One needs to follow Ramayana. The word ‘ayana’ means path and Ramayana thus means the path shown by Lord Rama. Bhagavatham on the other hand is not called ‘Krishnayana’. Bhagavatam is for listening, enjoying and reminiscing the leelas of Lord Krishna.
Our guru Maharaj gives a beautiful explanation as to what Ramayana truly shows us. He says Ramayana shows a path and that is nothing but listening to glories of the Lord.
When we read Valmiki Ramayana, it says, “Vishnor balam vardataam” By reading Ramayana, the strength and power of Lord Vishnu grows. The story in Ramayana has proved to be an elixir for Lord Rama Himself!
Mother Sita was separated from Lord Rama and it was only the story of Ramayana narrated by Lava and Kusha (His own sons) that brought Sita back to him and hence happiness to his own family. That is the greatness of Katha Sravana that Lord Rama himself experienced.
It is true with Hanumanji too. Hanumanji says that He will be present wherever Ramayana is being expounded. He further says that he will not only be listening to the Ramayana but prostrating unto them all time.
“yatra yatra raghunatha kirtanam tatra tatra krutamastakaanjalim”
Sita Mata’s lifeline is listening to the nectarine Rama Katha. In Ashokavana, she was about to end her life since the ogresses threatened her and since Ravana had given her an ultimatum of two months and that he would take her life if she failed to concede. It was Rama Katha which was sung by Hanumanji saved her life. It is beautiful how Hanumanji sings the glories of Rama. Sitting on the top of the tree in the Ashoka Vana, Hanumanji witnesses all the happenings until a point when Sita Mataji is ready to hang herself. Hanumanji wanted to help her out, but he was afraid that the Mother would only get more frightened if he appears before Her, him being a monkey, a speaking monkey! So merely sitting on the branches of the tree, He starts singing the divine glories of Lord Rama – right from His birth in Ayodhya up until the point when He is suffering having lost her.
Here it is shown how a satsang should be. A satsang is verily chanting the Divine Names of the Lord and listening to the glories of the Lord. Hanumanji shows here that it is immaterial whether we see each other face to face. Thus, our telecon satsangs are indeed true satsangs where we merely sing the Divine Names and listen to the glories of the Lord, and we all should thank God for giving us a satsang opportunity.
Following the short talk on the significance of Satsang by Sri Narayanan from Boston, Sri Narayan Daveji from Pearland, TX, discoursed on Ramayana.
Tulsidas wrote the divine story of Lord Rama and this is called Ram Charit Manas.
Lord Shiva is continuously reciting the name of Lord Rama in His meditation. So with the divine blessings of the lord, Lord Shiva was able to portray Lord Rama’s divine play that he intended to do when he incarnated on earth. He kept this in His mind and He passed this to mother Bhavani and hence the name Ram Charit Manas (Since Lord Shiva had depicted the form of Lord Rama in his mind).
Lord Rama is considered as a Maryaada Purushottam. His incarnation clearly shows how one should lead a life as a son, a husband, a ruler and a father. Since his life is too ideal to be followed in this age of Kali Yuga, we can keep his Charitra in our minds and very slowly our lives will become akin to Lord Rama. Hence it is called Ram Charit Manas.
Lord Shiva gave this to Tulsidas and he in turn gave it to the world.
It is said in Ramayan,-
Sambat sorah sai ekteesaa | karau kathaa hari pad dhari seessaa ||
naumi bhaum baar madhu maasa | avadpuri yah charita prakaasa || (3) (C-34)
On the day of Rava Navami in Ayodhya, Shri Thulsidas wrote the Ram Charit manas for the benefit of the common man in this Kaliyuga. This wonderful Ram Charit Manas depicts the divine plays of Lord Rama, it also contains the significance of Rama Nam, importance of satsang and the greatness of the Guru.
Daveji expounded on the Guru Mahima from Ram Charit manas.
At the start of Ramcharitmanas, in Bala Kand, Tulsiji offers his salutations to the Eternal Guru, Lord Shiva and then to his own Guru in the following doha —
Bandau guru pad kanj krupaa sindu nararupa hari |
mahaamoh tam punj jaasu bachan rabi kar nikar ||
I bow to the lotus feet of my Guru, who is an ocean of mercy and none other than Lord Hari Himself in human form and whose words are akin to the rays of the Sun which removes the darkness called ignorance.
