Sri Sathya Sai Speaks

Divine Discourses spanning 7 Decades (1950 – 2011)

Ramakatha Rasa Vahini, Vol 1 (Download)

| |

Lakshmana Goes With Rama

Download – Lakshmana Goes With Rama

Within the palace, Rama’s companions, elated and happy, ready with bright countenances and splendid robes, were waiting to accompany him to the Festival Hall. Sumanthra went into the apartments that lay still deeper inside the palace. There he saw Rama, seated on a golden cot, scattering divine light around him, and Sita standing by his side, gently fanning him. He shone like the moon with the star, Chitra.

Sumanthra, in a hurry, could no brook delay. “Rama! Mother Kaika and your father asked me to bring you quickly to her palace; they sent me here on that mission, and I hurried for that same purpose.” Rama turned toward Sita. “Sita! This is a sign of some obstacle, and of nothing . I’m not unaware of this, but I kept silent and said, ‘Yes’ for everything, so that father might be happy. Father’s orders are to be honoured, lest he be pained.” While Rama was talking in this strain, Sumanthra’s heart was pounding fast inside him. He was trying to interpret Rama’s words and the picture of Dasaratha lying wailing on the floor. He was now convinced that the obstacle Rama spoke of was genuine.

But Sita interrupted Rama, “Lord! What are you talking about On this auspicious you should not speak thus. Whatever the obstacle, father-in-law’s words must be honoured. If he is content, we are content. For his sake, we must renounce whatever has to be. Don’t hesitate even a little; go immediately. We will be equally happy whether the coronation takes or not. Mother Kaika has inordinate affection toward you; anything she directs us to do, any order she gives us, will be for our good beyond doubt. No one here on earth is as solicitous for our welfare as mother Kaika. When father and such a mother send word that you should hasten toward them, how happy we should be!” Sita followed Rama to the main door of the hall and wished him well.

Rama told her, “Sita! Don’t I know all this For me, the days of the past, the days around us, and the days yet to come are all the same. I welcome each day with full joy. I’m prepared to do anything to uphold father’s reputation.

I’m prepared to go anywhere. I’m immensely happy that you my feeling and second my resolve.” Rama moved out, accompanied by Sumanthra. When they ascended the chariot waiting on the road in front of the palace, people raised shouts of “Hurrah, hurrah! Ramachandra, dear Lord.” The acclamation shook the skies.

Sumanthra announced to the populace, “Now the chariot is not taking Rama to the Coronation Hall but to the Emperor. So allow the chariot to go as fast as it should. Rama will return in a few moments, so wait here.” Sumantra explained the reason for the hurry and drove in hot haste. As Rama drove along the city streets to Kaika’s palace in his divine chariot, those seeing him cheered like lions. Minstrels and courtiers started paeans of praise. The strains of many instruments of music filled the sky. Acclamations of “hurrah, hurrah” rose from the thick masses of people on both sides of the road. Women in their best clothes and bedecked with jewels thronged the terraces of the houses and filled the windows, eager to wave lamps when Rama passed by.

Rama talks to Kaika

As he approached the palace, they showered floral petals and waved sacred lamps. They gazed upon the Prince until he passed beyond reach of the eye; then, they relished with joy the picture of “Rama in the chariot” that they had imprinted on their hearts and stood without stirring wherever they were, like idols of themselves, lost in contemplation of the bliss that filled them.

The chariot rode into the precincts of Dasaratha’s palace, named Vardhamana and as imposing as Mount Kailas itself. It passed through the three quadrangles guarded by vigilant bowmen.

Rama alighted from the vehicle and moved through two more quadrangles on foot. While walking, he told his companions and even Lakshmana to stay back, for Rama knew what was about to happen soon. In spite of this, he was acting like a mortal, as naturally as any would under the circumstances! Finally, Rama entered the apartments of the queens and the where Dasaratha had fallen on the bed. His hair was disheveled, and he was wearing clothes of ‘yesterday’. He was lying on the bed without any regard to propriety. Rama was astonished at the spectacle. Kaika was standing by the side of the bed.

