The Meaning of Ram Navami

April 2006

Ram Navami is the birthday of Bhagwan Shri Rama. On this beautiful birthday of Bhagwan Rama, let us ask ourselves the meaning of his birth. What lessons do we learn from the Ramayan, from the glorious example of Bhagwan Rama's life?

Bhagwan Rama exemplified the perfect person; he showed us how to embody the divine on Earth, how to live our lives in accordance with dharma and the divine principles.

The story of the Ramayan is a classic, eternal, universal message of dharma versus adharma, of deva versus demon.

Ravana was a brahmin; he was a great vedic scholar who wrote numerous works on scriptural philosophy. He was powerful, dynamic, and beautiful in appearance. As the brilliant, handsome king of Lanka he had everything one would need to be happy and peaceful. Yet, what made him a demon? He was arrogant, egoistic, greedy and lustful. His insatiable desires led him to crave more and more power, more and more money, and more and more beautiful ladies to fulfill his every whim.

Covetous desires can never be fulfilled, and the ceaseless quest for them brings only frustration. Therefore, regardless of how smart we are, how rich we are, or how beautiful we are, we are demons if our hearts are filled with anger and greed. This is, in essence, the difference between Bhagwan Rama and Ravana. Both were kings; both were learned in the scriptures; both were charismatic; both were beautiful. What makes Rama a god and Ravana a demon?

There is one main difference: Bhagwan Rama's heart overflowed with love, generosity, humility, and a sense of duty. Ravana's heart, in contrast, was filled with avarice, hatred, and egoism. Under Bhagwan Rama's divine touch, the animals became his devotees and his divine helpers. Under Ravana's touch, even humans became animals.

But we ask, how to be like Bhagwan Rama? How to be godly and peaceful and righteous? How to win the "war of Lanka" within ourselves? Bhagwan Rama has given us the perfect example through his life and his actions. The way to attain divinity, the way to be "perfect," the way to be in peace instead of pieces, is to follow his clear example.

Bhagwan Rama's primary message is: fulfill your duty without any selfish motives; put other people before yourself. When he was exiled to the forest, Bhagwan Rama did not complain, "but that's not fair." He did not fight back in anger. Rather, he helped his father fulfill a promise; he lived according to his duty as a son and as a future king. He did not once think about himself, his own comforts, his own "rights." Rather, he abided by his dharma and his duty.

Ravana's ego led to his own demise, first the demise of his spirit and heart and then the demise of his body. He thought he was the one who ran everything. He thought that he was the "doer" of it all. On the other hand, Bhagwan Rama was always humble, and he never took credit for anything. Even after he victoriously slew Ravana, he reported it to Sitaji only as, "and this is where Ravana died."

As we celebrate this holiday, as we revel in Bhagwan Rama's birth, let us ask ourselves, "Has the Rama taken birth inside us? Has the good in our hearts taken birth?" Ram Navami is not only a holiday about Bhagwan Rama. It is a holy day, about examining ourselves. Life is so short. We never know when the end will come. For how long do we want to let Ravana live in us? For how long do we want to be controlled by Ravana? We must give birth today to Bhagwan Rama in our hearts.

May God bless you all.

In the service of God and humanity,

Swami Chidanand Saraswati







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