Lord Rama was born on the ninth day of the month of Chitra, hence we celebrate his
birthday as a 'Navami'. Indian mathematicians and philosophers see nine as a magical
number. Planets in our solar system are also nine, as are the main forms of goddess
Durga and the ways of bhakti - devotion. Let us consider why we celebrate
Rama-Navami, by considering nine of Lord Rama's great characteristics / virtues.
" Actions speak louder than Words " was Rama's chief motto. He embodied all the
virtues by practising what he preached. More than his divine powers, his glorious
heritage or his incredible prowess was his unblemished, untarnished, irreproachable
character. His popularity, bravery, courage in face of all adversities, kindness, sense of
justice, obedience, intelligence, limitless patience, boundless compassion and steadfast
following of duty / "dharma" have endeared him to countless generations of Hindus
and non-Hindus alike.
1) Popularity :- To lay claim to the title of " Idol / Hero ", one should be popular
with the people. Kings and politicians soon loose their popular appeal with loss of
power. Popular idol/ hero rules in the hearts and minds of the ordinary people. Rama
achieved this by his innate characteristics of charm, kindness, openness, generosity
and a real willingness to listen to other's problem. Everyone in Ayodhya felt they could
approach Rama with their problems. Rama was known to find swift, realistic and just
answers for every one. His aura, charm and charisma made every one relax and feel
happy in his presence.
2) Bravery :- It is essential for a " Idol / Hero " to be brave. It is not enough to be
popular if you can not achieve anything concrete. Rama fought for his people in the
battle field as well as the Royal Court of Ayodhya. He stood his ground in all
adversities and fought for the cause of righteousness. Being adventurous, Rama took
his exile as a great challenge to explore new frontiers. Even in the jungles He fought
for the rights of the oppressed. To be brave means to face danger with open eyes.
Knowing his enemies strong points aswell as the weaknesses, Rama sought to rid the
society of those who threatened to undermine it.
3) Kindness :- This is one of Rama's major attribute. He taught mankind how to be
kind aswell as brave. Ravan was brave but had a cruel heart. This eventually
corrupted him and made him a villain. Bravery should be tempered by a kind and
gentle heart, so that the God given powers of strength are not misused. Power,
success, wealth and popularity can easily go to one's head and soon corrupt the good
intentions one begins with. Rama never let this happen as his prowess was always
tempered by a kind and gentle soul.
4) Justice :- Kindness and generosity of heart should not border on to being
gullible. Rama's kindness was tempered by his love for justice. He was always just and
fair. Seeing where kindness or punishment is due, Rama delivered it accordingly. In his
kingdom, every one had the constitutional right to approach the King with their
grievance. Always in keeping with the spirit of justice, Rama installed Vali's son on the
throne of Kishkindh and Ravan's brother on the throne of Lanka. He never coveted
anything that belonged to others and inspired love for justice in his people with his own
5) Obedience :- Most famous attribute of Rama was his obedience and loyalty to
his parents, guru and the subjects. Rama sought to keep his father's promise and
willingly accepted fourteen years of exile. If Rama himself disregarded his King and
father's wish, what sort of example would that set for the future generations? To teach
obedience, one should practice obedience.
6) Intelligence :- Obedience should always be tempered by intellect. Obedience
should not be slavish. Dasharath ordered Rama to take the kingdom by force, imprison
him and if necessary call on the army to support him. But Rama refused such
suggestions. To break an oath / promise is a sin but to suggest covert ways of escaping
the oath would be a greater sin. He always obeyed by considering what would be right,
proper and good for his people. Rama asked his father, " If a drunk parent or guru
should order the child or disciple to cremate them, should such an order be carried
out? Of course not. Orders given by a clouded mind can not and should not be obeyed.
Sometimes it is far better to obey the spirit of the order than the order it self. "
7) Patience :- Intelligent people should be patient in order to earn people's love.
Often the intellectuals become impatient with the dull witted. Rama had a great virtue
of being gentle and understanding even with the uneducated jungle dwellers. Often the
intelligent become angry with people who can't see as far ahead as they can. Rama
endured his exile with legendary patience. When he came to the Southern tip of India,
He was patient with the Ocean. Rama knew that a single arrow from his bow could
achieve his purpose, but He decided to show respect for the Heavenly Gods and waited
for their answer. Though capable of building a bridge of arrows, He let the monkeys
build a bridge so they too could be satisfied with their war efforts.
8) Universal Love :- Rama's love for all creatures great and small helped him win
over the hearts of rich and poor, strong and weak, scholars and villagers alike.
Rama's love was universal and boundless. Even Ravan, his mortal enemy, received
Rama's grace. Vali was also convinced of Rama's love and was liberated from the
eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Rama's gentleness was legendary and so even the
uncivilised jungle dwellers came to him with out any apprehensions. Rama's love and
compassion make him an ideal for all time.
9) Being Dutiful :- Rama was forever aware of his duty - " Dharma ", and followed
it un-nerveingly. All his above characteristics were tempered by desire to follow that
which is right. Rama was never blind in his love. Considering duty to be above all else,
even life, Rama followed dharma - duty, to the very last. Though he had boundless
loved for his wife, He abandoned her for the common moral good of his subjects.
Rama followed his duty as a son, brother, husband, prince, king, friend, and father at
all times. Regardless of personal cost / grief, Rama sacrificed everything in the pursuit
of Dharma, duty.
It is these qualities which have endeared Him to world's multitudes rather than his
good looks or great wealth. Physical beauty wanes with time, money is soon spent,
fame is soon forgotten but generous deeds, great character and boundless compassion
endure for all time. His wish to do good for the people, even at personal suffering
endeared him to the people more than elaborate speeches or ceremonies. His personal
conduct spoke louder than mere words of philosophy.
Such is the glory of his memory that even now people invoke " Rama Rajya " as the
ideal, utopian system. It gave a democratic monarchy to the people. A system in which
even the most humble may voice their opinion and be noticed. In Rama Rajya there
were no criminals or oppressors and no one was ever oppressed. Every one had equal
rights, justice was available to all. Taxes were not excessive and every one had work
to occupy them. Rama had assured his people peace and plenty because as a King he
served his people rather than be served by them. Where a ruler has all of the above
characteristics, people can still enjoy Rama Rajya.
It is the ideal of self-less service which has made Rama one of the greatest idol / hero
of all time. On Rama-Navami we fast till noon in anticipation of Rama's birth and not
as a penance. After his birth at mid-day, people celebrate by dancing and singing
auspicious songs. Let us celebrate Rama-Navami by following His ideal standards. By
following these in his life, Rama has shown that it is possible to aspire for greatness
and " ideal life ".
This page is brought to you courtesy Bhagwat Shah. The full version can be viewed at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7830/rama.htm. (Link could be outdated)