is faithfully observed even by Indra — the greatest among demigods."

 

[Verse 243]
kiñca -
prāpte śrī-rāma-navamī-
dine martyo vimūḍha-dhīḥ upoṣaṇaṁ
na kurute kumbhīpākeṣu pacyate

Translation: Moreover, a foolish mortal who does not observe fasting on the arrival of the Rāma-navamī day gets cooked in the fires of the various Kumbhīpāka hells.

[Verse 244]
yas tu rāma-navamyāṁ hi bhuṅkte 
mohād vimūḍha-dhīḥ kumbhīpākeṣu 
ghoreṣu pacyate nātra saṁśayaḥ

Translation: A foolish person who out of illusion eats on Rāma-navamī gets cooked in the various formidable hells known as Kumbhīpāka. Of this there is no doubt.

[Verse 245]

 (Now the glories of the Rāma-navamī-vrata are being described)
atha tad-vratā-māhātmyam  
tatraiva -śrī-rāma-navamī proktā
koṭi-sūrya-grahādhikā tasmin dine 
mahā-puṇye rāmam uddiśya bhaktitaḥ 
yat kiñcit kurute karma tad 
bhava-kṣaya-kāraṇam

Translation: The same literature [Agastya-saṁhitā] says, "The vow of Rāma-navamī is declared [in scriptures] to be more important than observing vows related to millions of solar eclipses. Any service whatsoever that is rendered with devotion for the pleasure of Lord Rāmacandra on this greatly auspicious day becomes the cause of liberation from material existence."

[Verse 246]
kiñca -

kuryād rāma-navamyāṁ ya upoṣaṇam atandritaḥ
na mātur garbham āpnoti sa vai rāma-priyo bhavet

Translation: Moreover, one who observes fasting on Rāma-navamī without remaining idle never again enters the womb of a mother. Such a person becomes dear to Lord Rāmacandra.

Commentary by Śrīla Sanatana Gosvāmī: rāma-priyo bhaved iti tat-sārūpyaṁ prāptaḥ syād ity arthaḥ

Translation of Commentary: The phrase rāma-priyo bhaved (becomes dear to Lord Rāmacandra) means that such a person attains sārūpya i.e. an eternal form similar to the form of Lord Rāma.

[Verse 247]
tasmāt sarvātmanā sarve

kṛtvaitan-navamī-vratam mucyate
sarva-pāpebhyo yānti brahma sanātanaṁ

Translation: Therefore all living entities who have heartily performed this Rāma-navamī vow become free from all sins and attain the eternal spiritual realm.

[Verse 248]
kiñca —
ekam api naro bhaktyā
śrī-rāma-navamī-vratam upoṣya
kṛta-kṛtyaḥ san sarva-pāpaiḥ pramucyate

Translation: Simply by devotedly observing fasting on Rāma-navamī even once, a person becomes completely successful in life and is delivered from all sins.

[Verse 249]
caitre māsi navamyāṁ tu jāto  
rāmaḥ svayaṁ hariḥ punar-vasv 
ṛkṣa-saṁyuktā sā tithiḥ sarva-kāmadā

Translation: Śrī Rāmacandra is Lord Hari himself, and He appeared on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the month of Caitra. This day conjoined with the Punarvasu constellation fulfills all of one’s desires.

[Verse 250]
saiva madhyāhna-yogena
ahā-puṇya-tamā bhavet

Translation: Whenever the conjunction [with Punarvasu constellation] occurs at noon, this day becomes even more auspicious.

 

[Verse 251]
meṣaṁ pūṣaṇi saṁprāpte

lagne karkaṭakāhvaye
āvirāsīt sva-kalayā kauśalyāyāṁ paraḥ pumān

Translation: When the sun attained the Meśa-rāśi and the lagna was Karkaṭa, the Supreme Lord, Rāmacandra made His advent from the womb of Kauśalyā accompanied by His plenary portions.

Translation: Whenever the conjunction [with Punarvasu constellation] occurs at noon, this day becomes even more auspicious.

[Verse 252]
navamī cāṣṭamī-viddhā tyājyā viṣṇu-parāyaṇaiḥ

Translation: If the Navamī-tithi is contaminated by the presence of aṣṭamī, then it should be rejected by those devoted to Lord Viṣṇu.

Commentary by Śrīla Sanatana Gosvāmī: nanu vaiṣṇavair viddhā sarvatra eva varjyeti pūrvaṁ niścitaṁ. atrāpi tathaivoktam — 'navamī cāṣṭamī-viddhā tyājyā' iti.

Translation of Commentary: The universal avoidance of fasting on contaminated dates has been spoken of previously in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa. This same principle has been repeated in this verse.

[NOTE: The commentary is referring to situations such as when in a location gaura- pūrṇimā tithi or balarāma-pūrṇimā tithi is contaminated by the presence of caturdaśī at the time of sunrise. In these cases, the event is celebrated on the following day.]

[Verse 253]
upoṣaṇaṁ navamyāṁ vai daśamyām eva pāraṇam
daśamyāṁ pāraṇāyāś ca niścayān navamī-kṣaye

viddhā 'pi navamī grāhyā vaiṣṇavair apy asaṁśayaḥ

Translation: [Doubt: In certain years on the appearance of Lord Rāma, there is Daśamī immediately after Aṣṭamī. In such years, the Aṣṭamī-tithi has contaminated the Navamī-tithi and the Navamī-tithi undergoes what is known as a kṣaya, diminution. In such years the Navamī-tithi is not counted at all and one sees in the calendar that Aṣṭamī is immediately followed by Daśamī. If one were to fast on Daśamī in such a situation, then the next day after that would be Ekādaśī and one will not be able to perform pāraṇa of the Rāma-navamī fast. What to do in such a situation?

Solution: The answer is that in such a situation] one should fast on the aṣṭamī that has contaminated the navamī and complete the fast on the next day i.e. daśamī.

[Seeing such a conclusion, one may feel uncomfortable in fasting on a mixed tithi. To clear the minds of such individuals, Śrīla Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī says] — Since it is firmly decided that fasting [for Rāma-navamī] should certainly be concluded on the daśamī-tithi, the vaiṣṇavas should unhesitatingly fast on aṣṭamī that has encapsulated

the navamī whenever the navamī tithi is not counted due to kṣaya(diminution).

Commentary by Śrīla Sanatana Gosvāmī: tatra ca navamī-kṣaye sati tithi-hrāsa-krameṇa ekādaśyāś ca śuddhatve kiṁ kartavyam? tatrāha — upoṣaṇam iti. tadevābhivyajya likhati — daśamyām iti. niścayād daśamyām eva ity eva-kārataḥ. anyathopavāsa-dvaya-prasaṅgād iti dik.

Translation of Commentary: Whenever Navamī undergoes kṣaya (diminution) and aṣṭamī is followed by daśamī followed by a pure Ekādaśī, then what should one do? In such a situation, the first half of the verse says that one should fast on the aṣṭamī that has encapsulated the navamī].

Through the phrase daśamyāṁ pāraṇāyāś ca, the same principle is being explained in some detail. The term eva (certainly) indicates that one should certainly fast on the aṣṭamī, otherwise [if one fasts on daśamī] one will be faced with the impossibility of needing to observe two consecutive fasting days [daśamī and Ekādaśī].

NOTE: Such a situation is going to arise in 2018 for certain parts of India viz. Mumbai, wherein Rāma-navamī will be observed on 25th March even though it is an aṣṭamī tithi.

[Verse 254]
asya vratasya cāgastya- saṁhitādau sa-vistaram vidhir 
uktaḥ prasiddhañca likhyate 'tra samāsataḥ

Translation: Since the elaborate process for observing this vow is described in great detail in books viz. Agastya-saṁhitā etc., it has only been described briefly here.

[Verse 255]
(Now the procedure to carry out the Rāma-navamī vow)
atha śrī-rāma-navamī-vratā-vidhiḥ 
aṣṭamyāṁ caitra-māsasya śukla-pakṣe
jitendriyaḥ danta-dhāvana-pūrvan
tu prātaḥ snāyād yathā-vidhi

Translation: On the aṣṭamī day [the day before the vow] of the bright fortnight of Caitra month, a sense-controlled person should brush his teeth in the morning and take a bath according to scriptural directions.

Commentary by Śrīla Sanatana Gosvāmī: aṣṭamyām ity ādi spaṣṭārtham eva.

Translation of Commentary: This verse is clear in itself.

[Verses 256 - 257]
āntaṁ kuṭumbinaṁ vipraṁ

veda-śāstra-rataṁ sadā
śrī-rāma-pūjā-nirataṁ

su-śīlaṁ dambha-varjitam
vidhijaṁ rāma-mantrāṇāṁ
rāma-mantraika-sādhakam
āhūya bhaktyā sampūjya
śṛṇuyāt prārthayann iti

Translation: [On the aṣṭamī day i.e. the day before the fast], One should invite a sense-controlled householder brāhmaṇa who is always engaged in the study of Vedas and other scriptures and who regularly performs the worship of Lord Rāmacandra. Such a brāhmaṇa should be of good character, free from pride, should know the various rituals related to Rāma mantras, who chants the holy name of Lord Rāma. Having invited and devotedly worshiped such a brāhmaṇa, the householder should pray to him as follows.

[Verse 258]
śrī-rāma-pratimā-dānaṁ kariṣye 'haṁ
dvijottama tatrācāryo bhava prītaḥ

śrī-rāma-vit tvam eva me

Translation: [One should pray as follows], "O topmost among brāhmaṇas, I give you a deity of Lord Rāmacandra in charity. Kindly be pleased with me and act as my ācārya because you are the only one for me who knows truths pertaining to Lord Rāmacandra.

 

[Verse 259]
ācāryaṁ bhojayet paścāt sāttvikānnaiḥ
suvistaraiḥ bhuñjīta svayam apy
evaṁ hṛdi rāmam anusmaran

Translation: Then one should feed the [brāhmaṇa who has just been appointed as the] ācārya by supplying sumptuous and pleasant grains. Thereafter, one should accept food oneself while continually remembering Lord Rāma in one's heart.

NOTE: One is allowed to eat only once on aṣṭamī. Thus, one becomes known as eka- bhakta or a person who has eaten only once. In some other literature, this is also known as eka-bhukta instead of eka-bhakta.

[Verse 260]

(Submissive prayers offered by a devotee who has eaten only once on aṣṭamī and is going to performthe Rāma-navamī vow)

tatraika-bhakta-nivedana-mantraḥ 
navamyām aṅga-bhūtena eka-bhaktena 
rāghava ikṣvāku-vaṁśa-tilaka 
prīto bhava bhava-priya

Translation: O Rāghava! O descendent of the Ikṣvāku dynasty! O Lord dear to Śiva! Kindly be pleased with the eka-bhakta vow that was observed by me [on aṣṭamī] as limb of my Rāma-navamī vow.

[Verse 261]
tataḥ prātaḥ samutthāya snātvā sandhyāṁ
idhāya ca prātaḥ sarvāṇi karmāṇi śīghram eva samāpayet

Translation: On the day of fasting [i.e. Navamī], having gotten up early in the morning and completed one's bath and gāyatrī, one should complete all of the other morning duties as soon as possible.

[Verse 262]
(The mantra for mentally offering the fast before commencing it)

upavāsa-nivedana-mantraḥ 
upoṣyā navamī tvadya yāmeṣv aṣṭāsu 
rāghava tena prito bhava tvaṁ bhoḥ
saṁsārāt trāhi māṁ hare. iti.

Translation: O scion of the Raghu dynasty, I will observe a fast today, for a period of eight yāmas (i.e. 8 x 3 hours = 24 hours). O lord Hari, kindly be pleased on me as a result of this observance and deliver me from material existence.

 

[Verse 263]
vidhivan nirmite yāga- maṇḍape paramotsavaiḥ
puṇyāhaṁ vācayitvā tu sadbhiḥ saṅkalpam ācaret

Translation: Then in a Yajña-śālā created in accordance with scriptural rules, one should observe festivities, one should recite auspicious invocations and then utter the saṅkalpa- mantra. All of this should be done in the presence of various saintly souls.

[Verse 264]
atha saṅkalpa mantraḥ (saṅkalpa-mantra for taking a vow)
asyāṁ rāma navamyāṁ tu

samārādhana-tatparaḥ
upoṣyāṣṭasu yāmeṣu pūjayitvā yathā
idhi imāṁ svarṇa-mayī rāma-
ratimāṁ su-prayatnataḥ
rī-rāma-prītaye dāsye

rāma-bhaktāya dhīmate prīto
āmo haratv āśu pāpāni
u-bahūni me aneka-janma-saṁsiddhany
bhyastāni mahānti ca

Translation: On this day of Rāma-navamī, I will be situated firmly in worshipping the Supreme Lord. I will fast for eight yāmas (= 24 hours), having worshiped the Lord in accordance with scriptural regulations. For the pleasure of Lord Rāma, I will gift a golden deity of him to an intelligent and devoted Rāma-bhakta. May Lord Rāma be kindly pleased on me and quickly remove multiple sinful activities that I have accrued and repeatedly committed over multiple lifetimes.

NOTE: After this verse, descriptions of the elaborate worship of Lord Rāma are described in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa. Since these are not related directly to the fast completion time, they are not being transliterated and translated here. The pāraṇa, completion of the vow is described in verses 296 - 298 of the same chapter. These verses are as follows:

[Verse 296]
punaḥ puṣpāñjaliṁ dattvā yāme yāme hy
atandritaḥ pūjayed vidhivad bhaktyā
divā-rātraṁ nayed budhaḥ

Translation: After having performed the puṣpāñjali ceremony, one should give up laziness and worship the Lord in each yāma (part of the day) according to scriptural regulations. Thus, the intelligent soul should spend his entire day and night engaged in these acts.

[Verse 297]
tataḥ prātaḥ samutthāya nitya-kṛtyaṁ
samāpya ca vidhivad rāmam abhyarcya
bhaktyācāryaṁ pratoṣya ca brāhmaṇaiḥ
saha bhuñjīta tebhyo dadyāc ca dakṣiṇām

Translation: On the next day [i.e. daśamī], having gotten up, having completed one's daily acts viz. bathing etc., having worshiped Lord Rāma according to scriptural regulations and having satisfied the ācāryathrough devotion, one should accept [offered] food along with brāhmaṇas and should give charity to those brāhmaṇas.

[Verse 298]
(Now the mantra for declaring the completion of the vow)
atha pāraṇa-mantraḥ - 
tava prasāda-svīkārāt kṛtaṁ yat
pāraṇaṁ mayā vratenānena santuṣṭaḥ
vasti bhaktiṁ prayaccha me

Translation: The completion of this vow is being performed by me by accepting your remnants. Being pleased with my performance of this vow, kindly bestow auspiciousness and devotion unto me.

Section in Hari-bhakti-vilāsa called atha pūjā-vyatirikta- bhojana-doṣāḥ, the offense(s) of eating without worshiping

Summary: The Lord should be worshiped each day before taking food

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 9.331]
śrī-kūrma-purāṇe — anarcayitvā govindaṁ

yair bhuktaṁ dharma-varjitaiḥ
śvāna-viṣṭhā-samaṁ cānnaṁ nīraṁ ca surayā samam

Translation: The Kūrma-purāṇa says, "For those impious souls who eat without first worshiping Lord Govinda - all their food is considered as no better than dog’s stool, and whatever they drink is considered to be no better than wine.”

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 9.332] kiñca —
yo mohād athavālasyād akṛtvā devatārcanam
bhuṅkte sa yāti narakaṁ śūkareṣv iha jāyate

Translation: Moreover, due to laziness or illusion, if a person eats without first worshiping the deities, he will go to hell and then be born in this world among the pigs.