Dasaratha’s face had lost all trace of brightness; he was lamenting and wailing. He raised his head, and his eyes fell upon Rama. His tongue failed to spell out what he longed to say. Tears streamed from his eyes. Though he tried to speak, no sound came. Rama had never before seen or experienced such a fearsome scene. He was filled with anxiety; he hastened to the presence of his father and held both his feet in his hands. “Tell me, father, why do you lament so What’s the cause I’ll try to confer joy on you in the best manner possible. I’ll dedicate my very life to restoring your bliss (ananda). Tell me what has caused this grief; don’t weep,” he pleaded.

Dasaratha exclaimed, “Rama!” and broke into tears again, unable to continue. He lost consciousness. Rama tried to revive and console him, but he fell deeper into grief and could not be pacified.

Rama mustered courage and took his father to task, “Father! what is all this You have to instil courage in young people like me; instead, you are weeping and wailing and filling us with fear! No. This is not right. This is the to be happy. Is it dharma, is it proper for you to sink into grief Till this day, whenever you were angry or worried, my coming to you removed in a trice all signs of those troubles and made you beam with spiritual bliss (ananda). You used to gain peace when you drew me near, didn’t you How is it, then, that the longer you look at me the more you suffer from sorrow This too makes my grief more painful. Can’t you mention the reason for this strange behaviour and bring solace to me Won’t you tell me Has any wrong been committed by me Or, if there is anything I have to do, tell me and I shall do it without fail. I shall correct myself, if you tell me my faults.

Don’t grieve; don’t doubt or hesitate; tell me with the authority of affection what I have to do, and I will bow to the order. Father! Your being plunged in grief is not good augury for you, for me, as well as for the empire.” Rama turned toward Kaika. With folded palms, he asked her, “Mother! Have I committed any wrong Tell me who that execrable sinner is who caused such grief to father! The moment father saw me, he used to beckon me lovingly, draw me close to him, and fondle me caressingly! Now he doesn’t even look at me! Why He doesn’t utter a word; he keeps his face turned away from me!

“If the fault, the crime, is mine, I am ready to suffer any punishment to atone for it. It is enough for me if father is happy. Or, is he suffering from any illness or disease Have my brothers, Bharatha and Satrughna, sent bad news They are well, aren’t they Mother Kausalya and Sumitra are well, I hope!

“I’m overcome with grief, since I’m unable to understand the reason for father’s agony! I’ll do whatever is needed to bring joy back to him, however hard it may be. However painful, I’ll discharge his command to the full, most loyally, with bowed head. Whoever is born, the father is the cause of his birth. Therefore, the father is everyone’s visible God. I seek nothing higher than his happiness. Have compassion on me; tell me what happened.

“Mother! Was your self-respect hurt by any incident, resulting in your speaking some harsh words against father Or, did my mother act against his will and hurt his feelings Mother Kausalya would never behave like that. And, Sumitra I am more certain about her. She would not at all act so. And father would certainly not lament so distressingly, even if either of them acted so foolishly. There must be some very serious reason for his plight.

If father is reluctant to tell me what it is, at least you can tell me about it and console my grief.” Looking at Rama, who was so pathetically praying to her, Kaika gave up all sense of mercy and moderation, all consideration for the husband who might be plunged in deeper misery when he heard her words spoken in utter disregard of the calamities they were sure to usher in. She didn’t stop to ask whether the words could be uttered or were better left unspoken. She didn’t discriminate between the fleeting present and the oncoming future. She brushed aside the claims of love and cast off her own innate dignity and motherly status.

