[Advaita-l] Ramayana Soundaryam

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 5 18:40:55 EDT 2017

Ramayana Soundaryam

Soudaryam means beauty. What do we mean by beauty? When do we say thatsomething is beautiful? To start with, when an object appeals to our eyes, wesay it is beautiful. Beauty is that X-factor that makes us admire, that whichmakes the object to stand out from its surroundings, that which is estheticallyappealing to our vision, that which seems to have a perfection, an order or astructure. For example, not many people can appreciate the modern art, wheredeeper thinking may be required to appreciate the message depicted by theartist – which has more appealing to the intellect than the mind. In contrast,a beautiful object appeals immediately to our emotions. Subsequently, we mayalso admire intellectually the creator of that beauty and appreciate theintelligence behind that creation. Soundaryam or beauty has immediate mental oremotional appreciation, as our experience shows. Beauty is that which melts ourhearts and fills our heart with noble sentiments. For example, when we see thebeautiful flower that is in full blossom with all its fragrance, which isradiating with the brilliant colors and textures, our vision gets arrested, atleast for few seconds. In those moments of admiration, we forget the rest ofthe world, and we even forget ourselves since there is no other thought thatarises, other than emotional identity with that beauty. The mind itself becomessilent, with no words to express or verbalize it – other than some meaninglessmantras – Oh!, Wah!, or What a beauty!, etc. The intellect may step in laterwith some critical analysis involving comparisons and contrasts with the thingsthat were seen in the past, with gradations in the scale of beauty, with adesire to own it, or to be proud of it, if it is already owned, or to be jealousof the person who owns it. We do not understand what is satyam and jnaanam butwe understand sundaram, beauty and ananda or joy associated with it; the totalfulfillment even for few moments of joy in the vision of the beauty.

Thus, when there is a beauty, the mind is attracted to it. Hence attraction isthe expression of soudaryam, that which is beautiful. The perfection or theorder that exists in the object manifests as attraction towards it, which inturn invokes love and passion. This may degenerate later into the desire toposses the object. Before the desire arises, there is an emotional identitywith the object of love, which is the object of attraction, which is the objectof beauty. There is a saying that the beauty is in the eyes of beholder. Thusbeauty causes attraction and expresses as love for the object; and that loveinvolves an identity with oneself bridging the gap between the seer and theseen, at least for those moments. No words can reach to express that beautythat love, that happiness. Every object of beauty is a creative expression orvibhuuti of the creator, the supreme.

At the sense level of perception, a thing of beautyis seen through the order in the created object, expressing at mental level aslove that provides the momentary fulfillment, and thus happiness of ones ownananda swaruupa, of the self itself. Those who are tuned intellectually alsocan appreciate sometimes the beauty of order in logic, where the beautyexpressing as admiration and then love that involves identity. In essence, Ilove what gives me happiness; and in that love, the duality or separateness ofthe subject and the object of love ceases. In a sense, soundarym is differentfrom aiswaryam, where aiswaryam means glory. In contrast to love, Aiswaryam,invokes an intellectual admiration, a respect or reverence; and some times maydegenerate to even jealousy. There is a gulf of distance between the subjectand object. To bridge that gulf, the subject may surrender to the object ofreverence, only if the attitude of reverence combines with the attitude ofgratitude. This is the relation between a disciple and his teacher, or betweena devotee and his deity.

The story of Rama, every Hindu knows – from a child to the adult. Yet, onestill gets fascinated in hearing that story again and again. It is not historybut it is HIS story. When someone shows us their personal photo album, we donot show much interest. Because of obligation we see through the pages turningthem as fast as we can. However, if it contains our picture, then we areattracted to see. Even after many years, if it is our picture, we do not liketo throw that picture, and would like to preserve it for our later seeing. Wedo not loose interest to see it again and again – because it is our picture notothers. In essence, if it is something that is ours, we do not loose interestto hear or to see; that is called mamakaara. If so, why do we want to hear thestory of Rama again and again? The love for Rama is expression of love foroneself too. It is not Rama’s story – it is our story. Rama means one whorevels in everyone and He is the one in whom everyone revels. The one whorevels in everyone is the Lord himself -I am in the heart of everybody says theLord, heart being the seat of love. In essence, it is the self that is the coreof one’s individuality. The story of Rama is the story of righteous over evil,story of Dharma over adharma, story of success against all odds, the story ofthe self, which we cherish, which we ourselves would want to be. Rama was thebeauty incarnated. Bhagavan Tulasidasji describing the beauty of Rama, says hiseyes are like lotus flower, his face is likelotus flower and in fact his every organ was like lotus flower, so delicate, sofull with fragrance. Why is the analogy with lotus, we may ask. Lotus is thatwhich grows out of muddy waters (pankaja, born out of mud). Yet, in spite ofit, it stands out with all its beauty and fragrance untouched by thesurroundings and even glorifying them. Rama’s beauty was so captivating thateven the Rakshasas like Khara and Dushana said that they have no heart to fightwith him. The name is so captivating and glorifying that even the chanting ofit in reverse as mara, mara,.., converted a butcher into a sage (Valmeeki).While presence of Rama had blessed the people of Ayodhya as well as many sagesand saints at that time, but the name has is become even more powerful, sinceit has been blessing millions since then. Such is the beauty of Rama, in nameand form. 

Many have written on Ramayana. One famous poet says- it is not famous poets whowrote on Ramayana, but the ones who wrote on Ramayana became famous poets -that is the glory of Ramayana. The sage Valmeeki, when he first saw a hunterkilling one of the two birds that are in love, he could not contain the sorrowor shoka. Words came out of his sorrow and become the first sloka. The shoka(sorrow) is transformed into sloka (poem), even to the surprise of the greatRishi, and made him ultimately into poet, in fact as the first poet. As he waspondering on the sloka, getting concerned of why he cursed the hunter in theform of sloka, Brahmaji appeared, and blessed the sage, saying that GoddesSaraswati herself expressed in the form of Sloka. He advised him that he shouldcompose the story of Rama that he heard recently from the Sage Narada. 

Rama means the one who loves all and also the one whom everyone loves. That isthe very self within. Pujya Gurudev described a Vedantic significance for thestory. He is born in ayodhya, meaning where there are no internal conflicts, toDasharatha, meaning the one in whom all ten sense organs (five sense organs and five organs ofaction) are fully under control. He has to leave ayodhya when conflict arose,to dwell in forests where meditative sages are there contemplating on the selfwith pure heart. The whole of ayodhya was tryingto follow Rama. In the forest of the world, the mind (Sita) gets carried awayor gets side-tracked with the fascinations of the glittering world that luresin the form of a golden dear, gets lost and gets captured by the senseindulgence even deceptively in the form of Dahshamukha, the ten headed monster(five sense organs and five organs of action), whose whole life is all the timecentered in stomaching all those enjoyments, by hook or crook. When the mindlater repents and longs for Rama, the self within, He has to come as a teacherand destroy the ego with Brahmaastra or aham brahmaasmi, aiming at the stomachwhich is the center of indulgence. Sita, the mind, after the completepurification by fire of spiritual sadhana joins back with Rama, the selfwithin. Thus Ramayana has inspired many authors where the purpose of life isbeing pointed – it is not just a story that fascinates children but a messageof the very purpose of ones life, the story of dharma, the story of the longingmind which is in search of ones own love, the happiness that one is, anduniting with that source of happiness. It is the story of duty bounded by love,story of message to whole humanity for its evolution. 
------------ ---
Based on the introductory talk by SwamiTejomayanandaji on Sundara Ramayana during mahasamadhi camp in LA in 2010. Hari Om!

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list