36 Hours of English Discourses on This Great Sanskrit Epic
Srimad Ramayanam is ‘the better among the epics’. It is one of the oldest scripture of the Hindu tradition whose influence can be found outside India too. The original and widely accepted version of it is the one in Sanskrit called ‘Valmiki Ramayanam’ which houses 24,000 verses. Besides, the regional versions of Ramayanam are also respected and recited.
Every character of this epic carries an invaluable message for the mankind and no incident in it is bereft of message. Exemplifying this very fact is the existence of numerous commentaries for the epic. Nevertheless, every time Ramayanam is heard, recited or enacted, it turns a new leaf in us.
This album carries lectures of over 36 hours on Ramayanam in English aiming to reach the households, thereby the hearts of the listeners and transporting them to the land of spiritual ecstasy and pure devotion.
Bala Kandam (6 hrs 40 mins) Chapters 1 to 13
King Dasharath was a descendant of the revered solar dynasty. He was a great warrior and an able administrator. Falling in line with most other Kshatriya kings, he too had many wives; principal among them were Kaushalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. He wasn’t blessed with sons. On consultation with his family preceptor Vasishta, he invited sage Rishyashringa to perform the Ashwamedha Yagnya Dasharath received a sweet-porridge filled vessel at its culmination. He distributed the same amongst his wives. In due course, the queens delivered sons Kaushalya was blessed with Rama, Kaikeyi with Bharata, Sumitra with Lakshmana and Shatrugna. These boys grew up with an unseen attachment amongst them. They completed their formal education under Vasishta and returned to the kingdom.
On one occasion, sage Vishwamitra came to Dasharath;s court seeking Ram’s help in the annihilation of demons who were causing undue menance to his sacrifics; Dasharath initially feared for his son’s safety, but agreed on the intervention of Vasishta. Rama and Lakshmana followed sage Vishwamitra to the forests. On their way, Vishwamitra blessed them with powerful missiles. Rama killed an ogrees called Tataka. In the process of protecting the Sacrifice, he killed Subahu anddrove Maarecha miles away.
Vishwamitra blessed the boys and led them to Janaka’s capital Mithila. At the outskirts, Rama’s feet touched a stone which turned into a lady called Ahalya (as she was previously cursed by her husband). Janaka welcomed the guests and led them to his court. He showed them a bow and declared his daughter Seeta as the price to the one who lifted it. On Vishwamitra’s order, Rama handled the bow, duly a welcome message was sent to king Dasharatha who arrived at Mithila along with his queens and citizens. Rama was married to Seeta and so were his brothers married to Seeta’s sisters. Sage Parashurama barged in the court of Janaka to challenge Rama’s valor in handling the bow which he held too. Rama ably handled the bow Parashurama gave and received the honor of salutation by Sage Parashurama in return.
Ayodhya Kandam (9 hrs 45 mins) Chapters 1 to 19
King Dashrath lived in peace until he realized one day that he had to coronate his eldest son Rama as king and that he had to retire to the forests. On consulting with the ministry, he fixed the date for Rama’s coronation. Rama and Seeta were ordered to comply to certain coronation rituals and the entire city wore a festive look.
Manthara, the maid to Kaikeyi grew unimaginably furious on hearing this message. She entered Kaikeyi’s chambers and poisoned her mind, he promised to give her whatever she would ask. Kaikeyi demanded that Rama should go to the forests for fourteen years and Bharata should be the king. All this conspired when Bharata was at his uncle’s place. Dasharath had no option left but to comply, when Kaikeyi refused to change her mind.
Rama understood the situation and he immediately agreed to retire to the forests. While Seeta insisted that she wanted to join Rama in his mission, so did his brother Lakshmana. After duly convincing his mother and the citizens, the trio marched to the woods. Dasharath who had anticipated this day, departed to heaven.
The tribal hunter called Guha welcomed Rama with due respect and remained hospitable during Rama’s stay at his place. Likewise sage Bharadwaja entertained the trio and offeres them his love. Meanwhile, Bharata returned and was flabbergast with the events. He could neither forgive his mother nor could he justify his stand before Kaushalya.
He left to the forests along with the citizens to bring back the trio to the kingdom. Rama was delighted to see his brothers and at same time lamented about his father’s death. He rejected Bharata’s plea of returning to Ayodhya. In turn, Rama blessed Bharata with his Paadukas with which Bharata ruled Ayodhya for the remaining fourteen years,
Aranya Kandam (4 hrs 4 mins) Chapters 1 to 8
The trio spent the best part of their lives amidst nature. They enjoyed the seasons the fauna and most importantly the company of the hermits. A demon called Virada carried away Seeta only to be killed by Rama in the fight back. One day, an ogress called Shorpanakha entered the hermitage and tried wooing Rama first and then Lakshmana. When she turned to attack Seeta, Lakshmana cut her nose and ears. The insulted ogress instigated her brothers Khara and Dushana to invite Rama for a fight. Rama bravely fought the fourteen thousand demons.
Meanwhile Ravana was informed about the defeat of the demons and at the same rime about the beauty of Seeta. In view of abducting seta, he sought Maareche’s help. The latter turned as a golden deer and sported before Seeta thereby seeing her attention. Rama ran behind the deer and beyond a certain instance, shot an arrow at the same. Maarecha cried in Rama’s voice for help.
