Lord Ram, the slayer of the demon king
Ravan who held his wife captive, is regarded by millions of people
today (not necessarily Indians) Ďas a deity, a subject for literature,
and an example of moral excellence'. As an incarnation of Vishnu
and as one of the most well-known protago-nists in Indian epic poetry (e.g.
Valmiki's Ramyan and Tulsidas's Ramcharitamanas) he has almost become
an integral part of the mythology of countries beyond the frontiers of
India, where he is regarded as the Universal Spirit as well as a Personal
God who manifests himself in human form for the well-being of his devotees
on earth. He is the compassionate lord of beauty, power, and virtue. The
true nature and being of Ram, it is said, "transcends all utterance, wisdom,
and knowl-edge." He is, according to Tulasidas, beginning less, endless,
limitless, changeless, and beyond all description. He is pure consciousness
and Pure Bliss; the Very light untouched by illusion.
He is Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer
of the universe-Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh rolled into one - as well as
an excellent man, Purusottam. Although chandra seems to connect him with
the moon, he is not, like Krishna and Balaram, of the lunar but of the
solar race of kings. He forms the seventh Avatar of Vishnu and is the hero
of the Ramyan, who, to recover his faithful wife Sita, advanced southwards,
killed the demon Ravan, and subjugated his followers, the Rakchases, poetical
representa-tives of the barbarous aborigines of the south.
Ravan is one of the worst of the many
impersonations of evil common in Hindu mythology. He has ten heads and
twenty arms, symbolizing strength. This power was, as usual, acquired by
self inflicted austerities, which had obtained from Brahma a boon, by virtue
of which Ravan was invulnerable by gods and divine beings of all kinds,
though not by men or a god in human form. As Vishnu became incarnate in
Ramchandra to destroy Ravan, so the other gods produced innumerable monkeys,
bears, and various semi-divine animals to do battle with the legions of
demons, his subjects, under Khara, Dusana, and his other generals
Lord Ram stands out as the most glorious of all characters found,
in scriptural literature. In the Ramyana sage Valmiki has symbolised Ram
as an ideal of perfection.
No other character has been described with such idealistic perfection
displayed in all aspects of life in a single individual.
The human personality consists of different facets functioning in
diverse aspects of life. In most human beings only one or two of these
facets are well-developed. The rest lack perfection. In the life of Ram
each facet of human personality is seen projected to absolute perfection.
Thus the various roles that Ram played in his lifetime were of idealistic
perfection. He was a perfect son, an ideal king, a true husband, a real
friend, a devoted brother, a noble enemy etc. While painting the picture
of each facet of his personality, Valmiki would not compromise with its
highest standard of perfection. Consequently when the sage high-lighted
one facet of Ram's personality to absolute perfection he could not do justice
to the other aspects. That explains why some critics read certain apparent
inconsistencies in the divine character of Lord Ram.
Lord Ram carried his bow and arrows all the time. This symbolises
his alertness and readiness to fight against iniquity and thus establish
justice and peace. Iniquity will always be there in this world. By his
example Ram gives mankind strength and conviction to fight it. Man ought
not to be weak and accept unrighteousness passively. He has to rise actively
against anything that is inconsistent or contrary to righteousness or morality.
That is called aggressive goodness. Ram, Krishna and all other gods wielded
weapons which symbolised this quality that man needs to develop. They stand
for righteousness and oppose and destroy all that is
unrighteous. Thus throughout the Ramyan there
are several such actions and anecdotes expressing the divine brilliance
of the ideal personality of Lord Ram