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Musings on #39 of Desikan's RG

From: M K Sudarshan (
Date: Mon Dec 30 1996 - 00:09:34 PST

srimathE lakshmi-nrsumha parabrahmaNe namaha
sri vedanta desika guravE namaha

Dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s',

Let us first examine how both Lord Rama and Jatayu exhibit, through their
actions in the 'araNyA-kAndam', what we have described as the "transcending"
of "sva-dharmA'.

We noted many postings ago that there is in the relationship between Man and
the Animal Kingdom a constant and "uneasy" undercurrent of fundamental
distrust towards each other. While both are very much part and parcel of
Nature's whole, each yet looks upon the other with anything but complete
trust. Man continually ravages the home of Animal; Animal either retaliates
or, as most often is the case, shuns the society of Man like plague and
withdraws ever deeper and deeper into forest-habitats.

This mutual antipathy is, for right or for wrong, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s,
part of the "sva-dharmA" of both Man and Animal. There is no gainsaying it
is stated indelibly in some unwritten and constitutional law of Nature that
man and animal can co-exist but only with extreme "unease" in each other's

It is in the context and dynamics of the above "sva-dharmA" that the
relationship between Lord Rama and Jatayu must be studied closely.

Just for a moment, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', look at the dramatic context of
the "araNya-kAndam", using the "Rt.Hon'ble Sastry Technique" (remember it?!) :

Lord Rama has arrived in the forest, with His Consort --  a Prince without a
Kingdom! A royal being reduced to un-royal circumstances in life by forces
outside his control. A noble character shabbily let down by his own people
and family !

A royal couple, Rama and 'Sita-pirAtti', now living off the land of the
forest, eating roots, herbs, fruits and wild brush !! A royal couple used to
sleeping in perhaps "King-Louis-XIV-sized" great beds in the Ayodhya palace,
now using tattered mattresses made of deer-skin to lie down on the
rough-hewn floor of a make-shift hutment in Chitrakoota !! A couple that
commanded several hundred retinues of royal servants, valets and courtiers
in Ayodhya, now having to make do with only one factotum viz. poor
Lakshmana, who too, in his own right, being of royal blood, yet reduced to
dire straits because of his blind love and total devotion for his elder
brother !! 

Lord Rama, a Prince who had come to the forest in search of the peace and
tranquility unavailable in Ayodhya, but who, instead, encounters,
unfortunately, quite so often, the menacing violence of the jungle in the
form of Viradha, Trisiras, DUsana, Khara and other predatory denizens and
'rAkshasAs'(demons) of the wild!! 

And to top it all, Lord Rama and "Sita-pirAtti", a royal and lovable young
couple--- (I sometimes can't help reminiscing, dear friends, of how adorable
Prince Charles and Princess Diana used to look about 10 years ago in their
happier days!)--- whose conjugal intimacy too is just about shattered by a
traumatic incident in which a wicked crow, "kAkasuran", makes bold to
perpetrate an act of moral turpitude on Her Majesty, Princess Sita !! 

Imagine deeply all the above dramatic facts and situations, dear
'bhAgavatOttamA-s', in the depths of your mind, and then you will begin to
truly wonder how Lord Rama, after going through all that, could still
persuade himself to wholeheartedly and openly go forward to trust and
befriend another animal like Jatayu, which, after all, too, was a member of
an animal species no less vicious and bloodthirsty as any that roamed in the
'araNyA-s' that Rama and "pirAtti" called their home !!

It is said that trust begets trust. But the converse, dear friends, also
must be true i.e. distrust begets distrust !! 

So isn't it indeed a marvel of "human" behaviour that Lord Rama, who had
encountered in the forest so much violence, danger, perfidy and viciousness,
could still manage to put all feelings of distrust, arising "naturally" out
of such encounters, aside and out of His mind and yet approach Jatayu with a
set of emotions in complete contrast to what might have been otherwise
expected of Him ("sva-bhAva" or "sva-dharmA") !!

It a miracle of "human" nobility, indeed !! 

When He ought to have normally shown deep pathological fear Rama showed
utter friendliness; when He should have reflexively shown utter mistrust
Rama showed utter openness; when He ought to have been naturally vengeful
towards animals (as a result of the 'kAkAsuran' experience) He showed
absolute trust in Jatayu; when He should have been extremely, and
understandably too, wary of every wild creature in the forest He showed
supreme and relaxed confidence in a touching relationship with Jatayu that
grew and grew in richness every day since they struck up mutual acquaintance ?

If all the above "acts" of Lord Rama is not "transcending" "sva-dharmA",
dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', tell me what else is ??? What greater lesson in
"transcending" "sva-dharmA" do we need than what Lord Rama has shown us :

a) to offer trust even to those we have reason to distrust  
b) to offer friendship even to those we have reason to fear
c) to offer goodwill even to those whom we imagine are not worthy of it

How clearer can personal example be, than Lord Rama's own, to show one that
one must, indeed, in life, always strive to "transcend" one's "sva-dharmA"
without actually giving it up ?!!

If only all of us followed Lord Rama's example of behaviour above, dear
'bhAgavatOttamA-s', would we perpetrate the barbarism we heap on nature and
the environment we do indeed today ? Would we fell forests simply because
they "eat" up living space for human settlements ? Would we mercileslly hunt
and kill rhinos just because some quack says their horns make good human
aphrodisiacs ? Would we empty the great oceans of its rich fauna simply
because we see it as hitherto unexploited and "easy" source of bountiful
food for growing human populations ? Would we dump our industrial-wastes
into the seas and rivers mainly because there is no place else for it in our
own societies ?

And would we able to really justify to our collective consciences that all
our above "adharm-ic" actions are not reprehensible ?

Can we truly shrug our shoulders and say casually , "Well, man does what he
needs to do for his well-being and progress. That is his "sva-dharmA". There
is nothing wrong in pursuing 'sva-dharmA', is there ?".

Think about it all deeply, dear 'bhAgavatOttamA-s', and please let me know
what you all feel.

In my next posting we shall briefly discuss how Jatayu "transcends" its own
"sva-dharmA". After that we have to discuss transcending of
"sAdhAraNa-dharma" and "visEsha-dharmA". 

God knows how long and how many more postings this is all going to take. I
personally feel I am being dragged slowly and surely into a quicksand of
intensely personal and religious experience ('divyAnubhavam') from which
there is no withdrawal or escape now. Please bear with me.

srimathE srivan satagopa sri narayana yathindra mahadesikaya namaha