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Lord Rama?s life and love

Despite loving Sri Rama for his many virtues, many of us cannot uphold him as a model husband. That honour belongs to the fascinating Mahadev.

india Updated: Apr 06, 2006 14:22 IST

For a Hindu to write of Sri Rama, even on Ram Navami, is to invite suspicion and scorn. But who can deny that many Indians feel, like Sant Tulsidas, “Jananimain na jiyun bin Ram,” (Mother, I can’t abide a life without Ram).

Isn’t it time all believing Hindus repositioned and reclaimed their faith from the politicians who have tarnished it so unforgivably?

Despite loving Sri Rama for his many virtues including ekapatnivrata (monogamy) many of us cannot uphold the Prince of Ayodhya as a model husband. That honour belongs to the fascinating Mahadev.

As Adi Shankara writes, “Girishacharite vismayavati” (Parvati is overcome with wonder at Shiva’s doings.) But would the Ramayana matter so much to us if it did not pierce our heart with its sorrowful beauty? Who can read dry-eyed of Sita’s heartbreak? It is wounded love so shattering that even after millennia we can’t endure to think of what this princess of sublime character went through, and strain to explain it. Yet why do many homes enshrine calendar pictures and figurines of Ram-Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman? Is it not because they represent a gamut of deepest love, love that triumphed and love that went horribly wrong?
And look at the cast of characters in this epic whom some know better than their own relatives, from Rishyashringa, the purest known soul of the time who conducted Dasaratha’s ‘pu trakameshtiyagna’ (the son-asking sacrifice) to beloved Sri Hanuman.

We know Sri Rama was born at noon. But hidden by the joy of his homecoming on Vijayadashmi is how he went. They say this desolate Avatar ended his long years of sacrifice by taking jalasamadhi in the kindly waters of the Sarayu, having accomplished his duty as he saw it and unable to live another day without Sita. This Ram Navami perhaps we should begin re-reading the ‘Ramayana’. It helps a person walking the ellipse of Ram-rejection to understand the insistent undertow of Sri Rama’s pull on India’s heart. I’d pick the moving English translation of Valmiki’s Sanskrit original by Arshia Sattar (Viking).