 

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 9.333]
viṣṇu-dharmottare— eka-kālaṁ dvikālaṁ vā

tri-kālaṁ pūjayed dharim
apūjya bhojanaṁ kurvan narakāṇi vrajen naraḥ

Translation: The Viṣṇu-dharmottara-purāṇa says, "It is the duty of a person to worship Lord Hari - either once, twice or thrice per day. By having one’s meal without first worshiping the Lord one paves one's way to hell."

 

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 9.337a]
na tv evāpūjya bhuñjīta bhagavantaṁ janārdanam

Translation: it is prohibited to eat without first worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Hari.

[Note: Many other verses in this section speak of offering all one’s food to the Lord first before eating but these are the ones that prohibit eating before worship. The discussion of taking prasādam goes on till the end of the 9th Vilāsa (Verse 411).]

In Hari-bhakti-vilāsa Chapters 12-13 deal with Ekādaśī duties covering Daśamī, Ekādaśī and Dvādaśī, preparing, fasting and breaking the fast. Later Chapters 14-16 deal with different festival (vratas) throughout the year, many of which also include fasting and breaking fast. These later discussions often say that one should take note of the descriptions and rules of Ekādaśī and apply them to the fasting on the occasions of other vratas like appearance days of viṣṇu-tattva avatāras. Below are some other verses about breaking fast after Ekādaśī or Mahādvādaśī (a special type of Ekādaśī fast) as examples:

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.230]
tad uktaṁ kātyāyanena — prātaḥ snātvā
hariṁ pūjya upavāsaṁ samarpayet

pāraṇaṁ tu tataḥ kuryād vratā-siddhau hariṁ smaran

Translation: Kātyāyana says, "After bathing in the early morning and worshiping Lord Hari, one should offer the result of his vow of Ekādaśī to Him. Then, one should perform pāraṇa to complete the vow, after remembering the Lord.”

 

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.236]
nitya-kṛtyaṁ samāpyātha śaktyā
viprāṁś ca bhojayet kurvīta dvādaśī-madhye
tulasīṁ prāśya pāraṇam

Translation: Having completed one's daily duties on the day of dvādaśī, one should feed brāhmaṇas according to one's capacity. Then one should complete his fast by first eating a tulasī leaf that was offered to the Lord.

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.252]
kāla-dvayaṁ trayaṁ vāpi
dvādaśī yadi dṛśyate snānārcanādikaṁ
karma tadā rātrau vidhīyate

Translation: It is recommended that if only two or three kālas of dvādaśī remain when it is time to break one’s fast, one should start performing his duties, such as bathing and worshiping the Lord, from midnight."

[Note: So, a lack of time is no excuse for not performing all one’s duties and worship of the Lord before breaking one's fast.]

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.255]
kātyāyanoktau ca — mantraṁ japitvā
haraye nivedyopoṣaṇaṁ vratī apbhis
tu pāraṇaṁ kuryād saṅkaṭe viṣame sati

Translation: Kātyāyana says, "If there is a severe dilemma, one should chant his mantra and break his fast with water after offering his fast to the lotus feet of Lord Hari."

[Note: In other words, if there is some problem with the time of breaking the fast and one cannot worship the Lord or finish all his duties before having to break the fast, one must take only water and not eat for breaking the fast, and then eat later after finishing his duties and worship of the Lord.]

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.256]
kiñca — 
sandhyādikaṁ bhaven nityaṁ
pāraṇaṁ tu nimittataḥ apbhis tu pārayitvā
tu kuryāt sandhyādikaṁ punaḥ

Translation: Moreover, morning duties, such as worshiping the Lord and chanting mantras are eternal duties, whereas breaking a fast is an occasional duty. Therefore, one should break his fast with water only within the period of dvādaśī and thereafter perform his required duties.

[Note: This proves that one must not eat anything, not even a grain or tulasī leaf, before finishing his spiritual duties which include the worship of the Lord, even if one has to break a fast at a particular time. The proper conduct is to only take water if one needs to break a fast before worshiping the Lord. Generally, one shouldn’t even take water before the Lord’s daily worship is finished. Of course, one naturally takes some water during ācamana at the time of worship.Naturally this is not counted as drinking water as the water is taken as ritual purification, not for quenching thirst. Obviously in India we see people do drink water before worship when they need to due to excessive thirst. However, there are some

very orthodox vaiṣṇavas who follow this rule of not taking even water before finishing their daily pūjā.]

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.384 – 385]
dātavyaṁ gurave sarvaṁ prabhāte
devatādikam kṣamāpayitvā deveśaṁ

guruṁ caiva viśeṣataḥ kṛtvā naimittikaṁ sarvaṁ
bhoktavyaṁ bandhubhiḥ saha

Translation: On the next day of the vow, one should offer everything to his spiritual master and beg forgiveness from the Lord, and especially from his spiritual master. After completing all of one’s duties (which would include the daily pūjā of the Lord), one should sit down and have his meal, along with his friends.

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.466] 
niśānte punar īśāya
dattvā cārghyaṁ vidhānataḥ snānādikāṁ 
kriyāṁ kṛtvā bhuñjīyād brāhmanaiḥ saha

Translation: At the end of the night, one should again offer arghya (water mixed with honey) to the Lord, according to the prescribed rules and regulations. Thereafter, one should complete his daily duties, such as bathing (and daily worship) and then sit down and take his meal, along with other brāhmaṇas.

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 13.562]
prātaś ca devaṁ nīrājya nityaṁ
karma samāpya ca mūrty ādi gurave
dattvā prāgvat pāraṇam ācaret

Translation: "The next morning, one should worship the Lord, complete his morning duties, and then break his fast, after donating the deity (which he had made and specifically installed and worshiped for that particular vrata) to his spiritual master."

Specifically in relation to śālagrāma-śilā-pūjā

[Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 5.448]
pādme -
śālagrāma-śilā-pūjā
vinā yo‘śnāti kiñcana sa caṇḍālādi-
viṣṭhāyām ākalpaṁ jāyate kṛmiḥ

Translation: The Padma-purāṇa says, "One who eats before performing his śālagrāma-śilā-pūjā is condemned to live as a worm in caṇḍāla‘s stool for the rest of this day of Brahmā."

(Note: in ISKCON's manual for Deity worship, the above is explained as follows: "Some devotees worship the śālagrāma-śilā in the late morning, after worshiping their other Deities. In that case one should complete the worship at least by noon. Also, one should not eat before performing the worship. (If necessary, one may drink water before the worship.) The śāstra warns that a person who eats before performing his morning śālagrāma-śilā pūjā is condemned to live as a caṇḍāla for the rest of this day of Brahmā. [Pañcarātra- Pradīpa 2.1: Worship of Śālagrāma-śilā]) From Śrīla Prabhupāda 

"Before breakfast she should worship Lord Viṣṇu and mother Lakṣmī" (Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam 6.19 Summary) 

Eight ways of "eating" which do not break a fast 

The Hari-bhakti-vilāsa (12.100) specifies a general rule for all fasts as follows:
 

aṣṭaitāny avrata-ghnāni āpo mūlaṁ phalaṁ
payaḥ havir brāhmaṇa-kāmyā ca
guror vacanam auṣadham

Translation: These eight do not break a fast —

  1. water
     
  2. roots
  1. fruits
  1. milk
  1. haviḥ (anything offered to the Lord such as grains offered in sacrifice)
  1. brāhmaṇa-kāmya (offerings usually dear to a brāhmaṇa or offerings that a brāhmaṇa desires us to eat)
  1. guror vacanam — (anything ordered by one's guru/ācārya)
  1. auṣadham (medicine)

Example from Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswati Ṭhākura's instructions

In a letter from the collection Patrāmṛta, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta states the following:

On Ekādaśī, the devotees fast completely, not even accepting mahā-prasāda or mahā-mahā- prasāda. One who breaks the fast by taking mahā-prasāda or some other prasāda fails to respect Ekādaśī, or the day of Lord Hari. To not accept even mahā-prasāda on Ekādaśī is called fasting, or observing the day of Lord Hari. But, if a person is unable to follow this vow strictly, then the following of an alternative arrangement is not detrimental to displaying respect for this sacred tithi. (Letter, Śrī Māyāpura Bāmana Pukur, Nadia, 11th Pauṣa 1322 Bengali era, Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. Patrāmṛta: Nectar from the Letters, Touchstone Media.)

Viṣṇu-tattva appearance days and Ekādaśī, in general

In Hari-bhakti-vilāsa chapters 12-16 there are instructions, separately, for various days of viṣṇu-tattva appearance days. However, if we were to go through that section to extract all the details, this paper would increase in size and scope enormously. Therefore, to summarize, on such days fasting is always for one day according to the lunar calendar, in terms of tithi, yāmāś, praharas, and so forth. To be precise, such days start at sunrise and end at sunrise, which may not be exactly 24 hours of a solar day. Śāstra doesn’t use hours. Neither does śāstra stipulate fasting normally by giving an exact time for it. The fasting time is from the beginning of the fast date at sunrise, to the time of pāraṇa, completion of the fast, after the next sunrise. There is no prescription for fasts of less than that duration. So, there is nothing in śāstra about half-day fasts, or quarter-day fasts.

To give some perspective on the above, we look, briefly, at the instructions in śāstra regarding Ekādaśī. Ekādaśī is a little different because one is supposed to eat only once on Daśamī, eat nothing on Ekādaśī and eat only once on Dvādaśī. So specifically, this means that the time from the meal on Daśamī to the Ekādaśī pāraṇa (breaking of fast) on Dvādaśī is a little more than 24 hours. If we eat right before sunrise on Ekādaśī (which would be very unusual) then we would have just over 24 hours fast till the Ekādaśī pāraṇa on Dvādaśī. However probably the last time we eat for fasting on Ekādaśī would be sometime in the evening of Daśamī, or if we are strictly following the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, around noon on Daśamī (which would mean almost 42 hours). If we eat at noon on Daśamī then 24 hours later is noon on Ekādaśī, then 48 hours later is noon on Dvādaśī, so since we do the Ekādaśī pāraṇa just after sunrise on Dvādaśī (which could be 6 am) we have to subtract about 6 hours from noon on Dvādaśī for the approximate time of Ekādaśī pāraṇa. Thus 48 minus 6 is 42 hours fasting. This is just an example of following the Hari-bhakti-

vilāsa strictly which we can compare to the range of current ISKCON practice.

                        Other purāṇas and smṛti compilations                       

The Brahma-vaivarta-purāṇa (Brahma-khaṇḍa, 27.11) speaks against the eating of grains on Janmāṣṭamī, Rāma-navamī and Śiva-rātrī:

janmāṣṭamī-dine rāma- navamī-divase hareḥ 
śiva-rātrau ca yo bhuṅkte 
so 'pi dvi-guṇa-pātakī

Translation: One who eats anything on Hari's appearance days viz. Janmāṣṭamī, Rāma- navamī and on Śiva-rātrī receives double the sinful reaction of eating on other fasting days.

(Source: Brahma-vaivarta-purāṇa, with Hindi Translation by Tarinish Jha, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Prayag, 1981 A.D.)

The Nirṇaya-sindhuḥ (Pariccheda 2, Caitra-navamī section, page 64) of Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa quotes from the Agastya-saṁhitā that the appearance of Lord Rāma was at noon:

caitre navamyāṁ prāk-pakṣe divā puṇye punarvasau

Translation: Lord Rāma appeared on the Navamī of the Caitra month just before afternoon in the constellation named Punarvasu.

(Source: Nirṇaya-sindhuḥ of Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa. Edited by Pandit Ramnarayan Ācārya. Republished from the Nirnaya Sagar Press edition by Krishnadas Akadami, Varanasi. 1985 A.D.)

     Calendar considerations and confusions   

As specified in the section on Hari-bhakti-vilāsa above, there is a special rule (not  happening very often) in calendar calculations for Rāma-navamī observance that if navamī tithi is kṣaya, meaning that it is not present on any sunrise in a particular location, then someone in that location should observe Rāma-navamī on the aṣṭamī. This seems strange at first glance, since for just about all other such occasions if the tithi is kṣaya then one observes on the following day (eg. if Pūrṇīmā-tithi is kṣaya then Gaura-pūrṇīmā should be observed on the pratipāt). The reason for this strangeness is that if we observe Rāma- navamī on the daśamī then we have to fast that day and conclude the fast the next morning, but the next morning will be Ekādaśī. These calendar rules support the practice of a full day fast (sunrise to sunrise).

  Statements from Śrīla Prabhupāda  

Summary: fasting until evening or no specified time

Letters

Letter to Mukunda - San Francisco 26 march, 1968: Our next ceremony is Lord Rāmacandra's Birthday, on the 7th of April. It should be observed in the same way as Lord Caitanya's Appearance Day, namely, fasting up to evening and then accept Prasādam , and all our ceremonies should be performed with continuous rtana, of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Rāma. That will make all our functions successful.

Letter to Mahāpuruṣa - San Francisco 28 march, 1968: So far the Advent Day of Lord Rāma Candra, it should be celebrated as Lord Caitanya's Birthday was done. Fasting up to evening, and then take prasādam , and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa whole day, and be engaged in reading and chanting off and on, chant for some time, then read for some time, then again have Kīrtana and so on, throughout the day. If you have not got a Rāmāyaṇa, then you can read Bhagavad-gita or Srimad-Bhāgavatam, that is all right.

Lectures

Śrī Rāma-Navamī, Lord Rāmacandra's Appearance Day — Hawaii, March 27, 1969: There are so many historical incidences in the life of Rāmacandra, and we should remember, because if we remember why we are observing today fasting for Rāmacandra... There were many kings like Rāmacandra. Because the kings were trained in that way. Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira was also as good as Rāmacandra, and Mahārāja Parikṣit was as good. There were many such kings. But we are not concerned because He was a king. He is the King of all kings, parameśvara. Because He is God, therefore we are observing today.

Pandal lecture -Bombay, April 7, 1971: yeṣām anta-gatam pāpaṁ janānāṁ puṇya- karmaṇam te dvanda-moha-nirmuktā bhajante māṁ dṛḍha-vratāḥ So this process should be adopted, how to become sukṛtina. Sukṛti means yajña-dāna-tapa-kriyā. One must perform sacrifices as prescribed in the śāstras, and they must give in charity their hard- earned money for Kṛṣṇa’s cause. That is called dāna. Yajña, dāna, and tapasya. Tapasyā. Just like tomorrow is Śrī Rāma-navamī. The tapasyā will be that all the devotees will observe fasting from morning till evening. This is called tapasyā. Just like Ekādaśī day—there is no eating sumptuously. Simply you take little fruits and flowers. Try to avoid that also. You don't take even water. That is really Ekādaśī. But because we cannot do it — in Kali-yuga the time is different—therefore we are allowed to take little fruit and milk, which is called anukalpa. These are different methods of tapasyā.

Conversations

Room Conversation -- March 26, 1977:

Tamala Kṛṣṇa: So there will be an initiation on Rāma-navamī.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Rāma-navamī is upavāsa up till the... Go to observe fasting up to the evening.

Tamala Kṛṣṇa: So moon.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Sunset.

Interviews and Written Accounts of Śrīla Prabhupāda's Behavior and the Practice During Śrīla Prabhupāda's Time

Summary: The observance, from these accounts, was a half day fast and the preparations were with grains.

Arundhati devī dāsī who observed Rāma-navamī with Śrīla Prabhupāda 

Sorry, I can't remember specifically. I'm pretty sure I was with Śrīla Prabhupāda on some Rāma-navamīs, definitely in 1977 as I was in his entourage then, but don't remember fasting procedures. I think it was a half day fast though, and regular feast, not Ekādaśī. But am not certain.

Girirāja Swami

From his forthcoming Juhu Book 1974.04.01 Rāma-navamī:

April 1 was Rāma-navamī. On his morning walk, Śrīla Prabhupāda noted that many people were bathing in the sea, and he inquired, “Because today’s Rāma-navamī they’re taking bath?”

Dr. Patel said yes. Toward the end of the walk, he raised the topic of fasting for Rāma- navamī, suggesting that one should fast throughout the night until the next morning. But a devotee volunteered that we fasted until sunset. Śrīla Prabhupāda agreed but added, “If one can continue, that’s all right.”

Later I asked Śrīla Prabhupāda when we should actually break the fast, and he replied that I should inquire when the local temples break theirs and we should do the same. It turned out that they broke their fasts at noon, so that day we did too.

 

Bhakti Vikāsa Swami

(Transcribed from a lecture, http://www.bvks.com/12136/)

Śrīla Prabhupāda when he was asked, he said to fast until evening, but practically he didn't, nor did he have his disciples do. I remember being in Vṛndāvana in 1976 and Śrīla Prabhupāda was present on Rāma-navamī, and the feast prasādam was scheduled for 2 o'clock in the afternoon. It actually got served about 4 o'clock in the afternoon. And Lord Rāma appeared at mid-day, and the normal procedure is to fast until mid-day. So I was asked, so what do I know about Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī, what did he say about that? Now I heard that the present fasting schedule was introduced after Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura left, by Ananta Vāsudeva or Bhakti Prasāda Purī Mahārāja for Gaura- pūrṇīmā. Whatever it was previously, he would have probably put something more strict, because he was like that. But I don't know. that’s the simple answer.

Bhanu Swami

Śrīla Prabhupāda was not particular about fasting 24 hours on other days and it seems, as far as I remember, we even used to take grains at midnight on Janmāṣṭamī and moonrise on Gaura-pūrṇīmā. His instruction to fast till moonrise on Rāma-navamī (in a letter) may be a follow-up on the time of anukalpa. However, Rāma was born at noon according to Gauḍīya- pañjikā of Mayapur. So fasting till moonrise does not seem logical. In practice, Śrīla Prabhupāda had devotees celebrate the appearance at noon, and then feast on grains.

Opening of Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Temple on Rāma-navamī in Śrīla Prabhupāda's presence

From Daivī śakti devī dāsī:

Yes, I was Śrīla Prabhupāda's cook during the festival. I cooked for him and added several preparations from the Deity kitchen too. But because of the festivities and the Governor's presence he took prasādam very late. I waited for him till about 2:00 and then gave up. The fast was broken at midday by all the devotees and guests, about 6,000 total. Śrīla Prabhupāda had them serve a grain feast.

From Vrindavan is my Home, the chapter entitled: The Grand Opening:

Meanwhile, many of the best cooks in the world were busy in the Deity kitchen preparing the first rāja-bhoga offering. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s sister sat on the kitchen floor in front of coal bucket stoves. She had several assistants, some of whom were cutting vegetables with a special knife that required both hands and feet to maneuver…

The foreign disciples were busy working at the kitchen countertops, making varieties of sweets, savories and other special preparations. Disciples such as Bhojadeva, Gopati, Sakhā and Apūrva were some of the main cooks who worked tirelessly, churning out varieties of offerings that would soon be offered to Their Lordships…

When the dressing was complete, the gigantic bhoga offering was brought onto the altars. A pūjāri at each of the three altars chanted mantras to the Deities, requesting Them to accept the offerings that has been lovingly prepared by the devotees. There were so many preparations that devotees continued to bring things to the altar up to the time of the ārātrika

When the ārātrika was over, Śrīla Prabhupāda again blew the conchshell exultantly… Śrīla Prabhupāda then joined his guests and went to the courtyard to watch a drama performed by the Vaikuṇṭha Players from New York. After the play, the devotees who had been watching the play joined the Vaikuṇṭha Players in the courtyard and had a lively kīrtana.

Now it was time for the sumptuous feast for thousands of guests. People sat in rows inside

the temple, outside the temple, and anywhere there was space, all the way to the street.

From Memories of Vṛndāvana, Smarahari Dāsa:

So, when I went to speak to the cook, they were aware of what was happening. I said, “We are going to open our temple on Rāma-navamī, and Śrīla Prabhupāda wants to have a feast for 6,000 people, 6,000 invited guests.” The man said, first question, “Will all of the 6,000 people have the same identical prasādam ?” I said, “No. We will have 2,000 people that are the main dignitaries, and they will have the same prasādam plus special milk product things. There would be rasagullā, there would be kacorī as well as samosā, there would be sweet rice.” He said, “OK, what do the 2,000 have?” I told him, I read the list He said, “What do the additional 4,000 have?” I told him the list, “There’s purīs, two subjis, samosā, kacorī,

laḍḍū.” I told him exactly the list Śrīla Prabhupāda had wanted to give…So there was a big feast, and Śrīla Prabhupāda was very, very delighted. 

From Transcendental Diary by Hari Sauri Dāsa:

April 9th, 1976.

Today is Rāma-navamī, the appearance day of Lord Rāmacandra, and everyone fasted until 4:00 p.m.

(Source: Transcendental diary, Volume 1, November 1975-April 1976, TdD1-11, Śrī

Vṛndāvana Dhāma, April 9, 1976)

From Rādhā Dāmodara Vilāsa:

There is always sumptuous prasādam during the festival and especially after the installation ceremony. Unknown to the local residents, most of the cooks are Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Western followers. There are many peacocks in the Ramaṇa-retī area and some of the American devotees who are making capātīs like to throw them little pieces of capātī dough.

Apūrva: I was one of the head cooks for the Vṛndāvana opening. Śrīla Prabhupāda wanted us to cook an incredible menu and do seven offerings a day. The lunch offering was 25 preparations. We did a lot of cooking, so it was intense.

Interview with Pradyumna Dāsa

I don't retain memories of observing Rāma-navamī with Śrīla Prabhupāda after so many years.

According to śāstra (see Hari-bhakti-vilāsa), the appearances of viṣṇu-tattva are observed with total fasting until breaking fast on the following day. Those unable to complete the fast, are permitted to accept anukalpa or non-grain food when necessary during the observance of the tithi.

I compiled the official ISKCON calendar for many years, consulting the Navadvīpa-pañjikā as published by several Gauḍīya Maṭha institutions, as well as the Directory Pañjikā (published from Kolkata). Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda strictly followed the date of holiday and Ekādaśī observance as given in the Pañjikā.

Nārāyaṇī devī dāsī's experience as a pūjāri in India during Śrīla Prabhupāda's time

I was pūjāri at Calcutta and for Rāma-navamī we had half day fast and it was with grains. We only had two full fast days in a year: Gaura-pūrṇīmā and Janmāṣṭamī.

Interview with Purnaprajña Dāsa, another pūjāri at Calcutta temple during Śrīla Prabhupāda's time

I don't remember being with Śrīla Prabhupāda on Rāma-navamī. I only can say that we never fasted all day, only to noon. And surely no Ekādaśī break fast.28

  Interview with Śrīla Bhakti Prapanna Tīrtha Mahārāja  

First interview

(note: Śrīla Bhakti Prapanna Tīrtha Mahārāja is a disciple of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣak Śrīdhar Mahārāja, sannyāsa disciple of Śrīla Bhakti Sundar Govinda Mahārāja)

At what time is fasting broken on Rāma-navamī in your saṅga?

Till noon, then full break fast including rice. Same on Nityānanda-trayodaśī, Baladeva- pūrṇīmā, Rādhāṣṭamī. Only on Gaura-pūrṇīmā, Janmāṣṭamī, and Nṛsiṁha-chaturdaśī, do they break fast (at moonrise, midnight, and dusk) with anukalpa.

Is the time of breaking fast on particular days related to anything in the līlā, such as the time of the Lord’s appearance in that form?

Rāmachandra, Baladeva, Rādhārānī, Nityānanda all appeared in the middle of the day (madhyāhna), and thus fasting is broken at noon.

To your knowledge, are there different standards in different maṭhas or temples in your saṅga regarding fasting, or is there a general standard?

There is not a general standard, in some maṭhas, anukalpa-prasāda is prepared. Also, even in Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha he sometimes prepares both, prasāda with and without grains, to accommodate people who come from other maṭhas and say they are doing anukalpa fast.

What is the history of the practices in your saṅga? Who established them, when?

Would have to research what Śrīla PrabhupādaBhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura used to do.

(He called again the next day.)

Śrīla PrabhupādaBhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī Ṭhākura once told Śrīla Bhakti Saraṅga Gosvāmī that since he was going to go out to do some service, he should eat full prasāda, not anukalpa. utsavānte pāraṇa: break fast at the end of the festival. On Varāha-dvādaśī, one must break fast since it’s Ekādaśī the previous day. Then we follow: arcanānte-pāraṇa: break fast at the end of the Deity worship (i.e., offer āratī to Varāhadeva first). Anukalpa on viṣṇu-tattva days seems pretty standard, but various guru-vargas have made some concessions compared to that because otherwise there are too many festivals, seeing that we’re not able to do them.

Please add any other information about fasting and breaking fast on Rāma-navamī or other Viṣṇu-tattva appearance days. What about Hari-bhakti-vilāsa?

In Hari-bhakti-vilāsa are many things we cannot follow. We follow whatever our guru- varga did.

In many cases where they do anukalpa, is there a break fast time on the next day?

Yes, I see that also in the pañjikā. There is no harm in doing more fasting and this is available for those who want to do so. For example, Although Śrīmatī Rādhārānī is śakti- tattva, some people (even from Śrī Caitanya Maṭha) do more fasting on Rādhāṣṭamī, because a lot of benefit of this vrata has been described.

Second Interview

Another friend of a SAC member also called to try to find out more of the history and reasons for their practice. Śrīla Bhakti Prapanna Tīrtha Mahārāj again confirmed that in Śrī Caitanya Sarasvata Maṭha they have a full fast till noon and then full feast with grains. The reason Mahārāja gave is that Rāma is an expansion of Baladeva and they have same procedure for Baladeva-pūrṇīmā and Nityānanda-trayodaśī. It's not clear if this was the system during Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja's times or was introduced later.

Information from Gopīnātha Bābājī Mahārāja of Gopīnātha

                                              Gauḍīya Maṭha                                            

Gopīnātha Bābājī Mahārāja said that on āvirbhāva days, fasting is broken around the time of appearance. As far as he knows, the standard is the same everywhere: break fast with anukalpa prasāda. However, he says both Śrīla Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja and Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja sometimes allowed full-grain break fast, even on Janmāṣṭamī.

Ambiguity and Flexibility in Fasting on the Appearance and

                           Disappearance Days of the Ācāryas                         

(Because of the ambiguity in fasting for Rāma-navamī, we bring up another example of ambiguity for reference)

For the appearance days of ācāryas, the Gauḍīya custom is to celebrate the appearance by commemoration speeches, and the offering of a feast to the ācārya. For convenience in maṭhas, this is usually done at noon. But as far as I know there is no injunction concerning that time. It could be observed in the morning, since most ISKCON temples have the main meal at that time. Śrīla Prabhupāda seems to bear this out in the following conversations, where even half-day fasting for Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s appearance becomes optional.

Morning walk, February 11, 1976, Mayapur:

Devotee: Fourteenth is the advent of or the demise of Haridāsa Ṭhākura? Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes

Devotee: The death, I mean the disappearance

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes, but not for demise of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, but because that is Ananta Caturdaśī Vratā, the, generally the fasting is observed till evening, up to 5 o’clock. The next day, Viśvarūpa-mahotsava, feasting.

Devotee: On the 13th of September, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda’s Appearance is there any special observance?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, special observance means to discuss about the life and works of Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, thats all. Then 26th September, Ekādaśī.

Room conversation, Vṛndāvana, March 11, 1972:

Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: [break] ...on your appearance day and Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s and Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and Gaura Kiśora’s we should observe half-day fast. I have a question that on all the other auspicious days, just like Narottama Dāsa Ṭhākura and others, should we also observe half-day fast?

Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is... But if you cannot, that is another... Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: Sometimes because of the saṅkīrtana... Śrīla Prabhupāda: No, no. If you cannot, you can take. Tamāla Kṛṣṇa: And just sing some songs and praise.

Śrīla Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Kīrtana is main thing.

(It is interesting to note that Śrīla Prabhupāda here mentioned fasting until sunset on Ananta-caturdaśī, which no one at present seems to be following.)

 Fasting in General for Śrī Vaiṣṇavas 

Excerpt from a section from Kāla-prakāśikā, a standard book on Muhūrta, by an ancient traditional Śrī Vaiṣṇava which deals with how they observe Janmāṣṭamī and Ekādaśī: "To abstain from food and worship the Lord on the day of his incarnation, every year, subdues all sins. Having performed his daily ablutions, the devotee should stand in devotion before the image of the Lord, duly installed on a pedestal, and pronounce the following prayer— Oh! Lord of Lotus eyes! By solemn observance of the vow of fasting and of fixing my mind on Thee on this, the day of Thy incarnation, I thee adore. I break my fast next morning. Accept this humble token of my devotion, and give me Oh! Lord, Thy blessings divine."

Fasting in general is an individual choice. Since the system (Prapatti) of Śrī Vaiṣṇavas isn’t dependent on such things (i.e. there is no sādhana requirements for mokṣa), there is no compulsory fasting. Many older more Orthodox Śrī Vaiṣṇavas do fast. But then again many do not fast at all. Fasting even for Ekādaśīs is considered as optional. Many people in South India observe fasting from whole, boiled rice on Ekādaśī. In śāstra sin is supposed to be in annaṁ or boiled rice on Ekādaśī. Some avoid all rice. Some take items made from broken rice or rice flour like iḍ, osā, etc. Purīs and halavā made of wheat are ok to eat on Ekādaśī for such persons. Those who are very orthodox and sannyāsīs do not eat anything.

    Fasting in General for Followers of Madhvacarya 

For Madhvas at present fasting on Ekādaśīs is certainly more important than for Śrī Vaiṣṇavas. That point probably is applicable to other fast days also. Madhva sannyāsīs eat once a day. On Ekādaśīs and other religious fast days they fast completely. Other Madhvas fast optionally. Many Madhvas do not eat rice or at least whole rice on Ekādaśī. Some might fast, but mostly eating wheat or other grains except whole, boiled rice is ok for them on

Ekādaśīs. Kṛṣṇa Maṭha in Udupi serves prasādam meals twice a day every day of the year except Ekādaśīs when they do not serve anything. Even the deities of devotees like Garuda, Hanuman, gurus in Madhva temples must fast on Ekādaśīs.

  Various Examples in ISKCON 

Ukraine

In most temples, like Kyiv, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Odessa and Lviv the festival for the guests and general public is practically always accompanied with a feast without restriction on grains. In the main ISKCON center in Ukraine, Kyiv, there are only two festivals a year during which an Ekādaśī feast is served - Gaura-pūrṇīmā and Janmāṣṭamī. Oftentimes (though not always) there is Jagannātha Miśra’s festival on the next day after Gaurapūrṇīmā during which grain prasādam is served to everyone. However, the number of attendants is significantly lesser than on the actual day of Gaura-pūrṇīmā. A similar situation is on Janmāṣṭamī and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vyāsa-pūjā - on Janmāṣṭamī there is a huge number of guests and visiting devotees, but significantly smaller number on the following day of Nandotsava and Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Vyāsa-pūjā, during which full feast with grains is served.

