In almost all Hindu families in Kerala one reads the holy Ramayana and other members listen during the Ramayana month. The climate during this period is almost rainy and many people do not have any work and it is also considered as a month for preventive treatment. Elaborate arrangements are made in the temples to read the Ramayana and preach the divine message to lead an ideal life. It is for good health by keeping body and mind pure.
Kausalya supraja Rama poorva sandhya pravartathe
Utthishta narasardoola kartavyam daivamahnikam
(Sri Rama! Kausalya'sendearing son! Wake up, dear; You have to do Your day-to-day duties; Do wake up please.)
Uttishthotishtha Govinda uttishtha garudadhwaja
Uttishtha kamalakanta trilokyam mangalam kuru
(Sri Govinda! All the three worlds are under Your rule; they have to prosper. Wake up, my child.)
Holy Ramayana is one of the most widely read epics in India. In Kerala, Ramayana month begins on 1st Karkadakam, July 16 this year.
Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in his characteristic simple language has said, ?There are two powerful ?Taraka Namas?. One is aum and another is Ram?. All mantras have to be prefixed with aum for obtaining the benefits of those mantras, whereas there is no need to prefix aum when the name ?Ram?? is recited because the name itself is Taraka Namam.? We do not seek a preceptor when we are not in trouble or when we feel that there is nothing lacking in us. The more we are besieged by troubles the more often we go to worship in temples or seek the darshan and advice of great men. ?Just as the Veda Purusha (Virat Purusha) was born as Dasaratha'searthly son, the Vedas are born from Prachetasa (Valmiki) in the form of the
Ramayana.? The Ramayana is the very form of the Vedas that have come down to us from the heavens to the earth. The Vedas are divided into four parts, viz., Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. Lord Rama is the embodiment of Rig Veda, Lakshmana, the Yajur Veda, Bharata, the Sama Veda and Shatrughna, the Atharva Veda. The four Vedas became the four sons of Dasaratha and played at his palace. The Rig Veda and the Yajur Veda consist of mantras, which are related to yajnas. That is why sage Vishwamitra took Rama and Lakshmana along with him to safeguard his yajna. While Rama was in exile, Bharata left Ayodhya and stayed in a village called Nandigram, all the time singing the divine name of Rama for 14 long years. It is for this reason that Bharata is described as the personification of Sama Veda. It was Shatrughna who safeguarded the places of sacred rituals like yajnas from the invasion of evil spirits and demons. Do not think that the Ramayana is different from the Vedas. In fact, it is the very essence of the Vedas. Rama exemplified three kinds of righteous behaviour (Dharma), namely, the Dharmas relating to the individual, the family and the society. To uphold these three-fold Dharma, divinity manifested in a triangular flow, in the form of the Trimurtis (the Triune form). The Ramayana manifested to elaborate the human values. The period of the Mahabharata was well over 5,000 years ago and the Ramayana was enacted aeons earlier. Even after the passage of countless ages, if it is still occupying the hearts of the people at large, one can well imagine its importance. There are two kinds of messages dominating Ramayana: One pertains to Rama and the other to Ravana.
It is said aakarah vishnu vasaha that is to say in aakara resides Vishnu. In aum, aakara leads and in Ram? he resides. Lord Parameshwara says that by chanting Ramnama thrice one can obtain the benefit of having chanted the thousand names of Lord Vishnu i.e., Vishnu Sahasra-namam. Such is the greatness of this Ram? nama. It is believed that breathing one'slast on the banks of holy Ganges on Kasipuri the mokshapuri, one gets mukti, moksha, for Lord Parameshwara is ever chanting the Ramnama here as Katyayini Kamukan in the ears of all people in Kasipuri. Listening to or uttering the name Ram? at the time of death relieves everyone from sins and the jeevatma obtains the mukti. Hence the Kasipuri has come to be known as mokshapuri.
The Ramayana belongs among the world'soldest literature. Cherished throughout India and Asia for millennia, it has been faithfully preserved and passed on in varied forms of popular expression?epic poems, folk tales, music, dance, drama, puppet shows, sculpture, painting and even films and comic books. Its story and characters have captured the hearts and minds of countless generations.
Despite its huge popularity in Eastern cultures and even though it is recognised by many Western scholars as a literary masterpiece, most people in the West have never heard of Ramayana.
The story of Lord Rama is both a spellbinding adventure and a work of profound philosophy, offering answers to life'sdeepest questions. It tells of another time when gods and heroes walked among us, facing supernatural forces of evil and guided by powerful mystics and sages.
Revered throughout the ages for it'smoral and spiritual wisdom, it is a beautiful and uplifting tale of romance and high adventure, recounting the odyssey of Rama, a great king of ancient India. Rama, along with his beautiful wife Sita, and faithful brother Laksmana, is exiled to the forest for fourteen years, where Sita is kidnapped by the powerful demon Ravana. Along with his brother Laksmana and a fantastic army of supernatural creatures, Rama embarks on a perilous quest to find his beloved Sita.
The Lord Himself says in the Ramayana, ?If one surrenders unto Me sincerely, saying, ?My Lord, from this day I am fully surrendered unto You?, I always give him protection. That is My vow.? Since the ultimate benefit of hearing the Ramayana is increased faith in Lord Rama, everyone will want to read this important book.
(The writer is retired Chief Technical Examiner to the Government of Kerala.)