Sri Rama Gita is a beautiful dialogue between Lord Sri Rama and His beloved brother Laksmana. Sri Rama answers universal questions with timeless answers. ‘What is essential Knowledge and the essence of Knowledge? How do we overcome painful attachments? What ensnares and enslaves man? What is the difference between man and God? He ends the discussion with the much talked about bout most misunderstood topic of love-‘What is true love? How can we grow in love, transform with love and attain the highest love?
This valuable message of Sri Rama Gita and its insightful and reader friendly commentary by Swami Tejomayananda is especially relevant for these conflict and contradiction-ridden times.
Pujya Guruji Swami Tejomayananda is an outstanding teacher of Vedanta, with a profound depth beneath his simplicity and humility. He has a simple conviction-to fortify, strengthen and actualise the vision of his Guru, Pujya Swami Chinmayananda.
Swamiji has written commentaries on many texts of Vedanta and authored many original compositions on Vedanta and Bhakti (Devotion).
He is the current head of the Chinmaya Mission-a global spiritual organisation with more than 250 centres worldwide.
Sri Rama Gita is part of the third canto named Aranya Kanda of Sri Rama-carita-manasa.
Aranya means a forest. Like many words in Sanskrit, aranya too has many subtle meanings That which is sought when a person reaches the third stage of life is called aranya (aryate iti). After satisafactorily going through a student’s life (brahmacarya-asrama) and a householder’s life (grhastha-asrama) we enter into the third stages of life, wherein we are expected to retire from worldly pursuits and go the a forest (vana-prastha). One person when advised to leave home said that he need not go the forest as he had named his house Aranya Nivasa! However living at home does create problems after retirement, as by the time a man realises that maybe his father was right, he already has a son who is convinced that he is wrong!
Rana means a battle. Aranya is a place from wars and conflicts. Therefore a forest is a peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of life-ideal for retired people. However for one who is used to a life of comfort and luxury, retiring into forest seems far-fetched. Living away from the family for sometime or spending some time at an asrama seem more plausible.
But there is another side to the forest. There are no laid paths, sign posts or landmarks. So there are many chances of getting lot. We may think that we are making a headway, but we may actually be going round. So we need a guide to lead us out. Often life is like a forest and many of us are lost, without a clue where we are headed. One woman was sure her husband would never reach heaven, as he got lost even on his way back from office!
Also, the forest which appears serene and beautiful in daylight, seems dark and sinister at night. The attractive birds and their melodious twitters are replaced by lurking shadows and eerie sounds. The monkeys and deers that jump and skip give way to prowling and stalking wild beasts. We can get waylaid by robbers and hooted at by owls. The fun and frolick turns to fear and terror much like many modern cities. The world like a forest is full of contradictions. It can be most inspiring and spiritually elevating or quite frightening and worrisome.
The looters and terrorists of today’s world were called raksasas in the past. Raksasa are not some horrible, multi-headed creatures. Some of them were quite good looking and well-dressed. The word raksasa itself tells us who they are . When the first and the last letters of ra + a + ksa + sa is turned around we get the word sa + a +ksa + ra – saksara, meaning one who is educated and intelligent. Raksasas are intelligent people with perverted, misguided and cruel minds. So we need a guide to protect us and guide us through the forest of life in which such people reside.
Saint Tulasidasa compares the world to a forest of delusion, infatuation and confusion (moha-aranya). Lack of right thinking, superimposing of false notions, infatuation of the false and resulting confusion, stress and sorrow, are all experienced in this world. In the forest of Dandaka, Sitaji got infatuated by the golden deer, which was not golden nor a deer. She then sent away Sri Rama, Who symbolises knowledge and right thinking. She falsely accused Laksmana who symbolises dispassion and sent him away as well. She then mistook Ravana dresses as a monk to be a good person. No wonder Ravana who symbolises delusion kidnapped Sitaji who symbolises love and peace. Like Arjuna in the middle of the battlefield of life, we are unable to decide our duties or discriminate between right and wrong and consequently get confused and distressed and become incapable of facing life. We definitely need a Guru to guide us through this forest of delusion.
The solution must be found where the problem exists. Arjuna found his Guru in Lord Sri Krsa, his own charioteer on the battlefield. Laksmana saw his Guru in his own brother Lord Sri Rama, right besides him in the forest. Sri Rama Gita is the unique dialogue between these two great brothers at Pancavati in the Dandaka forest.
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