tāni anke darśanīyāni kṛtvā bahu vidham tataḥ |
tena deva prakāśena devena paridevitam ||
Doubt: In India most everyone knows about the Ramayana. The problem is that the versions known by the people are not always the same. The more popular version, which is admittedly composed in recent times, during the Medieval period, gives more attention to Rama’s Divinity, His being the Supreme Lord.
Though authored in the language of Awadhi, there is nevertheless authority pointed to. That version of the story of Rama’s events has its own disciplic succession. Lord Shiva, Mahadeva, is the narrator, speaking to his wife Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king. The original Ramayana of Valmiki doesn’t give as much emphasis to Rama being God. In fact, it is barely mentioned. Perhaps Rama is merely an ordinary human being who was later assigned divine status by those who support Him. Why is Shiva’s version so different from Valmiki’s?
Reconciliation: What is commonly known today as Hinduism is actually the Vedic tradition. Vedic refers to the Vedas, which are ancient works of knowledge. And not just any knowledge, the Vedas are synonymous with the highest wisdom capable of being assimilated by the human mind. Because of this mind the human birth is considered the most auspicious. It is better to be born a human being than any other type of living entity.
The Vedas are originally a single work, and no matter the form in which they appear, the purpose is identical. The Vedas glorify God. They sing of His gunas, or glories. Gunas for Him are transcendental attributes. They are distinguishable features that are paradoxical and non-limiting. For instance, God does not have hands, yet He can extend His reach everywhere. He does not have ears, but He can hear everything. He is without a body, and yet His complexion is shyama, or blackish.
To give man a better idea of what these gunas are, the Divine descends to the world populated with material eyes. Only the pious souls can recognize Him, and since they want to cherish that vision going forward, they record their perceptions. They note down the Supreme Lord’s activities. The works that chronicle the appearance and disappearance become extensions of the Vedas. As they continue to expound on the glories of the Supreme Lord, these works are non-different from the original Vedas.
One such work is the Ramayana, which concentrates on the Supreme’s advent as Lord Rama, the son of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Rama’s deeds are described in other books as well, such as the many Puranas. Actually, any qualified person can make an attempt to describe Rama through the written word. If their understanding is correct and their conclusions not in violation of any of the truths pertaining to the Supreme Lord, then the resulting work is also an extension of the Vedas.
There could be confusion since the more recent works give more focus to Rama’s divine nature, while the original Ramayana focuses more on deeds. Yet one who carefully studies the work of Valmiki will find that the divinity is indeed stated in many places. The above referenced verse is one example.
Here Shri Hanuman describes how Rama looked like God Himself. The Sanskrit words are deva prakashena devena. This means that Rama resembled the deva, or god, of the devas, the gods. He looked this way while examining the ornaments of Sita Devi, His beloved wife. These ornaments fell from the sky as Sita was being forcibly taken away by the wicked-minded Ravana. The Vanaras living in Kishkindha gathered the ornaments. They presented them to Rama after they met Him. Hanuman, the chief minister to the Vanara-king Sugriva, personally brought to Rama those items belonging to Sita.
Thus a single verse from the Ramayana gives sufficient evidence for the true identity of Shri Rama. Rama was God based on how He looked. The Lord’s reaction to seeing the ornaments gives further evidence. Just as a husband is intimately familiar with the nature of His wife, the original Personality of Godhead can recognize and remember the goddess of fortune just by seeing her ornaments. It was as if Hanuman had brought Sita back to Rama for a brief moment.
Rama lamented in many ways because He has immeasurable love for His devotees. He will do anything for them, and He is always thinking of them. Due to His unmatched compassion, those who prefer Him never tire in service. Though the material world is limiting, being temporary in nature, the devotees still find ways to expand their efforts. They increase Rama’s glories by writing about Him. Hanuman extends the splendor of the fully splendorous Rama by bravely travelling to Lanka and delivering comforting words to the distressed Sita. Thus through the efforts of the devotees the truth of Rama’s divine nature becomes even more firmly established.
So many versions of Ramayana to see,
Perhaps only a myth is He?
Later on wanting to glorify,
In little ways the original to modify.
But actually truth in Valmiki’s is found,
Rama looking like deva, with splendor abound.
Evidence further by Shri Hanuman shown,
Only by devotees Rama truly to be known.