“Rama! Listen! Years ago, during the battle between gods and demons (devas and asuras) your father was wounded by demonic arrows and suffered unbearable pain. I nursed him back to health and happiness. He appreciated my sacrifice and service and promised to grant me two boons. At the time, the only thing I craved was his recovery and victory, so I replied, “I don’t desire my boon now, I will ask you for the promised boons when I feel the urge later.” Your father said, “Right! Whenever you like, ask me for two boons, and I will certainly grant them and fulfil your desire. These boons have no limit of time and are bound by no condition. Whenever you ask, whatever the boons, I will give them.” he vowed.

“You know that scions of the Ikshvaku line never break their promised word. Putting faith in that well-known fact, I asked now for those two boons: one, that my son Bharatha should be crowned emperor, and two, that you should be sent into the Dandaka Forest for a period of fourteen years. As a result, your father is creating this hubbub!

Why elaborate further I won’t modify or withdraw my demands. If your father is an adherent of truth, and if you desire to prove that you too are an adherent of truth, you have to go this very moment to the Dandaka Forest, wearing deerskin and matted hair. You have to reside there for fourteen years. “Since you are his very life breath, he doesn’t like to send you into exile; he’s reluctant to ask you to go. He apprehends you may take it amiss; that is the reason for his grief. Rama! No other calamity or deluge has happened. It is meaningless to exaggerate this minor matter and make out that a mountainous catastrophe has landed on us. Rama! The father can be saved from the sin of breaking his word only when his very image, the son, resolves to fulfil the vow he fails to fulfil. Otherwise, if he who vowed and he who is his son both neglect it, then the father has to meet the doom of eternal downfall. You are not unaware of this.” Rama was not at all affected by these words uttered with such deliberate hard-heartedness. With a smile playing on his lips, he replied, “For this reason, it is not proper that father should lament.” He nodded his head as if to signify his approval of the proposals made by Kaika. But, when this conversation fell on his ears, Dasaratha felt as if his heart was being sawn within. He rolled and groaned in extreme agony. Rama turned toward Kaika. “Mother! It will happen as you have contemplated! I am reverentially placing on my head the promise made by my father. It is enough if father draws me near him as he so lovingly used to do, speaks to me affectionately, and blesses me. Well, if I am at least told that I don’t deserve these, that I have not earned that merit, I’ll accept it without demur and with equal joy and satisfaction. Father always wishes the best for me. He blesses me always and desires that I progress ever. He is a great seer; for me, he is not only the father but the preceptor who teaches the highest path. “What responsibility and duty have I other than conferring joy on him, who is both father and teacher This is my dearest duty, my dharma. I will derive immense spiritual bliss (ananda) in the forest for fourteen years. Not merely fourteen; if father’s wish is such, I am prepared to live all my life in the forest itself! “But, why does father hesitate to tell me about the two boons This is what pains me. Will I ever say no to what he says Rama is the servant and support of the parental word, not its opponent. Is there any act of gratitude nobler than dedicating this body, which was received from the father, to his service alone I will offer it with spiritual bliss; I’m not one who waits to be told to do so. “Mother why didn’t you mention to me that Bharatha is to be crowned I and my brother – there is no difference between us! We know no distinction among ourselves. Also, why do you say, “This is your father’s command” Do I ever disobey your command No. Never. Whether you or my father says it, I unhesitatingly carry it out. I leave Ayodhya this very day and go to the forest. Mother! Send proper messengers to bring Bharatha back from grandfather’s. It is best to get him quickly. If my moving into the forest and Bharatha’s coronation happen at the same time, father will be saved from physical strain, mental anxiety, and a sense of void. And you too can be fully content! Who can say how events will shape themselves” When Kaika heard these words from Rama, she was filled with happiness (ananda) and apprehension. She feared what might happen if Bharatha arrived while Rama was still in the city and concluded that it was best to insist on Rama leaving for the forest that very day. She replied, “Rama! It’s possible to make arrangements to get Bharatha to Ayodhya, but there is no need for you to stay here until he arrives. Since you have decided to start the hermit life, why should you delay your departure The longer the start is delayed, the longer your return is delayed! You get ready to leave even now. “Your father is eager to tell you this himself, but he is unwilling to express his command directly. Though his heart insists that he should say it, he is bothered by a sense of shame, for he loves you much. He is reluctant to inform you of his promise to me; that is the reason for his distress. He has no other grief. The quicker you leave, the sooner he will recover from agony. Until you leave, I’m afraid, he won’t take food or bathe. So, if you yearn to restore his happiness, the sooner you depart the better.” Dasaratha, lying prostrate on the bed, heard Kaika’s heart-piercing words and couldn’t contain his anger and sorrow. He burst into indistinct fury, “Fie on you, traitorous demon!” Turning to Rama, he cried “Rama” twice, and fainted again. Rama sat on the bed, with the head of his father on his lap; he stroked the forehead and consoled and comforted him with sweet lovingness. He spoke to Kaika. “Mother! I am not a covetous fellow poisoned by worldly ambition. I have no desire to win over the people and establish my rule over the kingdom. I wish to live like a hermit; I yearn to foster and maintain righteousness (dharma), that is all. I have also one more resolve: to confer joy on my most revered father. To realise these three objectives, I am prepared to undertake any task. A son has no greater duty, no higher good, than serving the father. “Mother! Though father has not directly spoken to me, you are telling me what his command is, aren’t you This is quite enough. Besides, you are speaking in his very presence, and, despite his hearing what you say, he is unable to alter or deny anything. Therefore, I infer that your words are virtually his. So, I bow to the order and will leave as directed. “Mother! I have one little wish, which I hope you will fulfil. When Bharatha rules the empire, see that he obeys father’s orders in every way and that he contributes to father’s joy and satisfaction by his acts. For me, for Bharatha, indeed for every son, there is nothing more holy and fruitful than the vow of filling the heart of the father with contentment and happiness. Service of the father is the son’s eternal duty (sanathana dharma).” Rama fell prostrate and touched Kaika’s feet. Dasaratha, who heard his son, writhed as if the dharma that Rama expounded and the equanimity that he revealed aroused his love even more and thus aggravated his sorrow beyond control. Knowing that Rama would not stay in Ayodhya any longer, he lost all sense of propriety and status. He shouted “Rama!” and slumped on the hard floor. Women in their quarters heard the thump and were stunned into grief and wonder. They lamented loudly among themselves at the turn of events. Rama realised that it was not advisable to delay any longer. He prostrated before his father and touched his feet. Then, he walked out of the apartment. Rama talks to Kausalya Lakshmana was standing at the door, listening to the words spoken inside the room. He was in tears; he was furious with Kaika and angry with father. He found it impossible to give expression to his feelings, so he followed Rama with arms folded, head bent low, and eyes on the ground. Though he had lost a kingdom and had to exile himself into the forest, Rama’s face shone like the moon behind thick dark clouds, unaffected by the black veil. The splendour of his countenance was unaffected, for he faced honour and dishonour with equal serenity. He behaved like a veteran yogi, with no trace of agitation in thought, word, and deed; he walked as if nothing had happened to cause him worry. However, Sumanthra guessed that some transformation had happened inside the palace. The guess soon grew into certainty. When his eyes fell on Lakshmana, his heart suffered a shock. To add to his fears, Rama brushed aside the white umbrella that was held over him by the attendant. He ordered that the ceremonial whisks not be used for him. He declared that he did not deserve the silver chariot anymore. Sumanthra lost strength of body and will. His worst fears were confirmed. Rama didn’t speak a word to those around him or to the citizens he met. Not that he was sad – no, he knew that others would be hurt if they heard the news. For if he spoke, he would have to speak the truth, and he would be spreading sadness through his own words. In spite of this, his style of walking back to the palace announced the sad news to all onlookers. Rama didn’t go directly to Sita’s apartments. Instead, he walked to Kausalya’s palace, which was resplendent with flags and festoons and other marks of jubilation. The women and other attendants of the palace got intimation of the approach of Rama and Lakshmana; they readied lamps on plates and arranged themselves in rows to welcome them. Old and trusted guards at the main en-

