Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rama in Sri Lanka and Rama in Granth Sahib

Rama in Sri Lanka and Rama in Granth Sahib

Pallavi Polanki, Hindustan Times

New Delhi , April 21, 2008
Ramayana tourism a hit in Sri Lanka
The Sri Lankan tourism promotion bureau must have been watching very closely when the Setusamudram Project rocked Parliament last year. Their attempt to cash in on the Ramayana craze in India seems to have hit jackpot.
Ever since the launch in January of the ‘Sri Lanka’s Ramayana Trail’ — a religious/ spiritual tourism venture by Lanka — tour operators have been flooded with enquiries from India.
“A swami from north India is bringing 400 of his students to go on the trail. An Andhra Pradesh tour operator has come and checked out the trail. We have already had batches of 50, 60, and 120 visitors from India,” said Asoka Perera, South Asia spokesperson for Sri Lanka Tourism. He is in Delhi to take part in the South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange.
The trail, that can be anything between one and three weeks, comprises a maximum of 25 locations spread across central and western Sri Lanka.
“The objective of this venture is to create fellowship with other communities so that there can be some relief from the ethnic strife,” said Perera. Among the attractions is the Ravana Cave at Ella, 220 km from the capital Colombo. According to legend it served as a quick means of transport through the hills for Ravana.
Even a research study called Following the Trail of Ramayana in Sri Lanka is underway. “The study is based on the compilation of research conducted by academicians from India and Sri Lanka over the years. We are a team of six active members, including three Indians,” said T.Y. Sunderasan, director of the study.
But historians say such efforts must be condemned. “As far as historicity is concerned, these claims are unverifiable. As we know from the Ram Setu controversy, literal reading of the epic is problematic. In archeological terms, it is very difficult to verify. We as historians and scholars should condemn such efforts that give legitimacy to artificial geography,” said R Mahalakshmi, assistant professor, Centre for Historical Studies at JNU.
DN Jha retired professor of history from Delhi University and author of the controversial book The Myth of the Holy Cow attributes the success of the venture to ‘mythomania’. “I think this is bizarre. This is what we can call ‘mythomania’.
It is a myth that we have already exposed here. One needs to ask if these researchers have studied Sanskrit, have they read all the different versions of Ramayana — there are over 300 of them.”

Sri Rama in Granth Sahib

The story of Rama in the Granth Sahib

(This article is the translation of the chapter "Ram" in the book "Adi Shri
Guru Granth Sahib ki Mahima" by Dr. K.K. Agrawal, published by
Bharat-Bharati (Voice of India). )

Transliteration scheme:
Indic words have been transcribed as in their popular spelling when they
occur in the middle of English text. The quotations have been transliterated
as follows:
Capital letters indicate long vowels or retroflex (cerebral) consonants.
"M" stands for a nasalization. Two adjacent vowels, not separated by a
hyphen, are to be read as a diphthong.

Translator's Note:
The article quotes from the Guru Granth, but does not give a translation of
the quoted verses. I have borrowed the translations from the "Shri Guru
Granth sahib" by Pritam Singh Chahil,with a minimum of editing. I hope to
eliminate errors on my part, by consulting an authoritative Sikh scholar.
Unlike the learned scholar, I have chosen to retain "Saguna" words for the
divine, as in the original. For example, the word "Ram" in the Adi Granth
has often been translated as "Lord" in Shri Chahil's translation. In this
article, "Ram", "Raghunath" etc. are left unchanged.

The story of Rama in the Granth Sahib

The name of God most often lauded in the Granth Sahib, after that of Hari is
Ram. Ram, Raja Ram, Raghunath and such other words occur approximately 2500
times in the Granth. In the Ramapurva Tapaneeya Upanishad, the various
meanings of the word Rama are explained as follows: "Raajate vaa maheem
sthitah san iti Raamah" that is, he who is on the earth and fulfills the
deires of his devotees and is hailed as a king, is Rama. In other words,
when Sacchidanand or Mahavishnu or Shrihari incarnated in the home of
Dasharatha in the family of Raghu, He was named Rama. At whose hands,
Rakshasas are destroyed, He is Rama. Or He who renders the Rakshasas
powerless in His human form, is Rama. By his ideal behaviour, He guides
kings in the way of Dharma. The utterance of His name results in the
attainment of the way of Jnana. He grants Vairagya when He is meditated
upon. He grants properity when his image is worshipped. For these reasons
did His name become famous on the earth as Rama. The Vedas say that in fact
yogis dwell (Sanskrit: Ram-) in the endless, ever-joyous, self-absorbed
Brahma state, and so Parabrahma Universal Soul (Paramatma) is itself
described as the Rama state. Thus, although Brahma is self-absorbed,
non-dual, undivided and devoid of the five-elemental body, it manifests as a
conscious body in order to fulfil the Bhaktas' desires. For love of the
Bhaktas, the Nirakar (formless)
Brahma assumes Narakaar (human form).

