Sunday, April 13, 2008
Ramanavami is celebrated on the ninth day in the bright half of Chaitra and represents the birth anniversary of Rama - 14 april 2008. This day is observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita.
Rama is venerated hero of the Ramayana epic, and one of the two most popular incarnations of Vishnu, along with Krishna. He was a great worshiper of Siva, and a Siva temple, called Rameshvaram, was built in his name at the southern tip of India.
Sita Devi is the Avatara of the Goddess Lakshmi, who is the eternal consort and female form of Vishnu. Just as Rama is the manifestation of perfect manhood, Sita idealizes the Perfect Woman through her performance of her duties to religion, as a wife to her husband and as a mother to her children, and collectively as a woman in human society.
When he is approximately 15 years of age, his Guru Vishwamitra takes the two princes to the Swayamvara ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva, and shoot an arrow with it. This task is considered impossible for any ordinary king or living being, as this is the personal weapon of Shiva, more powerful, holy and of divine creation than conceivable.
While attempting to string the bow, Rama breaks it into two. This feat of unbelievable strength, to have broken the personal weapon of Shiva, spreads his fame across the worlds and seals his marriage to Sita.
The love of Rama and his lawfully wedded wife Sita is the theme and substance of the Ramayana. True to the image of the mythic hero, both the carnal and the sublime aspects are highlighted in this epic, as in the majority of heroic lore across the world.
Celebrating another aspect of their affection is the appreciation that theirs was a love in conformance with Dharma. Such a love is but a manifestation of god. For those who interpret Ramayana in a symbolic manner regard Sita as the individual soul and Rama as the Supreme Being. God sees and pursues the human soul till He secures it. Thus did Rama follow Sita's trail across astronomical distances to unite himself with her. Verily is the Supreme Lord eager to save us.
Present in Ramayana is the twin theme of love opposed to Dharma. This is the love Ravana felt for Sita and which prompted him to abduct this chaste lady. He coveted the wife of another, which was deemed a sin. Here it must be noted that labeling Ravana's intentions towards Sita as love is paradoxical to say the least. Not once during her captivity (twelve months) did Ravana make a physical advance towards Sita. Not that he couldn't have done so. She was far away from any of her sympathizers, and was but a prisoner in his kingdom on which he held a authoritative and unquestionable sway. Ravana was obsessed with the idea of generating in her heart an inkling of love for him. A fat chance he had. With her commitment to her Lord as adamantine and devoted as always, Sita, even during periods of extreme tribulations, never for a moment let any other man enter her thoughts other than Rama.
There are also other interpretations of the love story of Rama and Sita. In one such insight Sita is believed to be the female counterpart of the Highest Being, an embodiment of compassion and grace. Compassion is the Supreme Mother who rests enthroned in the heart of the Lord. When she casts her merciful glance on us, we reach the feet of god. Parvati's function in relation to Shiva and Lakshmi's in relation to Vishnu are both identical, and are thought to point to the same truth namely that God as father and God as mother are not distinct. Indeed if the Lord were to be parted from his compassion, our plight would be like that of Ravana, who separated Sita from her Lord Rama.
Love is a divine experience! Happy Raam Navami!
From Ramayana animation: