North Texas Hindu Mandir
Rama-Navmi is an annual religious celebration commemorating the coming of Sri Rama of the famed Ramayana, Prince of the soar dynasty. A significant and highly revered occasion. Rama-Navmi is observed every year on the ninth day of the bright half of the Hindu Lunar month of Chitra, when Hindus all over the world give thanks to mark the golden age of Sanatan Dharma and pay homage to the Lord for His manifestation in the Avtara of Sri Rama. Some of the theological principles upon which Rama-Navmi is based are:
The coming of Sri Rama was prophesied ages before by Rishis, such as Vishwamintra, Vashishta, Narada and Gautama. His coming would fulfill the revealed Vedas and demonstrate the Codes of Conduct of a civilized society, in the personality and actions of the perfect man.
Sri Rama's coming was also known by Guha, a great grammarian and diplomat, whose livelihood was rowing people across the Ganges in his boat. By the power of his devotion and faith he was able to recognise Divinity. Guha very courteously and humbly persuaded the Lord Sri Rama to allow him the opportunity to wash and worship His feet, saying:
When Guha was offered remuneration he declined saying, Lord I have only taken you across the ocean of physical existence into thy spiritual realm.
Having set up the foundation of the Vedas which was revealed to the ancient seers, the codes of conduct, the formula for a perfect, ideal society was established.
The question was whether any human being living an ordinary life, be it King of the Kingdom or a dweller in the forest could live up to these Vedic codes! The Rishis themselves sought the coming of a Divine man who would embody these codes and it was decided that his man would be put to the most harsh and imaginable test.
His decisions and action in each situation would then become the foundation upon which men of all walks of life could build. Rama became the simple medium to those who found the Vedas too complex. One can therefore imagine, Tulsidas's great compulsion to translate Valmiki's Sanskrit Ramayana into the Vernacular Hindi, making the spirit of the Vedas directly accessible by the ordinary man, devotee and seeker of humanitarian values. Sri Krishna sayeth in the Bhagvad Gita.
In performing Karma Yoga in the Rama Avtara, the Lord saves man from perishing. The epic illustration of Rama addresses, investigates and completes the strata of human experiences. The quest for tangible expressions of abstract Vedic injunctions are realized and in some instances provide situations deeply profound. The question of FAITH for instance, can be fairly addressed through discussion and debate. The foundation of Faith must also be based on dissent. These are elements Sri Rama provide within the Rama-Avtar.
Rama's coming is based on the ascension of unrighteousness during the Treta Yug by Ravana. Ravana's quest for immortality obtained him a boon whereby his death would not be possible at the hands of anyone except man and monkey, for these he feared not. His security in this acquired boon enabled him to unleash a reign of terror and tyranny throughout the many regions bringing tremendous privations, distress and suffering to honest and God-loving men and women. The Bhagvad Gita says:
In observing Rama-Navmi spiritual aspirants from all walks of life reaffirm those Vedic values established by Sri Rama. Their need is implicit for instituting these values individually and communally. By His actions Sri Rama beckons man towards the natural codes of conduct enunciated by the Vedas.
Sri Ram was a good son whose unique relationship with His parents expressed love, regard, respect and adoration. The bond, cemented by love and compassion, was immeasurable and His father Dasratha suffered tremendous agony at Rama's departure to fourteen years of exile in the forest.
Rama was a great archer and skilled in the use of weapons. He protected the weak and rendered assistance to those in need. His equanimity in dealing the citizens of Ayodhya earned Him their complete love, respect and loyalty, thus Ayodhya mourned His departure to Banvas. Rama was a loyal and faithful husband whose love for His consort Sita is beyond the expressive capacities of the best of poets. He fell in love with Sita from the moment they met in the gardens of Janakpura. Their reciprocal and victorious love is symbolic of the Jayamala in Sita-Vivah. Their love for each other in the Grihastya Ashram grows stronger day by day and is further strengthened under adverse conditions of banishment in the Dandaka forest.
Rama and His brothers expressed and exchanged mutual love and respect. This love is manifest in Lakshmana's desire to accompany Him into exile. So great is the bond between Rama and Bharata that while Rama was in banishment for fourteen years, Bharata chose to remain in Ayodhya as an ascetic instead of ascending the throne of Ayodhya. At their meeting at chitrakut, "RAMA BHARATA MILAP", Sri Rama was overcome with sorrow at Bharata's grief and both brothers being overwhelmed with sadness, wept in the strange test of fate. Such is towards the ideals of brotherhood when celebrating Rama-Navmi.
Sri Rama exemplifies the highest virtue of friendship with Hanumana. His first meeting with Hanumana at the Rishyamuka mountains was with profound respect and regard. Having discovered Rama after his life long search, Hanumana supplicated and bowed to Rama's feet seeking forgiveness for not recognizing the Lord, upon which Sri Rama embraced him. It was the birth of a most trusted friendship. It would be none other than Hanumana who would communicate between Rama and Sita bringing solace to both of them in their hour of separation. Students of the Vedas may find the instance of Hanumana as an elevating extension of the friendship between Indra and Vrikshakapi.
The observance of Rama-Navmi is one which also involves WORSHIP. When God is worshipped man admires in Him those qualities which are worthwhile. "He who worships greatness, himself is great." When we admire God's Divinity and Love we then imbibe Divinity and Love. We are likened to what we admire. Similarly, emotions are strengthened by expressions, such as when we embrace a loved one or doing Puja or Hawan. In worship we sing "Jai Jai Rama, Jai Sri Rama, ("Hail the Lord, Glory be to God"). Although the virtue is ascribed to God, our expressed admiration of what is worthy and worthwhile increases the quality in ourselves.
When Rama-Navmi is observed human beings from all walks of life re-affirm their belief in Sri Rama and aspire to these codes, propounded by the Vedas. The Kingdom of Rama Rajya is a vision of the ideal society. The citizens within that Raaj have reached maturity of judgment and adhere to the Laws of the Vedas, illustrated and expressed in the life and actions of Sri Ramachandra.
This excerpt is from The Golden Teachings of Hinduism Dharmik Prakash by Pandit Brahm Jairam and appeared in the March 31, 1994 issue of the CHANT Newsletter.