ghaT ghaT ramaiya ramat rAm rAI gur sabde gur liv lAge (Page 172)
(In every heart Rama is contained. Through the Gurus word, the love for
God is contracted. )

nirguN rAmu guNah vasi hoI (page 222)
(Ram, who is without attributes in under the sway of man's merits. He, who
effaces his self-conceit, reflects on the Lord.)

jat kat dekhao tat tat tum hI mohi ihu bisuAsu hoi Aio.
kai pahi karau ardAs bentI jau sunto hai raghurAio (Page 205)
(Wherever I look, I find Thee there. I am now firmly convinced of it. Before
whom should I make supplication and entreaty, when Raghurai himself is
listening to everything.)

rAm ramahu baRaBAgio jal thal mahiali soI
nAnak nAmi arAdhi-ai bighanu na lAgai koi (Page 521)
(O ye very fortunate ones, contemplate on Rama, who pervades the ocean,
earth and sky. Nanak says, by meditating on the Name, no calamity befalls
the mortal.)

The Granth has displayed a fondness for referring to the play of Paramatma
on this earth in terms of Rama-avatar and Raja Ram:

jAnI jAnI re rAjA rAm kI kahAnI
antari joti rAm pargAsA gurmukhi birlai jAnI (Page 970)
(O my love, I have known the story of the sovereign Rama. Within us Rama's
light shines, but the rare one, by the Guru's guidance, becomes aware of it.

The Granth Sahib declares in no uncertain terms that the name of Lord Rama,
who took an avatar in the form of a king, is itself true knowledge of God.

rAjA rAm nAmu morA braham giyAnu (Page 1159)
(The Name of Raja Ram is divine knowledge for me.)

ubrat rAjA rAm kI saraNI (Page 215)
(One is saved by seeking the shelter of Raja Ram.)

Nanak Ji regards Raja Ram as more precious than all the wealth of the world.
He says:

mAlu khajIna sut bhrAt mIt sabhhuM se piyArA rAm rAje ((Page 454)
(Raja Ram is dearer to me than all the wealth, treasures, son, brother and

By seeking refuge with such a Raja Ram, even the most sinful become holy.
This idea is expressed in the words of Ravidas which are included in the
Granth Sahib:

merI jAti kamInI pAti kamInI ochA janamu hamAra
tum sarnAgati rAjA rAmcand kahi ravidAs camArA (Page 659)
(My caste is low, my lineage is low, and mean is my birth. I have taken
shelter, King Rama, says Ravidas the cobbler.)

A glimpse of Lord Rama's divine, contemplative, lotus-like face is the very
goal of Nanak's life. He wishes to establish the feet of Rama in his heart,
through the grace of saints. He says:

avilokau rAm ko mukhArbind
khojat khojat ratanu pAio bisrI sabh cind
caran kamal rIdai dhAri, utariA dukhu mand
raj dhanu parvAru mere sarbaso gobind
sAdh sangami lAbhu pAio nAnak phir na marand (Page 1304)
(I behold the lotus-like countenance of Rama's face. Searching and seeking,
I have found the jewel of the Lord's Name and am rid of all anxiety. By
enshrining the Lord's feet in my heart, my suffering and foulness is shed.
Govind is my dominion, wealth, family and everything.
Nanak says, in holy company, I have earned that after which there is no

A detailed description of Rama's avatarhood was later composed in the form
of 'padAvalIs' by the poets, and were also included in the Granth. In these
verses the poets have also sung the glories of the many Gurus. The reader
can easily understand their contents from the verses given below:

raghupati tilaku sundaru dasrath ghari muni banchahi jAki saraNa
(Page 1401)
(The Guru is honoured as was the Supreme and beautiful Rama, in the house of
Dashratha of the Raghava dynasty.)

gAvai jamadagni parasarAmesur kar kuThAr raghu teju hariO
udhau akrUru vidaru guNa gAvai sarbAtamu jini jANiO
kabi kal sujasu gAvau gur nAnak rAju jogu jini mAnNiO (Page
(His divine praise is sung by Parashurama, the son of Jamadagni, who was
divested of his axe and powers by Raghuvira. Udho, Akrur and Bidur chant the
glories of Guru Nanak, who had realized God, pervasive in themselves. Kal,
the poet, sings the sublime praises of Guru Nanak, who enjoys both the
temporal and spiritual empires.)

