Satsang at Rikhiapeeth

Rajasooya Yajna and Sat Chandi Mahayajna, 2007. Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Rama and Parashurama

The Rama of Ayodhya was Rama and the Rama of Kerala was Parashurama. His original name was not Parashurama; he carried a parashu (axe) so he came to be known as Parashurama. This is why Tulsidas has said, “Recognize Rama.” The subject has been raised in many places. It has been asked, “There are two Ramas. Who is the real Rama? Who is the real avatar of Rama?” This has been clarified in the Tulsi Ramayana.

There are two statues of Rama – the fair one and the dark one. The region where the dark statue is worshipped was once called Parashurama Kshetra (kshetra means region). The region where the Ramacharitamanas was written was known as Varaha Kshetra (varaha means boar). Tulsidas has referred to ‘shukara khet’ in the Ramacharitamanas. Shukara means boar. In Sanskrit, it was referred to as Varaha Kshetra.

Source of knowledge

Some people say that Sri Rama was just the hero of a poet’s imagination. No wise person should pay heed to such statements. Not everything that we know has archaeological evidence. Can you provide evidence of where your fifteenth grandfather lived? We do not even know about our current grandfather! Archaeological research has its own place. It is a science and we respect that science. However, to assess the history of a place through the limited means of archaeology is not correct. Knowledge of the past comes through stories, dances and traditions.

The people of Kumaon and Maharashtra, for example, pronounce ‘cha’ and ‘ja’ as ‘na’. In India, except for Kumaonis and Maharashtrians, no one can pronounce these consonants in such a manner. Can we establish archaeological proof for this? No, it is a matter for study.

You may deny something only when everything about it is known, when you can say with confidence, “Yes, I know that it is wrong.” Do not deny that which you do not know, which you have not studied, investigated or immersed your mind in. How do you know that Rama never existed? I know that he existed because I have studied all about him in detail.

Valmiki’s Rama

Valmiki (author of the original Ramayana) did not think of Rama in the form of a god; Tulsidas thought of Rama in the form of swayambhu paramatma (self-existing supreme spirit). Tulsidas is not ready to accept anyone other than Rama as his god, but Valmiki has described Rama as an eminent person born in the Ikshvaku dynasty. The first sloka of Valmiki’s Ramayana is:

Ikshvaaku vansha prabhavo Raamo naama janaiha shrutaha.

“We have heard from the mouths of people that in the Ikshvaku dynasty a person called Rama has been born.”

This is the same Valmiki to whom the Ramayana was revealed after he witnessed the killing of a heron, and at whose place Sita spent her forest-dwelling days and gave birth to Lava and Kusha. Shatrughna, Rama’s younger brother, passed Valmiki’s ashram on his way to kill a demon, and he performed the annaprashana (ceremony where a baby receives its first solid food) of Lava and Kusha. Shatrughna was sent to Mathura not by the direct route, but via the river Tamasa. At night, his army halted near Valmiki’s ashram. That very day Lava’s and Kusha’s annaprashana was being performed. So Valmiki said to him, “Now that you have come, you may as well perform the ceremony.” He did so, unaware of the fact that Lava and Kusha were his nephews.

Dhanushkoti

In southern India, there is a place from where the Ramasetu begins (Ramasetu is the bridge that Rama’s army is believed to have built across the sea to reach Lanka). It is called Dhanushkoti. A small gauge train runs from Rameshwaram to Dhanushkoti, which is a fishing village. I was about thirty years old when I went there. I built a small hut and lived there for a few months. When the tide came in, the water would rise very high. When the tide ebbed, the water would recede by three or four miles. I would walk down there to see sea snakes, sea creatures, corals and pearls. Then I would swim out for a couple of kilometres. If you went on for about eight kilometres, you would find sharp stones under the sea. It was obvious that they had been piled up there manually, what is termed ‘reclamation’ these days. The city of Mumbai, for example, has been created by reclamation. Parts of Holland are built on land reclaimed from the sea.

Fourteen kilometres from Dhanushkoti there is an island in the sea. There were several such islands in the Ice Age (to which the Ramayana belongs). In the Ice Age about fourteen kilometres of land was reclaimed from the sea. I do not consider this a big thing. Tulsidas has written about it: Sindhu tare paakhaan.

From Dhanushkoti, a steamer used to run to the island of Tallamanar. I would go there often. Its speciality is that when the tide is low, you can see small islands around it. Now, Hanumanji was a monkey. He was not really a monkey, but belonged to the ape race, vanar jati, so he could jump and move about like a monkey. It is also not impossible that in those days people were able to jump across a distance of thirty or forty feet, because they were much taller and stronger. You did not have the five-foot-two-inch variety; they were a different kind of people.

