Swami Vivekananda is an Universal Being and so also stands his Universal Messages. He is regarded as an incarnation of Lord Shiva and called as Modern Prophet,Patriotic-Saint,Seer etc. He declared: "MY IDEAL IS TO PREACH MANKIND THEIR DIVINITY AND HOW TO MAKE IT MANIFEST IN EVERY MOMENT OF LIFE." His 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations are observed from 2010 to 2014. Let us rekindle our aspirations and draw inspiration from his Life, Writings, Speeches,Stories etc. May He bless all .
Swami Vivekananda was a great devotee of Sri Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sri Ramakrishna, his Guru initiated him with Rama mantra. After returning from the West he met Sri Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Sri Ramakrishna and told her: "Mother in this Yuga instead of leaping over the sea (referring to his role as Hanuman's during Sri Rama Avatar) I have traveled to the country by ship of their own."
Swamiji delivered this talk on 'The Ramayana' at the Shakespeare Club, Pasadena, California, USA on 31st January, 1900. It is posted on the occasion of Rama Navami which falls on 1st April 2012.
There are two great
epics in the Sanskrit language, which are very ancient. Of course, there are
hundreds of other epic poems. The Sanskrit language and literature have been
continued down to the present day, although, for more than two thousand years,
it has ceased to be a spoken language. I am now going to speak to you of the
two most ancient epics, called the Râmâyana and the Mahâbhârata. They embody
the manners and customs, the state of society, civilisation, etc., of the
ancient Indians. The oldest of these epics is called Ramayana, "The Life
of Râma". There was some poetical literature before this — most of the
Vedas, the sacred books of the Hindus, are written in a sort of metre — but
this book is held by common consent in India as the very beginning of poetry.
The name of the poet or
sage was Vâlmiki. Later on, a great many poetical stories were fastened upon
that ancient poet; and subsequently, it became a very general practice to
attribute to his authorship very many verses that were not his. Notwithstanding
all these interpolations, it comes down to us as a very beautiful arrangement,
without equal in the literatures of the world.
There was a young man
that could not in any way support his family. He was strong and vigorous and,
finally, became a highway robber; he attacked persons in the street and robbed
them, and with that money he supported his father, mother, wife, and children.
This went on continually, until one day a great saint called Nârada was passing
by, and the robber attacked him. The sage asked the robber, "Why are you
going to rob me? It is a great sin to rob human beings and kill them. What do
you incur all this sin for?" The robber said, "Why, I want to support
my family with this money." "Now", said the sage, "do you think
that they take a share of your sin also?" "Certainly they do,"
replied the robber. "Very good," said the sage, "make me safe by
tying me up here, while you go home and ask your people whether they will share
your sin in the same way as they share the money you make." The man
accordingly went to his father, and asked, "Father, do you know how I
support you?" He answered, "No, I do not." "I am a robber,
and I kill persons and rob them." "What! you do that, my son? Get
away! You outcast! "He then went to his mother and asked her,
"Mother, do you know how I support you?" "No," she replied.
"Through robbery and murder." "How horrible it is!" cried
the mother. "But, do you partake in my sin?" said the son. "Why
should I? I never committed a robbery," answered the mother. Then, he went
to his wife and questioned her, "Do you know how I maintain you all?"
"No," she responded. "Why, I am a highwayman," he rejoined,
"and for years have been robbing people; that is how I support and
maintain you all. And what I now want to know is, whether you are ready to
share in my sin." "By no means. You are my husband, and it is your
duty to support me."
The eyes of the robber
were opened. "That is the way of the world — even my nearest relatives,
for whom I have been robbing, will not share in my destiny." He came back
to the place where he had bound the sage, unfastened his bonds, fell at his
feet, recounted everything and said, "Save me! What can I do?" The sage
said, "Give up your present course of life. You see that none of your family
really loves you, so give up all these delusions. They will share your prosperity;
but the moment you have nothing, they will desert you. There is none who will
share in your evil, but they will all share in your good. Therefore worship Him
who alone stands by us whether we are doing good or evil. He never leaves us,
for love never drags down, knows no barter, no selfishness."
Then the sage taught
him how to worship. And this man left everything and went into a forest. There
he went on praying and meditating until
he forgot himself so entirely that the ants came and built ant-hills around him
and he was quite unconscious of it. After many years had passed, a voice came
saying, "Arise, O sage! " Thus aroused he exclaimed, "Sage? I am
a robber!" "No more 'robber'," answered the voice, "a
purified sage art thou. Thine old name is gone. But now, since thy meditation
was so deep and great that thou didst not remark even the ant-hills which
surrounded thee, henceforth, thy name shall be Valmiki — 'he that was born in
the ant-hill'." So, he became a sage.
