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Report: Sri Ram Navami

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Divine Life Society of South Africa celebrated the auspicious Sri Ram Navami at its Ashrams and some branches on Thursday 30 March 2023. Preceding Sri Ram Navami was the week-long Ramayan Week, from Wednesday 22 March until Wednesday 29 March 2023, during which daily Satsangs were held at the Society's Ashrams, glorifying Lord Rama. At Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills, Ganga Arati commenced at 5.30pm followed by Satsang on Sri Ram Navami. The programme comprised Kirtans, Bhajans, a Ramayan Recital and a message from our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda.

Both our Divine Master, Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda had great love and reverence for Lord Rama, and glorified Him at every opportunity. The Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram Mantra holds a special place for devotees of the Society. The Master's reverence for Lord Rama is evident in the following excerpt from his book, Essence of the Ramayana. The Master wrote, "Sri Rama's life was a life of holy obedience, of stainless purity, of matchless simplicity, laudable contentment, commendable self-sacrifice and remarkable renunciation. He paid equal respect to his mother and his stepmothers and revered his Guru".

In Sri Swami Sivananda's Ram Navami message read at Sivanandashram, Reservoir Hills and many of our Ashrams and branches, the Master described the glorious personality of Lord Rama, the devotion of Sri Hanuman to Lord Rama, the role of women in Hindu Dharma, Mother Sita's purity, brotherly love between Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Bharata, ethics of the Ramayana, and Lord Rama's Rama Rajya in relation to society and to one's own inner growth and transformation. He said, "Deep and unfathomable like the ocean, firm and steadfast like the Himalayas, valiant like Vishnu, he was the joy of Kaushalya. Though fierce like fire on the battlefield, he was calm like the cool breeze of the Mandara Hills, patient like Mother Earth, bounteous like Kubera, the God of Wealth, and righteous like Dharma, the Lord of Justice himself. In pain or grief of his people, his heart swiftly sympathised with the sufferer. In the festive scenes which held them in joy, he, like a father shared their joy. By his honour and heroism, as well as by his gentleness and love for his subjects, he endeared himself to the heart of his people".

The Master's deep and profound advice to aspirants and devotees, exhorting all to make Lord Rama the cornerstones of our lives, is both inspirational and reassuring. The Master assures us as follows, "Think of Lord Rama, and your entire being is pervaded by a thrill of joy and peace - the joy and peace that belongs to Rama Rajya. Forget not that Lord Rama who took the human form out of mere play and in order to place before man an ideal of human perfection, was in reality the Supreme Brahman Himself.

"Whatever be your attitude towards the Lord, if you think of Him and Him alone intensely, Moksha is certain. Narada states this fact very clearly in his Bhakti Sutras. Even Vaira-Bhakti, where intense hatred for the Lord is produced, leads one to His lotus Feet. In this kind of Bhakti, the mind is pervaded by the thought of the Lord so fully that the one who hates the Lord sees Him alone everywhere. What then to say of those who have intense loving devotion to His Feet! No doubt about it; it leads one to eternal bliss and supreme peace.

"Establish the Rama Rajya in yourself; when each individual thus converts himself into a walking, talking and moving Ram Rajya, then the entire world will be converted into one huge Rama Rajya".

The Master further explains that the essentials of Rama Rajya have been wonderfully laid before us in the Ramayana. These essentials, explains the Master, are truth, purity, an indomitable will to conquer evil, an unshakable faith in and adherence to Dharma, obedience, forbearance, sympathy and love, all of which constitute Lord Rama. The Master affirms that with the birth of these in us, we can be sure that Lord Rama has enthroned Himself in our hearts.

In reference to the role of women in this age, Sri Swami Sivananda says, "Every woman should get before herself the ideal of Sita to perfection. Pativrata Dharma is the only Dharma for a woman. She need not perform austerities or observe other Vratas. She need not practise Yoga or engage herself in worship of the Lord. If a woman sticks to this one Pativrata Dharma she gets Mukti easily. Her might then becomes unchallengeable. Even gods will bow to her, and the elements will obey her commands. O fashionable woman, O immodest lady, turn away from the path which leads to ruin; follow Sita's example. You will be ever remembered, even as Sita is".

Rama Rajya, according to the Master, was an ideal that modern thinkers, leaders and statesmen can aspire to. Sri Swami Sivananda says, "Rama Rajya was based on truth. Dharma as its foundation. Shastras were the guiding principles. Rishis, Yogis, Munis and Brahma Jnanis were the guiding lights. The Vedas were always respected and followed. Therefore, Rama Rajya endured and prospered. And, it is even now spoken of as the most perfect form of government. Here is a lesson for all the rulers of the world. If you base your government on true religion, on Dharma and on eternal verities, the government will be an ideal one, and all your subjects will enjoy peace and prosperity; if you build it on shifting sands of materialism, then the structure will collapse, destroying the inhabitants. Learn a good lesson from the Ramayana. Abandon the path that your perverted intellect impels you to tread. May the blessings of Lord Rama be upon you all"!

The clarion call of the Master in this poignant message, sums up the essence of Ram Navami and the Ramayana. Indeed, we can all aspire to emulate the qualities of Lord Rama, Mother Sita, Sri Hanuman and Lakshmana. The Master boldly says, "Who can gauge even by thought Bharata's devotion to the Lord's lotus Feet and Lakshmana's vigilant service? Hanuman and Lakshmana should be your ideals of service. Utter selflessness and total dedication to the Lord and thence-forward carrying out His will as an instrument in His hands - that is the secret of success through work. Body, mind and soul, are all laid at His Feet; friends, family, nay, the entire world dwindles into an airy nothing before Him. It is then that you enjoy supreme felicity. You become an Aptakama; you have obtained whatever there is to be obtained. No more are you assailed by wants and desires. Fear, cowardice and other evils which have their root in greed disappear. You can work wonders".

True! Sri Swami Sivananda and Pujya Swami Sahajananda, the living embodiments of all that Lord Rama and the Ramayana taught, are shining examples for us: laymen and preachers, novices and professionals, beggars and aristocrats, the ignorant and the learned. They taught us the path of truth, justice, love, righteousness and compassion.

Perhaps no other figure, character or legend has had an impact on civilisation as much as Lord Rama and the Ramayana did. The life and teachings of Lord Rama have found resonance, relevance and reference in the lives of mankind of the past, present, and will certainly do so for millennia. May Lord Rama enthrone our hearts, minds and lives always.

Last modified on Thursday, 06 April 2023 06:58
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