Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba Divine Discourse at Sri Ramanavami
Prasanthi Nilayam, 3 April 2009
Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the name of Rama.
Constant repetition of this sweet name gives one the taste of divine nectar itself. Therefore, contemplate on the name of Rama incessantly.
Bharat (India) is the motherland of many noble souls who earned great name and fame in all the continents of the world.
This is the land of valorous people who vanquished foreign rulers and attained independence.
This is the land that excelled in music, literature, and other fine arts. Having been born in this great land of Bharat, oh boys and girls, It is your sacred duty to protect its rich cultural heritage.
The Bharatiyas (Indians), today, do not know their greatness, just as the elephant does not know its own strength. It obeys the command of the mahout and sits when he asks it to sit and stands when it is asked to do so. In the same manner, the Bharatiyas are imitating western culture under the influence of western education.
The Bharatiyas are endowed with great potentialities, and their hearts are full of devotion. There is none among them who does not chant the divine name from their very birth. They name their children after the various names of God, thereby remembering God all the time. Every village in Bharat (India) has a temple of Rama. Villagers of all small hamlets, even, set up a shrine for Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita in a little hutment or some rustic abode for regular worship.
Right from the beginning, Bharatiyas gave more importance to spirituality than to worldly and material pursuits. The main factor that is responsible for the peace and progress of Bharat is the devotion of Bharatiyas for God. At present many countries of the world are in the grip of great problems and difficulties. But Bharat is by far free from such difficulties. The people of Bharat may have some financial problems, but they are happily leading their lives totally surrendering to the will of God.
Bharatiyas place their trust in the Self as the basis of their life rather than material possessions, property, and wealth. In fact, their entire life is based on this trust, and they have achieved progress in spite of many difficulties and deprivations. Having based their life on the trust in the Self, how can Bharatiyas give any importance to worldly and materialistic pursuits? Even in their day-to-day conversation, they refer to their Self, saying, “Only the Rama in my heart (Atmarama) knows this.”
Do not limit Rama or Krishna to a particular name or form. These names were given to them after their birth. They were not born with these names. Bharatiyas have realised the truth that God is the resident of a person’s heart. That is why they are able to withstand all difficulties and sufferings and lead their lives happily. “One should remain equal-minded in happiness and sorrow, gain and loss, victory and defeat (Sukhadukhe samekrutwa labhalabhau jayajayau), says the Gita. Pleasure and pain are part of human life. Whenever they have to encounter sorrows and difficulties, they consider them as the harbingers of happiness. They have attained exalted positions due to such noble feelings. Their faith in God is unshakable even in the face of mishaps such as bomb blasts, floods, and plane crashes. Those who base their life on faith in God will never encounter sorrows, suffering, and difficulties. Their difficulties will come and go like passing clouds. One who is born in this world is sure to die one day or the other. Nothing is permanent in this world. Only one thing is permanent, and that is the Atma or the Self. People aspire for liberation, heaven, and Vaikunta(Vishnu’s heaven), but even they are not permanent. The only thing that is permanent is the Atma, and that is the only truth. You may see so many forms in this world, but none of them is permanent except the Atma.
The story of Ramayana
Let us now dwell upon the Ramayana. Dasaratha had three wives: Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi. Kausalya first gave birth to a female child, who was named Santha. Dasaratha gave her to one of his friends, who adopted her as his daughter. She was married to Sage Rishyasringa, who conducted Dasaratha’s Putrakameshti Yajna (a special sacrifice for the sake of having a child). When oblations were offered in the sacrificial fire with the chanting of related mantras for the yajna, an effulgent being came out of the fire and handed over a vessel containing sweet pudding (payasam) to Dasaratha, with instructions to distribute it equally among his queens.
Accordingly, Dasaratha distributed the pudding to Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi. Kausalya and Kaikeyi took their share of the pudding to their respective worship (puja) rooms. Each of them was happy, thinking that her son would be the future king of Ayodhya. But Sumitra had no such claims. She was a paragon of virtues. Her name ‘Sumitra’ itself signifies that she was a good friend to one and all. She carried her bowl of pudding to the terrace and placed it on the parapet wall while drying her hair in the sun. Suddenly, an eagle swooped down and carried away the bowl. Sumitra rushed down and told Kausalya and Kaikeyi about what had happened. Kausalya and Kaikeyi came to her rescue and shared their pudding with her. Kausalya gave half of her share to Sumitra, and so did Kaikeyi.