Belarus

In Belarus in all the temples and preaching centers Rāma-navamī festival is accompanied with fast until sunset and then the feast with grains is served both to the devotees and to the guests.

Ljubljana

In Slovenia the main festival feast for both the public and all the devotees is usually sufficiently opulent but free from grains. The mahā-prasādam with grains is served during lunch on the next day, although varieties of non-Ekādaśī prasadam are available for purchase on the temple premises.

 

Viṣṇu-tattva Appearance Days in General: Rational for

      particular times to complete the fast     

In vaiṣṇava regulations one cannot eat until one has performed pūjā, as we have given evidence earlier in this paper. No strict vaiṣṇava in any sampradāya eats breakfast before doing daily worship of the Lord. This stricture is natural because all food we eat is offered to the Lord. So, one has to offer it as part of the worship ritual. Only after offering the food can one honor the remnants.

On an appearance day of the Lord in forms such as Rāma, Kṛṣṇa, Narasiṁha, Caitanya, etc. has a time of day He is said to have appeared at. One can, of course, worship that deity any time on any day. But we specially worship that form of the Lord on the particular anniversary day and time, that He appeared. It is therefore only natural that one would take prasādam only after that time. For example, Lord Kṛṣṇa appeared at midnight. How can one justify worshiping Him on His appearance day to celebrate that appearance date and time before midnight? Thus, His special appearance worship is concluded only after midnight, which is the time He appeared.

Nanda Mahārāja had the festival for Lord Kṛṣṇa’s birth the next day on Nandotsava. So, the feasting was then and this practice coincides with the idea of fasting a full day and breaking the fast the next day. But at the very least, a vaiṣṇava must wait till the Lord has appeared i.e. midnight. Normally vaiṣṇavas of all sampradāyas, if not fasting till the next day, will wait for the special worship of the Lord in that form to be concluded which means at His appearance time and then honor His prasādam.

So, after midnight for Kṛṣṇa, after dusk for Narasiṁha, after noon for Rāma, after dusk (upon the moonrise) for Lord Caitanya, we take prasādam. But the point is that one should not just sit around and wait for that time and then eat. One must worship the Lord in that particular form and then after worship one can honor the prasādam of that worship.

      Conclusion      

The Overall Ambiguity - Śāstric statements and modern practice

As explained earlier in this paper, according to śāstra, viṣṇu-tattva (and even Śiva-rātrī) appearance days have a full day of fasting, sunrise to sunrise. On Ekādaśīs one has to fast for three nights, the night of Daśamī, the full day of Ekādaśī and after breaking the fast on Dvādaśī no other meal that day either. So, we modern day vaiṣṇavas are far from following śāstric fasting rules. We do not find Śrīla Prabhupāda giving such rules. Nor does he say or write that he has made a special adjustment in these śāstric rules just for his followers, because, as we have noted, these strict rules are not generally followed in Gauḍīya Maṭhas, or by other Vaiṣṇava-sampradāyas. We note that according to the interviews, in at least some Gauḍīya Maṭhas they complete the fast with either grains or anukalpa, but in either case they do a full fast until the appearance of the personality.

Śrīla Prabhupāda's written statements, verbal instructions, and practices

Earlier in this paper, there is evidence of the fact that although Śrīla Prabhupāda would instruct in letters, lectures, and conversations to fast on Rāma-navamī until the evening, in practice he would tell devotees to serve a regular, grain feast at mid-day. Thus, adherence solely to his written and transcribed instructions would deprive us of fidelity to what he actually did. Furthermore, as both a fast until mid-day or evening is a reduction of the śāstric protocol, there seems to be flexibility in application of how long to fast. Also, even when he wrote about completing a vow (breaking the fast) on Gaura Pūrṇīmā with only

Ekādaśī type prasādam, in practice he had full grain feasts as indicated earlier in this paper. Thus, there seems to be flexibility in application of what types of prasādam are suitable to take at the completion of the fast.

Recommendation

General principles:

The length of the fast on Rāma-navamī (and similar viṣṇu-tattva appearance days, such as Balarāma-pūrṇīmā) and the nature of the prasādam served (grains or anukalpa) should follow Śrīla Prabhupāda’s mood. His mood is primarily that of preaching and engaging everyone in celebrating Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Our main times for large sādhu-saṅga, both of our ISKCON members and the general public, are on major festival days. The majority of those festival days are viṣṇu-tattva appearance days. On those days Śrīla Prabhupāda

would generally arrange for gorgeous worship, large kīrtanas, dramas, readings, classes, and so forth. He would also arrange for an opulent feast, served at a time related to the appearance of that avatāra and a time when people would attend. If we follow a program on viṣṇu-tattva appearance days of fasting sunrise to sunrise, or if we serve austere (or  very unusual) prasādam, we will be limited both in attracting the public and “to bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Kṛṣṇa, the prime entity.” Because whatever local brāhmaṇa leaders and spiritual masters decide to offer the devotees and the public in terms of type and prasādam and time of fast completion (as long as the Lord is first worshiped when he appears) does not break a fast, thus both the strict injunctions of śāstra and application to time, place, and circumstance can be fulfilled.

Our recommendation for ISKCON leaders:

On Rāma-navamī and similar viṣṇu-tattva appearance days such as Balarāma-pūrṇīmā, we suggest fasting until the Lord is worshiped at the appearance time of the avatāra, if known. As explained earlier in this paper, Rāmacandra appeared at noon. If the appearance time is not known, fasting can be completed at noon or later, after a special worship of the Lord. The special worship can be the offering and ārātrika which are performed normally in that ISKCON center at that time, with worship of the particular avatāra who is appearing. If that avatāra is not normally on the altar, the avatāra can be worshiped through the main Deity or a visiting Deity of devotees in the area. Generally, additional or more opulent food preparations will be offered, and guests will be invited to participate. Such details are at the discretion of local leaders. The type of prasādam served to complete the fasting vow may be grains or anukalpa. Both the timing of completing the fast and the type of prasādam served should be based on what would most facilitate the enthusiastic participation of the local community of devotees and the maximum outreach effect regarding the general public.

Our recommendations for ISKCON members:

Śāstra (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 12.100) states that eating what our guru or brāhmaṇas offer us does not break a fast. Therefore, following Śrīla Prabhupāda's general orders to preach and the local leaders' considerations of time, place, and circumstances allows us both to fully fast according to śāstra and fully push on Śrīla Prabhupāda's mission according to time, place, and circumstances. The vow of fasting may be completed anytime after the worship

of Lord Rāmacandra at the time of his appearance at noon, and with the type of prasādam most conducive for one's service in Mahāprabhu's mission.

Our recommendation for the Vaiṣṇava calendar:

We suggest that the Vaiṣṇava calendars simply state:

Specifically for Rāma-navamī: "fasting until worship of the Lord is completed at the time of his appearance at noon, and according to the standards of local ISKCON authorities"

For any and all fast days where there is any flexibility according to Śrīla Prabhupāda's example: "fasting until worship of the Lord is completed at the time of His appearance, and according to the standards of local ISKCON authorities."

We conclude this paper with the following two prayers dedicated to Lord Rāmacandra and his devotees respectively:

mantratas tantrataś chidraṁ deśa-kālārha-vastutaḥ
sarvaṁ karoti niśchidram anusaṅkīrtanaṁ tava

Translation: There may be discrepancies in pronouncing the mantras and observing the regulative principles, and, moreover, there may be discrepancies in regard to time, place, person and paraphernalia. But when Your Lordship's holy name is chanted, everything becomes faultless. (Śrīmad-bhāgavatam 8.23.16)

dṛṣṭaṁ kim api loke ’smin na nirdoṣaṁ
na nirguṇam āvṛṇudhvam ato doṣān

vivṛṇudhvaṁ guṇān budhāḥ

Translation: There is nothing in this world without its faults or merits. Therefore, O intelligent souls! Cover up the faults and cultivate the merits in everything. (Concluding verse of Subhāṣita-ratna-bhāṇḍāgāram)

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Lord Ramacandra by Gautam Saha

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The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Ramachandra
Appeared on this earth in the lineage of Raghukula, in Ayodhya
As the son of King Dasharath and Queen Kaushalya
Elder to the princes Bharat, Lakshmana and Shatrughna

He is ever seen in the company of Mahalaksmi as Sita
His eternal servitor Hanuman, and loving brother Lakshmana
Both brothers wielded a bow and arrows and other weapons
As shatriyas, it was their bounden duty to protect their citizens

Lord Ram is maryada purushottam, the most perfect among human beings
In which role He traversed the earth and engaged with all earthly beings
Compassionate to the weak, kind to the poor, helpful to those in penury
A nemesis for all demons and miscreants, whom He dispatched vigorously

Out of His great sense of duty, He agreed to spend fourteen years in deportation
Deep in the forest, with Lakshmana and Sita, living in desolate deprivation
They lived on fruits and roots, far away from the luxuries and opulence of the city
They chose the life of hermits, and underwent much hardship and poverty

Towards the end of their banvaas, the demon Ravana took a fancy for mother Sita
By various devious means and subterfuge, he managed to kidnap mother Sita
And imprisoned her in Lanka, where she refused to submit to the demonic desires of Ravana
Eventually Hanumanji found mother Sita, and the Lord led His army towards Lanka

Being a demon, Ravana had not listened to the saintly counsel of brother Vibheeshan
He mounted a counterattack on the army of Lord Ram, but all his efforts were in vain
After a lengthy battle, in which numerous warriors on both sides gave up their life
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ram, snuffed out Ravana’s life and rescued His wife

The Lord’s banvaas was at an end, and Ayodhya was His for the asking
He ruled Ayodhya for many years, as a wise, much loved and magnanimous king
To assuage His subjects, He sent mother Sita into exile, and They lived Their lives apart
The Lord never forgot her, and till the end, mother Sita lived on in His heart

Mother Sita had given birth to twin valiant sons, Luv and Kush, who grew up in a hermitage
They ultimately found their great father and were reunited under His love and parentage
The Lord lived a life of service to others, with great humility and sense of duty
His life is an example for all, in Its sacrifice and values which reinforce His great divinity

His great affection for the poor old woman Shabri is a glowing example of love’s expression
Even though of lowly birth, Lord Ram accorded to her the highest platform of pure devotion
Lord Ram, Who is no different from Krishna, thus enacted His transcendental leela on this earth
Ramachandra, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, reigns supreme in every devotee’s heart !

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=10388

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“Nothing Is Impossible for the Omnipotent! “

How can stones float on water!? But they did…once upon a time! In treta-yuga, God appeared as a human being, and engaged some monkeys to throw stones in water. By the power of His name, the stones floated and thus a bridge was constructed across the ocean. Crossing this bridge, God rescued His wife, who was kidnapped by a demon.

This is a popular pastime of Lord Sri Rama. But a common man doesn’t believe in such ‘stories’ calling them ‘mythology.’ Nevertheless, they are not myth but factual incidents recorded in our timeless scriptures. It takes a little intelligence, some deliberation and faith to understand them.

Why can’t this happen?

It is not difficult or illogical to agree that the world we perceive is functioning based on specific laws. We see orderliness and predictability in the characteristics of the sun and the moon, day and night, seasons and so on. By whose power and organization is the nature functioning in such a systematic manner? Any rational person would agree that there is some creator, controller and maintainer for this universe! And, He is ‘God.’

God exercises His omnipotence in exhibiting many names, forms and activities. He resides in a spiritual abode of eternal variegatedness, and at times kindly descends into this created world in His various forms like Rama, Krsna, Nrsimha, Varaha and so on. There are multiple purposes for His descent, namely to protect the righteous, punish the mischievous and establish the right conduct.

The literary masterpiece Srimad Bhagavatam describes that the material universe was formed with the basic ingredients like earth, water, air, fire, ether and so on, that emanated from the body of Lord Maha Visnu, who lies in the causal ocean (karana samudra). After the formation of the universe, Maha Visnu entered it in the form of Garbhodakasayi Visnu, from whose navel manifested a universal lotus, that gave rise to the fourteen planetary systems.

The modern science confirms that this universe consists of several planets in the outer space. It is only by the inconceivable power and will of the Supreme Lord that innumerable planets float like cotton swabs in the space, suspended perfectly in their orbits. If this is possible for the Lord, why can’t He, in the form of Ramacandra, make some stones float in water? After all, can the creator be limited by the laws of His own creation?

Why should this happen?

Another natural question in this context! If Lord Rama had the power to make stones float on water, didn’t He have the power to walk on water and make the other monkeys do it as well? Why did He have to construct a bridge then?

Yes, certainly Rama and His party could have crossed the ocean even without a bridge. Yes, certainly Rama and His party could have crossed the ocean even without a bridge. However, the Supreme Lord is independent. He can do anything by His sweet will. If He wants to do something in a certain way, no one has the power to question Him. Still, there are a few reasons in this regard that the scriptures reveal.

Knowing that His wife Sitadevi was in Lanka on the other side of the ocean, Lord Rama reached the ocean. Accompanying Him was a huge army of monkey soldiers headed by Sugriva, Hanuman, Jambavan and others. Lord Rama, the Supreme Being, fasted for three days, awaiting the response of the ocean personified. When the ocean-god did not come, Lord Rama exhibited anger and simply by His glance, all the aquatics within the ocean were struck by fear.

The ocean-god then hastily approached Lord Rama, fell at His feet and prayed, “O all-pervading Supreme Person, we are dull-minded and did not understand that You are the master of the entire universe. Although my water doesn’t impede You to go to Lanka, please construct a bridge over it to spread Your transcendental fame. Upon seeing this wonderfully uncommon deed of Your Lordship, all the great heroes and kings in the future will glorify You.” (SB 9.10.14-15)

The ocean-god’s initial inability to recognize Lord Rama’s identity, represents the rebellious mentality of the mortal beings that doesn’t allow them to submit to God. But beyond this illusion lies a sublime realization of an eternal blissful life, aligned with the sweet will of the Lord.

In loving devotion, a devotee always wants to glorify the Supreme Lord for eternity just as the ocean-god desired after realizing his mistakes. He desired to see the future generations glorify Rama for doing something that no human being had done before or could do later. Thus the Supreme Lord Rama, by enacting this magnificent pastime, created a subject matter for our discussion, absorption and purification and to increase our love for Him.

What does this indicate?

Lord Ramacandra’s superhuman deed of making stones float on water declares His omnipotence and proves that He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and not an ordinary human being. He is capable of doing anything and no material conventions can obstruct His will. He was not merely advertised as Godhead or elected by popular vote.

An ordinary human being cannot change the properties of material elements, but thinks oneself so great or sometimes even God! Srila Prabhupada writes, “Nowadays it has become fashionable to create some artificial God who performs no uncommon activities; a little magic will bewilder a foolish person into selecting an artificial God because he does not understand how powerful God is. Lord Ramacandra, however, constructed a bridge over the water with stone by making the stone float. This is proof of God’s uncommonly wonderful power. Why should someone be accepted as God without displaying extraordinary potency by doing something never to be done by any common man? We accept Lord Ramacandra as the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He constructed this bridge, and we accept Lord Krsna as the Supreme Personality of Godhead because He lifted Govardhana Hill when He was only seven years old.” (SB 9.10.15 Purport)

Many people blindly believe some ordinary mortal to be God just by seeing his few magical feats. But what is their significance in comparison to the unsurpassable natural wonders that the Supreme Godhead manifests in this creation!? Srila Prabhupada says that people pay lot of money to see and appreciate a magician barking like a dog, but they don’t appreciate God who created millions of dogs in this world. People believe a so-called saint who ‘creates’ little gold, but they don’t put faith on God who created millions of planets each consisting of thousands of gold mines.