And this is how he
became a poet. One day as this sage, Valmiki, was going to bathe in the holy
river Ganga, he saw a pair of doves wheeling round and round, and kissing each
other. The sage looked up and was pleased at the sight, but in a second an
arrow whisked past him and killed the male dove. As the dove fell down on the
ground, the female dove went on whirling round and round the dead body of its
companion in grief. In a moment the poet became miserable, and looking round,
he saw the hunter. "Thou art a wretch," he cried, "without the
smallest mercy! Thy slaying hand would not even stop for love!" "What
is this? What am I saying?" the poet thought to himself, "I have
never spoken in this sort of way before." And then a voice came: "Be
not afraid. This is poetry that is coming out of your mouth. Write the life of
Rama in poetic language for the benefit of the world." And that is how the
poem first began. The first verse sprang out of pits from the mouth of Valmiki,
the first poet. And it was after that, that he wrote the beautiful Ramayana,
"The Life of Rama".
There was an ancient
Indian town called Ayodhyâ — and it exists even in modern times. The province
in which it is still located is called Oudh, and most of you may have noticed
it in the map of India. That was the ancient Ayodhya. There, in ancient times,
reigned a king called Dasharatha. He had three queens, but the king had not any
children by them. And like good Hindus, the king and the queens, all went on
pilgrimages fasting and praying, that they might have children and, in good
time, four sons were born. The eldest of them was Rama.
Now, as it should be,
these four brothers were thoroughly educated in all branches of learning. To
avoid future quarrels there was in ancient India a custom for the king in his
own lifetime to nominate his eldest son as his successor, the Yuvarâja, young
king, as he is called.
Now, there was another
king, called Janaka, and this king had a beautiful daughter named Sitâ. Sita
was found in a field; she was a daughter of the Earth, and was born without
parents. The word "Sita" in ancient Sanskrit means the furrow made by
a plough. In the ancient mythology of India you will find persons born of one
parent only, or persons born without parents, born of sacrificial fire, born in
the field, and so on — dropped from the clouds as it were. All those sorts of
miraculous birth were common in the mythological lore of India.
Sita, being the
daughter of the Earth, was pure and immaculate. She was brought up by King
Janaka. When she was of a marriageable age, the king wanted to find a suitable
husband for her. There was an ancient Indian custom called Svayamvara, by which
the princesses used to choose husbands. A number of princes from different
parts of the country were invited, and the princess in splendid array, with a
garland in her hand, and accompanied by a crier who enumerated the distinctive
claims of each of the royal suitors, would pass in the midst of those assembled
before her, and select the prince she liked for her husband by throwing the
garland of flowers round his neck. They would then be married with much pomp
and grandeur. There were numbers of princes who aspired for the hand of Sita;
the test demanded on this occasion was the breaking of a huge bow, called
Haradhanu. All the princes put forth all their strength to accomplish this
feat, but failed. Finally, Rama took the mighty bow in his hands and with easy
grace broke it in twain. Thus Sita selected Rama, the son of King Dasharatha
for her husband, and they were wedded with great rejoicings. Then, Rama took
his bride to his home, and his old father thought that the time was now come
for him to retire and appoint Rama as Yuvaraja. Everything was accordingly made
ready for the ceremony, and the whole country was jubilant over the affair,
when the younger queen Kaikeyi was reminded by one of her maidservants of two promises
made to her by the king long ago. At one time she had pleased the king very
much, and he offered to grant her two boons: "Ask any two things in my
power and I will grant them to you," said he, but she made no request
then. She had forgotten all about it; but the evil-minded maidservant in her
employ began to work upon her jealousy with regard to Rama being installed on
the throne, and insinuated to her how nice it would be for her if her own son
had succeeded the king, until the queen was almost mad with jealousy. Then the servant
suggested to her to ask from the king the two promised boons: one would be that
her own son Bharata should be placed on the throne, and the other, that Rama
should be sent to the forest and be exiled for fourteen years.
Now, Rama was the life
and soul of the old king and when this wicked request was made to him, he as a
king felt he could not go back on his word. So he did not know what to do. But
Rama came to the rescue and willingly offered to give up the throne and go into
exile, so that his father might not be guilty of falsehood. So Rama went into
exile for fourteen years, accompanied by his loving wife Sita and his devoted
brother Lakshmana, who would on no account be parted from him.
The Aryans did not know
who were the inhabitants of these wild forests. In those days the forest tribes
they called "monkeys", and some of the so-called "monkeys",
if unusually strong and powerful, were called "demons".So, into the
forest, inhabited by demons and monkeys, Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita went. When
Sita had offered to accompany Rama, he exclaimed, "How can you, a
princess, face hardships and accompany me into a forest full of unknown
dangers!" But Sita replied, "Wherever Rama goes, there goes Sita. How
can you talk of 'princess' and 'royal birth' to me? I go before you!" So, Sita
went. And the younger brother, he also went with them. They penetrated far into
the forest, until they reached the river Godâvari. On the banks of the river
they built little cottages, and Rama and Lakshmana used to hunt deer and collect
fruits. After they had lived thus for some time, one day there came a demon
giantess. She was the sister of the giant king of Lanka (Ceylon). Roaming
through the forest at will, she came across Rama, and seeing that he was a very
handsome man, she fell in love with him at once. But Rama was the purest of
men, and also he was a married man; so of course he could not return her love.
In revenge, she went to her brother, the giant king, and told him all about the
beautiful Sita, the wife of Rama.