Does Rama need the prefix “Bhagavan”?

Beings who like Rama are free to use the term Bhagavan as a prefix to his name if they wish to. In fact, they can alternatively choose any other word from a big list of similar words, including Paramatma, Para Brahman, Parameshwara, Para Shakti, and Purushottama. Yet the truth is that Sita-Rama, unlike many other forms of the Divine, does not need any of these titles. Such terms can not be combined to create the beautiful sound of Ramanama, but these terms simply remain eternally seated around Rama’s name as adjectives [1, 2].

Though Rama is extremely calm, his leela speaks out for itself. During Sita Devi’s swayamvara, right after Rama broke Shiva’s bow, an incarnation of Vishnu had begged Rama for his own karmic purification. Because this incarnation, who accepted Rama’s grace, can also be addressed to as “a form of the Divine” by jivas, the incident highlights the extensive difference between Sita-Rama and other divine beings. Besides, in today’s world, more and more mortals have started claiming themselves to be Bhagavan or Brahman. This gives another reason to why these words no longer eulogize Rama as they could.

Happy birthday to Rama, who is beyond thought!

[1] The same also holds for Bhavani-Shiva, whose name is independently blissful and beyond such theoretical adjectives.
[2] Also read an earlier post on why Goswami Tulsidasa feels that we can never praise Rama enough.

Devi Parvati’s dedication for Shiva

Though Bhagavan Shiva is extremely benevolent towards all, it was not easy for Devi Parvati to please him and have him accept her marriage proposal. After obtaining the panchakshara mantra [1] from Devarishi Narada, the Mother Goddess started her tapasya for Shiva in a forest of the Gangotri region. Meditating full time, she ate only fruits from the surrounding trees in the first year and accepted only leaves in the second year. A few years later, she even renounced leaves. Due to her austerity, this forest became an equal of Kailasa [2], as the Shiva Purana tells us, where all jivas had turned spiritual. The fauna, blessed by her presence and surprised by her brilliance, developed friendliness towards each other, and new species of flowers and beautiful plants appeared near her ashram.

After thousands of years passed, the glow released from her dedicated tapasya began to create distress for the gods and the world. The gods took the shelter of Lords Brahma and Vishnu so that Shiva could be convinced. Shiva, out of his grace on all souls, got ready for marriage but designed a couple of tests for Parvati before accepting the proposal. First, the saptarishis [3] were sent by Shiva to test her bhakti. In the second test, Shiva disguised himself as a Brahmin and tried to discourage her from thinking about him. But Parvati’s determination for Shiva was unyielding; she aspired for nothing but Shiva. As a result, we all get to celebrate the Shivaratri.

Happy Mahashivaratri!

[1] the five-lettered mantra for Shiva
[2] the abode of Shiva
[3] the seven sages

Is your Ramayana authentic?

Whatever we read forms a karmic impression in our mind. If we are devotionally a beginner, say someone with partially-developed faith in Sita-Rama, and start reading the wrong Ramayana, just because its author has been gifted with literary talent, his or her persuasive writing and inappropriate content can spiritually disconnect us, at least temporarily.

How does the Ramayana become genuine? If the author, like Goswami Tulasidasa, has taken Lord Hanuman’s permission to write and has had a darshan of Sri Rama, his or her writing would indeed be genuine. But for professional writers, trust in Sita-Rama as a form of the Divine may be a good starting point to put together a manuscript that is devotional and does not disable the reader’s spiritual connection.

As we have already seen in an earlier post, if we do not want to believe that Rama is God, reading literature may not change our viewpoint. In your own neighborhood, you may have heard well-educated literary experts saying, “The divinity of Rama was invented by Tulasidasa in the Ramacharitamanasa.” Experts making such opinionated comments never look at the other authentic Ramayanas — the Valmiki Ramayana, the Adhyatma Ramayana, or the Kamba Ramayana. They also miss that Rama is seated as the Supreme Being in the Mahabharata, all the Puranas, and the teachings of almost all bhakti saints.

Mahabharata: Ved Vyas’s grand miracle

While spending their last days in the forest, Dhritrashtra, Gandhari, and Kunti requested Ved Vyas for something. This request was the result of a desire that had been mounting in their heart for sixteen years, ever since they had lost their relatives in the Mahabharata war. They just wanted to see all their kids once again — and the other family members who had died in the battlefield. But isn’t this impossible? Not for Ved Vyas, a partial incarnation of Krishna. On hearing the request, Ved Vyas said, “Today, I’ll show you all an unprecedented miracle.”

Ved Vyas asked Dhritrashtra, Gandhari, Kunti, the Pandavas, Draupadi, Subhadra, and the citizens of Yudhisthira’s town to wait along the bank of the Ganges at dusk. At a chosen moment, Ved Vyas entered the Ganges and summoned the armies of the past. Soon, all the departed generals and soldiers sprang out of the river, wearing divine bodies and attire. Vyas also blessed Dhritrashtra with vision so that he could finally see his sons. After all the citizens met their departed family members, Vyas dismissed the visitors. Everyone disappeared in the water to return to the lokas from where they had been called. As a result of this miracle, Dhritrashtra was relieved of the guilt that he had developed as a consequence of his son’s misdeeds. Gandhari and Kunti gained peace before leaving Earth. And the world learned that the Mahabharata, the biggest war for dharma, which had appeared as real as it could to people on Earth, was only a piece in Krishna’s divine play, the participants of which had never ceased to exist.

Rama’s astrology chart: His Lagna

I have been hesitant about studying Rama’s astrology chart. It may be somewhat impolite for jivas like me to draw the Divine’s chart when we don’t even know what Nature has inscribed for us in our own destinies. But I feel it is okay to take a peek at his fully-auspicious ascendant while ignoring the problematic planetary influences in the chart. Rama has a Karka rising with Jupiter and Moon in it.

Moon: the distinguished planet of the chart
Many of us have learned that the Sun is Rama’s strongest planet. This makes sense; his Sun is expected to be stronger than the Sun of all other beings, including incarnations, for he is remembered as the gem of the solar dynasty and the best ruler the world has ever witnessed [1]. But surprisingly, Rama’s Moon is no less. Because the Moon is the final dispositor of Rama’s chart, it can fairly be labeled as the chart’s distinguished planet [2]. How can we interpret this? For the bhaktas who won his affection (vatsalya) and darshan, Rama was almost as affectionate as the Mother Goddess [3].

Jupiter: the most beneficial planet
Rama’s Jupiter is ideal. It is exalted, forms a hamsa yoga in the lagna, and is conjunct an own-house Moon to form the strongest gajakesari yoga mathematically possible. Being the bhagyesh, Jupiter’s yuti with the Moon transfers auspiciousness and righteousness from the ninth house to the lagnesh (and that too, in the first house) and indirectly powers other yogas like chandra-mangal and guru-mangal. This Jupiter is the most beneficial planet in Rama’s chart. A possible interpretation? All the biggest saints and rishis, including Rama’s own guru Vasistha, had waited for ages to meet Rama and provide him with their blessings. Moreover, Rama, comparable only to Shiva, is the biggest guru to have ever visited Earth…the one who guided us through his persona.

[1] If astrology works, planetary placements would only agree with Rama’s worldly divine plays; his transcendental attributes and position as the sole ruler of the universe is not to be deciphered in a horoscope.
[2] Though the “final dispositor” is a term more popular in Western astrology, it is used by Vedic astrologers as well.
[3] Moon relates to the mother, calmness, and peace in astrology.

Happy Diwali to everyone!