Monday, May 7, 2012

The Ramayana: A Pillar of Righteousness by Gayatri Sadachar

Group 3 [Age 12-15 yrs]
Gayatri Sadachar- Chandler,AZ
Age: 15 yrs

The Ramayana: A Pillar of Righteousness 
Shree Krishna states in the BhagvadGeeta, 
“Yadayada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanama dharmasya tadatmanam srijamyaham” (4.7). 
So in other words, whenever there is a decline in righteousness and an increase in irreligion, God takes an avatar to eliminate all evil and steer people onto the right path. Likewise, the Ramayana depicts the story of when Lord Vishnu descended onto Earth as Shree Ram and promoted good behavior and values through his conduct. Though the situations in the Ramayana are not as similar as to those of today, the same conflicts are still present and applicable today. The Ramayana and its characters stand as a pillar of righteousness. Thus, in times of mental turmoil one can refer to it and learn many valuable morals.                                                                                                                                    By reading the Ramayana, one can learn many morals. One of which is that it is the utmost duty of a person to fulfill his/her commitments. For King Dasharatha, that includes going to the extent of exiling one’s beloved son for fourteen years. Though he suffered and died in fulfilling his promise, he died an honorable man who kept his word and performed his dharma. That situation in which a conflict between duty and attachment arises, shows how attachments must be set aside and that one should fulfill promises no matter how challenging because it is one’s duty or dharma. Shree Ram upheld his father’s honor and performed his duty by actually agreeing to go live in exile. It is admirable how Shree Ram, who was going to be crowned the next King of Ayodhya sacrificed his kingship and readily agreed to be exiled for the sole purpose of respecting his father’s promise. This emphasizes the importance of leaving everything aside and performing one’s duty. So, from the ideal actions of Ram and Dasharatha, one can learn and realize the importance of doing one’s duty by fulfilling commitments.                                                                    
The moral that one must not be greedy by accepting something that is not rightfully theirs is also emphasized in the Ramayana. Though Keikeyi’s son Bharat had been crowned the next King of Ayodhya after Ram had been exiled, he did not accept the kingship because it was morally wrong. Bharat could have easily, happily, and greedily took over the kingdom, but because he respected his older brother Ram and knew that the throne rightfully belonged to Ram, he refused to rule as king. Instead, in order to fulfill his dharma to his kingdom while also not disrespecting Ram, he took his brother’s shoes, placed them on the throne, and ruled alongside representatively. Bharat serves as an ideal example of a righteous person and the moral that can be learned is that one should be just and accept only what he/she rightfully deserves.                          
Another important moral that can be learned through the Ramayana, is depicted through the story of Shabri and Ram. It is the moral that God accepts any offering which is given with sincere devotion regardless of caste and creed. Now Shabri, a sincere devotee of Ram and also a woman of a low caste, was overjoyed when her lord came to meet her at her ashram. And as a token of devotion towards her lord, she offered him berries. However, before offering Ram berries, she tasted all of them and gave Ram the sweetest ones. Lakshman was surprised however Shree Ram readily and happily accepted her offering due to being overwhelmed by her devotion towards him. The moral that can be learned and that is expressed in this part of the Ramayan is how God accepts even the smallest and simplest offerings regardless of caste and creed. And that God loves unconditionally and values the amount of devotion and sincerity behind the offering.                     
Another moral that one can learn from the Ramayana, is to always support righteousness and the truth because good always triumphs over evil. Even if it means fighting against your family members just as Vibheeshana did by siding with Ram and going against his brother Ravan.  Vibheeshana was in great conflict because on one side he had his brother and on the other side he had his principles. Vibheeshana, did the right thing by putting his family relations aside and upholding dharma by helping out Ram in the fight against Ravan. He knew that he had to stop his brother’s wrongdoings and so he chose to tread on the path of righteousness. This is commendable as well as risky. Through Vibheeshana, the Ramayana greatly emphasizes how one must take action against the immoral and always side with the truth even if it’s challenging.        So these were some of the many morals depicted in the epic Ramayana. Though the situations in the Ramayana are not relevant today, the conflicts and lessons learned are still applicable today. For example, the morals one learns from the Ramayana that stresses the importance of fulfilling one’s commitments can be applicable to situations between friends. The Ramayana gives us valuable insight on ideal values and ethical behavior as promoted through the ideal characters and inspires us to fulfill our dharma and promote good conduct too. The epic Ramayana is not only a famous mythological story, but also a treasured text that continues to inspire, enlighten, and teach people.

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