Tree of Knowledge
By Niranjana KarthigaiRajan
We look upon the Omnipotent Lord as our sole protector. However, for a few others, it is the other way around: out of their sheer love and compassion towards the Lord they take efforts to protect Him, see Him as the Supreme.
Darling to Dasaratha
In the Ramayana, for King Dasaratha Sri Rama wasn’t the Supreme; rather Sri Rama was just his darling son. When sage Vishwamitrar entered King Dasaratha’s courtroom, he welcomed the sage with warmth and promised him to offer whatever he desired. Upon the sage asking Dasaratha to send Rama to stand as guard during his penance, Dasaratha was taken aback and refused, saying:
“Una sodasa varso me Ramaha rajiva locanaha |
na yuddha yogyatam isya pasyami saha raksasaihi || “
This means, “My son Rama has not even completed 16 years of age to be fit to fight the demons on the battlefield”.
“Me Ramaha” (My Rama) has been given some deeper interpretations by Sri Periyavachan Pillai (born in 1167) in his work Sri Ramayana Thanislokam.
To list a few:
- As my son Rama is still a lad, there is no possibility for him to know Dhanur Veda(A Veda relating to the art of archery).
- “Me Ramaha” – He is Dasaratha Raman. Have you come to a wrong place thinking he is Parashurama (6th incarnation of Vishnu, who holds an axe for slaying Khatriyas)?
- “Me Ramaha” – Here Dasaratha stresses the egoistic word “Mine”, emphasising that when a Dhaanam(the act of giving) is done with the attitude of “mine” great people won’t accept it.
- “Ramaha” means beauty; beauty should be admired rather than be taken to be destroyed.
“Rajiva lochanaha” means lotus-eyed one. Dasaratha worries that as Rama’s eyes are like a lotus (which closes at night), He sleeps early. He cannot therefore stand as guard against demons who attack only during the night. After hearing the laments of Dasaratha, sage Vishwamitrar said, “Aham vedmi mahātmānam rāmam satya parākramam | vasiṣṭho.api mahātejā ye ca ime tapasi sthitāḥ ||” – “Hey Dasaratha, I know who Rama is, and even Vashishta and these saints here are aware of it.”
By ‘Aham vedmi‘ (I Know Him), Vishwamitrar means, “Hey Dasaratha, I’m a Maharishi doing Moksha Kameshti (a penance to attain eternal bliss), whereas you being a ruler are doing Putra Kameshti (a penance for a mere worldly pleasure like having a child), so there is no way that you are going to know Rama as is averred in the Vedas and Upanishads”.
Charming to Vishwamitrar
Sage Vasishthar ( Guru of Ikshvaku dynasty) intervened and convinced King Dasaratha to send Rama to the forest with Sage Vishwamitrar. On their way, Rama and Lakshmana encountered demoness Tataka. Sage Vishwamitrar ordered Rama to kill her. Though Rama was initially hesitant to kill a woman, He gave in to Vishwamitrar’s view that she shouldn’t be considered as a woman at all.
While seeing charming Rama with His bow in front of a mammoth demoness, sage Vishwamitrar said:
svasti rāghavayoḥ astu jayam ca eva abhyabhāṣata ||
“Rama, blessings, may you be safe victorious”. Here, ‘svasti’ means ‘blessings’ – this leads us to wonder whether it is us who need to bless Him – or, rather, need to seek His blessings!
Doesn’t Vishwamitrar know that Rama is a Paramatma now? The very same Maharishi who argued with Dasaratha on Rama’s Supremacy is now deluded by Rama’s charm – something rare in a Maharishi.
Pleasing to Jatayu
In Kishkinda Kanda, when Rama and Lakshmana went in search of Sita, they encountered wounded Jatayu. Jatayu’s wings were cut off by Ravana when he tried to save Sita being carried away by the latter.
Jatayu eulogizing Sri Rama said, “yām oṣadhim iva āyuṣman anveṣasi mahā vane|.”
As Jatayu was taking his last breath, Jatayu praised Rama as “AYUSHMAN ! ” – a blessing to the Lord for His long life. That was the extent of His captivating grace and charm.
Sweetheart to Yasoda
Purandhara Dasa (1484-1565), a Vaishnavite poet and a great devotee of Lord Krishna in his Kriti (compositions in carnatic music) “Jagadodharana” has sung about mother Yasoda and her innocence in looking at her son as only her son and not seeing beyond.
Who has got this boon? The great Lord, the one who is the saviour of the world, and the one whom even the Vedas have not found is playing with Yasoda. And, Yasoda is playing with him purely as her son and no more than that.
When we look upon the Lord with mere knowledge, we can realize only His Greatness. Whereas when our knowledge gets soaked in love, it makes us realize that He is so graceful.
We shouldn’t be deluded by worldly pleasures but yes, we can be deluded by the Lord’s irresistible charm and beauty. In this season of love, let our heart brim with love towards the Supreme – this is the spirit that should prevail in this imported festival called Valentine’s Day!
* Published in print edition on 14 February 2020