The festive season reaches a crescendo as we prepare to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights. It’s a time to celebrate the victory of good over evil and light over darkness. It’s also a time to welcome the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, who is venerated on the darkest night of the year. On this no-moon night, when Sri Ram returned to Ayodhya, the streets were lined with lamps to welcome him back to Ayodhya, and Diwali therefore is a great opportunity to introspect on his exemplary life.
Humility over Hubris
Born a crown prince, Sri Ram had the greatest love and affection for his brothers, even though they were born to the other Queens of King Dashratha, whom he respected just as he did as own mother, Kaushalya. Whether it was his Guru, Rishi Vashishta, or the vanar soldiers in his army, which marched on Lanka, he treated everyone with respect, never letting pride get in the way. Although he was Narayana in human incarnation, he always operated within the rules and limitations that his fellow human beings were subject to, earning him the title Maryadapurshottam, which made him a role model for not just his brothers, but also all of Bharatvarsha to follow.
When Sri Rama was sent into exile at Queen Kaikeyi’s behest, he accepted that as a command, without any malice, rather than harbour any hate or anger for her. Despite all the anguish and pain that Ravana caused him, Sri Ram forgave him in the end. Not just that, after he was slain in battle, Vibhishana was reluctant to perform his last rites. However, Sri Ram counselled him and explained that all the animosity and evil had passed with him, and it was now his dharma to perform his brother’s last rites. This shows Sri Ram’s magnanimity extended not just to his friends and family, but also to his so-called enemies.
Sri Rama was faced with very trying circumstances, but in every situation, he chose to uphold dharma, which meant making no compromises in the role that he faced the situation in, whether that was as a son, a brother or as the King, the protector of his people. Even in exile, he protected the ascetics and rishi’s who lived in the forests and were being attacked by demons, liberating them from the constant terror they lived in.
Emulating Sri Rama in Kalyuga may seem challenging and sometimes even impossible, but so long as we understand the essence of his life and make an honest attempt to abide by his principles, it's safe to say that we will manage to keep the Ravana, both within and without, in check! Jai Sri Ram!