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Date: 17 May 2002 Occasion: Summer Course Place: Brindavan

Harmony And Beauty In The Ramayana
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

The entire creation is under the control of God.
That God is under the control of the Truth.
That truth is under the control of noble one.
The noble people are greater than gods.

Embodiments of Love!

Society today is in utter need of Ramayana. We do not have children who respect their parents, nor do we have parents who have great affection for their children. We do not have disciples who revere their preceptors; nor do we have preceptors who have great love for their disciples. We do not have homes where parents shine as role models for their children. We do not have homes where brothers live with mutual love and affection; nor do we have homes where wives and husbands shine as ideals to others by virtue of their mutual love and affection. Good manners and courtesies have vanished. The Ramayana today stands as an ideal, in various fields of activity, for the trouble-torn society of today.

Parents of today don't bother to find out the ways and means of bringing up their children and keeping them under control. They think that their responsibility is over after admitting them to a primary school or a village school. The home is the first school for children. It is in this school that children should learn to respect their parents; to observe the truth, righteousness, peace, and nonviolence in the school; how to behave in the school; how to respect the teachers; how to behave with fellow students. They must know how to abide by the rules and regulations of the school and how to observe discipline. It is by learning these things the students turn into ideal students.

Wake up from bed, when the cock crows in the morn;
Brush and bathe, eat properly and moderately.
Go to school and study diligently.
Earn a good name that you are an obedient student.
Don't move when weather is damp.
And never go to ditches.
Run and play, have fun and frolic.
If you abide by all the principles mentioned above,
You will enjoy both health and wealth.

When the sage Vishwamitra came to Dasaratha, the emperor received him with all his courtesy, invited him to occupy a high seat, and asked him the reason for his arrival. When people come to our house, it is essential that we treat them respectfully and give joy to them.

The sage told the emperor, "O Dasaratha! I have decided to conduct a yagna (sacrificial ritual) for the welfare of the world. But the demons cause many problems during the course of the yagna. I have the power and the strength to face them, for I have powerful weapons at my command. But the rules of the yagna forbid me to use my weapons when I am engaged in the performance of it. Violence and bloodshed are prohibited for a rithvik performing a yagna. I seek the help of your sons to protect the yagna, which I am going to perform for the welfare and well being of the world."

These words came as a shock to Dasaratha. He didn't like the idea of sending such tender children to the forests. He thought that it was unjust on his part to send such tender children to the forests. He told the sage, "Master, pardon me. I will assume the responsibility for the protection of the yagna. These children are quite young, hardly thirteen years old. They are not well acquainted in the art of using weapons. How can they protect the yagna?"

Vishwamitra pretended to be angry when he heard the king's words. He roared, "The descendants of Ikshvaku never go back on their promises. You have promised me that you would certainly honour my word. It is unfair on your part to go back on your word. If you think that you are correct I am going back."

Dasaratha took to heart the words spoken by Vishwamitra. He knew that he should be extremely careful in dealing with snakes and sages. He also feared that Vishwamitra might curse him. He called Vasishta, the family guru, and held deliberations with him. It satisfied Dasaratha to some extent.

Sage Vasishta looked at Dasaratha and said, "These children are not ordinary children. You are downcast due to your attachment to your children. They will fall upon the enemies like thunder bolts. You are not able to realise their greatness."

Vasishta called for Rama. Rama came and stood in front of Vasista. Lakshmana also came, since it was his practice to be always with Rama. Dasaratha introduced his children to Vasista. They saluted their father Dasaratha, guru Vasishta, and sage Vishwamitra. They stood waiting there. Vasishta was transfixed, looking at the splendour of their faces. He desired to do namaskar to the children. But it was not appropriate to do namaskar to the children openly. So he saluted them in his heart.

The brothers Rama and Lakshmana, and Bharatha and Satrughna always moved together. Lakshmana followed Rama like a shadow. Satrughna always followed Bharatha. There was a reason for this. When Dasaratha performed the Putrakameshti Yaga, the chosen deity appeared and offered the vessel of sacred offering to Vasishta. Vasishta handed over the sacred vessel to Dasaratha, who in turn called Kausalya, his queen, to share it with other queens Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Kausalya had confidence that the son born to her would be the king of Ayodhya, since she was the eldest queen. Kaikeyi also had confidence that the son born to her would one day be coronated because Dasaratha had promised her father at the time of marriage. But the virtuous Sumitra had no such hopes. Since the emperor didn't make any promise to her, she thought that her son would only serve the king.

Sumitra carried her share of pudding in a bowl and placed it on the parapet wall on the terrace while drying her hair. From nowhere, an eagle came and carried away the bowl of sacred pudding. Horrified at this, she immediately ran down and informed Kausalya and Kaikeyi about what had happened. Since Kausalya and Kaikeyi were virtuous, they shared their sacred pudding with her.

