In the city of Ayodhya, there lived a great king called Dasaratha, a name now famous in the Vedic texts. He always tried his best to rule virtuously, had many good attributes, a man of wisdom, and a devotee of Shri Hari. He lived with his two eyes on the Kingdom but his spiritual eye on the Lord. Kausalya and his other two wives, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, supported the King in every way and together they lived humble, holy lives.
One day, the King become overcome with a feeling of sadness, as the royal tradition dictated, he would require a son to become his heir. The King visited his Guru’s home and prostrated before him. He asked him, “What can I do to get a son who will be worthy of my throne and dynasty?” The sage Vaishishta said, “do not worry, you will be blessed with four sons who will become famous throughout the three worlds for their love of humanity.” Vaishista summoned the sage Sringi and performed a sacred fire ritual ordinarily performed by those wishing for children. The King was ecstatic, he knew Vaishishta’s words could never be false. He sent for his beloved wives and divided the prasad (blessed food) from the yagna. He gave one half of the offering to Kausalya and the rest of the offering was shared between Kaikeyi and Sumitra.
As foreseen by the sage Vaishishta, all of the three wives became pregnant. Everyone was extremely happy. From the moment Shri Hari found his way into the womb, joyfulness and prosperity manifested all over the world.
The beautiful wives beamed with happiness and everybody in the palace waited happily for the auspicious time. When the positions of the sun and the moon were perfectly aligned with the other planets, on a perfect day during the most auspicious of months, the sages decreed a child will be born.
On the ninth day of the bright half of the Chaitra month, the moon was in the period named Abhijit, the day perfectly warm, neither hot nor cold. The time, a moment where every being was resting, a sweet fragrance permeated the earth and a feeling of bliss filled the hearts of every village. The woods blossomed, the mountains shone resplendently, the rivers flowed and sparkled as if covered in a silver blanket. What to say of the devotees of Shri Hari, who were dancing in extreme bliss, the Gods were exhilarated and it was perhaps the happiest moment on Earth. When Brahma realised the moment had come for Shri Rama to be born, the Gods and heavenly beings filled the air and showered down their blessings and praises as the skies filled with the sounds of the Vedic chants.
The supreme truth, the abode of the universe, Shri Rama himself was born on Earth. The lover of the poor, the manifestation of compassion was born to Kausalya. At this same moment, Kausalya had a clear vision of God. He was right there in front of here, in the most magnificent form, adorned with flowers and jewels, he was an ocean of trememdous beauty. His marvellous form stole the heart of even the most detached sages, his mother poured tears of joy. His body was dark like a monsoon cloud.
His marvellous form stole the heart of even the most detached sages, his mother poured tears of joy and said, “O Eternal Lord, how can my words begin to praise you! The Vedas and Puranas all declare that you lie beyond maya (the illusion of the world). Above knowledge, beyond the understanding of the greatest minds on Earth, a mine of endless bliss and mercy. The Vedas declare that even a tiny pore of your body contains countless universes. That you have been born in my womb has staggered me.”
Shri Hari smiled and explained that he has come to perform many lilas (divine acts), he explained her past life to her, explaining that she had prayed for him to be her child. Filled with bliss she said, “My dear Lord, take away this tremendous form of yours, and begin the childhood pastimes which every mother loves. The Joy of a mother spending time with her child incomparable. Hearing these words, the Lord of the universe became a baby child and began to cry for his mother. The ocean of mundane existence, the suffering from the cycle of birth and death is transcended by the one who realised the truth of this baby child.
The maids ran to Kaushalyas room as they heard the baby cry out. In great delight they became transfixed on the child. When the news reached the anxious King, Dasaratha was drowned in bliss as if he had just acheived oneness with Brahman (The universal reality). With his mind completely absorbed with the highest form of love, his body running with electric currents of joy, he went to see the child. He shouted to his servants, “Arrange the musicians and call Vaishishta, the baby has been born!”.
They saw the beautiful child and were all struck with awe. They stared as if being drawn in by a tremendous magnet, and performed the holy rites and the Nandhimukka ceremony associated with the birth of a child. The King distributed gifts of gold, cows, and jewels to the poor and saintly.
The city was decorated in the most beautiful way, it was as if flowers were raining down from the heavens. There was a rapture of bliss, everybody felt the joy of enlightenment and self-realisation. The rich brought gifts of Gold and silver to the palace, and candles were light throughout the city to bring light to all on this holy occasion. No longer did anybody feel attachment or greed for their possessions, they gave away freely with open hearts, even the ones who received the gifts didn’t keep them for long, such was the spirit of giving that permeated the land of Rama’s birth. Every street in the city was painted in bright colours and the music and festivities were enjoyed by families in every home. The fountain of compassion was born.
Kaikeyi and Sumitra also gave birth to Shri Rama’s brothers. The joy felt throughout the kingdom could not be described. The city of Ayodhya welcomed all, even the sun could not bear to leave and stood motionless, the day assumed the length of a month, but nobody even noticed! The celebrations went on and on. The Jewels adorning every home shone like the stars in the sky, the pinnacle ornament of the palace was like the bright moon as the spiritual feeling of the Vedic chants permeated the hearts of every being.
Nobody in the city had noticed that the Sun had not even moved, did it stop to sing ‘Shri Ram, Jai Ram’ as it saw the great occasion? The Gods, sages, and saintly beings were all profoundly moved.
Lord Shiva and the sage Kakabhusundi took the form of humans simply to roam the streets of Ayodhya and experience the supreme love that permeated the air. They were elated and Lost themselves in ecstasy. The grace of being present on this holy day is unexplainable. The King granted every man and woman their wish, be it elephants, horses, gold, but nobody wanted anything. They were completely satisfied, they had everything they had experienced the most blissful day of their lives.
Jai Shri Rama!
Rama Navami is one of the most important days of the Hindu Calendar. It is on the ninth day of the Chaitra month that the birth of Shri Rama is celebrated. Throughout India people will recite the Ramacharitmanas in their homes and bring to life the experiences felt in the city of Ayodhya. Temples will have consecrated images of Shri Rama as a baby and devotees will come to rock the baby child in adoration at midday.
Shri Rama’s manifestation is the Maryada Purushottam of the divine. This means he has come to show us the ideal way, he is an embodiment of compassion and dharma, and because of this, we can look to emulate the mood and feelings of the Ramacharitmanas. I only want to see a world filled with bliss, happiness and joy. A world filled with compassion for those that suffer, a world where giving gifts is not a conceited method of getting something we want, but a genuine offering from a heart to a heart. Even whilst writing this text I feel shivers of joy, as if I were present in Ayodhya on that holy day. The light of Shri Rama’s birth brings with it an opportunity for each one of us to reflect on the type of light we want in the world.