Category Archives: General

The fight between Lord Ram and Hanuman

Once in the court of Ayodhya kingdom a debate took place among the wisest of scholars. Great sages like Narada, Vasishta and Vishwamitra were also present in the court. The topic was the debate was, who/what is stronger, Lord Ram or His name ? Rishi Narada stated with confidence that it was Rama Nama (Ram’s name) and that He could easily prove his statement.

That day, when the court was about to disperse, Devrishi Narada, known for His interest in creating discord between two people, went upto Hanuman, who had been a silent witness to the debate. He told Hanuman to respect all sages except Rajrishi Vishwamitra, since He was king. Hanuman being the obedient person He was, followed the Devrishi’s words and greeted all the other sages except Vishwamitra. Sage Vishwamitra also did not probably mind it. But Narada made it a point to go to Vishwamitra and point out disrespectful Hanuman was being, by not greeting only Him. On  hearing this, Vishwamitra got thoroughly worked up so much so that, He even went up to Ram and asked Him to issue a death sentence again Hanuman, for not respecting Him. Vishwamitra was Ram’s guru and He could not disobey His guru’s words. Thus Ram ordered that Hanuman be killed the very next day. He also said that He would Himself shoot the arrow to kill Hanuman. Hanuman got scared and He went to Narada and asked why He was being punished for listening to Narada’s words. Narada asked Him to stay calm and not worry about anything. He also asked Hanuman to take a dip in the river and stand on it’s banks chanting the Rama Nama.

The next day, Hanuman obeyed Narada’s words and stood on the banks of the river, waiting for Ram to come and shoot the arrow. Ram came. Hanuman looked at Ram with full devotion and started chanting “Shri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram”, continuously. Ram kept shooting arrows but none of them could harm Hanuman. They would reach Hanuman and fall down at His feet. Ram got exhausted. Finally He took out the strongest weapon, the Brahmastra. But much to the amazement of the people gathered around, even the great Brahmastra failed.

In the mean time, Narada went to Vishwamitra asked Him to stop the fight. He confessed that it was all started by Him and that it was His way of proving that the Rama Nama was stronger than Ram himself.

Hanuman-Lenin-Ram
Hanuman was the greatest devotee of Ram

The noble character of Lakshman

I would like to share with you all, another story which brings out how noble and loyal Lakshman was. When Seeta had been abducted, she had dropped her jewels. When Sugreev asked Ram asked to identify Seeta’s jewels He was not able to do it. Instead He was able to identify the yellow cloth in which the jewels had been wrapped, as Hers. Disappointed, He then passes the jewels to Lakshman asking Him to identify if they were Seeta’s jewels. Lakshman immediately identifies the anklets as Seeta’s. Ram asks Lakshman how He was so sure. To this Lakshman replied that, everyday after having His bath, He used to prostrate Seeta and worship Her. He had only looked at Her feet. During the fourteen years of exile, He had never looked at Her in the face. This was one the reasons that Lakshman could kill Indrajith (also known as Meghnadh), the son of Ravan. There were three conditions which were to be satisfied by a person if he wanted to kill Indrajith. He should not have slept, eaten or looked at a women’s face for fourteen years. Since Lakshman satisfied all these conditions, He was able to kill Indrajith.

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Ram and Lakshman meet Sugreev

The forgotten character in Ramayan

Recently, I was listening to Ramayana being chanted in a temple near my home. The priests were narrating the part where Seeta was arguing with Ram, regarding accompanying Him to the forest during the exile. Finally Ram had to give in. When Seeta and Ram come out, ready to leave for the forest, they find Lakshman waiting outside. He says he would also accompany Him and Ram agrees reluctantly.

That was when it occurred to me that a very important character has been forgotten. Ramayana speaks greatly of how ideal a wife, Sita is. But it never mentions much about Urmila, Lakshman’s wife. Ramayana probably devotes only a stanza or so to her. Seeta atleast got to stay with her husband, and fulfill her duties of staying with her husband during difficult times. But Urmila did not get that privilege. What happens to her, back in the palace is not mentioned in the epic.

