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Glories of Ramayanam and SriRama

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SrI:
Sri Ramajayam
SrImathE Gopaladesika mahadesikaya namah:

Dearest Srivaishnavas,

Today is Sri Rama navami. Our manatthukku iniyaan- SrI Rama appeared on this
day. asmadhAchAryan His Holiness Srimad ParavaakOttai Andavan has written a
brilliant book in Tamil describing in sweet, simple and divine Tamil easily
udnerstandable even by us- narrating the sweetest Ramayana (upto Seetha
Kalyanam) in his first release. The second book (upto Padhuka
PattAbhishEkam) has been released last week during His 83rd TN celebrations
at Srirangam.

Sri NammAzhwAr says: (in Thiruvaymozhi 7.5)

kaRpaar raamapiraanai allaal maRRum kaRparO? why would anyone learn anything
but Rama? - One needs to learn only about Rama...

He is the One who has no imperfections; who has only most auspicious kalyANa
guNAs; who has indescribable, most wonderful valour strengths; who is jnAna
swarUpi; who is the personification of Anandham; who is the Lord of all
worlds; who establishes dharmA; who is the form of DharmA Himself (dharmO
vigrahavaan); who takes avtaars only to protect the sAdhus and destroy their
enemies (evid doers); who has long hands that touch the round strong knees;
strongest mounatin like shoulders; conch shell like beautiful neck; chubby,
round cheeks; broad divine chest and He is the epitome of Handsomeness. He
is the only refuge for everyone. saranAgatha rakshakan; He never ever
swerves from his word (rAmOr dvirnAbhibAshathE..)- Rama never utters a word
twice..

Rama possesses excellent super human qualities. Rama accepts with cheer even
sad and unexpected turn of events in His life.

Kamban says:

venRisEr ilankaiyaanai venRu maalveeran Odha


ninRa, Ramayanatthin nigazhndhidu kadhaikaL thammil
onRinai paditthOr dhaamum, uraitthidak kEttOr dhaamum
nanRu idhu enROr dhaamum narakamadhu yeydhidaarE..

[Meaning: The One who conquered the king of LankA-about Him- This Ramayana-
and those who read even of the stories (of Ramayana) and those who listen to
such reading of such story (of Ramayana) and those who say, "wow! such a
GREAT STORY - SUCH a Divine epic is Ramayana- - all those who do that will
(be blessed with) never ever reach narakam (hell). [Heaven is also a golden
cage hell]

What is so great about Ramayana and Rama? The Ramapiraanai KaRpOm says it
all. And our Sri Anbil Ramaswamy mAmA (of USA) had translated exceprts from
asmadhAchAryan's book and posted in SriRangaSri yahoogroups. I was reading
the same today and I found this post especially brilliant. Submitted for
everyone's enjoyment on this GREATEST divine day. [Thanks Sri Anbil mama for
ggranting permission to post the same]

1. What is so great about Srimad Ramayanam that we are asked to learn it?
Answer:
Srimad Ramayanam is a great epic, the first and foremost dealing with Sri
Rama and Sri Sita as the hero and the heroine. Sage Naarada declares that
mere listening and learning this epic story can bestow mental peace, sense
of fulfillment, true knowledge, carefree life, physical health and
fearlessness.
ThushTa: pushTa; sudhaarmika: /
NiraamayO hi arOgascha durbiksha bhaya varjitha: //

What more can one wish for than these in this life?

That is why, Nammazhwar asked in Tiruvoimozhi 7.5


Karpaar Raamapiraanai allaal matrum karparO?
� Will anyone wish to learn anything other than Sri Ramapiraan?�

That is why, Bhagavad Ramanuja stayed at the feet of Tirumalai NambigaL for
one whole year and listened to the KalakshEpam of Srimad Ramayanam and the
esoteric inner meanings treasured therein.

That is why, Tiruvarangathu Amudanaar in his �Ramanuja Nootranthaadhi�


eulogizes Ramanuja�s involvement in the study of Srimad Ramayanam thus:
PaDi koNDa keerthi RaamaayaNam ennum bhakti veLLam kuDi kONda kOil
Iraamaanujan.

