Dassera has come and gone and Diwali is fast approaching. In other words, Ravana has been slain, Sita has been rescued, and Lord Ram, Sita and other friends are coming back to Ayodhya. So, has the story ended and our lesson been learnt? Far from it.
The Ramayana is much more than a saga of the triumph of good over evil. It is a compendium of life lessons. It attempts to showcase the characteristics of an ideal human being – Purushottam.
What lessons do we learn from the Ramayana then? Here are some of them:-
- Have a set of principles, and do not compromise on them. The pursuit of materialism (Artha) and pleasures (Kama) should not be at the cost of righteousness (Dharma). Moksha can be achieved only through Dharma. This is where Ravana erred.
- Karma is a bitch. Even if you momentarily get hold of something through devious means, sooner or later Karma will get back at you.
- Beware of dubious attractions. Sita’s obsession with the golden deer, which was actually the demon Maricha in disguise, ultimately left her unprotected and paved the way for her abduction by Ravana.
- Vicious counseling can get you into trouble. Kaikeyi’s maid Mandara brain-washed her into demanding that Dashrath send Rama into exile so that her son Bharat could become King. Eventually, this is what led her to lose her husband, and her son’s loyalty.
- Arrogance kills. No matter how much you achieve in life, if you are arrogant while you’re at the top, you will fall one day, and that fall will be really bad. Ravana was a great scholar, who had the intelligence of 10 men. His devotion was so great that Lord Shiva granted him blessings, boons and great power. However, his arrogance and belief that he could get away with anything ultimately led to his downfall.
- Learn from your mistakes, and redeem yourself when you get the opportunity. Ravana committed a sin when he abducted Sita, but his greater sin lay in arrogantly refusing to budge when Hanuman asked him to redeem himself.
- Sometimes, heroes need a little help from friends to win their battles. Lord Rama had support from Lakshmana, Hanuman, the Vanar Sena, Jatayu, and many others. Without these friends, there might have been no Dassera and no Diwali.
- Always play by the rules. Lord Rama fought his war against Ravana without any deceit. He played by the rules, and in the process won the respect of not just his friends, but also of his enemies. In fact, when Ravana was breathing his last, he stated that he was privileged to meet a man like Rama while he was still alive.
- Failure to trust your loved ones can make you lose them. The Ramayana did not really have a happy ending for Lord Rama. Lack of trust made him put Sita through a loyalty test, out of which she emerged unscathed, but he lost her forever in the bargain.
- No one is infallible. Let’s make no mistake. The villain of Ramayana is not Ravana. In fact, Ravana was a very learned man, and was known as a just ruler in Lanka. His tapasya towards Lord Shiva earned him great power. The real villain in the Ramayana was Ravana’s refusal to accept his mistake and his arrogance. He let his power get to his head and ultimately this led to his downfall. On the other hand, Lord Rama let society’s skepticism towards Sita’s loyalty shake his own trust, and he had to lose his devoted wife. The bottom line is that everyone is capable of making a mistake, and this is a fact we should all be aware of.
Just like happiness is a journey and not a destination, Dassera and Diwali are not events marking the happy ending of a beautiful story. The cycle of life goes on. Evil will don a new face and rise again and again. Likewise, goodness must keep rising to triumph over evil. Burning Ravana’s effigy during Dassera is only a symbolic gesture depicting the triumph of good over evil, but the fact is that evil never dies, and good forces should always be on their toes to rise to the occasion. The war is still on, it was never over in the first place.
Here’s wishing all of you many happy Dasseras and Diwalis.