Category: Shatashloki Ramayana

Shatashloki 5: Valmiki seeks to know of a person with all auspicious qualities… contd..

Cāritreṇa ca ko yuktaḥ? Sarvabhūteṣu ko hita

Vidvān kaḥ? Ka ssammarthaśca? Kaiscaika priyadarśanaḥ.

Meaning- Who is the person, who g) possess a good conduct, h) causes the welfare of all the living entities, i) is an erudite scholar, j) has the ability to accomplish even most impossible deeds, k) possesses great capacity and efficiency (saamarthya) and l) at all times, causes the same kind of bliss and happiness to the onlookers?

Let us now go in depth into the meaning of this hymn.

7) Caritravān In this hymn, Maharishi Valmiki at first seeks to know about that person who is of excellent conduct.

Abiding by sadāchara (good conduct) means to complete the designated duties that have been laid down, at the designated hour, systematically without even the slightest deviation. ‘acharo prabhavo dharma dharmasya prabhurachyutaha’ means good and proper conduct (aachara) is the first and foremost among all the dharmas (rules of righteous living) to be followed.

Abiding by this single dharma amounts to having everything in life. Through this adherence, all difficulties can be overcome easily. The unattainable (durgama) becomes easily attainable (sugama).

Therefore, Maharishi Valmiki seeks to know if any person with this trait of excellent conduct (sadachara) exists in this world.

8) Sarvabhūtesu hitah–  Next, Maharishi Valmiki seeks to know if there is any person who seeks/causes the welfare of every being and of everything in creation. In the eyes of such a person, everyone, including his kith and kin, is equal. At no time and under no circumstances will he ever show feelings of differentiation/ discrimination between his people and outsiders.

As a person who sees everyone in the same light, he would have taken a firm vow to cause the welfare of one and all and he strives to fulfill it.  It is very important to note that such person will never harm even his enemy. All these factors weighed in the mind of Maharishi Valmiki when he used the term ‘sarva bhutesu ko hitah’.

This should be the primary and predominant trait of a king. This is also one of the very important characteristics/traits of the Supreme Lord.

9) Vidvān– Coming to the next trait, Maharishi Valmiki enquires about that person who is well versed in all forms of knowledge.

Here he refers to that person who is proficient with the entire knowledge contained in the Scriptures. Such person knows everything that ought to be known and hence is aptly addressed as a Pundit. He causes the well-being of the world. During troubled times, he will act in the proper manner and thus will triumph over those difficulties. He possesses the skill to transform even adverse situations into favourable ones.

10) Samartah- The next trait mentioned in this hymn is skillfulness.

It is knowledge that bestows dexterity upon the individual. Due to knowledge, the person possesses the dexterity to accomplish those deeds that others consider impossible.

11) Eka priya darsanah–  It means he who appears equally pleasing to one and all, at all times.

Objects dear to us cause immense joy at some times and sorrow at other times. That which causes happiness to one may be the source of sorrow for another. Such situations cause aversion in the person towards both joys as well as sorrows.

The person should be able to create feelings of love and affection in the minds of those who look into his face.  The desire to keep looking into his face at all times should emerge in the heart of the onlookers, says Valmiki.

‘Kshane kshane yan navatām upaiti tad eva roopam ramaniyataavah’ – that which assumes a new fresh look every second and leaves the onlooker in wonder is the nature/trait of beauty. Even though people look at him all the time, at each second he should look new and refreshing, much to the amazement of the onlooker. This is a deeper meaning embedded in this phrase

Valmiki Maharishi was referring to such a person through the usage of this phrase.

Such deep meanings are embedded within the thoughts and words of great saints. To them, welfare of the world is the only thing that matters.

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Shatashloki 4: Valmiki seeks to know of any person living on earth who possesses auspicious traits

Konvasmin sāmprataṃ loke gunavān kaścaveeryavān

Dharmajñaśca krtajñaśca satyavākyo dŗdhavrataḥ

Valmiki asks, “O Maharishi! In this present era, on Earth, who is that great personality who has in him the following virtues –  a) good traits, b) unsurpassed valour, c) ripened knowledge of rules of righteousness, d) gratitude, e) truthfulness in thought, word and deed and f) firm determination?”

Valmiki Maharishi uses the word bhu loka (Earth) Through this he very tactfully clarifies to Guru Narada that he does not seek to know about the Supreme Lord Vishnu, the resident of Vaikuntha. He further uses the term ‘in the present era’ to emphasize that he seeks to know of the present incarnation and not of any past incarnations such as Narasimha and others. Thus, at the outset, Maharishi Valmiki is very clear about what he seeks to know.

After having said this, Maharishi Valmiki now proceeds with his questions. He enquires whether any person who possesses the entire kalyana gunas (auspicious traits) exists presently on Earth.

The only one who has in him all the auspicious traits is the Supreme Lord. Therefore, through these questions, Valmiki clearly asks Narada to reveal to him about the present incarnation of the Lord.

Only that knowledge which is learnt from the Spiritual Guru is the highest knowledge. Hence Valmiki put forth these questions to the supreme most Guru Narada. The desire that the entire world should benefit from these answers also weighed on his mind. This is the trait of the greatest and the best disciple.

Hence the efforts of the greatest Guru and the greatest disciple resulted in the creation of the world’s first epic, the Srimad Ramayana. It came as a blessing to this entire universe.

Maharishi Valmiki, in his mind, desired to know the form of the Supreme Lord. He expressed this desire in the form of questions put forth before his Guru.

Let us now understand in detail about the traits that Valmiki specifies in this hymn.

1) Gunavān– This is the first trait. Who can be addressed as a virtuous? He who, even though being extraordinarily great, does not recollect his greatness and who is not egoistic due to it is truly virtuous.

Such a person will not behave arrogantly.  Nor will he maintain any differences between himself and those inferior to him. He will mingle with one and all easily. For example, just because he is a great jnani (highly knowledgeable) he will not discriminate against those who are unequal to him. For all the above reasons, such person can be said to be truly courageous.

2) Veeryavān- It means valour. A valorous person is he who is very knowledgeable and is replete with all the virtuous traits but yet behaves in the manner depicted above.

3) Dharmajna– This refers to the knowledge of righteousness. Dharma is that which concerns both this world and the next and which shows the right path. Only he, who has the complete knowledge of righteous and unrighteous deeds (dharma-adharma), can cause auspiciousness. Only such person will cause the welfare of the universe.  At the first step itself, such a person will root out adharma (unrighteousness) and inauspiciousness. Is there any such person on Earth, presently?

4) Krtajnata- It is gratitude. One should never forget help received from others, however insignificant it could be. He who considers any trivial help received from others as profound and significant, and therefore in return helps the person who had helped him in a way that promotes his welfare, is known as krtajna. Such a person can never entertain evil feelings about others and forever seeks others’ well-being. This is the intention behind explicitly seeking for a person with this trait.

5) Satyavān- It means truthfulnes in speech. A truthful person will never utter a lie even when the worst problems land on his head. To him, truth reigns supreme. He believes that everything is dependent on truth. Truth should always emerge victorious, he believes. To emphasize all these points relating to truth (satya), Valmiki Maharishi has used the term ‘satya vakyo’ here.

6) Drdavrata- It means to possess an unflinching and absolutely firm determination. Such a person will not change his mind mid-way, but will stick to his intent till the very end.

What beautiful questions these are! When these questions are applied to this world and analyzed, the preaching being given by Maharishi Valmiki to us through this hymn becomes very clear.

 

The person who devotedly adopts and adheres to these above-mentioned traits will unquestionably walk on the path of God. He will understand God. He will become God.

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Shatashloki 3: Dhyana shlokas and Verse 1

 

(A portion of Video is missing. The translation however covers the entire episode as telecast).

Kujantam raama raameti madhuram madhuraaksraam

Aaruhya kavitaasaakhaam vande Valmiki kokilam

Meaning- I offer my obeisance to the sweet cuckoo named Valmiki, who has seated himself atop the branch named poetry and who melodiously, sweetly and poetically sings ‘Rama, Rama’

Ajnanananadanam veeram jaanaki soka naashanam

Kapeesam akshahantaaram vande lanka bhayankaram

Meaning-  I prostrate to Hanuman, who is the son of Anjana Devi, who was the leader of all the Vanaras, who killed the demon named Aksha, who drove away the sorrows of Mother Sita (Janaki) and who caused a fright amongst all the demons in Lanka.

Veda vedye pare pumsi jaate dasarathaatmaje

Vedaha praacheta daaseet saakshaad ramaayanaatmanaa 

Ramaaya raamabhadraya ramachandraaya vedhase

Raghunaathaaya naathaaya seetaayah pataye namah.

Meaning- I bow down to Rama who is Ramachandra and Ramabhadra. He is the Lord of the entire universe. He is the most superior in the lineage of Raghu’s dynasty. He is the husband of Sita.

With these prayers, we are now stepping into Shata Shloki Ramayana.

 

Tapassvaadhaaya niratam tapasvi vaagvidaam varam

Naaradam paripapraccha Valmiki rmunipungavam.

Srimad Ramayana is the very first composition in this creation (Adi Kaavya). The greatest amongst the mantras is the Gayatri mantra. To emphasize that this Ramayana is as powerful as the Gayatri mantra, Maharishi Valmiki begins this Ramayana with the syllable ‘ta’ (ta-kaara). Let us recollect here that the Gayatri mantra also begins with the syllable ‘ta’.

