The Ramayana of the great sage Valmiki is an authorized presentation of Vedic knowledge. In fact, as we learn from the scriptures, it is an authentic summary of the original Ramayana composed by Lord Brahma. In this regard, Srila Madhvacarya, commenting on the aphorism drsyate to (Vedanta-sutra 2.1.6), quotes the Bhavisya Purana as follows:
rg-yajuh-samatharvas ca bharatam pancaratrakam
mula-ramayanam caiva veda ity eva sabditah
puranani ca yaniha vaisnavani vido viduh
svatah-pramanyam etesam natra kincid vicaryate
"The Rg Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda, Mahabharata, Pancaratra and original Ramayana are all considered Vedic literature. The Puranas that are especially meant for Vaisnavas (such as the Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Naradiya Purana, Visnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana) are also Vedic literature. Therefore, whatever is stated in such Puranas or in the Mahabharata and Ramayana is self-evident. There is no need for interpretation.”
The cardinal teachings of Sri Ramayana can be summarized thus:
(a) Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, nondifferent from Lord Visnu [who is Himself nondifferent from Lord Krsna], the eternal master of the living entities,
(b) one should surrender unto Him fully by:
(1) accepting things favorable for discharging devotional service unto Him,
(2) rejecting things unfavorable,
(3) firmly believing that the Lord will always protect His devotee,
(4) feeling exclusively dependent on the mercy of the Lord,
(5) having no interest separate from the interest of the Lord, and
(6) always feeling meek and humble.
In the Ramayana, like in the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord demands that one surrender unto Him by following these six guidelines and promises to liberate him from the miserable cycle of birth and rebirth. And at the end of the Ramayana, He even demonstrates that He fulfils His promise by publicly delivering His fully surrendered devotees residing in Ayodhya from the cycle of birth and rebirth. This is the central teaching of the Ramayana, as it has been understood in all of the authentic Vaisnava-sampradayas, and as it has been clarified in the Bhagavad-gita by the Lord Himself. This edition of Valmiki Ramayana aims at bringing out this central teaching of the Ramayana so that its readers can fully surrender unto the lotus feet of the Lord and attain an everlasting life of knowledge and bliss in pure devotional service to Him in the spiritual world.
Those who have read the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada would be most benefitted by this edition. And we strongly recommend those who haven't read his books to go ahead and read them, along with their reading of this immortal Ramayana, to better appreciate and understand its spiritual significance.
"Throughout the Vedas and everywhere in the Ramayana, Puranas, and Mahabharata, from the beginning to the middle to the end, the praises of Lord Hari are sung." (Hari-varmsa 3.132.95)
Sri Valmiki Ramayana is one of the foundational scriptural authorities on all aspects of Vedic and Vaisnava philosophy, culture and discipline. As such, this great literature has been a source of knowledge and inspiration to Vaisnavas of the four authentic disciplic successions that stem from the Supreme Lord Himself, and is much loved among all who accept the authority of the Vedic scriptures, even if they happen to be Saivas, Saktas and so on. What to speak of them, even some Buddhists, who officially deny any allegiance to Vedic teachings, revere the Valmiki Ramayana, for it is a true sage's direct perception in samadhi about Rama, the very personification of dharma-ramo vigrahavan dharmah.'
But, Rama is more than that. According to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the cream of all Vedic literature, He is an incarnation of Krsna, the Original Supreme Personality of Godhead:
ete camsa-kalah pumsah krsnas tu bhagavan svayam
indrari-vyakulam lokam mrdayanti yuge yuge
"All of the above-mentioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord, but Lord Sri Krsna is the original Personality of Godhead. All of them appear on planets whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists:' (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.3.28)
And this subject has been clarified by the highest authority in the universe, Lord Brahma himself:
ramadi-murtisu kala -niyamena tisthan
nanavataram akarod bhuvanesu kintu
krsnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, who manifested Himself personally as Krsna and the different avataras in the world in the forms of Rama, Nrsimha, Vamana, etc., as His subjective portions:' (Brahma-samhita 5.39)
But we should not materialistically imagine that the incarnation is substantially inferior to the source of incarnations, for that is also clarified by Lord Brahma in the same Brahma-sarhhita (5.46):
diparcir eva hi dasantaram abhyupetya
yas tadrg eva hi ca visnutaya vibhati
"When the flame of one candle is expanded to another candle and placed in a different position, it burns separately, and its illumination is as powerful as the original candle's. Similarly, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, expands Himself in different forms as Visnu, who is equally luminous, powerful and opulent. Let me worship that Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda."
Therefore, based on the above example of the flame of a candle, we should understand that Krsna, Rama, Nrsimha, Narayana and other Visnu forms of the Supreme Lord are all substantially the same persons, though in particular forms He chooses to exhibit more of His qualities and in other forms He chooses to exhibit less of His qualities.
As such, Sri Valmiki’s Ramayana expounds the transcendental nature and supremacy of Lord Rama by identifying Him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead Narayana and prescribes, in several ways, the absolute necessity of surrendering unto Him. In each of His forms, the Supreme Lord exhibits a certain mood, and in the form of Ramacandra, the son of King Dasaratha, He is famous as maryada-purusottama, the Supreme Person who follows Vedic dharma meticulously for the welfare of one and all.
Since Lord Ramacandra meticulously adheres to Vedic dharma, the Ramayana incidentally reveals the intricate details of the divine system of varnasrama-dharma in its original pure form.
Though there are innumerable renditions of Ramalila, Srila Prabhupada notes that the Ramayana of Maharsi Valmiki is the definitive and authentic account of the pastimes of Lord Rama.
Though the Valmiki Ramayana is book that is popularly read even now, it has been intellectually abused almost to the extent the Bhagavad-gita has been abused. Rama has been often misunderstood to be "the ideal man," or "a human symbol of the sacred divine," and so on, with all such hodgepodge ideologies culminating in philosophies of impersonalism or voidism. But neither the Bhagavad-gita nor the Valmiki Ramayana are meant to be food for one's own mental speculations on the nature of reality. Like the Bhagavad-gita, the Valmiki Ramayana is meant to be understood through the parampara system, or an unbroken chain of spiritual masters and spiritual disciples stemming from the Supreme Lord Visnu Himself. Otherwise, like the Bhagavad-gita, the simple message of the Ramayana cannot be understood.
The central teaching of the Ramayana is that Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the eternal Supreme Lord of all living entities, who because of their aversion to unmotivated and uninterrupted service unto His lotus feet are being subjected to the continuous cycle of birth, death, old age, and disease; therefore, it is in their best interest that they surrender unto His lotus feet. And the Supreme Personality of Godhead is ever ready, out of affection for the living entities, His dear children, to award them all kinds of protection from the miseries imposed upon them by material nature. We should not commit the mistake of thinking that Lord Rama is a conditioned soul like us or even a liberated soul; He is none other than the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself, ever independent and free from the influence of maya.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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