Allured by the tiny wonders created by mortals, foolish people ignore the great wonders created by God. People who adore fictitious heroes in comics and movies, do not admire the real heroic acts of Rama and Krsna, but consider them myth. All the superhuman acts of the Supreme Lord in His various incarnations indicate His Godhood and omnipotence. If only we trust the words of the scriptures and relish such wondrous pastimes of Godhead, we can make tremendous progress in our spiritual journey.

janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah

tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna

Lord Krsna therefore says in the Bhagavad-gita, “One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.” (BG 4.9)

What’s difficult for the Omnipotent?

The natural elements like earth and water have their inherent properties. The earth element in the form of stone doesn’t float in water. When put in water, it sinks. But who has given them such qualities? God! If God can invest the elements with certain characteristics, He can change them as well, for a specific purpose because the material nature, indeed, is controlled by the omnipotent Lord.

mayadhyaksena prakrtih suyate sa-caracaram

hetunanena kaunteya jagad viparivartate

“This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, O son of Kunti, producing all moving and nonmoving beings. Under its rule this manifestation is created and annihilated again and again.” (BG 9.10)

The deep mysteries of the miraculous pastimes of Godhead are inconceivable to a common man, but for one who has faith in His unlimited potency such pastimes becomes a source of relish and nourishment.

Gauranga Darshan Das is dean of the Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha (www.vidyapitha.in) at ISKCON Govardhan Eco Village (GEV). He teaches scriptural courses at several places in India. He has written study guides including Bhagavata Subodhini, Caitanya Subodhini and Gita Subodhini, and compiled vital scriptural verses in the form of the Ratnamala and Tattvamala series. He runs a free monthly e-magzine called Bhagavata Pradipika.

Source: http://www.dandavats.com/?p=73759

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(These prayers are from the 47th chapter of the Harivamsa Purana which narrates the story of Lord Ramacandra’s visit to the holy place of Ahobalam to see the Deity of Nrisimha, where Lord Nrisimha appeared and saved His devotee Prahlada.)

ahobalam narasimham gatva ramah pratapavan

namaskutya sri nrisimham astaushit kamala patim

The glorious Rama once visited Ahobala where He saw the Deity of Lord Nrisimha. He
offered His obeisances to Lord Kamalapati (husband of the Goddess of Fortune) and
prayed as follows.

1. Govinda keshava janardana vasudeva

vishvesha-vishva madhusudana vishvarupa

shri padmanabha purushottama pushkaraksha

narayanachyuta nrisimho namo namaste

O Govinda, Keshava, Janardana, Vasudeva, Vishvesha (the controller of the universe),
Vishva, Madhusudana, Vishvarupa, Sri Padmanabha, Purushottama, Pushkaraksha,
Narayana, Achyuta. O Lord Narasimha I offer my respectful obeisances unto You again
and again.

2. Devah samastah khalu gopi mukhyaha

gandharva vidyadhara kinnarash cha

yat pada-mulam satatam namanti

tam narasimham sharanam gato shmi

I have taken shelter of Lord Nrisimha unto whose lotus feet demigods, prominent
yogis, gandharvas, vidyadharas and kinnaras are constantly offering their
obeisances.

3. Vedan samastan khalu shastragarbhan

vidyam balam kirtimatim cha lakshmim

yasya prasadat purusha labhante

tam narasimham sharanam gato shmi

I have taken shelter of Lord Nrisimha by whose mercy people receive all the Vedas,
the essence of all scriptures, knowledge, strength, reputation and wealth.

4. Brahma shivas tvam purushottamash cha

narayano ?€?shau marutam patish cha

chandrarka vayvagni marud-ganash cha

tvam eva tam tvam shatatam nato?€?shmi

You are Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and the best person Lord Narayana. You are the
master of the Marutas and You are the sun, the moon, air and the fire as well as the
Marut-ganas. I offer my obeisances unto You.

5. Snapne?€?pi nitya jagatam ashesam

srashta cha hanta vibhura prabheyaha

trata tvam eka strividho vibinnaha

tam tvam nrisimham satatam nato?€?smi

I offer my obeisances unto Lord Nrisimha who is the creator, the maintainer and the
destroyer of the entire universe. Although You perform all of these three acts
simultaneously, You are completely beyond these activities. You are the
all-pervading, unlimited supreme spirit.

Iti stutva raghushreshthaha

pujayamasa tam harim

pushpa vrishtih papatashu

tasya devasya murdhani

Praying this way, the best of the Raghus, Lord Ramacandra worshipped Lord Hari. At
that time the demigods showered a rain of flowers on the head of Lord Nrisimhadeva.

Raghavena kutam stotram

panchamrita manuktamam

pathanti ye dvijavaraha

tesham svargastu shashvataha

This is the best of prayers, called pancamrita or five nectars compiled by Lord Rama
Himself. One who reads this will be liberated eternally.

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Lord Rama by Radhanath Swami

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‘Lord Rama (BG 4.10)’ by Radhanath Swami, in Mumbai

janma karma ca me divyam

evam yo vetti tattvatah

tyaktva deham punar janma

naiti mam eti so ‘rjuna

(BG 4.9)

One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

PURPORT

The Lord’s descent from His transcendental abode is already explained in the 6th verse. One who can understand the truth of the appearance of the Personality of Godhead is already liberated from material bondage, and therefore he returns to the kingdom of God immediately after quitting this present material body. Such liberation of the living entity from material bondage is not at all easy. The impersonalists and the yogis attain liberation only after much trouble and many, many births. Even then, the liberation they achieve—merging into the impersonal brahma jyoti of the Lord—is only partial, and there is the risk of returning to this material world. But the devotee, simply by understanding the transcendental nature of the body and activities of the Lord, attains the abode of the Lord after ending this body and does not run the risk of returning to this material world. In the Brahma-samhita (5.33) it is stated that the Lord has many, many forms and incarnations: advaitam acyutam anadim ananta-rupam. Although there are many transcendental forms of the Lord, they are still one and the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. One has to understand this fact with conviction, although it is incomprehensible to mundane scholars and empiric philosophers. As stated in the Vedas

eko devo nitya-lilanurakto

bhakta-vyapi hrdy antar-atma

“The one Supreme Personality of Godhead is eternally engaged in many, many transcendental forms in relationships with His unalloyed devotees.” This Vedic version is confirmed in this verse of the Gita personally by the Lord. He who accepts this truth on the strength of the authority of the Vedas and of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and who does not waste time in philosophical speculations attains the highest perfectional stage of liberation. Simply by accepting this truth on faith, one can, without a doubt, attain liberation. The Vedic version tat tvam asi is actually applied in this case. Anyone who understands Lord Krishna to be the Supreme, or who says unto the Lord “You are the same Supreme Brahman, the Personality of Godhead,” is certainly liberated instantly, and consequently his entrance into the transcendental association of the Lord is guaranteed. In other words, such a faithful devotee of the Lord attains perfection, and this is confirmed by the following Vedic assertion:

tam eva viditvati mrtyum eti

nanyah pantha vidyate ‘yanaya

“One can attain the perfect stage of liberation from birth and death simply by knowing the Lord, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and there is no other way to achieve this perfection.” (Shevatasvatara Upanishad 3.8) That there is no alternative means that anyone who does not understand Lord Kåñëa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is surely in the mode of ignorance and consequently he will not attain salvation simply, so to speak, by licking the outer surface of the bottle of honey, or by interpreting the Bhagavad-gétä according to mundane scholarship. Such empiric philosophers may assume very important roles in the material world, but they are not necessarily eligible for liberation. Such puffed-up mundane scholars have to wait for the causeless mercy of the devotee of the Lord. One should therefore cultivate Krishna consciousness with faith and knowledge, and in this way attain perfection.

Duhkhalayam asasvatam:

In this most beautiful famous sloka from the 4th chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita Lord Sri Krishna is giving us the information of who it is that is qualified to return to him at the end of this life.

mam upetya punar janma

duhkhalayam asasvatam

napnuvanti mahatmanah

samsiddhim paramam gatah

(BG 8.15)

that the great souls they make their goal of life, the kingdom of God. They never make their goal in life any of the attainments of this world. Because, all the attainments of this world are duhkhalayam asasvatam. They are essentially the cause of all the miseries. Because to the degree we become attached to what we attain in this world to that degree we must suffer. The bondage of repeated birth and death, whether it is our wealth, whether it is our prestige, whether it is our fame, our family, our renunciation, our beauty, and our abilities. If we become attached to any of these things that very thing that is giving us so much joy becomes the cause of the repetition of birth and death. So therefore we should make our goal, the eternal abode of god. All the great wise men throughout history have agreed on this principle.

Qualification to go back to Godhead:

What is the qualification to attain the eternal abode of lord? Krishna explains right here. One who understands the transcendental nature of my appearance and activities never has to take birth in this world of suffering again but attains my eternal abode. And Krishna is so kind, He is so infinitely merciful. That he descends from his eternal spiritual abode into this material world only for the purpose of giving us the opportunity to understand the transcendental nature of His appearance and His activities. It is described previous to the sloka:

paritranaya sadhunam

vinasaya ca duskrtam

dharma-samsthapanarthaya

sambhavami yuge yuge

(BG 4.8)

In order to deliver the pious and annihilated the miscreants as well as to reestablish to principles of religion I have been myself millennium after millennium.

Appearance of Jiva and Eshwara:

What is the difference between the Lord’s appearance in this world and our appearance in this world? This is described here. Lord Kapiladeva has said, “karmana daiva-netrena” the conditioned soul is forced to take birth in a particular womb of a particular species of life due to his past karma. Therefore for the ordinary soul we say that is his birth day. But for the lord we never say birth day. We said his appearance day. Just like we say celebrate our birth days. Do you know what is really like at the time of your birth? Was that a joyous occasion? You are crying and screaming. You are about this big and you are being forced through and opening about this big. You are being crunched and your mother, my god, you know what she was doing? She was just screaming. She was crying. She was vowing at that time, I’ll never do this again. This is too much, right? Does not every mother?

Of course they forgot after time but while it is happening it is very very painful experience. Of course I cannot speak from my own realizations. I can only speak from what I heard. But the baby is crying and the mother is crying not in ecstasy but in agony, right. It is said when you cry cold tear that is ecstatic and when you cry hot tears that means you are in great distress. Both the mother and the baby are just crying hot tears like anything. The baby just crying and crying and crying and the mother is just smiling and in this way happy birth day. We love to remember that day. Every year we celebrate that day. Fortunately we forget what it was really like.

But we read when the supreme lord appears it is altogether different. He is not forced to take birth because of his previous karma. He appears in this world by his own sweet will. He appears in this world to annihilate the miscreants, to deliver the pious, and to reestablish the principles of religion. But actually it is the Lord who has to take birth Himself to perform these three activities. He can do this through the agency of His devotees. He can destroy the miscreants in any way He wants through the agency of this material nature, through the agency of his devotees. He could deliver the pious through the scriptures, through the saints. Similarly, reestablish the principles of religion. The actual real reason, why the lord has to come, is to attract the minds of the conditioned souls to His divine form to His divine pastimes and to His divine Lila.

The more we understand how the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Bhagavan Lila is completely transcendental, it is the total spiritual experience to that extent we become spiritually purified. And therefore the most important activity in our life is to hear the glories of the lord and to chant the glories of the lord. But we must hear from the authoritative sources. Otherwise you will not get the proper understanding. Just like there are so many people who have so many opinions of Lord Sri Krishna’s Lila or lord Sri Rama Chandra’s lila. You cannot understand the transcendental nature of the Lord’s appearance and activities unless you hear from those who are coming in a disciplic line of self-realized soul.

One who knows God can reveal God. Otherwise, we find there are so many people who know Krishna’s pastimes but they really do not know anything about Krishna. There are so many people who know Rama’s lila but they do not know nothing about Rama. People are seeing the Mahabharata every Sunday morning and as they watching the pastimes many of the defects of Mahabharata are actually what are written in the book. Some of them are changed and many of them are just like it is written in the book. But whether there is a little change or just like in the book, either ways, most people cannot really understand what is going on internally. They just see it is an entertaining story and they think because it is about god it must be pious. But to the really understand the message, to the really understand the nature of the lord’s activities in His divine lilas. It is impossible to understand without the explanation of the self-realized souls or those who are acting on behalf of the self-realized souls.

Therefore to hear the glories of the Lord in the association of sincere devotees of the Lord is the most important part of our life because it is only through the process that we can understand the transcendental nature of the appearance and the activities of the Lord and it is only by the processes that our mind becomes attracted away from the temporary pastimes of this world and attracted to the lotus feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So tonight we are most fortunate, we are gathered together on the most sacred occasion of the appearance of the supreme Lord Sri Hari. As He appeared in His most beautiful and merciful form of the son of Dasaratha, Sri Rama Chandra. This story was originally told and written by the great sage Valmiki Muni.

Guru’s mercy:

Valmiki Muni as we know was a highway robber and hunter. He would torture and murdered innocent creatures as is very means of livelihood. But of course how many ever think of him like that. That anyone can condemn him for being like that? We glorifying for being like that because the more fallen person is the more glorious it is when he becomes great. Valmiki Muni although living in such a sinful and ruthless life, in the association of the great devotee Narada Muni he became purified. Narada Muni taught him that if you want to be purified from all your sins you must chant the name of Rama. Valmiki Muni was so sinful; he could not chant the name of Rama. Now someone thinks that I am so fallen and I am addicted to so many sinful activities, what hope is there for me to become self-realized.

Sometimes we become discouraged. Do we not? Thinking of I am addicted to so many bad habits. I have so many attachments. My mind is so uncontrolled. How is it possible for me to become liberated in this life in Krishna Consciousness? But every one of you in this room is able to chant the name of Rama, correct. Repeat after me. Rama. Rama. Raise your hand if you cannot chant the name of Rama. If you are so sinful that it is not possible to chant the name of Rama. Then you are all much more pious than Valmiki was. Because he could not do it. He was trying. Narada Muni was saying Rama, Rama and he was just not able to do it. Even Narada Muni convinced him of the sinful reactions coming upon him for all of his deals all of his crimes, he could not chant the name of Rama. So you know the acharya, he is not a self-righteous fanatic. He does not say, “You won’t chant the name of Rama that’s the bona fide mantra then I am going somewhere else. I am sorry, I cannot help you.”

The acharya is willing to adjust all the rules and regulations to somehow or other make a person Krishna Conscious. Now what acarya has ever taught previously to chant the name of the God of death. Can you think of anyone? What bona fide guru taught, chant mara. Which means death? Nobody does. But Narada Muni knew that this man is so attached to death, he is so intimate with killing that he will be able to chant the name of Mara with great feeling. So therefore we understand that this is the real acarya. He is not simply self-righteous just to maintain traditions, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to liberate those persons who he is preaching to. So he began to chant MARA, MARA, MARA. Then by chanting, what was his qualification. His qualification was simply, he was willing to try to obey his guru. He had no qualification; he was such a sinful demon. He was a demon. But because, he was simply willing to try to follow the instructions of his guru sincerely, all of his shortcomings were put aside by the supreme Lord Rama. In a very short time he was chanting the name of Rama purely.

