[Advaita-l] Re: Rama and Sambuka

Siva Senani Nori sivasenani at yahoo.com
Mon May 22 05:07:33 CDT 2006

  There had been suggestions that a) Sambuka was sitting facing the South and b) that Sambuka-vadha should be seen as sending Sambuka to heaven. To base any discussion in the actual material, I reproduce below some of the original slokas (the version that I had taken the slokas from has this episode as chapters 63 to 67; whereas the Gita Press edition has them 73 to 76; except for a few not-very-significant differences in the readings, the content is the same). Before that are the views of an eminent scholar, ‘Ramayana Pravachana Sudhakara’, ‘Ramayana Sudhanidhi’, Sri Dr. Mailavarapu Srinivasa Rao, Prinicpal, Sanskrit College, Tenali, Guntur District, AP, as expressed in his Telugu book on the Ramayana, wherein he devotes 8 pages to the justification of Sambuka Vadha.
  His argument is broadly along the following lines:
  1. Death at the hands of the Supreme Lord, Vishnu, indeed results in heaven and so Sri Rama was blessing Sambuka, not punishing him. To support this, he cites the Slokas wherein Rama addresses Sambuka as i) dhanya, ii) suvrata, iii) driDhavikarma, iv) maneeshi, and v) taapasa. Dr. Srinivas Rao comments that the fact that Sri Rama declares him as blessed - dhanyah tvam – indicates the future course of action, and that all the regard shown by Sri Rama only establishes that. However, for those who are not comfortable with reading too much between the lines, all the above could be construed as normal respect shown to a stranger, as in the narrative the tapasvin could be a brahmin, a kshatriya, vaiSya, or a SUdra (as seen in the next point).
  2. In his opinion those who follow svadharma attain heaven, and those – like Sambuka – who follow paradharam, attract the Lord’s wrath, and are killed by him attain moksha. So Sambuka did not attain heaven, but Liberation. He points out that though Sambuka knew Rama’s intentions, he did not protest it. (After locating him, Rama addresses him most respectfully, identifies himself, and says: “If you are a Brahmin, I wish auspiciousness to you; if you are kshatriya, may you be invincible; if you are a SUdra or a vaiSya, speak the truth” – Sambuka replies that he, desiring heaven, does not speak untruth and that he is a SUdra, Sambuka by name.) 
  3. Finally, he quotes the paramaachaarya of Kaanchi, as saying “Sri Rama, as per kshatriyadharma cut off his head; as Sri Maha Vishnu, he granted him liberation. He was so kind that he gave the stealer of his wife many chances to redeem himself; how will such a kind person kill an unarmed person without giving him any chance, if not to Liberate him? This is indeed the secret behind killing him in person, rather than sending somebody else to do the job, as he could so easily have done.”
  There, we have an advaitin’s view, echoing what Sri Vyas said was a Vaishnavite’s view. However, there is no mention of Sambuka being a rakshasa in the elaborate treatment. Curiously he quotes the case of Sabari, a nishaada, and SravaNakumara - who was supposed to be a KaraNa, born of a vaiSya in a SUdra woman - and says that others were also performing tapas, but were not liberated. (It is unto us, I assume, to reason it out that they were not destined to be liberated yet).
  Now, the verses dealing with eligibility to do tapas:
  Narada tells Rama that while brahmins alone performed tapas in the kritayuga; brahmins and kshatriyas performed tapas in the tretayuga; vaiSyas as well in dvAparayuga; and SUdras too in the kaliyuga. We are supposed in the Kaliyuga now, when SUdras indeed have the right to taps.
  puraa kritayuge raama braahmaNaa vai tapasvinah |
  abraahmaNastadaa raajan na tapasvee katham cana || 9 ||
  Rama, earlier in the Kritayuga only Brahmins practiced austerities; never did a non-brahmin, O King!
  tasmin dvaaparasa~Nkhyaate tapo vaiSyaan samaaviSat |
  na Soodro labhate dharmam ugram taptam nararshabha || 21 ||
  In that Dvaparayuga, Vaisyas get the eligibility to practice austerities, but not Sudras, O Eminent One!
  heenavarNo naraSreshTha tapyate sumahat tapah |
  bhavishyaa Soodrayonyaam hi tapaScaryaa kalau yuge || 22 ||
  In the Kali Yuga, O Best amongst men!, the lower castes shall practice great austerities; indeed tapas shall reside in Sudras.
  adharmah paramo raama dvaapare Soodradhaaritah |
  sa vai vishayaparyante tava raajan mahaatapaah ||
  Soodrastapyati durbuddhistena baalavadho hyayam || 23 ||
  O Rama! The ultimate unrighteousness in Dvapara is that of the Sudra; as is now in your kingdom, O King! A vile Sudra is performing great austerities and on account of that is this boy’s death.
  (all above verses are from the second chapter within the sub-unit of Sambukavadha; those below are from the third chapter)
  dakshiNaam diSam aakraamat tato raajarshinandanah |
  Saivalasyottare paarSve dadarSa sumahatsarah || 12 ||
  Then, the joy of regal seers turned due South (after searching West, North, and East in that order); and saw a great lake beyond the Saivala mountains.
  tasmin sarasi tapyantam taapasam sumahattapah |
  dadarSa rAghavah SrImaa (.llambamAnam adho mukham || 13 ||
  In that lake, the descendant of Raghu, the auspicious one, looking down, saw a great ascetic performing austerities.
  It may be noted that Sambuka was found in the South – nothing is mentioned about which direction he was facing.

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