The queens were noble, without an iota of selfishness. They shone as examples of harmony, understanding, and mutual love. Their conduct is worthy of emulation in the current times. The three queens closed their eyes in prayer and ate the sacred pudding. Kausalya gave birth to Rama, Sumitra to Lakshmana and Satrughna, and Kaikeyi to Bharatha. The sons of Kausalya and Kaikeyi were happily playing in the cradle, whereas the sons of Sumitra were wailing all the time, day and night, without even eating. She went to sage Vasishta and told about her wailing children.

Sage Vasishta closed his eyes and went into yogic vision. The truth dawned on him. He said to Sumitra, "Since you ate the sacred pudding given to Kausalya, you gave birth to Lakshmana, who is an amsha (aspect) of Rama. Since you ate the pudding given by Kaikeyi, you gave birth to Satrughna, who is an aspect of Bharatha. Keep Lakshmana by Rama's side and Satrughna by Bharatha's side. They will rest peacefully."

Sumitra did as instructed by Vasishta. All the children slept peacefully without crying. Sumitra felt very happy at this and said to Kausalya and Kaikeyi "Lakshmana and Satrughna are your gifts. My children will serve your children. Lakshmana will serve Rama and Satrughna will serve Bharatha. It is my good fortune that my son will serve others."

Rama and Lakshmana, Bharatha and Shatrugna were intimately connected. Wherever Rama went, Lakshmana followed. Rama wouldn't eat unless Lakshmana ate with him. Similarly, Bharatha also wouldn't eat unless Satrughna was in his company. They wouldn't celebrate their birthdays without the company of the other brothers. When Bharatha went to see his grandfather, the King of Kashmir, Satrughna followed him to Kashmir, though no one told him to do so. When Rama was leaving for the forest, Lakshmana also started following Rama, though Rama had not told him to accompany him.

Rama even told Lakshmana, "Brother! You should remain in Ayodhya to serve our parents, who will be pining away in my absence. It is your duty to console them and giving happiness to them."

To this, Lakshmana answered, "Brother! My mother sent me to serve you. You are going to the forest in obedience to the command of our father, whereas I am following you in obedience to the command of my mother." Lakshmana followed Rama wherever he went. Similar was the case of Satrughna.

When the four sons of Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya from Mithila, accompanied by their consorts, Dasaratha was overjoyed. He told them, "When I set my eyes on all of you [his sons], I feel as though I am watching the ashtagrahas (8 planets). Since you are accompanied by your four consorts, I feel as though I shine with the splendour of the shodasakalas (16 splendours). These four consorts of yours are highly noble and virtuous. I will look after them as though they are my daughters. It is by divine grace that I have such daughters-in-law. Where is Mithila and where is Ayodhya? It is a divine wish that all of them should be united like this."

These four consorts of the four sons of Dasaratha were of exemplary excellence. Sita and Urmila, the daughters of Janaka, were married to Rama and Lakshmana, respectively. Mandavi and Shruthakeerthi, the daughters of Kushadwaja, Janaka's brother, were married to Bharatha and Satrughna, respectively. Since the four daughters-in-law were ideal women, the home of Dasaratha was an ideal home.

When Vishwamitra took permission of Dasaratha to take Rama with him for the protection of the yagna, Lakshmana automatically followed Rama. As they started moving in the forest, led by Vishwamitra, the sage taught them two mantras. He taught them the mantras Bala and Atibala so that they would not suffer from hunger and sleeplessness. Though Vishwamitra knew that Rama and Lakshmana were divine children, he came under the spell of maya (illustion) and taught them the sacred mantras. Vishwamitra taught these mantras so that they would not suffer from hunger and sleeplessness in the forest.

Dasaratha's home was an ideal home, where all the mothers lived in great harmony. Dasaratha's queens also lived in great unity and understanding. Nowadays, it is difficult to lead one's life with a single wife, much less three wives! But Dasaratha's home was an exception. Great harmony and understanding prevailed there. One may entertain the thought, "why did Kaikeyi behave in a selfish manner ,demanding Rama's exile for fourteen years?" She was working under the divine dictates of destiny, for it was destined that Rama should go into forest to kill the demons. People entertain the notion that Mandhara poisoned the mind of Kaikeyi by her evil counsel. Kaikeyi was not a lady who would listen to the words of a servant. She was a lady of character, endowed with great virtues. She loved Rama more than her son Bharatha.

When the devas (gods) and sages approached Brahma with a complaint to save them from the atrocities of Ravana, Brahma told them, "I gave the boon to Ravana that he would be killed neither by gods nor even by kinneras and kimpurushas, but he did not mention manava (Man). Hence, Ravana would be killed at the hands of Rama, who is an incarnation of Vishnu." Everything was happening according to the divine will.

Even Lankini gave utterance to divine will. When Hanuman had hit her, she said, "Bad times are ahead of Lanka." It was prophesied that when a monkey hit her, the downfall of Lanka would begin. In fact, when Hanuman hit her, Lankini fell flat on the ground. Lankini was a demoness of enormous strength, who was guarding the city of Lanka at the portals of the fortress.

