Ramcharitmanas, history or mirror
If we see the life-sketch of Rama as a mere historical saga, then Rama will remain an outsider for us. But Tulsidaji along with the vision wants us to use a mirror as well. Because it is the mirror alone that can introduce us to our original self. Because when a person stands in front of a mirror, he sees his own self in it. The Ramcharitamanas thus traces us back to our origin. Now is Sri ramcharitmanas, history or a mirror? This is the speciality of Ramcharitmanas. It would appear history and a mirror at the same time. Shri Ramcharitmanas is such a divine harmony that it not only presents the historical sequence of events that occurred in Treta Yuga but also introduces us to our own selves. We not only get the vision of Bhagavan but can also relate our own lives with His exemplary character. Now Gowamiji says that the vision to see Bhagavan is Viveka or discrimination while the mirror is the mind. He has used the very same words as follows-
गुरु पद रज मृदु मंजुल अंजन | नयन अमिअ दृग दोष बिभंजन ||
तेहिं करि बिमल बिबेक बिलोचन | बरनउँ राम चरित भव मोचन ||
And at the beginning of Ayodhya kanda he says-
श्री गुरु चरण सरोज रज निज मनु मुकुरु सुधारि |
Which means unless we bring the Lord and our own selves in the mirror of our mind with the application of Viveka of our vision, the true purpose of the mirror that Tulsidaji speaks of cannot be achieved. So, instead of taking Ramcharitmanas as a mere sequence of historical events we should search its relevance in our own lives. How relevant are its teachings today? And once we learn how to rightly use our vision and mirror we would undoubtedly be able to witness the Rama of Tulsidasji and see our own selves with him.
Rama fights against Rama
Not only in the transactional world but also from the historical viewpoint, Ramcharitmanas has a great significance. In one sense, the Ramcharitmanas describes the fight of Rama against Rama. How can Rama fight against Rama? If we speak of Rama fighting against Ravan, it makes sense. But when you say, Rama fight against rama, it sounds weird. Pashuramaji (known as Ram) was the anshavatar (partial incarnation) of Bhagavan. But, he was overcome by illusion at the breaking of Lord Shiva’s bow and began to brood enmity towards Sri Rama. But on seeing Sri Rama carry the bow of Lord Vishnu, his doubts were dispelled, he submitted the bow to Rama and without the least feeling of being defeated, happily proceeded to the forest for penance. Even from a philosophical viewpoint, this statement of Rama fight against Rama has a great significance. From the scriptural viewpoint, the Jeeva has always been described as the ansha of Bhagavan. Not just Parshuramji, but every jeeva is the ansha of Bhagavan. Jeeva is Bhagavan’s own part and parcel. The Ramcharitmanas too supports this-
ईस्वर अंस जीव अबिनासी |
चेतन अमल सहज सुख रासी ||
This being the case, there can be no enmity between Jeeva and Bhagavan. But due to the illusory potency of Bhagavan, Jeeva forgets his true identity and ends up fighting with his source.
The journey of Surrender
The entire journey of Shri Rama and Vishwamitra from Ayodhya to Janakpuri embarks the journey of Surrender unto Ishwar. First, the surrender of Vishwamitra to Sri Rama, then comes the surrender of Janak Maharaj and then the surrender of Parshurama. If you closely inspect, these 3 personalities were the pioneers of their times. Vishwamitra in the field of Yagna was acclaimed for his supernatural powers. King Janaka was the embodiment of Jnana. While Parshurama was the mightiest of warriors. The search of these 3 renowned personalities finally culminated in surrender to Shri rama. The trio were known as the problem solvers of their times. Through his yogic powers, Vishwamitra intended to do good for society. King Janaka through his wisdom and acute application of Jnana dispelled the ignorance of his people. While Parshuramji was world famous for the assassination of the ill-minded Kshatriyas. But in spite of gaining excellence in their respective fields, they found themselves to be incompetent and incomplete. They were in constant search of completeness. All the three began to realize that the solutions that they are trying to offer to society were incomplete. They realized their sheer incompleteness only when they witnessed the completeness of Sri Rama. Later there is a mention of the three different ways of their surrender.
How does Vishwamitra surrender to Rama? (Tadka event)
Vishwamitra, in the deep caves of his heart, in the state Samadhi, experienced the truth of Shri Rama and believed that Bhagavan himself has descended in the form of Shri Rama in Ayodhya. He then goes to Dasharatha and takes Sri Rama and Lakshmana along with him. On their way into the dense thickets they suddenly encounter the demoness Tadaka in her goriest form. Even at this stage, the surrender of Vishwamitra was unripe. Shri Rama looks at the demoness and waits for his Guru’s orders. Then Vishwamitra tells Rama- “She is the demoness Tadaka, I am incapable to kill her. With your arrow, transfer her to the lap of death. On his Guru’s orders, Shri Rama, with just a single arrow, killed her and she merged in him.
चले जात मुनि दीन्हि देखाई |
सुनि ताड़का क्रोध करि धाई ||
एकहि बाण प्राण हरि लीन्हा |
दीन जानि तेहि निज निज पद दीन्हा ||
Vishmitra was deluded about the glories of Sri Rama at the start of the journey. Sri Ram being Ishwar was getting entertained by enacting the ways of ordinary men. So, on the journey, he was constantly asking the different names of birds that would pass by. On hearing the sounds and chirping of the birds he would mimic their voice and on seeing lotuses he would enter the waters of the pond to pluck them. During those times, a great surge of parental love towards Sri Ram had overcome Vishwamitra and he began to think- “Aree, I have gone and asked Him from Dasharatha, Oh, He shouldn’t drown in the pond. Due to the fear of Brahm getting drowned, such a stir of parental love arose in his heart that he was doubtful about the abilities of Bhagavan.
When does Vishwamitra truly Surrender?
In the next line Goswamiji points out – Though Vishwamitra had realized the true identity of Bhagavan in the state of Samadhi, true surrender only dawned after the killing of Tadaka. With the killing of Tadaka, his assertion about Bhagavan was proved. After this episode, Vishwamitra within his mind, develops the Vritti of surrender. About Vishwamitra’s Vritti of Surrender, Goswamiji says-
तब रिषि निज नाथहि जियँ चीन्हीं|
Then Maharishi recognizes Shri Rama to be Bhagavan. And the next line is…
बिद्यानिधि कहुँ बिद्या दीन्हीं ||
Rishi Vishwamitra surrenders all his knowledge and Vidya unto the lotus Feet of Shri Rama and experiences blessedness. After the killing of Tadaka, all his ownership was submitted unto the feet of Bhagavan. Shri Rama then protects the sacrificial alter of Vishwamitra and the trio proceed towards Janakpuri.