|Date: 19 May 2002||Occasion: Summary of Evening Discourse||Place: Brindavan|
of Divine Discourse
at the Summer Course
(Evening, 19 May 2002)
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Man's speech earns him wealth;
his speech helps him find friends and endears him to his relatives;
his speech is responsible for his bondage;
his speech is responsible for his death and destruction.
Words carry enormous weight. It is therefore essential that man weigh his words carefully, discriminate thoroughly, and only then speak. Every man has sacredness inherent in his words. He should not misuse them to hurt others or cause harm to himself either.
The Ramayana is a storehouse of sacred words that are as sweet as honey --nectarine, fragrant, and profound. Rama is an ideal example of a character in the Ramayana who always used sweet words. He always spoke with restraint and used pleasing words. Before exercising one's speech, a great deal of vision and foresight is essential. In the thick of battle, Kaikeyi had lent great help to Dasaratha. Pleased, Dasaratha, without discrimination, gave her his word to satisfy any two of her wishes. The agony that resulted was a direct consequence of this lack of foresight.
"This world is impermanent. The age of youth and wealth are all like passing clouds; your wife and children have to be left behind some day. It is only Truth and one's good name that are permanent". Under these circumstances, man has only four true friends within him. They are the four sages: Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatkumara, Sanatsujatha. They are ever vigilant and always guard him from misfortune and danger. They never develop any hatred for man and are alert day and night, protecting him. Even Kausalya blessed Rama at the time of exile, invoking these four eternal friends to always be with Rama and guard him.
There is one aspect of the Ramayana that is relatively unknown. Kausalya and Dasaratha already had a daughter named Santha. But ,being a female child, she could never be a legal heir to the throne. Consequently, she was given away at a very young age in marriage to Sage Rishyashringa. Thereafter, Dasaratha did not even bother keeping in touch with his daughter. This ill treatment of the girl-child was common even in those days! Meanwhile, Santha grew up to be a noble and virtuous lady. She attained great spiritual powers with her austerities.
When Dasaratha set out to perform the Putrakameshti yajna (sacred ritual) to seek divine help and obtain male issues, Sumantha, his chief Minister, suggested that they invite the great Sage Rishyashringa to be the chief priest. The sage agreed; but he insisted that Santha accompany him. It was said that in whichever kingdom this couple set foot, their purity would remove all problems. There would be timely rains, rich harvests, peace, and prosperity. Such was their spiritual strength. It may even be emphasized that ultimately, if Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha, and Satrugana were born as a mark of success of the yajna, it was Santha who was equally responsible for it.
There is also a story associated with the great sage Viswamitra. Viswamitra was actually none other than the emperor Kaushika. When he tried to take the divine cow Sabala to his kingdom by force, she issued forth an army that decimated Kaushika's own soldiers. His sons were also killed in the subsequent battle. Realizing the futility of the material strength before that of the spirit, he renounced his riches and kingdom and became an ascetic. As he progressed, he became intimately acquainted with these four inner friends: Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujatha. He was also quick to realize how much they actually helped him.
When Rama and Lakshmana were told that Rama would marry Sita because he had broken the holy bow, they politely replied that unless their father gave his permission and blessed them, they would not agree to the marriage. Viswamitra, who was himself a king once, knew Rama's honourable character and directed that Dasaratha be sent for. The clan of Ikshvaku, of which Rama was a scion, stood by two important vows. One was they would always obey their father's command. The second vow was that they would never turn back on their promise. Breaking any of these vows was as good as inviting death upon themselves. Viswamitra therefore honoured Rama's request to obtain His father's permission.
The episode of Parasurama is introduced after the wedding ceremony of the brothers. Parasurama knew fully well the divinity and purpose of Rama's incarnation. Rama had only twelve of the sixteen divine attributes. Two more were distributed among the remaining three brothers. Parasurama was to hand over to Rama the last two divine attributes and then leave the scene. From a worldly point of view, he challenged that whoever could wield his mighty axe would inherit those two attributes. He was fully aware that it was only another incarnation that could succeed in accepting the challenge; and so it proved to be. Rama not only wielded the powerful axe of Parasurama, but also won him over with his sweet words and all-encompassing love.
Parasurama handed over to Rama the two remaining divine aspects and departed the scene. Rama was now in possession of all the 16 attributes of Divinity and set out to Ayodhya.
Long before Rama was born, the Gods, demi-gods, men, rishis, sages, and yogis prayed to Lord Vishnu to relieve them off the burden of Ravana's atrocities. Vishnu, who knew about the fatal flaw in the boons Ravana asked, assured that he would incarnate as a human being and vanquish Ravana. This was heard by Lankini, the guardian deity of Lanka. Brahma told her that the day she would be beaten in battle by a monkey, Lanka's doom would descend and all the demons would face redemption from their misguided ways. Hence, when Hanuman defeated her, she could clearly see the impending destruction of Lanka and Ravana.
The four brothers were very close to each other. While Lakshmana went to the forests along with Rama, Bharatha spent the 14 years in Nandi Grama, about 12 miles from Ayodhya, dressed exactly like Rama and living exactly like him --shunning all royal comforts. It was said that the four sons of Dasaratha were the very embodiments of the four Vedas. Rama was the embodiment of Yajur Veda. Since Lakshmana would always stay close to Rama, he was the embodiment of the Rig Veda. Since Bharatha spent his days singing Rama's glory, he was the personification of the Sama Veda. Satrugna, of immense strength, destroyed all the enemies of his brothers and kept them safe and secure. He was hence the embodiment of the Atharvana Veda.
It was also said that at the end of the 14 years in exile, when all the four brothers and sisters got together, people were astonished to see that Bharatha looked exactly like Rama. This significant fact points to the twin truths: Yad bhaavam tat bhavathi and Brahmavid Brahmaiva bhavathi --The more seriously you contemplate on a name and form, the more of its attributes you begin to acquire.
The role of women in the Ramayana is especially laudable. People mistake them for weaklings. In truth, they embody sewven kinds of strengths in them, while men have only three. If India retains its purity and piety today, it is because there are still such women in India who are chaste and pure.