be a fool or a cruel tyrant, but aren’t you his son When that is so, your status is ever lower and his is ever higher. This decides all duties and rights. The son can at best try to clarify and explain according to his light what appears to him confused or complicated. He should not refuse to obey, dismissing it as foolish or absurd. “Consider this aspect also. Dasaratha is a very talented person, a great warrior, heroic fighter, and a pillar of righteousness. And, he is struggling in agony to keep his plighted word! He wasn’t deluded by Kaika or blinded by lust! No. He was moved by the supreme need to abide by his promise, a promise he had solemnly made. He had told her that he would grant her two boons, whatever they be, even if the grant involved injury to his own life! I can never assent to the view that he is overcome by lust. Father is in misery because he sees no escape from the consequences of that assertion, and his heart does not agree to send me into the forest. “Lakshmana! Father is a staunch supporter of dharma, more staunch than his predecessors on the throne. His fame has echoed and re-echoed from every corner of the three worlds. Wouldn’t it be a bad example to humanity if his queen, the anointed queen, left him and accompanied her son, deserting the husband Life is short; its span is limited. To lose one’s reputation forever by resorting to unrighteous acts is not good, either for me or for you.” Then, turning toward the other, he pleaded pathetically, “Mother!” Before he could continue, Kausalya was numbed into stiffness by sorrow. She realised that her efforts to change Rama’s stand were fruitless. She found that she could not escape the obligation to give him leave to go with her blessings. She felt that the more she lamented, the more Rama was pained. Lakshmana was greatly moved. His eyes turned red; he lost all awareness of where he was and amidst whom; his lips became dry; his tongue was tied; he had a fixed stare; he bowed his head and looked on the ground; tears flowed without let or hindrance. Rama felt that it would not be proper to leave him in that state. Besides, Lakshmana might do something to himself, if left alone; he might even do injury to others. And, those acts would be deemed to have happened on account of me, he thought. So, Rama questioned Lakshmana. “Brother! The fumes of anger are as incense to the horde of sins. Suppress them. You might be distressed at the thought that Rama was so grossly insulted and dishonoured. But the path of truth and righteousness (sathya and dharma) heed no honour and dishonour; it does not crave for one and shy away from the other. Be brave. Fill your heart with courage. Remain here and serve father; use your days thus for the fulfilment of the highest purpose of life.” Lakshmana was startled into speech. “Brother! When Rama, my very breath, proceeds to the forest, whom am I to serve here, with this inert material physical object called the body This Lakshmana has no desire to serve anyone except Rama. You value your dharma, your sense of duty; I too have my sense of duty, and I value it equally. Therefore, I will come with you. I don’t need to await anyone’s order. I’m not included in the people bound to the boons claimed by Kaika. Even if I am involved with them, I won’t pay heed to her commands or to the directives of her henchmen. “Only Rama has the authority to command me or issue directives about my movements or conduct. So, here and now, I will also don the hermit’s habiliment of bark, tie up my hair into matted locks, and prepare myself to follow you.” With these words, Lakshmana divested himself of the jewels and regal paraphernalia he had burdened himself with while proceeding to the Coronation Hall; he threw the jewels and silken robes in disgust. The ear ornaments and the necklaces fell in the far corners of the room. He was fretting to accompany his brother. Rama’s heart softened at Lakshmana’s spontaneous devotion and dedicated loyalty. He went close to him and, placing his hand on his shoulder, spoke softly, “Brother! My joy has no bounds, since I have such a brother as you! This is my great good fortune. By your coming with me, mother Kausalya will also gain some peace of mind. She is very much agitated by fear and doubt about how I will spend fourteen years in the forest, and whether I will return after the exile is over. So, tell mother to be free from fear. Go and soothe her .