Why Sri Ram is the most followed personality in Hinduism?
Majority knows the story of Lord Sri Rama, the epic Ramayana, and Lord Hanuman (the greatest devotee of Lord Sri Rama), but only few know the significance of Rama Nama. To talk about Lord Sri Rama and significance of RAMA Nama perhaps Lord Hanuman is the most competent person. In this regard a small but sincere attempt is made to share the information collected from various sources about the glory and significance of RAMA Nama.
Who is Rama?
Ramanthe Sarve Janaah Gunaih Asmin Ithi Ramah;
Ramayatheethi Ramah! (Ramayatha ithi Ramah);
Ramanthe yogino-nanthe brahmanande chidatmani;
Raamo Viraamo Virajo Maargo Neyo Nayo-anayaH
Veerah Shaktimataam Shresshtah Dharmo Dharmaviduttamah
RAMA is one of the names of Lord Vishnu (Sloka # 43 of Vishnu Sahasra Nama Stothram). Rama is the one who keeps entire living beings happy; the one in whose memory Yogis always revel (take pleasure) in the bliss of Brahman. He is the one who is omniscient and full of bliss. He is the final place of rest for all the deserving souls. He is the one before whom, all else becomes pale and insignificant. He is the one who has no desires for enjoyment or any luxuries. He is the Lord who creates the path to the devotees to reach the zones of liberation and immortality.
Rama is one who wishes to do anything for his devotees. He conducts; monitors and leads everybody in this world. He is the one who cannot be felled by anybody. He is valiant and is the one who strikes terror in the hearts of evil doers. He is the greatest, the supreme most and the invincible. He is the foremost among the celestials and is the most valiant among the brave. He is the dharma and his very nature is dharma and his incarnation is for the purpose of dharma.
RAMA is an embodiment of dharma and protector of dharma. He is the foremost and greatest among the knower of dharma. 'Ramo Vigrahavaan Dharmah'; Rama is an epitome; a personification; a manifestation of Dharma. Rama is the very embodiment of righteousness. It was as if righteousness (Rama) itself had incarnated on earth. Dharma and Rama are inseparable.
It is said that when sage Valmiki was asked to write Ramayana he asked sage Narada "is there any individual among the human beings who has all the sixteen virtues" and the person cited was none other than Lord Sri Rama.
As per the words of Sages Vasishta and Viswamithra it is said that, four epic brothers Rama, Lakshmana, Bharatha and Sathrughna are the personification of Vedas incarnated in Tretha Yuga to impart the most precious message to the mankind and to set an ideal world. Sri Rama has been symbolized as the wisdom of Vedas. In fact the four brothers have established an ideal world called Rama Raajya (Kingdom of Sri Rama) and have preached and practiced many principles which have relevance even today.
Pouranically Rama was the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the list of Dasa Avatharas. At Tirumala temple the very first sloka recited from Sri Venkatesha Suprabhatham refers to Sri Rama wherein Lord Venkateswara is addressed as "Kausalya Supraja Rama"
What is the significance of the word RAMA?
It is said that Rama Nama has come into existence much before the birth of Lord Sri Rama. The word RAMA when divided into syllables Ra + Aa + Ma; is said to indicate Ra means Rudra; Aa means Brahma; Ma means Vishnu and the three Trinal lords Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara put together is RAMA.
The word RAMA is a confluence of two letters Ra + Ma. It is believed and said that these two letters are Jeevaakshara (life giving letters) carved out of the most significant hymns Narayana Ashtakshari and Shiva Panchakshari. The letter Ra is carved out of Narayana Ashtakshari "Om! Namo! Narayanaya" and the letter Ma is carved out of Shiva Panchakshari "Om! Namah Shivaya."
These two letters (Ra+Ma) called life giving letters the soul of these two powerful hymns are put together to form the Tharaka manthra RAMA. Without these two letters (Ra+Ma) these manthras becomes ineffective. Any one chanting Tharaka manthra (RAMA) is equivalent to worshiping both Lord Vishnu as well as Lord Shiva.
What is significance of RAMA naama?
