Introduction to the Ramayana

“Seated in meditation, Brahma thought of the Lord within his heart. At that moment Visnu appeared in the sky. Only the gods saw Him as He descended upon the back of His eagle carrier, Garuda. His beautiful body was blackish and He shone with a brilliant luster. He was dressed in yellow silk with a garland of blue lotuses. A necklace of bright celestial gems hung around His neck. Adorned with numerous gold ornaments and jewels, He held in His four hands a conch shell, a mace, a discus weapon and a lotus flower. Gracefully descending, He sat amid the gods as they worshipped Him with hymns and prayers.

Brahma addressed Visnu in a reverential tone. “O Lord, here is the worthy Dasaratha praying for a son. All the worlds are sorely afflicted by the evil Raksasa Ravana, who must be slain by a man. Be pleased, therefore, to take birth as Dasaratha’s son. Appearing in human form, please dispatch Ravana in an encounter and save the worlds from their suffering.”

Visnu smiled at the gods. He spoke reassuringly in a voice deep like the rumbling of thunderclouds. “O gods, give up all fear. Along with My own expansions I shall soon be born as four sons of Dasaratha. I Myself shall appear as his eldest son, and My personal weapons will incarnate as My brothers. After annihilating Ravana and his demon hordes, I will remain on the mortal plane, ruling the globe for eleven thousand years.”

The inconceivable Visnu then disappeared even as he was being worshipped. The gods felt their purpose was accomplished and, after accepting Dasaratha’s offerings, they returned to the heavens.” – Ramayana as retold by Krishna Dharma, “King Dasaratha’s Longing”

March 31st 2012 marks the occasion of Rama-Navami, celebrated by Hindus all over the world and marking the birth of Lord Ramacandra, the incarnation of Lord Visnu in the treta-yuga, the third out of four yugas or ages as understood within Vedic cosmology. Like the incarnation of Lord Krsna in the dvarpa-yuga, Lord Rama is born amongst a specific lineage or dynasty of ksatriyas (warrior kings) and advents as per the dictum spoken by Lord Krsna Himself in Bhagavad-gita fourth chapter, verse eight: “To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.”

Ramayana War is as cosmic in scope and import as the Mahabharata War that came at the very edge of the beginning of Kali-yuga and which produced the epic Mahabharata which is broadly accepted as the authorized history of India by Indians and Hindus worldwide, although this premise is rejected by most Western historians. A significant difference in the Ramayana War however is that Lord Rama Himself takes the throne in order to give humanity the prime exemplar of the rajarsi (saintly king) and the effects of pious government. Even today on the Indian subcontinent political groupings and people in general will express longing for another “Rama-raja” however, as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada admonishes, such a situation cannot be realized without broad acceptance of God Consciousness amongst the people in general.

Rama-Navami is one among several observances noted worldwide by Hindus, the most popular being Diwali, in which traditional ghee lamps are lit in recreation of how the residents of Ayodhya lit ghee lamps to celebrate the return of Lord Rama after his fourteen years of exile which culminated in his military campaign across the south Indian sea in the island of Lanka. Extremely martial in character, the Ramayana features intensive battles, the high adventure of noble ksatriyas encountering numerous dangers while in exile in the deep wilderness of the central and south Indian forests and much more. A highly recommended entry-level approach to the amazing subject matter of Ramayana is the novelization of the same by Krishna Dharma, based upon the Valmiki Ramayana which is the version recommended by the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.

Information on the Krishna Dharma rendering of Ramayana as well as information on his other writings can be found here.

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