satjugi tai maNiO ChaliO bali bAvan bhAiO
traite tai maNiO rAm raghuvaMsu kahAiO
duApari krisan murAri kaMsu kirtarthu kiO
ugrasaiN ka-u rAju amai bhagataha jan dIO
kalijugi pramANu nAnak guru angadu amaru kahAiO (Page 1390)
(In Satyayuga, you sported as the dwarf incarnation, and fooled Bali. In
Treta, you enjoyed being called Rama of the Raghu dynasty. In Dvapara,
becoming Krishna, you killed the demon Mura, and delivered Kamsa. You
bestowed the kingdom on Ugrasen, and the state of abhaya (fearlessness) on
Your devotees. In the Kali yuga, you are called the Accepted Gurus Nanak,
Angad and Amar.)

manahi na kIjai rosu jamahi na dIjai dosu
nirmal nirbAN padu cInhi lIjai
jasrath rAi nandu rAjA merA rAmcandu
praNavai nAmA tatu rasu amritu pIjai (Page 973)
(Do not feel offended in thy mind and attribute not blame to Yama.
Contemplate the immaculate dignity of salvation. Namdev prays, my Sovereign
Lord is Ramachandra, son of King Dashrath. I quaff the essence of the
immortalizing elixir.)

In India (Bharatvarsh) Ramrajya has always been an ideal for the welfare of
the people. This is because it was during Rama's reign that mankind, and
even the animal world, was free of the three kinds of suffering - bodily,
physical and supernatural. The Granth Sahib has this to say of the ideal of

rAkhanhAr apAr prabh tA kI nirmal sev
rAm rAj rAmdAspuri kInhe gurdev (Page 817)
(The Lord is the Infinite Preserver. Pure is His service. The Divine Guru
has established RamRajya in the city of Ram Das.)

Then is it surprising that Nanak ji would recommend to everyone to seek
refuge at Rama's feet, or command them to sing the name of Rama ?

rAjA rAm kI sarNaI
nirbha-u bha-e gobind gun gAvat sAdh sangi dukhu jA-i (Page 899)
(I have sought the shelter of King Rama. I have become free of fear by
singing the praise of Govind, and in holy company pain goes away.)

But how is Rama to be worshipped, so that He can be attained ? The Granth
Sahib answers this question as follows:

rAm japahu ji-u aise aise
dhrU prahilad japi-O hari jaise (Page 337)
(As Dhruv and Prahlad meditated on Hari, so do thou, o my self, contemplate
on Rama.)

Rama will dwell in the heart only when the heart is completely purified:

bikhi-A ajahu surati sukh AsA
kaise ho-IhaiM rAjA rAm nivAsA (Page 330)
(Man is intent on sin, still he hopes for happiness. How shall he find an
abode in Raja Ram ?)

When God Himself takes the responsibility of protecting the devotee,
everything becomes full of joy:

ho-I rAje rAm kI rakhvAlI
sukh sahaj Anand guN gAvahu manu tanu deha sukhAlI (Page 620)
(King Rama has given us protection. With peace, equipoise and joy, I sing
the Lord's praise. My mind, body and human frame are at ease.)

Singing the boundless glory of Ramnam, the Granth Sahib says:

rAm nAmu hari bheTi-ai hari rAmai nAmi samAvaigO
jo jo japai so-I gati pAvai jI-u dhr prahilAdu samAvaigo (Page 1309)
(By meeting with Rama's Name, one gets absorbed in RamNam. Whoever meditates
on Him, is emancipated and merges in the Lord like Dhruv and Prahlad.)

jIvatu rAm ke guNa gA-i
karahu kripA gopAl bIThule bisari na kabahi jA-i (Page 1223)
(I live by singing the praises of Rama. O Gopal, show grace unto me, that I
may never forget You.)

sAlgrAm bipa puji manAvahU sukritu tulasI mAlA
rAm nAmu japi beRA bAMdh-hU da-i-A karahu da-i-AlA
bagule te phuni haMsulA hovai je tU karahi da-i-AlA
praNavati nAnaku dAsnidAsA da-i-A karahu da-i-AlA (Page 1171)
(O Brahmin, you worship and propitiate the stone-god and deem it a good act
to wear the rosary of sweet basil. Build thou the ship of meditation of
Rama's Name and pray to the gracious Lord for grace.
O Lord, if you be graceful, the heron turns into a swan. Nanak, the slave
of Thy slaves, humbly supplicates, Gracious Lord, show grace. )

mAnga-u rAm te iku dAnu
sagal manorath pUran hovahi simara-u tumrA nAmu (Page 682)
(I ask one boon from Rama. By meditating on Thy Name, all my desires are

