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True Hindu Life As Seen In The Ramayana

Though we might have gone through the Ramayana many times over, it still comes as a surprise that many of our ideals and aspirations are indeed asuric, demoniac, not very different in nature from those cherished by the cultured rakshasas of Lanka.

The Bhagavad Gita paints a graphic picture of such aspirations: ‘This I have gained today, and that longing I shall fulfil. This wealth is mine, and that also shall be mine in future. That enemy I have slain, and others too I shall slay. I am the lord of all; I enjoy; I am prosperous, mighty, and happy. I am rich; I am of high birth. Who else is equal to me? I will offer sacrifice, I will give, I will rejoice.’

‘Ostentation, arrogance, and self-conceit; anger, rudeness, and ignorance’ characterize the asuric mind, and these are fostered by a supportive world view: ‘The world is devoid of truth, without a moral basis, and without a God. It is brought about by the union of the male and the female, and lust alone is its cause: what else?’

It is only against this background that the higher human values represented by Bhagavan Sri Rama and his companions stand out as exceptional. In Rama, power is not vitiated by arrogance or conceit, strength is not manifested through anger, nor does lust masquerade as chivalry. For Sita, suffering is not weakening or demeaning, and in Hanuman, obedience is not servile. Such attitudes are born of a concordant world view which sees the human being as essentially divine and the Atman as deathless, which apprehends all knowledge and power as being inherent in the human soul and has access to the means to tap it. The Ramayana provides us direct entry into this world view. ‘In these [the Ramayana and the Mahabharata]’, Lin Yutang observes, ‘we are brought closer to the atmosphere, ideals and customs of ancient Hindu life than by a hundred volumes of commentary on the Upanishads.’