Sri Sathya Sai shares Inner Significance of Instances from the Ramayana - Part 3

... Continued from Part 2

Entering Dandakaranya
Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in the dense forest - Dandakaranya

Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, entered the forest of Dandakaranya. The Rishis in the Dandakaranya knew very well that Rama was an incarnation of God, and so they came to Rama and placed their difficulties and troubles before Him. Not only this; many Rishis were killed by the demons. These incidents were brought to the notice of Rama, and He was moved and His heart melted. He could not bear this any longer; and so He took a vow at that very instant of time and gave His word to the Rishis that from that time, He would undertake the task of exterminating the Rakshasas. In this vow of Rama, Sita noticed what is usually referred to as the vow of Bhishma. Sita came and cautioned Rama that He was taking a vow, which was very difficult to fulfil. Then Rama answered by saying that the Himalayas can give up the ice on them, that the moon can give up its brightness and the oceans may flow beyond their boundaries, but Rama will never give up His vow unfulfilled. From that day onwards, Rama saw to it that the Rakshasas in the Dandakaranya were removed from their positions of strength, and He has been protecting the Rishis from the hands of those Rakshasas. He spent ten years in the forest fulfilling His vow and the task He took upon Himself. 
- “God is beyond Description through Words”, 
Summer Showers in Brindavan 1977, Brindavan

The name, Rama, was once indicated by Rama Himself as a potent liberator. When Rama was passing through the forests, with Sita and Lakshmana, the hermits who recognised Him as Divine; gathered around Him with a prayer that they be initiated by Him and given some Mantra (sacred formula) which they could repeat for spiritual uplift and victory. Rama replied that He was a prince in exile, wandering in the forests, and so He could not presume any authority to initiate hermits into spiritual path. He moved on along the jungle tracks. Watching Him walking fast, with Sita immediately behind Him and Lakshmana following in the rear, an aged hermit exclaimed, “Friends! See! Rama is initiating us! He is awarding us the Mantra! God is leading. Nature (His constant companion, His shadow) is following; the Jeevi (individual), part of the Lord, the wave of the ocean, is in the rear; he can see the Lord only if the deluding Nature is propitiated or by-passed. This is indeed a silent lesson in Sadhana (spiritual discipline). ‘Ra’ is God; ‘Ma’ is the individual, who has fallen behind. ‘Aa’ is Prakriti (Nature); “Rama Rama” is the Mantra He is vouchsafing so graciously. Take it and save yourselves. For me, there is no other course,” he said.
- “The Revelation”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 08,
May 17, 1968, Bombay

Sita serving the two brothers in the forest dwelling

One day, a fool named Jayanta sought to measure the valour of Rama, an adventure as foolish and suicidal as the attempt of an ant to discover the depth of the ocean! Prompted by sheer mischief, he transformed himself into a crow, and approaching Sita, who was seated by the side of Rama lost in the contemplation of the scenery spread out before them, and with his sharp beak, he pecked at the sole of her tender foot, causing blood to trickle from the wound. Seeing the stream of blood, Rama plucked a blade of dry grass from the ground and threw it at the crow. Rama will never hurt anyone who has not done any injury. But when it is necessary, and when it has to be done, even Rahu will swallow the Moon (an allegory to the concept of eclipse as given in the Indian scriptures), isn’t it? So too Rama. He will never hurt the innocent. But that blade of grass became a huge flame of fire and flew towards Jayanta. And when he fled, it pursued him relentlessly wherever he went. Helpless and frightened, the crow returned to its original form and Jayanta fell at the feet of Rama praying for succour. Indra came to know that the culprit was his own son and he too repented for his son’s audacity and irreverence. Jayanta prostrated before Rama and pleaded for mercy. He said, “I am a fool. I did not realise the baseness of my deed. Save me from Your anger, from this fire”. Rama pitied the poor fellow, who had so humbled himself. He made one of his eyes ineffective and sent him away alive, as a single-eyed individual. The blade of grass that had become a missile of fire was neutralised by Him and it resumed its nature. 
- “The Dandaka Forest”, Ramakatha Rasavahini, Part 2

