The article is a letter to Lord Rama, the second in a row, urging a return to the values of love, compassion, he embodied. The author expresses concerns about certain groups claiming to represent Lord Rama but failing to uphold his teachings and urges readers to rediscover the teachings of Lord Rama through acts of love and compassion.
Dear Rama, Karuna Nidhi, merciful Lord,
I decided to write to you again. I refuse to succumb to hopelessness. My resolve is to resist and challenge it, for within our hearts lies a flame of hope and courage. As long as there is love, these brittle structures of hate machinery will collapse.
Lord, your disciples address you as “Dheeraj Shobhit”, meaning someone who is “adorned with patience”. We must find “dheeraj” (patience) to remain undeterred from the path of compassion.
There is a lovely story about You asking Hanuman to find the ring that falls into a hole on the Earth. Hanuman does so, not surprisingly, making his way through this tiny hole and discovering the netherworld or land of spirit (bhuta), and when Hanuman says to the King of spirits,
“Rama ‘s ring fell into a hole and I come to fetch it”,
The King of Spirits shows him a platter with thousand rings and says,
“There are as many Ramas as many rings in the plate, and you pick up the one that belongs to your Rama and take it.”
We all seek a different ring of yours, Lord. Yet, it is the same;
In search of Rama’s rings,
Roams the disciple Hanuman in us.
Unlike Tolkien’s “One Ring” to reign,
This story of Hanuman frees us from chains.
Each ring will bear our devotion,
Love and compassion set in motion.
You were the royal family’s beloved; your brothers looked up to you; it had been announced that you would succeed King Dasarth after his death. You had fallen in love with Sita, and in a grand ceremony, you married King Janak’s daughter, and they say it was a match made in heaven.
You, Prince of Ayodhya, are also called Sarvabhavana (beloved of all). Queen Kaikeyi, often considered the favourite wife of King Dasharatha, used a boon to demand that Lord Rama (you) to relinquish the throne in favour of Bharata, leave the city of Ayodhya for a period of exile. Queen Kaikeyi, who had always adored and pampered you, in a way, had betrayed you. When Kaikeyi sought a boon to secure her son’s throne, You and Sita were forced into exile. Even so, Lord Rama, You accepted the decision with equanimity and prepared yourself for the journey without protest.
It always amazes me how You were able to do that. I was once unceremoniously side-lined from something I had built. Anguish turned into anger, and I was bitter.
However, when I read about you, I see You accepted your duty without complaint. In the story, Kaikeyi and Bharata stop you at the city’s exit. Kaikeyi asks for your forgiveness and even calls herself a “blot on mothers” (Ku-mata). Your rightful throne is offered back to you by Bharata, but you refuse. Instead, you embrace him and wish him luck. Kaikeyi did not make you angry. It is said that Kaikeyi waited for you after you returned from the vanvas, and you embraced her when you returned.
Yet when I see that there is a Sena in your name, a Ram-Sene (Sena), that does not negotiate or discuss. They use violence and sometimes derogatory terms to describe women. In 2009 they attacked women in the pub and claimed that these women do not uphold Indian values.
My Lord Ram, you are often called “Mridu” or “Saumya” due to your gentle and compassionate nature. However, it is disheartening to Ram Sena to ignore your teachings. They fail to recognise the contradictions in their actions. If only I could remind them of your journey, of the moments when you demonstrated love by spending time with Sabari, sought reconciliation by sending Hanuman, showed compassion by holding Vali in his final moments, and shed tears as Jatayu passed away before your eyes.
In the Jaina Tradition, your story upholds the principle of non-violence and does not even entertain the idea of killing Ravana, you embody the values of truth and love while advocating for non-violence as the way forward.
As a Nation, especially as a Hindu community and as believers of Ram, we must ask, If Ram Sena represents Ram, does it reflect our collective conscious or our imagination of the King as brave and benevolent as you? If Ram Sena cannot embrace compassion and respect, they do not possess the Ring of the Ram. They and the society which offers them legitimacy must introspect.
Dear Ram, You are called “Sarva Bhuteshu“, one who sees all living beings equally. When our nation was created, the forefathers dreamt of equality, and the idea of equality must come with solidarity and compassion. At these times, I worry that we have lost out the ability to imagine; hate is blinding us. That’s why I’m speaking to you.
Like Hanuman, we must rediscover the rings of Ram for ourselves. That can only be undertaken through acts of love and compassion, a path you taught us through your life.
Seeker for your Ring
(The writer is a financial professional, also passionate about the arts, academia, and social issues related to development and human rights)