Vijayadashami – the victory on the tenth day – is when Rama killed Ravana. While the victory of Rama over Ravana was a great one, greater still are the several personal battles he fought and emerged victorious. Being the elder son, he was the natural choice for being the king, but he was sent into exile. He took it in his stride. After Sita was kidnapped, he pined for her and did not rest until he fought and killed Ravana. Then circumstances forced him to abandon his beloved wife. Caring little for his personal feelings, he acted according to the ruling. At every step, he set aside his personal feelings for the sake of the greater common good.
An episode from the Ayodhya Kanda shows the maturity of young Rama. As per Kaikeyi’s wishes, Rama leaves Ayodhya. When Bharata comes to know of this, he is distraught and sets out into the jungle with a small group. Jabali, a learned scholar and a member of the entourage engages in a clash of words with Rama, hoping to convince the latter to return.
Rama, you are known for your intelligence and goodness. Don’t let your wisdom become non-existent, akin to common men on the streets. Who is related to whom? What can be attained from or by anyone? Every being in this world is born alone and dies alone. One who says “This is my father” or “This is my mother” and is attached to another has surely gone mad. There is none that belongs to another.
Rama, a traveller passes through a village, spends the night and leaves the next morning to continue on his journey. Similarly, father, mother, home, and possessions are transient resting places. The wise are not attached to these ephemeral things.
Who is Dasharatha to you? And who are you to him? He was a king of Ayodhya, you are another. Father is just a biological source. The sperm and ovum come together at the right time in the mother’s womb and a child is born. Now the king is dead and he has gone where he was supposed to go. This is the fate of all living beings and you are still fretting about that!
You have great wisdom! Don’t you realize that there is nothing beyond this world? Give importance to what you see with your eyes and let go of all those things beyond your knowledge. Respect the wishes of everyone and accept the kingdom of Ayodhya, just as Bharata requests you!
Your words of advice, spoken to please me, are unrealistic. It’s like a forbidden food that seems agreeable!
The honest ones never respect one who is disobedient, badly behaved, and having a terrible reputation. One’s conduct is an indication of one’s family. The way one behaves clearly shows if he is from a good family or a bad one, courageous or violent, chaste or corrupt.
One who knows justice from injustice will not respect me if I am shameless but pretend to be noble, if I lack integrity and purity but come across as virtuous, if I let go of goodness and embrace falsehood yet put on a show of being courteous, and if I create chaos and confusion in the guise of being pious.
If I lack of faith, how can I prescribe right conduct to anyone else? How can I attain higher realms? The whole world will then work according to the whims of individuals. After all, the subjects follow the king.
Governance should be supported by truth, not by violence. Truth is the essence of being a king. The world is established in truth. One who speaks the truth attains the highest position. People fear a liar just as they fear a snake! Truth is the greatest quality. Truth is God. Everything is rooted in truth. Nothing is greater than truth!
I shall be true to my promise. My beloved father was a firm devotee of truth. Why shouldn’t I fulfill his last command? You cannot tempt me with kingdom.
Your words of logic have been woven craftily to appear nice, but are basically unworthy and unfair. I’ve promised that I will live in the jungle for fourteen years. How can I succumb to Bharata’s childish demands?
I will carry on with my life’s journey in the forest, trying to be pure in body and mind, exercising control over the tongue, tasting the ambrosia of the Gods in humble roots and fruits of the forest. Truth, commitment, courage, compassion, courteousness, and respecting the wise – these are the paths to heaven.
My father was utterly foolish to take you into his service. Your intelligence is misleading and your views are atheistic. You’re a man who has fallen astray from the path of goodness.
This is the precise situation where empty intellectualization – an obsession for intellectual debate instead of a sincere quest for the truth – deserves to be punished as severely as theft! People like you should be viewed with suspicion and punished in the interest of all. A wise man should never keep the company of such intellectuals!
The great people who have lived before you performed so many noble deeds without any hope for rewards. Those great sages devoted to goodness, blessed with a rare spiritual brilliance, donating all their wealth to the needy, and free of all taint are truly honored in this world.
To be honest, I do not speak the language of non-believers. Neither am I an atheist nor is it a fact that nothing exists beyond that which can be perceived by the senses. Based on the situation, I become an atheist or a believer.
O Rama! I have passed through both those phases gradually – theism and atheism. I spoke the language of an atheist only to persuade you to return. Don’t think otherwise!
Rao, Desiraju Hanumanta Rao and Murthy K M K. Srimad Valmiki Ramayana. Book 2 / Ayodhya Kanda, Chapters 108 and 109
This article was first published in Daily O as part of my column Commonsense Karma.