Sri Narada Visits Sage Valmiki
There was once an occasion when the great celestial Sage Narada met up with sage Valmiki at the hermitage at Bithoor, Uttar Pradesh, India.
There He spoke about an individual with 16 exquisite qualities, which took sage Valmiki by surprise.
Sage Narada remembered all the great qualities of Sri Rama but waited for emotions to overtake him before he spoke about them to sage Valmiki.
The qualities of Sri Rama, exalted as they are, melted the sage’s heart.
With his choked voice and eyes filled with tears of joy, the sage looked at Sri Narada.
“You should first know how Sri Rama looks.” Says Narada
Sage Narada said: “He is from the great clan of King Ikshavaku of the Solar Dynasty.
I will describe to you in brief, about Sri Rama, who is unparalleled in this whole universe.”
Sage Valmiki was interested in knowing the inner qualities of Sri Rama.
However, Sage Narada described in detail the physical beauty of the Lord, through the initial verses.
Sage Narada Says: ” Valmiki, first you should know how Sri Rama looks before you understand in-depth His inner qualities.”
Thus, the first 8 verses represent the beauty of Sri Rama.
The question is,
Why did sage Narada not answer Valmiki?
This is interesting to note.
Unless one is able to identify a person through one’s physical identity, the mind shall never be able to appreciate the inner qualities of the person.
If I talk about a person without giving details of the looks of the person, can one appreciate the qualities of the person?
Instead, if I give a reference photograph of a person and then discuss the inner qualities of the person, will that not be better?
Hence there should be order while presenting the characteristics of a person.
It should begin with the outer descriptions and then it shall be fruitful if one discusses the inner qualities.
2 Types of Qualities
There are two terms rupa-guna (रूप-गुण) and then there is swarupa (स्वरूप).
Rupa-Guna: It represents the physical form of the Lord.
For example, Sri Rama’s emerald-like complexion, tall figure, and lotus-like feet and palms, etc fall under Rupa Guna.
They are descriptions of His physical beauty.
Swarupa Guna: It describes the qualities and the greatness of the Lord, representing the existential reality of Sri Rama.
For example, the salient quality of Sri Rama is that He protects His personal associates as well as takes care of the whole Universe.
16 Divine Qualities of Sri Rama
Now, they had a question-answer session wherein Sage Narada answered all the questions laid by Sage Valmiki.
Thus, the answers of Sri Narada revealed the 16 Divine Qualities of Sri Rama.
1) Ever Truthful
It is said that none other than Sri Rama could Slay the Demoness Tadaka.
Only a man who never, in His life spoke a lie could kill Tadaka.
Hence, Sage Vishwamitra insisted that Sri Rama should accompany Him to the forest.
Even his war strategies, abided by truth and always fell in line with the Shastras.
He never employed foul means to get the better of his worst enemies.
Sri Rama was transparent and straightforward, in character, thought, word and deed.
2. Respectful Language
Sri Rama never disrespected anyone.
He respected youngsters equally as he would respect adults.
Never, would he dictate people.
His transaction with other people was always amiable.
He would put forward his disagreement in a pleasing manner.
3. Extends Help without asking
This is Sri Rama’s generosity. Even before his subjects would realize the problem, Sri Rama would fix it.
He loved and cared for his subjects as if they were his own children.
Indeed, all of us are, as He is the Universal father.
4. Sri Rama, never gambled
Ancient kings, gambling as a leisure activity, was common among ancient royal classes of kings and queens.
In the Mahabharath, gambling was specifically highlighted as the root cause for the downfall of the Kuru-Clan.
Hence, the Shastras strictly prohibit gambling even if played in sporting spirits.
Sri Rama was the upholder of Dharma, hence he never gambled.
5. Expected Nothing in return
Sri Rama would do others many favours but expect nothing in return.
However, his devotees, offer Him their unconditional love and that is what He loves the most.
6. Extremely Humble
On the ocassion of Sita Swayamvar, when the Great ascetic Parshurama grew furious, Sri Rama displayed his unparalled Humility.
He accepted the position of the fallen one who Broke the Shiva Dhanush.
For a while, Sage Parshurama forgot his anger for he could not believe that it is this kind-hearted, soft, and humble Sri Rama who broke the bow.
7) Equal to All Beings on The Planet
Sage Valmiki asks: “Is there a man who interacts with other people without considering their social status; who does not have barriers of high and low?”
To this Sage Narada replies: “Who other than Sri Ramachandra can be all-accepting and equal to all living beings?”
Sri Narada continues: “It is well-known that Lord Ramachandra considered the banished Vanara King, Sugriva, a sub-human as His own brother and friend.
He is the one who considered Vibheeshana, a demon, as His brother.
He even considered Nishada, a tribal commoner, as his closest friend and associate.
The great vulture, Jatayu, a bird, accepted the position of His father, on Sri Rama’s insistence.