When the Veda Purusha took His incarnation on earth as Rama, the son of
Dasaratha, Vedam also took its incarnation as RaamaayaNa through Sage
Valmiki�

Veda vEDhyE parE pumsi jaathE dasaraathmajE /


VEda; praachEthasaath aaseeth saakshaath RaamaayaNaathmanaa //

When poet Muraari wished to write an epic, �Anargha Raaghavam�, he was asked
why he chose to write on the oft-repeated hero, Rama, he answered-
�It is not proper to leave out Rama, for this reason. None has so far
succeeded in completely recounting the auspicious qualities of Rama.

Here is an epic that teaches practical lessons on how a ruler should rule,
how citizens should lead their life in society, how parents, children,
siblings, in-laws and other members of a family should interact with each
other. In short, it shows how to regulate life at the individual level, at
the family level and at the level of society.

This is not merely a story but is also history, code of conduct,


philosophical treatise � all rolled into one - all meant to elevate the
quality of life here and hereafter. Can you show any other work to compare
with this epic?�

2. Srimad RaamaayaNa is greater than Sri Rama Himself is. Do you know why? A
mirror can only reflect the image of one standing in front of it and for the
duration of the person standing there. But the mirror of epic reveals Rama
forever. Rama could be seen and enjoyed in His Vibava Avataara only by those
who were coeval with Him; but Srimad RaamaayaNa reveals the Lord and thereby
ennobles our lives especially in this Kaliyuga.
Sage Bardhwaaja learned from Valmiki that Ramayanam is the essence of all
the four Vedas; the letter �Ra� refers to Rug Veda; �Ma�, Saama Veda; �ya�,
Yajur Veda and �Nam�, AtharvaNa Vedam. So learning RaamaayaNam is equal to
learning all the four Vedas.

When Haaritha, the hunter, waylaid some Maharishis, they asked him to go
consult his family members whether anyone of them who benefited by his
plunders were willing to share the sins he committed. None came forward and
he returned to the Mahrishis and in a penitent mood inquired whether in view
of his background of sin, he was eligible to be initiated into �Raama
naama�. The Maharishis replied: � Unlike the text of the Vedas, there is no
stipulation as to who can learn this Raama naama Japam and who cannot. There
is none that has not attained liberation by doing this Japam. Luckily,
Sriman Narayana is now born as Sri Rama in Ayodhya. Receive from us �Raama
naama mantra� and all blessings will be yours�,

Paatra apaatra vichaarO na Raama naamnaam prakeerthanE /


SravaNE cha upadEse cha tasmaath taththOdhyuthu kshamam /
Uthishta uthishta badram thEsaphala; satsamaagama: /
Rama naama samuchchaarya yasmaath paapaath na muchyatE/
Trailokhyaam asthi thannaiva sathyam etath prakeerthitham //

So saying, they advised him to repeat the word known to him as a hunter viz.
�maraamaram� meaning a tree by that name,
� Ekaagra manasaa atraiva marE ithi japa sarvadhaa�-Adhyaatma Ramayanam.
As he went on repeating it, it became �Rama�, �Rama�. That saved the hunter.
This hunter is none other than Sage Valmiki!

3. What is the Avatara Rahasyam of Rama Avataara?


Rama learned his basic education at the feet of VasishTa. But, when he came
of age when one is normally become subject to Kaama (desire) and KrOdha
(anger), he underwent practical training at the hands of Viswaamitra who
himself had suffered and graduated out of all these tendencies and therefore
could impart such practical training! Even otherwise, Sri Rama was born to
show the world the Grihastasrama Dharmam, filial obedience, fraternal love
besides laws of nature, of the world, and Raja tantra (politics)

4. Rama naama is greater than Rama Himself. How?


Rama had to build a bridge across the Ocean to march on foot his army across
to Lanka. But, AnjanEya could jump and literally fly over the ocean with
absolute ease by chanting Rama Naama!

5. Raama naama is equal to Sahasra naama. How?


Once, Paarvati inquired Lord Siva whether there was anyway by which the
learned ones could quickly recite the VishNu Sahasra naamam,

Kena upaayEna laghunaa VishNOr naama Sahasrakam /


PaTyathE PaNDithair nityam srOthum Ichchaami aham PrabhO //

Siva replied: � Repeating the name of Raama is equal to reciting the entire
1000 names of Lord VishNu�

�Sri Raama Raama Raama ithi ramE Raame manOramE/


sahasranaama thath thulyam Raama naama varaananE //

Aadhi Sankara in his �Raama KarNaamrutham� says-

�KalyaaNaanaanm nidhaanam kalimala mathanam paavanam paavanaanaam,


PaathEyam yan mumukshO: sapdhi parapadha praaptayE prasthithasya
Visraamasthaanam ekam kavi vara vachasaam jeevitham sajjanaanaam
Beejam dharmadhrumasya prabhavathu bhavathaam bhoothayE Raamanaama�
Meaning:
� There is one center of all bliss. It alone can dispel the sins of Kali, It
alone can purify us, It acts as the food parcel to the mumukshu -traveler on
the way to Paramapadam, It is beyond description even by the best of poets,
It bestows bliss on the virtuous. It is the very seed of Dharma that
sustains. It is this Rama Naama.�

Rama Avatara showed by �Practice� what Krishna Avatara sought to �preach� in


the matter of Achaara and AnushTaana.

That is why while waking up Rama, Sage Viswamitra said-


� Kousalyaa Suprajaa Raama! Poorvaa Sandhyaa PravarthathE,
UthishTa narasaardhuula karthavyam deivam AHNIKAM�

That is why, elders used to say � �The Lord first � practiced� as Sri Rama
and then only �preached� as Sri Krishna. So, try to do as Rama did and as
KrishNa advised�

If Srimad RamayaNa is an epic, it is also a practical manual


imparting devotional worship. His Holiness explains how.

Even at the outset, the author of this Bhakti Kaavya is referred to as the
cuckoo perched on the tree of poetry and RamayaNa as the sweet music of the
bird:
Koojantham Raama RamEthi maduram madura aksharam /
Aaruhya kavitaa Saakhaam vandE Vaalmiki KOkilam //

In Srimad Bhagavatam 7.5 Prahlada enumerates nine kinds of Bhakti towards


Lord VishNu as follows:

SravaNam keerthanam VishNO: SmaraNam paada sEvanam /


Archanam vandanam daasyam Sakhyam aatma nivEdanam //

Listening, singing, meditating, surrendering at His feet, offering worship,


bowing, servitude, friendliness and surrendering one�s soul to Lord VishNu
are these nine kinds. Sage Vaalmiki illustrates all these nine through nine
characters to foster Bhakti in the minds of men�.

(1) SRAVANA BHAKTI: (Sruthou thu Hanuman)


Hanuman is an important character in the entire RamayaNa. He was deeply
involved in Bhakti through �listening�. When after completing the mission of
Avataram, Sri Rama invited Hanuman to Paramapadam, Hanuman politely but
firmly declined saying that in Paramapadam one can hear only �Saama gaanam�
and not �Raama gaanam�. Also, if he were to go to Paramapadam, he would have
to cast aside his present body that was blessed by the embrace of both Sri
Rama and Sri Sita.

That is why, Hanuman is said to be present with folded hands and tears of
joy rolling down his cheeks on hearing �Raama naama� whenever and wherever
RamayaNa discourse takes place:

Yatra yatra Raghunaatha keerthanam tatra tatra kritam hastaka anjalim


Baashpa vaari paripoorNa lOchanam maaruthim namata Raakshasa anthakam

(2) KEERTHANA BHAKTI (Vaalmikha bhoo KeerthanE)


With the blessings of Brahma, Sage Valmiki composed the epic with 24,000
Slokas. Whether read, or sung or set to instrumental music, it fills the
hearts of both the performer and the listener with joy:
�PaaTyE gEyE cha maduram tantree laya samanvitham sarva sruthi manOharam�.

The sage sang, taught and enjoyed �Raama Naama�.