The intimate relationship of the brothers
In due course, Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Kaikeyi to Bharatha, and Sumitra to Lakshmana and Satrughna. Kausalya and Kaikeyi had one son each, whereas Sumitra had two sons. The sons of Kausalya and Kaikeyi happily played in their cradles while Sumitra’s sons cried all the time and were not taking milk. Sumitra was at a loss to know the reason for their crying. Ultimately, she went to Sage Vasishta and told him about her predicament. Sage Vasishta closed his eyes in meditation. His yogic vision enabled him to know the truth. He said to Sumitra, “Since you partook of the sacred pudding given by Kausalya, you gave birth to Lakshmana, who is a part of Rama. Similarly, Satrughna is born out of the share of pudding given to you by Kaikeyi, so he is a part of Bharatha. Keep
Lakshmana by the side of Rama and Satrughna by the side of Bharatha. Then they will rest peacefully.”
Sumitra did as instructed. Both Lakshmana and Satrughna stopped crying and started playing blissfully in their cradles. This was the basis of the intimate relationship between Rama and Lakshmana, Bharatha and Satrughna. Both sons of Sumitra, namely, Lakshmana and Satrughna, were always in the company of Rama and Bharatha. In this manner, all four sons of Dasaratha grew up in an environment of love and happiness. Sumitra was very happy because she thought her son Lakshmana would serve Rama and Satrughna would serve Bharatha when they grew up.
Where was Rama born? Many people have many doubts about the place of His birth. He was born in Ayodhya. Was the city of Ayodhya built by some ordinary mortal? No, no. It was built by Viswakarma (divine architect) himself. He built it in such a way that no enemy could enter it.
The divine marriage
When Rama won the hand of Sita by stringing the bow of Siva in the court of Janaka, His marriage with Sita was performed in Mithila amidst great rejoicings. The people of Mithila were beside themselves with joy and sang merry songs.
Welcome to all for Rama’s wedding; together we shall witness the joyous scene.
Many have gathered already, decked up in all their finery; with necklaces the ladies are adorned of jewels pure and gleaming.
Rama shall tie the knot today to beauteous Sita; oh, what a fine match they make.
Father Dasaratha has made ready bounteous feasts.
All learned sages are assembled with Vasishta presiding.
Oh, what a multitude has assembled to rejoice, hearts with joy overflowing.
Wedding of the holy pair Rama and Sita, such a sight is indeed rare.
The sight shall confer great merit.
Rama looks the cool full moon, and Sita is a matching double.
The compassionate Rama who loves all will confer his grace on us all. Come quickly to see the holy wedding of Rama and Sita.
It seemed as if the entire population of Ayodhya had come to Mithila to witness the marriage of Sita and Rama. Dasaratha, all his ministers, and all family members prominently participated in the marriage. After the marriage function, all left for Ayodhya.
The encounter of Rama with Parasurama
On the way home, they heard a deafening sound. When they looked around to find where the sound had come from, they were confronted by Parasurama, who looked very fierce. All of them were perturbed, and they began to think, “What is this great impediment after the glorious celebration of the marriage?” Good and bad always follow each other. After experiencing great joy in Mithila, they were confronted with a difficult situation on their way to Ayodhya. Dasaratha and others became fear-stricken.
Parasurama came forward and asked, “Who broke the Siva bow?” “I did it,” said Rama. “If that is so, let us see if you can bend my bow.” Saying so, he gave his bow to Rama. Rama strung and armed that bow with an arrow with His left hand. Seeing that, Parasurama offered his salutations to Rama and went his way. Experiencing the joy of victory, all of them reached Ayodhya and participated with great joy and enthusiasm in the festivities held there. The people of Ayodhya held joyous celebrations.
Like his mother Sumitra, Lakshmana’s wife Urmila was also a woman of great virtues. When Lakshmana went to inform her that he was accompanying Rama to the forest for fourteen years, she said, “It is your greatest good fortune. Consider Sita and Rama as your mother and father and serve them. In Ayodhya you have Kausalya, Sumitra, and Kaikeyi, but in the forest you have only one mother, and that is Sita. Forget even me and serve Sita and Rama with total dedication.” Lakshmana was happy to hear Urmila’s words and said to himself, “What a virtuous wife I have!”
Rama follows the command of his father
After the departure of Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita to the forest and the death of Dasaratha, Bharatha came back to Ayodhya. When he was offered the crown of Ayodhya, he refused to accept it, saying that it was the right of only the eldest son, so he would go to the forest and pray to Rama to come back and rule Ayodhya. When he went to the forest to appeal to Rama, Rama told him, “We have to follow the command of our father. Without that, our life itself is a zero.” Rama promised Bharatha that he would surely return to Ayodhya after the period of 14 years of his exile. Then Bharat requested Rama to give His sandals, which he would place on the throne and worship them. On his return to Ayodhya, Bharatha did not enter the palace. He lived in a small hut and led the life of a renunciant just as Rama was living in the forest.
During the sojourn of Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita at Panchavati, Ravana came in the guise of a mendicant and abducted Sita. Rama was put to great difficulties, but He faced all difficulties smilingly. Hanuman went in search of Sita to Lanka. He could cross the ocean with the power of the divine name of Rama. In fact, any stupendous task can be achieved by contemplating on the name of Rama. It was with the power of Rama’s name that the monkeys had made the bridge over the ocean so that Rama and His army could reach Lanka.