When Ram and Seeta decide to go to the forest, despite Lakshman pleading with Him to not take Kaikeyi’s words seriously, Lakshman becomes upset. He decides to accompany them to the forest, and comes to his chamber to inform Urmila about this. Urmila does not insist that she would come to the forest along with him, like Seeta did. Instead, she asks him to take good care of Ram and Seeta and not to think about her. She foresaw that if she went along with Him, He would not be able to devote himself completely to the service of Ram and Seeta. Such is the great sacrifice of Urmila. Lakshman could become the ideal brother only because of Urmila’s sacrifices.

So what did Urmila do during those fourteen years ?

One version says that Urmila slept during the fourteen years that she was away from her husband. Before you misinterpret her, here is what happened. Lakshman was guarding Ram and Seeta at night, lest somebody attack them. Thus, when the Goddess of sleep, Nidra devi approached Him, He asked her to leave Him alone for the next fourteen years so that He could take care of His brother and sister in law, day and night. But as per the rules of nature, someone would have to bear the consequences of His sleepless. Lakshman asked her to inform this to His wife who was in the palace of Ayodhya. When Urmila was told this, she willingly asked that all her husband’s sleep for the next fourteen years be given to her. Hence, she was asleep for the fourteen years that Lakshman was away and during those fourteen years of exile Lakshman did not sleep at all. It was primarily due to this very reason that Lakshman was able to defeat Meganadh, the son of Ravan. Only one who had not slept, eaten or looked at a women’s face for fourteen years could defeat him. Lakshman could do this only due to Urmila’s sacrifice.

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Lakshman killing Indrajith (Meganadh)

There are many other equally noble characters who have not been given the importance that they should have gotten, for example, Sumitra, Mandavi, Sruthakirthi, Mandothari, etc.. But then again, Ramayana is filled with noble characters. If each character were to be described in detail, the epic would be endless and this would also take the focus away from the main moral, which is the victory of good over evil.

Ram Navami

Today, I thought I would post about how I spent my Ram Navmi. I know that it’s been more a week since Ram Navmi. I could not post last week because I  was busy with some last minute that I had to submissions that I had to do. Better late than never.

For those people who don’t know why Ram Navmi is celebrated, it is the day on which Hindus celebrate the birthday of Lord Shri Ram, one of the deities, worshiped by Hindus. It falls on the 9th day of Chaitra Month of Hindu lunar year.

Lord Rama, being my favorite God, I eagerly look forward to celebrating Ram Navmi every year, ever since I remember. In a small place called Punkunnam in Thrissur, the residents of Pushpagiri Agraharam very ardently celebrate Ram Navmi. I make it a point to come home during this part of the year, no matter how many classes I have to bunk or many assignment-submissions I have to delay 😉 There is a temple of Lord Rama here. The Ram Navami celebrations here go on for eleven days, starting from the Prathama  of Chaitra Month, and continuing till Ekadeshi, which is the ninth day of the month.

Everyday during these eleven days, in the mornings the idols are worshiped with abhishekam in the temple, and during the evenings the bronze idols of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are taken around the village in a chariot. Out of the eleven days, every day the idols are decorated in different styles, and are brought out for the entire village to see.  The significance is that Lord Rama comes to visit His devotees around this time every year.

Day 1 :

Lord Rama with Goddess Sita and Lord Lakshman, on Day 1

Day 2:

Day 2

Day 3 :

Day 3

 Day 4 :

Day 4

Day 5 : Lord Krishna

On the fifth day, the Lord is dressed as Krishna, with butter in his hands. On this day, every house keeps a little bit of butter in the prasad that they offer to Lord everyday.

Lord Krishna, with a pot full of butter in His hands
The back view 

Day 6 : Anandashayanam

On this day, He takes the Anandashayanam pose. This signifies eternal relaxation.

Anandashayanam on Day 6

Take a closer at the Lord

Day 7 :

Day 7

Day 8 :

On this day, three chariots are brought out. As you can see, one chariot is of Lord Hanuman, who carries Lord Rama. Another one is that of Goddess Sita riding a peacock. Yet another, is the chariot that is used everyday, in which all the other Gods – Hanuman, Lakshman, Ganesh, Shiva and His consort Parvathi, Karthikeyan and his two consorts Vall and Devyani, are placed.

Day 8 : On the left, Lord Rama is placed on Hanuman’s shoulders and on the right, Goddess Sita is sitting on a peacock.
Lords Hanuman, Lakshman, Ganesh, Shiva, Parvathi, Karthikeyan and His consorts Valli and Devyani.

Day 9 : Rama Navmi

On this day, the idols of Lord Ram, Sita, and Lakshman are placed on a chariot which is approximately 15 feet tall. The Lord is dressed up in Raja Alankaram. In the photo, it can be seen how majestically He sits, His legs crossed, just like a king.

Day 9 : Raja Alankaram on Ram Navmi
(Lord Ram in the center, flanked by Sita on the left and Lakshman on the right)
Day 10 : Seetakalyanam – The wedding of Lord Rama and Sita

Day 11: Anjaneyotsavam

It is believed that the best way to please God is to please his devotees. On the last day of the celebration, Lord Hanuman is given importance. He is dressed up beautifully, with garlands of rose apple and betel leaves. As the chariot stops at each house, crackers are bursted, since Hanuman likes crackers a lot.

Day 11 : Lord Hanuman on Anjaneyotsavam Day

Do not waste food

Do not waste food. When you feel like wasting, think of the fact there are about millions of people who struggle to get even one meal per day. Compared to such people, I feel I am blessed that I get three meals a day. I used to waste food until I was shown this video in Youtube.

After seeing this video, I could not speak for a few seconds… totally speechless. After that, I’ve never wasted food.

Chicken a la carte

Amma’s Darshan

Yesterday, I got Amma’s darshan again. This is the second time in four days,  that I got Amma’s darshan. The first darshan that I got on last Wednesday, was properly planned, in the sense that I  got the darshan token and stood in queue to get Amma’s darshan. But yesterday’s darshan was totally unexpected. She was giving darshan to devotees in Kali Mandir(Usually she gives darshan in the Bhajan Hall, which is bigger and people have to sit in a long queue). I got inside the Kali Mandir. With a little amount of persuasion of the people controlling the queue, I got in to the queue and after fifteen minutes, I  got onto the stage(a raised platform and  not the actual stage where people perform) where Amma was sitting. I had always wanted to ask Amma,  some questions, so that I would get to know her opinion and the way she views things, and of course, I also wanted to clear my doubts. I got Amma’s darshan – she hugged me.

Mata Amritanandamayi(or Amma, as she is popularly known as)

This time, I asked her a question : “Amma, how do you forget yourself and do service for others ?”

Amma hugged me again and smiled at me. She then said : “Selfless service is something that comes from within. It cannot be taught or explained to others. When there are circumstances that require us to forget ourselves and think about others, it should come from within”. She then explained taking the example of the brahmacharis brahmacharinis, staying in the ashram – how they leave  their new clothes at home and come to the ashram and where second-hand clothes. She also explained about many people who help in building houses, who collect and sort wastes in the ashram, and many other such examples which I do not remember right now. 🙂

I am so happy that she answered my question. This will definitely go into the set incidents, which I shall never forget. I hope I get many more such opportunities to meet Amma and interact with her.  🙂

Youth Day

Do you know why we celebrate Youth Day on January 12th ?

January 12th is birthday of the great lecturer and monk Swami Vivekananda. He was born in the year 1963.He was a Bengali and his original name was Narendra Nath Dutta. He was the disciple of the great Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He is one of the people who lived for a very short amount of time but still managed to leave behind his “footprints on the sands of time”.  He played a major role in  introducing the Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. He is considered as the most important person responsible for the revival of Hinduism in modern times.

Swami Vivekananda

The speech that he gave at Chicago is still fresh in the minds of most of the Indians. He is known for the famous salutation that he made while starting the speech. He went ahead to introduce Hinduism in Parliament at World’s Religions at Chicago in the year 1893. Some of the principles of Vedanta(based on the interpretation of Adi Shankara) are (taken from Wikipedia):

  • Each soul is potentially divine.
  • The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal.
  • Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free.
  • This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details.
  • So long as even a single dog in my country is without food my whole religion is to feed it and serve it, anything excluding that is nonreligious.

For those who have not listened to Swami Vivekananda’s Chicago Speech, here is the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxUzKoIt5aM

It may not be all that clear but the words have been shown on  the screen.