Tree of Knowledge
By Niranjana KarthigaiRajan
In Ramayana Kishkinda Kandam, Sri Rama slayed Vali for his misdeeds of abducting Sugriva’s wife, for exiling Sugriva from the Kingdom, and for not accepting Sugriva’s surrender. While Tara lamented on her husband Vali’s demise, other women consoled her. When grief-stricken Tara turned around to look at the man who killed her husband, she saw eight feet tall broad-shouldered Sri Rama holding His bow.
Her intention was to scold Rama, but on seeing His valour, she ended up praising Rama’s supremacy. The reason being, anger is due due to Rajo Guna, and when this Rajo Guna was burnt on seeing the Lord, she started to praise Rama.
Tara, spoke thus, “Tvam aprameyacha durasharacha jithendriyacha uttama dharmikacha akshaya keerthiyaksha vishakshanansha shithikshanavaan shagajomakshaha.”
This sloka has been given an in-depth commentary by Sri Periyavachan Pillai (born in 1167) in his work ‘Sri Ramayana Thanislokam’, which is as follows:
One Who Can’t Be Known
Tvam means ‘you’ and aprameyacha means ‘one who can’t be known’.
Namazhwar (azhwar saint 3059 BC) in his hymns ‘Thiruvaimozhi’ says, ‘katkili! unnai kaanumaru arulaai’ which means, “O Lord, you can’t be seen, may you make yourself to be seen”. This means we can’t know Him through our efforts, but we can get to know Him only by His grace.
Here, Tara, addressing Rama as ‘you’ denotes His simplicity. Tara wonders about Rama’s simplicity in befriending Guhan (boatman) and Sugriva (monkey), giving moksham to Jatayu (king of eagles) and accepting fruits offered by Shabari (elderly woman sage).
And aprameyaha denotes His greatness. Not just Tara, even the Vedas have said that the Supreme can’t be known.
One Who Can’t Be Attained
Durasharacha means ‘one who can’t be attained’.
In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that Bhakti is the only means to attain Him. Doesn’t this contradict Tara’s words that the Lord can’t be attained? Again, we can’t attain Him through our efforts, only by His grace. He is the way and He is the One to attain.
One Who Has Conquered the Senses
Jithendriyacha means ‘one who has conquered the senses’.
Tara was an epitome of grace and beauty, and any man would admire her, but Rama didn’t even lift His eyes to see her.
Secondly, after winning the battle with Vali, He handed over the Kishkindha Kingdom to Vali’s son Angathan to rule, without any attachment to the Kingdom.
Rama had no desire neither for Kingdom or other women – hence Jithendriyacha.
Supreme Among Righteous
Uttama dharmikacha means ‘supreme among righteous’.
One who does good only for himself is dharmikan; one who does good for others is madhayama dharmikan, and one who does good for others at his own cost is uttama dharmikan.
Rama fought against Vali not for Himself but for Sugriva. Though Vali should have gone to hell for his misdeeds, he has gained heaven since he has been slayed by the Lord Himself.
Thus Rama has done good for not only to Sugriva but also to Vali, and so Rama is uttama dharmikan.
Akshaya Keerthiyaksha means ‘undiminishing glory’.
Andal (the only female Azhwar saint during 8th century) in her hymns Nachiyar Thirumozhi sings ‘mannu perumpugazh’, which is the Tamil translation of the word akshaya keerthiyaksha.
Tara mentions that no one can diminish Rama’s glory. In spite of various debates taking place nowadays on whether Rama was right in slaying Vali, in banishing Sita to the forest? All these debates haven’t diminished Rama’s glory.
When Vali Himself and Tara, his bereaved wife have praised Rama, there is no point in questioning Rama’s actions.
One Who is Perceptive
Vishakshanansha means ‘ One who is perceptive’.
While Vali and Sugriva battled, Rama couldn’t distinguish between the brothers as they looked alike. Rama ordered Hanuman to garland Sugriva’s neck with gaja-pakshika flowers. When they battled again, Rama shot an arrow that pierced Vali’s chest and knocked him down. And so Rama is Vishakshanansha.
Though Ramayana happened during Treta yuga, still in this Kali yuga we are speaking about Rama’s glory. One could think that Rama has been far-sighted to have made azhwars (Tamil poet-saints of South India) and acharyars sing His glory in their works.
One Who is Patient as that of the Earth
Shithikshanavaan means ‘one who has patience as that of the Earth’.
Tara hails Rama as an embodiment of endurance of all people on earth. And He is Aashrutha Pakshapaadi since He doesn’t look at the faults of anyone who seek Him.
Also, Tara wonders that only this quality of Rama had made Him to even listen to her though she had approached Rama with an intention to scold Him.
One Whose Eyes are Red
Shagajomakshaha means ‘one whose eyes are red’. Rama’s eyes are red due to anger and vatsalyam (parental love). Were his eyes red owing to separation from Sita or owing to anger on Vali, or is it due to vatsalyam on Sugriva?
Can the Lord demonstrate both anger and vatsalyam at the same time? Yes, Narasimha showed both anger and vatsalyam in His eyes while slaying demon Hiranyakashipu (Anger on Hiranyakashipu and vatsalyam on Prahladan).
The words aprameyacha, durasharacha, jithendriyacha, uttama dharmikacha, akshaya keerthiyaksha, and vishakshanansha are suffixed with ‘cha’ (equivalent to ‘in addition to’ for this sloka) in order to add up each of Rama’s qualities.
Whereas words shithikshanavaan and shagajomakshaha do not have ‘cha’. In case of shithikshanavaan, Rama’s quality of being patient is so huge that it doesn’t provide space for former qualities.
And shagajomakshaha stands out from other qualities since it talks about roopa gunam (quality found in body form i.e. eyes, here) whereas other qualities are atma gunam (quality of the soul).
On this Rama Navami, let us reiterate Rama’s divine qualities and chant Rama Nama to cross the ocean of samsara.
Jai Sri Ram!
* Published in print edition on 27 March 2020