Sunday, March 27, 2016

Valmiki Ramayana-an introduction

         Valmiki  Ramayana-an introduction





        Rama  is the seventh  of  the  ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu  . The first three  avatharas are animals, the fourth is a dwarf human being   and Sixth  was  the Valorous Lord Parasurama . who never got married. The  Avathara of Rama was born along with avatharas of divine wheel, conch  as well  as Adhi Sesha as his brothers.

      Ramayana is the story or Rama .Majority  of us believe   that   the first ever book  written was Valmiki Ramayana   and Valmiki   is considered as the  First poet  . There is some belief  that   there  is another  version of Ramayana  called Moola   Ramayana which  was   written by Lord Hayagreeva    which precedes  Valmiki Ramayana . After Valmiki Ramayana several   versions in Sanskrit were written as well  Ramayana    was  translated/re written in almost all the  Indian languages.

   The book   written by Valmiki   starts with the enquiry of Valmiki   with sage Narada , about the suitable hero   for the epic he intends   to write. Sage Narada then advises him that   the best  person about whom he should   write  should be Bhagawan  Rama. Then Lord Brahma   gives a boon to Valmiki   that   he would be able to know about all  the incidents including   the conversations between individuals . It is interesting to know   that  Rama   was very much alive   at that time   and his wife and sons were  living  in the hermitage  of Valmiki and another interesting   to know that  the first persons to be taught   the Ramayana by Valmiki   were   Rama’s  own  sons.  When Valmki  was searching for  the meter to write  Ramayana , he saw a hunter  killing one of the  Krouncha  bird of a pair. When the wife bird cried , Valmiki    immediately  said

mAnishAda pratishTAtum samagah ssAshvatIssamAh
yat krouncha mithunAdEkam sokam avadhIm kAma mOhitam

"Oh! Ill-fated Hunter, by which reason you have killed one male bird of the couple,
When it is in its lustful passion,
thereby you will get an ever-lasting reputation for ages to come.

    This set the tone    for the great   book of Ramayana .  It is the story of separation of brothers, father from sons , mothers from  their husband    and  the  separation of Sita from Rama . I would like to emphasize here  some of the   peculiarities  of the book:-

 1.It was written  be a sage   who was living   at the same time as the hero .In fact , while  going to Chithrakoota   Rama and Sita do visit his Ashram.

2,Once a  particular   character  is not  relevant to the  main story  , nothing is told about that   character  .For example   when Rama  is in the forest  , for fourteen years nothing is mentioned about his dear brother Bharatha , his mother  or even   the   wife of Lakshmana.

3.  No temples  or Gods in temples  are mentioned in spite  of   Sugreeva  instructing monkeys   about what they will   see in different directions from Kishkinda. There is some indication of a Chaithya  in Asoka Vana   where  Hanuman suspects   that she will go.

4, Prayers     do exist in Ramayana. Sita prays to river Ganges when she crosses  the river.  Hanuman  does pray Rama as a human being when he is searching for Sita.  Sita  prays to fire God not to hurt  Hanuman, Rama prays Varuna (God of the sea) to give him way  . Rama again prays Sun God   to  get ability to kill   Ravana,.  That is  most of the prayers  are directed   at  different aspects   of nature.
4.But  meditation (Thapas)   and Yaga  (fire sacrifice )   are by   used  by various characters to  please Gods like Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva    etc.

5. The  cremation of three kings  Dasaratha , Vali and Ravana are  mentioned   in the book besides the cremation of Bird Jatayu by Rama.  The offering of Pinda    to the dead  people   is also mentioned. It is interesting to see  Rama offering Pinda  made of forest fruits to  Dasaratha in the  forest  due to unavailability of  materials in the  forest.

Ramayana   is an extremely  interesting and  very noble story. Honesty and truth     are considered as very great  in this epic. It has  been summarized  in one sloka :-

Aadho Rama  thapo vananu gamanam, Hathwa mrugam kanchanam,
Vaidehi haranam, jatayu maranam, Sugreeva sambhashanam,
Bali  nigrahanam, samudhra tharanam, Lanka pureem dahanam,
Paschad Ravana Kumbha karna madanam, Ethat ithi Ramayanam

Once Rama went to forest,
He chased the deer,
Sitha was kidnapped,
Jatayu was killed, There were talks with Sugreeva,
Bali was killed,
The sea was crossed,
Lanka was burnt,
And later Ravana and Kumbha karna,
Were also killed.
This in short is the story of Ramayanam.

    There are   several such summarized versions of Ramayana which   I would be  daily presenting   for   a few more days.

No comments: