|Date: 21 May 2002||Occasion: Summary of Evening Discourse||Place: Brindavan|
of Divine Discourse
at the Summer Course
(Evening, 21 May 2002)
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
He whose heart is filled with compassion,
whose words are steeped in Truth, and
whose body is engaged in service to others
will never be affected by the influence of the Kali age
Just before Ravana shed his mortal coils, several sages, scholars, and good men gathered and asked him, "O Ravana! In your life you have done several deeds that were both good and bad. What did you consider to be the greatest lesson that you have learnt?"
Ravana replied, "O Sirs! He who wishes to enter into any noble task that can cause only good to others should never entertain any delay. The instant such pious thoughts are born in the heart, they should be executed. I too had such idealistic thoughts --that I would build a bridge linking earth with heaven, that I would sweeten the saline waters of the oceans around Lanka and distribute it to people, and that I would provide succor and relief to all those poor souls suffering in hell. I delayed, and I could never do it because my evil overtook me. You must not repeat this mistake."
Today, the main item of agenda for humanity is to indulge in good behaviour and good conduct and to put into action all the good thoughts. Ravana did several deeds. But the lack of proper direction and good intent in these actions defiled them, and therefore he could never execute the good tasks that he had planned to do.
As Rama and Lakshmana searched for Sita after her abduction, they encountered a strange creature called Kabandha. Kabandha's face was in his stomach, from which protruded a huge tongue. He espied the two brothers and learnt about their mission. He then asked that a pyre be lit and his body be burnt to ashes in it. If so done, he promised to help them. Lakshmana did as he was told, and out of the pyre emerged a beautiful form that bowed to him and said, " O Prince! Due to a curse, I was forced to assume that terrible form. I was destined to be burnt and liberated by you. I know that you are merely enacting a role in the divine drama. None can harm you; agony and grief cannot approach you. However, I shall perform my role too. Sita has been abducted and kept in Lanka. She is a pious and a chaste lady. None can touch her without being burnt to ashes. Go and befriend the monkey king Sugreeva. He will help you." Advising Rama thus, the form vanished.
The episode of Vali and Sugreeva is that of the enmity between two brothers. Vali was Sugreeva's elder brother, who drove his younger brother out of the kingdom and retained his wife. Earlier, Vali had killed a demon Dundubhi and hurled the carcass far away. Unfortunately, the body landed on the Rishyamukha hills, where some drops of blood fell on the sage Matanga. Infuriated at this act of defiling his hermitage and person, the sage cursed that whoever was responsible for this act would suffer instant death if he came to the hill. It was to this Rishyamukha hills that Sugreeva, with some of his trusted courtiers and followers, escaped.
When Sugreeva spotted the two noble princes, he dispatched Hanuman to find out their intentions. Hanuman discovered who they were and carried them on his shoulders to Sugreeva, the son of Sun God. Before sealing the act of friendship and hence seeking Rama's help to slay Vali, Sugreeva wished to test Rama's strength. The rule one must remember is that one must always befriend someone who is more powerful than one's enemy. Rama demonstrated to Sugreeva that he was more than a match for Vali's valour and strength. The pact of friendship was sealed between Sugreeva and Rama, with the fire God as witness. Sugreeva agreed to help Rama rescue Sita and Rama promised to help Sugreeva get back his wife and kingdom.
When Vali rushed out to meet the challenge, his wife Tara, stopped him. She wisely counseled him, "Surely, he must have made a powerful friend; otherwise, he wouldn't have dared to challenge your might. I hear that the princes of Ayodhya are lending him their support. Please ask before accepting the challenge." Vali brushed aside her advice and went on to give a sound thrashing to Sugreeva. During their fight, Rama could do nothing because both the brothers looked exactly alike in stature, features, and strength! Sugreeva, beaten black and blue, showed a clean pair of heels and retreated. Rama consoled him with sweet words and sent him out again. This time, Lakshmana placed a garland around Sugreeva to distinguish him from Vali. Rama did not miss his mark, and Vali fell, with Rama's arrow in his chest.
The conversation between Vali and Rama is very interesting to follow. When Vali demanded to know why Rama interfered in an internal matter between the brothers, Rama replied, "Your mistake was that you trumped up charges of treachery against Sugreeva just to grab the throne. You should treat your brother's wife like your mother. Instead, you usurped Sugreeva's wife. You sinned grievously and hence deserved punishment."
Vali then asked if it was justified for Rama to hit him from behind a tree. Rama replied, " You belong to the animal race, and I am a prince. Animals must be killed from hiding, so I did nothing wrong."
Vali demanded, "If so, you could have alerted me and then faced me in a fair fight."
Rama replied, "You have the boon that whoever fights you face to face would lose half his strength to you. Therefore, I had to shoot you from behind a tree." Vali repented, made peace with his brother and asking that Angada, his son, be made the crown prince, and died.
Ramayana contains in it three important battles.
1. The battle between Vali and Sugreeva.Sugreeva asked for Rama's help, had Vali killed, and took over the kingdom. Vibheeshana surrendered to Rama, fought against his brother Ravana, helped Rama to kill Ravana, and became the king of Lanka. In stark contrast, both Bharatha and Rama 'fought' that the other be made the king! Rama vowed that he would not enter Ayodhya for fourteen years and hence commanded Bharatha to be king. Bharatha was equally firm and said that, as long as Rama did not enter Ayodhya, he also would not enter the city. Instead, he would wait for Rama to be the king! This 'battle' is highly dharmic, as opposed to the other two.
2. The battle between Vibheeshana and Ravana.
3. The battle between Bharatha and Rama.
In the battle, before killing Ravana, Rama extolled his virtues. Ravana was indeed a person of great accomplishments. Rama, in fact, was liberating Jaya and Vijaya from a curse when he killed Ravana.
After the battle was over, Rama wished to show the world the purity and chastity of Sita. Rumours were bound to fly otherwise. therefore, he made her undergo the trial-by-fire. When Sita emerged unscathed, Rama accepted her and effectively scotched any rumours.
In the entire Ramayana, we see Rama acting his role like all the other characters; still, he remained unaffected by anything. He is the actor and also the director! Though the epic is centuries old, its values retain their relevance even to this day. Valmiki's original Ramayana is pure and unsullied --giving no room for distortions. It is only the interpretations in between that introduced confusions in the great epic. It is a story and some call the Ramayana History. History = HIS + Story. It is nothing but the story of the Lord Himself!