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Rama Navami

Jaganath.Bharadwaj_at_nrecatao.nreca.org
Date: Tue Apr 15 1997 - 23:38:52 PDT

Dear Friends,

At the outset I wish to apologise for the remarks I had made earlier
about mosque chanting that interrupted the Nadaswaram and the morning
at Thiruvallore.  I realize that it was my imperfection that made me
see it as an interruption instead of a part of glorification of
Sriman Narayana.  Even at the time of writing, it was not my
intention that this become the central point of focus on any
discussions in this group.

On the auspicious occasion of Rama Navami, I wished to share some
thoughts that occured after listening to Upanyasams on Ramayana by
Mukkur Lakshminrsimhacharya, on Anushtanam by Srivatsarangachariar,
and a collection of Nrisimha Priya by my Acharya Srimad Mukkur
Azhagiya Singar.

This whole line of thought was prompted by Mohan Sagar's remarks
about his attempts to network with Srivaishnavas and K. Srinivasan's
remarks about liberalism and rigidity.

Not much has changed since the days of the Ramayana in terms of
people, personalities and Sriman Narayana.

Nobody will dispute that both Kausalya and Dasharatha were very great
Bhagavatas, otherwise Sriman Narayana would not have been born to
them and spent His chlidhood with them.  However their marital life
in the 64,000 years prior to Rama's birth was far from happy.
Kaikeyi was always the favourite.  As a result Kausalya was the
subject of scorn and ridicule of all the palace inmates, who did not
respect her because the king did not respect.

Things changed after she became the mother of the eldest son and the
crown prince.  When Dasaratha fell unconscious on hearing Kaikeyi's 2
boons, His thoughts were on how His son, who had the best pleasures
that the world's capital could offer, will manage to live the hard
life in a harsh forest.  Kausalya however expresses her fear that she
would once again bear the brunt of insults that she lived with until
Rama was born, once He goes away to the forest.  Their material pains
as well as the pleasures of living in the palace of Ayodhya as the
emperor and empress of the world were probably far more accentuated
than most of us have to face today.

Sita's case was even worse.  After having lived the princely life in
Mithila and later in Ayodhya, She had to lead the life of an ascetic
in the forest.  This did not trouble Her in the least.  She had her
Lord and Master with Her.  However things changed when She was
kidnapped and taken to Lanka.  There was no sign of Her Lord who,
earlier at the single peck of a crow had sent a Brahmastra after the
bird.  She spends Her days in despondency thinking of the fond
memories with Her Lord.  Swami Desikan describes that She cared for
neither the beautiful forest with its trees, blossoms and fruits, nor
for the harassment of the Rakshasis, who in Her very presence, were
discussing how Her meat would taste, after they had killed her.  She
merely remembered Her Lord and Master moment after moment.  Her final
desparation in not finding Her Lord, led her to the decision to
commit suicide.  Acharyas describe that the reason why Rama did not
respond instantly, as He did in the case of the Kakasura incident,
was because He and Sita were bound by their promise to the Devatas to
give them a chance to serve the Divya Dampatis.

Rama cried in seeming helplessness when the denizens of the forest
responded to His cries for witnesses of Sita's kidnapping with total
silence.  Even the river Godavari remained silent in fear of Ravana
in spite of Sita's direct appeal to it as well as Rama requesting the
river to reveal Sita's whereabouts.

After this Rama had to deal with the doubting Thomas Sugreeva who put
the Lord who is eternally full with Jnana, bala, Aishwarya to test
after test to make sure that Rama would indeed be able to protect him
from Vaali.  After the Lord did so and Vaali was killed, Sugreeva
forgot all about his promise to send his monkey troops in search of
Sita.  If we forget the fact that the Vaanaras were monkeys, they
displayed remarkable human characteristics.  Vaali even wore the
sacred thread and did Sandhya Vandanam.  Sugreeva was all too buman
when he forgot all about his promise to Rama and was enjoying himself
with Tara instead.  It was Tara and Hanuman that saved Sugreeva from
the wrath of Lakshmana.

The residents of Ayodhya on the otherhand, were ready to give up
their urban pleasures in one second to go and live with their Lord in
the forest.  It was this material detachment that got them
Saranagathi when Bharata did Saranagathi on behalf of all of Ayodhya
at the time of requesting Rama for His Padukas.  At the end of Rama
Avataram all of the residents walked away from Ayodhya to Sri
Vaikuntham along with Sri Rama.

Way down to the south, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibheeshana all did
extreme Tapas and prayed to Brahma.  Kumbhakarna, who represents Tamo
guna, wanted to ask for Indra's post, but on Saraswati's intervention
ended up asking for sleep instead, which was granted.  Ravana asked
for material opulences and even wanted to build a staircase from
Lanka to Swarga.  Vibheeshana asked that wherever he maybe and under
whatever circumstances, his mind should not swerve from Dharma.  It
was this prayer that enabled him to overcome all odds and do
Sharanagathi at the feet of Rama.  He left his family behind in
Lanka, but came with 4 other Rakshasas.  Having faced and overcome
the opposition of Rakshasas, he now had to face opposition from
Sugreeva and others, who inspite of his Sharanagathi at the feet of
Rama was calculating materially the pros and cons of Vibheeshana
joining his army.  What if Vibheeshana was a spy?  Worse what if he
came with genuine intentions, but blood being thicker than water,
deserted them at a crucial moment and joined Ravana's forces to deal
a devastating blow to Rama's army?  Vibheeshana's unswerving faith in
Prapatti overcame even this opposition.  Having been accepted by
Rama, he did not bear any illwill towards Sugreeva, who must have
surely watched Vibheeshana closely through the war.  For this display
of faith, he got the Kainkaryam of carrying Peria Perumal from
Ayodhya to Srirangam.

In today's world of Bhagavatas, we also have our Guhas, Dasharathas,
Kausalyas, Sugreevas and Vibheeshanas.  Some of us may get along,
some of us may not get along.  However they had Rama with them.  We
do not have such an avataram present today.  Srimad Mukkur Azhagiya
Singar writes that the Tiruppavai itself is an avataram and that
Andal is the mother of this avataram.  Among all avatarams this is
the highest.  One who worships this avataram by regular chanting is
sure to obtain all the mercy that Sriman Narayana is capable of
showering.

We also have our Acharyas capable of leading us to moksha just as
Brahma did to Vibheeshana, Dasharatha did to Kakasura and Bharata did
for the people of Ayodhya.  Some of us may be able to very good
kainkaryam like Guha and Hanuman, and yet others like me are in the
same boat as Sugreeva with a mind that is inclined towards service,
but with a body that seems eternally married to laziness and her
companions.

Even during Rama's time Saranagathi and bhakti etc, though the focus
of the epic, was not easily obtained by everybody and we have the
same odds today.  The key as shown by Vibheeshana is mahavishvasam
which comes as a result of Tapas, prayers and most importantly
service to Bhagavatas.

Srimate Srivan Satakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yateendra Mahadesikaaya
Namah.
Srimate Sri Lakshmi Nrsimha Divya Paduka Sevaka Sri Narayana
Yateendra Mahadesikaya Namah:

Acharya Thiruvadigale Saranam.

Jaganath.