Ramayana is an epic story about King Dasharatha, who had three wives, but no children. Along with his wife Kaushalya, he performed a yagya called Ashwamedha, after which they got four sons.
Dasharatha means one who can run ten chariots at a time; You are Dasharatha; Your body-mind complex is Dasharatha. The ten chariots are the five organs of senses and the five organs of actions. The five organs of senses are eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin. The five organs of action or Karmendriya enable us to interact with the material objects of the world; these organs are hands, feet, organs of ingestion (mouth), organs of excretion (rectum) and organs of reproduction (genitals).
Kaushalya means skill – A skill is required to be able to draw the mind away from the Maya and establish it in the Self!
Ashwa means today; that which was not yesterday, not tomorrow, but “Now….in this present moment“, Ashwa also means horse. Our senses are like horses that keep running in different directions.
Medha means purification
Ashwamedha is when one’s mind and intellect is totally in the present moment free from the anger and regret of the past and free from the anxieties and fears of the future. By being in the present moment, purification happens. When medha, your intellect is so deep in the present moment, nothing can shake it. What can shake your intellect is only the past. If you can snap yourself out of the past every moment, you are free, that is liberation. You are liberated because you have snapped out of the past. This is purification.
Rama – The words “rays, radiance” come from the Sanskrit root word Ra, which means to shine, to radiate, brilliant, light. Ma means within me; in my heart. So, Rama means the light in my heart.
So, when Dasharatha and Kaushalya came together, and performed the Ashwamedha yagya, Rama was born. When the mind-body complex uses some skill and gets into the present moment, purifying the mind and the heart, then Rama, which means, the light in our hearts is born. This is the spiritual significance of Sri Rama’s birth.
Four things come out of you when Ashwamedha is done:
- Rama, which means the light in our heart shines (Born of Kaushalya)
- Lakshmana, means awareness, mindfulness (Born of Sumitra)
- Bharata, means all talents (Born of Kaikeyi)
- Shatrughna, means one who has no enemies (Born of Sumitra)
The first wife’s name is Kaushalya, which means skill. In Hindi, you say ‘Kushalatha’, meaning skillful.
The second wife’s name is Sumitra, which means good friend. There could be many friends, but not all are good friends. Many times, friends drag you in the wrong direction; take you in the wrong way. Sumitra is one who takes you in the right direction.
The third wife’s name is Kaikeyi, one who sacrifices herself and brings benevolence. Kaikeyi is one who stands by your side, although she appears differently; but deep within, she does benevolence, with a cover. It is like a doctor who gives you a bitter medicine, or a vaccination. As soon as the children see him, they start yelling and crying, but the vaccination does good to them. Similarly, Kaikeyi who apparently, outwardly, is not pleasant, but inwardly, does that which is good for you.
So, these are the three wives of Dasharatha.
Ravana means the one who clouds or covers the “light within”,hence Ravana is also called the EGO. The 10 bad qualities, which are represented by 10 heads of Ravana that cover the spirit within are:
- Kama vasana (Lust)
- Krodha (Anger)
- Moha (Attachment)
- Lobha (Greed)
- Mada (Over Pride)
- Matsara (Jealousy)
- Swartha (Selfishness)
- Anyaaya (Injustice)
- Amanavta (Cruelty)
- Ahankara (Ego).
When the mind (Sita) was stolen by Ravana (the ego) then the 10 bad qualities start dominating and cause emotional pollution. This makes the soul (Rama) restless. Now the soul cannot reach the mind on its own, it has to take the help of the breath – the prana. With the help of the prana (Hanuman), the mind (Sita) got reunited with the soul (Rama), and the ego (Ravana) vanished. This is exactly what we do in Sudarshan Kriya 🙂 This is the spiritual significance of the story.
When Sri Rama was building the bridge to Sri Lanka, a lot of monkeys were helping him build it. So the monkeys were picking up stones, writing on the back of the stones Sri Rama and putting it in the water. When they put the stones in the water, they would float. Again, this has a spiritual significance. When the name of the Lord is with you, you will not sink in society, you won’t sink but you will float through the ocean of misery.
All the monkeys were writing Sri Rama, and all their stones were floating. When Sri Rama saw this, he was so surprised. He thought, ‘What? These stones are floating!’ He wanted to try it himself. So he took a stone, wrote Sri Rama and put it in the water. The stone sank! Sri Rama was surprised.
One monkey was sitting there and watching, and he started laughing. Sri Rama was a little embarrassed. The laughing monkey said to Sri Rama, ‘Those who you throw away from your hands, how they will float? They will only sink!’ This is to say that the devotees are so much more powerful than the Lord himself; devotees can do so much more than the Lord himself.