There was once a great king, Dasharatha of Ayodhya, who had three queens, Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. The second queen was very dear to him and she was also very daring. Once the king was fighting on a battlefield and this queen accompanied him. While the battle was on, one of the wheels of the chariot gave way. The queen immediately got down from the chariot and held the wheel in place until the battle was over. The king was very obliged to her for performing this brave act, so he offered her any two boons and promised he would never take them back. Of course, she would not accept the king's offer at first, but eventually two boons were given to her.
In the course of time, the three queens gave birth to four great sons: Rama by the eldest; Bharata by this daring wife; and twins, Lakshmana and Shatrughna, by the youngest. The brothers lived together until the king grew old and thought of handing the throne over to the eldest son.
It was at this time that the court intrigue began. The maidservant of the second wife, a very shrewd woman, went to this daring lady and said, "You are the king's favourite queen. He has always spoken highly of you and loved you so much. But when it comes to the question of handing over the throne, he opted for the son of the eldest queen. Isn't that an injustice?" Women, after all, are women. Then the maidservant, who was very clever and wily, had an idea and said, "The king has given you two boons, don't you remember? This is the right time to cash in on them." After a long discussion, this crafty woman ultimately succeeded in winning over the queen.
So it was that the second queen went to the king in a rage and demanded that he fulfil her two boons, which she had never previously asked for. She knew that the king would have to comply, so she demanded, "First, your eldest son must be sent into exile, and second, my son must be placed on the throne." At this, the king became very sad and replied, "How can that be? Rama is the eldest. Traditionally, he is the one who must inherit this throne. And what has happened to you? Why are you acting like this? After all, Bharata is also my son."
The king, however, had to surrender to her demands as he had promised to fulfil the two boons and he could not go back on his word. The eldest son was ordered to go into exile for fourteen years, and the second son was placed on the throne. The young prince, Sri Rama, readily accepted going into exile, in spite of the fact that he was recently married and very popular in his kingdom. The citizens wanted him to stay at all costs, but he told them all, "No, my duty lies in the fulfilment of my father's wishes. Therefore, I must go to live in the forest."
When Rama was preparing to leave, his wife Sita and one of his brothers, Lakshmana, the son of the youngest queen, also followed him. The three of them lived in the forest for a period of fourteen years. One day the younger brother was standing at the door of their small hut and called out, "Look, there is a beautiful golden deer outside." Sita then said to her husband, "Oh, what a lovely deer! Can I have it?"
Rama went chasing after the deer until he was very far away. Finally he shot an arrow at the deer and it screamed the name of Sita so loudly that she heard it in the distance.
Then Sita told the younger brother, "Something has happened to Rama, please go to his rescue." But Lakshmana said, "No, nothing has happened to him. It is some sort of trick." However, Sita was so adamant that Lakshmana had no choice but to go and leave her.
In the meantime, there came a very strong and stalwart fellow dressed like a swami with malas, matted locks, a yoga danda, or wooden staff, placed under the arm, and a kamandalu, or coconut shell begging bowl. The sadhu said to Sita, "I want something to eat." Sita replied, "I will give you some food." But the sadhu seeing her standing on the threshold of her hut said, "I will not eat food inside. Come outside and serve me, otherwise I will not eat."
Now, in India, a swami is respected so much that nobody wants to displease him. Who knows who he is? The word of a sadhu could be a curse or a boon. So Sita went out and put a little foodstuff in his bowl. The sadhu, who was really Ravana in disguise, took her by the hand, swung her onto his shoulder and flew off with her. Sita cried out for help but there was nobody there to come to her rescue because both the brothers had gone chasing after the golden deer. The chase took them so far away that Sita was easily carried off.
Ravana took Sita to his kingdom. He was a very powerful king of his time, having a mighty army, great commanders, many kinds of arms, all sorts of skills in war, as well as many magic powers. Ravana kept Sita in his palace, but she would not yield to his wishes. He tried to tempt her time and again, saying, "You can be my chief queen and all my queens will be your handmaids." But Sita would always reply, "No, nothing doing. Rama is first and last for me."
When Ravana could not manage to change her heart, he placed her in a beautiful garden with many young women to indoctrinate and brainwash her, day in and day out. "My lady, our king is so grand that even the gods fear him. Nobody on earth is his equal. He has immense riches; he is so strong; he is great." But nothing could influence or tempt Sita, and she remained there in the garden, remembering the name of her husband with constant awareness.
When Rama and Lakshmana returned, they found the cottage empty. They searched everywhere but could not find Sita. Then they went looking in different places, asking various people. Some said, "Yes, we saw a man flying away very fast, with a lady in his chariot, and she was crying out your name." They knew that Sita was the lady, so they followed until they came to the seashore where they had no option but to stop. Then the two brothers collected a large army of local inhabitants who were very big monkeys. The brothers were assisted in every way by the strongest monkey, Hanuman, who was actually a man with a tail.