A person who is ever absorbed in penance (tapas) and in study of the Vedas can be said to be the greatest among the learned Vedic scholars. Maharishi Narada is the best among all such Veda scholars. Maharishi Valmiki, who was ever interested in penance (tapas) approached Maharishi Narada and asked him in the following manner. This is the meaning behind this hymn.

Now let us understand the deeper hidden meaning of this hymn.  This great composition known as Ramayana, has begun during tapas (penance) and has begun with the word ‘tapas’ (penance).

Every one should have the burning desire (tapana) to know about God. Every one should perform tapas (penance). Recitation of mantra (japa) received from one’s Spiritual Guru should mandatorily be performed every single day. Negligence in this aspect is not accepted. Those who have not received any initiation from their Guru should recollect and recite the names of God every single day without fail.

‘Japato nāsti pātakam’ means sins do not attach to those who undertake nama japa and tapas (penance). All our Scriptures re-iterate this.

‘Swaadhyaya’ means swa+adhyaaya. ‘Swa’ means Self or that which relates to one’s Self. ‘Adyāya’ means study. It means that each one should mandatorily, without any negligence and without fail engage in Self-study.

Here, study means, not only re-collecting that which has been learnt in the past, but also acquiring newer knowledge. Association with highly knowledgeable saints (jnanis) should be developed. What is learnt should as far as possible be shared with the others.

These are the important lessons that are hidden within the phrase ‘tapassvādhyāya niratam’.

The next word in the hymn is ‘tapasvi’. On the face of it, it may appear as if Valmiki Maharishi is indulging in self-praise by addressing himself as ‘tapasvi’ (great ascetic). This is incorrect. It was only after performing intense tapas for an exceptionally long period of time, that Valmiki Maharishi could get the chance to compose the wonderful epic Ramayana. Penance is a very essential pre-requisite for acquiring the grace of Rama.

Narada was Valmiki’s Guru. We have discussed many a time that without a Guru a person cannot reach his goal. Not everyone can become Gurus.

Narada is a storehouse of tremendous and infinite knowledge. He is a great devotee of the Supreme Lord and is modest and unegoistic.

Maharishi Valmiki put forth his questions to Maharishi Narada. It is not right to put forth our doubts in front of everyone whom we come across. For doubt clarification we should approach only that person who can resolve it completely and thoroughly.

‘Nārā’ means one who distributes knowledge to all the planes (worlds, loka). Hence Nārada who forever distributes knowledge across all planes has been named thus.

Hence very wisely, Maharishi Valmiki approached Narada. Upon approaching him, Valmiki did not display the disrespectful attitude, “Anyway you are always passing on your knowledge to others. Give me a little”. On the contrary, Valmiki approached Narada with feelings of humility and devotion. He served Narada with devotion and then put forth his questions. For this reason, the term ‘Paripa praccha’ has been used.

Valmiki was not the real name of this Maharishi. It was a title that was bestowed upon him.

It is said that unless the feelings of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ are totally given up, Guru’s grace cannot be procured.

 

Om Seeta raamaabhyaam namaha.

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Shatashloki 2: Dhyana shloka

It is customary to worship Lord Ganapati, at the beginning of any new task. This holds good for each and every task. Thereafter Goddess Saraswati, who is the Goddess of entire knowledge is worshipped. Thirdly, our Guru, who teaches us this knowledge and who puts us on this right path should be worshipped.

Who is a Guru? The one who takes the living entity from darkness to light is the Guru. Ignorance is the complete darkness within which the being is wholly enveloped. The Guru shows the light and takes the being on that path.

At first, prayer is offered to Ganapati, so that the obstacles on the path would be cleared, thereafter blessings are sought from the Divine Mother so that the offering would be error-free, now Guru is being prayed to so that He will lead us from darkness to light.

This ocean of repeated re-births (samsāra), together with all its bondages, is the utter darkness within which we are submerged. It is absolute ignorance. This darkness is extremely chill which means that it is dreadfully fearful. The one who shows the path out from this terribly fearful darkness is Guru.

Absolute faith in Guru is a must. Merely having darshan is inadequate. Guru should be worshipped too. The more He is worshipped, the better. We are now worshipping such a Guru.

Akhanḍa manḍalā kāraṃ vyaptam yena carācaraṃ

Tatpadaṃ darsitam yena tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ.

I offer my obeisance to that Guru, whose tattva (essence/nature of Guru) has, akin to the sky, enveloped the entire creation and which has enabled me to visualize the Brahma who is known as ‘tat’.

It is said that there can be no knowledge without a Guru. Be it any form of knowledge, a teacher (Guru) who shows the path/direction is essential. There are many who boast that they have mastered all knowledge without the help of any Guru. however one fine morning all of a sudden their knowledge will simply vanish.

