Veda Dharma

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"The Power of Prarabdha"

The story of Saint Ramadasu who lived in the 17 th century is an epitome of devotional lessons to aspirants. For people, who have not heard of Sri Ramadasu following is a short history. Saint Ramadasu was known in his early years as "Gopanna". He was born in a pious brahmin family in the deccan region of Andhra Pradesh. He was very well known for his devotion to Lord Sri Rama. Due to the influence his maternal uncles had, he joins the administration of King Tanisha(A muslim king) as a Tahsildar, a post well-known for its power. He was initiated into the Rama naama by the great Kabirdas, who also lived at the same time. Ramadas, out of his extra ordinary devotion towards Lord Sri Rama, uses the taxes collected for the people to build a temple for Lord Sri Rama in Bhadrachalam. (This temple is quite famous now and is well known for the Lord's abundant grace on the devotees who visit this place.This is located on the banks of River Godavari.) The king gets to know of Ramadasu's misuse of funds and imprisons him for 12 years. It was told by great sages that Ramadasu had improsioned a parrot in a golden cage for 12 days in his previous birth and has to pay the effects of that karma back. During his stay in prison, Saint Ramadasu had written excellent songs on Lord Rama, whose glories are unparalleled. After a frustrating 12 years in prison, which was totally dark except for a small hole at the top through which food used to be thrown, Saint Ramadasu was released from the prison in a most surprising fashion. One day when the king was asleep, he had a dream in which he sees two princes well-decorated with golden ornaments, crowns and silk clothes and who are wearing bows and arrows in their hands. The king feels astonished by the splendour that emanated from the bodies of these princes. The princes question the King as to why he had to imprison such a great soul as Ramadasu. The king informs them of Ramadasu's misuse of funds and the princes return the king the same money which Ramadasu had spent for Lord SriRama. The dream ends there and the king wakes up and finds the money next to his bed. He finds all the 1 lakh gold coins with a stamp of SriRama on each. He rushes to the prison and releases the Saint at once and restores his old position. Tanisha himself was a great soul in his previous birth and thus gets blessed with the darshan of Lord Sri Rama. He was a classic example of a Yoga Bhrasta(One who fails to follow Yoga till liberation). As rightly told in Bhagavad Gita , he becomes a rich man and even gets the darshan of the Lord in all His Supreme glory.
Now what are the lessons that an aspirant can learn from the story of Saint Ramadasu? The most important is that no one can escape prarabdha. The second lesson is that the bite of the snake called prarabdha can be experienced with less pain if devotion towards the Supreme is cultivated in one's mind. Third , the Lord's will is unchangeable and He definitely rescues His devotees when their devotion becomes ripe. Fourth, patience and steadfast devotion are keys to liberation.
Ramadasu is well-known for his excellent compositions on Lord SriRama. Each song of Ramadasu is filled with the nectar of devotion. Any one who drinks it (sings it rather) are blessed with immortality. One of his songs says that there is nothing that has a better taste than the name of SriRama (Sree Rama nee naamam ento ruchi raa). Another song is an example of the power of divine mother to quicken the process of spiritual evolution. It is in fact understood in the Sri Vaishnavite tradition that a prayer to the Lord might go fruitless but not teh prayer to the Lord's consort. The vedantic meaning of this is that the Lord is a symbol of Brahman with very few attributes and the Divine mother is the Maya that creates turbulence in the peaceful Brahman and prompts it to do creation, sustenance and destruction. Thus symbollically the Lord is useless without His divine consort(His Sakthi). The word "Sri" in Sri Vaishnavism it self signifies the priority of Divine mother Sita over Lord Rama. Sita is like a mother who requests(or forces) the father Sri Rama to fulfill the desires of devotees, His children. Ramadasu also knows this trick and puts applications to mother Sita and requests Her to recommend to Sri Rama. (Nanu brovamani cheppave Sitamma talli). Literally means "Mother Sita! Please tell your husband to save me". He also suggests her favourable times to put his application forward like when the Lord just gets up from bed and is in a pleasant mood.
Ramadasu is also famous for his use of the devotional system of "Ninda Stuti" (Praise Lord by scolding Him). In a song at the peak of his frustration , he accuses Rama of putting him to so much trouble and now keeping quiet as if nothing has happened. He lists the items like various necklaces he has made for Rama , Sita etc and questions Rama if these are gifted to Him by His father Dasaratha or His uncle Janaka. At the end of the song , he requests the Lord to pardon his sin by explaining that the Ninda is only because of the unbearable torture that he is receiving from the prison guards. Even today one can see the prison in which he was put and also the ornaments he donated to the Lord. The marriage ceremony of Sri Rama and Sita on the day of Sri Rama Navami is a feast to the eyes of the devotees. All pains related to the body, mind and soul are reduced to ashes when one withnesses the Sita Rama Kalyana. The devotinal fervour of devotees on that day takes one to Supreme realms and gives a feeling as if one has witnessed the Sita Rama Kalyana in Mithila. Even a rock sheds tears of happiness when it sees the ceremony of Rama tying mangala sutra to Mother Sita. Also the officiating priest states that the purpose of the Supreme Rama's marriage to Sita is only to bestow auspiciousness and provide potection to the three worlds.(In a normal marriage the bride groom says that the marriage is for the fulfillment of his life. )
The gist is simple:
"Catch hold of the feet of Divine mother if you seek the grace of the Divine father".

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