RAMA naama is given the magnitude similar to that of Pranava manthra OM (AUM) that has links to all other hymns (Manthras) that ever exist. It is an essence of all Vedas, Shastras, Ithihasas and Puranas. One of the Saptha Rishis, Sage Vasishta meditated on RAMA naama for quite a long time that motivated him to suggest King Dasaratha to identify the Almighty (child born to Dasaratha) with the manthra (RAMA) that he had chanted.
The word Rama has the triple power of destroying sins, conferring peace, and dispelling ignorance. When you utter the word "RAM", you first open the mouth with the sound "Ra". All your sins go out when your mouth is open. When you utter the sound "M" by closing the mouth the entry is barred to the sins that have gone out.
RAMA is not just a name. It is a Manthra, the only Manthra that is called Tharaka Mantra. Tharaka Mantra means the one that helps us to cross the ocean of Samsara and free us from the bondage of cycle of birth and death. If it is chanted as RAMA it is a name, if it is chanted as RAM it is a Manthra, if it is chanted with addition of the word Sri (Sri Rama, Sri Ram) power of Goddess Seeta is added to it.
RAMA naama is called the family Manthra of Lord Shiva who himself tells Goddess Parvathi about the significance of Rama Nama and suggests her also to recite it all the time. Lord Shankara knowing the sweetness of it initiated his beloved Parvathi Devi to Rama naama. He tells her...
Sree Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame
Sahasranama TatThulyam Rama Nama Varanane
It is only the RAMA naama which is given significance as equivalent to chanting of thousand names of Vishnu. Logic applied here is perhaps, chanting RAMA once is equal to 10 times chanting of Vishnu; chanting RAMA twice is equal to 100 times (10 x10) chanting of Vishnu and chanting RAMA thrice is equal to 1000 times (10 x 10 x10) chanting of Vishnu. Thus the effect of chanting RAMA naama gets multiplied in geometrical progression. It is believed and said that Lord Shiva always keeps meditating on this Tharaka Manthra RAMA naama.
RAMA naama is most favourite manthra of all the deities and by chanting it one gets the benefit of invoking all the demi-Gods. There are many instances in history where, mere chanting of Rama Nama has resolved many miseries.
Lord Hanuman is hailed as the personification of selfless service to Lord Sri Rama and Goddess Seeta Devi. Legends says that when Lord Sri Rama was about to leave for His heavenly abode after the purpose of His incarnation was fulfilled, He asked Hanuman to accompany Him, but the latter (Hanuman) politely declined the offer saying that he (Hanuman) wanted to be present in the holy land where Lord Sri Rama walked in human form and where RAMA naama was regularly recited.
Yathra Yathra Raghunatha Keerthanam
Tathra Tathra Kruthamasthakanjalim
Bhashpavari Paripoorna Lochanam
Maruthim namatha Rakshasanthakam
Above prayer sloka of Hanuman says that wherever RAMA naama is sung, he is present though not visible, with his eyes full of tears and with his hands folded in prayer to His Lord Sri Rama. Hanuman undoubtedly the greatest devotee of Lord Sri Rama continuously chanted this Tharaka mantra that helped him to accomplish several extraordinary feats during epic Ramayana and also endorsed him the status of Bhavishya Brahma, going to be the future Brahma in the coming Ages.
By chanting RAMA Nama a notorious bandit got liberated from his sins who, went on to author the epic Ramayana containing 24000 slokas as Valmiki. Sage Valmiki describes Rama as having sixteen great attributes. Rama stood for the truth, a believer of truth, and was a symbol of moral excellence.
Ramayana is not merely an epic alone, rather it is a culmination of philosophy, history, tradition, religion and spirituality. While the epic Ramayana contains several thousands of slokas it is not possible to remember and recite all of them. Just by chanting RAMA Nama one gets the effect of chanting all the slokas of Ramayana.
Rama naama smarana - A tool for Mans liberation
Different means of liberation have been spelled out applicable to each Yuga viz. meditation (penance) in Kritha Yuga; yajna in Tretha Yuga, archana (worship) in Dwapara Yuga; whereas in Kali Yuga only Naama Smarana (repetition of Gods name) has been prescribed as the main means of liberation for the mankind. Since in Kali Yuga people will not have the required spiritual strength and capability to perform and carry out rigorous saadhana; Naama Smarana has been prescribed to achieve the required effect of liberation. The name RAMA will make one free from Raaga (attachment) and also Roga (disease).
RAMA the Tharaka manthra can be chanted anywhere, anytime and by anyone. Rama naama has the power of intercession for the dead. Sthala Purana of Kaasi (Varanasi) mentions that the Deity of Kaasi, Viswanatha (Lord Shiva) initiates this Tharaka Manthra (RAMA) in the right ear of the people who die in Kaasi. Kaasyanthu Maranaan Mukthi it is believed that one who dies in Kasi will attain Mukthi. Even the Pall bearers repeat; Ram naam sathya hai; the name Rama is the absolute truth.
Rama naama - A reference to the present day world
Sri Madhvacharya, the distinguished saint and philosopher, founder and exponent of Dvaita/Tattvavaada philosophy considered as the third incarnation (Hanuma Bheema Madhva) of the Wind God (Lord Vaayu) and his line of descendants are all great followers of Lord Sri Rama. They have achieved incredible success in their spiritual pursuits with upaasana (worship) of RAMA and are standing as role model to the spiritual world.
In the present day context several eminent personalities have utilized this powerful Tharaka manthra for achieving success in their respective fields. Some of the nearest examples are, Saint Thulsi Das, Kabir Das, Bhakta Ramadas (Bhadrachalam), Saint Thyagaraju, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi etc. Reciting (chanting) of RAMA naama is a very popular and common religious/spiritual practice that is in vogue in India.
Saint Tulsidas said that, even if one repeats the Tharaka mantra RAMA reluctantly or unconsciously, he is taken from hell to paradise. He said that he (Tulsidas) is as eager to repeat the Tharaka manthra like a Chataka bird is to drink the rain drops the only source of its survival. Kabirdas believed that the benefits of Rama Nama cannot be destroyed or robbed. Saint Purandaradas, Thyagaraju and Ramadas have immortalized RAMA Nama in their beautiful compositions. It is said and believed that Thyagaraju the saint-poet had the darshan of Lord Sri Rama with Seeta, Lakshmana and Hanuman after having recited RAMA Nama 950 million times in 38 years on the advice of his guru.
For Mahatma Gandhi reciting RAMA naama was a constant practice in his daily schedule. None of his prayers have passed without Rama Nama Keerthana. In his own words Mahatma Gandhi said I have suggested Rama Nama as I have been familiar with it since my childhood and as it is my constant support in my struggles. Rama Nama gives one detachment and stability and never throws one off the balance at critical moments. The incantation of Rama Nama will free one from addictions and make one clean and get adored by others. It is said that when he was assassinated last words he uttered were 'Rama, Rama.'
Ramayana, the story of Lord Sri Rama, teaches us two lessons; the value of detachment and the need to become aware of the Divinity in every being. Faith in God and detachment from objective pursuits are the keys for human liberation. Give up sense objects and you gain Rama. Seeta gave up the luxuries of Ayodhya so she could be with Rama during His exile. When she cast longing eyes on the golden deer and craved for it she lost Rama's presence. Renunciation leads to joy; attachment brings grief.
Lord Vishnu incarnated as a human being in the form of Lord Sri Rama to promote peace and happiness in the world. Also called as Maryada Purushottama Lord Sri Rama was an embodiment and personification of all virtues, role model as a son, as a husband, as a brother, as an able administrator, as a friend, as a King, as a human being and also a role model for the Deities. He was the best example of perfect character and human conduct inspiring human beings for countless succeeding ages.
There is also a sacred practice among the devout Hindus to script RAMA naama repeatedly several times called as RAMA KOTI. It is practiced as a sacred vow to write the divine name one crore times during the life time. It is believed that writing RAMA KOTI one will be benefited with progeny, progress and success in education, harmony among the couple, helps during poverty, as a remedy for Navagraha Dosha, gain in employment, fulfillment of desires and success in endeavours etc.
Whatever may be the myth or belief, it is always good to utter the name RAMA with full understanding all that it signifies. Every one of us should recognize the sweetness, sacredness and divinity enshrined in the name RAMA. It is said that RAMA naama is mightier than Rama himself.
Sree Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama