Dharma Versus Love - From Ramayana
- I have been watching the Ramayana for the second time in a row except for the war scenes. I do not only find great instruction for my own spiritual life, especially in Episode 3 and 4, but I also enjoyed the beauty that revealed itself through the royal family members' love for each other in times of adversity, something I am wondering whether it exists in today's world.
Out of incapacity I am hesitating to introduce the whole, very complex story for those who may not know the Ramayana, but in essence I may say it is about how truth and love triumph over falsehood, intrigue and hostility.
I was rather inspired to transcribe the incredible dialogue between Rama and Bharata that took place in the forest. Rama who was about to be made king at his father's wish, was exiled by mother Kaikeyi, victim of a strong hostile force, which led her to act in favor of her own son Bharata, who instead of accepting the offered kingdom, cries his heart out to bring his brother back home. But Rama sticks to Dharma. King Janaka, also known as a seer, had the impossible task to hold the final argument that he received from his prayer to Lord Shiva.
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King Janaka: "Rama, your resolute adherents to Dharma is such that even the gods bow before you. Dharma is the greatest force that keeps the world stable. The scriptures say: 'Nothing greater than Dharma exists in all three worlds.' We are all bound by it. But love is the only divine ethic that no Dharma can even compel. Love, steadfast, unselfish love, is above all Dharma. When that love reaches its pinnacle in the form of true devotion than God Himself must needs break His own Laws. Breaking all rules of creation he stands hands folded before His devotee. He is bound to keep His devotee's honor. That is why now the scales are heavy in Bharata's favor. Your love wins, Bharata. But remember, love has its own rules, it makes its own laws. Love's true power lies in its being selfless, and when love is selfless it asks for nothing and wants to give to the beloved. For the loved one's happiness and pleasure he wants to give up everything. And so, you now decide what you can give your Rama."
Bharata: "Nothing is greater than life, I can give my life to Rama."
King Janaka: "It's easy to die, but its often hard to live for your loved one. If you are a true devotee, sit at Rama's feet and ask him what would please him and perform as puja whatever be his wish."
Bharata: "Sire, you have lifted the veil of my selfishness. Till now I only thought of my love and my glory and thought that was love. Even then you made me win and granted me true devotion. I am eternally indebted to you. (On his knees): Brother, do command me to perform your will."
Rama: "A victor doesn't sit on the ground. My brother, your love has vanquished me today. I accept the kingdom you have come to give me. But so as not to break father's vow I pray to you to administer the kingdom in my place for 14 years."
Bharata: "But I am an unschooled boy! I can't administer the state."
Rama: "Guruji, noble Sumanta and the other ministers will help you. It will not be hard once you obey Guruji's commands. The work will be easy and I will reclaim the kingdom when I return after 14 years."
Bharata: "Alright then, I will give myself. Perhaps this 14 year waiting will atone for my sins. But remember this well. If you are late even by a day after 14 years I vow by your revered feet you will find Bharata's burning pyre."
Rama: "No, Bharata, no! I promise you, my brother I shall not be late by a day."
Bharata: "Will you give me what I ask for?"
Rama: "Silly boy, ask for my life...I will give you this instantly. What do you want?"
Bharata: "Give me your sandals, brother."
Rama: "My sandals?"
Bharata: "Yes, my brother, this servant will hold your kingdom in trust. Who will adorn the throne in your absence? I will enthrone your sandals as your royal emblem. Only after I worship them daily will I do my work."
He then gently lifted up Rama's sandals and placed them on his head with tears in his eyes and left the forest not knowing how 14 years will ever pass when even a moment apart from his beloved brother appears to be like an eternity. To feel closer to Rama he will later live like an ascetic outside the city for 14 long years.
Here is the link to the episode (episode 28):