Devotees throughout the world, including in Guyana, are culminating the celebration of Chaitra, or Vasant Navratri, after observing nine nights/days of prayers to Mata Parvati, Lakshmi and Sarasvati, with reverence to the Trinity form of Durga Ma. She established nine different forms of her manifestation in order to conquer evil and restore good.
Ram Navami appropriately demarcates the conclusion of the auspiciousness of the period, and obeisance is paid to the Sun Deity, Surya Bhagwan, as the progenitor of Lord Rama’s Dynasty have descended from the Raghukul.
The importance of the Sun was much more in the higher latitudes from the place through which the Aryans have migrated into India.
Ram Navami marks the appearance of Lord Rama in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ram Navami falls on the ninth day, the tithi of Shukla Paksha of Chaitra, in March or April as per the English calendar. This year, April 21st (today) is the date for this spring festival, and the celebration takes place at noon.
Maryada Purshottam Ram is particularly important to the Vaishnavism tradition in Hinduism. His manifestation is sung in the divine story of the time in the Ramayana, giving us the message of the life and teachings of Lord Rama, the word literally means, “One who is divinely blissful and who gives joy to others, and one in whom the sages rejoice.”
The ocean of mercy and compassion, Lord Rama signifies the victory of goodness over evil and the establishment of the Dharma to beat Adharma. He represents the epitome of perfection for fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects. King Dasarath, the King of Ayodhya in the county of Kosal, situated on the banks of the river Sharayu, was childless, and he performed a sacrifice known as “Ashvamedh,” conducted by Rishi Rishyashring. He was eventually blessed with Shri Ram from Queen Kausalya, and Ram grew up to be a powerful Prince, who married Sita Ma. His story unleashed a destined saga, reflecting the portrayal of compassion, gentleness, kindness, rightness and integrity. Lord Rama encountered an adventure of various tests for his love for his siblings, challenges for the removal of demons, and competition with Rawan’s rivalry for abducting Sita Ma. His fourteen years of exile in the forest (Vanvaas), accompanied by Sita Ma and his brother Lachman, was filled with a variety of significant incidents and situations, allowing him to fulfill his promises of freeing the world of evil forces and doers.
There he met his ardent and humble devotee, Shri Hanuman, and he also visited the pious Shabri. Seeking the blessings of Durga Ma, Lord Rama was able to truncate the evil King of Lanka, Rawan, and one of his brothers, Kumbakharna. The kingdom was restored to the righteous brother Vivishana, who was able to rule prosperously and peacefully, much to the joy of all the citizens. His return to Ayodhya at the end of his stay in the forest is celebrated on the festive day of “Diwali.”
Although Lord Rama had all the power in the world, he still was peaceful and gentle. Through careful examination of his life, we learn how to be perfect sons, perfect brothers, perfect husbands and, most importantly, the perfect king, administering with the reign of perfect governance.
So many lessons can be learnt from his lifestyle, and they are all applicable to the political, economic and social situations unfolding in Guyana. The Divine Sage Narad, related to Sage Valmiki, the scribe, said, “Shri Ram is an embodiment of all noble merits, (qualities and virtues), who betters the happiness of his mother Kausalya, in profundity. He is an unfathomable ocean, and in fortitude, he is firm and unalterable, like the kingly Himalayan Mountain.”
The day of Ram Navami is spent in cleansing the body, heart and mind, fasting, praying, chanting the name of Shri Ram, reading Ram Katha, visiting the Mandirs, giving charity in the form of food, clothes and money, and exchanging visits to friends and relatives with the giving of gifts and sweets.
It is said that the repetition of his name (Rama Nama) is the surest, fastest and easiest way to attain purity, peace, wisdom, understanding, joy, prosperity, and ultimately liberation. Lord Rama Himself said that “Repetition of My name is equal to the repeating of one thousand names of God and Goddess, or repeating of mantras one thousand times.” Lord Rama was the perfect person who embodied divinity on Earth, and taught us how to live our lives in accordance with dharma and divine principles.
Guyanese and other West Indians are thankful to their fore-parents for bringing such a rich culture, preserved in principles and practices, for people to live a way of life as influenced by the Ramayana and Gita, the holy books which they so carefully wrapped and brought with them as part of their luggage. Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan was “Raghu pati raghav raja Ram, Patita pavan Sitaram.” When he died, his last word was, “Ram.” May the blessings of Lord Rama be upon each and every Guyanese with peace and bliss. Happy Ram Navami.