Then he was given the vision of the transcendental pastimes of Sri Rama Chandra and he noted down for all the world and he wrote that is longer than the mountains, securely placed on this earth and as long as there are rivers flowing from those mountains to the sea, the holy name of Rama and the pastimes of Ramayana will be chanted by all pious man. Now Valmiki Muni wanted this great scripture to be chanted in the great cities of the world. So his two most intimates and pious disciples, he taught them Ramayana and they were so virtuous that by hearing once they learned by memory and they were dispatch to chant for Ramayana for the benefit of all living beings. Their names were Lava and Kusa. They happened to be the two sons of Sita and Rama, who from their time of the birth lived in the hermitage of Valmiki Muni after Sita devi was banished to the forest.

So Lava and Kusa came to Ayodha and in the holy streets of Ayodha they began to chant the beautiful glories of Ramayana. Although they had identical bodily features of their father Sri Rama Chandra they could not be recognized because they are living like ascetics, wearing the bark of trees with matted hair. When Lord Rama Chandra heard these pastimes being narrated, He invited Lava and Kusa into His palace court and invited all of His ministers and all the town’s people to listen attentively to the beautiful glories of story of Sri Rama.

The narration of the Ramayana begins by Kusa and Lava narrating these pastimes to Rama Himself. It is described that in the holy city of Ayodha which is situated in the holy banks of the river Sarayu. There was a great king of the name Dasaratha. He was the king of the province of Kosala and a great descendent of maharaja Ikshwaku of the solar dynasty. King Dasaratha was very pious and religious King. He was in the true sense of Rajarshi. He was simultaneously a saint and a King. He was pure devotee of God and everyone in his kingdom was thoroughly satisfied because he was teaching everyone to live perfectly and harmony with the laws of God.

The Kingdom of Ayodha because of the piety of this great king was flourishing with prosperity. There was no poverty. There was great opulence. The roads were beautiful and clean, scented with sandalwood and fragrant oils and the houses were made of marbles and decorated on the jewels. And all the people were dressed in beautiful coloring clothing and everyone was constantly singing the glories of Lord Hari. Dasaratha Maharaja had three hundred and fifty queens. We are talking about Tretayuga, where man lived tens and thousands years old. And great kings they were allowed to protect and care for as many women as they could satisfy. You imagine how great king Dasaratha was that he could keep 350 queens simultaneously fully satisfied. How many of you husbands can keep your one wife fully satisfied. Raise your hand if you can do that? I’ll not ask to you raise your hand if you cannot do it.

We can understand how great and glorious the king was. He was a Maharathi. In the battle he can destroy thousands of men at a time. One day he approached his ministers and he explained to them as well as the great saints and sages that he was feeling great distress in his heart because although he was growing very old he had not yet had a single son. And of course a king is very important to have a son, because, someone must continue the dynasty. So that he said, “All my wealth and with all my strength and although I have conquered the whole world I am the king of earth. Although all my subjects love me as their father, still my heart is empty because I have no son.” He said, “I desired to perform a sacrifice to Lord Vishnu in order to have a male son.”

At that time his guru Vaisistha Muni, he said my dear king I’ll make arrangements for the sacrifice. Then his very loyal and faithful minister Sumantra took him aside. He said, so many years ago the great sage Sanatkumara gave you a benediction. He told you that you would have one daughter and you should name her Shanta. And that you should marry her to a great sage Rishyasringa and the same sage Rishyasringa would perform a sacrifice to Lord Vishnu and from that sacrifice you will have four illustrious and glorious sons. So my feeling is you should go and find Rishyasringa. What happened is after he had the beautiful daughter Shanta there was a king by name Romapada. He was the king of Anga Dynasty. He had no children. So Dasaratha was feeling very much for him. So he gave him his only daughter. And she grew up as the princess of Maharaja Romapada. Maharaja Romapada under Dasaratha’s instruction married his daughter to Rishyasringa.

So Dasaratha went to that place and there were cordial greetings and there was warm friendship. After one week he brought Rishyasringa back to Ayodha. Then in the presence of all the great sages and saints and all the friends of Dasaratha he began to exclaim his great distress. And Rishyasringa replied, “My dear King! I’ll perform an Ashwamedha Yajna to Lord and I promised you the supreme Lord Himself will appear in four forms as your son.” So he began to perform the sacrifice. And when the time came to offer oblations to the various demigods, all the demigods appeared on the scene, headed by Lord Brahma. And they all took apart their share of the sacrifice. At that time all the demigods approached Brahmaji. They took the opportunity and with folded hands and tears in their eyes they began to explain Brahmaji, “the great Rakshasa Blood seeking demon Ravana was completely causing havoc throughout entire universe. He was killing innocent people sucking their blood; he was destroying the sacrifice of the brahmanas. He was harassing the demigods and exploiting their property. In this way the whole universe is in great anxiety and he was so powerful because you have given him this benediction that no one can defeat him. So Brahmaji please do something. You are our father. You are our guide.”

At that time Lord Brahma, began to think. What is to be done? And he began to pray Lord Vishnu. And just at that time from behind the clouds almost beautiful effulgent light was beheld by everyone in the assembly house of Maharaja Dasaratha. There, shining like millions of suns appeared Lord Narayana, descending on His bird Garuda and Lord Brahma began to pray. “Lord Narayana! This demon Ravana is causing so much distress and you are the only one that can annihilate him.” And Lord Vishnu explained,”I will soon come. I’ll appear as the four sons of Dasarath and Ravana will be killed.” And after confirming the fulfillment of their desires Lord Narayana again ascended to Vaikuntha and disappeared. Then Lord Brahma “tene brahma hrdaya adikavaye” who is receiving information from Krishna in his heart, he explained that, “All you demigods, Vishnu wants you to help him in this great battle against Ravana. So therefore you should all expand yourselves and take births as monkeys in the jungle of Kiskindha and you should expand yourself with all the power and all the strength you have now and very soon the supreme Lord Hari will come and together He will relieve the earth of the burden of Ravana and his Rakshasa Dynasty.”

At that time all the demigods left. They all returned to their abodes and then they all began making their plans. First the king of heaven Indra he expanded himself and begot a child, his name was Bali. Bali possessed all the strength and potency of His father Indra. Then the sun god, Vivasvan, he begot the most illustrious and faithful Sugriva, who is equal to him in all respects. Kuvera, the great treasure of the demigods he begot the great monkey child, Ghandamadana. And Agni, he expanded himself as Susena and Brihaspati, expanded himself as Nala. The Aswini Kumaras they expanded themselves as Mahinda and Vivida. In this way the monkeys were very powerful. They could lift mountains. They could make the earth tremble by their foot steps.

At the end of the sacrifice Rishyasringa took the mahaprasada, the payasanna, and told King Dasaratha that you give this payasanna to your wives. And whoever drinks this Lord Narayana will come to your son. So, he first divided prasad in half. And he gave the first half to the principal wife Kausalya and she drank it. And he took the other half and divided that in half and gave half to Sumitra and then he took that half and divided into half and gave half to Kaikei and the other half to Sumitra. Very soon after drinking this divine mahaprasada all the three mothers became pregnant. This is the transcendental nature of the appearance of the lord. He does not have to come into the world through the same medium that we do. Rama was born from the union of His mother eating mahaprasad.

And one year after the sacrifice on the most auspicious time when all the constellations were in perfect order the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as the son of Kausalya in his most beautiful form of Sri Rama. Then Bharata was born of Kaikei, and Lakshmana was born of Sumitra and his brother was Satrughna. And these four children, they were none other than the four expansions of Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Anirudha. They were all Vaikuntha Murti’s of Sri Hari. It is described that they were so beautiful. All auspicious signs decorated all of them. But of all of them Rama was the most beautiful. His eyes were like lotus flowers. His every limb was delicate and soft but at the same time most powerful and strong. His arms extended to His knees. It is described that on his feet and on his hands were the signs of the conch shell, the disc, the lotus flower and the club. And Visishista Muni performed the birth ceremony and he also performed the name giving ceremony. When these beautiful sons appeared as the princes of Dasaratha there was great celebration throughout the city of Ayodhya for years and years. Everyone was waiting for Dasaratha’s child to be born. So Dasaratha Maharaja would giving tens and thousands of beautiful cows with golden ornaments and golden horns to the brahmanas. He was giving mountains of grains and beautiful jewels and silks in the charity to the Vaishnavas. He was preparing wonderful Prasad and delivering it to all living beings. In this way there was a celebration and all the inhabitants of Ayodhya were singing and dancing. It was a festival that no one has ever seen, all celebrating the beautiful appearance of Sri Rama. And actually this is the way we should all every year celebrate the appearance of Sri Rama.

The residents of Ayodhya described, they were singing, they were dancing, they were just joyful, eating nice Prasad, distributing nice Prasad, giving gifts, receiving gifts, because, everyone’s mind were emerged only on the beautiful form of this child of Rama. They completely forgot the miseries of material existence. As they began to grow older, it is described they began to learn how to walk and the three mothers Sumitra, Kaikei, and Kausalya their love just no bounds and Dasarath Maharaja sharing that love. He was perfectly satisfied twenty four hours a day simply seeing the beautiful form of Rama. Indeed every inhabitant of Ayodhya shared the same love for Rama. He became as he grew older most learned in Vedas, the most expert archer and most expert charioteer and the whole city was simply waiting the auspicious day when he would be coroneted as the king.

It is described that when Lord Sri Ramachandra was sixteen years old, the great sage Visvamitra Muni came to the Kingdom of Ayodhya. Visvamitra was living in the jungle. He had no material possessions. He was a hermit. He was beggar and Maharaja Dasaratha was the king of the world. But when Visvamitra came into the Kingdom, Dasaratha greeted him with great humility and devotion. He got up from his own throne and put Visvamitra on his throne and he washed his feet and worshiped his feet. You see, this is the secret that makes great kings great. The great kings understood that the greatest kings are those who have renounced all attachments to this material world. You see the crown of a king is considered insignificant compared to the opulence of the robes of renunciate, because, the opulence of renunciation is the greatest opulence. One who conquers all the lands is not as great the man who conquers his senses. You see in our history there are people, great souls who have conquered so many lands. But they could not control their own senses. So one who has conquered the senses, he was considered great. That is why a king is called Maharaja. But a renunciate is also called maharaja, great king. But there are different kinds of kings—one who has the crown and one who wears the bark of the tree or a simple dress of renuciate. But out of the two maharajas, the qualification of king maharaja is that he bows down and worships as the menial servant the renunciates, who have given their lives in the service of the God. So Maharaja Dasaratha, understood that the real treasure of his whole kingdom and of his whole life was completely dependent on blessings of the great souls.

Sometimes people think that those in the renounced order are lazy. But Maharaja Dasaratha was not thinking about like that for Visvamitra. He was not saying why not you have a job. In fact maharaja Dasaratha was just waiting for the day when he could give up his job and be like that. But, he knew it is more difficult to do than to maintain his job as king of the world. So he worshipped Visvamitra. This is the glory of grihasta is that he humbles himself before those who have sacrificed everything in the service of the lord. So Dasaratha Maharaja said to Visvamitra Muni I want to offer you everything in my kingdom. Whatever you like is yours? Now you’ve to be very careful when you say like that to a saddhu. He said, “I will offer you anything you like. Whatever you desire is yours. After all I am a representative of god. I am the king. I can fulfill any desire you have.”

Visvamitra Muni, he looked at Dasarath Maharaja. “Yes, my dear king I know you are true to your words. In the forest we are performing our sacrifices. There are two very very powerful asuras, rakshasas who are constantly spoiling all of our spiritual activities by contaminating the sacrificial arena. Their names are Maricha and Subahu. I want to take Lord Rama, your son into the forest because it is only he who could destroy these demons.” My god, when Dasaratha heard this he was stunned. “How can you ask this? Who are these demons? I am a maharathi, I will leave my armies and I’ll take one akshauhini divisional soldiers. I’ll leave the ranks and we’ll destroy those demons. Leave Rama at home. What is the problem? let me do it. But Rama is just a young child. He is hardly sixteen years old. He is not very experienced at fighting. He is still learning His lessons in the school. He has a very frail and young body. How can He fight against these asuras? Tell me more about these asuras.”

Visvamitra said they are the associates of Ravana. When Dasaratha heard this, he became very afraid. He said, “No one can touch Ravana and his associates. They are very powerful. Even I cannot stand up against them. Even Indra cannot stand up against them. He said take my whole kingdom, take everything but not Rama. I cannot bear separation from Him. I cannot give you this.” Upon hearing this Visvamitra became very angry. He became so angry that the earth began to tremble. He said, “Dasarath Maharaja! If you relinquish truth, if you go back on your words, all your piety and your entire kingdom and your entire fame of your dynasty will be finished today. I’ll leave this place and along with me will be the end of everything in your life.”

At that time, Vaisistha Muni told King Dasaratha, ”This Visvamitra is very powerful. You do not want to offend him. Give him your son. Your son is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No one is going to defeat Him. Even if you think He will. If He is under the care of Visvamitra Muni, Visvamitra Muni could destroy all the Rakshasas single handedly. He is the all powerful of all sages. The only reason, why he is asking for your son is he wants your son to be glorified.” So on the advice of Vaisistha Dasaratha said, ”Alright please take care of him.” And then Visvamitra muni took Rama into the forest.

As they wandered through the forest, they came into a jungle and this jungle was very very serious. There was practically no life in the jungle except fearful bees and vultures. Rama said what is happening. Why is this like this? Visvamitra told Him, “There was great female Rakshasi of the name Tataka. She was the mother of Maricha. He said one time this forest was very holy place, where great sages and saints would come to perform sacrifice. But she has simply come and she has destroyed everything. She eats everything in site. She loves to taste the blood. She absolutely horrified everyone with her deformed features and her ghastly roar. Rama you should kill this demon.” So Rama took His bow and He just pulled the string and it made such a noise that all the rakshasas those who are the associates of Tataka became very afraid. But she became outraged, who has come? She began screaming and roaring and she came into the forest and attacked Rama and Lakshamana. They were covered with a cloud of dust and she began to shower stones and rocks upon them. Then she was screaming a hideous sound. At that time Rama took His bow and He cut of her two arms. She was even more angry and she went upon to the sky and Lakshamana cut of his nose and ears. And she began to shower all sorts of abominable things and shower them with rocks and stones. In this way she was so angered that at last she plunged Rama with the seed of Indra’s thunderbolt and Ramachandra took His celebrated bow and shot an arrow into her breast and she fell down screaming and in a moment she died. And everyone was very happy.

Then the forest again became an auspicious place and they took rest that night. The next morning they came to the hermitage of Visvamitra. And then they began to perform the sacrifice. And Rama and Lakshmana stood up day and night with Visvamitra waiting for Maricha and Subahu to come. They stood up for six days. On the final day all of sudden the sky became very dark. And they heard screaming sounds. And Maricha and Subahu very very powerful rakshasas came down onto the sacrificial arena and began to throw stool and puss and urine and bloody human mutilated all over the sacrificial arena. Rama took His bow and He took His arrow and shot at into Maricha and it was so powerful that threw him 800 miles into the middle of the ocean. Then he took another arrow and appears to Subahu’s heart and he died instantly. Then he took another arrow that was the arrow of vayu (air). Then He shatterd all other rakshasas to flee for their lives. Thus Visvamitra was very pleased.

Then Rama very humbly approached Visvamitra who is now His guru and He said is there any other service I can render for you. In the evening Lord Sri Ramachandra would massage the legs of His spiritual master along with Lakshamana. They would go out and collect wood for their spiritual master to perform his sacrifices. Indeed they wood perform the most menial insignificant services. And everyday they would enquire with great humility from Visvamitra Muni to instruct them on the goal of life and the science of Vedas.

