Ramanavami

Ramanavami is the birthday of Lord Rama.  It is a major Hindu festival celebrated all over the country by devout Hindus, both Vaishnavas and Shaivas.  Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, was born on the ninth day of the bright half of the Chaitra (March – April) in Ayodhya, in the Treta Yuga, the second Age.  There is ond god, Desireless, Formless, Uncreated, True Being, Consciousness and Bliss, the Supreme Spirit, the all pervading.  His shadow is the world.  Who incarnates himself as Rama or Krishna and does many things, only for the love that he bears to the mankind, his creation and to his devotees.  Who inhis mercy ever refrains from anger against those whom he loves and knows to be his own? Adi Kavi Balmiki in his celebrated Ramayana describes the advent of Rama thus:
“Then after the expiry of six seasons and on the completion of the twelfth month, on the ninth lunar day of the month of Chaitra under the star Punarvasu, with the Sun, mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus at Aries, Capricorn, Libra, Cancer and Pisces, and when the moon with Jupiter entered Cancer of the Zodiac, Kaushalya gave birth to great and prosperous Rama with mighty arms, rosy eyes and scarlet lips, the joy of Dashratha and the adored of all people.  He bore all auspicious marks on his fair body.”
The Ramayana means the ‘Ways of Rama”.  It is held in the greatest possible reverence because it embodies the best of human ideals.  It is the living sum of Indian character.  As a popular religious epic and great literary work, nothing can inspire and enthusiasm us more than the Ramayana.


A verse in the end of Ramacharitra Manas reads
“There is no age to compare the Age of Iron (Kaliyuga); in it, if a man has only faith and devotes himself to praising Ram’s spotless virtues, he escapes from the sea of birth and death without further trouble.  Religion has been revealed with four feet, in the iron Age one is of the most importance; to whomsoever God has given let him practice alms giving and prosper.”
A fair idea of Ramayana’s immense popularity can be had from the fact that there are about 350 versions of it in Hindi alone, and the name of Rama, as “Rama! Rama!”or “Jai Ramji Ki!” is common form of salutation among the masses. The Ramanavami festival offers to us all an opportunity to imbibe at least some of the ideas and spirit enshrined in the ways of Rama.  On this great day, Lord Rama is prayed to and worshipped.
This is the surest means to be able to follow in his ideals.  One who approaches his lotus feet with love devotion and humility becomes noble, large hearted, pious, peaceful, master of senses and beloved of the wise.  On this scared day, one should observe fast and practice charities.  One should visit a temple of Rama early in the morning after ablutions, bath, etc.  Every Hindu home, according to availability, has set aside some space.  In it is put a picture of Lord Ram.  Every member of the family prays to him in the morning.
The birthplace of Sri Rama is Ayodhya.  Great celebrations take place there on this occasion. The temples are decorated.  Ramayana is read and recited.  A grand fair is held.  At other places also, icons of Rama, Sita and hanuman are richly adorned and worshipped.  Other acts of devotion ad pietyare observed. Chanting of holy name of Rama, Sanskritanas and holding of lectures and discourses of Rama’s life and teachings, for the benefit of audience, are common features of the celebrations.
People take vow to devote themselves more to their spiritual and moral evolution on this occasion.  Really, Rama-nam is great magic formula (mantra) and a wish-fulfilling tree (Kalpa vriksha), and must be repeated, recited and meditated upon every now and then. Goswami Tulsidas has said,’Place the name of Rama on your tongue, like a jewelled lamp on the threshold of the door.  There will be light, both inside and out.
Ramanavami is also celebrated as the Vasanta navratra.  The celebration starts from the first lunar day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra.  They last up to Ramanavami. On Ashtami Durga is worshipped. A fast is observed all the nine days. Durga-saptsati is read.  An earthen pitcher filled with water is installed.  Some fast only on the first day and the last day of the period.  Before killing Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana had also performed worship to mother Durga.  To achieve anything worthwhile, seek Mother Durga’s grace.  This is a proper occasion.  Ram and Devi Durga, both symbolise the victory of good over the evil.
Ramayana was composed by Sage Valmiki and contains 24,000 verses in seven Kandas (Balakanda, Ayodhyakanda, Aranyakanda, Kishkindhakanda, Sundarakanda, Yuddhakanda or Lankakanda, Uttarakanda).  Ramanavami is celebrated on theninth day in the bright half of Chaitra.  It represents the birth anniversary of Rama.  The occasion is also used to perform Sita Kalyan or Sita Vivah at the Temples.  Kalyan means auspicious wedding.  It is believed that performance of Sita kalian bestows peace and prosperity to all the devotees.

