Lord Ramacandra
Lord Ramacandra

Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja
Hong Kong: April 13, 2008

Today is a special and very sacred day. Today, Krsna, in the form of Ramacandra, took birth in Ayodhya.

In ancient times there was a king named Maharaja Dasaratha. He was a very, very strong personality. He conquered all kings in the South, North, East, West, and everywhere. Therefore his name was Dasa-ratha, meaning that his chariot went everywhere in the ten directions – up, down, here, here, here.  He had 360 wives, but no child, no son. Now, half of his life was finished and he was becoming old. Because he had no son, he was very anxious.

One day he went hunting. The whole day he was roaming here and there, and it became night. Now he was very hungry and thirsty, and he wanted to take shelter somewhere for the night. His friend King Kaikeya, the father of Kaikeyi, lived nearby, so he went there. When he arrived, King Kaikeya became very happy.  King Kaikeya told his young daughter, “O my dear daughter Kaikeyi, take care of Maharaja Dasaratha and manage his meals so that he will be happy here.” Kaikeyi was very beautiful and very qualified. She served Maharaja Dasaratha in such a way that he became very, very happy.

In the morning, Maharaja Dasaratha went to Maharaja Kaikeya and asked his permission to return to his kingdom, Ayodhya. He also said, “O my brother-king, my friend-king, your daughter served me in such a way that I’m so much happy. So, I request that you marry your daughter to me.” King Kaikeya began to laugh. “I cannot give my daughter to you for marriage. I know that you have so many queens. I will give my daughter to any king, under the condition that the son born from her womb will be the next king. Then I can give her; otherwise not.” Hearing this, Maharaja Dasaratha began to laugh. He said, “O my friend, I have 360 queens, but I have no son. If your daughter will give me a son, automatically he will be my successor king. Don’t worry about this. I will be very lucky if I will have a son by Kaikeyi.” King Kaikeya then gave his daughter in marriage to Maharaja Dasaratha, and Maharaja Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya with her.

After some time, demigods called Maharaja Dasaratha and told him, “You are very powerful. We want to make you commander-in-chief of our army to defeat the demons.” So, Maharaja Dasaratha went to heaven, and Kaikayi also went with him. He became the commander-in-chief of the demigods’ army and began to fight with the demons, with Kaikayi as his charioteer. She was very, very brave and powerful.

One day while he was in battle, the axel of his chariot broke. Kaikeyi jumped down from the chariot, took that chariot with her hand, and Maharaja Dasaratha defeated the demons. After the battle, Maharaja Dasaratha was very happy. He said to Kaikeyi, “You have saved me. Because of you, I have won the battle. Now ask for two boons; I want to fulfill your desires.” Kaikeyi replied, “I am your wife. It was my duty to serve you like this; there is no need of any boon.” Again and again Maharaja Dasaratha insisted, “You must take two boons. First, you were my charioteer, and second, you lifted the chariot. So, you must have two boons.” She replied, “When the proper time comes, I will ask for these boons. Keep them as a deposit.”

After that, Maharaja Dasaratha returned to Ayodhya, but still he had no son. He therefore engaged Rsi Srnga in a putresthi-yajna, a fire sacrifice for begetting a child. When the sacrifice was completed, a deity came out from the sacrificial fire and gave some sweet rice to Maharaja Dasaratha. The deity said, “Give this sweet rice to any of your queens, and they will definitely have sons.”

Maharaja Dasaratha became very pleased. He divided the sweet rice in half. He gave half to Kausalya, and half to Kaikeyi. Kausalya and Kaikeyi then divided their portions and gave some of each to Sumitra. Rama took birth from the womb of Kausalya; from Kaikeyi came Bharata; and from Sumitra came Laksmana and Satrughna.

