Today we celebrate the appearance of Lord Ramacandra with an all day fast, and hearing of Lord Rama’s pastimes. I went to the Srimad Bhagavatam this morning and did a little reading from the First Canto, Chapter 2 entitled “Kṛṣṇa Is the Source of All Incarnations”, and from the Second Canto, Chapter 7 entitled “Scheduled Incarnations with Specific Functions”. I have included some verses below.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Canto One, Chapter 2, Text 22
cakre vīryāṇy ataḥ param
nara—human being; devatvam—divinity; āpannaḥ—having assumed the form of; sura—the demigods; kārya—activities; cikīrṣayā—for the purpose of performing; samudra—the Indian Ocean; nigraha-ādīni—controlling, etc.; cakre—did perform; vīryāṇi—superhuman prowess; ataḥ param—thereafter.
In the eighteenth incarnation, the Lord appeared as King Rāma. In order to perform some pleasing work for the demigods, He exhibited superhuman powers by controlling the Indian Ocean and then killing the atheist King Rāvaṇa, who was on the other side of the sea.
The Personality of Godhead Śrī Rāma assumed the form of a human being and appeared on the earth for the purpose of doing some pleasing work for the demigods or the administrative personalities to maintain the order of the universe. Sometimes great demons and atheists like Rāvaṇa and Hiraṇyakaśipu and many others become very famous due to advancing material civilization by the help of material science and other activities with a spirit of challenging the established order of the Lord. For example, the attempt to fly to other planets by material means is a challenge to the established order. The conditions of each and every planet are different, and different classes of human beings are accommodated there for particular purposes mentioned in the codes of the Lord. But, puffed up by tiny success in material advancement, sometimes the godless materialists challenge the existence of God. Rāvaṇa was one of them, and he wanted to deport ordinary men to the planet of Indra (heaven) by material means without consideration of the necessary qualifications. He wanted a staircase to be built up directly reaching the heavenly planet so that people might not be required to undergo the routine of pious work necessary to enter that planet. He also wanted to perform other acts against the established rule of the Lord. He even challenged the authority of Śrī Rāma, the Personality of Godhead, and kidnapped His wife, Sītā. Of course Lord Rāma came to chastise this atheist, answering the prayer and desire of the demigods. He therefore took up the challenge of Rāvaṇa, and the complete activity is the subject matter of the Rāmāyaṇa. Because Lord Rāmacandra was the Personality of Godhead, He exhibited superhuman activities which no human being, including the materially advanced Rāvaṇa, could perform. Lord Rāmacandra prepared a royal road on the Indian Ocean with stones that floated on the water. The modern scientists have done research in the area of weightlessness, but it is not possible to bring in weightlessness anywhere and everywhere. But because weightlessness is the creation of the Lord by which He can make the gigantic planets fly and float in the air, He made the stones even within this earth to be weightless and prepared a stone bridge on the sea without any supporting pillar. That is the display of the power of God.
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Canto Two, Chapter 7, Text 23-25
asmat-prasāda-sumukhaḥ kalayā kaleśa
ikṣvāku-vaṁśa avatīrya guror nideśe
tiṣṭhan vanaṁ sa-dayitānuja āviveśa
yasmin virudhya daśa-kandhara ārtim ārcchat
asmat—unto us, beginning from Brahmā down to the insignificant ant; prasāda—causeless mercy; sumukhaḥ—so inclined; kalayā—with His plenary extensions; kaleśaḥ—the Lord of all potencies; ikṣvāku—Mahārāja Ikṣvāku, in the dynasty of the sun; vaṁśe—family; avatīrya—by descending in; guroḥ—of the father or spiritual master; nideśe—under the order of; tiṣṭhan—being situated in; vanam—in the forest; sa-dayitā-anujaḥ—along with His wife and younger brother; āviveśa—entered; yasmin—unto whom; virudhya—being rebellious; daśa-kandharaḥ—Rāvaṇa, who had ten heads; ārtim—great distress; ārcchat—achieved.
Due to His causeless mercy upon all living entities within the universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His plenary extensions, appeared in the family of Mahārāja Ikṣvāku as the Lord of His internal potency, Sītā. Under the order of His father, Mahārāja Daśaratha, He entered the forest and lived there for considerable years with His wife and younger brother. Rāvaṇa, who was very materially powerful, with ten heads on his shoulders, committed a great offense against Him and was thus ultimately vanquished.
Lord Rāma is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His brothers, namely Bharata, Lakṣmaṇa and Śatrughna, are His plenary expansions. All four brothers are viṣṇu-tattva and were never ordinary human beings. There are many unscrupulous and ignorant commentators on Rāmāyaṇa who present the younger brothers of Lord Rāmacandra as ordinary living entities. But here in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the most authentic scripture on the science of Godhead, it is clearly stated that His brothers were His plenary expansions. Originally Lord Rāmacandra is the incarnation of Vāsudeva, Lakṣmaṇa is the incarnation of Saṅkarṣaṇa, Bharata is the incarnation of Pradyumna, and Śatrughna is the incarnation of Aniruddha, expansions of the Personality of Godhead. Lakṣmījī Sītā is the internal potency of the Lord and is neither an ordinary woman nor the external potency incarnation of Durgā. Durgā is the external potency of the Lord, and she is associated with Lord Śiva.
As stated in the Bhagavad-gītā (4.7), the Lord appears when there are discrepancies in the discharge of factual religion. Lord Rāmacandra also appeared under the same circumstances, accompanied by His brothers, who are expansions of the Lord’s internal potency, and by Lakṣmījī Sītādevī.
Lord Rāmacandra was ordered by His father, Mahārāja Daśaratha, to leave home for the forest under awkward circumstances, and the Lord, as the ideal son of His father, carried out the order, even on the occasion of His being declared the King of Ayodhyā. One of His younger brothers, Lakṣmaṇajī, desired to go with Him, and so also His eternal wife, Sītājī, desired to go with Him. The Lord agreed to both of them, and all together they entered the Daṇḍakāraṇya Forest, to live there for fourteen years. During their stay in the forest, there was some quarrel between Rāmacandra and Rāvaṇa, and the latter kidnapped the Lord’s wife, Sītā. The quarrel ended in the vanquishing of the greatly powerful Rāvaṇa, along with all his kingdom and family.
Sītā is Lakṣmījī, or the goddess of fortune, but she is never to be enjoyed by any living being. She is meant for being worshiped by the living being along with her husband, Śrī Rāmacandra. A materialistic man like Rāvaṇa does not understand this great truth, but on the contrary he wants to snatch Sītādevī from the custody of Rāma and thus incurs great miseries. The materialists, who are after opulence and material prosperity, may take lessons from the Rāmāyaṇa that the policy of exploiting the nature of the Lord without acknowledging the supremacy of the Supreme Lord is the policy of Rāvaṇa. Rāvaṇa was very advanced materially, so much so that he turned his kingdom, Laṅkā, into pure gold, or full material wealth. But because he did not recognize the supremacy of Lord Rāmacandra and defied Him by stealing His wife, Sītā, Rāvaṇa was killed, and all his opulence and power were destroyed.
Lord Rāmacandra is a full incarnation with six opulences in full, and He is therefore mentioned in this verse as kaleśaḥ, or master of all opulence.
yasmā adād udadhir ūḍha-bhayāṅga-vepo
mārgaṁ sapady ari-puraṁ haravad didhakṣoḥ
yasmai—unto whom; adāt—gave; udadhiḥ—the great Indian Ocean; ūḍha-bhaya—affected by fear; aṅga-vepaḥ—bodily trembling; mārgam—way; sapadi—quickly; ari-puram—the city of the enemy; hara-vat—like that of Hara (Mahādeva); didhakṣoḥ—desiring to burn to ashes; dūre—at a long distance; su-hṛt—intimate friend; mathita—being aggrieved by; roṣa—in anger; su-śoṇa—red-hot; dṛṣṭyā—by such a glance; tātapyamāna—burning in heat; makara—sharks; uraga—snakes; nakra—crocodiles; cakraḥ—circle.
