On a philosophical and spiritual level, the Ramayana can be seen as a guide for doing the right thing. In our hearts we all know the right thing to do, but we can rationalize an alternative action. We need stories, parables to remind us of the right action. Some of the virtues demonstrated in the Ramayana are moral integrity, devotion to a Supreme Being, family and community, loyalty, gift giving and honesty. The moral obligation to keep one’s word in spite of dire personal consequences was particularly striking. A promise made is just as binding as a notarized contract. In our modern culture, too often a promise is taken too lightly.
When we read a story we walk with the hero, share his joys, his sorrows. There isn’t a divide between us. At that point there is no “me” and “you”. It’s oneness. When we are interacting one-on-one with someone, nationalities and religious beliefs are not on the forefront of our minds. We respect each other and when we have a common goal, we work together as one and our souls feel good. When we focus on a difference, one which has no bearing on our common goal, we feel divided and our souls feel cranky. Feeling good is preferable over feeling cranky.
Hopefully Rama, the Legend can be an introduction to and an appreciation for Hindu culture. By seeing that we have the same universal goals of love for our families, a devotion to God, and living honorably, then the artificial barriers between “us” and “them” blur, showing that we are fundamentally similar. Our differences are mostly the result of our birth into a particular culture of a particular region. These differences should be enjoyed. A bouquet is so much richer and more pleasing than an individual flower. Being in a bouquet does not negate the beauty of an individual flower but it enriches it. Be enriched by Rama.
The Hindus believe that whoever hears or reads the Ramayana receives a blessing. So enjoy the adventure story of Rama, the Legend and be blessed. I end with the Hindu greeting “Namaste”, which means, “I love, honor, and respect the light, life, and love that I behold in you.”
All Rights Reserved - Barbara Albers Jackson