Dussehra Special: Lord Rama’s Chariot

On the auspicious festival of Dussehra, celebrated to honor the victory of righteousness over evil, we should take a moment to look at the chariot that Lord Rama used in His battle to defeat Ravana in the Ramayana. While a visible chariot was delivered as an aid by Indra, the actual chariot, made from spirituality, that Rama used is described by Goswami Tulasidasa in the Ramacharitmanasa. When Vibhishana inquires how Rama would fight a war without a chariot and armor, He responded that a different type of chariot is used for victory:

Valor and patience are the wheels of this chariot; truth and morality form its flag; strength, discrimination, control of senses and good deeds are its horses, which are fixed to the chariot though the straps of forgiveness, compassion and equanimity. While God remembrance is the driver, intellect is the energy that drives this chariot. After describing the rest of the ‘artillery’, which includes the shield of renunciation, a sword made of contentment, an axe of charity, a bow made of spiritual knowledge, a quiver symbolized by a clean and firm mind, an armor from faith in one’s gurus, and arrows represented by a controlled mind and the yam-niyam of yoga, Rama continues that with such a chariot, no opponent remains undefeated.

Bringing at least a couple of elements from this chariot in our own lives may be a fruitful complement to burning the effigies of Ravana on today’s special occasion.

Lord Rama: In search of a home

In the Adhyatma Ramayana, at the beginning of His fourteen-year long exile, when Rama asks Valmiki where He could live in the forest, Valmiki reiterates the omnipresence of Rama by responding that He, the Lord of all, lives everywhere – in all beings. Still, there are some places He certainly and preferably inhabits with Goddess Sita. Briefly, His homes include the hearts of devotees who are peaceful, level-headed, free of hatred for all beings, and who continually remember the Lord. Similarly, He resides in the hearts of mortals who have reached beyond the dualities of good and bad, gold and dirt, and happiness and sorrow, who are in His refuge, who surrender all karma to Him, or who see Him everywhere and serve Him continually.

So it should not be a surprise that Rama has fewer places to live today, at least on earth. Having diminished many of His prospective homes through our selfish guidance to fellow beings, are we expecting Him to search and build His own residence? Well, the unfortunate difficulty for the jiva is that Rama does not reveal Himself in an ‘abode’ unless He is adorably invited to stay in it. And in His absence within us, we will definitely have trouble associating Him with monuments like the Rama Setu, which He had personally touched only once.

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