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pEARLS FROM THE RAMAYANA

- An Enlightening Quiz


Right answer on your 1st attempt
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Right answer on your 2nd attempt
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Right answer on your 3rd attempt
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“Today, the world needs the message of the Ramayana. Why? Because children do not heed the words of their parents, and parents do not set worthy examples to their children,” Bhagavan Baba said in a profound discourse delivered in April 5, 1998. He went on further and added, “Preceptors, today, do not teach the right course of conduct to the disciples, and the disciples, in turn, do not offer the due respect to the teachers. Today, businessmen, administrators, rulers, and citizens – all are tarred by the same brush. The world is replete with discord. People have forgotten the great message of Rama. They have forgotten the Divine, with the result that they are immersed in misery.”

Then, elaborating on the unique message inherent in Ramayana, He said, “In the Divine epic of the Ramayana, there is a special and profound message, and that is: man must lead the life of a human being, and must seek oneness with the Divine. Man should harmonize the three qualities in him (satwa, rajas, tamas). In every human being, all the three natures – human, divine, and demonic – are present. But most men today ignore their humanness and divinity and foster only their demonic nature. Man, in fact, should strive to manifest his divinity, and not display his weakness or his demonic qualities.”

The Ramayana, truly, is a work that holds out ideals for every home and family. It clearly demonstrates what should be the ideal relationship between a father and a son, a husband and wife, between a brother and his sibling, and even between rulers and citizens. In every slice of this beautiful epic, there is a deep lesson very relevant for the current times. And in this quiz, we have culled out a few such important ideas that we must ponder over and practice them wholeheartedly to purify our lives. We hope you will find it appealing and revealing.

 

1. In a Summer Showers Discourse delivered in 1996, Swami shared the very first lesson that the Ramayana teaches us: “Sumitra’s two children, Lakshmana and Satrughna, arrived in the world crying as soon as they were born. They would not stop crying at all, while Rama and Bharatha were playing about with blissful smiles, in their cradles. The children of Sumitra puzzled everybody by their incessant crying. Sumitra tried, by resorting to various stratagems like toys and colourful objects, to stop their wail but it was of no avail. Emperor Dasaratha consulted several physicians to cure the strange malady of Sumitra’s children; but nothing worked.

"Mother Sumitra then called Sage Vasishta as the last resort to her problem. The eminent sage meditated for some time, and said, ‘Oh Mother, you need not administer any medicine to alleviate your children’s suffering. All you have to do is to place Lakshmana by the side of Rama, and Satrughna in the cradle of Bharatha. Rama and Lakshmana are of one amsa (essence), and so are Bharatha and Satrughna.”

What is the most pertinent lesson that we mortals can derive from this illustration in the Ramayana?





2. In a Divine Discourse delivered on Rama Navami in 1988, Swami said: “Today the spirit of sacrifice is absent among people. The foremost lesson of the Ramayana is ‘readiness for sacrifice’. It is only through thyaga (renunciation or sacrifice) that one attains Yoga (oneness with Divinity). The Ramayana proclaims the ideal of sacrifice. Obeying the commands of His father, renouncing the kingship and wearing the bark of the tree, Rama went to the forest as an exile.”

What is the most important lesson conveyed by Lord Rama’s willingness to renounce kingship?





3. Continuing on the theme of lessons on ideal relationships, in a Ramanavami Discourse delivered in 1991, Swami reiterated: “Rama also exemplified the ideal relationship between husband and wife in a family. When Rama decided to leave for the forest, Sita wanted to accompany Him to serve Him. Rama tried in many ways to dissuade her, telling her about the dangers in living in the forest, infested by wild animals and demons on the prowl.

But Sita replied: ‘When I am with the lion among men, what can any animal do to me?’ Rama argued with her that the rakshasas (demons) were capable of assuming any form and that it would be difficult to safeguard her. Sita retorted: ‘Can't You, who are the protector of the fourteen worlds, protect a lone Sita!’ By these arguments, Sita tried to make Rama agree to her going with Him. Rama then employed a different argument. He told her that she should stay behind to render service to His aged parents.”

Finally, Sita convinced her husband to take her along. What lesson do Lord Rama and Sita teach the spouses from this episode of the Ramayana?





4. During the same Rama Navami Discourse in 1991, Swami elaborated further on lessons from the Ramayana from the roles played by other extended relationships too: “The Ramayana, thus, must be looked upon as a great work from which one can learn how each member in a family should conduct himself or herself righteously and lead an ideal life.

“Take, for instance, the example of sisters-in-law. In families today, there is no harmony between the wives of brothers. But, look at how Lakshmana's wife, Urmila, behaved. She told Lakshmana that he was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve Rama, which had been denied to her. She said: ’I would also like to come with you. But if I come, my presence will detract your single-minded service to Rama and Sita. I shall stay back, while you dedicate yourself whole-heartedly to their service.”

Rama thus received the blessings of His mother, stepmother, and all others when He set out for the forest to honour His father's word. What lesson do we learn from such noble acts of the women in the Ramayana?