Further, in the subsequent chaupayi, he says,
Bandau guru pada padma paraagaa | suruchi subaas saras anuraaga ||
Amia moorimaya choorana chaaru | samana sakala bhava ruja parivaaru || (1)
sukrti sambhu tana bimala bibhooti | manjula mangala moda prasooti ||
jana mana manju mukur mal harani | kiyen tilak gun ganbas karani || (2)
Sri gur pad nakh mani gana joti | sumirat dibya drishti hiyam hoti ||
Dalan moh tam so suprakaasu | bade bhaag ur aavayi jaasu || (3)
Ugharahim bimala bilochana hi ke | mitahim dosha dukh bhav rajni ke ||
Sujahim raam charit mani maanik | guputa pragata jahan jo jehi kaanik || (4)
Guru pad raj mrudu manjula anjana | nayana amia druga dosha bibhanjan ||
Tehim kari bimala bibeka bilochana | baranaum raam charita bhava mochan || (1)
I greet the dust of the Lotus feet of my Guru as a salve, which is an elixir for the defect in my eye. I touch the lotus feet of my Guru, to take the dust to treat my troubled eye so that I can describe the glories of Lord Rama”
In Balkand, we have read that Lord Dasaratha was not blessed with a son for long and this very much worried him. Now let us see why Lord incarnated on this earth as Lord Rama. In the previous birth, Dasaratha and Kausalya Matha were born as Manu and Shatrupa. They did immense penance and the Lord appeared in front of them and asked them for a boon. This ideal couple declined the offer and instead they requested for a son akin to Lord Hari who was standing in front of them. The lord agreed to this. Later He realized that there was none like him in this world. So He Himself decided to incarnate in this world as their son. Even though Bhagwan decided to incarnate again, this happened only with a guru’s blessings.
Ek baar bhoopati man maahi | bhai galaani more sut naahi ||
Guru grah gayau turat mahipaala | charan laagi kari binaya bisaala || (1)
Nija dukh sukh sab gurhi sunaayau | kahi bashishta bahu bidhi samujaavu ||
Dharahu dheer hoyihahim sut chaari | tribhuvan bidita bhagat bhaya haari || (2)(C-189)
The fact that King Dasaratha was not blessed with a son made him very depressed. Dasaratha, being a great king went to seek his guru’s advice to seek a remedy for his sorrow.
It is said that one can confide their concerns to their guru and it is only a guru who can direct us in the right path.
And Sage Vashishta said,
“You will have four sons and these four sons and they will be very learned and will be known throughout the three worlds and wipe out the fears of the devotees”
Sage Vasishta having blessed King Dasaratha, invited a very learned sage, Shringi to perform Putra Kameshti Yagna. Following the yagna, Kausalya Maata gave birth to four sons, the eldest of them being Lord Rama and the other being Bharatha, Lakshmana and Shatrugna.
It is very clearly seen in Balkand, King Dasaratha consulted his Guru SageVashista for every advice during the childhood face to ensure that his sons cultivated good habits.
It was Sage Vashista who had named the fours sons to be Rama, Lakshmana, Bharataha and Shatrugna.
Kachuka divas bheet ehi bhaanti | jaat na jaaniya dina aru raati |
naam karana kar avasaru jaani | bhoop boli pataye muni gyaani || (1)
Kari pooja bhoopati as bhaasha | dhariya nam jo muni guni raakha ||
Inha ke naam anek anoopa | main nrup kahab svamati anuroopa || (2) (C-197)
King Dasartha performed pooja to Sage Vasahista and requested him to name his four sons. We can see that even though the Lord incarnated in this world, king Dasaratha requested his guru, Sage Vashista to name his sons.
As the brothers grow up in Ayodhya, the brothers are accorded ‘yagnopavita’ by their Guru and their parents, as it is said in the following verse –
Bhaye kumaar jabhi sab bhraataa | deenha janeu guru pitu maata ||
Gurugraham gaye padhan raghuraayi | alp kaal bidhiyaa sab aayi || (2)
jaaki sahaj svaas sruti chaari | so hari padh yah kauthuka bhaari ||
Bidyaa binaya nipuna guna seela | khelahi khel sakala nrupleela || (3) (C-204)
Even though it was the lord who had incarnated as Lord Rama, he took the Yagnopavitra as any other common man. And then the lord leaves for Gurukul for education and within a short span of time, Lordess Saraswati herself came to the Lord.
The four Vedas are verily the breath of the Lord. The significance of the guru and that of Gurukul is stressed here. One needs to be in the sight of the guru after the Yagnopaveeth. Thus the Lord shows the importance of Gurukul here.
The Lord finished his education in the Gurukul and came back to Ayodhya. At that time, Sage Vishawmitra once visited the kingdom of Ayodhya. Here it is very nice to read how King Dasaratha welcomed the Santh. Even though we offer our respect our guru, it is equally important to receive any Santh with same respect when they visit our place.
Muni aagaman sunaa jab raaja | milana gayau lai bipra samaaja ||
Kari dandavat munihi sanmaani | nij aasan baitaarenhi aani || (1)
Charan pakaari keenhi ati pooja | mo sam aaju dhanya nahi dhooja ||
bibid bhaanti bhojan karuvaavaa | munibar hrudaya harash ati paavaa || (2)
Tab man harashi bachan kah raau | muni as krupaa na keenhi hu kaavu ||
Kehi kaaran aagaman tumhaara | kahahu so karat na kaavum baara || (4) (C-207)
When King Dasaratha was informed that Sage Vishwamitra was visiting his kingdom, he immediately went out and prostrated in front of him and offered his throne as a seat for him. There are two interpretations here, “Nij aasan” means king Dasaratha’s own seat was given to Sage Vishwamitra. In a symbolic way, it means that king Dasaratha was ready to accept Sage Vishwamitra’s advices and thus act accordingly. If we look at it in a different perspective, “Nij aasan” – king dasaratha being a very learned man, knew that lot of Mahans and saints will be visiting his kingdom and hence he had allocated seats for them- and he gave the right seat for Sage Vishwamitra.
He performed pada pooja to sage Vishwamitra and told him that he is immensely blessed to have such a great saint visit his kingdom. He then asked Sage Vishwamtira for the reason for his visit.
In reply to this, Sage Vishwamitra asked king dasaratha if he can take Ram and Lakshman to his place. He mentioned that he was doing some yagna and Marich and Subahu were creating hurdles and not allowing him to do yagna.
Sab sut mohi praan ki naayi | raam det nahi banayi gosaayi ||
kaham nisichar ati ghor katoraa | kaham sundar sut param kishora || (3)
Suni nrup giraa prem ras saani | hrudayam harsh maanaa muni gyaani ||
Tab bashishta bahu bidhi samjhaavaa | nrup sandeh naas kaham paavaa || (4)
ati aadar dou tanaya bolaaye | hrudayam laayi bahu baanti sikhaaye ||
mere praan naath sut douoo | tumh muni pitaa aan nahi kouoo || (5) (C-208)
He said to sage Vishwamitra that all his four sons are his lifeline. He further told him that his sons are beautiful and tender when compared to demons, which are strong and wild. He also requested sage Vishwamitra that he will give his entire army to fight the demon.
King Dasaratha is now filled with doubts. He thinks Ram as his own son and ignorance overpowers him and he fails to come to realty that he is indeed Lord. Secondly he didn’t implicitly adhere to the words of Sage Vishwamitra to send his sons along with him.
It is very beautifully seen as to how the guru removes this ignorance in king Dasaratha’s mind. Sage Vashista spent time to explain the king. After having been convinced by Sage Vashista, he very affectionately called his two sons and advised him
He told Sage Vishwamitra that his sons are his very breath and asked him to take good care of them.
The key take away point is that, we should implicitly obey the words of our guru and that will only bring glory to our family.
It is seen that Lord Rama goes to Sage Vishwamitra’s ashram and he gave Moksha to Maricha and Subahu then went to the court of Janak Maharaj where he broke the bow and subsequently married Sita Mata.
Having thus beautifully expounded the greatness of Guru in Balakand, Daveji concluded with first two lines of Hanuman Chalisa that speak of the significance of the Guru.
Shri Guru Charan Saroj Raj
Nij man mukure sudhar
Varnao Raghuvar Vimal Jasu
Jo dayaku phal char
I clean my mind with dust of lotus feet of Guru. The mind is tainted with bad thoughts and we need some thing to clean the mind and it is only that dust that can clean our minds.
The satsang was opened for prayer requests and ended with Nama Sankirtan by Ranjaniji and Rajasekarji from Boston.