The Personality of Godhead Rāmacandra, being aggrieved for His distant intimate friend [Sītā], glanced over the city of the enemy Rāvaṇa with red-hot eyes like those of Hara [who wanted to burn the kingdom of heaven]. The great ocean, trembling in fear, gave Him His way because its family members, the aquatics like the sharks, snakes and crocodiles, were being burnt by the heat of the angry red-hot eyes of the Lord.
The Personality of Godhead has every sentiment of a sentient being, like all other living beings, because He is the chief and original living entity, the supreme source of all other living beings. He is the nitya, or the chief eternal amongst all other eternals. He is the chief one, and all others are the dependent many. The many eternals are supported by the one eternal, and thus both the eternals are qualitatively one. Due to such oneness, both the eternals constitutionally have a complete range of sentiments, but the difference is that the sentiments of the chief eternal are different in quantity from the sentiments of the dependent eternals. When Rāmacandra was angry and showed His red-hot eyes, the whole ocean became heated with that energy, so much so that the aquatics within the great ocean felt the heat, and the personified ocean trembled in fear and offered the Lord an easy path for reaching the enemy’s city. The impersonalists will see havoc in this red-hot sentiment of the Lord because they want to see negation in perfection. Because the Lord is absolute, the impersonalists imagine that in the Absolute the sentiment of anger, which resembles mundane sentiments, must be conspicuous by absence. Due to a poor fund of knowledge, they do not realize that the sentiment of the Absolute Person is transcendental to all mundane concepts of quality and quantity. Had Lord Rāmacandra’s sentiment been of mundane origin, how could it disturb the whole ocean and its inhabitants? Can any mundane red-hot eye generate heat in the great ocean? These are factors to be distinguished in terms of the personal and impersonal conceptions of the Absolute Truth. As it is said in the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Absolute Truth is the source of everything, so the Absolute Person cannot be devoid of the sentiments that are reflected in the temporary mundane world. Rather, the different sentiments found in the Absolute, either in anger or in mercy, have the same qualitative influence, or, in other words, there is no mundane difference of value because these sentiments are all on the absolute plane. Such sentiments are definitely not absent in the Absolute, as the impersonalists think, making their mundane estimation of the transcendental world.
dantair viḍambita-kakubjuṣa ūḍha-hāsam
sadyo ’subhiḥ saha vineṣyati dāra-hartur
visphūrjitair dhanuṣa uccarato ’dhisainye
vakṣaḥ-sthala—chest; sparśa—touched by; rugna—broken; mahā-indra—the King of heaven; vāha—the conveyor; dantaiḥ—by the trunk; viḍambita—illuminated; kakup-juṣaḥ—all directions thus being served; ūḍha-hāsam—overtaken by laughter; sadyaḥ—within no time; asubhiḥ—by the life; saha—along with; vineṣyati—was killed; dāra-hartuḥ—of the one who kidnapped the wife; visphūrjitaiḥ—by the tingling of the bow; dhanuṣaḥ—bow; uccarataḥ—strolling fast; adhisainye—in the midst of the fighting soldiers of both sides.
When Rāvaṇa was engaged in the battle, the trunk of the elephant which carried the King of heaven, Indra, broke in pieces, having collided with the chest of Rāvaṇa, and the scattered broken parts illuminated all directions. Rāvaṇa therefore felt proud of his prowess and began to loiter in the midst of the fighting soldiers, thinking himself the conqueror of all directions. But his laughter, overtaken by joy, along with his very air of life, suddenly ceased with the tingling sound of the bow of Rāmacandra, the Personality of Godhead.
However powerful a living being may be, when he is condemned by God no one can save him, and, similarly, however weak one may be, if he is protected by the Lord no one can annihilate him.