One can treat the book as a Guru and learn from it. But even then, like Ekalavya, one should strive to get a direct visible Guru (pratyaksha Guru).

Even Ekalavya, who indulged in self-study, earnestly aspired and longed for a visible Guru (pratyaksha guru). Circumstances prevented Guru Drona from imparting any teaching to Ekalavya. Ekalavya returned home and made a statue of his Guru Drona. He worshipped the statue diligently. He believed that his Guru was physically present there and that he was talking and preaching to him directly.

The same logic should be applied when learning directly from book. When reading the material from the book, one should believe that there is a teacher who is teaching through the written medium. In the absence of this belief and feeling (bhavana) that what is being read is actually a lesson being taught by someone, the knowledge acquired through the reading will never be fruitful. Such knowledge will never ever be obtained completely.

That Lord Subrahmanya is a Maha Jnani (very knowledgeable) is a well-known fact. Lord Datta taught Subrahmanya the essence (tattva) of Omkaara. That’s all. Datta did not preach to him anything else except explaining the meaning behind the word ‘OM’. For this tiny teaching, Lord Subrahmanya addressed Datta as his Guru.

So it is enough if the Guru just teaches a word/alphabet or merely initiates the person into education (aksharabhyasam) or if He asks the person to undergo aksharabhyaasam. We should accept him as the Guru. It is immaterial to us whether he is a master in the subject or not. What is important to us is that he has guided us in the right direction. We should offer obeisance to Him, for being our guide.

 

Om Seeta raamabhyam namaha.

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Shatashloki 1: Introduction and Dhyana shlokas

Om Seetarāmā bhyaam Namaha

 

Within the very first section of the Bāla Kānḍa (the section that deals with the childhood of Lord Rāma) of Srimad Ramayana, Maharishi Narada has preached the entire Ramayana in brief to Maharishi Valmiki in 100 shlokas (hymns). These 100 shlokas are popularly known as Bāla Ramayana, Samskipta Ramayana and as Shata shloki Ramayana.

Merely listening to this condensed version of the Ramayana bestows the merit (fruit) of listening to the entire Srimad Ramayana.

Let us begin with a prayer to Lord Ganapati-

śuklām bharadaram vishṇum śaṣivarṇam chaturbhujam

prasanna vadanam dhyāyet sarva vighnopasāntaye

With an intention that He should remove all the obstacles in my path, I contemplate on Maha Ganapati who wears white clothes, who is all-pervading, who is in the colour of the Moon (white), who has four hands and whose face is peaceful and pleasant.

śāradā śāradāmbhoja vadanā vadanaambhuje

sarvadā sarvadāsmākam sannidhi sannidhiṃ kriyāt

Mother Goddess Sharada’s face glows like the fresh bright white lotus. May such a Divine Mother, who is dear to everyone, remain eternally in our face!

As the Divine Mother is worshipped primarily during the Sharad rutu (autumn), She takes on the name Shārada. During this season, the sky is crystal clear. Due to this crystal clear sky, the moon on the full-moon night (Purnima) appears incredibly bright and luminous. Mother Goddess Sharada eternally radiates like the Full moon of this month (Sharad Purnima). Her face illumines eternally like the white lotus.

Only those who have been ardently and reverentially worshipping Her for past many births possess the abilities to compile/author sacred treatise/texts, give detailed knowledgeable commentary about these sacred texts, compose poetry and the like. Occasionally in life we come across people who are proficient in these arts. We have developed friendship with such persons too. We are astounded at their poetic skills and derive great delight in listening to them.

Such is the value behind right/proper education. Purely for this reason, the elders in our homes constantly prod us to study. When Mother Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Learning) showers Her blessings upon us, we can walk on the right path of true knowledge for the rest of our life.

An uneducated, ignorant person could earn name, fame and money and emerge victorious in this worldly life. He could possess many virtuous traits too. Yet, he will be helpless in progressing on the path of reaching Paramatma through the path of jnana (knowledge). He will fail in this path.

Assume that a sumptuous feast has been organized which has in it every form of delicacy.  The host is of a calm and pure mind and the guest has the right appetite for   providing justice to this sumptuous meal. The ambience is pleasant. However water for drinking has not been organized. Under such circumstances, can the meal be enjoyed? Without water, the guest will not be able to chew and swallow even one mouthful properly. For this reason, provision of water for drinking purposes is ensured at the beginning of the meal.

Likewise, a person could be a multi- billionaire with great name, fame, power and reputation.  He could own plenty of assets. Yet, if the small spark of knowledge is lacking within the person, of what use is all that money and fame?

Sharada (Saraswati, Goddess of Learning) is worshipped for this reason. To us all, She is a great treasure house. Through this prayer, we seek that this Divine Mother shines eternally in our face. We pray that She should eternally reside on our tongue.

 

Om Seeta Rāmābhyām namaha.

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