… While we spend the hours like this, Father must be suffering more and more anxiety. Kaika will suffer from the welling doubt that I may not leave at all! Therefore, I will go to Sita and inform her; I will go to Kaika’s palace, to take leave of father. Meanwhile, you go to your mother, Sumitra, and receive her consent to join me.” Rama went around Kausalya full circle and fell flat at her feet in reverence. At that, the maids and attendants, as well as the other inmates of the women’s quarters, set up a loud wail, as if the deluge had come upon them. Kausalya bravely drew Rama toward her when he stood up awaiting her blessings. She embraced him and caressed his hair. With her hands on his shoulder, she said, “Son! Rama! you are the staunchest adherent of dharma. You are a resolute hero. You can have no cause to fear life in the forest. You have resolved on exile in the forest; it has become impossible for me to dissuade you from that decision. May it be well with you. Fulfil your ideal, your yearning, to respect the wish of your father! Repay the debt that you owe your father by acting according to his command. “As for me, I wish only one thing: return happy to Ayodhya. I will be happy on that day at least. Rama! The decree of destiny is indeed inscrutable. Its text cannot be reshaped, even by the most powerful. The dharma for whose sake you are now leaving us will certainly guard you and guide you while in exile. “Rama! How nice it would be if at this very moment the fourteen years would roll by, and I would see your return rather than your departure. Alas! Pardon my madness! Son! How shall I convey to you my blessings Shall I say, let the fourteen years pass by as fourteen days No, no, as fourteen winks of the eye! Come safe, come soon. And be crowned emperor, O, jewel of the Raghu dynasty! O, my dearest son! The goddess of dharma will surely shelter you during the years of exile, for it is to propitiate Her that you are entering the forest. She is the strongest and most steadfast of guardians. I will be propitiating the gods here these fourteen years and praying that no harm comes to you. “The service you have offered to your mother, father, and preceptor will confer long life, health, and happiness on you. Your loyalty to truth will grant you impregnable courage. The mountains, rivers, bushes, anthills, beasts and birds of the forest – these will approach you in kind affection, cater to your needs, and fill you with joy. The sun, the moon, and other heavenly bodies will ward off all evil and protect you. Even the demons of the forest, intent on heinous acts of cruelty, will be drawn toward you, for your heart is full of cool comforting love, and they will surrender at your feet, accepting you as master.” Blessing Rama, Kausalya, with some effort, gulped down the sorrow that was overwhelming her and put on a calm brave face. She smelled the crown of Rama’s head and she held him hard and close in loving embrace. She kissed his cheeks. Her lips quivered, when she spoke the parting words, “Rama! Proceed in joy and return safe.” Rama knew the depth of affection that the mother was bestowing on him. He touched her feet many times in reverential gratitude and said, “Mother! Don’t grieve. Don’t reduce sleep or food; Don’t injure your health. Remember me at all moments with a joyful heart. Your thoughts will be reflected in my safety and prosperity. When you grieve here, how can I be happy there If you want me to be happy there, you have to be happy here. And, with all your heart, you must bless me from here.” Praying thus, he moved out of the , averse to leave her thus, and yet, anxious to do his duty. Rama stepped on the royal road and started walking along, barefooted, through the concourse of citizens who had filled it. People were petrified at the sight of that resplendent symbol of truth and virtue. The citizens had heard rumours floating over the streets that Rama was leaving for the forest, and they were unable to believe it. They prayed it might be false. But when they saw him tramp barefooted, their hearts sank; the exaltation they experienced at the news of the coronation plunged into the depths of misery. Faces that bloomed in joy suddenly faded and dropped, wan and withered. Rama didn’t raise his head to look at any of the faces around him. He proceeded to Sita’s apartments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *