Inertia and egoism, attachments and ignorance are all due to
our insufficient alertness.
Adi Sankara exhorts us, therefore, to be ever wakeful.
Once, he was approached by all the devas with a request. They
all begged him to interfere with and foil Ravana’s plan to take
Siva’s Atmalinga to Lanka. He, according to them, does not
deserve to own the deity exclusively for himself in his place
for the worship of his mother kaikasi.
Siva is generous. He has already allowed himself to be carried
away to Lanka. Siva in the form of a linga is already in the
hands of Ravana. If Ravana succeeds in installing Siva in
Lanka, the denizens of Mt. Kailas will be deprived of Siva for
worship. Therefore, they all have requested of Siva for
worship. Therefore, they all have requested Vinayaka to prevent
Ravana from taking the Siva Linga.
The lord of obstacles, Ganapathi agreed to do the needful. He,
in guise of a young boy proceeded to Ravana who is on his way
to his kingdom.
It was Sandhya time. The sun was setting. Ravana, the ritual
ridden Brahmana wanted to offer his tweilight prayers to the
deities. He wanted to bathe in the sea and later do his evening
worship. But suddenly he remembered Siva’s warning while giving
him His Siva linga: “Ravana, remember to take this linga safely
to the place of installation. If anywhere, on the way, you
place this linga on the ground, it will get fixed to the floor.
You cannot, then, take it out from there. All your efforts will
be futile. Therefore, until you reach your place, keep the
linga in your palms. Never place it on the earth anywhere until
you reach your destination.” Now Ravana was in dilemma. He
could not place it on the floor; nor could be skip the
evening’s ritual. God the goal of all was in his palm. But the
ritual could not leave his mind. To hold on to the goal or to
have them both. Therefore he was looking for somebody who could
hold Sivalinga until he completed his evening vespers. He saw
Ganapathi as a boy nearby. He called him and told him “My boy,
you are young, handsome and divine. Please hold this linga
until I complete my bath and worship. Don’t, for heaven’s sake,
keep the linga on the ground.”
Ganapathi agreed to help him on the condition that Ravana
should come and receive the linga back in case of necessity
even if he is in the middle of the prayer. He, further said
that he would call ‘Ravana’ thrice and if Ravana would not come
by then, he would keep the linga down. Ravana agreed to the
condition; handed over Sivalinga, the fruit of this tapas to
Ganapathi and proceeded to the sea to perform the ritual.
As soon as Ravana stepped into the sea for bathing, Ganapathi
in quick succession called ‘Ravana’ thrice. It was impossible
for Ravana to return so suddenly. Ganapathi, therefore, placed
the Sivalinga on the floor and disappeared. The linga got
transfixed to the ground. Ravana could not take it out. All his
energy was useless to lift the linga from the ground. The
denizens of heavens are happy – Siva is available to all. He is
not imprisoned anywhere in any place.
Ravana, no doubt is a devotee. But his devotion is selfish,
possessive and Rajasic. And, he has evolved to wisdom on
account of his egoistic assertion even while and after
worshipping Siva. Devotion should help us evolve to the
horizone of all embracing love and infinite wisdom. Ravana,
because of his egoism, was unable to be generous kind and
unselfish. Above all, he was unable to break the barriers of
ritualism even after attaining the highest, even after reaching
the destination. Rituals are like a fencing to facilitate the
growth of devotion, the plant of devotion. When the tree has
grown big enough to give the fruit and when there is no need
for a fence, if we still hold to the rituals, it means we do
not still deserve the fruit. Do we sit in the transport even
after reaching the destination? Rituals are but fencing or
transport or a spiral staircase only to facilitate our onward
or upward march towards perfection. When once we reach the
zenith or peak or goal, we no more need the ritualistic means.
However, it is to show the way to posterity that we may keep
the path open by performing the demon. Ravana, because of
certain deficiencies, had the slip between the cup and the lip.
He, perhaps, did not deserve what he had desired. We should
deserve what we desire.
Ganapathi grants us the deserts for the fulfillment of our
desires, if we are really devoted to the ideal.
After long years of austerity and prayer. Dasaratha was blessed
with the children Rama. Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughana. The
blessed king’s happiness knew no bounds. Placing Rama the
eldest of the four babies in the arms of Sage Vasishta,
Dasaratha requested the rishi to bless the child Rama. At the
very sight of the divine child, the sage was transported to
raptures of ecstatic bliss. He was unaware of everything
including himself. But the king was repeatedly requesting the
rishi to recite the Vedic hymns to bliss the child. Vasistha
returning to the ground realities told the king “Raja, Vedic
recitation is to elevate us to Vedantic height. The former is
the way and the latter is the goal. Now I have the fruit of all
Vedic wisdom in my palms, should I revert to recitation of the
psalms. We hold on to the means to reach the Goal. Road is not
needed after you reach your abode. Sri Rama is Vedanta,
Ramayana is Veda. You are indeed blessed to have them both as
your child”. Vasishta the wise are able to distinguish between
the means and the end.
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