Sri Hanuman Jayanti

Sri Hanuman Jayanti

Adorable Angad

The above is Sri Ram durbar in a South-Indian style of painting. Cute Angad is standing opposite Sri Hanumanji. Picture appeared as the front cover image in Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, March 2010 issue. Courtesy: Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, The Tamil Monthly of Ramakrishna Math & Mission

Today is Sri Ramanavami. On this holy occasion, I convey to every one of you my hearty wishes and prayers. The last 8 days were indeed hectic. The first day was at HQ where I spoke on The Three Queens of King Dasharath. Second day was at Chatsworth sub-centre where my topic was The Two Birds – Trials and Triumphs. On Friday and Saturday at Pietermaritzburg sub-centre. On Sunday at Asherville Sri Sarada Devi Ashram. Monday at HQ. Tuesday at Phoenix sub-centre and today at HQ again on The Divine Birth of Sri Ram.

My earlier write-up on lord Sri Rama and his sweet name is still having the highest number of views compared to other posts. When I was thinking what I should place here today, I had just glanced the Tamil Monthly magazine of our Order, Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, brought out by Chennai Math and was thrilled to see the cover page image that gives a picture of Ram durbar as it is generally known.

The picture depicts the coronation ceremony of Sri Rama as ascending to the throne and thus made King of Ayodhya. The attraction of this picture is the inclusion of Angad. In the above painting one can see that Hanumanji holds the footrest below the throne wherein Rama and Sita seated and Angad stands erect as a security guard with his drawn sword held in his hand as Kamban in his Tamil poem explains in his inimitable style: ariyaNai anuman thaanga angadhan udai vaaL Endha

In North-Indian painting of the Ram Durbar, Angad is rarely included.

The epic Ramayana whether one reads Valmiki’s invaluable original in Sanskrit or Tulasidas’ charming creation in Hindi or Kamban’s mesmerizing masterpiece in Tamil, surely abounds with the galaxy of characters. Some are major and others are minor. But each character stands for some sparkling quality and none is insignificant.

Angad, losing his father Vaali in the hands of Sri Rama slowly raises to the occasion. Rama’s protective cover guides him to such an extent that he goes to Lanka and meets Ravana as Rama’s messenger! What a naughty boy he was in the presence of mighty Ravana!

Tulasidas’ description of the encounter Angad had with Ravana at his assembly is undoubtedly an all absorbing account. It shows that Angad was absolutely fearless. Understandably there were some comical moments in the forceful dialogues between the unequal two, yet the whole episode signifies the wonderful physical and mental strength of Angad at that young age and his unwavering devotion to the holy feet of Lord Raghunath and thus, I feel Angad rightly deserves a place in the Ram durbar.


Lord’s form I love most

Children like to question. And I appreciate it as an expression of their intense thirst for knowledge. I wrote this given-below dialogue in an easy, conversational style between two children and myself. This is, of course, based partly on an actual discussion with the named children, and later written for Dipika 2009. It is an annual spiritual magazine especially for children, regularly brought out by Sri Sarada Devi Ashram at Asherville in Durban. My grateful thanks go to Sister Pravrajika Ishtapranaji for according her kind consent to reproduce it here.

After lunch, as usual, I was about to retire to my room and take my noon-day rest. Just then two fresh faced, enthusiastic, devoted boys came into my office, bursting with joy and questions. All thoughts of sleep left me when I sensed their willingness to have a conversation.

An interesting discussion began when I asked the children to state the names of two famous incarnations of God. Rahul immediately mentioned the name of Lord Ram. His little brother Trishul remembered Lord Krishna.

Trishul: Swamiji, why do Hindus believe that God incarnates on earth?

Swamiji: That is a good question! God descends according to the needs of the time, to help us live happily, be peaceful and live spiritual lives. When people start misbehaving, fight with one another and adopt evil ways, then God comes to protect goodness.

Rahul: But some of my friends ridicule us and say that we worship many Gods. Isn’t it true that there is only ONE God, Swamiji?

Swamiji: Undoubtedly, God is ONE. Have you not heard that God is Omnipotent?

Trishul: No! What does that mean?

