By Vanita Sriniwas
Dussehra is the day celebrated for vanquishing evil. It is the day that signifies victory of virtues over vices. Every state celebrates this day in unique way with a touch of regional fervour to it. The states in Northern belt plant barley and the nine day old sprouts are important part of festivities. Down in the Southern states it is believed that Goddess Chamundeshwari slayed an Asur Mahishasura on this day. In the rest of the states Ramlila is played and the drama is concluded by killing Ravana on the tenth day. Of all the beliefs and legendary stories it is the story of Rama that touches every heart.
As a kid I heard the story of Rama through my grandmother. The stories were narrated with highest values of mystical and mythical elements. During those days nobody questioned the divinity of Rama. The stories were told and retold and handed over to us, as though, everyone including Rama, secretly knew that he was an Avatara of God Vishnu. We listened to the glories with rapt attention. Rama the invincible, would come out with an easy solution for all the tricky situations. He was a ‘Leeladhari’, the one who created the situations and gave the solutions. He could foresee the events and their logical ends, still he would go through all of it, just for the benefit of the world. She shared all these divine secrets, every time she told us the stories. The best part of the story sessions, were the concluding zealous chorus of all the kids “Jai Shree Ram”.
To question everything happening around is a natural process of growing up. As a teenager I started questioning the mythical, the mystical and the moral aspects of Ramayana. A feminist bent of mind replaced my admiration of Rama with skepticism. Why did he let Laxmana accompany him and that too sans Urmila? Why did he kill Bali treacherously? Why did he make Sita go through Agni Parisksha and then drive her to woods just because one of the citizens was critical of his decision? Why did not he stand by his decision? The questions were never answered.
The life is full of unanswered questions. The time does not stop. The life must go on and so did mine. In the middle ages my version of Rama and Ramayana has undergone a tremendous change. Today I am filled with awe at the qualities which were possessed by Rama. He was an young prince in the state of Ayodhya. Unfortunately, the family politics usurped his right to throne. Rama shows a great show of poise and aplomb. He was unperturbed by the sudden changes in the situation. He accepted his banishment to forest and displayed strength, confidence and a deep respect for the elders and their decision. He accepted life as it came. He adopted a positive attitude in life. He chose a nonchalant attitude towards the changing situations in life. The tough life in forest did not disturb his balance and self composure. He carried it out with utmost grace. He helped all those in need during those 13 years. He faced the most challenging time during the 14th year of his exile. His wife was missing. There were umpteen number of possibilities that might have crossed his mind. With a lasting hope, he set out to find her. How tough it must have been to travel half of India on foot, tracking the lost wife. An untiring search led him to the revelation that the powerful king of Lanka, Ravana had abducted her. It is impossible to believe the turbulence Rama must have gone through to find out a way ,firstly to know if Sita was alive and Secondly to chalk out a feasible plan to bring Sita back safely. How could a prince wage a war without an army? How could he reach an unconnected island without a Bridge or the knowledge to build the bridge? These are the some of the problems we can think of. There must have been several other issues which we cannot even comprehend without the knowledge of the times they were living in. Yet remarkably enough Rama consolidated an army of Forest People and trained them for a war. Like an engineer he monitored the construction of Ram Setu. He finally lodged himself and the army in the alien country and with his gallant and military prowess devastated the most powerful enemy of all times. What a remarkable capability, The virtues so deep, the confidence so high and yet grounded with humility..There is not a single instance in Ramayana where Rama lost his temper. On his return to his birth place, he established an ideal society, Ram Rajya. To this date with all the development and advancement, we have not been able to achieve even an iota of what he accomplished. His achievements were humanly not possible. Probably that is the reason why he has been accepted as God. The conviction, the confidence, the resolve, the motive were the virtues that have put him on the pedestal of God and has been inspiring the human race since ages immemorial.
Jai Shree Ram.
Sri Rama Rama Rameti Rame Rame Manorame
Sahasra Naam tat tulyam Rama nama varnane