(3) SMARANA BHAKTI (Seetaa Sam smaraNE)


While she was in AsOka vana, Sri Sita was always thinking of Lord Rama. The
poet describes this figuratively thus: Riding on the chariot of her mind and
holding the reins of thoughts (of Rama) as horses, she seemed mentally
racing towards Her Lord. Her mind was constantly filled with the one thought
of uniting with her Lord remembering his long hands touching His knees, his
face exuding compassion on all beings at all times.

(4) PAADA SEVANAM (Bharata: Paadukaa sEvanE)


Bharatha was having unflinching devotion to Rama. As he returned from KEkaya
country, he learned that his mother and Kooni were responsible for Rama�s
exile. He was so beside with grief that he wanted to kill Kaikeyi but could
not do so because the virtuous Rama would not permit this. He vowed in the
presence of VasishTa and others that if he were not able to bring back Rama
to rule Ayodya, he himself would spend his life in the forest at the feet of
Rama. When his entreaties failed, obeying Rama�s command he reluctantly
returned holding the Paaduka of Rama on his head and installed them at the
throne but he himself remained at Nandigramam acting as a trustee till the
return of Rama.

(5) ARCHANA BHAKTI (Archaayaam Sabari)


Sabari was living in a forest near Pampa river. Matanga Muni and his sishyas
used to pass through the forest. She would pick fresh and tasty fruits and
keep them on their way and stay away from there. One day, the Sage inquired
as to who it was that so painstakingly did this service. When Sabari
presented herself, He blessed her and invited her to the hermitage where she
did services till the time of the ascent of the Sage to Paramapadam. The
Sage, at that time, advised her to wait till Sri Rama came and that after
rendering service to him, she could reach the heavens. From then on, she was
anxiously awaiting the arrival of Rama. When Rama came to her place (as
directed by Kabanda), she offered him fresh fruits and dried fruits that she
had carefully preserved for offering him to eat and water to drink. Rama was
pleased with her Acharya Bhakti and granted her the boon to join her Acharya
in Parama padam. She ascended to heavens in the presence of Rama through a
streak of lightning.

(6) VANDANA BHAKTI (praNaamakaraNE Lankaadipa:)


Vibheeshaa was the brother of Ravana but was totally bereft of the
characteristics natural to Rakshasas, He advised Ravana repeatedly to hand
over Sita to Rama and save himself from certain doom. But, Ravana would not
heed the advice and called VibheeshaNa a traitor. He could not tolerate any
more the wicked ways and the cruel words of Ravana.

Ithyukta: parusham vaakhyam nyaaya vaadi vibheeshaNa: /


Utpapaatha gadaa paaNi chaturbis saha Raakshasai://(Barhaspatya Samhita)

Immediately, he left for where Rama was camping and surrendered himself at
the feet of Rama: �nipapaata vibeeshaNa: - paadayO: saraNa anvEshee�
As he took refuge at the feet of Rama, we see the example of �Vandana
Bhakti�.
(7) DAASYA BHAKTI (LakshmaNa: DaasyE)
Lakshmana was born to serve Rama. Since he was born with the �Kainkarya
Sri�, VasishTa named him as LakshmaNa and in Valmiki�s words �LakshmaNO
lakshmi sampanna:� For 14 long years, he got separated from his wife OormiLa
and went in exile to accompany Rama and rendered all kinds of services like
a dedicated servant. Rama acknowledges this when he says �
� Evam mayi cha Te bhkati: bavishyati sudarsitaa� (Ayodya khanDam-31)
We see several instances of Daasya Bhakti of LakshmaNa in the epic.

(8) SAKHYA BHAKTI (Sugriva: Sakhya krutE arkaja:)


What is �Sakhyam�? It is love, affection, friendship, respect between equals
as illustrated by TiruvaLLuvar: just like the hands of a person whose
garment has loosened automatically proceeds to tighten it up even before the
person realizes it, a true friend is one who rushes to help his friend when
needed even without being asked for.

uDukkai izhandavan kai pOlE aangE


IdukkaN kalaivathaam natpu�

Sugriva regarded Rama as such a true friend and sought his friendship, with
fire as witness saying � I am scared to death by Vaali. Please grant me
protection�- �vaalina: mE mahaa bhaaga! Bhayaartasya abhayam kuru� Here we
find Sakhya and Bhakti (Sakhya Bhakti) in Sugriva.

(9) ATMA NIVEDANA BHAKTI (Tanukrutha traanE Jataayu:)


When Rama, Sita and Lakshmana proceeded to PanchavaTi, they met JaTaayu, the
eagle who introduced himself as a close friend of Dasaratha and Arunan, son
of GaruDa and promised his help. When Ravana abducted Sita, he gave a stiff
fight to Ravana with his beak and nails tearing down his umbrella (VeNN
kotrak kuDai), yak tail fan (Saamaram) etc. and smashing his chariot to
pieces, cutting off the 10 hands on the left side which were holding Sita
and bleeding Ravana himself. Only when Ravana cut off his wings and legs did
his body fall to the ground. Due to Sita�s blessing, his life breath stayed
put till meeting Rama for informing him of the abduction of Sita. Finally,
only when Rama gently stroked him did he cast his mortal coil. When Sita
asked him to inform Rama of her plight, Jataayu promised �with auspicious
words� (subhaam giram) to do so. While describing this, Vaalmiki uses the
word � Sreemaan� to refer to JaTaayu. �Vanaspatigata: Sreemaan vyajahaara
Subhaam giram�. It should be noted that the poet uses this expression
�Sreemaan� only for VibheeshaNa (antharikshagata: Sreemaan) and GajEndra (Sa
tu naagavara: Sreemaan)
Thus, it is only appropriate to call the epic a �Bhakti work�

In his work �Sangraha RamayaNa�, Sri NarayaNa PaNDita, a disciple of Srimad


Madwaachaaryar cites 6 reasons:
1. Roopam: The word �Rama� means �beautiful�. It is customary for friends
and neighbors to visit the home of a newborn baby, convey greetings to the
proud parents and blessings to the child. It is needless to mention that
people swarmed the palace of Dasaratha to ogle the newborn prince charming.
They had all seen ever so many newborns but had not come across such �a
thing of beauty�, which even in other cases would have been a �joy forever�.
Here was the quintessence of pulchritude radiating a special kind of
splendor, a grandeur, grace and glamour, verily a �beau ideal,� a �picture
perfect� bundle of joy they had never before seen or heard of. The baby was
so endearing and exuding an extraordinary brilliance, an exquisite and
adorable daintiness that they were literally could not take their eye
off! No wonder, the name �Rama� was most appropriate for him.
2. Svaroopam: While describing the nature of Paramaatma (Svaroopam), the
Vedas describe in ascending gradation in multiples of units of happiness
(Aanandam) from humans to celestials, Brahma and finally Paramaatma as
filled with �ParipoorNa Aaanada mayam). It is this Paramaatma who was born
as Rama. We know that if a newborn baby does not cry it becomes a cause for
worry. In fact, we see them prodded (may be even poked with needle) to make
them cry. Here is born a child unlike others. Perhaps, the baby was happy
for another reason too viz. that He had incarnated as promised to the Devas
and that the first step in His Avatara Rahasya had been taken!

3. �Raagam:� The word �Rama� also means black (ShyaamaLam, in Sanskrit).


Here is a child who has a complexion of the rain-bearing clouds (NeeruNDa
mega ShyaamaLa mEni). His color is also that of the sea (KaDal vaNNan) a
dazzling, sparkling and beaming dark blue. Hence, He is rightly called
�Rama�

4. Mahaalakshmi: The word when pronounced as �Ramaa� gives yet another


dimension. �Ramaa� means �Mahaalakshmi�. She is never separated from Her
spouse. Though for all appearances, she might appear as is she is away from
the Lord (for purposes of Avataara Rahasyam), She is always with Him vide
�agalakillEn�� and � ananyaa RaaghavENa aham Bhaaskarasya prabhaa yathaa�,
etc. As per PramaaNas �Ramaa� is always with �Rama�. Hence, the name �Rama�
is suggestive of this.

5. Daanam: The perfect gift: The letter �Ra� is derived from the root
�raadhaanE� which means �Daanam� or gift. The letter �Ma� denotes
Mahaalakshmi vide �Maalolan�. Since, the Lord got Mahaalakshmi as a �gift�
in �Kanyaadaanam� as �Sri Sita, He became the �talk of the town� as
�Sitaapathi�. This is the practice in referring to son-in-law as the husband
of �.�Thus, the Word �Rama� is apt in this sense also.

6. LaavaNyam: The word �Ramaa� usually refers to �beautiful damsel�. . Rama


was so handsome and buxom, dainty and attractive with a majestic demeanor
that spinsters both beautiful and otherwise fell for him. Why maidens? Rama
was such a treasure house of beauty as to bewitch the eyes and minds of even
menfolk. (�Ramayathi ithi Raama:�) Did not ANDAL describe him as �manathukku
iniyaan�? Pumsaam drishTi Chitta apahaariNam�- He stole the eyes and minds
of even menfolk. Vaalmiki describes how when he entered DaNDakaaraNya, not
only the Mahrishis, but also the fauna and flora became intoxicated. When he
understood their longing, he promised the Maharishis that he would enjoy
their company in his next Avataara as KaNNan in Dvapara yuga and bade them
to be born as cow-herd belles (aaichiyar)

Here is Rama whose physical features answered exactly to the 32 Saamudrikaa


LakshaNam (criteria of measuring physical beauty)

As Poet Kamban asks �Azhagu ellaam orungE kaNDaal yaavarE aarra vallaar?� �
�Who can resist the charm when all charm in the world confronts one all at
once?� Everyone was muttering �He is beautiful; Nay, ONLY HE is beautiful�.
That is why VasishTa named him as �Rama�.

As KaLidaasa puts it:

Raama ithi abhiraamENa vapushaa tasya chOtida:/


NaamadEyam guru: chakrE jagat prathama mangaLam//
Omkaarascha atha Sabdasscha Dvou Yetou brahmaNa: puraa/
kaNTam bitvaa viniryaadou tasmaath Maangalikou ubou?
This is the name that became the first auspicious sound, a sound that spread
suspiciousness all around. There are many auspicious things (e.g.) turmeric,
conch curling to the right (valampuri Sangu), cow, granary (NerkaLanjiyam)
etc. We have to go, find then to invoke their suspiciousness. But, the very
utterance of the name of �Rama� can shower all that is pleasant and
auspicious.

Rama Taapaneeya Upanishad confirms this saying that the name �Rama� is equal
to �PraNavam�.

TuLasidas explains this in his own way thus:

TuLasi Rama sanEhi karu thyaagi sakala upachaara /


JaisE GhaTata na ankanou noukE likhata phhaar //

Rama�s name kindles Bhkati in our minds. Nothing is needed to be done for
one who has determined devotion to Rama. How should this Bhakti be?
TuLasidaas says that it should be like the multiplication of number 9.
However you multiply and reduce the resultant number to a single digit, it
will always remain as 9. There is another reason for referring to the
multiplication of number 9. A person�s merits and demerits have first to be
reckoned in determining his one�s net worth. �No man becomes saint in his
sleep� Only by slow process, on would be able to attain perfection.
9x1= 9: No change. This is perfect merit.
9x2= 18. By reciting Ramanaama one acquires merit 1 and defect 8
9x3= 27 -do- with Ramabhakti, merit moves up to 2 and defect reduced to 7
9x4= 36. Etc. As it goes on the merit gets augmented say at 8 and defect
gets reduced to 1 as in 9x9=81
9x10=90. Here Ramabhakti makes the person perfect and blemishless. Thus, by
referring to this table, TuLasidaas explained the glory of Raamanaam so that
even children could understand.
*******
There is no end to talking about greatness of Ramayanam, Rama, and Rama
namam.
I request all Tamil lovers, Rama lovers buy and read this Tamil book
"Ramapiranai KaRpOm".
AchAryan ThiruvaDigaLE SaraNam
Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram
Regards
Namo Narayana
Srimad Andavan ThiruvaDi