Saturday 15 August 2020

Anitha Chakravarthy, ShortStory 2020 Longlist


Sri rama rama ramethe| Rame rame manorame||

Sahasranamah thathulyam|Ramanama varananey||

The magnum opus, Ramayana represents the magnanimity of Indian culture, emphasising on the Vedas, Upanishads, servitude to Paramathman and attaining liberation. After an insight received from Narada muni on the existence of the most virtuous, learned, compassionate, beautiful, humble, free from anger, respectful, honest and follower of dharma, Valmiki composed the great epic in the form of Kavya (poetry) with Sri Rama in the lead role. The epic is not just the story of Sriman Narayana’s avatar but also holds the substance of Vedas, Upanishads and Shastras which is why the story of Sri Rama is called Srimad Ramayana.

Sriman Narayana incarnated in many avatars to restore peace and harmony on the earth. Every avatar not only signifies restoration of dharma (good) and banishment of evil but also emphasized on the existence of the life cycle of birth and death. The physical manifestation is alone perishable and the soul steps into its next journey of life. Sri Hari always tries to free the Jevaathma from the bondage of birth and death. This can be achieved by obtaining Gnana (knowledge) from Acharyas and mastering the scriptures. It is only after the understanding of the Jeevathma, that it is dependent on the lord and develops utmost devotion to attain him, the path towards moksha (liberation) begins.

All of us are familiar with the story of Gajendra Moksham, the appearance of Sriman Narayana to save Gajendra could stand out as a question amidst many of us, as to wasn’t god’s name (namam) enough to save Gajendra? What made the lord appear in person to liberate him? The answer lies in the fact that even though the battle between Gajendra and the crocodile took place for thousands of years, none of this mattered, for god what was important was the lotus flower he held in his trunk and called out to him. That utmost devotion, the nature of service to the lord even at the time close to death, made him descend on his Garuda vahana to receive the devotion (lotus) and liberate the soul of Gajendra. This depicts the sacred quality of Narayana, compassion (dhaya). How many of us are so lucky enough to see him at the time of death?

Liberation is the most important aspect of Sri Vaishnavism. The moment an organism takes birth, he transcends into the path of life and if he is associated with the lord, he can seek liberation and end the affair of the cycle of birth and death. The easiest path of attaining salvation is the Acharyan Thiruvadi (surrendering to the lotus feet of the Acharya).

In textual references, the major observation I have made is the modesty in the avatar of Sri Rama. At no point of time, he portrays himself as Sriman Narayana. Even when he’s worshipped by Hanuman, Shabari, Vibeeshana, Jatayu and many others, he never reveals his avatar. The purpose of his visit to the forest in the Aranya kandam was to bless all the sages who were waiting to see him. He even liberates demons and cursed celestial beings. Yet again nowhere he reveals his true avatar. He maintains being a thorough gentleman, which is why this avatar stands out to be one of the best.

One such incident which is the focus of the writing is Jatayu moksham. Aruna was the charioteer of Surya (sun god). He bore two sons Sampaathi and Jatayu. Jatam means twine and ayu means a long life, the one who lives a long life. The two brothers were strong and could fly to any extent, cross oceans at lightning speed, cross mountains like thunder bolt. They once decided to fly close to the sun to test their ability. As Jatayu fast approached the sun, the heat rays began to burn his feathers, Sampaathi shielded his brother and burnt his wings. He could never fly after this. He had a vision that his life purpose was to guide the Vanara army to save mother Sita and his wings would grow back.

The demon Maricha disguised as a magical deer trespassed into mother Sita’s hut. She soon fell in love with the beautiful deer and asked her lord to fetch him for her. Even after repeated warnings that it was demoniac, mother Sita wouldn’t listen.

Jatayu heard screams of a woman from the sky, calling out for Sri Rama and Lakshman. When he looked up he saw Ravana abducting a woman and flying on the chariot. He rapidly flew towards the chariot and stopped the demon king. He challenged him for a battle before he could take her away. He advised him not to perform the heinous act as it would result in his destruction. He asked him to retrace his steps and leave Sita from where she was abducted.

Ravana laughed at his appeal and challenged to destroy Jatayu. With all his might Jatayu flapped his large wings and destroyed the chariot. The next blow brought the mighty king’s crown down. The chariot was shattered. The mighty Ravana used all his weapons but still couldn’t strike the warrior Jatayu. Mother Sita broke into tears at the happening and the bird reassured her that he would once and for all vanquish the demon and return her safe to her abode. The mighty king Ravana finally used his weapon Chandrahasa acquired from lord Shiva and chopped the bird’s wings. There he lay in the last moments of his life fighting to save mother Sita

Jatayu duly completed his duty of protecting the children as promised to his friend Dasharatha. His attempt off saving Sita was the way of serving the lord. With dying breath he gave a complete description of the event to lord Ram. Even at the crisis of death his only intention was to serve Sriman Narayana. This service to the lord even at the end of life lead to his liberation.

Srimad Bhagavatham explains that there is no one who’s near and dear to the lord, nor does he see an enemy in any of us. His intention is to continuously help in one’s progress if they attempt to always remember him. Service without the benefit is what the lord desires. The realisation of attaining the lotus feet of lord lies in mind of the being. This can be attained by pure devotion (bhakthi) towards Sriman Narayana.

NOTE: Some textual references state that Ramayana existed in the 4th century BC. Nevertheless date and time will never bring down the values and morality which the great epic possesses.

Azhwar emberumanar thiruvadigale sharanam..

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