You should know that neither Krsna, nor Rama, nor any incarnation of Krsna comes from a husband and wife, like a worldly person. That is why the fire sacrifice was done – and through the sweet rice, Krsna Himself came in the form of Rama. Understand? The fire sacrifice was performed in order to show that Rama is not like us – taking birth from a father and mother. Regarding Krsna, He entered by mantra in the heart of Maharaja Nanda, and Nanda gave the mantra to Yasoda. Nrsmhadeva, Varahadeva, and other incarnations also – none of Them came from a father and mother.

After some time, the sons of Maharaja Dasaratha were sent to the gurukula of Vasistha-deva, where they became expert in all sixty-four arts and then returned to Ayodhya. Some time later, Maharsi Visvamitra visited Maharaja Dasaratha and said, “While we are performing sacrifices, the demons are destroying them. So, please give me Rama and Laksmana. They will protect us.” Maharaja Dasaratha replied, “Oh, they are only teen-agers. I will go with my whole army to protect you.” Visvamitra said, “You cannot; I know. Give them to me; otherwise, I will curse you.” Maharsi Vasistha, the guru of Maharaja Dasaratha then said, “O Maharaja Dasaratha, if you give Them, They will learn so many things and They will be very happy.” Thus, Maharaja Dasaratha gave his sons.

Visvamitra brought Ramacandra and Laksmana to his asrama on the bank of the Ganges, where my birthplace is. He taught Them about many weapons and about mantras, and Ramsacandra killed so many demons there. Marica was one of those demons. By one of Ramacandra’s arrows, he was hurled 800 miles into the ocean near Lanka.

[Janaka Maharaja invited many kings who came to Janaka-puri to compete for the hand of his daughter, Sita.] He announced in the assembly of kings Whoever will string this bow of Sankara, I will marry my daughter to that person.” The bow of Sankara which was so heavy that very strong kings could not pick it up. Even Ravana came at night to try; Banasura came; demigods came; but they could not do it. So many kings from all over the world had come to Janak-puri and wanted to lift it, but they could not.

Ramacandra was also now in Janaka-puri, with Visvamitra and Laksmana, All three were now present in that assembly. At last, by the order of Visvamitra, Ramacandra very easily lifted that bow and began to string it. At once, that bow broke, and Sita-devi was thus married to Sri Ramacandra.

Maharaja Dasaratha was invited from Ayodhya. He came with Bharata, Satrughna, brahmarsi Vasistha, and so many important persons from Ayodhya. Then Rama, Laksmana, Bharata, and Satrughna were married. After that, they all returned to Ayodhya [with their brides].

After some time, Bharata and Satrughna went to visit Maharaja Kaikeya. Meanwhile, Dasaratha called the family and said, “Now I am becoming old. I know my son Rama is very much qualified to be king after me – my successor. I want to give Him the post of crown-prince.” Maharaja Vasistha and all persons in the counsel became very happy. They said, “O Maharaja Dasaratha, don’t delay.” He asked, “When should I make Him king? ” Brahmarsi Vasistha replied, “Tomorrow is a very auspicious day. All the stars are very favorable. Tomorrow it should be done.” So Maharaja Dasaratha declared, “Tomorrow I will make Rama the crown prince.” Thus, Maharaja Dasaratha told Vasistha, “Prepare all things for the abhiseka of Rama.” All became very happy.

In the meantime, the maidservant of Kaikeyi went to Kaikeyi and said, “Really, you are very unfortunate. Tomorrow, Maharani Kausalya will become raja-mata, mother of the king, and you will be Kausalya’s maidservant.” When Kaikeyi heard this, she became very happy. She offered her golden necklace to that maidservant, but her maidservant took it and threw it away.

The maidservant said, “You are really very foolish; you are not understanding. Rama will be king, and Bharata will be His servant. Then, you will be the mother of a servant. Still, there is some way out. Why has Dasaratha sent Bharata and Satrughna from here? In their absence, why has he declared that Rama will be the next king? You remember, Maharaja Dasaratha promised that the son from your womb would be king. So, why is He not doing so? Also, you have two boons from Maharaja Dasaratha. You should tell him that your son will be the king, and Ramacandra will go into exile.”