One person asked, do we really need guru? Ramachandra appeared to show every human being how he must live? Do you think Jagat guru Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra needs a guru? He is the knower of past present and future. He is the author of Vedas; he is the goal of Vedas. But just to show us whoever you are, however great you are, you must humble yourself and submit yourself to a spiritual master. Some people say I do not need a guru, I know Krishna. But even Krishna, He will not even say that. Even Krishna accepted guru. So the supreme Lord, who is the enjoyer of all sacrifices, “bhoktaram yagnya tapasa”, who is the proprietor of everything, who is the master of all, living beings, to set the example for us, everyday and every night he would massage His guru’s lotus feet. He would inquire submissively for Him. And His goal was simply to please His spiritual master. So Visvamitra was very pleased.

You see when the spiritual master is pleased with disciple; the spiritual master shares his life with the disciple. So Visvamitra began to take Rama and Lakshmana on a pilgrimage through the forest. One day they came to the very holy city of Mithila. When they saw the beauty of the city they were struck with wonder. How clean and how fragrant of the flowers and how beautiful and charming was the gardens of the forest and how peaceful and pure hearted were all the residence. Visvamitra Muni began to explain that this is the great king Janaka, who rules over this holy land of Mithila. He explained that in this city there is a mighty bow of Lord Sankara and people have been coming from years and years from all over the universe to try to lift this bow and bend it, because, whoever does it, attains the most beautiful goddess of fortune, Sita Devi as their wife in marriage. Now we are coming to Mithila and let us see the beauty of the place.

It is described that as they came into the kingdom, when the word came that Visvamitra Muni arrived, King Janaka and all of his ministers with great devotion worshipped his lotus feet and took them into their palace. After sometime, Rama and Lakshmana with the permission of their guru began to wander to see the beauty of this great city. They came into a particular garden, which is the garden of Sita. In that garden there was a temple of Goddess Parvati and Sita devi would daily pray to her and worship her. When Sita’s friends saw the beauty of Lord Ramachandra, they were immediately stuck with wonder. How can anyone be so beautiful as Him? He is the perfect match for our Sita devi. So they went on and got Sita. “We want to show you something, come here.” And Sita she looked through the bushes and when she saw the beautiful form of Rama, immediately the eternal love between the Lord and His consort was awakened within her heart. Then Sri Rama when He saw the beauty of Sita that unlimited infinite divine love awakened within His heart. When they looked at one another, Sita Devi being very shy, immediately looked toward His lotus feet and fixed her eyes on His lotus feet. And through her eyes she engraved the form of His lotus feet within core of her heart. In this way in the hearts of Sita and Rama, the seed of love began to grow.

At that time Visvamitra asked Janaka, “Where is the great bow? and tell us about it”, Rama had joined with them at that time with Lakshmana. Janaka said, “One time Lord Siva gave as a gift this great bow to the demigods and they gave it to my forefathers. This bow is so powerful that no man has ever even been able to lift it. But I have made a vow. He said, on the day when I was watching my beautiful little daughter Sita cleaning, she lifted this bow and dusted under it and put it back. How is it possible? Even the greatest demigods, the greatest Rakshasas, the greatest kings they cannot lift it and my little daughter lifted it. So I vow that will take the man who cringe this bow to marry my daughter. But he said unfortunately I think my daughter will have to die a kumari(unmarried girl) because there is no one in the whole universe to lift this bow. Visvamitra said Rama can lift this bow. You bring it. For thousands of man had to drag this bow into the assembly. And thousands of people came into the arena to see. At that time He effortlessly lifted the bow and He pulled the string and the bow cracked. When that bow broke it made such tumultuous and thunders sound that the universe began to shake.

At that time beautiful Goddess Sita whose heart was set fixed on the lotus feet of Rama. She puts the garland of victory around His Lotus neck. This most beautiful and wonderful union of the Lord with His eternal consort brings great joy to the life of all devotees. You see a devotee’s pleasure is giving Krishna pleasure and giving Rama pleasure. The residence of Mithila, the residence of Ayodhya and all great devotees of the Lord they are constantly in transcendental bliss because their only pleasure in seeing the pleasure of Rama. The perfection of life is to forget what do I like, what do I want, what do I need, and to simply think in terms of what will please Rama. To that extent we give up our own selfish interest in life and make our only pleasure in pleasing Krishna to that extent we become transcendental to all the miseries of this world. This is bhakti.

Understand the residents of Ayodhya and Mithila. They were not jnanis, they were not yogis. They were ordinary people. They had jobs, they were merchants, they were politicians, they were warriors, they were housewives. But they were the most fortunate and the most highly spiritually advanced. Why? Because, their only pleasure in life was giving pleasure to Sita and Rama. Of course we would be very happy to continue on the narration of Ramayana. But I think it would become very late. So one drop from the ocean of Ramayana all we have time to taste this evening. But the real message that we would like for everyone to understand is what is real value in our life? To put aside all things that we consider valuable and strive for those things that Rama feels valuable. It is said when we decorate the deity of the Lord, because you find such great pleasure in seeing Krishna’s satisfaction, you will leave all desires to decorate you own dying body. When you cook nice food for the pleasure of the Lord, you loose all desire to cook nice food for your own fastidious senses. When you work and offer as sacrifice the fruits of your actions for the pleasure of the Lord you become indifferent to your own ineffaceable lusty desires for more and more fame, more and more power, more and more prestige, more and more wealth. By watering the root of the tree we become satisfied. Rama is the root. He is the root of the all existence. So by hearing this transcendental pastimes of the lord, let us understand how the supreme personality of godhead, is appearing in such a wonderful and attractive way just, so that we will be attracted to please Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him. And in the association of devotees this message comes to life in our heart. So let us associate with devotees. Let us follow in the foot steps of the residents of Ayodha and the residents of Mithila. And in this holy day of Rama Navami, let us reconfirm our vows in life. Let us reconfirm the direction of life, we want to strive for.

atagh pumbhir dvija-srestha

varnasrama-vibhägasah

svanushtitasya dharmasya

samsiddhir hari-tosanam

(SB 1.2.13)

Whatever your occupation, whatever you position in society the goal is to please Krishna, to please Rama. Even if the whole world hates you, if you please Rama, your life will be perfect. But if the whole world glorifies but Lord Rama is not pleased then your life is a useless waste. And what pleases the Lord more than anything else.

In the age of Kali Yuga it is described

krishna varnam tvisakrishnam

Sangopangastra parsaadam

Yagnaih sankirtanaprayair

Yajanti hi su medhasah

(SB 11.5.32)

By performing the sacrifice of attentively chanting the holy name, more than anything else this gives pleasure to Krishna. It is so simple you may say why is He pleased to simple thing to chanting His holy name? Because in Kali yuga that’s the best you can do. The way to please Him in other Yugas, it is impossible for you today. But if you simply chant attentively His holy name and associate with His devotees, there is nothing to please Him more than this. So now it is time for the arati for Sri Rama Chandra and we will not go beyond the conchshell tonight. So Prasad will be in 25 minutes. But it is an opportunity to please Lord Ramachandra just as the residents of Ayodha and Mithila did on His birth. On Sita’s birth, they were also dancing and chanting and on Rama’s birth they were also dancing and chanting. So Today is Rama’s appearance day. So let us celebrate His coming into our lives in this most auspicious occasion by chanting His holy name by dancing and by remembering his mercy in our life. Thank you very much. Hare Krishna!

The history of Ravanas incarnation is an interesting one. Originally Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna had guard the gates of Vaikuntha, the supreme Lord eternal abode. At that time their name was Jaya and Vijaya. Because they offended the four Kumaras, who are great sages, the Kumaras crushed them to take birth in the material world. When the supreme lord Vishnu informed them that they could take seven births as His devotees or three births as demons, they chose the shorter exile as the demons. Because the residents of Vaikuntha deplore separation from the Lord’s lotus feet, they did however receive the boon of never forgetting the lord while on earth. Thus they are considering eternally liberated associates, nitya-siddha or Lord Vishnu. Even by thinking of the lord inimically as demons do, one can liberated.

Of course we should think of God favorable. But it is significant. That he is so powerful that even demons can be purified by thinking of Him. Wanting to exhibit his provost in fighting, the supreme Lord chose Jaya and Vijaya to be His opponents. By his grace they became so strong that only the Lord Himself could defeat them. Therefore Jaya and Vijaya took their birth as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. They were killed by the Lord appearing as Lord Varaha and Lord Narasimha respectively. In their second birth they came as Ravana and Kumbhakarna and they were killed by the Lord Ramachandra. In their third birth they appeared as Sishupala and Dantavakra and were killed by Lord Sri Krishna. Then they were able to return to Vaikuntha and resume their post as guards at transcendental abode.

After hearing the demigods petition to lead the universe of the troublesome Ravana Lord Considered various solutions. Finally Bramha said indeed, I have granted a great boon to Ravana, where by he cannot be killed by any gandharva, demigod, Rakshasa, Naga or inhabitant of the lower planetary system. However he did not ask for invincibility against human beings. Therefore O demigods be confident that very soon the lord will lead the universe of this demon. As Brahma was speaking to the demigods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Vishnu suddenly appeared in the sky riding on the back of His wind carrier the great bird Garuda. As the supreme Lord approached to His transcendental effulgence illumined everything in all directions. The Lord wore yellow garments and in His four hands He has a conchshell, disc, lotus flower and club. He was begot with golden ornaments and on His chest with the Kasturi Mani jewel on the mark of Srivatsa. Upon seeing Him all the demigods offered obeisances. Then Lord Brahma said, “O all mighty Vishnu! You are the master of all the demigods including Lord Shiva. Please incarnate on this earth as the son of King Dasaratha and kill the demon Ravana, who was killing the three worlds with fear. This mighty rakshasa is pressing all the demigods and sages because we wish him annihilated. We have come here to seek your protection. O chastiser of force, you are the supreme resort and shelter of all of us. Please descend to this material world and destroy our enemies.”

Hearing the demigods’ humble appeal, Lord Vishnu agreed to accept King Dasharatha as His father by taking birth in the wombs of King’s principal wives. Then bidding farewell to the demigods, He returned to His abode in the Vaikuntha. The sage Rrishyasringa completed the Ashwamedha sacrifice and King Dasaratha gave half of the Lord’s prasadam the holy sacrificial foods to his wife Kausalya and the other half to his wives Kaikeyi and Sumitra. After the sacrifice Lord Brahma spoke to the demigods, “Please beget personal manifestations of yourselves within the wombs of Monkeys. You should equally unite in strength. Be well versed with vedic literature and endowed with all mystic powers. They should be very intelligent, swift, and expert in warfare. They will assist Lord Vishnu in killing the chief of the Rakshasas, Ravana as well as his followers. Indeed Jambavan has already taken birth from my mouth. By hearing this all the demigods, rishis, and sages, begot thousands in the role of monkeys for the purpose of aiding Lord Vishnu. Lord Indra the chief of the demigods begot Bali who equaled to Him in strength. The sun god Vivasvan begot Sugriva the younger brother of Bali. The sage Brihaspati, the spiritual master of the demigods begot the mighty monkey Tara who is most intelligent. Kuvera the lord of wealth begot the monkey Gandhamadana. Visvakarma the architect of the demigod begot the powerful monkey name Nala. The fire god Agni begot the glorious Nila. The rich and beautiful Ashwini Kumaras begot the monkeys Mahinda and Vivida. Varuna the demigod of water begot the monkey of Susena. Hajanya the god of the rain begot Sarava and the wind god Vayu begot Hanumana. Of all the monkeys Hanuman was the strongest and most intelligent. He could with the stand with force of thunderbolt and he was swift of Lord Vishnu Himself.

The principal Apsaras, Vidyadhara women the wives of the Nagas and Gandharva women also gave birth to the children in the form of monkey with gigantic bodies and mystic powers. Each monkey had the strength of thousand of elephants, with their arms alone the monkeys could uproot gigantic trees and throw huge rocks with great force. They all had extremely sharp teeth, claws, capable of tearing out the heart of any rakshasas. In fact they could agitate the sea with their great strength and the earth simply by walking. Their legs were so powerful that they could leave great distances and jump as high as clouds. Their hands were so strong that they could seize elephants and they were roaring with so great that they could not verge from the sky. Moreover these monkeys could as soon inform at will. Living in the mountains in the forest they saw the protection of their chiefs. Some monkeys follow Bali and Sugriva, where others follow Nala, Nila, Hanuman and others. All the monkeys however considered Bali to be their king and Lord. The monkey chief is so great that they looked like massive clouds covering the peaks of the mountains. Indeed they were given the gigantic bodies just to assist Lord Sri Ramachandra. After the successful Yajna directed by the great sage Rishyasringa, King Dasarath joyfully ruled his capital. His principal wives were pregnant having taken of Vishnu Prasadam from the sacrifice. And they appeared more effulgent as the sun feeling greatly satisfied. The king waited for the supreme Lord Himself to take birth as his son. After the sacrifice when the star Punarvasu was sending the sun on Aries, Mars was on Capricorn, Saturn was on Libra, Jupiter was on Cancer and the moon was on the Pisces.

The eldest of King Dasaratha’s queens Kausalya gave birth to Lord Rama, who is the Lord of the universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead himself, Lord Vishnu. Rama is the greatest descendent of the line of Kings – was endowed with all auspicious divine markings. His eyes were tinged with red and his lips were also red. His long arms extended down to his knees and the symbols of Vishnu, the lotus, conchshell, disc, and club and other markings could be seen of His hands and His souls of His feet. King Dasaratha’s next son named Bharat took birth from the womb of queen Kaikeyi. Being a manifestation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Bharat also possessed great strength. After Bharata’s birth queen Sumitra gave birth to Lakshmana and Satrughna, who are also expansions of the supreme Lord.

Upon the birth of Lord Rama, all the demigods in the heavenly planets began singing and playing musical instruments. The heavenly apsaras danced and all the gandharvas, kinnaras, and vidhyadharas assembled in the sky to offer prayers to the lord and shower the earth with flowers. Everyone in Ayodha rejoiced to the appearance of Lord Ramachandra. Many people danced and chanted and everyone felt jubilant. All the roads leading to Ayodha were filled with sweet songs and King Dasharatha being very pleased performed splendorous name giving ceremony for his sons. Giving mounts of brilliant jewels, thousands of cows, and many other valuable gifts to the brahmanas. The priest Vaisistha Muni performed all the purificatory ceremonies for the four divine boys. Rama, Bharata, Lakshamana, and Satrughna.

In due course, other ceremonies from bestowing of names to the presentation of sacred thread were performed by Vaisistha muni. Very soon King Dasaratha’s four illustrious sons became masters of Vedas and heroes intent on benefiting everyone. Lord Rama was expert at chariot fighting and riding elephants and horses. His special love however was archery and always He was devoted to his father’s service. Lord Rama’s younger borther Lakshmana was deeply attached to Rama and tried to satisfy Him in everyway. Rama loves Lakshsmana so much, that he could not even sleep without him. Rama would not even eat, when His brother was not present. Whenever Lord Rama was riding on horseback or took out a chariot Lakshmana was with Him guarding Him in all sides. Just as Lakshmana served Rama, Saturghana served Bharata. In this way the four sons were inseparable and very dear to one another. Seeing their excellent qualities King Dasaratha was extremely delighted. Indeed the four boys always dwelt in the core of his heart. This is the nature of love. The beloved dwells in the core of one’s heart and cannot be forgotten even for a moment.

As Lord Krishna says His pure devotee is always within the core of His heart and He is always in theirs. They are most dear to Him and He is most dear to them. The devotees do not know anything but their worshippable Lord. There is no question of separation neither in this world or the next, for the Lord and His devotees they are internally and transcendentally blissful far beyond the mode of cares of this world birth and death. Because King Dasarath was always merged in thoughts of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the form of his first son, he knew full happiness in his heart was completely satisfied. Sri Ramachandra ki Jay!