Swamiji: It means that God is all-powerful. Though there is only ONE God, yet by His divine power He can assume many forms and have many names. Therefore Hindus believe in different incarnations of God. The Sanskrit word for incarnation is Avataar.

Rahul: So we see that God can take many names and forms because He is all-powerful!

Swamiji: Exactly so, Rahul! You do know that there are many people on earth, though we are one as humanity, yet we have different tastes. We are born with our own varied natures. You may not like what I like. Therefore every one should have the freedom to choose the form of God that he or she likes. Each one worships the same God in the form that appeals to him or her, the most. But always remember, no matter what form of God you love and pray to, GOD IS ONE.

Rahul: Why does God manifest Himself in human form?

Swamiji: God wants to help us realise Him. He teaches us the righteous methods of living on His beautiful earth and how to care for all living beings. God loves all living and non-living beings on this earth, because everything has come out of Him alone.

Trishul: Swamiji, but I find it difficult to think of God without a name and a form. Is not God with form more lovable?

Swamiji: Rightly said, Trishul! God in his personal aspect can be loved and served too. You should be able to choose the particular name and form of God, according to your nature.

Rahul: I love Lord Ram. He killed Ravana and brought righteousness back to Lanka. He ruled this earth from Ayodhya.

Swamiji: Oh! that is wonderful. Can you name one great devotee of Lord Ram?

Rahul: Yes Swamiji. Tulsidas! My father and mother read a portion from Tulsidasji’s Ramayana everyday. They say that reading the Ramayana in the morning helps them to cope with the challenges of life.

Swamiji: Excellent! What is the title of the Ramayana that Tulsidasji wrote?

Rahul: Sri Ramacharitamanasa.

Swamiji: Very good, Rahul. Now boys, let me narrate an interesting story about Tulsidas, the author of this great scripture.

Tulsidas loved Sri Ram with all his heart. In the beginning, he did not prefer any other form of God for his personal worship. One day some of his friends decided to go to Brindavan, the playground of Lord Krishna. They requested Tulsidas to accompany them. But Tulsidas was a little hesitant, because he did not want to go to any place that was not connected with Lord Ram.

Rahul: Was he a fanatic, Swamiji?

Saint Tulsidasji
Saint Tulsidasji

Swamiji: No Rahul, he was not a fanatic. But he had such deep devotion to the lotus feet of Lord Ram that his mind was not willing to accept any other form of God. When his friends insisted, he accompanied them to Brindavan. However, while entering Sri Krishna’s temple, he closed his eyes. The all-knowing Lord understood Tulsidas’ predicament. Lord Krishna looked at His beloved Radha and said, ‘Look Radha! My sincere devotee has come here. When he opens his eyes he would not like to see me in the present form. So, let us change our forms to satisfy him.’

Trishul: Which form did they take, Swamiji?

Swamiji: When Tulsidas made pranams (prostrations) to the Lord, he assumed that the temple deity was Sri Krishna, so he was unwilling to open his eyes. But his friends asked him to observe the magnificent murti (image) of Sri Krishna, which was decorated so well. Tulsidas opened his eyes slowly and, lo and behold! he saw the lotus feet of His beloved Sri Ram. When he raised his head in wonder he could see the bow and arrows held in Ram’s long, beautiful hands. The Lord’s eyes looked like a freshly blossomed flower. He also saw the serene face of Mother Sita. Tulsidas was stunned and overwhelmed to see Sri Ram. He now realised that Lord Krishna and Lord Ram are ONE and the SAME divine being!

Trishul: So Swamiji, does the word ‘deity’ mean ‘God in His personal aspect’?

Swamiji: You have understood rightly, Trishul! There are many deities and you can choose any one from the hundreds of forms, according to your taste and temperament. The one that you choose is called the ‘ishta-devata’, meaning your chosen deity. By worshipping the ishta-devata, your mind becomes one-pointed and devotion to God grows very easily and quickly. In the beginning of one’s sadhana (spiritual practices), worshipping many deities dissipates one’s energy and may not be conducive to spiritual progress. Therefore our sages have recommended that we have an ishta-devata, a chosen deity.

Rahul: Swamiji, which deity should I choose?

Swamiji: Choose that deity whose form you like the most!

Trishul: Is it not true that Hanumanji also has Sri Ram as his ishta-devata?