devA pAhan tArI-ale, rAm kahat jan kas na tare
tArI le gaNikA binu rUp kubijA bi-Adhi ajAmilu tArI-ale
dAsI sut janu bidaru sudAmA ugrasaiN ka-u rAj dI-ai
japahIn tapahIn kulahIn kramahIn nAme su-AmI te-U tare (Page 345)
(God has caused the stones to float. Why should not I, Thy slave, float by
repeating Thine Name. Thou hast saved Ganika and the hunch-back, and has
caused the hunter and Ajamil to swim across. The man-slayer, who shot
Krishna in the foot, even he was emancipated. Thous saved Sudama and slave
Vidur, son of a hand-maiden, and gave sovereignty to Ugrasen. Nam Dev's Lord
has saved those without devotion, without penance, without good family
lineage and without good acts.)

giri tar jal ju-AlA bhai rAkhiO rAjA rAm mA-iyA pherI (Page 1165)
(Though he (Prahlad) was thrown down a mountain, a tree, put into water, and
fire and subjected to the fear of death, Rama did always save him.)

In this terrible Kaliyuga, the Granth Sahib says, the only support is the
name of Rama. This is also the verdict of the sages and seers.
According to the Granth Sahib, a being (individual) has only one thing to
do, and that is to take the name of Rama, and take the name hundreds of
thousands of times.

ucarahu rAm nAm lakhbArI (Page 194)
(Utter thou the name of Rama a hundred thousand times.)

veda purAn simrit sudhAkhyar
kIne rAm nAm ik Akhyar (Page 262)
(The Vedas, Puranas and Smritis, which are accepted as Holy Word, have all
grown out of the sole Name of Rama.)

caturathi cAre veda suNi sodhiO tatu bIcAru
sarab khem kali-AN nidhi rAm nAmu japi sAru (Page 297)
(Hearing the Vedas and pondering over their reality, I have ascertained that
the sublime meditation of Rama's Name, is the treasure of all the joys and
comforts. )

sasatra beda sodhi sodhi dekhe muni nArad bacan pukAre
rAm nAmu paRahu gati pAvahu sat sangati guri nistAre (Page 983)
(The six Shastras and the four Vedas, I have carefully searched and seen.
Narad, the silent sage, also utters the same words. That in the company of
the holy and by the Guru's grace, man is emancipated and delivered by
uttering Rama's Name.)

kaljug mahi rAm nAmu urdhAru (Page 1129)
(In this dark Age, enshrine thou Rama's Name in thy heart.)

kaljug mahi rAm nAmu sAru (Page 1130)
(In this Dark Age, devotion to Rama's Name is sublime and pure.)

Guru Nanak is so delighted by the praise of Lord Rama that he breaks out
into song:
rAm nAm gun gAvahu hari prItam updesi
sukhu hota hari hare hari hare hare bhaju rAm rAm rAm
sabh sisTi dhAr hari tum kirpAl kartA sabhu
tU tU tU rAm rAm rAm
jan nAnako sarNAgati dehu gurmati bhaju rAm rAm rAm (Page 1297)
(By singing the praise of the Name of Rama, according to the teaching of the
Great Guru, one is blessed with peace. So meditate on Ram, Ram, Ram. O
merciful Hari, You cherish the whole world, and You, You and You alone,
Rama, are the Creator of All.
Slave Nanak seeks shelter. Bless him with the Guru's teaching so that he may
reflect over Rama's Name.)

We are all familiar with this verse composed by Guru Tegh Bahadur:
rAm simar rAm simar ihai teri kAji hai...
rAm bhaju rAm bhaju janamu sirAtu hai (Page 1352)
(Contemplate Rama, contemplate Rama, O man. This alone shall be of avail to
Meditate on Rama, meditate on Rama, your life is passing away.)

In the final words of the Granth Sahib, on page 1429, Guru Nanak says in
mysterious, moving and inspiring words:

sang sakhA sabh taji ga-e ko-u na nibahi-O sAth
kahu nAnak iha bipat mai Tek ek raghnAth
(My companions and friends have all left me. None has remained with me to
the last. Nanak says, in this calamiy, Raghunath is my only support.)

The tenth Guru Shri Govind Singh Maharaj has devoted a whole composition
"Ramavtar" to the story of the complete avatar of God in the form of Rama.
It comprises of 864 verses. Towards the end of the poem, in the 859th verse,
the Guru writes these beautiful words to describe the fruits of reading the
story of Rama:

jo yah kathA sune aru gAvai, dukh pAp tih nikaT na Avai,
Vishan Bhagat kI ai phal ho-I, Adhi vyAdhi chavai sake na
(Whoever listens to and sings this story, will be free of sin and sorrow.
The fruits of devotion to Vishnu are that disease and pain will never affect
the devotee.)

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