The symbolism in Ramayana

When I study Valmiki’s Ramayana and other Ramayanas, and try to derive the symbolic meanings of the verses, I understand many things. On Hanumanji’s voyage, there is a reference to Mainak – “He crossed Mainak.” It means he did not stop at Mainak, but went further. Next, he found the hill Surasa, which had many interlinked caves. He had to make himself bigger and smaller by turn to go through them. Further on, he reached the Shadow Planet, and so on.

How long did it take for the bridge to be built? The monkeys took advantage of the five days of low tide and heaped up stones to make the passage ten feet higher. Now, what do monkeys need? Not a Mall Road, just a little bit of path to jump over, and they created just that. It has also been written clearly in the Ramayana that the monkeys broke a part of the bridge on their way back from Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, people still believe all of this. There is a temple where Rama first disembarked, and worship is still performed there. It is also written that Hanumanji burnt Sri Lanka. What is the meaning of burning Lanka? What would burning India mean? That Delhi or Chowringhee was burnt down. This is a symbolic statement. Sri Lanka is a very big island; Hanumanji burnt only one part of the capital, and that part still carries burn marks. The earth and the stones there still appear burnt.

There are also references to the spots where Rama stopped after leaving Ayodhya. Along with Rama, his followers also left Ayodhya in large numbers, just as the followers of the Dalai Lama left Tibet or the Parsis left Persia. However, Rama tricked them near the river Tamasa, and ran away. But those people did not leave and that village is still inhabited. The villagers say, “We have been here ever since; we did not go back.”

The cancellation of Rama’s coronation was a political event, the kind that always occurs in royal families. Sages like Valmiki, however, do not write their works in the language of politics; they have their own language. Rama is being crowned; why have Bharata and Shatrughna not been called? That question arises in your mind. The same question arose in Rama’s mind, too. When he heard that he was being crowned, he asked, “How can my coronation be held? Two of my brothers are not here.” There is a reference to this in several places. Finally, Kaikeyi used her power of veto. I am speaking in today’s terms. Kaikeyi was the most powerful woman in the country, and Dasharatha was the monarch of Ayodhya.

Bharata resolved the whole matter. On his return, Bharata called off Kaikeyi’s entire agenda. The situation changed. If he had moved even a little away from the mark, major unrest would have resulted in Ayodhya. However, Rama did not listen. He said, “The words spoken by a father and mother must be honoured.” This was a very good action. Whether you see it from a political point of view or as a child’s duty towards his parents, he acted admirably. However, Bharata did not take the kingdom of Ayodhya, but stayed there as administrator. Many of those who went with Rama settled in Dhanushkoti. That village is still inhabited, and the people tell stories of their ancestors.

Right here, I stand witness before you all that I have seen Rama’s bridge with my own eyes, 1,700,000 years after it was built. It was reclaimed. I have studied science; I know about global warming, I know about the Ice Age. I also know how Dwarika was submerged and when Dwarika will re-emerge out of the sea.

Global warming

About 1,700,000 years ago, the Ice Age prevailed on earth. After that, global warming started. Global warming is not a phenomenon of today; it is just that you are only becoming aware of it now. Global warming started several thousand years ago. It was due to global warming that Dwarika submerged. In the future something else will be submerged; the Ice Age will come again, and it will be followed by the emergence of something else. Then you will realize how these things happen. Therefore, do not look at everything from the perspective you have today, but from a scientific point of view.

As far as global warming is concerned, it is a natural occurrence. The human contribution to global warming is negligible; it is limited to carbon and greenhouse gases. This is the view of most people today. It may not be the view of the government and other agencies, but it is certainly the common view that global warming is a natural reality. Even if you do not reduce these gases, the warming will continue.

The train is running and you are also running, holding your suitcase, inside the train! Why? You will not reach Kolkata any faster by doing that. Global warming is not going to decrease or increase because of you. You may try a thousand ways, block your nostrils, stop the carbon being produced inside you, turn the whole world into a forest, but global warming will go on because it is a natural event. Why is it a natural event? Because this solar system is not static. It is a wanderer! Today it is no longer where it was yesterday. It is continuously moving in this infinite universe. Sometimes it comes close to other stellar systems that are cold and then an ice age begins. Sometimes it comes close to hot stellar systems. There isn’t just one stellar system in the universe. There isn’t just one sun in the universe; there are many suns bigger than our sun. Now, if your solar system is passing close to a large stellar system, you are bound to have global warming for 20,000 years. To pass ‘closely’ will not take two or three days; it will take ten to twelve thousand years.

Therefore, what is the contribution of the gases produced by man to this global warming? This is my question. We will have to look for a scientific answer to this question, not an emotional or a political one. Is this solar system steady at one point? Is this universe static? No. The universe is not static, everything is moving. Rabindranath Tagore writes:

Grahataaraka chandra diwaakara vyaakula druta vege
Koree chhe paana koree chhe snaana akkhaya kirane
Aananda loke

Like an anxious person, they are all running at great speed – the sun, the moon, the stars, everything.