Hanuman was also closely connected to Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha, and Satrughna, since he was born to Anjani Devi out of the sacred rice pudding that the queens of Dasaratha had eaten. Because of this, Hanuman felt a close link with the four brothers.

Embodiments of Love!

The Ramayana stands out as a great ideal to the entire mankind. It lends ideals in every field of life. It shows how brothers, sisters, and parents should live as ideals. The Ramayana is an ideal not only for the ancient times but also for the modern age. Every man is born in this world to shine as an ideal, but not to be a piece of decoration. Every man should stand out as an ideal to the best of his capacity. The Ramayana demonstrates to all what the ideal family and ideal manners tshould be like.

When Sita, Mandavi, Urmila, and Shruthakeerthi were leaving for Ayodhya along with their husbands, their parents did not shed tears of sorrow as parents do now. Their parents thought that the four women had to play an important role in the home of Dasaratha. The parents of these four women thought that their daughters were duty bound to go to the home of Dasaratha. They did not think that that they were going to another home. They did not shed any tears of sorrow. It was with tears of joy that they sent their daughters to the home of their husbands. Such were the ideals that the people of those days upheld.

It is a general feeling that Kausalya shed bitter tears when Rama was going to forest. In fact, this was not the case. Instead, she told Rama, "My son, it is God's will that I am your mother and you are my son. We should play our roles according to divine destiny. Don't feel bad that you are going into the forests. Ayodhya without you is a forest for us, and a forest, in your company, is Ayodhya." These were the ideals upheld by the great women of those days.

There are many ideals that the Ramayana upholds for the entire world. One day, Dasaratha noticed that the child Rama was massaging his own feet. He did not ask the services of the servants to massage his feet. Dasaratha, on looking at Rama's condition, sent for the servants immediately to massage Rama's feet. Rama told Dasaratha, "I don't want the services of these servants. I will do my own work. These are my legs and not someone else's. I should massage my own legs without depending on others. All are servants in this world."

Dasaratha was an emperor who exercised control over the dasa indriyas (ten senses). Since he could control his ten senses, he could get a son like Rama. To have a son like Rama, one should have the sense control of Dasaratha. Even Kaikeyi, who is usually misunderstood as a selfish queen, was not an ordinary mortal. She was a lady of superlative virtues and sublime conduct. She loved Rama more than Bharatha. Kausalya was also a great woman. She did not shed tears when Rama was going on exile. She believed that it was divine destiny that Rama should go into exile for fourteen years.

Rama was full of lavanya (beauty). His character was the cause for His beauty. In fact, Rama and Krishna were ever youthful. Have you ever seen a picture of Rama or Krishna sporting a beard, moustache, and grey hairs? Have you ever seen a picture of Krishna with signs of old age? Have you ever seen Him as a grandfather? All avatars are ever youthful. This body of mine is seventy-seven years old. I don't know any weakness, and I can walk quickly. It may look funny if I walk quickly at this age. It may make people laugh. People will definitely laugh if a toddler walks with a walking stick in his hand. It will look funny if an old man plays with toys. Since the old man playing with toys will be a laughing stock, in the similar way, I may become a laughing stock if I run and jump. We should conduct ourselves according to the time, place, and circumstances. I conduct Myself according to these.

I don't know any weakness. Usually, old people have wrinkles on their faces, and they suffer from deafness and cataract. I don't have any signs of old age. There is not a single wrinkle on my face. My eyes shine like bulbs and my ears are like loudspeakers. People go for a cataract operation in their old age. My eyes are in perfect condition. I can see anything that is at a distance. Nobody knows My power and strength. But I use them according to the need and the situation. I use my senses discreetly with discrimination. Speed brakers are meant to control speed. They are necessary and they ensure the safety. I have full control over my senses. These are all the signs of My Divinity. You will know My divine signs slowly and steadily in course of time. Though I have a human body, I am free from human attachment. Though the body is human, I am entirely divine. The body has to perish one day or the other.

Though Rama and Krishna were born with human bodies, people entertained the wrong notion that they died in ordinary way. Rama and Krishna did not shed the body in the human way. Rama stepped into river Sarayu and vanished. He had earlier sent Sita away. Similarly, Krishna went to Dwaraka. Uddhava saw Krishna sitting under a tree, and then Krishna immediately vanished. It was not a body to be killed by a hunter. You must earn the capacity to understand Divinity.

Embodiments of Love!

Since I eat like you, play with you and sing with you, you are deluded into the belief that I am a human being like you. It is sheer ignorance to think of Me in that way. Lady devotees think that there is something wrong with My legs when I walk slowly. I do not have any trouble with My legs, I am happy, and there is nothing wrong with My health. I walk slowly with measured steps because of the robe I wear. The robe I wear is stitched to the very hem, preventing Me from taking long steps. My walk is slow, gentle, and soft, without any roughness. I am all sweetness and softness.