Swamiji: Well said.

Srināthe jānakināthe abheda paramātmani |

Tathāpi mama sarvasva rāmah kamala lochanah ||

Sri Hanumanji once explained that although there was no difference between the Lord of Lakshmi (Narayana) and the Lord of Janaki (Sri Ram), yet his chosen deity was the lotus-eyed Sri Ram.

So, Rahul and Trishul! What did you understand?

Rahul and Trishul: Swamiji, we understood that having a chosen deity is good for devotion but at the same time, we should not be narrow-minded. We should respect all deities because the ONE God alone has become many.

He who came as Rama and Krishna...

Swamiji: You both attend Sunday Classes for children. Tell me, can you remember any example that our dear Master Sri Ramakrishna has quoted?

Rahul: Yes, I remember! Master gave the example of a man digging a well. First he dug down to a depth of ten meters. He could not find any trace of water there. Then he selected another spot and dug a little deeper. He found no water there either. So he gave up that spot and dug in yet another place. Again he was unsuccessful. Disgusted at his failure to find water, he finally gave up his efforts.

Trishul: Now, let me complete the story! So, Master said that if that man had patiently dug at one place, he would have found water. The same is the case with anyone who changes his faith continually. By having an ishta-devata one can progress and reach the goal.

Swamiji: I really appreciate you, boys! How I wish all the children would attend our Sunday Classes!

Today begins the nine-day Sri Rama navami celebrations in our Centre culminating in the Navami on 24 March, 2010. A special havan will be performed at the noon. Here is the schedule for my Talks:

Sri Rama Navami

In the ALL TIME stats as on today, the top Post was about Rama and the Post on Hanuman runs third. Hence I have brought these two old posts also in the front so that reading consecutively may be of interest to people. This is the result of a suggestion received from one devotee-reader Havasen Reddy, SA.

Sri Rama and his Sweet Name 1,390
Slide-shows 656
Hanuman – the curse and the cure 624
Celebrations in South Africa 605
Satyam Shivam Sundaram ! 531
Milk of kindness 501

||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||

Dear Devotees

The Ramayan is a masterpiece of Divine Love to Sri Ram. Throughout the verses of the Ramayan, the learned find knowledge, the singers get celestial music, the writers revel in rich poetry and the righteous, a storehouse of Dharma. In this respect the Ramayan is a storehouse of all sarva-mangala without parallel.

Pawanasuta Hanumani ki Jai ! - courtesy Sri Sunil Parthab
Sri Raama dootam shirasaa namaami - Pawanasuta Hanuman ki Jai ! - courtesy Sri Sunil Parthab

Here, my mind is humbly reverting to Sri Hanumanji. A perfected soul of sterling character, his matchless valour and invincible strength, self dedication and his devotion to Lord Ram is second to none! A true Karma yogin, he discharges his duties with utmost sincerity “Ram kaaj karibe ko aatura”. An ardent Bhakti yogin, he derives immense bliss in listening to his Lord’s story, “Prabhu charitra sunibe ko rasiyaa” Yes! all these wonderful traits are very important, especially if we are seeking to lead healthy, peaceful and spiritual lives. In this entire journey of life – our merciful Master is with us, eager to help when we stumble, forgive us when we make mistake, and encourage us when we falter.

Every devotee is precious to the Lord, and He is ever ready to help us succeed.

Every Hindu home must have a copy of the Ramayan, and regular reading of this sacred Book will enable us to emulate the exemplary and immaculate lives of Sri Ram, Mother Sita, Hanumanji and a host of bright and wonderful characters found in this gem of our scriptures.

So, dear devotees, on this very auspicious Day of Sri Ram Navami, let us all take a resolve to cultivate faith and love for our dear Lord Ram. Did not our Master say over and over again that “The One who became Rama and Krishna, has now come into this case (showing his body)”? May all who are tuned to our Master be Blessed with spiritual love and enlightenment!

Swami Saradaprabhanandaji also joins me in wishing everyone of you, abundance of love and healthy life.

With love and prayers

Swami Vimokshananda

Rama Navami decoration at Ramakrishna Temple in HQ
Rama Navami decoration at Ramakrishna Temple in HQ