Ravana: The Wily Villain

When Ravana came to Panchavati to kidnap Sita, Sita and Rama suddenly felt that the moment of fulfilment of their task had come. Rama sent Lakshmana to collect tubers and fruits for the day. Noting that the proper hour had come, He told Sita thus: “Companion! You know all. Both of us are aware why we have come on Earth, and what our task is. That task is now calling us. We have to enter upon it, in right earnest now. Your nature and characteristics are noble and holy beyond measure. We both have assumed these human bodies through rites associated with the Fire Principle. My body arose from the offering brought out of the flames of the sacrificial Fire by the God Agni Himself. You rose from the Earth that was furrowed by the sacred plough in order to consecrate it for a Fire-Altar, where a Yajna (sacrifice) had to be performed. Our bodies are born in fire and are being sustained by the warmth of fire. Therefore Sita, deposit all your Divine attributes and splendour in Fire, and act as an ordinary human being hereafter. I too shall move and act as an ordinary human being, and exhibit sorrow and anxiety on your account, the pangs of separation and the pain of loneliness. The world would keep in mind only these modes of behaviour, and take us as human. They will accept them as worldly conduct and natural reaction. Remember that the smallest act of ours has to be an ideal for the householders of the world. We have to hold forth models in the relationship between the husband and the wife. They have to be quite in consonance with the principles of Truth and Righteousness. Our activities have to be in conformity with the guidelines laid down in the Shastras, the spiritual texts. We have to shape our lives, in an exemplary manner, so that common men can be inspired thereby and prompted to follow the ideals elaborated therein. We have to enact this drama until the final consummation, namely, the destruction of Ravana and the Rakshasas”.

“Therefore, place your Divine Splendour in the keeping of the God of Fire, Agni, and move about as an ordinary woman caught in the coils of illusion, Maya. For, there can be no effect without a cause. We must consummate the effect, namely, the destruction of Ravana and the Rakshasa brood. So, we must manipulate a cause to justify it or bring it about. Ravana has a basic fault in his structure, namely, his lustful passion. We have to highlight it before the world. So, we have to so prepare such a situation that it would appear as if he kidnaps you in a fit of passion. The world has to realise that his ‘dedication and devotion to God’ are not of the highest order, for of what use is that sense of surrender if it is tarnished by the craving for sensual pleasure and immoral yearnings? Activities and behaviour emanating from a consciousness that is not pure are tarnished. The devotion to God that is polluted by lust is as foul as dirt—these truths have to be emphasised now, for the benefit of mankind”.
Rama and Sita discussing the Avataric Master Plan
“It is also imperative to announce for the benefit of mankind that any spiritual Sadhana or asceticism, or religious rite or ritual undertaken with the intention of gaining superhuman powers are paltry and pernicious. We have to hold forth Ravana as a warning to mankind that however many Divine rites and acts one may do, if one does not give up one’s demonic passions and impulses, they add up to only one result: rendering them unholy and sterile”.

“Over and above all this, Sita, there is one overwhelming consideration we have to place before ourselves. There is a curse that has been pronounced on Ravana and he has also been assured of a means by which he could end its consequence. We have to see that the means is fulfilled. The beginning of his end has arrived. Today or tomorrow, we have to be separated from each other. Of course, we are inseparable entities and nothing can keep us apart. Yet, we have to pretend that it has happened, in order to render the make-believe effective. Go now, and deposit your Divine Form in the keeping of Agni (Fire). It is time for Lakshmana to return with the fruits and tubers. And Ravana is ready with his perverted intelligence”. 

“I have to inform you of another secret, too. You have to perform your part in the destruction of the Rakshasas. Though you might be apparently under the surveillance of Ravana, since your Power is immanent in Fire, you will have to burn Lanka to ashes emerging from the Fire where your Self is dormant from now on. Lanka has to be turned to ashes, not by Fire, but by you as Fire. And Rama has to kill Ravana. That is the Divine Will. This truth has to be proclaimed. This mystery is to be kept from Lakshmana also. He is our instrument in this endeavour. When this task is accomplished and we have to re-enter Ayodhya, I shall accept you again from the Fire where you reside. That act too I will transform into a lesson for the world. The drama starts now,” Rama said. Both Sita and Rama decided on their plan of action and awaited the unfoldment of Ravana’s strategy. From that moment, every act and behaviour of Sita and Rama, the pangs of separation, the gasps of anxiety, the sighs of pain, and the groans of grief – were gestures and reactions in the drama decided upon. They were not genuine at all. For, how can Sita and Rama ever be separated? Through their conduct, they only willed to teach mankind some valuable lessons.
- “The Wily Villain”, Ramakatha Rasavahini, Part 2

