Om Sweet Om

Om Sweet Om

Reuniting Rama and Laksmi

posted by Vineet Chander
Reuniting Rama and Laksmi:
What can two Diwali narratives tell us about living our lives today?

When I was a child, every Diwali night before going to bed, our family did something which I thought was extraordinary. We unlocked and slightly opened the doors to our home. (That may not seem so extraordinary to some of you, but growing up in New York City it was!)  The reason, I was told, was that so on this night, Laksmi the goddess of fortune could freely enter and bless our home with prosperity. In my childish way, I imagined Laksmi to be something like a more selfless version of the tooth fairy… leaving coins for us on the altar.

As I grew into an adult and embraced the path of Bhakti, Diwali became more focused on the narrative of Lord Ramachandra – the Divine in the form of an exemplary king – returning home to His kingdom of Ayodhya.

This evening’s celebration focuses on these two personalities, Laksmi and Rama. I’d like to invite you to reflect on the deep and esoteric connection between these two aspects of Diwali this evening.

The basic story of Lord Ramachanrda, which is known as the Ramayana, is
that Rama’s beloved wife, Sita Devi, was kidnapped by the demon king
Ravana. Rama valiantly rescues her, liberates the people from Ravana’s
demoniac rule, and returns home to Ayodhya, where the citizens have lit
the city with candles in celebration of His return. And while there is
a historical significance to these events, there is also rich symbolic
meaning. Who is Rama? Rama is the supreme embodiment of dharma,
spirituality, righteousness, our very essence. Who is Sita? Sita is the
same Laksmi Devi we celebrate as the goddess of all fortune, all
auspiciousness.  And who is Ravana? Ravana – his name means “he who
delights in making others cry” – is the personification of the bases
instincts – lust, wrath, envy, greed. He is the personification of
exploiting others. The Ramayana is the story of how Ravana wanted to
enjoy Sita, wanted to enjoy the wealth and prosperity and fortune,
without Sri Rama.  And the whole Ramayana is about the epic quest to
reunite Rama and Sita, to have fortune and dharma side by side once
again. If we look at all of the other characters in the story, they are
all either trying to help Rama reunite with Sita, or keep them apart.

What might this tell us? What might it mean to us in the age of Wall
Street greed and Bernie Madoff, and an economy in which many of us are
struggling to catch even a fleeting glimpse of Laksmi?

Well, maybe it can remind us that while its easy to point the finger at
the Ravanas on Wall Street, maybe there are a few Ravanas on main
street too. Maybe there is a Ravana within each of our hearts that sees
an opportunity to capture Laksmi – prosperity and fortune – even at the
expense of exploiting, cheating, or hurting others.

This evening, in honor of Diwali, we can choose an alternative. We can
choose to commit our lives to reuniting Rama and Sita, to seeing
prosperity and fortune in their relation to Dharma. If we are
struggling, we can take that struggle as an opportunity  to re-valuate
our priorities, to discover the real wealth is not in possessions or
currency, but in our relationship with God and our relationship with
His creation. If we have been blessed with wealth or resources, we can
– we must – see it as a gift from the Divine, to be used responsibly
and in the service of God and one another. Rather than to exploit, we
can choose to serve.

To the extent that we fail to do that, Laksmi Devi remains like my
childish conception–a tooth fairy like character to beg some coins
from. To the extent that we can sincerely try to do it, however, to
that extent Laksmi Devi runs into our home and resides there happily.

Today is also a very special day for me, because it is the anniversary
of the day that my parama guru, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, left this world. In
the Hindu tradition the passing of a great saint is regarded as equally
auspicious as his or her  birth – for in either instance, it is a
celebration of a life of service and unconditional love. Prabhupada,
and others like him – some famous, some practically unknown – show us
that to live a life dedicated to serving others, to reuniting Rama and
Sita, is actually possible.

Thank you very much.