On this special day we should be very very attentive to attract the mercy of Lord Sri Ramachnandra by always thinking of Him by speaking of Him and by hearing of Him. Whatever time we have at our disposal we should be reading the pastimes of the Lord and discussing amongst one another, this most beautiful and wonderful lila as depicted in Ramayana. And of course we should work very hard and attentively in our devotional activities and we should strive to consciously to offer our every act, every thought and our every word in the loving service of our guru maharaja, for the glorification of Sri Rama. So let us invite Sri Ramachandra to appear on this holy day of Rama Navami within the core of our own hearts by sincerely calling upon His holy names, by sincerely finding relish and satisfaction in describing his glorious pastimes.

In this way the lord appears in this world to display His super excellent opulence, primarily to attract our minds, away from the things of the senses and again towards the shelter of His lotus feet. How holy and special is the day of Rama Navami? Of all Lord Sri Krishna’s incarnations Lord Sri Ramachandra has displayed such an exciting and beautiful and sweet pastimes manifesting the beautiful loving reciprocation of pure love with His devotees. Displaying His super excellent power to defeat and annihilate all demoniac forces. Lord Sri Ramachandra appeared to guides human being to show by his own example, how the perfect human being should behave. He also appeared as a king to show the world by His own example, the duties of great king. In this way Sri Ramachandra was absolutely perfect example and everything He did for all humanity to follow. So let us meditate upon the mercy of Sri Ramachandra and then it is for certain that divine love for His lotus feet will awaken within our hearts and we will taste the sweetness of pure devotion and then our love our lives will find great fulfillment in His divine service. Thank You very much.

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Interview with Dr. Kenneth Valpey (Krishna Kshetra Swami) March 8, 2020, in Mumbai

(soon to be published, in Hindi translation, in Dainik Jagran)

Interviwer (Mr. Kalakantha Das) – I have with me Dr. Kenneth Valpey, also known as Krishna Kshetra Swami. He is a scholar from Oxford University in the U.K., a Research Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.He has written a few books related to Hindu traditions, and his latest book, published this year, is called *Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics*, published by the international academic publisher, Palgrave Macmillan. He has been regularly visiting India since 1978. Dr. Valpey, what was your inspiration to write this book?

Author -- The subject called “animal ethics” has become one of great interest and relevance in academic circles, in philosophical discussions about human relations with animals. In Oxford we have one research institute called the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics. The Director of this Center, Professor Andrew Linzey, is also the chief editor of a book series on animal ethics of the academic publisher Palgrave Macmillan, and he invited me to write on the subject--specifically Hinduism and animal ethics. To this topic I added the more specific theme of cows in Hindu animal ethics.

Interviewer-- In India it is very common that when we talk about cowsCow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics by Krishna Kshetra Swami , the subject evokes strong emotionsin many people. Sothe question may come, Why only the cow? I mean why do cows have a prominent position in India, when we talk about human relations with animals in general?

Author -- The prominent position of cows in Indian culture goes way back to the earliest of the Sanskrit literature, the Veda -- Rig-Veda. Already from the time of the Rig-Veda there is a recognition, I would say, that cows are very much tied in with human well being. This relationship is on many levels, not just the material economic level of wealth as well-being, but also on the deeper level of our deeper consciousness, of our psychological well-being, and the well-being of the environment as a whole. All different features of what we generally in English call well-being today are served by cows. This is a very ancient understanding, and not only ancient, but in the present time people also appreciate this quality of cows.

Interviewer -- So would you say that from the Indian tradition the cow has a central position in other aspects beyond economics?

Author -- Yes, very much so.If it were only about economics, if it were only about the physical products of cows, I don't think we would see the extent of concern that we do for cows and also the intensity of the emotional dimension that we find in the matter of cows, not only in India but actually in many traditions worldwide in earlier cultures. Cows, both female and male, go-vamsha--cow's progeny-- including male, have been very highly valued. They have been valued in many cultures not just as sources of food for humans, but as living beings of a special quality.

Interviewer -- In ancient scriptures of India specifically, the cows have been always revered as representative of dharma. Is that a point you present in your book?

Author -- Indeed I do. The essential idea of dharma is often forgotten nowadays. Dharma originally meant “that which is sustain”, or “that which upholds the human order and cosmic order”. So we have this kind of buzzword in english—*sustainability*--we are very much concerned about the environment. But actually, talk about sustainability exists since ancient times: when dharma is properly comprehended and practiced, sustainability on all levels naturally follows. Cows are integral to the maintenance of the culture of sustainability; hence they are representative of dharma. Again, this is the case on many levels.

Interviewer -- In the West there is a movement called “veganism” (avoiding all animal-based food, including dairy). People who identify themselves as vegansare blaming cows for environmental disorder. Do you comment on that in your book?

Author -- Yes, this is discussed. The vegans have some very good points which I think we can all learn from, especially the real necessity for us to really stop exploitation of animals for our own interests. The entire agro-industry, animal production industry, which includesdairy, includes meat, skins of animals (leather) and so on—the promoters of the vegan movement know that these kinds of exploitations need to be stopped. And at the same time vegans don't seem to be fully informed with respect to the bigger picture of proper human-animalrelationships. As long as agro-industry is done as it is done today—for example the industrial form of keeping animals that is called CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations)--such large scale taking of animals as commodities is certainly contributing very high percentages to environmental damage. The beginning of this damage is in destruction of the forests for growing the feed for these animals that will then be killed. But it also includes the concentration of the cows in these CAFOs and then the improper processing of the cow dung, instead of using it for fertilizer and production of bio-gas. But that's a big topic. I touch on it briefly in the book.

Interviewer -- It seems that from what you have just described, if dharma is connected to the sustenance of the world, actually doing something which harms the cows could be a kind of reaction of the planet as a whole towards such harm. Is that so?

Author -- Yes.Some philosophers very recently have been speaking about how in a sense the earth has a whole—conceivedas a kind of living entity (“Gaia”)--is, so to say,“biting back” because of our mistreatment of the environment in so many ways. Not only the wholesale slaughter of cows, but also of so many other animals. More than 50 billion--some sources estimate more than 70 billion--land animals per year are slaughtered by humans. Certainly we are getting painful and far-reaching reaction for this, most obviously occuring in the form of climate change (with storms, draughts, desertification, and so on).

Interviewer -- In India cows, which are born here are often called “desi” cows. They are often contrasted with “Jersey” cows, which are not indigenous to India. Do you talk about this element in your book?

Author -- Indeed.Let me first say, on this topic, that I really personally like desi cows. They are certainly special in many ways, out of all the different cow breeds of which there are some one thousand listed in some resources. My favorites are what Indians like to call “desi” cows. I discuss two points about this in the book.One is that it is certainly important and valuable and enriching for all of us if all of these desi breeds are protected and sustained so that these breeds don't get lost. And we want to see them thrive. But, second, to say that these are the only cows is a kind of mis-information.There are different sub-species of bovines, of which the general term for the Indian cows is Bos Indicus. This is one major division or sub-species of cows. Another major division is called Bos Taurus, which is what we find in most other countries of the world. They are all cows. They are Bos (bovinea). And it's understood within the wider tradition and the longer tradition--not just in recent years but the longer tradition, that cows are cows and they are all to be cared for, they are all to be protected. To be indigenous is to be well-adapted to local conditions, Indian cows do very well in India. But other places have their own indigenous breeds, and they need to be at their places, according to local conditions. But all breeds of cows are benefiting the whole planet, each in their own ways. We are interested in the well-being ofthe whole planet, and I think others are as well, not only the well-being of India. But we have a very rich tradition in India of cow care and therefore the focus in the book is on this.

Interviewer -- In India we have had the tradition that cow-centered agriculture was practiced, and as a result,there was great wealth and opulence in this country. It is said that it was this opulence of India that attracted the British colonial effort. What do you understand about the economics of cows?

Author – First I have to say that I am not an economist, so my knowledge and understanding of bovine economics is a work in progress. What I have discussed in the book in this connection is mainly the economy of goshalas. The truth of the matter is thatgoshalas in present-day India are largely maintained by the support of charity. They are not self-sustaining. But this may not be altogether a bad thing, because charity means that people are giving for cows, and this becomes a kind of service to cows, go-seva, which we understand from shastra is highly beneficial for whomever engages in it. At the same time what we understand is that there is an urgent need to identify models of self-sustaining cow care programs in which reintegration of cows with agriculture, with farming, can be shown, can be realised. People were doing farming with cows and bulls for thousands of years, so it's not that they are uneconomical, they are economical. Just we have to recover that process.

Interviewer -- This book has been published by aninternational academic publisher, Palgrave Macmillan. How may the academic world, or researchers, benefit from this book? What kind of message would you give to them related to this specific work on animal ethics.

Author  – This book may be read by a wide variety academics in various fields of scholarship and research. There are all kinds of specialists including those who study South Asia, those who study religion, those who study Hinduism, cultural anthropologists, political scientists, andtoday there are also increasing numbers of specialists in enviromental studies. Also there is a field developing called Animal Studies, within which we find Animal Ethics which is then also connecting with philosophy. So I would hope that people, scholars in all these different fields, willread the book and appreciate that this is a serious subject which they should take into account in their own research and in their teaching. And I would hope that these scholars would also encourage their students to read the book and get some understanding of how important the subject is.

Interviewer -- So is the book only for academics?

Author — No, certainly not! I have written the book specifically with a wider audience in mind, so even if it has a somewhat academic “style” (such as having many footnotes and references), it should be of interest and benefit for anyone with a serious interest in the subject.

Interviewer -- How does one get a copy of the book?

Author --*Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics* is available by ordering it through the Internet, either directly from the publisher, or through one or another among online book outlets. I should especiallycall attention that this book is available not only as a regular hardbound book (which is not inexpensive, coming as it does from a foreign publisher), but it is also available for download in digital format (pdf or epub) directly—and legally—from the publisher. This is possible through the Open Access platform of publishing. Just by searching the book title on Google, you can find the webpage of the book, where you will find a button for downloading the electronic version. Everyone is also welcome to share the link with friends. At present, I should add, in the first three months since the book was published, the electronic version has already been downloaded more than 16,000 times.

Interviewer -- That’s amazing! So people are definitely interested in your book, because they are concerned about cows. It sounds like this book is going to have significant influence in India.

Author — Let’s hope so.

Interviewer — Some readers may wonder if your book is available in Hindi…

Author — Not yet. But if a reputable publisher of Hindi non-fiction comes forward with interest to publish the book in Hindi, we can work on making an agreement with the English version publisher, and then it should be easy to arrange for a good translation to be made and published.

Interviewer -- Thank you very much, Dr. Valpey.

Author -- My pleasure!

Internet links:

Webpage of *Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics*:

https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783030284077

Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies:

www.ochs.org.uk

Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics:

www.oxfordanimalethics.com

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For many years, the ISKCON GBC Strategic Planning Team (SPT) has been serving the GBC by offering strategic advice, guidance and solutions for the benefit of the whole of ISKCON. Now, to help devotees stay safe and cope with the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SPT has put together a global task force team that gathers and disseminate both spiritually uplifting and materially useful information. 

They collect content from anywhere in ISKCON (and beyond) and will share: 

1. Ideas on how to productively engage in Krishna consciousness while being confined at home, and also on how to engage children and teenagers.

2. Ideas on how to associate with each other in various ways while not leaving your place.

3. Best practices adopted in various ISKCON communities in the world to take care of the devotees and protect each other. 

4. Ideas on how to do outreach from home.

5. Useful information on the virus and on ways to prevent infection and the spreading of infection. 

6. Reminders of standards of safety - individual and collective.  

7. Analysis of developments in areas such as economy, geopolitics, security, etc. 

8. Anything else that could be useful to the devotees. 

Devotees our requested to please share this information as widely as possible through email, websites, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

All the relevant information will be disseminated through ISKCON News, Dandavats and via various other channels on a daily basis, and all the sent out materials will be categorized and archived for easy research on http://gbcstrategicplanningteam.com/

Devotees can write to the SPT at: contact@gbcstrategicplanningteam.com

And specifically for prayers' requests - for devotees infected: prayers@gbcstrategicplanningteam.com  

Stay home and stay safe. 

Source: https://iskconnews.org/gbc-strategic-planning-team-offers-devotees-support-to-face-covid-19-challenges,7310/

 

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God’s Protection by Giriraj Swami

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From a talk by Srila Prabhupada on Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 25.29, January 21, 1967, San Francisco.

The laws of nature are so strict that if you have to suffer, nobody can check it. That is realized by Prahlada Maharaja. There are so many evidences. Balasya neha saranam pitarau. (SB 7.9.19) [“My Lord Nrsimhadeva, O Supreme, because of a bodily conception of life, embodied souls neglected and not cared for by You cannot do anything for their betterment. Whatever remedies they accept, although perhaps temporarily beneficial, are certainly impermanent. For example, a father and mother cannot protect their child, a physician and medicine cannot relieve a suffering patient, and a boat on the ocean cannot protect a drowning man.”]

There are many children, they have got their parents, but they are suffering. Actually, their parents take care. But in spite of their parents being present, they are suffering for want of food, want of proper management. Therefore it is to be understood that the father and mother are not actually the responsible persons to take care of the children.

Then, nartasya cagadam. Artasya, those who are suffering from disease—medicine is not all. Suppose one man is suffering: you give him all treatment and medicine. There are many rich men; they can spend like anything. But does it mean that he’ll be cured? No. He may not be cured. And even in the presence of parents, the children may suffer.

Udanvati nauh. And suppose you have got very good, nice ship. Do you mean to say that you’ll cross over the Atlantic Ocean safely? Oh, at any moment it can be drowned. There is no guarantee. You have got very nice jet plane; you are going to San Francisco. Oh, there is no guarantee that you will reach there. Therefore, unless there is God’s sanction, all these remedies, all these protections, are useless.

Therefore the best service to the humanity is to revive people’s Krishna consciousness, God consciousness. That will save them. Not this little hospital or this little foodstuff. No. That cannot save him. If God neglects one . . . There is a Bengali saying, two lines: rakse krsna mare ke, mare krsna rakse ke. If Krishna, God, wants to kill somebody, oh, nobody can protect him. And if God wants to protect him, oh, nobody can kill him. . . . Both ways.

One Dr. Ghosh told me—because I was in medical business. He went to see one patient. He explained, “He’s suffering from pneumonia, and he’s such a poor man, lying in such an unfavorable condition. Our medical science says he should have died. But I don’t see that he’s dying. He’s not dying.” I have tested this. One doctor at Gaya, a Muhammadan named Suvahi—I saw that many patients were surrounding him. So I congratulated him, “Doctor, you have got very good patients. Your practice is very nice.” “Sir,” he replied, “it is not my credit. If you want my practical experience, I’ll tell you that with confidence I prescribe somebody some medicine—it fails. And without any confidence, just to take a chance, I prescribe some medicine, ‘Oh, let me see . . .’ and, oh, it works nicely. So actually, I can take no credit.” So, he was an honest man to admit, “It is God’s grace that so many patients are being cured in my hand, but I say I have no credit.” This the reality.

So, we should not take any credit. Everything is under the laws of the Supreme Lord, through the agency of this material, external energy. Just like a government is working through different departments, similarly God is working through His different energies. He’s sitting with you, He’s seeing everything, and He knows everything. Vedaham samatitani. (Gita 7.26) [“O Arjuna, as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows.”]

Source: http://www.girirajswami.com/?p=15619

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