Q: Gurudev, Sri Rama sent Devi Sita to exile just by listening to the false gossip of a washer man. Not only this, he also made her prove her purity by walking through fire. Even though he knew fully well that Sita was very pure, why did he not take her side when this happened?
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: Now, I am not going to be Lord Rama’s lawyer today and answer for what he did back then. Whatever Lord Rama did, he surely must have known why he did that.
See, we are not supposed to follow everything that Lord Rama did. Lord Rama said so many good things, you must follow and imbibe them in your life.
Now why Lord Rama made Sita go through the test of walking through fire? I too have this question (Laughter).
He might not have known the principles of the Art of Living! (Laughter) Maybe no one told him not to become a football of other people’s opinions. Perhaps because of this, Lord Rama is considered to be Baarah Kala Sampurna (having 12 divine qualities or extraordinary attributes).
It is only Lord Krishna who is considered Solah Kala Sampurna (having the entire set of 16 divine qualities or extraordinary attributes associated with an Avatar or a Divine incarnation).
Yet Lord Rama’s life was very magnificent and his character was exemplary.
You should read the discourse between Lord Rama and Sage Vashishtha, which is now called as the Yoga Vashishtha Maharamayana. You all should read that. Through his life, Lord Rama showed all the troubles that a common man goes through in his mortal life. If you see Lord Rama’s life from this perspective, you will feel that this is truly what every person goes through in their life sometime or the other.
A common man takes others’ opinions very seriously, he thinks a lot about insult and admiration. He cares a lot about his limitations. We find this common in everyone’s lives. So this is what has been portrayed through Lord Rama’s story.
If you go deeper into the Ramayana, you will understand that Lord Rama represents the Divine light within us all, the Atma Tattva (the Soul or the all-pervading light of Consciousness).
So if you see Lord Rama as your own self, then you will see a lot of things differently. This is the message of the Adhyatma Ramayana (a version of the Ramayana narrated by Sage Veda Vyasa).
So do not see Lord Rama as only a king. Depending on what level or perspective you view Lord Rama, you will find some unique quality about him.
Once Lord Rama asked Lord Hanuman, 'How do you see me?'
Lord Hanuman replied, 'Deha-buddhaya tav-daaso'. It means, ‘If I see myself as a (physical) body (meaning to limit the intellect to the physical body), then I see myself as your servant'.
Then Lord Hanuman says further, 'Jeeva-buddhya tvam-amsha'. It means, ‘When I see myself at the level of a Jeeva (elevating the intellect to the Soul), I see myself as a part of you'.
And then Lord Hanuman says, 'Atma buddhya tvameva-cha'. It means, ‘When I see myself as the Self or Consciousness, I see that there is no difference at all between You and me. You are what I am, and I am what you are’.
So there are three different levels of perceiving Lord Rama.
In the same way, if you look at Lord Rama as a historical figure of India, then you will see that not only in India, but in other foreign countries, He is revered and worshipped as Maryada Purshottama (the Supreme and most virtuous among mortals).
If you see him through the eyes of a devotee, you will see Him as God Himself. You will find that He embodies the Divinity so totally. And if you see him as your Self, then there is no difference between you and him.
Lord Rama is not just a historical figure. Everything is made up of that one light, the Para Brahman, which we call as the Rama Tattva. (Supreme all-pervading Consciousness). Then you see your soul as Lord Rama. Then you do not see Lord Rama as just a human being, but you see him as a symbol of the Divine light which everything in creation is made of, including you and me.
So from whichever perspective you see Lord Rama, you will find something unique about him and imbibe and acquire those very qualities.