Thus influenced, Kaikeyi thought, “If Rama is here, no one will accept Bharata as king. So, He must be sent into exile.” She took off all of her ornaments, donned very dirty clothes, and wept. She sent someone to Maharaja Dasaratha to tell him that she was weeping. Maharaja Dasaratha then came to his dear wife. He wanted to know why she was weeping and why she was wearing dirty clothes. She said, “Do you remember that you gave me two boons? I want to ask for them now; it is the proper time for me.” Maharaja Dasaratha replied, “I can give them to you.” She said, “Bharata should be king, and Rama should be exiled for fourteen years.”

Hearing this, Maharaja Dasaratha became faint and began to weep. He said, “O Kaikeyi, I can make Bharata king, my successor, but why do you want Rama to go into exile? Why do you want to send Him away? Kaikeyi replied, “You should just now promise that you will do these things. I don’t want to hear anything else.” Worried and weeping, Maharaja Dasaratha said, “My dear Kaikeyi, don’t send Rama into exile,” But she would not change her mind.

Kaikeyi called Sri Rama. Rama asked, “Why is my father not speaking, and why is he crying?” She replied, “He has given me two boons. I asked that Bharata be king and that You should go into exile for fourteen years.” Ramacandra became very happy, and said, “From the beginning, I was wondering why, in Indian culture, the eldest son becomes king? Why should it not be divided among all his brothers? I’m happy that you have now asked for this boon from Maharaja Dasaratha. At once I am going into exile.”

When He was ready, Sita-devi said, “I must go with you; I will not be able to survive here.” Laksmana also said, “I must go with You.” So, the three of them, in the dress of sannyasis, went into exile.
I am telling this in very brief.

When Ramacandra went into exile, Maharaja Dasaratha, weeping, told Kaikeyi, “I have now broken my relation with you as my wife; now you are no longer my wife. Moreover, if Bharata comes and accepts the kingdom, I also will reject him as my son. Take me to the palace of Kausalya.” There, crying, “Rama, Rama and Ra…!” he left his body.

In the meantime, brahmarsi Vasistha called Bharata and Satrughna from their maternal uncle’s house. When they came, they saw that all the citizens of Ayodhya were weeping as a widow would weep. Bharata saw that his mother Kaikeyi was wearing a white dress. He asked her, “Where is my father?” She replied, “He has left his body.” He asked, “Where is Rama?” She replied, “He has gone into exile.” He asked, “Where are Sita and Laksmana?” She replied, “Also in exile.” He asked, “Why?” She replied, “I have done this for you, so that you could be King of Ayodhya.” He replied, “I would cut your head off, but my brother Rama would not be happy, so I will not do so. I accept you as a queen, but now you are not my mother.”

Bharata then called the counsel and said, “Be ready. I am going to Chitrakuta where my brother Rama is staying with Laksmana and Sita. I will bring Rama back and He will be the king; He is still king.” Thus, he prepared to leave with all of the mothers.

When they were getting ready to go, Kaikeyi told Kausalya, “Sister, I also want to go. I will tell Rama that I am taking back my boon, and that He must return to Ayodhya and be king. So, take me with you.”

Out of mercy, Kausalya took Kaikeyi with her, and all went to Chitrakuta. There, they requested Ramacandra, “Please return to Ayodhya.” Ramacandra heard from them that His father had departed from this world. So, first He performed a ritual ceremony, and then a big counsel took place. Vasistha Maharsi and all rsis were on one side. The father of Janaki, Janaka Maharaja, was also present as the head of the family. Rama, Laksmana, Sita, and others were on another side.

Vasistha Rsi said, “O Maharaja Janaka, I’m very happy that you have come. The boat of Ayodhya is sinking in the ocean; there is no captain to save us. I am happy that now you have come. Tell Rama and Bharata what to do. I cannot tell them, because I am on the side of Bharata, that Rama should return. So, you say what they should do.” Then Maharaja Janaka asked Rama, “Will you agree that what I decide You will follow?” Rama replied, “Yes, certainly; you are my father and like my guru.” Then Maharaja Janaka asked Bharata, “Will you obey me?” Bharata replied, “Certainly, You are my father now, and like my guru also. I will do what you decide.”

In that big counsel, Bharata explained why he thought it better that Rama return to Ayodhya. Maharaja Janaka then offered pranama to his gurudeva, Sankara, and meditated on him. He said, “O Sankara, my Gurudeva, give me inspiration. What should I tell them?”

After that, having received inspiration from Bhagavan Sankara, Maharaja Janaka said, “Bharata has won, and Rama has been defeated. The love and affection of Bharata is very, very deep, like an ocean, and Ramacandra’s dharma is like the Himalayas. Ramacandra can sink in the ocean of Bharata’s love and affection, but He cannot move here and there. This means that Bharata should think about what is real bhakti, uttama-bhakti. Though he has won, he should ask his worshipful Deity how He will be pleased – what He wants – and follow that.

Bharata then became very happy. He folded his hands before Maharaja Janaka and said, “Maharaja Janaka, you are really my guru. You have opened my eyes. Until now, I was looking toward my own happiness. I was thinking that if Rama would come to Ayodhya I will be happy. I never thought about how Rama would be happy. Now you have opened my eyes.”

Bharata said to Rama, “My dear brother Rama, how will You be happy? Tell me what You want.” Rama replied, “I am defeated; you have won. So I am taking the kingdom of Ayodhya, But I want that for fourteen years you will manage My kingdom – not your kingdom – as My representative. After fourteen years, I will definitely come and take My kingdom.” Bharata agreed. He took Rama’s wooden sandals, placed them on his head and returned to Ayodhya.

Sri Ramacandra thought, “This place is very near to Ayodhya. Bharata or other inhabitants of Ayodhya may come here, and then the rsis will be disturbed. So, I must go to the deep forest.” Thus, He went to Dandakaranya, and then Pancavati. In Pancavati, He made a cottage on the bank of the Godavari and began to live there.

One day, Ravana’s sister Surpanaka came. She saw Rama, became so much attached, and wanted to marry him. She took the form of a very beautiful lady and approached him. She said, “I am a very young, qualified, beautiful lady and you are a young, attractive person. I want to marry you.” Ramacandra replied, “I am married, and Sita is here. Laksmana has no wife here, so you can go to him.” Then she went to Laksmana, who told her, “I am His servant. Do you want to be the maidservant of that lady (Sita)? So, go to Rama. He can marry you.”

Again she went to Rama, and again He refused. Then she took the form of a very big demon, and wanted to kill and eat Sita. Then Laksmana, by the order of Rama, cut off her nose and ears. Crying, Surpanaka went to Ravana’s brothers, who came with an army to fight with Rama. Rama killed them all.

Ramacandra then told Sita, “I want to fight with the demons and kill them. I want to keep you with the demigod of fire. You will be safe there.” Rama called the deity of fire and Sita was given to him. Then a Maya-Sita continued on with Sri Ramacandra.

Surpanaka went to her brother, the very powerful Ravana. She said, “I went to the forest and saw a very beautiful lady. Really, she is very qualified to be your queen. She is more beautiful than your wife Mandodari. But when I went there, they cut off my nose and ears. I want you to take revenge, and somehow take Sita and make her queen here.”

Ravana then took one of his servants, Marica with him and went to Dandakaranya, near Pancavati. He was on a flower airplane, which he had taken from Kuvera. He told Marica, “Take the form of a very golden deer and go in front of Sita and Rama. Sita will definitely tell them to bring her that deer. Rama will follow you, and you take Him very far away. When Rama kills you, at that time imitating the voice of Rama, you should say, “Alas Laksmana! Alas Laksmana!”

Marica became a golden deer and  began grazing in front of Sita and Rama. Sita-devi said, “That golden deer is very dear to me. Prabhu, my dear husband Rama, somehow bring that deer to me, either alive or dead. I will present it to Mother Kaikeyi.”

