Lord Rama, His eternal brother Lord Laxmana and the great Sage, the Spiritual Master of the two brothers Sage Vishwamitra arrived at the city of Mithila, after the event of Lord Rama resurrecting Devi Ahilya from her stone form. The trio were sitting at the guest accommodation of King Janaka, after being ceremoniously received by him into the king’s palace. Sri Rama was seated near to his Guru, sage Vishwamitra, as he observed curiosity erupt on the face of His brother Sri Laxmana. Sri Laxmana desired to explore the scenes of the new city. However, since He had high respect for both Lord Rama and His guru Sage Vishwamitra, he contained his curiosity without divulging his keen interest to sight-see. Lord Rama, however, could read through the overflowing curiosity, in His brother’s eyes. Now Lord Rama looked at sage Vishwamitra with a persuasive look, which prompted the sage to ask, “What is the matter Ram? Do you want to say something?” To this, the Lord replied “Gurudev, Laxmana wants to sight-see the city but He is hesitant to seek your permission owing to fear, out of respect for you. With your kind permission, can I escort him to show him around the city of Mithila?” Hearing these endearing words full of love and respect, the great sage was overcome with loving emotions and he gives a strange but extremely meaningful title of honor to the Lord. He addresses Lord Rama thus “Raghavendra (राघवेंद्र Indra among the descendants of the Raghu clan), You have asked me a question, that befits your character totally. You are the Bridge of Dharma, one who safeguards Dharma at all times.” A similar title was conferred by the great preceptor sage Vashishta upon Lord Rama at Chitrakoot. It becomes important to decode the meaning of the same title thus conferred by two fully enlightened sages on the Lord, on two different occasions. Now the question is why is the Lord called the Bridge of Dharma?
Usually a bridge is something that connects two opposite banks of a river in such a way that one can walk over it and get to the other side of the bank, without any aid. In the Aranya Kanda of the Ramcharita Manas, when Lord Rama, Laxmana and Mother Seeta visit Sage Suteekshana in Dandakaranya, the sage refers to the Lord as a Bridge that can take one across the ocean of materialistic delusion into the unassailable land of liberation. Goswami Tulsidas is overjoyed and full of emotions when He views the Lord as a Bridge, a bridge which can be walked across, easily by even the meekest and the most crippled living entity, with consummate ease, being saved from the whales and alligators existing in the depths of the ocean of materialistic living. These are the alligators and whales in the form of Karma caused due to lust, anger, greed, illusion, self-pride and Envy. Even if there is a river; more than a boat, a bridge could be more useful. There are some, who do not require a bridge. They may swim across even deadly oceans, but they often emerge as narcissists, after completing the feat. Then this becomes an opportunity for self-pride and vanity to creep in surreptitiously, often under the garb of projected humility. Some may also consider a ship or a boat to cross the ocean, but how many men can a boat or a ship take at one go? There is also the fear of a tempest in the ocean, which can sink the ship. In case of a bridge, one may walk across; why, even stay on top of a bridge, if there is a storm, wait and then proceed. There is no question of sinking into water, because you are way above the water-level, on the bridge. When there is a bridge, there is no greatness of the one crossing it. Even a toddler can cross a bridge, with baby steps. Thus the Bridge called Rama is so powerful that there are no heroics required to cross even the deadliest ocean. Clinging to the feet of Rama, the robust Bridge, even a person on a wheelchair, an ant too, shall be able to cross the mightiest ocean. The truth of the statement is that the means available to cross over a colossal entity such as the ocean should be so robust, so magnanimous that irrespective of whatever challenges the ocean may pose, the means should be superior enough to handle the might of the ocean such that it should stand no chance against the Bridge. The Bridge is such a means, leagues ahead of the challenges that any ocean may pose before it. The word used to describe the Lord, in the Ramcharita Manas is “Ram Setu” (रामसेतु), the Bridge called Rama.