|| shrI gaNeshAya namaH ||
|| shrI sAMbaparameshvaramUrtaye namaH ||
|| shrI-rAmachandra-parabrahmaNe namaH ||
rAmAyaNadrumaM naumi rAmaraxAnavAN^kuram.h |
gAyatrIbIjamAmnAyamUlaM moxamahAphalam.h ||
(nIlakaNTha's commentary on the
I bow to the tree of rAmAyaNa that has a new bud called the rAma-raxA-stotra, that which has the the gAyatrI (mantra) as its seed (bIja), that which has its roots in the Vedas, and that yields the great fruit of mokshha!
kushiilavau tu dharmaGYau raajaputrau yashasvinau |
bhraatarau svarasampannau dadarsha aashramavaasinau ||
sa tu medhaavinau dR^ishhTvaa vedeShu pariniShThitau |
vedopabR^ihmaNaarthaaya taavagraahayata prabhuh ||
kaavyaM raamaayaNaM kR^itsnaM siitaayaashcharitaM mahat.h|
paulastya vadhamityeva chakaara charitavrataH||
The princes, the brothers, Kusha and Lava, were knowledgeable about Dharma and were glorious. Their voices were melodious and they lived in the hermitage of (vAlmIki). He (vAlmIki), established in good deeds, observed those two extremely intelligent (princes), skilled in the Vedas, and for the sake of expounding the Vedas, he composed and made them study the poem sampUrNa-rAmAyaNa (the entire rAmAyaNa) (containing) the great story of sItA and the slaying of rAvaNa.
These verses from the vAlmIki-rAmAyaNa clearly show that the sage vAlmIki composed the rAmAyaNa to expound the meaning of the Vedas.
Since rAmAyaNa is based on the Vedas, there must be mantras in the Vedas that correspond to the immortal story of rAma. It is with this objective that nIlakaNTha, the great commentator on the mahAbhArata, has presented, with his own wonderful commentary, the mantra-rAmAyaNa. The mantra-rAmAyaNa is a compilation of Riks from the R^ig Veda that narrate the story of rAma or the rAmAyaNa.
Now, why is it said that the supremely sacred gAyatrI mantra is the seed (bIja) of the rAmayaNa tree? nIlakaNTha says:
ata eva rAmAyaNe chaturvimshatisAhasrAyaM chaturvimshatigAyatryaxarANi
For this reason, vAlmIki bases the twenty-four thousand verses of the rAmAyaNa on the twenty-four akshhara's (syllables) of the gAyatrI mantra (of the Vedas).
nIlakaNTha quotes from the agastya-saMhitA to further support the fact that the rAmAyaNa story is drawn from the Vedas:
vedavedaye pare puMsi jAte dasharathAtmaje |
vedaH prAchetasAdAsIt.h sAxAdrAmAyaNAtmanA |
tasmAdrAmAyaNaM devi veda eva na saMshayaH ||
When the Supreme Being, known through the Vedas, was born as the son of dasharatha (rAma), the Veda (manifested itself) through the (mouth) of the sage prAchetasa directly as the rAmAyaNa. Therefore, O devi, the rAmAyaNa is the Veda itself, without a doubt.
nIlakaNTha is well known as the commentator par excellence of the mahAbhArata. He hailed from what is modern day Kopargaon in the state of Maharashtra but he is said to have settled down in Varanasi, where he wrote his commentary on the 'bhArata called the "bhAratabhAvapradIpa." This commentary is also known as the "nIlakaNThI." This famous commentary on the bhArata is said to have been written towards the end of the 17th century C.E.
nIlakaNTha compiled a collection of mantras from the R^ig Veda that correspond to the story of rAma. This collection is called the "mantra- rAmAyaNa." I will present a few of these mantras from the R^ig Veda, with notes from nIlakaNTha's commentary, "mantra-rahasya-prakAshikA."
The rAmAyaNa can be told in as many as 24,000 verses as in the vAlmIki rAmAyaNa or in just one verse as in the eka-shlokI-rAmAyaNa which captures all the main events of the epic such as rAma's exile to the forest, killing of the golden deer, the kidnapping of sItA, the death of jaTAyu, the meeting with sugrIva and the punishment of vAlI, the crossing of the oceana and burning of laN^kA by HanumAn, and finally the slaying of rAvaNa and kuMbhakarNa:
Adau rAmatapovanAdigamanaM hatvA mR^iga-kAJNchanam.h
vaidehIharaNaM jaTAyumaraNaM sugrIva-saMbhAshhaNam.h |
vAli-dushhTa-nigrahaNam samudrataraNaM laN^kAdAhanam.h
pashchAt.h rAvaNa-kuMbhakarNa-hananaM etaddhi rAmAyaNam.h ||
The mantra-rAmAyaNa itself has more than 150 Riks. But I will present a few of them summarizing the immortal story of rAma.
First, there arises the question: does the name "rAma" occur in the veda and in what context?
R^ig Veda 10.93.14 (maNDala 10, sUkta 93, Rik 14) says:
pra tadduHshIme pR^ithavAne vene pra rAme vochamasure maghavatsu |
ye yuktvAya pa.ncha shatAsmayu pathA vishrAvyeshhAm.h ||
In yajnas of wealthy kings such as duHshIma, pR^ithavAna, vena, and the powerful rAma, I utter hymns to the gods who travel by 500 chariots drawn by horses in the world of the gods, and who are fond of us (humans).
Here, the qualifier asura applied to rAma should be taken to mean balavAn or powerful (not demon) as sAyaNAchArya says.
hara namaH pArvatIpataye hara hara mahAdeva!