Lord Rama:

Lord Rama, the most famous incarnation of God, appeared on Rama-navami He is known as Maryada Purusottama and is the emblem righteousness. His life and teachings of morality in office are as relevant for us today as when He appeared nearly 20 million years ago:

"The emperor [Dasaratha] held his four mighty sons, who had issued from his body, as dear as his own arms. Of the four, Lord Rama was the king's most beloved son, and like a Brahma He excelled all others in virtue.  Indeed, He was the eternal Lord Sri Vishnu, and had advented Himself in the world of men on behalf of the Devas, who desired the slaying of Ravana."

"He was a son unequalled in the world, and resembled Dasaratha in the possession of good qualities. He never spoke an untruth, He offered all respect to the learned and the elderly; the people adored Him, and He loved the people.  His transcendental body was free from disease and the influence of old age. He was eloquent, beautiful, and adaptable to circumstances. He knew the heart of every man on earth [being omniscient], and He alone was aloof from the world of matter. He alone was possessed of all conceivable qualities who was the king's son, and was as dear to the people as their own hearts."

"He was loved by His father's subjects, and ever increased His sire's delight. Lord Rama was endowed with dazzling transcendental qualities, and He was haloed as if by the rays of the sun. The earth personified adored Him who was possessed of such virtues, who was unconquerable, who was courageous, and who was the unequalled Lord of all."

The story of Ramayana is not only a book of virtues and deeds performed by Sri Rama as Avatar of Vishnu, but is also a book of love. Love in various forms as Bhakti, is in fact behind the reason why Lord Vishnu has decided to take birth in a mortal body as Sri Rama and bring back to humanity the experience of true love which at that time seemed to be badly neglected. Humanity was very much engulfed in material life experience, the spiritual site of human life being almost forgotten.

The whole divine play ('lila') of Ramayana epic was orchestrated in heaven. Lord Vishnu has accepted to come to earth in a human form as Lila Avatar ('a divine incarnation in order to perform a divine play') as Sri Rama. The Lord accepted that in the beginning of his play on earth, not to be aware about his divine nature, but his awareness has to come in a natural way under the circumstances encountered. His beloved wife Lakshmi came along as Sita, so the Lord will not miss her, as she was his better half. Sita is thus born in the kingdom of Videha. Her birth was a mystery from the beginning. It was said that she was found in a container in the form of an egg on a furrow, on a day when King Janaka was doing some work in the field. This mysterious birth seems to have deep significance, Sita being thus born by the Mother Earth from an egg that signify any future creation. King Janaka took the 'daughter of the Earth' with him and rose her as his own daughter.

Since childhood Sita received a good education. She liked to sing, thus king Janaka arranged to train her in playing musical instruments. Her voice was sweet, her presence was lovely and enchanting. People around loved her very much. Her musical skills were so proficient that other versions of Ramayana beside Valmiki's, described her as being a Gandharva girl, a heavenly musical virtuoso. Thus her skills and abilities were able to match the best Gandharvas in heaven. But Sita was much more, as Valmiki and later on Tulsidasa in his devotional Ramayana known as Ramacharitamanasa has written.

After many years, the time for Sita's marriage has arrived and king Janaka knowing that something unusual was about his adopted daughter, has decided to marry her only with an unusual man. Thus he setup a contest involving Shiva's bow, a mighty weapon that was seen as impossible to be used by any mortal. King Janaka was convinced that his daughter has divine origin and only a man of similar extraction could marry her.

But, before considering the marriage of Sita to Rama, some issues about Sri Rama has to be taken into consideration. Rama was the elder son of King Dasharatha, his mother being Kaushalya. Rama's birth has also mystery involved, his mother becoming pregnant only after drinking a divine essence (Payasa) that was obtained by King Dasharatha after a successful performance of Putra Kameshti Yajna fire-sacrifice. All Dasharatha's queens became pregnant approximately in the same time period, giving birth to four sons at short interval one of each other. However Kaushalya was Dasharatha's major queen and Rama was born first of all brothers. These issues have also significance. Rama's brothers were, according to the divine plan masterminded in heaven, Vishnu's manifestations or attributes. Thus it was from the very beginning that the four brothers were all united and all love each other very much. However Rama emerged as leader of all brothers, his qualities and way of behaviour were in such a way that all brothers obey naturally to their elder brother Rama. As Ramayana story unfolds, various other forms of Bhakti are practiced and expressed by Sri Rama, the brotherly love was just one of them.

