“The real question behind the Ramayana is not whether monkeys could speak or if Rama and Sita are politically correct by today’s opinions, but how we can live a higher truth.” writes Dr David Frawley
Lord Rama is much more than an historical person. He represents an inner connection of all humanity to the universal Self. Sita Devi is not only a human woman but a profound cosmic aspiration. Without understanding such deeper associations, we will misunderstand the magnificent story of the Ramayana.
Human life, though karmically bound to physical reality, is part of an infinite consciousness through all of the nature. Developing that unbounded awareness and its complementary compassion is the real teaching behind such sacred depictions as Rama and Sita.
Sita and Rama as the Dual Cosmic Powers
Trying to understand Rama and Sita in human terms reflects a limited perception and bondage to Maya. This does not mean that Rama and Sita had no human existence, but as the manifestation of a transcendent reality. Rama as an avatar represents our highest spiritual potential.
Rama and Sita are not merely two separate individuals. Sita is Rama’s feminine reflection. Rama is Sita’s power of action. Their physical manifestation reflects a deeper unity between the two. They are like the Sun and Moon, fire and water, earth and sky, consciousness and bliss. Their energies are all pervasive within and without, a universal metaphor.
Yet Rama and Sita do have an historical aspect in the ancient solar dynasty of kings and sages. Rama and Sita are part of the history and culture of India and Asia, now extending to the entire world. The real question behind the Ramayana is not whether monkeys could speak or if Rama and Sita are politically correct by today’s opinions, but how we can live a higher truth. Valmiki in the Ramayana is asking us to awaken a poetic and yogic insight, much like the Vedic rishis, but through a portrayal that appeals to young and old alike.
The Ramayana revolves around Sita. Who is Sita? Sita is born of a furrow in the ground. She is one of the ayoni-jas or those not born of the womb. She is discovered by King Janaka during his yearly ceremonial plowing of the fields. Yet King Janaka is not a mere ordinary king either. He was the greatest philosopher king of ancient India, equal to the rishis. The Upanishads contain his profound dialogues with the sage Yajnavalkya.
As Janaka’s daughter, Sita’s character embodies an exalted philosophical and creative refinement. Sita is related to Sarasvati as the supreme muse of artistic inspiration, to Lakshmi as the capacity to nourish all creatures through the Earth, and to Parvati as the yogini who can renounce and transcend all limitations. The Atma Shakti or power of consciousness that Sita holds arises from the receptive and silent mind, which is far beyond any outer powers born of self-assertion or material becoming.
The loss and regaining of Sita is our loss and finding the knowledge of our true nature. Lakshman is the discriminating power of the buddhi that protects this inner receptivity. Rama is the true Self within us that must awaken to reclaim it. Hanuman is the son of Vayu, the cosmic energy that works through the air element. He is our inner prana devoted to the Divine couple, the Sita and Rama within us. Ravana represents the separative self and its illusion powers through the ego-mind, obsessed with external power and control.
A New Vision of Ayodhya
To honor Rama we must strive to live a life of dharma and sadhana. We must be open to the space of cosmic consciousness beyond our biased human intellect and its conceited opinions. To do this we must become Sita and make our lives into a vision and a sacrifice. We must sharpen our intellect as Lakshman to discern the eternal from the transient. We must awaken our inner Hanuman and direct our prana to attempt the highest and leap beyond our limitations. We must overcome our own Ravana, the intractable ignorance and ego urges within us.
It is time that we return to Ayodhya, which is to move from an outer fixation to an inner view of life as a spiritual offering. Ayodhya is a divine city of profound wisdom, deep devotion and unity consciousness. Ayodhya as the city of dharma is an ideal within the hearts of all that welcomes every creature and every form of sincere aspiration. Lord Rama as the avatar of dharma exemplifies that our true duty is to serve all life, not merely to fulfill our personal desires. We have much to learn from this wonderful story, but must approach it with humility and discernment for its transformational secrets to unfold. Jai Sri Ram! Jai Sita-Ram!