Maricha as the Illusory Golden Deer
Truth is the ideal that Rama upheld. Take it that it is Rama that speaks through you and honour every word as Rama would have done. Consider how much Lakshmana had to repent for not acting, on one fateful occasion, according to the word he had given to Rama Himself. Rama had asked him never to leave Sita alone in the hermitage and he had agreed. But, he left the place and Ravana could kidnap Sita and carry her to his island city! Rama is Atma-Rama, the Voice of God within. Do not disobey it or circumvent its directives. Pray that the Voice alerts you ever, pray with humility and surrender to the advice. Then Rama will guide you right with compassion.
- “Your Divine Destiny”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 16,
April 21, 1983, Prasanthi Nilayam

Ravana kidnapping Sita
When Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, Lakshmana felt like giving up his life. Later he realised that his death may cause more sorrow to Rama. Lakshmana then realised that it happened because of Rama’s will. It was a part of His drama, and he pleaded Rama to tell the truth behind His play. 

Rama replied with a smile, “Lakshmana, you are a limb of My person, so what can I keep away from you? You have hit the truth. I have incarnated in order to uphold and foster Dharma. To do so, I have to enact many scenes of righteous and unrighteous conduct. A baby that wails has to be comforted into quiet joy by means of prattle and play, toys and jingles, songs and swings. The mother has to devise many stratagems on the spot, in order to persuade the baby to drink the milk it needs. The purpose is the giving of the milk feed. But consider how useful these means are – the songs and swings, the toys and talks, the tricks and tickles. These methods help the quenching of hunger and the stoppage of wailing. That is their reason, too. You have to add them all up in order to discover how the hunger was quenched and the grief ended. Similarly, dear brother, I who am the Mother of the Universe, have to act in these manifold ways to re-establish Righteousness and demolish unrighteousness. These incidents have been designed to secure the twin aims of the removal of grief and the winning of bliss. They are not just meaningless exercises”.
“Ordinary folk base their conduct on the ideals presented to them. So, as Master and Leader, I have to practise what I intend to place before them as ideal conduct. Unless I practise what I hold forth as the ideal, I cannot claim to be Master and Leader. When masters and leaders, who do not deserve the positions, appear and exercise authority, Righteousness declines and unrighteousness runs wild. Therefore, brother, remember that those in authority as masters or leaders must prove their advice right, in actual practice. They must help realise the ideals they preach by their own genuine effort. This is the way for them to earn the Grace of God and the gratitude of men”. 

“Sita knows the role she is playing. These two bodies – Mine and Sita’s – evince the joys and pangs of union and separation, only as bodies! The pain and pleasure, the weeping and wailing are all illusory and unreal. They follow the needs and compulsions of the Incarnation I have taken upon Myself, along with other limitations. I am taking you into confidence regarding My Reality. Take note that you too will have to act in conformity with time, deed and cause, space, occasion and recipient, as the story unfolds. This Divine Mystery is beyond the intelligence of others. So, you must also keep mum on this and play according to the rules. We have to concentrate on the mission on which we have come”. 

After this Revelation, they plunged immediately into the task of searching for Sita. Both acted their roles during this search most sincerely, admirably, and realistically. Not only the brothers, but Sita too exhibited supreme nobility and acted with equal staunchness and sincerity, even though the Rakshasa guards, in the place where she was kept captive, terrorised her and threatened her most cruelly. She did not waver or yield. She stuck bravely to her determination to save herself and to preserve her purity. She maintained her vow undefiled. The drama enacted by the two parties held forth for every householder and every individual the highest ideal of righteous conduct. 
- “The Wily Villain”, Ramakatha Rasavahini, Part 2

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