Ravana pleases Lord Brahma

Ravana's penance | Story of Sugriva and Bali | Sugriva aur Vibhishana- Part 2 | Ram Kinkar Upadhyay

Ravana makes an excuse

When Surpanakha relates the entire tale of how Rama singlehandedly finished the 14-000 demons who accompanied her, Ravana wondered who could perform this exceptional feat. After great thought, he concluded that- तिन्हहि को मारई बिनु भगवन्ता | It is none other than Bhagavan who has done this. He at once understood that this is no job of a mortal man. His discrimination immediately prompted him to absorb himself in devotional service towards Bhagavan since he has assumed an incarnation. But Ravana turned down the proposal. He said- होइहि भजनु न तामस देहा | “If you tell me to fight, conquer and go on long expeditions, I shall readily proceed, but No, I can’t sit doing Bhajan.” This means that Ravana is misusing his powers. All jeevas are qualified for Bhagavat Bhakti. So this excuse of Ravana is pointless.

Lord Brahma comes along with Lord Shiva

Pleased by Ravana’s devotion, Lord Shiva comes accompanied with Brahma to grant the benediction. Ravana is stupefied. Why has Lord Brahma come along with Shiva? Maybe, since Lord Shiva gets easily deceived by the demons, Lord Brahma has come to alert him. Even if Lord Shiva proceeds to grant the boon, Lord Brahma shall hold his hand. But he thought “Still, even on being two, they cannot touch me” Lord Brahma has 4 heads, while Lord Shiva has 5 heads. Both these digits combined makes it nine. Still the number is less than my heads. I have 10 heads. Even on combining both their heads they still lack 1. Now, what do the numbers 9 and 10 signify? Ravana couldn’t understand the hidden meaning. The real fulfillment of the number 10 is vested in 9. The number 10 must take shelter under 9. In the Ramayan, Dasharatha experiences fulfilment only when Shri Rama was born to him on the Navami day. When the number 10 took refuge of 9, took refuge under Navadhabhakri. If Ravana had realized this significance, he would become blessed. It is written- दसरथ पुत्रजन्म सुनि काना | मानहुँ ब्रह्मानन्द समाना || परम प्रेम मन पुलक सरीरा | चाहत उठत करत मति धीरा || Number 9 in the guise of Lord Shiva and Brahma had arrived at his door to grant him the fulfilment of Bhakti. Lord Shiva is the Lord of faith, while Brahma, the lord of thought. Hence we should strive to cultivate these virtues in our lives, but Ravan considered himself to be more intelligent than them. When Vibhishana saw the two lords he immediately recognized the hidden significance of 9 number. The Lords enquired- “Son Vibheeshana, What is your desire? What did Vibhishana ask? गए बिभीषन पास पुनि कहेउ पुत्र बर मागु | तेहि मागेउ भगवंत पद कमल अमल अनुरागु || Vibhishana asked for love and devotion at the feet of Bhagavan. Vibhushan had rightly used his discrimination power and thus received love for Bhagavan.

Vibhishana and the Sadhaka problem

Vibhishana had developed a taste for spirituality. But due to adverse circumstances, he was placed in the pool of demoniac snakes. He was forced to accompany his brothers Ravana and Kumbhakaran. This predicament of Vibhishana is the story of most Sadhakas. Though desirous of attaining Bhagavan, the sadhaka is forced to live in the company of hazardous men, though he strongly desires to get free. But as Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita- अनिच्छन्नपि वार्ष्णेय बलादिव नियोजितः| We decide to abandon evil actions, yet we are goaded by an unseen force and end up doing activities against our will. This was the inexplicable state of Vibhishana. On the other hand, Sugreeva was a typical materialist. He had all qualities of a materialistic man. He didn’t displayed a special liking for spiritual pursuits.

Sugreeva and Vali comparison

Vali and Sugriva, though brothers were completely opposite in their characteristics. Vali, the most courageous, firm footed and challenge-loving Vanar While Sugreeva was in search of an opportunity to flee. Be it Mayavi, or the warrior Ravan, Vali with his chest broad open, confronts the opponent and wins the medal. On the other hand, Sugreeva’s entire history is full of humiliation and defeat. The name sake brothers, though bearing different temperaments, yet win the grace of Bhagavan. It is indeed a wonder. Some people face challenges with full might while others turn their back to flee. Sugreeva is one of them.