Rama's youth was full of joy and marked by a solid education given by the family high priest Vasishtha. Vasishtha was an important player of the entire game. As one of the seven seers (Sapta Rishis) Vasishtha was a star in the Ursa Major constellation and came along with Lord Vishnu as Sri Rama to participate actively in the entire play. Other gods or demigods came also by taking partial or full incarnations all players being well described by Ramayana story all along. Some gods and demigods stay in heaven and were watching closely the development of the play. Ramayana describes them as being attentive to what was going on. During significant occasions, gods and demigods in heaven were showering flowers, Gandharvas (heavenly minstrels) were singing and Apsaras (heavenly nymphs/ damsels) dancing. Thus it might be considered that one party was taking place on earth and another party in heaven, gods and demigods witnessing Vishnu's play by monitoring his moves, decisions and the entire game with great interest.

However, the play started really in motion when Vishvamitra, a seer a Gayatri Mantra, arrived at Ayodhya in order to ask for Rama and Lakshmana's help. Dasharatha reluctantly agreed, later on it was proved that Rama and Lakshmana have indeed successfully protected Vishvamitra's fire-sacrifice. Then, Vishvamitra, Rama and Lakshmana, they all went to the kingsdom of Koshala where King Janaka was reigning. On their arrival they found out about the contest for Sita's hand and Rama under Vishvamitra's advice decided to compete. The news spread out and Sita heard also about two princes from Ayodhya visiting King Janaka but she has not seen them yet. From this point on the story takes a significant turn with the chance encounter of Sita and Rama in a garden.

Sita was a lover of flowers and nature. While she was walking as usually in her favorite garden she saw a handsome young man collecting flower and perspiring. Sita was very much surprised by the seeing of the young man and could not understand why he was perspiring from such an effort of picking up flowers. On the other hand Sita was mesmerized on the spot my seeing Rama. Her feminine intuition was telling her that is something special about this man. She has the feelings of recognizing Rama: "Oh, this is my darling!" she said to herself. However the reason intervened in Sita's thought and a multitude of questions arose, but certainly she could not explain what was going on.

On his turn Rama was spell bound by seeing Sita. His emotions were so high that he spontaneously started to sweat and Sita has seen him in such a condition. Rama's feelings run high, he has the urge to go and embrace that lovely girl, but reason came along telling him to control himself from such a behaviour, as Sita was not his wife. The two young people were deeply marked by the encounter and Sita has inquired about that young man she saw in the garden. On learning that he was prince Rama from Ayodhya, she was trilled at first by knowing this. But later on Sita became worried about Rama's prowess to be able to lift and string the mighty bow of Shiva, as she saw him perspiring in the garden by simply collecting flowers.

With the first encounter between Sri Rama and Sita the most significant moment of the whole play has arrived. The condition set up in heaven was that both Rama and Sita will be aware about their divine origin gradually. Although Rama was educated by a high priest like Vasishtha, he did not awaken by studying scriptures or listening to holy Satsang, although he has the inexplicable feelings of being something unusual about himself. However, Vasishtha knew about Rama's divine origin but he kept this secret canceled considering that Rama was immature and unable to be awakened by anything but his divine Shakti.

There is a deep significance in this. Rama as embodiment of the pure consciousness that is Lord Vishnu cannot be manifested in nature without the help of Maya, that being his manifestation in the universe. His Maya in the form of Sita on the other hand, does not have awareness but only the power of manifestation as the classical Advaita Vedanta philosophy points out. Thus the process of awakening of the two main protagonists of the play, Sri Rama and Sita, started. From that moment on, a process of gradual awakening occurred, both of them becoming more and more aware about their divine nature.

The divine plan starts to develop quickly. Rama manages to lift, string and break the bow thus he wins Sita's hand. It was a great jubilation both on earth and in heaven, as gods and demigods shower flowers, Gandharnas sing and Apsaras dance. Preparations for the marriage begin, envoys were sent to King Dasharatha to invite him and all his entourage to the great ceremony.

It was the greatest marriage the world could ever seen. This is mainly for the deep significance of the event, as God in the form of Sri Rama descends on earth to set things up right. But the marriage was great also at earthly level, as both Kings Janaka and Dasharatha have done their best to provide everything needed. Although King Janaka was responsible for providing all necessary for to wedding to be performed, the high priest Vasishtha has used the power of his divine cow Surabhi to provide anything else needed for the event.

Many people were present, Brahmanas, sages and priests from other kingdoms came to participate in the event. Various gods and demigods were present, the most relevant being Lord Shiva's presence. Lord Shiva's presence with his retinue was paramount. As scriptures say, Lord Rama was Lord Shiva's Ishta Devata, he was even present when Sri Rama was born. Food, music and dance were in abundance. For a couple of days the joyous atmosphere was penetrating far beyond the area of earthly compound, the whole heaven was in a joyous mood as their Lord Vishnu as Lord Rama marries his beloved. Participants were well dressed as much as everyone could afford, there were gifts to Brahmanas and people around, all in the name of Sri Rama himself. As appropriate to his position as bridegroom, Sri Rama has received various gifts. However for Sita, the beauty of ornaments of gold, grand saris and other feminine articles could not be described. Rama was highly enchanted by the beauty of Sita so nicely dressed and his love for her grew deeper.

The moment of performance of the marriage itself has arrived in the last day. The time for various priests to do their duties was ready. There were many priests from other kingdoms, followers either of Sun or Moon traditions. One by one the priests consecrated the marriage of Sri Rama to Sita in their traditional way, but it was King Janaka who put Sita's hand in Rama's. This handling is highly significant, the moment marks the marriage of consciousness (Cit) to nature (Prakriti). God becomes manifest and nature becomes conscious. It was a high spiritual moment marking the setup in motion of Sri Rama's mission on earth.

However the two protagonists, Sri Rama and Sita were not carried out totally by events. Although they participated fully into all the happenings, the process of merging one in each other has stared. It was music and happiness around but Sita's mind did not loose the attention towards her Lord, as Rama's mind was towards Sita also. Divine love manifested in their every move, Lord Vishnu has found his Shakti after a brief break that was a personal sacrifice indeed.

The marriage ceremony concluded, people went to their homes but Sri Rama and his new Sita Devi stayed for a couple of more days in Janaka's palaces. The divine play of love started to be beautifully manifested between the two lovers. Kaushalya, Rama's mother, has taken the duty of instructing Sita about Rama, what he likes and how he should be treated in order for him to be happy and for Sita to gain the best out of their love. Rama was very happy that Sita has taken such good lessons from his mother and just adored Sita seeing how she behaves and how much she was devoted to him.

It was definitely Madhurya Bhavana, the attitude of manifesting with sweetness of feelings one to each other. King Dasharatha enjoyed very much to see his favorite son being happy and adored by such a beautiful and lovely woman. He was deeply moved by seeing scenes of tenderness and affection of the new couple. Being very old King Dasharatha was contemplating the idea of being born again in the next life as a child of such divine lovers, Rama and Sita.

The lovely couple gradually learned about their divine origin and their purpose on earth. As they became aware of what they were doing on earth, what followed was no more but a play in which they consciously participated. Thus things will develop according to the plan, gods and demigods in heaven monitoring the game and taking delight in seeing the forces of evil gradually annihilated.

After a while, King Dasharatha's entourage returns to Ayodhya and the life continues until the next ingredient of the play arrives. Rama instead of being installed as King in waiting, he is forced on moral reason, to go and live in the forest for 14 years. Being well aware about this development he takes along with him Sita and Lakshmana and goes to live in the forest traveling south of India. However the so called punishment is not quite so, both Rama and Sita find great peace and contentment to live in the forest amid of beautiful rivers, birds, forest animals, grass, trees and flowers that enchant the three people. Lakshmana, Rama's brother, was very careful to provide any facility that makes Rama and Sita happy, he constructs huts and provides food in abundance.

During the forest life, Rama and Sita were happy indeed. They left the city life, the noise and many obligations to settle in such an environment where love could blossom and the earthy life is made a paradise. The epic describes in beautiful words the life of Sita, Rama and Lakshmana in the forests. Many acts of bravery were done against demons infecting the forests. During the forest life Rama, Sita and Lakshmana have the chance to visit many hermits, retired sages that were part of the play itself. Famous high spirits like Agastya, Atri and his devoted wife Anasuya, Bharadvaja, Shabari, Sharabhanga, Sutikshna were visited and many blessings obtained. At this point, the epic has to develop in a more conclusive way and the episode of Sita's abduction has arrived.

Sita's abduction is in fact the allegory of separation of lovers. When love that flourishes is interrupted, disaster struck and great tribulations arrive. The reason for the big confrontation, that of abduction of Sita by Ravana, the King of Lanka is well chosen. Thus interruption of love is seen as a great sin and whoever did it deserves severe punishment. Confrontations occurred and a big war seems to escalate, as Sita was kept safely guarded by women in a grove mountain. As Sita is far away, Rama was able to concentrate on his main work as Avatar, that of destroying forces of evil humanity was almost mastered by. He forms strategic alliances and manifests great bravery. Finally the forces of darkness led by demon king Ravana are being destroyed. Sita is safely recovered and Rama, Sita and Lakshmana go back to Ayodhya where the faithful brother Bharata has acted as proxy on the royal throne on behalf of Rama.

From this point on love takes another twist, Rama's coronation takes place and finally he is installed king by the high priest Vasishtha and Sita becomes his queen. They have obligations in their royal duties, their love takes now more the form of love for humanity. This love is more difficult that any other love, various versions of Ramayana end up with a different story regarding how the story concluded. Some scholars consider Valmiki's Ramayana ending with chapter six containing Rama's return to Ayodhya, his coronation and the teachings he gives to humanity. A so-called trial of Sita's purity occurred in various versions. However, the conclusion of Ramayana story has to come as consistent with the whole writing. Interpolations can occurred usually after such a long span of time since the writing of Valmiki's Ramayana (during the 3rd millennium BC), the base of all Ramayana versions.

There are good reasons to consider this. Gradually, as progress is made in the development of the epic, all Rama's qualities are well explained, his love for justice, his good conduct and behaviour towards people, his exemplary love for his wife, etc. All the good teachings are already explained in the six chapters of Valmiki's Ramayana. The last chapter containing the banishment of Sita to the forest to live in the ashram of Valmiki does not make any sense and does not look at all to be a logical continuation of chapter six. As Valmiki's Ramayana is the oldest version, all other Ramayanas created later on, even they might integrated very well into the new version the disputed last chapter of Valmiki's Ramayana, this integration is really non relevant. This is a statement on logical grounds.

But there is also a spiritual ground that is even more relevant. Why Lord Vishnu as Lord Rama has to banish his beloved Lakshmi Devi as Sita Devi? The goal of vanquishing the forces of evil has been achieved. Reconstruction of moral values of the new humanity had started and Dharma was revitalized. The Lord did not come to teach humanity that God could listen to the nonsense of folk people and fulfill their gossiping by taking the decision to banish to the forest his beloved eternal Shakti. Ramayana is a story of bravery, dignity and moral values of the Hindu Dharma and has nothing to do with an intrigue that is a way of life at the level of village people. It was such an intrigue inserted in the Ramayana story that basically triggers the so-called banishment of Sita by Rama in order to make happy his subjects.

This act cannot be Dharma, but just another trick of the forces of evil that were able to modify the original Ramayana of Valmiki and create confusion for the prophecy to be fulfilled later on. This confusion has created a lot of anguish over many centuries, people trying to find an explanation of Rama's act of banishing Sita on moral grounds of Dharma in various ways. But these kinds of explanations are really nonsense, the so-called banishment of Sita is another trick forces of evil play.

By coming to earth in order to teach Dharma, the Lord has clearly indicated from the core of Ramayana of Valmiki his exemplary love for his eternal wife. The whole episode of banishing Sita to the forest by God Himself does not look to be a valuable teaching at all. Such an end to a beautiful love story will throw humanity in chaos and the whole lesson to humanity done by Lord Rama after such a great effort will be seen as futile. If Rama as God is not able to protect his own wife who else is able to do this then? After all, after such a great war and destruction occurred in order to save his wife, it appears without any consistency that he will decide to depart with his beloved wife because some people in a village do question her chastity according to their village rules. By doing this Rama's status as hero would be considerably diminished and unable to recover no matter what other acts of virtues he might do in the future for his subjects in kingdom of Ayodhya.

Rama's separation from Sita will deny his very quality as God and the embodiment of Bhakti because the consort is inseparable from him. The whole Hindu tradition has a firm foundation in Bhakti and the belief that major gods have the dual inseparable aspect as male and female. Divine love goes beyond the common understanding, there is no way of separation of a divine couple and there is no valuable teaching to follow without a happy end to a love story. This is Sanatana Dharma of the spotless eternal love of Sri Rama and Sita