My great Lord, Sri Rama accepted half-bitten berries from a lowly tribal woman, Shabari for she unconditionally loved Him.
However, Sri Rama was himself the son of the most powerful King Dasharath.
He was the King of Ayodhya and the most powerful and charming.
The whole of Bharat revered Sri Rama.
Yet, His great person never considered anyone lower than Himself.
8) Nothing other than Dharma gave Him Pleasure
Usually, people separate material life from spiritual life.
But, Sri Rama never lived a life without Dharma. When Sri Rama was announced as the next King of Ayodhya, every person became ecstatic.
Yet, due to Manthara, he was banished from the kingdom for 14 years.
However, Sri Rama felt the joy to proceed towards the forest because he got an opportunity to follow Dharma.
Fulfilling a promise without any compromise is the code of Dharma.
Sri Rama fulfilled the promise made to King Dasharatha and that was His pleasure.
He did not feel pain while living an austere life in the forest.
9) He only looks at the Good Points in the Most Negative Characters
Sri Rama always looked at the goodness in people.
Though others might not find any good qualities, Sri Rama would successfully point out the good qualities in the most negative charcaters.
When Manthara plotted against Sri Rama, He did not feel offended.
Instead, He regards Manthara as the strongest character in the Ramayana.
Because of her influence on Queen Kaikeyi, He was exiled for 14 years.
For this reason, people only point out Manthara as an evil woman.
However, Sri Rama looked at this evil plot as an opportunity to know his subjects better.
He appreciates Manthara as she highlighted Sri Rama’s character as a dutiful son and as the upholder of Dharma.
In spite of Ravana being a torture for the entire universe, Sri Rama respects his position as a Vidvaan ( a knowledgeable priest).
Just before Ravana departed for the heavenly abode, Sri Rama instructed Lakshmana to undertake lessons from him.
He did so because He respected Ravana for his knowledge and expertise in the Vedas.
Sri Rama acknowledges the person for whatever good he has, and discounts the evil propensities in His devotees.
10) Anger was His servant
Usually, we get angry. We have no control over it.
Instead, it comes when it wants to and possesses us like a spirit.
But, Sage Valmiki poses his next question now: ” Who is the Being who never gets angry even on provocation?” and…
“Can this be the same personality, who gets angry at the drop of a pin, and even the Gods or Devatas of the heavens tremble, fearing his anger?”
Now one may argue that if a person never gets angry, how can the same person’s anger make others tremble?
This appears to be a misrepresented question.
It can be understood with this simple situation.
If some stranger intends to insult us, we may ignore the person.
It does not matter in such a case.
But, when the same person tries to insult or harm our dear ones, (devotees of this personality) we get angry.
The same person crosses all boundaries of anger.
Such a condition is always possible.
We get to see this condition getting satisfied in one episode of Ramayana.
Devatas fear Sri Rama’s anger
When Ravana attacked Sri Rama and hurled many blows at Him, the gracious Lord, accepted those blows with a smile on His face.
Sri Rama was such a great master that anger being a vice, found a place at His lotus feet.
Sri Rama was beyond anger.
Anger was thus, His obedient servant.
If Sri Rama is ready to adorn anger, then it would come to Him.
Likewise, if He commanded anger to leave, it would simply disappear.
Anger was at His beck and call.
11) Sri Rama could never bear his devotees being harmed.
He is extremely possessive about His devotees. If any enemy would harm his devotees, Sri Rama would immediately display anger and punish the guilty.
In Ramayana it is mentioned that when Ravana released his arrow towards Sri Rama, He did nothing.
But, when his first arrow sped up towards Sri Hanumanji Maharaj, Lord Rama decided Ravana’s destiny.
He slew Ravana because he committed the offense of harming His devotees.
This was the love of the Lord towards His devotee.
12) Satisfied with whatever He has: Sri Rama was grateful for whatever He had and never demanded anything.
He only knew to distribute His love and unconditional favors to others.
13) Had no woman, other that Srimati Sita Devi in His life: When Sri Rama decided to perform the Ashwamedha, Srimati Sita Devi, lived in Valimiki Ashram.
Ashwamedha cannot be performed without the queen.
But, it was essential to perform that Yajna for the welfare of the kingdom.
So, Sri Rama, upheld the code of Dharma as well as of Srimati Sita Devi.
He did so by, creating a golden statue of Sita Devi.
According to the Shastras, golden statue of the queen is considered to be the queen herself.
Other kings married for political purposes.
But, Sri Rama followed the code of one wife and refused to marry again, under any circumstance.
14) Clarifies all misunderstanding: This quality enhanced His position of a king, friend, brother, son, consort and as a well wisher.
15) He spent money for the welfare of others.
16) He was an ideal king, setting morals, truth and spiritual discipline in His kingdom.
Thanks for reading!