Lord Rama Bridges Gaps in Dharma
The greatness about Lord Rama, as we see Him in the Ramcharita Manas composed by Goswami Tulsidasji is that he bridges the gaps between thought, emotion and action. Hence he is described as the “Dharma Sethu” which means the one who bridges the gaps in Dharma. Whenever a person dedicates himself to his own original nature which is naturally unmanifest or undiscovered, then Rama Nama-The Holy Name of Lord Rama, Rama Katha- the Stories of Lord Rama, Rama Rupa- The eternal majestic form of Lord Rama and Rama Guna- The eternal Qualities of Sri Rama are taken refuge of. This is inevitable if you are committed to your original nature or Dharma.
Practices related to Sri Rama
Today, material conditioning, our society and other external influences have manipulated us as we lose touch with the original being that vibrates within us. If that being is to be invoked so as to make life accessible fully, the Bridge of Sri Rama remains to be our sole resort. Thus people in Bharath who have taken to the spiritual practice of abiding by Truth or Dharma, take to the committed reading of scriptures like Ramayana or the Ramcharita Manas. Many sages and dedicated yogis take to the chanting of the Holy names of Sri Rama and there are others who meditate upon the perfect divine form and qualities of Sri Rama. These practices are not simply induced by tradition, as some modern philosophers and spiritualist opine. These are tried and tested practices which have not lost their effectiveness till date. So even if one commits himself to any one of the processes described above, success is guaranteed. This, I am exhorting based on my own experiments with the practices stated above.
Dasharath and Janaka
There are two characters who are father-figures to Lord Rama who have the paths of Bhakti and Jnana encoded within their persona. Studying their characters shall also reveal the two powerful paths of sadhana to the follower of Sanatana Dharma. These two father-figures are King Dasharath- the biological father of Lord Rama and King Janaka- the father-in-law of Lord Rama. It is important to understand the thought, emotions and the work of these two characters to discover the secrets of the paths of Bhakti and Jnana respectively.
King Dasharath and Bhakti
It is to be understood that King Dasharath represented Bhakti. His mood towards the Supreme Being Rama was that of attachment and love. Lord Rama cannot be compared to an ordinary mortal. Getting attached or loving your mortal son is an indication of material weakness which is unsuitable towards the higher cause of liberation. But Lord Rama is the Supreme Being, the Supreme cause. Getting attached to Him in the mood of one’s own son, unlike mortal connections, is the highest and the most elevated form of Bhakti. This is the mood of a Dwaitavada (qualified dualism). A sage who considers himself the father of the Supreme Being, is placed in the most elevated and superlative mood of Bhakti, this is the opinion of the Vedic Scriptures. Goswami Tulsidas has regarded King Dasharath as the Acharya or the Supreme teacher of the mood of Bhakti. Even if one follows the mood of King Dasharath and yearns to love the Lord in that mood, one would have moved many rungs upwards, on the ladder of Supreme Love, the highest possible love in the spiritual dominion. This is also a recommended methodology in the Vedic Scriptures for elevating oneself through the path of Bhakti.
King Janaka and Jnana
King Janaka has been recognized as the greatest Jnani who has ever walked on the planet, by the Vedic Scriptures. Normally it is seen that there is a yawning gap between the approaches of a Jnani and a Bhakta-the devotee. The two characters of King Dasharath and King Janaka; one a devotee and the other a Jnani, were brought close together by Lord Rama, who played the role of the bridge that connected Bhakti to Jnana. By the Love of Dasharath who was King Manu in his previous birth, he forced, that which is beyond form, the source of all that can be, to manifest in an all-loving and lovable form of Sri Rama. King Dasharath summoned the Supreme reality to appear as his own son. This was the power of Bhakti. It is understood that King Dasharath and Lord Rama had a direct father-son relationship. King Janaka was related to Sri Rama in an indirect way. They came in a father-in-law/ son-in-law relationship. How could this relationship be explained? King Janaka’s relationship with Lord Rama is through his daughter Sita Devi who is the eternal consort of Lord Rama. The Supreme Being is a person, the epitome of pure love. King Janaka was a Jnani (A Knowledgeable sage) and a renunciant at heart. He was a follower of Truth and was the personification of dispassion. His dispassion was such that the Supreme Being wanted to establish a relationship with such a personality. But how could that happen? The Personality of the Lord can only be attracted by the power of pure Love. Hence it was the Lord’s ploy to manifest Mother Sita, the personification of Supreme Love, Bhakti Devi to appear at the house of the Personification of dispassion. Only then could the Supreme Object of Love, Sri Rama could claim his love for King Janaka. We shall analyze the glory of King Janaka in a bit of detail.
