Ravana Is Alive!
Whom Are We Burning Every Year?
and Vijayadashami every year, we burn the effigy of Ravana.
There is a deeper meaning behind this action or ritual. The celebration,
arrangements, processions and rituals of Rama-Leela have become
commercial, and at times political, with a lot of hoopla goes around it. In that, we seem to have lost the real meaning behind it.
The State of The Present Day Society
The vices such as selfishness, corruption,
and injustice have plagued our present day society. Our rulers are corrupt. The
rich and the powerful have bought our government. The scholars are driven away
from our educational institutions by vested interest. There is no regard for
truth and justice anywhere in our society or government. The present day
government finds definite parallel in Dhrutrashtra who was totally
blinded by selfishness, passion, power and complete disregard for justice. The
Lord took birth in the form of Lord Rama to get rid of Ravana, Meghanada
and Tadka in Treta Yuga and again the avatara is born in the form
of Lord Krishna in Dwapar Yuga to deal with Kansa, Putna and Shishupal. The
great irony of this Kali-Yuga is that when the society is replete with scores of
Ravanas, Kansas, Tadkas and Putanas, why are we not getting
of Virtues and Embodiment of Vices
is the personification of vices while Sri Rama is the embodiment of virtues.
Just as Ravana, Kansa, Putna, Shishupal and Duryodhana, they all
represented life of impurity, egoism, self-centeredness and covetousness. Rama
and Ravana are both living within us. When we live pure life in thought, words
and deeds, we express Rama within us but when we live in vain pride,
covetousness, and hypocrisy, we are expressing Ravana. So, whenever we see these
vices being expressed anywhere by anyone, know that Ravana is very much alive.
Burning effigy is symbolic of getting rid of egoism, pride, hypocrisy and other
vices from our daily living. Just as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Sri Hanumana are
also the embodiments of virtues.
Hanumana, the Fearless
Chapter, 16 of Bhagavad-Gita, Sri Krishna enumerates virtues starting with
fearlessness, “Abhaya”. How can one
be fearless? Let us take Sri Hanumana. Hanumana literally means,
he, who has killed his ego. Being egoless, he surrendered himself to Sri Rama
and he lived his life serving the Lord Rama, In turn, Sri Rama protected him.
What does he have to fear when Lord Rama is looking after him? When we live the
life, serving the lord, serving the lord in all the names and forms, we have
nothing to fear, the almighty Lord himself will take care of us. In chapter nine
of Bhagavad Gita, in the following verse, the Lord Krishna promises us, that he
takes care of his devotees.
To those ever-steadfast devotees, who always remember or worship Me with single-minded contemplation, I personally take responsibility for their welfare. (9.22)
Nirbhaya and Abhaya
Sanskrit language, we have three words, sabhaya, nirbhaya and abhaya.
Sabhaya is when one knows that there is a reason to be fearful
and he is fearful. In English, because of lack of word, abhaya and nirbhaya
both are translated as fearlessness. But there is a distinct difference between
the two. Nirbhaya is really an illusion of security that leads to
indolence. Abhaya is absolute fearlessness about anything in the world.
The person who is abhaya, knows that he is being protected by the almighty lord
and whatever happens to him it is only for his good and for good reasons. Such
conviction only comes from living the life of complete surrender, service and
sacrifice and once one develops such a conviction, there is nothing in the world
that one has to fear, not even death! Sugriva was sabhaya, he was
very fearful about being spotted out and slaughtered by Vali’s entourage. Even
when he saw Rama and Laxmana in the forest he literally trembled with fear
thinking they could be Vali’s men. Vali was nirbhaya. As such he was
not secured but he had illusion of security that lead to laziness and ultimately
to his demise. As elucidated earlier, Hanumana was abhaya. He was protected by
the Lord Rama because of his virtue of the self-surrender and service to the
Lord. Being mired by ego, passion, deceit, self-centeredness, one cannot even
think about Ravana being abhaya.
Virtues and Eradicate Vices
The life of a spiritual seeker is a
constant struggle for developing virtues and eradicating vices. Desires, anger,
greediness, delusion (moha), jealousy, etc. are some of the vices that
one has to eradicate and develop virtues like, compassion, love, truthfulness, ahimsa,
brahmacharya etc. Perfected being is the one who has attained complete
mastery over the mind, developed all the essential virtues and eradicated the
vices. He also has realized his real identity (atma-jnana).
I Burn the Effigy or Not?
obviously is not whether you should burn effigy of Ravana or not. The real
question is - Where do you stand in your natural evolution to attain the
perfection? When you reached the state of perfection, Ravana is already dead and
burning of effigy has a little meaning for you. But after close introspection,
you lack the above conviction and there are vices that creeps up in your
personality to disturb the peace of your mind, Ravana is very much alive for you
and you will have to burn that effigy year after year and life after life until
you reach the pristine state of glory and grandeur where there is bliss, bliss
and bliss absolute. I will go even further to tell you that burning it every
year on the Vijayadashami will not suffice, you will have to be vigilant every
moment of your life, and every unwanted emotion, every impure thought and every
questionable action you will have to uproot before even it manifest. There is a
popular analogy in the scripture and spiritual literature that if there are
seeds, they will manifest one day when the circumstances are conducive, and come
into being in the form of a plant, shrub or a tree. Once the seeds are roasted
or burned, they are incapable to expressing themselves.
So, my friends, in order to be sure, that you will never be the victim of
Ravana again, in the form of egoism, lust, greed, hatred, anger, jealousy or any
other vices for that matter, you will have to burn the seeds of desires and vasanas
in the fire of Aatma-Jnana and Bhakti.
Do Not Despair
There is no need to be pessimistic. You are all blessed to have attained the human birth. Now you have to make your life, divine life. Strive, Struggle and move towards your goal of perfection in this very life. Make your Jivan, Bhavya Jivan. Nothing is impossible but it is essential that Rama wins over Ravana within you. It is victory of the virtues over the vices.
The Supreme Lord said: Fearlessness,
purity of heart, perseverance in the yoga of knowledge, charity, sense
restraint, sacrifice, study of the scriptures, austerity, honesty. (16.01)
Nonviolence, truthfulness, absence of
anger, renunciation, equanimity, abstaining from malicious talk, compassion for
all creatures, freedom from greed, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness;
Splendor, forgiveness, fortitude,
cleanliness, absence of malice, and absence of pride; these are the qualities of
those endowed with divine virtues, O Arjuna. (16.03)
Hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, anger,
harshness, and ignorance; these are the marks of those who are born with demonic
qualities, O Arjuna. (16.04)