Rama rescues Sita from Ravana’s prison
Rama had to fight with Ravana, the king of demons. In the course of his battle, Lakshmana was hit by a missile and became unconscious. Rama was very much distressed and lamented, “I may get a wife like Sita, but I cannot get a brother like Lakshmana.” Hanuman brought Sushena, the medical expert of Lanka, who said, “There is an herb called sanjivini on a mountain in the Himalayan region. If you bring that herb, Lakshmana can be revived.” Hanuman was sent to bring the sanjivini herb to revive Lakshmana. Hanuman did not know how to recognise that particular herb. Therefore, he lifted the whole mountain on which the herb existed and placed it before Rama.
With the help of the herb, Lakshmana was revived. Then Rama hugged him and said, “Lakshmana, My life is meaningless without you. You have always been with Me and protected Me in many ways. There is nothing more dear to Me than you in this world. In fact, you are verily My life.” Rama ultimately killed Ravana and rescued Sita from his prison.
Bharatha welcomes Rama for coronation as king
Meanwhile the period of 14 years of exile of Rama was over. As the end of fourteen years drew near and Bharatha could not see any signs of Rama’s return to Ayodhya, he got ready to give up his life by immolating himself on a pyre. As Rama had anticipated the situation, he sent Hanuman in advance to inform Bharatha that He was on His way back to Ayodhya. Bharatha was overjoyed on hearing this good news. All the people of Ayodhya as also Bharatha and the entire family were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Rama in Ayodhya. When Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita alighted from Kubera’s chariot (which they used to travel home), Bharatha and all the people of Ayodhya offered them a hearty welcome. Soon after their arrival, arrangements for Rama’s coronation were made. People of Ayodhya were full of enthusiasm at the prospect of Rama becoming their king.
The students just now sang this song,
Kausalyatmaja Rama Charan,
Vaidehi Priya Rama Charan,
Hanumatsevita Rama Charan,
Bharatarchita Sri Rama Charan,
Ahalyoddharaka Rama Charan,
Lakshmana Sevita Rama Charan,
Prasanthi Niketana Rama Charan.
Always worship the Lotus Feet of Rama, son of Kausalya, which are dear to Sita and worshipped by Bharatha and is in the abode of peace, is served by Lakshmana and Hanuman, and which redeemed Ahalya.
Lakshmana was overjoyed on hearing the kind words of Rama. Rama had great love for Lakshmana, more than anybody else. Similarly, Lakshmana loved Rama most dearly. He never disobeyed Rama’s command. In fact, all the brothers — Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha, and Satrughna — had great love for each other. They ruled over Ayodhya with great unity. It was not Rama alone who administered the entire kingdom; all his brothers helped Him in conducting the affairs of the kingdom.
The Ramayana teaches us many lessons in morality and ethics. In fact, all the characters of this great epic set great ideals for mankind to follow. Sweeter than sugar, tastier than curd, sweeter indeed than honey is the name of Rama. Is there anything greater than Ramanama (repetition of the name Rama)? We should understand this truth and contemplate on His name day in and day out.
Great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha teach us many moral and ethical values. Truth is the highest among these values. “There is no righteousness (dharma) greater than adherence to truth (Sathyannasti paro dharmah).” Dharma is born out of truth (sathya), and from dharma emerges peace, and from peace emerges love. Where there is love, there can be no hatred. One who has love will adhere to nonviolence. Truth, righteousness, peace, love, and nonviolenceare the five cardinal human values. One who practises these human values is a human being in the true sense of the term. Even if one lacks one of these, one cannot be called a perfect human being. Therefore, we should develop all these five values.
Unfortunately, when we look at the present scenario, we do not see truth anywhere, and we don’t even hear the word dharma. Therefore, people today are beset with unrest. People want peace, but what they get is only pieces! Due to the lack of peace, love has become non-existent in humanity. Therefore, we should develop peace. Then only will love develop in us. When love takes root in us, we will have no enemies. Then all will become our friends. Hence, one should develop love and consider all as brothers and sisters. This is the main essence of the Ramayana.
It is only to demonstrate this principle of love that I have done this housing project in Orissa. We should love and help each other. The calamity that has befallen them can happen to anyone. When you make them happy, you will also be happy. Therefore, we should all be united.
Let us all move together,
Let us all grow together,
Let us all stay united and
Grow in intelligence together,
Let us live together with
Friendship and harmony.
Only when we grow in intelligence together can there be unity. We should move and work with unity. No one should hate anybody. If any thought of hatred comes to you for a moment, brush it aside and develop the feeling of unity from the very next moment. It is only love that unites all.
(Bhagawan concluded His discourse with the song (bhajan), “Prema Mudita Manase Kaho Rama Rama Ram”).