Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam


Tato Ravana Neetaayaaha Sitaayaah Satruk.... !!

||om tat sat ||

॥ओम् तत् सत्॥

ततो रावण नीतायाः सीतायाः शतृकर्षनः।
इयेष पदमन्वेष्टुं चारणाचरिते पथि॥1-1||

This is the first Sloka in Sundarakanda.

The meaning of this sloka is as follows.

"Then the one who can crush the enemies, took to the path followed by the celestial singers in search of Sita carried away by Ravana".

In this sloka , according to many, the twelfth letter of Gayatri Mantra namely the letter "va" is noted . The letter "va" comes in " Ravana". Because of that the ancient belief this sloka is considered as a " supreme Mantra" as is the case of Gayatri mantra.

While Sundarakanda as a whole is treated as a book to be recited etc, some people recite the first sloka only as a mantra to ward off evils etc. Thus Sundarakanda occupies special status in Hindu lore. The special status of the book in the Hindu lore attracted many scholars.

There is a class of scholars who look at the hidden meanings , who strongly believe that there is a hidden meaning in our itihasas. According to them it is so with Ramayana too. More to the point it is so with the first sloka of Sundarakanda.

That is also what we come to know in Shri Bhashyam Appalacharyula garu's "Tattva Dipika"

Sribhashyam Appalacharyula garu's main thesis is also that in all the ancient classical writings there is a outer shell of a well told story. But there is also a hidden meaning which is visible to those who look for it. While teaching Abhignyaana Sakuntalam as our Sanskrit lecturer , he explained the very first scene of Dushyanta chasing animals in the forest with the chariot racing the animals and raising huge dust ( rajas). The raising of dust is seen as a symbol of the preponderance of Rajo Guna. With a similar scene in the end, with Dushyanta riding a chariot in the clouds in a calm and serene manner, the entire scene symbolically highlights the predominance of "Satvik" Guna foretelling good tides. He would elaborate on the outer shell of story which in itself may be interesting along with the inner meaning with its spiritual underpinnings.

His Tattva Dipika on Sundarakanda is built on this edifice of inner meaning and the outer shell. The inner meaning being about the classic Vedantic enquiry.

The keystone of our Vedantic enquiry is the following.

The Paramatma and Jivatma are one and the same. But this is not something which is easily understood by all . The main reason for people not being able to appreciate this unity is that one remains as the captive of a mind which is in turn captured by the visible symbols of pleasure and pain. The mind takes the Jiva on a perpetual world tour on many errands. To be able to bring that mind under control one requires a Guru. Under the tutelage of a Guru bringing the mind under control with prolonged practice, one may be able to conquer the lust and desire and a host of twins by name Happiness and sorrow etc. As one conquers the twins one is set on path of liberation, thus realizing that the Paramatma is none other on Self.

Now comes the context of Ramayana.

In Ramayana the external story which is easily understood is Rama's Story or Sita's story or the killing of Ravana the demon.

But embedded among these stories is the inner story of Paramatma and Jivatma becoming one.

To establish the inner story one has to appreciate the following.

In Ramayana - Rama is the Paramatma

Sita is the form of the "self".
Sita was found when the land was being ploughed hence she called "Sita". When the body complex is ploughed with the sharp tool called "Buddhi" the what one discovers is the self which is different from the body.

The reason for the separation of the two is the twin evils of desire and anger driven by the five sensory organs. In Ramayan that is the ten headed Ravana who is evil incarnation of desires.

The Guru to bring them together is the Hanuman who started the search.

That this is also the inner meaning of the first sloka is what we understand from Tattva Dipika.

The first sloka goes as follows:

ततः - Then ( after the separation from the Paramatman)

रावणनीतायाः - taken away by the mind which is captivated by lust
सीतायाः - of the self ploughed by the mind
पदं - location
अन्वेष्टुं - in search of
शतृकर्षनः - the one who has conquered the enemies of desire and anger
चारिणाचरिते - along the path treaded by the ancient Rishis
पथि - that path
इयेष - decided to follow !

Thus the search of the Atma separated from the Paramatma and held captive by the evils of desire and lust is the gist of the first sloka.

Here the search is initiated by the Guru . The form of the Guru is highlighted as the one who can crush the evils of Kama and Krodha.

In Sundarakanda Hanuman blessed by the Paramatma crosses the ocean of life , enters the Lanka which is representative of the body, destroys the enemies and facilitates the union of Atma represented by Sita and Paramatma represented by SriRama.

Hanuman who brings about that union shines as a great Guru.

|| om tat sat ||

||om tat sat ||