One day Hanuman said to Rama, "First I must do something to demoralize the king." So he crossed to the other shore and climbed into the garden where Sita was sitting and remembering the name of her Lord. At the top of a tree, the monkey started repeating the name of Rama. Sita was amazed and said, "What man in this city knows the name of my husband?" When she looked up and saw a monkey there, she asked, "Who are you? Where have you come from?" Hanuman narrated the whole story of his coming and said, "Don't worry, your husband knows that you are here and he is on his way with a huge army to rescue you."
Then Hanuman started destroying the whole garden, breaking the trees, throwing the fruit and becoming larger and larger through his miraculous powers. Soon the news was brought to the king that a terrible monkey was destroying the whole city. The king commanded his officers, "Capture the monkey and bring him here."
So the army was sent out and the monkey was brought to the court. "I am going to punish you for destroying my property and disrupting my kingdom," the king said. For punishment he brought rags soaked in kerosene oil and tied them to the monkey's tail. "Burn his tail," he ordered. However, while his tail was burning Hanuman escaped and jumped from house to house, setting them all on fire. Finally he plunged into the sea to extinguish the flames.
Then Rama and Lakshmana and their army crossed the ocean and invaded the kingdom. The battle began and eventually all of Ravana's commanders were finished. It is a very long story. Rama and Ravana came face to face on the battlefield. Ravana still had his war chariots, army and weapons, while Rama was fighting unaided without any vehicle. He shot arrows which cut off the king's head, but another head would pop up and again the king would come alive. It seemed the battle would never end.
Rama did not know how to kill the king. Then one of his advisers gave him a clue, "First shoot an arrow at his navel because he has a rejuvenating gland there. If that is pierced, he will be finished. Otherwise you can never kill him." So, on the last day of battle, Rama shot an arrow into the king's navel and killed him.
This is the famous story of Rama, which is known all over India and the world, not merely as an episode in history that took place once upon a time, but as a symbol of the great and powerful negative forces which completely envelop man's knowledge, enlightenment and spiritual awareness, which are hidden within the folds of this negative, subterranean mind. This battle symbolizes the battle that is taking place within everybody, every day. Historically it took place thousands of years ago, but spiritually it is taking place eternally, every day in every one of us.
This is the story of conflict within man's personal consciousness. It talks about the great struggle which man is going through unconsciously and consciously. When we are engrossed in sensual life, only attached to matter, and when we are not able to look beyond what the eyes can see, then we do not understand the conflict at all. For most of us this conflict is either material, like fights and quarrels between husband and wife, brother and sister, etc., or, if we go a little deeper, it is only psychological, as the psychologists have been saying. But this is not correct. The external, material, psychological and emotional conflicts that we face in life are a reflection of the inner conflicts which cannot be seen unless we go deeper.
The deeper you go in spiritual life, the clearer you can see the conflicts. As long as you are ignorant, you cannot see those conflicts. For an ignorant man, everything is bliss. As the saying goes, "Ignorance is bliss." But the moment you face the mind and psyche, the conflicts become more and more marked. The deeper you go in spiritual life, the more disappointed and frustrated you feel, and you say to yourself at times, "What has happened to me? What are these struggles on different planes that I am becoming aware of?"
This is the internal battlefield where the war is being waged every day, every minute. When we go to sleep, we forget the struggles. When we dream, we are partially aware of them. When we drink, we completely close our eyes to the realities of the struggle. When we take marijuana, hashish or any other type of drug, even in the name of a spiritual experience, we are only being side-tracked from the real problems and struggles.
We have to go through the struggle. The spirit of man is in exile, in the wilderness, and with his spirit is the light. Many times, due to the temptations of life and the forces of maya and avidya, psychosis and neurosis, enlightenment seems far from our vision and sight. So I have quoted this well-known story, not to tell you about a great man, but to tell you the way we have to conquer and proceed on.
The negativity of life cannot be eradicated. The very basis of existence is craving. As long as we have cravings, the negativity of life cannot be eliminated because the mind receives the fruit of our cravings. Man becomes old and emaciated, but still the cravings remain strong all the time. The youngest of the young and the oldest of the old, even when they are near the graveyard, suffering from the most vulnerable diseases, face the same intensity of craving. This continual craving cannot be conquered, fulfilled or suppressed. As long as you have it in the mind, it is there.
In order to bypass the very basis of man's mind and desire there is something very important that has to be done, and what is that? The practice of kriya yoga. Vipareeta karani mudra is one of the most important practices of kriya yoga. It diverts the whole process of energy in manipura chakra, the navel centre, back up to sahasrara. Then the energy is installed in its pristine glory. Those of you who have been practising yoga and also those of you who will be doing it in the future must remember that what you are doing is a process of overcoming the eternal struggle and finding the real spirit and the light within.
—From Teachings of Swami Satyananda, Volume IV, (1986), Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, India