(Originally delivered as an address at Princeton University’s Diwali at the Chapel event, November 14, 2009)

  • Alex Nodopaka

    After reading the above I was inspired to write the below…
    A Canto: Rama to Sita
    If you are to be Sita and I Rama
    Stop anything related to turking
    Because continuing on a dark path
    You expect to meet on a lotus blossom
    But its leaf will not support us
    Nor be a flying carpet as I shall appear
    Only a pale reflection of Lakshi
    And though I act as does Ravana
    I yearn for the Divine through you
    Alex Nodopaka Nov(c)2009
    AD Something

  • Sri Jyotikar Pattni

    Maryada Purshottamm Bhagavan Shree Raama means perfect human without a flaw or fault in setting example to the humanity for generations to come. Such a one is brave, courageous, truthful, dutiful, noble, steadfast, sincere to his father, faithful to his wife, self-less towards his praaja [society], kind, gentle and humble, and albeit living in ornamental attire is a saint and a pure divine being. Such a one is “Raama”. – Naradji to Rishi Valmiki. The essence of Raama is that Raama portrays righteousness [the dharma of humanbeing]. “Aum Shree Raama” is a naama, mantra and a hymn for moksha.The curse upon Raja Dasharatta could only diminish with this mantra recited many thousand times by Raja Dasharatta.
    RAMAYAN: STORY of RAMA in brief
    Rama was the eldest of 4 sons of Dashrath, King of Ayodhya.
    His step mother Kaikai demands that her son Bharat to be made as the successor and Rama to be sent in Forest for 14 yrs. Rama travelled a long distance over 14 years. When they were in Panchvati, Ravana abducts Sita and takes her to his Kingdom Lanka. Ram meets Hanuman in Kishkindha. Also a friend Sugreeva.Hanuman in search for Sita finally reaches Lanka and informs Rama.Rama and Sugreeva’s army then make a bridge from Rameshwaram to Lanka.Ravana and his powerful army was defeated in the war.Rama and Sita return to Ayodhya. People lighted Ayodhya with lamps and the first Deepavali was celebrated. His reign was known as Ramrajya, an ideal governance.
    Lord Raama was born out of cycle of karma, to replenish the curse of his own father Raja Dasharatta and the Raghu dynasty and secondly to kill DEMON Ravana who would have given rise to “evil”. Shiva the Hara is Hari’s keeper of “Amruuttam_Sommam”. Shiva verily is incarnated as Shree HanumanjiMaharaj who adores Raama like Sita does.
    Ramayana is DIVINE without any debates, doubts and intellectualism. Ramayana is beautiful. For as long as Ramayana is narratted in homes, Hanumanji-Maharaj the only deity with nine Deva qualities and eight spiritual strengths, will give his presence to protect and to nurture the humble devotee. Shree HanumanjiMaharaj is a true example of BHAKTA AND DEVOTION.
    Sundar Kaanda Pathd, is a sub-part of Ramayana. It is very heart moving, and emotionally transmigrating.
    Hanuman Chalisa is forty verses that move our hearts, soften us, and bring us to divine levels of worship. Such are magnificence emanating from Ramayana.
    Lord Raama is bhagavan shree Raama whose NAME is truthfulness, light, and whose mantra is delight of million lights put together. Hence, deepavali albeit the darkest night of the moon cycle, the SUN blesses TULA RASHI [LIBRA SIGN] forever, and LORD RAAMA IS CONSIDERED AS DELIGHT OF MILLION LIGHTS PUT TOGETHER. Check – every deepavali will be blessed with Sun in the Libra sign.
    Jaya shree Raama Aum shree Raama Aum SIYARAAMA

  • Your Name


  • Abambagibus

    My knowledge of Hinduism is cursory, but enough to allow me to climb a virtual thread of Hindu thought with little difficulty. I am a Christian with an Augustinian Platonic bent, a fact which endears me to few of my fellow Christians. However I do know that, without Bhakti in its primordial sense, there can be no dissolution of duality into the singularily of the perpetually infinite Truth yet hidden by the illusion that so plagues with the lie of its reality.

  • Enrique Rose

    If only more people would read about this!

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