by Swami Sivananda
Salutations to Lord Rama, who is an Avatara of Vishnu, who is measureless, who is of the nature of Pure Consciousness Bliss, who is the consort of Sita, Master of Sri Hanuman, and the Lord of the three worlds, who took his birth at his own will in order to establish righteousness, destroy the wicked and to protect his devotees.
Rama Navami or the Birthday of Lord Rama falls on the 9th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra (March April).
Rama was Lord Hari Himself incarnate on earth for the destruction of Ravana. He was well accomplished, beautiful and endowed with royal marks. His glory and prowess were unlimited. He was peerless on earth. He was free from malice. He was gentle and the protector of the people. He always addressed the people in gentle words. He never used any harsh words even when somebody provoked him. He had his sway over the whole world.
Let Sri Rama be your ideal. Ideals are remembered and adored for the purpose of adopting them in our own life. The Rama navami celebration, or the Vasanta Navaratri, every year is an opportune period for us to saturate ourselves with the spirit of Lord Rama. We love and adore the ideals because we express thereby our yearning to unite with them. In our worship of God, it is implied that we should be virtuous, good and perfect, even as God is. Hence the wise instruction: One should become divine in order to be able to worship God. One cannot be a real worshipper of Lord Rama unless one makes an honest attempt to grow in the virtues that Lord Rama represents. On the other hand, worship of Lord Rama is itself the surest means to develop such divine virtues.
One who approaches Sri Rama with love and worshipfulness becomes wide in heart, pure in spirit, good in nature, dispassionate in thought, word and deed. A true devotee of Lord Rama is his representative, with his power and his knowledge.
Lord Rama was the prince of the Ikshvaku race. He was virtuous and of manly strength. He was the Lord of the mind and the senses. Brave and valiant, he was yet gentle and modest. He was a sage in counsel, kind and sweet in speech, most courteous and handsome in appearance. Ever devoted to the good and prosperity of his kingdom and his subjects, he was a defender of the weak and the protector of Dharma. Deep and unfathomed like the ocean, firm and steadfast like the Himalayan Mountains, valiant like Lord Vishnu, he was the joy of Kausalya. Though fierce like fire on the battle field, he was calm like the cool breeze of the Mandara hills, patient like Mother Earth and righteous like Dharma, the Lord of Justice himself. In the pains or griefs of his people, his heart swiftly sympathised with the sufferers, in the festive scenes which held them in joy, he, like a father, shared their joy.
He was a Prema Murti, an image of love. He was an ideal son, an ideal brother, and an ideal husband, an ideal friend and an ideal king. He can be taken to embody all the highest ideals of man. He led an ideal life of householder to teach the tenets of righteousness to humanity.
The noblest lesson embodied in the Ramayana is the supreme importance of righteousness in the life of every human being. Righteousness is the spiritual spark of life. Cultivation of righteousness is the process of the unfoldment of the latent divinity in man. The glorious incarnation of the Supreme Being, as Lord Rama, has exemplified through his own life, how to follow the path of righteousness. Let mankind follow in his footsteps and practise the ideals cherished by him, for it is only thus that there can be everlasting peace, prosperity and welfare in this world.
No one but the righteous can be truly happy. No one but he who has the correct sense of duty and the will for its implementation can be said to live worthily. One must be imbued with a definite conviction about the supremacy of moral principles, ethical values and spiritual ideals, which should guide one’s day to day actions and serve as powerful means for the culture of the human personality. That is the purpose of life. That is the way to Self realisation. That is the message and the mission of Lord Rama’s life on earth.
To a devotee, Sri Rama is not simply a good and great person, but God Himself. Rama is not merely the son of King Dasaratha of Ayodhya, but is also the Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent God, Self, Atman or Brahman. The destruction of the ten headed Ravana is the annihilation of the mind or the ten senses. Worship of Lord Rama is the worship of the Virat Purusha (All pervading Godhead) Himself.
Devotion to God is not a simple emotion. It is result of intense Vairagya (dispassion) and Sattvic Bhavana (purity of heart and inner attitude). You should possess the good qualities that are extolled in the Ramayana and exemplified in the life of Lord Rama. Otherwise, emotion may rise up in you temporarily to a kind of ecstasy, but you cannot experience divine consciousness thereby. Devotion is a fruit which ripens gradually through the process of self restraint and virtue. There can be no Sadhana for God realisation without intense Vairagya (dispassion). Only after detachment from the world of things, is it possible to have the attainment of God. Remember this.
Devotion has absolutely nothing to do with age, caste, creed, position, rank or sex. Generally, the worldly minded people say: “We will practise Dhyana, devotion, etc., when we retire from service.” This is a serious mistake. How can you do spiritual Sadhana after squeezing all your energy in service? How can you practise the strict means of Yogic discipline in old age? Is there any certainty of life? The spiritual seeds of devotion must be sown in your heart when you are young, when your heart is tender and untainted. Then only it will strike a deep root, blossom and bear fruit when you become old, when you retire from service. Then only you will not be afraid of Yama, the god of Death. You will meet him with a smile.
I shall tell you the means of attaining the final release from the great cycle of births and deaths. Devotion to Lord Rama is a great purifier of the heart. From devotion arises knowledge. From knowledge comes the realisation of the pure Self. Knowing this perfectly, one goes to the Supreme Abode and merges in the Supreme Self.
Without developing devotion to Rama, who is the Supreme Self, who lives in the hearts of all beings, who is all Bliss, who is secondless, how can man cross the ocean of worldly life which has sorrow, pain and misery for its waves?
Do thou, therefore, worship Lord Rama, who is Vishnu and the Consort of Sita, who is Lakshmi. Abandon all foolishness and enmity. Do thou serve Rama.
Lord Rama is fond of those who surrender themselves unto him. He has given this promise in the Ramayana: “To anyone who once takes shelter under Me and solicits ‘I am Thine’, I give fearlessness from all beings. This is My vow.”
Even a great sinner who is full of evil qualities, who is fond of other people’s wealth, if he always remembers Sri Rama, he is freed from all kinds of faults that pertain to this course of worldly life. He attains purity and goes to the pure, supreme abode of the Lord.
The Name of Lord Rama is the greatest purifier of the heart. It will wipe away all the sins from your heart. Not only this, it will wipe out all your sinful tendencies, too. The name of Rama is sweeter than the sweetest object. It is the haven of peace. It is the very life of pure souls. It is the purifier of all purifying agencies. It quenches the consuming fire of worldly desires. It awakens the knowledge of God. It bathes the aspirant in the ocean of divine bliss. Glory to Sri Rama and his Name.
Therefore, recite his Name, sing his glory and serve his lotus feet. Enthrone in your heart Lord Rama of dark hue, whose image is reflected in the heart of Lord Siva. Blessed is the pious soul who drinks uninterruptedly the nectar of Sri Rama’s Name which has been churned out of the ocean of the Vedas, which removes the impurities of Kali Yuga or the iron age, which lives constantly on the lips of Lord Siva, which is a sovereign remedy or unfailing specific to cure the disease of worldly existence and is the life of Mother Janaki.
Rama Nama burns ignorance, passion and sin. With knowledge or without knowledge, correctly or incorrectly, when the word “Rama” is pronounced, it showers a rain of good on the devotee. Sri Rama is Brahman who takes one across Samsara. Rama is one in whom the Yogis sport: the Self within. Rama Nama is the essence of Sahasranama. This (Rama Nama) is equal to the Lord’s thousand names, or repetition of the Mantra a thousand times. I call this as the anti gossip tonic. When you find you have wasted your time in gossip, repeat his Name several times. You can make up for the time lost, and the mind will slowly be weaned from the gossip habit.
On the Rama Navami day take a resolve that you will repeat Rama Nama with every breath and that you will endeavour to lead a righteous life. Rama Navami is one of the most important festivals of the Vaishnava sect of the Hindus (those who adore Vishnu or His manifestations). But, even Saivites (those who adore Lord Siva) also celebrate the occasion. Some keep strict fast on this day.
Time is fleeting. Know the value of time. Time is most precious. Utilise every second profitably. Abandon all idle gossiping. Forget the past. Live every moment of your life for the realisation of the ideal and goal. Unfold all latent faculties. Grow, evolve and become a superhuman or a dynamic Yogi. Struggle hard and reach the goal of life.
May you all attain the final beatitude of life through intense devotion towards Lord Rama! May you live immersed in the ecstasy of divine love! May Sri Rama, who is effulgent like a million suns, who is adored by the gods and devotees, protect you all! May the blessings of Lord Rama be upon you all!