The queen of festivals is here! Deepawali is the day when Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years of exile. He had vanquished many demons including Ravana. To celebrate Rama’s homecoming, the people of Ayodhya lit diyas filled with ghee, on this dark Amavasya (no moon) night. They lit up the pathway for the Lord.
Both Rama and Ravana had immense knowledge. Both knew 38 languages. The Lord coupled his knowledge with wisdom and benevolence, for the good of the people. Ravana abused his knowledge due to greed, lust and ego. Knowledge is always good. How we use our knowledge is what makes the difference. When Ravana abducted Devi Sita, his wife Mandodari tried hard to dissuade him. But Ravana did not listen.
Rama was Maryada Purushottam. He was the ideal man who personified perfection in all the roles that he played. As an ideal son, he obeyed the wishes of his step mother Kaikeyi, so that the honour of his father remained untarnished.
As an ideal brother, when Bharata come to the forest to meet Lord Rama, Lakshmana doubted his intentions. But Rama said that there was no brother as devout as Bharata. Rama projected Bharata as his successor and also appreciated the capabilities and commitment of Shatrughana in protecting Ayodhya. There was no sibling rivalry whatsoever.
As an ideal husband, he promised Sita that she would be the only women in his life. Most kings had many wives then. When Sita was abducted, he pinned for Sita just as much as she did for him.
Rama was the ideal king. At the time of marriage, the priest directed Rama to promise to keep the interests of his wife supreme. But Rama said that I am not an ordinary man. I will be a king. The interests of my kingdom will be supreme. If the interests of Sita are in conflict with those of my kingdom, I shall choose my kingdom. He did not even agree to take Kanya daan. He said that as a King, I do not take daan. I only give daan. So the priest had to modulate the marriage vows for Rama.
Rama was an ideal enemy too! He was benevolent to Vibhishana and Bali. When Vibhishana took refuge in Rama’s camp, everyone opposed it. But Rama said that he would give sharan to any Sharanagati. He was considerate even towards Ravana. After Ravana died, Rama respectfully returned his mortal remains to his family.
Diwali is the time to delve into and immerse in the beautiful story of Ramayana and learn from the great character of Rama. Every time I read the Ramayana or watch it on TV, there is something new to learn from it. It never fails to enthral.
How many times in our lives have we wished each other, ‘Happy Deepawali’? Have we ever paused to understand the meaning of this greeting? The greeting means much more than enjoying sweets, holidays, card parties, shopping, gifting, new clothes etc. It is about celebrating and enunciating the fact that goodness is the greatest thing to emulate. Just as we clean our homes, we need to cleanse our persona and rid it of greed, anger, jealousy, ill will etc. Just as we light diyas, we need to light up our persona with qualities like devotion, empathy, a helping attitude etc. God resides in the Hridya-Mandir (heart) of a devotee. But if only the Hridya-Mandir is cleansed and illumined!
We are passionate about the Ramayana but if we don’t pass on the passion to our children, the Ramayana shall become just another story. Do think about this and find time to watch/read/listen to the Ramayana today. Let’s strive to purify our hearts and light a lamp within, to welcome the Lord therein! That’s the real lamp to light! This Diwali, let’s radiate light and love! Happy Diwali!
A slightly concise version of this piece has been published in the HT on Diwali day, 12.11.2023. It can be viewed here https://www.hindustantimes.com/cities/chandigarh-news/sunrays-learning-from-lord-rama-invoking-one-s-inner-light-101699725975255.html