Ramayana – The Epic Story of Lord Rama

In Treta Yuga, King Dasaratha was the king of Ayodhya.  Ram was the son of Dasaratha and kausalya and the hero of Ramayana. He hailed from the Surya Vamsha (Solar Dynasty), also known as kakutstha dynasty, of King ikshvaku, the forefather of the Raghu Vamsha, Raghu dynasty of King Raghu.  Hence, Rama is also known as Raghupati.  When Rama was quite a boy, Viswamitra came to King Dasaratha.  Demons were pestering the sage in his hermitage. They were not allowing him to perform his yagya.
With the permission of King Dasaratha, Rama, along with his younger brother Lakshmana, went with Vishwamaitra tohis hermitage.  There, Rama killed the demons.  For this, sage Vishwamitra rewarded them with several powerful astras.  Rama and Lakshmana then accompanied Vishwamitra to the city of Mithila, the capital of Kig Janaka.  There he performed the superhuman feat of bending Lord Shiva’s bow (Shiva’s Dhanush).  He married Sita, daughter of King janaka.  Lakshman was married to the other daughter Urmila.  Sri Rama and Lakshman then returned to Ayodhya with their brides.

The Exile

Dasaratha realized that Rama was becoming qualified to rule the kingdom of Ayodhya.  He resolved to install him as Yuvaraja (heir-apparent).  Many years earlier, King Dasaratha had given his youngest wife Kaikeyi two boons.  On the eve of the coronation, her dasi Manthara instigated her to demand those boons.  By one boon, she demanded the banishment of Rama for fourteen years into the ‘Dandakaranya’ jungle.  By the other, she demanded theinstallation of her own son Bharata as Yuvaraja.  Dasaratha was stunned by these demands.  He tried his best to dissuade her from her wicked demands.  But he was obliged to yield at last.  The dutiful son Rama immediately went into exile.  His wife Sita accompanied him.  His devoted brother Lakshman insisted on accompanying him.  To this Rama agreed.

Ravana Factor

Ravana had hymned Shiva for a thousand years loudly.  Shiva gave him the name Ravana.  Although invincible, Ravana’s day of retribution drew near.  Rame was the avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.  He had descended on Earth for his very destruction.  Because of insult to his siser Surpanakha, Ravana had resolved to punish Rama.  He kidnapped Sita.  In this effort, he forced his uncle Maricha to assist him.
After extended wanderings and manifold fruitless inquiries on her whereabouts, Rama and Lakshman met the monkey god Hanumat or hanuman, in the city of Kishkindha.  Hanuman informed them that Sita was in lanka.  Sugreeva, the monkey king of Kishkindha, successfully persuaded Rama to invade the island of Lanka and destroy Ravana.  The army of Vanaras (monkeys) built a bridge across the ocean.
It enabled Rama to cross theocean with his troops.  The bridge is called Ramasetu.  It is a ridge of sand, now called Adam’s bridge, beween the Indian peninsula and Sri Lanka;  Rama conquered Lanka, killed Ravana along with his whole army of demons. Then he installed Vibhishana as king or Lanka.  Ravana was a worthy opponent of Rama.  Hence, the phrase Rama Ravana yoryuddham Rama Ravana yoripu.
Rama, accompanied by Sita and his friends in battle, returned triumphantly to Ayodhya.  There, he was installed as king by the sage Vasishtha.  He reigned long and righteously.  His rule is known as Ram Rajya.  His son Kusa succeeded him.  Ram is said to be the seventh Avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu.