Sri Rama Gita (Summary of Discourse conducted by Swami Chaitanyananda ji between December 26th – 28th, 2013)
In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Sri Rama Gita is in the Uttara Kanda, while the same philosophy is expounded in the Aranya Kanda of Sri Rama Carita Manasa. The text is mainly between the 13th – 15th Dohas (Couplets), and the Chaupais (four line verses).
What is ‘Gita?’ In today’s terminology, the word Geet or Geeta practically engulfs all songs, including Bollywood, and Hollywood. However, the essential meaning of the word Geeta or Gita is that which inspires the seeker toward the Divine, with lyrics that uplift the individual spiritually. Thus, throughout the scriptures, different Gitas, like the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Rama Gita, Vibhishana Gita, unfold the path of right understanding of life.
Lakshmana approaches his brother Lord Rama as his Guru, when the latter is in a relaxed mood and asks him to explain Jnana (knowledge), Vairagya (non-attachment), Maya (illusion), Bhakti (devotion), and the difference between Ishwara and Jiva (Lord and the individual self). Lakshmana, himself a Jnani, a knowledgeable person, is asking these questions for the benefit of mankind.
Sri Rama expounds the spiritual quest of Lakshmana in a different order. He explains that all that is perceived by the senses and mind is Maya. I and mine, you and yours are Maya. Maya is endowed with two powers; the veiling and the projecting causing ignorance. Ignorance leads a person to attachments, with a sense of doer-ship, pride of ownership, and causes much pain and suffering to the individual. True knowledge, the right understanding that all is Lord’s grace, helps the individual realize that the Lord dwells in all animate and inanimate things around us. The three Gunas, that constitute the nature of everything i.e. Sattva (goodness) Rajas (energetic) and Tamas (laziness) also come under the sway of the Lord’s Maya. The eradication of the influences of Maya leads the individual to achieve Jnana (knowledge) and Viragya (detachment or dispassion). Vairagya is attained when the individual performs any action without the thought of doer-ship and without any concern for the fruits of actions. It is not easy to achieve Vairagya however it is possible by the practicing of virtues. The individual (Jiva), through the discipline of Yoga and by the control of the mind, attains spiritual wisdom and accepts that it is the Lord (Siva) who controls all our actions. The individual is then free from bondages and is rewarded with liberation. This is what the Vedas also proclaim.
The easiest path that any seeker can follow without much preparation is total devotion (Bhakti) to the Lord. True knowledge, the spiritual wisdom of the Lord with or without form, depends upon Bhakti. A true seeker will be able to attend to even his household duties peacefully by constantly focusing ones thoughts on the Lord. There are nine paths of devotion which will detach the individual from worldly objects and bring the seeker closer to the Lord. They are: Sravana (Listening to Lord’s praises and stories, Kirtana (Chanting the Lord’s name), Smarana (Constantly thinking of the Lord), Padasevana (Prostrating to the feet of the Lord), Archana (Worshipping an image of the Lord), Vandana (Prostrating with respect to the Lord), Dasya (Accepting the Lord as your Master and offering devout service), Sakhya (Considering the Lord as your friend),and Atmanivedanam (Surrendering oneself to the Lord). If an individual builds up an attachment to the Lord as his nearest kith and kin, the Lord is most happy with such a seeker and is ever present with him. Swamiji mentioned Hanuman as a perfect example for Bhakti.
From listening to Sri Rama, Lakshmana was drawn to tears of joy. So were we, listening to Swamiji as he took examples from our daily lives and explained a profound subject with such ease and humor. Sandeep Srivatsav, a member and volunteer of Shri Dwarakamayi, remarked: “Swamiji presented a very deep insight into the chaupais of Sant Tulsidasa which we were not aware of, though we sing them all the time.” The credit for the photographs goes to Srivatsav.
The three-day Satsanga concluded with the melodious rendering of Sri Ram Gita in different Raags by Chinmaya Swaranjali of Boston.