King Janaka gets Sita Devi
King Janaka was the personification of Nishkama or absolute desirelessness and dispassion. Since he was the king of Mithila, he was sincere to his position of being the king. He would only strive for the welfare of the people and was not interested towards his personal comforts. Once, the kingdom of Mithila faced the threat of famine. He was advised to run a plough through the parched land of Mithila so as to save the kingdom. It was believed that such an act by the most incorruptible and dispassionate ruler would send blessings to the accursed kingdom in the form of showers from the heavens. He did accordingly and as he was ploughing the field, he hit upon a metallic container which had a baby inside it. This happened to be the baby-form of Mother Sita Devi. This instance can be interpreted from a spiritual standpoint.
Spiritual Interpretation of Ploughing the Field
Mother earth is compared to the field of intelligence. When one becomes dispassionate and endeavors or performs work with complete dispassion, it results in developing the loving flavors of Bhakti. Thus Karma Yoga, or work performed with absolute desirelessness and utter sincerity shall trigger the flavor or mellows of divine love. King Janaka represents dispassion and the tip of the plough represents sharpness of desirelessness put to work. The ploughing of the field, as an activity, represents the working on intelligence with dispassion, which has been sharpened by desirelessness. When there is such high degree of character in one’s persona, naturally the highest nectar is available, drinking which, the Supreme Lord is made available. The discovery of Mother Sita Devi in the bosom of the Earth represents the availability of the divine mellows of love, accepting which, the Supreme Being, Lord Rama becomes available without any conscious effort.
How can we attain the Supreme Being?
There are two ways to attain the Supreme Being. One is a direct path, which appears to be illogical in the modern day context, but is practically, the easiest and the most efficient way of ‘owning’ the Lord, so to say. That is the path as enunciated by King Dasharath. A follower of Sanatana Dharma does not question the existence of God or even does not have an iota of doubt that there can be any other reality, other than the Supreme Being, because he is already feeling Him through his faith and experience of the world. In such cases, the path of Bhakti becomes as easy as breathing. When one simply delivers all faith and emotion to the Lord, calling him with affection, in one’s heart, the Lord becomes easily available. The Lord does not see the qualification of the devotee but is simply happy to establish a bond with his devotee who has surrendered his all to the Lord as the beloved surrenders her all to the lover. The absence of the lover in sight is no impediment. If the lover is not physically present, it does not mean that he does not exist. He is there and watching you all the while and is waiting to be summoned by His beloved. This is the fastest, easiest and surest path of attaining Him, just as King Dasharath forced the Supreme Lord to appear as his biological son.
Other Ways to attain the Supreme Being
The second path, is possibly the difficult path. It is a path suitable for those who find it hard to repose faith on a being who is not to be seen or felt. They do trust the words of some enlightened beings but find it hard, whatever said and done to believe in probably a “fictitious being” who may or may not exist, according to them. This is where the rules of Karma Yoga have to be followed. One has to then, obey certain aspects of sadhana as a rule of practice. One needs to disassociate mentally from all that binds him to the world. This can be brought to action only by those souls who are convinced that the material world has nothing to offer them. This is the beginning point. Anyone else who has any other expectations from the material world cannot run into this mode of practice, he is not qualified for it, so to say. When one has given up one’s desires, one commits himself to work for a cause with dedication and surrender, by ever remaining dispassionate towards the cause for which they work. Easier said than done. One cannot expect any personal or worldly benefit from those causes. That is the condition. As this sincerity of commitment were to continue, it will crack open a different dimension of existence and one will discover a deeper mellow in their dispassion. They will see a new purpose and new meaning. They will be attracted to the divine love, which is at the core of all actions that have no frills or fringes. In this ardor of divinity, they will find the divine being who is in control of the apparent world. It is the discovery of the Supreme Being that will herald the culmination of all endeavors to savor the Supreme.