5. In a Divine Discourse delivered by Baba in 1982, Swami narrates a story from the Ramayana, to teach us a lesson on the consequences of jealousy: “Kaikeyi, the queen, was the mistress, and Manthara was her servant, her maid. But since the queen was subservient to her maid, a whole series of tragedies happened. Kaikeyi came from a famous Royal dynasty; she was the favourite consort of a famous emperor; she was the mother of a son, Bharatha, famous for his dutifulness and righteousness; she loved her stepson Rama as dearly as her life-breath; yet, despite her own virtue, learning and authority, since she gave ear to her attendant, Manthara, she drew upon herself eternal infamy from everyone. She landed in a situation where her beloved son came to despise her. Even their names (Kaikeyi and Manthara) have today become obnoxious…Manthara is alive even today in the form of jealousy. There is none who can destroy this ‘Manthara’. We have to ignore this ‘Manthara’ and carry on with our duties.”

According to Swami, what lesson do we learn from this episode of the Ramayana, which if unheeded, can be very dangerous to us?





6. In a Divine Discourse delivered in 1992, Swami conveyed yet another lesson: “To recognize the power of the Divine, here is an illustration from the Ramayana: Rama and Lakshmana went to protect the yaga (sacrifice) performed by the sage Viswamithra. There were demons who wanted to undo the yaga performed by Viswamithra. Mareecha was one of them. He was the son of the ogress Thataki. As soon as Rama espied Mareecha, with one arrow he dispatched him far away. Mareecha recognized then the power of Rama. He firmly believed that Rama had the power of Divinity. From that moment he gave up his demonic quality.

“When he was in this state, Ravana came to him to seek his help for kidnapping Sita. Ravana said, ‘I want to kidnap Sita. Rama and Lakshmana are over there. Become a golden deer and divert their attention.’ Folding his palms, Mareecha told Ravana: ‘Oh King of Demons! You are having so much confidence in your physical power. Rama is not an ordinary man. I have experienced His prowess. You have lost your senses. Do not embark on this enterprise. You can never achieve victory over Rama.’”

What lesson do we learn from Ravana’s behaviour in this episode of the Ramayana?





7. During the Divine Summer Showers Discourses in 1977, Swami highlighted the disastrous consequence of misusing one’s knowledge. Quoting Ravana’s example, He said: “Ravana was ruling over a kingdom, and his capital city would compare well with heaven. But because of his bad qualities, he lost his own happiness, kingdom, and everything that he had. In fact, he destroyed his own dynasty and family. He knew all the codes of conduct of a king, and was very intelligent, and yet he was behaving like a monkey.

“He knew several branches of knowledge but because he was not putting his learning into practice, he became worse than one who has no knowledge at all. The bad qualities that were in him always propelled him to take to the wrong path and subjected him to many difficulties.”

What did Ravana confess after Lord Rama put him to rest, that left an indelible lesson for mankind?





8. During the Summer Showers discourses in 1977, Swami stresses on another profound lesson from the Ramayana: “In the forest, when Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were walking, if we examine closely, we find that they are going forward in a single line, one behind the other. We can take our three fingers as the three members of the party. The first, the forefinger represents Ramachandra. As Rama is moving forward, behind Him is walking Sita. Behind Sita is Lakshmana. Here Rama is the Paramatma (Supreme Self), Sita represents maya (illusion) and Lakshmana is typical of the jiva (individual self).

In this situation, when Lakshmana, the jiva, wants to have a look at Rama, the Paramatma, Sita, in the form of maya, is standing between them. What should Lakshmana do in that situation? Should he be arrogant to Sita and ask her to move away? That cannot be. If he does that, then Rama would not tolerate it. He should pray to Sita, ‘Oh Mother, I want to have a vision of the Divine Paramatma. Please step aside for a moment and let me have a vision of the Paramatma.’ If, on the other hand, he begins to argue with maya and commands her to step aside, then he will not be able to look at Ramachandra or have a vision of the Divine.

According to Swami what does Sita or maya represent in us?





9. During the 2002 Summer Showers Discourses, Swami explained thus: “There are many lessons that the Ramayana holds out for the entire world. One day Dasaratha noticed that the child Rama was massaging his own feet. He did not ask the services of the servants to massage his feet. Dasaratha, looking at Rama’s condition, sent for the servants immediately to massage Rama’s feet. Rama told Dasaratha, ’I don’t want the services of these servants. I will do my work myself.’

What lesson does Swami want us to learn from this illustration?





10. During the Summer Showers Discourses in 1973, Swami teaches us a most difficult and yet most powerful lesson: “The enticement of maya (illusion), at times, is irresistible. In the forest, it so happened that Sita was attracted by the golden deer, although she gave up much more valuable things earlier in her life. Rama went after the golden deer to secure it for her. The final result was that Sita had to leave Rama and go away. Sita had to lose the sacred company of her husband, and she was taken away to Lanka.”

What lesson do we learn from this incident enacted by Sita’s attraction to the golden deer that is needed for all who wish sincerely to seek the path of spirituality?





Dear Reader, did you like this quiz? Is it too difficult? Is it interactive enough? Would you like more such quizzes? Please help us in serving you better by writing to [email protected] mentioning your name and country. Thank you for your time.

- Heart2Heart Team


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Vol 7 Issue 03 - MARCH 2009
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