SPECIAL lectures

Ramayana - A Brief Contextual Setting

His Holiness Vedavyasapriya Swami Maharaj talks about Ramayan and how to deal with the Devotional Service as conducted in character of Lord Ramachandra and His associates like Mother Sita, Laksman, Bharat, Shatrughna and Hanuman. This is a partial transcription of a three part series of lectures given in May 2009 in Australia.


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om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
om namo bhagavate vasudevaya

So, I'm here for three days more, so I was thinking we should talk about Ramayana and how to deal with the devotional service as conducted in the character of Lord Ramachandra and his associates like Sita, Laksman, Bharat, Shatrughna and Hanuman.

So many different characters come in exalted relationship with the lord.

What is the difference of the Absolute Truth when he represents only partial truth in the form of Amsha (fraction of a portion), Kala(expansion) (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.28), but yet he accomplishes the necessary function to re-establish the codes of religion back?

So, Lord Krishna in the form of Lord Ramachandra is the subject matter of Ramayan (Sri Brahma-samhita 5.39). How would one say that Lord Krishna is Lord Ramachandra, or Lord Krishna descended as Lord Ramachandra?

If you take the authorities of Brahma, Shiva, (and) Narada, these are exalted personalities, and in (the) realm of disseminating the Absolute Truth. Absolute Truth is one without second. But, we understand through the gradual development.

First we receive partial realization, then we receive something of is omni-prescence realization, and then we perceive in the Personality aspect (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.11). So if the Absolute Truth is one, then who would be that Personality who totally satisfy the character of the principle of the Absolute Truth? That is the subject matter of transcendental literatures (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.11).

Ramayan is not only a story. It's a transcendental literature, because the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself descended (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.10.2-3). But how He descended, in what particular way He descended, that is to be understood.

To read the story is one thing. We may not understand how the divinity is working. Things are very inconceivable, but we simply accept without proper reasoning. But if we study it's a different matter altogether (Bhagavad-gita 4.34). Because if you read something you get at the best understanding, but if you employ this understanding in your life you will realise (Bhagavad-gita 8.8), understanding is not knowledge, realisation is the real knowledge. It takes so much effort to gain knowledge. Most of the people do not gain knowledge, because they do not put into practice.

So, (the) subject matter (is) Ramachandra's character, (the) ideal character that he played as a human being, and that to uphold the truth, which is related to the Absolute Truth. It must not be an ordinary thing. It should be taken as a regular study, not simply a reading matter. We hear 'Ram Katha' without proper understanding conveyed that leaves us only to understand the super human pastimes of the Lord. But, we fail to understand by such hearing that why these pastimes are to be accepted as the Absolute Truth, because Absolute Truth is not a matter of this material world.

Absolute Truth is descended. Now He descended as a person, how to reconcile the truth and person? Knowledge and the knower, if that can be accepted without the knower the knowledge is useless. So without the Absolute Truth, Bhagavan is useless. When people fail to understand the Bhagavan aspect of the Absolute Truth they will make anybody and everybody Bhagavan. It means the knowledge is absent.

The Absolute Truth is to be received (Bhagavad-gita 4.2), and then we can understand how it is non-distinguishable from the Personality of Godhead. And when He descends, like Lord Ramachandra (Brahma-samhita 5.39), and exhibits only particular pastimes at not in full and cannot reciprocate, then the Absolute Truth is there.

We may go back home, back to godhead; to Sakhi Dham, by understanding properly and application of devotional service that demands in order to realise that understanding the knowledge. Without knowledge we would not be able to understand properly how the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the Absolute Truth personified descends.

We cannot see Him (Bhagavad-gita 7.25). Knowing is one thing, seeing is another. And if seeing is another thing, then entering into the intricate Lilas is completely out of the world, and out of question (even). In Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains this bhaktya mam abhijanati, yavan yas casmi tattvatah, tato mam tattvato jnatva, visate tad-anantaram, (18.55), "Only by undivided devotional service can I be known as I am".

Bhakti is not an ordinary thing. In Ramayan we will find bhakti (Padma Purana, Sata-nama-stotra of Lord Ramacandra 8, quoted in Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 9.29). In other Puranas denoted to the other demigods we will not find bhakti (Bhagavad-gita 7.22-23).

In Ramayan we will find bhakti. In Bhagavad-gita it is a treatise of bhakti. In Srimad Bhagavatam we will find bhakti (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.7.7)

So, today we are trying to understand very important aspect of the Ramayana. And it is not (a) fictitious story or a story like fairy tale understanding or without proper understanding we simply accept blindly, as if it is not applicable in our life. 'Oh, Dasarath Maharaj and others, they were in Treta Yuga, just they were upholding the truth'. But what truth, what is it related to?

And Lord Ramachandra came to uphold the truth, means, he would not, what do they say? 'Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye. Even though my life is taken away but I will not give up 'Vachan'? Vachan means what? Ordinary Vachan? Can you sacrifice your entire life for some kingdom? Some think, no, that is not correct, 'Ramachandra did not do that way'.

So we should study all these things, very important episodes that are coming. And we have to know them in the relationship of the Absolute Truth (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.5.12).