Sometimes a big stellar system comes close and global warming begins. The Arctic and Antarctic regions start melting. By stopping the digging of mines, global warming will not go away. I am telling you this very clearly. The modern concept of environmental science lacks coherent scientific thinking. We have to go scientifically, not emotionally and not for political reasons.

Ancestral figureheads

To say that Rama is not an historical truth is akin to denying an entire culture. A figure who has been worshipped for millions of years cannot be dismissed. The object that gives you joy is always worth worshipping. The person who shows you the way is always worth worshipping. The figure that people can bring to mind without fear is always worth worshipping.

I am not saying all this because Rama was a god. I am speaking about Rama because he was my ancestor. I am using the singular tense, ‘my’ ancestor, because I was born in the kshatriya race, in the Ikshvaku lineage. The Ikshvaku dynasty is a solar dynasty; later it became the Raghu dynasty, in which Rama was born.

When I was born, the first mantra that my mother whispered in my ear was a Rama mantra. Not because Rama was the name of a god, but because Rama was the name of a very influential ancestor of mine. The term Ramarajya (indicating perfect reign) has been coined after his name. Rama is not only my god, but also my ancestor. He became my god later. Rama is the ancestor of this sannyasin.

To remember our ancestors is our dharma. Why do we perform shraaddha (ceremonies in honour of the departed souls of relatives) for our father, grandfather or great-grandfather? We respect our ancestors, that is why we have the tradition of shraaddha. We do it to remember them. We cannot ever not accept our ancestors, whether or not we have evidence for their existence. If you cannot produce any proof of your grandfather’s existence, will you deny that he existed? No. We cannot deny our ancestors. That we consider Rama a god is a different matter. That is our sentiment. Ancestry is a reality. This is the truth, and you cannot deny this truth. If you deny your ancestors, what then is your identity?

It is a very important duty to remember our ancestors. In this way, history, society, traditions and customs are preserved. From the social point of view, many things are associated with ancestry. When I came to Rishikesh, my guru was a Shaiva. When the time for mantra diksha came, he asked me, “Do you worship any god or goddess?” I said, “When I was born, my mother gave me the Rama mantra.” Swamiji said, “Okay, do one thing. Do japa of Om Namah Shivaya and think of Rama as your ishta devata.” In this way, he divided me in two. My personal mantra was Om Namah Shivaya and my personal god was Sri Rama. This division continued for several years. Then, one day, I learnt that Rama worships Shiva and Shiva worships Rama. So I wasn’t doing anything wrong! I reached an agreement. From that day on, my mind was completely at rest.

Descent of avatars

During the time of Jesus Christ, the emperor of India was Shaka Shalivahan, after whom the Shaka calendar was created. There are two accepted calendars in India – Vikram Samvat and Shaka Samvat. When the Shaka king ruled here, he had an encounter with Jesus Christ. There is written proof of this in the Bhavishya Purana where his dialogue with Jesus Christ has been penned. Shalivahan asked, “Who are you?” Jesus Christ replied, “I am the immaculate son of Mary.” The one who is born of the union of sperm and ovum is not immaculate. The one who is born without the union of mother and father is immaculate. Jesus Christ was immaculate. He said this to Shalivahan. Jesus Christ died in India, not on the cross; there is scientific proof of this.

We should not lie about sages and God. What does it matter that Krishna had many queens! Should we say, “No, he did not have many queens.” What is true is true. God’s play is strange. A human being cannot understand it. When God is born in a particular age, he is born for the people of that age. Rama was born for the people of his age. A hundred thousand years later, Krishna was born for the people of his age. If God is born today, he will be born in the computer age. He will keep a mobile phone, too. It’s simple. Being God does not mean that he is a stupid person. Being God means that he has come with a special power.

When the common man, the king, politicians, the army chief and the law and order systems are unable to do what society wants, an avatar of God is born to complete that work. An avatar of God is not born as a joke. When the king becomes incapable, the law and order system fails, the good and the virtuous have nowhere to go and atrocities are committed against them, when the pious are harassed, then God descends. It is said in the Bhagavad Gita (4:7–8):

Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanirbhavati bhaarata
Abhyutthaanamadharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham.
Paritraanaaya saadhoonaam vinaashaaya cha dushkritaam
Dharmasamsthaapanaarthaaya sambhavaami yuge yuge.

