Author’s Note: This blog was originally published in Hindi in Devnagari Script. On the advice of the editor and a reader I have appended below an English translation. Raghbendra Jha
Ramkatha (the story of Lord Rama) is popular in many countries. In fact, it is popular even in those countries where very few people call themselves Hindus. Examples include Indonesia, Iran and Russia. What is the reason for this? It is my belief that Ramkatha has some special attributes that makes it dear to everyone. No barriers of religion, caste, gender or of any other kind impede the popularity of Ramkatha.
It is my belief that Ramkatha is everyone’s katha (story). I would like to shed some light on this.
Since Ramkatha is the story of atman and parmatman it is everyone’s katha. Lord Sri Krishna says in the Srimadbhagwatgita that the atman is unborn (ajanma). Goddess Sita, by virtue of being ajanma, is a symbol of the atman (soul). She is united with the parmatman (Lord Rama). Sita was happy so long as She was with Rama. It did not matter whether She lived in the palaces of Ayodhya or was wandering in dense forests.
Maya (attachment) approaches her as a golden deer. When She is attracted to maya She gets separated from the parmatman. She suffers greatly as a consequence. The ten-headed Ravana kidnaps Her. The ten heads of Ravana are indicative of the fact that we are not inward looking and, goaded by Maya, we succumb to and become slaves of our ten senses and have our attention concentrated outwards in the ten directions.
The atman suffers considerably in this state of affairs. Goddess Sita suffers and, it is to be noted, that the parmataman is also not happy at this state of affairs. Seeing the suffering the atman, the parmatman, too, is unhappy. After all, He is infinitely compassionate. The paramatman constantly makes efforts to ensure that the atman gets peace.
When the atman’s suffering becomes unbearable the paramatma sends sadguru as His emissary to the atman. In the Ramkatha Hanumanji is the sadguru. The atman gets some peace after conversing with sadguru. Like a true sadguru Hanumanji works only for the benefit of others. He has no self interest of His own.
There is amrit (potion of immortality) in the navel area of the ten-headed one. Without drying up this amrit one cannot get emancipation from the ten-headed one. In our mothers’ wombs we get nourishment through our navel area. After being born we fall into the clutches of the raksha of the ten directions or the ten senses. This bondage of the navel area is our bondage from one life to the next. In that sense this bondage is ancient. To keep things brief, Ramaktha says that there is amrit in the ten-headed one’s navel area.
The atman is restless for the parmatman. Ultimately, only the paramtman can rescue the atman. Only Rama can slay the ten-headed one.
Deep in our consciousness, we know this or will know this at some point in time. Ramkatha is the story of the union of atman and parmatman, and subsequent separation and reunion. Hence, it is the story of all of us. This is why it touches everyone’s soul.
This is my interpretation of the essence of Ramkatha.
More posts by this author:
- Ramkatha – A Spiritual Interpretation
- On Corruption and Karma
- A Profile of the Background of India’s Young by Raghbendra Jha
- Swami Vivekananda’s relevance to Contemporary Economic Problems