Dharma Series 2: Rama

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

Rama - The ideal ruler, the misunderstood man.

Maryada Purushottam - Maryada means (righteous conduct permissible by dharma), Purushottam means (peerless - the best of the best). He, who was a role model for his state by the virtue of his conduct.

Rama is misunderstood by masses and it makes me sad. When discussing Rama with a lot of my friends, the only thing that is mentioned in a direct tone of sarcasm and ridicule is about him abandoning his better half, just because a fisherman raised a finger on her character.

“If he was so great, how could he do this to this wife? You are someone who strongly supports women empowerment, why are you defensive about him?” - asks a friend, sitting in a plush chair of his beautiful home, with a lovely painting of Buddha hanging on the wall.

“Well, Buddha left his young wife and child too, but he’s still cool”, I chuckle. But that’s not my explanation. Two disconnected things cannot justify each other, and I love and revere Buddha equally.

Rama was the ultimate ruler. He lead by example. His conduct defined the conduct of his state, his “Rajya”. He was such an exemplary ruler that every state in Bharatvarsha wanted their Rajya to be like Ram Rajya - To have a kingdom and statesmanship skills like that of Rama.

To sum up sage Valmiki’s Yuddha Kanda of Ramayana, Ram Rajya was characterised by equality, democracy, justice, peace, prosperity, longevity, good health, and happiness. How Rama conducted himself was an example for the trader and a pauper alike.

So when a fisherman raised a doubt on his beloved wife’s character, and the rumour started spreading, Rama, overlooking his personal pain, first thought about his Rajya. The voice raised by a fisherman was equally important as any member of the court. If it went unheard, the equilibrium of Rajya would get disturbed. Society that stepped Rama up on the pedestal, could very easily accuse him of favouritism towards his wife. The chaste, powerful wife, Sita, on whom a man who may not have been half as perfect as Rama, had raised a finger. Rama did what he did because he knew that no agneepariksha(test of chastity) could remove the doubts that had been seeded in people’s minds.

We must remember it was the same Rama who uplifted and saved grace of many women including Ahilya, Shabri, and Tara. But in this case, he was helpless. In his own Ram Rajya he lived in the pain of loneliness, just to maintain the equilibrium in the society. Unlike other rulers who’d have easily taken another wife, he never married again. But to lead by example, he sacrificed Sita's & his marital bliss.

Understanding such sacrifice for a greater good requires tremendous maturity and inclusion. It requires a mindset of community welfare over personal welfare. A lot of great men in the history faced this dilemma. Rama, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, to name a few.

And Rama is the one of the misunderstood.

For Rama's integrity, his love for his wife, and his Maryada Purshottum status, for Rama Rajya and the possibility of it in the future - Rama in my eyes only deserves glory, devotion, and love.

Here’s the excerpt from Valmiki’s description of Ram Rajya:

न पर्यदेवन्विधवा न च व्यालकृतं भयम् |

न व्याधिजं भयन् वापि रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || 

While Rama was ruling the kingdom, there were no widows to lament, nor there was no danger from wild animals, nor any fear born of diseases.

निर्दस्युरभवल्लोको नानर्थः कन् चिदस्पृशत् |

न च स्म वृद्धा बालानां प्रेतकार्याणि कुर्वते || 

The world was bereft of thieves and robberies. No one felt worthless nor did old people perform obsequies concerning youngsters.

सर्वं मुदितमेवासीत्सर्वो धर्मपरोअभवत् |

राममेवानुपश्यन्तो नाभ्यहिन्सन्परस्परम् || 

Every creature felt pleased. Every one was intent on virtue. Turning their eyes towards Rama alone, creatures did not kill one another.

आसन्वर्षसहस्राणि तथा पुत्रसहस्रिणः |

निरामया विशोकाश्च रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || ६-१२८-१०२

While Rama was ruling the kingdom, people survived for thousands of years, with thousands of their progeny, all free of illness and grief.

रामो रामो राम इति प्रजानामभवन् कथाः |

रामभूतं जगाभूद्रामे राज्यं प्रशासति || ६-१२८-१०३

While Rama ruled the kingdom, the talks of the people centered round Rama, Rama and Rama. The world became Rama's world.

नित्यपुष्पा नित्यफलास्तरवः स्कन्धविस्तृताः |

कालवर्षी च पर्जन्यः सुखस्पर्शश्च मारुतः || ६-१२८-१०४

The trees there were bearing flowers and fruits regularly, without any injury by pests and insects. The clouds were raining in time and the wind was delightful to the touch.

ब्राह्मणाः क्षत्रिया वैश्याः शूद्रा लोभविवर्जिताः |

स्वकर्मसु प्रवर्तन्ते तुष्ठाः स्वैरेव कर्मभिः || ६-१२८-१०५

आसन् प्रजा धर्मपरा रामे शासति नानृताः |

Brahmins (the priest-class), Kshatriyas (the warrior-class), Vaishyas (the class of merchants and agriculturists), Shudras (the servant-class) were performing their own duties, satisfied with their own work and bereft of any greed. While Rama was ruling, the people were intent on virtue and lived without telling lies.

सर्वे लक्षणसम्पन्नाः सर्वे धर्मपरायणाः || ६-१२८-१०६

दशवर्षसहस्राणि रामो राज्यमकारयत् |

All the people were endowed with excellent characteristics. All were engaged in virtue. Rama was engaged in the kingship thus for ten thousand years.

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