Seeta who was anxious about her husband’s safety ordered Lakshmana to run for his rescue. Ravana in the interlude kidnapped seta in the disguise of an ascetic. Jatayu, the vulture fought Ravana to rescue Seeta, but fell to the ground ultimately.
Rama and Lakshmana found Seeta missing and walked south in search of her. On their way, Rama heard of Seeta’s abduction from the dying Jatayu and performed his funeral rites.the duo also met an srent devotee called Shabari and spent some memorable time at her hermitage.
Rama and Lakshmana reached Kishkinda province. Sugreeva was stationed along with his friends and army in a cave. On seeing the two humans walk in his vicinity, he asked Hanuman to seek their identity. Hanuman stood before the duo in disguise but was soon overpowered through their striking divinity and beauty. Hanuman took no time in detailing the background of Sugreeva with respect to his relationship with Vail. Immediately Sugreeva realizing Rama’s strengths ignited a bond of friendship with the latter. In order to test Rama’s strengths Sugreeva even conducted tests.
Duly commanded by Rama, Sugreeva summoned an already aggressive Vali for a duel. On the first day, Rama failed to help Sugreeva due to the identical appearance the monkey brothers had. But on the second day, Rama shot an arrow at Vali’s chest.
Vali was surprised that Rama had committed such an act and questioned Rama of the war ethics. Rama, who patiently heard Vali accusations, replied with all the necessary justification. Vali totally agreed to Rama’s reply and reached the upper abode leaving his son Angada under Rama’s custody.
While Rama had fulfilled his promise, Sugreeva took some time in realizing his duty. He sent monkeys under different leaders in four directions. Hanuman reached the southern shore with his team. While they were clueless about the next step, Sampati duly guided them.
Sundara Kandam (5 hrs 34 mins) Chapters 1 to11
While the monkeys were contemplating as to who could cross the ocean, Jambavan pointed Hanuman as the only capable person. Hanuman immediately heeded to Jambavan and started towards Lanka. He was obstructed thrice on his journey to Lanka. He won over them using different tactics and reached Lanka.
Transforming himself into a little figure, he walked the streets of Lanka. He was amazed at the city’s bounty and wealth. He saw the entire city sleeping. He searched the entire city for City and reached a certain garden called Asoka when he thought all his efforts were in vain. He found a divine lady (whom he thought was Seeta) who looked depressed and dejected there. In no time, Ravana arrived at the scene and fixed a deadline for Seeta’s consent for their marriage. Seta whose advice to Ravana was in vain felt even more sorrowful until Trijata came and described her dreams.
While Seeta was about to hang herself, Hanuman brought some peace by singing the glory of Rama (thereby preventing the mishap). He introduced himself, his mission, Rama’s concern and assured of her rescue at the earliest. Seeta shared some of her private messages for Rama while receiving his signet in return.
On his way to Kishkinda, hanuman took all his monkey friends to a fruit garden owned by Sugreeva and let them party for the success of the mission. Meanwhile the entire crew under Hanuman reached Rama and Sugreeva who were eagerly awaiting the news.
Yudha Kandam (5 hrs 40 mins) Chapters 1 to 11
Vibheeshana advised Ravana that the welfare of Lanka was totally dependent on Seeta. He warned Ravana that Seeta’s sorrow could turn into the devastating fire for Lanka. Ravana denied budging and even more chased Vibheeshana out of Lanka. Vibheeshana set towards Rama’s Side seeking refuge.
Meanwhile, Rama applauded Hanuman’s achievement and contemplated on what to do next. Vibheeshana conveyed his intent of falling at the holy feet of Rama. While Sugreeva did not like the idea of Vibheeshana’s unconditional surrender, hanuman on the contrary totally supported it. Rama declared amidst the gathering that even if Ravana came to him seeing forgiveness, he would still forgive for his mission was to forget and forgive.
Rama meanwhile sought the ocean-king’s permission for a bridge construction. Under the supervision of Nala and Neela, a beautiful bridge for Lanka was constructed. The army thereby marched towards Lanka. In the series of war days that followed, Ravana’s sons, brothers and nephews were killed.
Ravana was killed and Seeta was finally rescued after a procedure called Agni Pareeksha. Along with the monkeys, all of them mounted the flying vehicle and flew to Ayodhya. Hanuman carried the message of Rama’s arrival to Bharata beforehand. The entire city of Ayodhya wore a festive look for Rama’s coronation and the rituals were delightfully performed by all the seers. Seeta and Rama ruled the earth for thousands of years thereby spelling goodwill and gods will.
Sri Dushyanth Sridhar was born in Bangalore. He did his schooling in Bangalore and Chennai and thereafter moved to one of India’s most revered schools – BITS, Pilani. He obtained his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering and Masters in Chemistry from this institution. From then on, he has been residing in Mumbai and working for a pharmaceutical Leader in Business Strategy.
His penchant for the Hindu scriptures knows no bounds and his mother has been instrumental in getting him trained in these scriptures from revered preceptors in Chennai. Sri Vaishnavism, Sri Vedanta Desika’s works and Public-Speaking have been his interests. He started rendering discourses in public forums at the age of eighteen and has continued to balance his work life with it.
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