Vali angry with Sugriva

At the darkness of Midnight, Mayavi challenged Vali for a duel. Since his brother Vali was leaving to retaliate the challenge, Sugriva thought of accompanying Him. But for how long could he accompany him? At last Mayavi hid inside a cave. And Vali followed him. Vali instructed Sugriva to wait outside till he returns. And Sugriva submissively says- “As you order.” He hides his cowardice behind his brother’s orders. A person listens to the other person only when his weakness can be concealed and this happened in Sugriva’s Case. Now Vali commits an error. He says “If I don’t return within 15 days consider me to be dead.” Vali had all the qualities of a brave warrior but his overconfidence pushed him to commit such a blaring flaw. So he unmindfully committed to Sugriva that within 15 days he shall kill all of them. He thus made a wrong calculation. Now when Sugriva saw a trail of blood streaming from the cave, his true nature became evident. Lord Rama enquired- “When you saw this blood, what was your reaction? Did you enter the cave and look for him or assist him in his tough undertaking.” Sugriva said- “Maharaj, I took it on face value. If they could kill Vali, I were an easy prey. So I thought it best to flee.” This trait of cowardice shows in Sugriva’s character. Sugriva represent a materialistic man who lacks courage. Sugriva even doubts the intentions of Bhagavan. “Hope, these are not Vali’s men sent to kill me? Similarly when Vibhishana approached the Lord for refuge, it was Sugriva who first opposed the proposal.

Kripamarga and Sadhanmarga

Vibhishana and Sugriva represent the two methods of Bhagavat Prapti. Either through Sadhana or through Kripa. Vibhishana attained Bhagavan through the Sadhan Padathi of stringent and regulated spiritual discipline, While Sugriva through causeless mercy or Kripa attained Bhagavan. Sugriva had firmly decided that if these two are Vali’s men, he can just do one thing-
पठए बाली होहिं मन मैला |
भागौं तुरत तजौं यह सैला ||
He will take a flight at the earliest. Yet, Hanumanji says a wonderful thing- He says- नाथ सैल पर कपिपति रहई | सो सुग्रीव दास तव अहई || He introduced Sugriva as the king of monkeys. But the question is how can Sugriva be the king of monkeys? He could neither protect his kingdom nor his wife, he neither possess wealth nor family. Yet Hanumanji choses the above words for his introduction. There is a reason behind this. When Shri Rama departed for the forest he consoled his mother by saying- पिताँ दीन्ह मोहि कानन राजू | “My father has crowned me as the king of the forest.” So Hanumanji draws a similarity between their kingships.

Lord Rama- the most merciful master

Now Hanumanji calls Sugriva as the ‘Das’ or Servant of Shri Rama. But where has Sugriva ever served Rama? Then Hanumanji replies- My definition of servant applies completely for you. Ordinarily, people look for Servants to serve them, but your qualifications for a servant has been disclosed by Bharatji. In Chitrakoot, he said- “We can any day find masters who are ready to extract work from their servants but where will we ever find a master like you who serves your own servants.” को साहिब सेवकहि नेवाजी | Bhagavan was eager to serve. Hence He made a far-sighted calculation. He thought, if I approach my devotee as a servant and present my proposal, the poor devotee shall get frightened and at once reject the offer. He shall never accept my services. Hence I shall first approach him as a master and then ask the jeeva- “Will you listen to me?” “Yes, Bhagavan. As servants we are obliged to satisfy you. आज्ञा सम सुसाहिब सेवा | I shall certainly obey.” Then Bhagavan says that- “My order is that whatever service I wish to give from my heart don’t reject it. Quietly accept my love.”

Rama serves Bharata

When Sri Rama was asked to bathe, he instead seated Bharatji on his seat and began to unknot his hair and got completely absorbed in bathing him. He then asked the feedback from Bharatji “How was it?” Bharatji said, I practically see my words manifest before me that I spoke long back about you in Chitrakoot. Instead of accepting service from Bharatji it is he who serves. Shri Bharatji says-

को साहिब सेवकहि नेवाजी |
आपु समाज साज सब साजी ||
निज करतूति न समुझिअ सपनें |
सेवक सकुच सोचु उर अपनें ||

“This is the lordship of Rama.” What was Hanumanji’s logic? He said if Sri Rama required a servant for His Service I would never recommend Sugriva’s name, but you need a servant who accepts your Service and Sugriva is the perfect candidate. You can serve him to your heart’s content, no hassles. Hanumanji further insisted on Bhagavan forming a bond of friendship with Sugriva.

तेहि सन नाथ मयत्री कीजे |
दींन जान तेहि अभय करीजे ||

Now since Sugriva is a servant, Hanumanji should insist on the relationship of servant-master. But he insists on friendship. He says- You will find many who treat servants as servants, but there is none as generous as you who treats a servant as a friend. This is your specialty that you positon your servant as your equal. Hanumanji says- “In my insisting you to accept Sugriva’s friendship I have a vested interest. When Sugriva becomes a friend his servant position shall get vacant. Give that positon to me. I shall thus meet my goal.”