Paritraanaaya saadhoonaam means ‘for the protection of the pious’. Those who do not steal or cheat, who are pious, who do not trouble anyone, who simply earn their living and go to sleep with their family in peace – when atrocities are committed against such people in the name of religion or some other cause, when the king and the people become inept, then God is born. The birth of God is not child’s play. Now, whether the God who is born has only one Sita for a wife and is an ideal husband, or whether he enjoys many queens, how does it matter? After all, Rama did not do what Krishna did, but we consider them to be equal. The power of God has its own place.

God assumes the form of an avatar in every age. In every age, God has a chief avatar, as well as anshavatars and archavatars. However, his poornavatar comes only once in an age. Rama, who was my ancestor, was one of them. That is why I am proud of him, I feel honoured that I was born in that tradition, and I feel that I should live by it. It is not necessary that Rama burnt Lanka or defeated it, killed Ravana, crossed the ocean or built the bridge across it, but what is important is that Rama was a person worthy of honour and worship. Therefore, the controversy should be removed from this subject.

Equal vision

The amount of respect and support that I, Swami Satyananda, received from 1968 to 1988 in Christian countries and from Christian missionaries, I did not receive in India. And in India, the amount of respect that I received in Bihar, I did not receive anywhere else. The government of Bihar helped me completely, in every way, and is helping even today.

The Christians have two churches, Protestant and Catholic. The Protestant church in England is called the Church of England. Once I gave yoga nidra to the priests at the request of the Anglican bishop who was my host. I received a lot of help in Muslim countries as well. The Shah of Iran helped me. In Saudi Arabia, the newspapers gave me full-page coverage. So, we should not make an issue of religious conversion. In this country, everyone has the freedom to accept any religion, and a guru has the freedom to accept anyone as a disciple.

My disciples are talented people from different races. However, if the hands of the gurus are tied, then there is no saying what will happen. All of you who are intelligent and learned should think this over. Think about your benefits and losses, and contemplate the words of a sannyasin. Right now, the field is open for us. Wherever we go, thousands of people come, some millionaires, some billionaires. Therefore, think about and understand the indication of this sannyasin, think of the welfare of your race and religion. You should have far-sightedness; you should be able to think, “What will happen after five hundred years?” India is not a monarchy. Those who have immense wealth, whose armies move across the world, are monarchs. We are not monarchs. Therefore, we should consider this well before taking any step.

People of all faiths come to this yajna. We should be able to build an environment of such friendship that love grows in it. In the same way as there is love between father and son, brother and brother, there should be love among different people. We should cultivate love in the country, not add to enmity and hatred. If we suffer a few losses as a result, it does not matter. To foster love between two brothers, to remove their conflicts, is necessary, not building a house. This has always been my suggestion.

If you ever go to Australia, ask people in the cities, villages or on the road, “Do you practise yoga?” They will say, “Yes, certainly!” Ask anyone. Go to a petrol station and ask, “Do you know Swami Satyananda?” Yes! Everyone knows Swami Satyananda. Now, in such a country which is wealth-independent, work-independent, independent in every way, I coloured the people with my colour. Did I fool them? No, I brought them to the right path. They are educated, wealthy, learned people, professors, judges, professional people. You can only fool a naïve person who does not know anything. Have I fooled the people of Europe? No, they are bright people. Some among them are computer and rocket scientists. So think well about your gains. It is said:

Ika nadiyaa ika naara kahaavata mailo hee neera bharo
Jaba dono mile eka barana bhe surasaree naama paro.

There is a drain and there is the river Ganga. When the two meet, no one calls the drain dirty, they call it Ganga.

In the same way, when people from opulent countries come to poor countries, the people from the poor countries become rich. So call the skilled, professional people. Accept the heights of their culture. Bring the technology of their kitchens and toilets here. Bring it all, change the country.

I have never seen anyone as Hindu, Muslim or Christian. I do not even like to consider this factor. From the view of yoga, from the view of a sage, of an ashram and sannyasa, everyone is my disciple. If I have the power, I will remove the sickness of the sick, the poverty of the poor. Who is a Hindu and who is a Muslim? I recall a verse of Bahadur Shah Zafar:

Tumase hamane dil ko lagaayaa, jo kuchha hai so too hee hai
Eka tujhako apanaa paayaa, jo kuchha hai so too hee hai.
Kyaa Malayaa, kyaa Kristaan, kyaa Hindu, kya Musalamaan
Jaisaa chaahaa sabako banaayaa, jo kuchha hai so too hee hai.

Bahadur Shah Zafar, who was exiled to Rangoon by the British, wrote these lines. “Kyaa Malayaa, kyaa Kristaan, kyaa Hindu, kya Musalamaan. Jaisa chaahaa sabko banaayaa, jo kuchha hai so too hee hai.” After all, He has made us all. We should have such equal vision. More and more people should try to live with the feeling of equality. You should try to correct the mistakes made by the temples, mosques and churches. And if a sage says something wrong, you should correct that as well.