Rama had told Laksmana before going, “Stay here and protect Sita. There are so many demons, so you must stay here; don’t come with Me.” Rama followed that deer who took Him very far away. When Ramacandra shot that deer, the deer cried [imitating Ramacandra’s voice], “Laksmana, Laksmana! Save me, save me!”

Sita-devi and Laksmana heard this voice. Sita-devi said, “Go and help your brother; otherwise, He will be put to death.” Laksmana replied, “I know my brother. No one can kill or defeat Him. So I will not go. Ramacandra has given me the order to stay here and protect you.” Sita-devi said, “Oh, you are a hypocrite. You are a spy. You want Rama to be killed so you can become my husband. This can never be.” Laksmana became very worried and said, “I am making a circle around this cottage. Don’t cross this circle [for any reason]. Stay there. I am going, but don’t go out of the circle.”

In the meantime, Ravana went there in the form of a tridandi-svami, and called out, “Bhiksam dehi, bhiksam dehi (give me alms).” Sita-devi brought him something on a plate. Ravana tried to enter that cottage, but when he approached the circle made by Laksmana, some flame or electricity at once manifested. He could not cross that line. Ravana said, “If I give a curse, Rama will die.”

Then Sita crossed the circle – because it was the wish of Rama that Ravana would come and kidnap her. So, when she left the circle, Ravana forcefully took her. He put her on a flying chariot, and at once they went to Lanka. He told Sita, “You should be my queen. You will be more dear to me than Mandodari and others.” Sita refused, so he kept her in Asokavana.

When Rama returned with Laksmana to His cottage, He saw that Sita was not there. He became maddened and cried, “O Site [the vocative of ‘Sita’], O Site, where are you!” He began to ask even trees and creepers. He even asked the Godavari River and the animals there.

Rama then went to Kishkinda and met with Sugriva, the king of the monkeys, and made friendship with him. Then Rama killed Bali {the brother of Sugriva who had stolen Sugriva’s wife and made her his own]. Sugriva promised, “For this, I will discover Sita wherever she is, and then you can kill that person [who kidnapped her].”

Then Sugriva told Hanuman: “Search for Sita.” Hanuman went to Lanka, crossing the Indian Ocean. He discovered Sita in the Asoka forest with the help of Vibhisana, the brother of Ravana. Ramacandra had given a ring to Hanuman and told him that when he meets Sita, he should give it to her so that she would know that he was His messenger. Sitting on a tree, Hanuman dropped the ring in front of her. Sita-devi saw that it came from a monkey in a tree. Then Hanuman came and said, “I am a messenger of Rama. He has sent me to find you, and [after some discussion said, “Now I will return.”

Hanuman then killed many asuras residing there, and also the son of Ravana. Then he entered golden Lanka, set fire, and all were finished. Then, Hanuman returned to Sri Ramacandra.

Now Ramacandra, with the monkey army – Sugriva, Jambavan, Nala, Nila, and others – went to the ocean and made a bridge with the help of Nala and Nila. Nala had a boon that whatever he would throw in the ocean would float. Thus, very soon the monkeys made a bridge and crossed it. There was a very great battle for ninety days, in which Ravana and his whole army were finished.

Then, Ramacandra made Vibhisana King of Lanka, and Vibhisana brought Sita-devi to Rama there. But Rama refused to take Sita. [Although sages, demigods, and Rama’s father appeared there and confirmed Sita’s chastity] He told Her, “I cannot accept you. You can go anywhere you like.” Sita-devi then told Laksmana, “Build a fire for me. I will burn; I will not keep my body.” Laksmana then made a huge fire, and Sita-devi entered that. This was only a trick, because in Dandakaranya, Rama had given Sita-devi to the care of the deity of fire. Now, by a trick, Rama took Sita-devi from the fire. He went to Ayodhya with Sita, Laksmana, Sugriva, Hanuman, and others. Bharata was waiting there, and went at once to greet Rama. Rama was then given the crown of Ayodhya.

Bhagavan Sri Ramacandra, ki jaya!