Rama and Dharma – a Meditation

This Time, Master Gives Us a Koan, a Zen riddle:

"If you look for Rama, you may find him, 
but you may not find
If you look for
you shall find both Rama and

And, then he adds: “Zen Koans have no solution, They are given to exhaust the mind. This Koan gives a clear hint about the solution, but you shall have to make sense of it; and, then follow it.”

It is NOT an Easy Task. Rama has always been projected as Maryada Purushottam, an Ideal Man. His life is supposed to be exemplary. In other words, to follow in his foot steps is to follow Dharma.

Master himself has been saying that Rama is the Embodiment of Dharma, or Righteousness. It is not easy to understand the Koan given by the Master, in spite of the solution “so clearly hinted”, as he puts it.

But, Masters, the True Masters, the True Guides are the very Embodiments of Compassion. So, he explains… and, following is his explanation in my broken words…

Rama, as the Prince of Ayodhya, the son of King Dasharatha, is given the role of Maryada Purushottam, an Ideal Man.

Whether it is Rama himself who adopts, or, rather creates the role for himself; or, he is enacting the role given him by the Existence, the Supreme One, or Whoever – we shall leave that discussion for some other time.

So, Rama has a role to play. As any other actor. Is there a guarantee that the actor does justice to the role given him? Who decides? The director of the play? The audience? Or, both? What if their decisions do not match? Does Rama himself have a say, I mean the actor who is playing the role of Maryada Purushottam, the Ideal Man?

Rama and Sita – Sundanese Puppets
Samskriti Sindhu Museum, Anand Ashram (Ubud-Bali)

In the Colossal Play of Ramayana, Sita, Rama’s wife, is depicted as a faithful woman willing to sacrifice the palatial comforts of Ayodhya to be with her husband in exile.

She has to undergo a lot of hardships for many, many years. Then, toward the end of the exile she is abducted by Ravana. Sita does not give in to Ravana’s charm and persuasions. She is not tempted by his riches. She waits for Rama to rescue her, which he does….

But, then… Rama asks her to to undergo Agni Pariksha – an ordeal of fire – to prove her purity before she is accepted. What……!?! Rama’s defenders can find one thousand and one reasons to justify his act. Spiritual reasons, mystic reasons, political reasons – we are not going into that.

Let’s Make It Simple: Can we allow our sister or daughter to be treated like this by a Maryada Purushottama Rama, an Ideal Man? Can we accept such a man as our brother in law or son in law? Let us be honest.

Indeed, Rama’s sons, Luv and Kush, can not accept it either. They ask him: Why there is no such test for him?

After undergoing the ordeal, having proven her purity – Sita is once again exiled just because a small section of Rama’s subjects doubt her purity. What…..!?!

Once again, there are one thousand and one justifications given for such acts of  Rama. The question is: Can we accept such justifications, such reasons, if Sita is part of our life, our family?

So, the Master Says, “No matter how good an actor, there is no guarantee that his acting is always one hundred percent good. Some flaws can be there. A good actor is simply one whose flaws do not override, do not outnumber his strength and fine points. Understand?

“Rama is still an Ideal Man, Maryada Purushottama. Because, his flaws, his blemishes do not override his merits, his strength and good points. Using a pair of goggles that we have, we may conclude that he fails in his role as an ideal husband. But, we can not say that he was a bad actor. He does justice to most of other roles given to him.

“Make him your ideal, follow in his footstep when he is treading the path of Dharma. At the same time, avoid actions that do not conform to Dharma.”

Dharma is the Foundation on which the Rama Structure is raised. The foundation cannot afford to be blemish or weak. A weak foundation does not serve its purpose as a foundation.

If the structure is faulty, it can still be corrected. But, how do we correct a faulty foundation? A faulty foundation cannot be called Dharmika. A faulty foundation is adharmika – unrighteous.

In other words, when we lay the foundation for the structure of our life, we must be extremely careful. We have to choose between Dharmika and Adharmika. Once the choice is made, and the structure is raised, erected – there is no way to correct the faulty foundation. We have to dismantle the whole structure and lay a new foundation. It is a total overhaul – building anew.

Dharma is Your Foundation,” explains the Master, “Rama is the structure of your life. Focus on your foundation, ensure it is strong, you cannot afford any weakness. Then, begin to raise the structure of your life. If you make some mistakes, you can still correct them. That is, as long as the foundation supports.”

Hmmmmm, yes Master, yes, I understand. This is not about Rama and Dharma outside, this is about myself. This is about my foundation. This is about the structure of my life. Yes, Master, yes I do understand….. Thank you, Master.

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