From the Jacket:
Over the ages, a number of versions of the Ramayana have been written by great sages such as Valmiki and Tulsidas. All versions provide a multi-dimensional view of the perfect life. In Living Thoughts of the Ramayana, Sukhdeva enlightens the reader about the real nature of man and the world. He aims at reforming the present world-consciousness and ultimately creating universal peace and happiness. Notable free from doctrines, this work is a penetrating study of the importance of the Ramayana and its relevance to social structure, political administration and spirituality. The teachings of Swami Vivekananda are also an important source of inspiration for the author. All reader will enrich their lives both materially and spiritually by reading this unique work.
The Ramayana gives a many sided picture of a perfect life. We are accustomed to regard such a life as one led far away from the turmoils of the work-a-day world in some forest retreat and characterized by an unbroken course of introspection of meditation leading to a state of mental equipoise or illumination. The Ramayana, however, does not stop with this partial view. For along with the ascetics who embarked upon such severe discipline, we are always shown the figure of Rama himself, towering above them all and honoured by these very ascetics as the special manifestation of the Lord for the protection of Dharma. We are brought face-to-face with a series of difficult, baffling and tragic situations, and shown how Rama and the other principal characters react to them and ultimately tide over them without swerving in the least from the highest principles of spiritual life laid down in the scriptures. Inner perfection issuing out in virtuous action which overcomes evil and transforms the evil-doer is thus the sage's main theme.
Prakrit Ramayana (Paumachariu) by Vimla Suri (250 A.D.) Apabhramsa Ramayana (Paumacharia) by Svayambhu (850 A.D.) and Mahapurana by Pushpadanta (900 A.D.); Srimad Ramayana (in Tamil) by Kambana (1200 A.D.), Ramayana (in Telugu), Kumudendu (1300 A.D.), Pampa Ramayana (in Kannada) by Pam (1000 A.D.), Ramayana in Malayalam) by Tunchata Ramanujachan (1500 A.D.), Ramayana (in Gujarati) by Giridhara (1750 A.D.), Ramaraso (in Rajasthani ) by Madhava Das ( 1600 A.D.), Ramayana (in Marathi) by Rasala Kavi (1200 A.D.), Vilanka Ramayana (in Oriya) by Sarala Das (1350 A.D.), Ramayana ( in Bengali) by Krittivasa Ojha (1500 A.D.), Ramayana (in Assamese) by Shankara Deva (1.500 A.D.), Ramayana (in Maithili) by Chanda Jha (1900 A.D.), Govinda Ramayana (in Punjabi) by Guru Govind Singh (1650 A.D.), Ramavatara Charita (in Kashmiri) by Diwakara Prakasa Bhatta (1790 A.D.) and Ramayana (in Nepali) by Bhanu Bhatta (1830 A.D.) follow the matter as depicted in the Ramayana by Valmiki. All these Ramayanas remind the reader, at every turn, that Rama was conscious of his divinity at all times although he continued to behave like an ordinary man, suffering patiently the sorrows that fell to his lot. Many poets of later period have produced original compositions giving elaborate treatment to the episode such as Tulsi Das, Nabha Das, Sodhi Meharwan, Agra Das etc. in Hindi; Bhaskara, Gonabuddhi Reddi, Madiki Singan, Kammari Molla, Visvanatha Satyanarayna, Siram Subhadramma etc. in Telugu; Nagachanda, Narahari, Devappa, Muddana etc. in Kannada; Chiramana, Ramakavi, Rama Panikkar, Niraram Kavi etc. in Malayalam; Bhalana, Asasata etc. in Gujarati; Moropanta, Ekanatha, etc. in Marathi; Abhinanda, Chandravati, Adbhutacharya etc. in Bengali; Ananta Kandali, Durgavara, Atulchandra Hazarika etc. in Assarnese; Chedi Mishra, Shivadatta Mishra, Chanda Jha etc. in Maithili; Pranachand Chawhan, Braj Lal Shastri etc. in Punjabi; Prakasa Rama, Visnu Pratap in Kashmiri.
Religion is now passing through a crisis. On the one hand we see the different creeds meeting together everywhere and trying to swell the ranks of their respective followers through diverse methods of propaganda and conversion. On the other hand we see a hundred forces threatening to remove not merely anyone creed, but religion itself, from all schemes of human activity on the ground that it has made men weak and inefficient, created splits instead of unity and failed miserably in combating the evils of a world distracted by political rivalries and economic depression. But even to such a world Valmiki may have a welcome lesson to teach, if it were so minded as to learn. He has carefully refrained from laying emphasis on what we now wrongly understand by the term! religion, namely, rituals and external conformity to set prayers and churches and their rules. These, as he knew, have necessarily to differ with the differences in the temperaments and attainments of the individuals who have to evolve. Instead he has wisely upheld the ideal of Dharma which has a comprehensive sweep and which enables its votaries, irrespective of their vocations or status in society, to enjoy inner perfection and freedom while dedicating their virtues to the welfare of others. If this ideal, as the sage has exemplified in the motives and activities of his numerous
characters, is grasped and put into practice, all the creeds may survive the present crisis, work side by side without feelings of hostility and make people intelligent, efficient and self-sacrificing enough for solving the problems of the family, country or even of the world as a whole.
The present treatise' Living Thoughts on the Ramayana' is one of the chapters of 'The Voice of India' dealing with social aspect of the epic age. The author Shri Sukhdeva, who hails from Jamalpur, Bihar, is a devoted scholar of Indian Culture. The principal aim of Shri Sukhdeva has been to give a critical and constructive analysis of leading characters of Indian Civilization. Throughout the exposition and criticism the author has remained scrupulously fair and impartial. He has also corrected many misconceptions and clarified a number of complex points of oriental thought.
The work must be regarded as one of the fine representations of Indian thought. I hope, significance of this work will be widely appreciated.
The book, 'The Voice of India' presents comprehensive and overhauling view among other things, of the concepts and values, persons and principles and factors of retardation and growth of vital living faith in social and moral values which, of late, have degenerated to almost a breaking point.
The present treatise, which is one of the chapters of the 'The Voice of India', is placed under consideration in which I have exposed the inner significance of the episodic and incidental character-figures of an epic age, irrespective of the fact that they are real or imaginary, natural-or super-natural, historical or non-historical.
I have tried my utmost to enlighten the reader about the real nature-of man and world, and their relational values through which it is aimed to bring a kind of re-adjustment, change, reformation in the present set-up of world- consciousness with a .view to lessen friction in the world and minimise universal prevalence of pain and sorrow. Notably free from distortion of sectarian and partial creeds and doctrines, this piece of writing is a penetrating study of the great importance of the Ramayana and its relevance to social structure, political administration and spiritual perfection in order to boost up the morale of the suffering masses and fill up the gap created by the spread of a grosser materialism and its concomitant evils. I hope, the narrative would suit the general mind of all vocations in society. Briefly, it is to enrich them more, materially and spiritually.
All the ideas incorporated in the present narrative are the outcome of my self-study and self-meditation. Regarding the source of inspiration, the teachings of the Most Reverend Swami Vivekananda have been my chosen ideal and guide and meditation. This piece of literature is, so to say, a little vindictive re-instatement of the real spirit and substance of the Hinduism, the Higher Consciousness as Culture and Civilization of mankind. I lay emphasis on the general mind to realize unified spirit of oneness to the noble end of social or political perfection. Although I do not have the finer intellect to grasp Swamiji's higher flights of Vedanta (Hinduism) nor am worthy to sit near his sacred feet and fulfil his heart-felt mission at the best, yet with all my faults and foibles I intend dissemination of the Vedantic principles of life as the means to achieve peace and bliss in society.
The effectiveness of my little, poor expression, irrespective. of grammatical twaddle in the writing, lies in the exposition and reassertion of One Conscious Impersonality, the realization of which is the only universal purpose of all individuals.
Persons and principles, changeable and unchangeable, non-eternal; and eternal as Form or Matter and Content or Intelligence respectively are philosophical points which are being placed in the Introduction of the book. I have tried to bring a healthy and harmonious relations between these opposing forces to peace and progress. Impetus is given to develop one's subjective and individualistic side through discipline of mind suited to individual in the attainment of inner perfection, being the requisite condition of real peace, real progress and real harmony amidst human units.
Poor estimation, if any, that remains in the present endeavour, is mine and any improvement in the treatment of subject, progress will be highly honoured.
Above all, I do not owe allegiance to any particular sect of philosophy or politics. I feel my indebtedness, consciously or unconsciously; directly or indirectly, towards all ones till eternity. Hence goes my Obeisance to the feet of ancient and modern Prophets, Sages, Philosophers, Scientists, Religious-Teachers, Saints, Political-Thinkers, Social-Reformers, Educationists, Traders, Government-Personnels, Journalists, Teachers, Students and others of academic and non-academic standard, in India and abroad. Hence goes my Obeisance to the gods and the goddesses on earth and in heaven. Hence goes my Obeisance to animals, plants and the brutes. All ones are part and parcel of one's INNER BEING or of one's CONSCIOUS IMPERSONALITY.
I also pay my Obeisance to the evil-doer----liar, murderer, forger, adulterer, perjurer, bribe-taker and war- monger amongst human units whose present knowledge is a misdirected energy under ignorance. They go against their One Conscious Impersonality. If they do not, however,
make amends from now, Truth's vengeance would follow us all in the form of pain and sorrow. The effect of the narrative would give better direction, promising to take off their sorrows.
The Ramayana is an epic of mankind. It is a form of a universal literature and it is not bound by one man, one race, one nation. This is not enough. In order that some literature be classed as an epic it must be keeping with some universal spirit and substance, culminating ultimately into a unit Ideal or one Principle. That ideal is not limited by time, space and causation. To know even the beginning and end of that ideal is a limitation for the sake of an ideal. This is not enough. That ideal must not be impossible one. It is realisable, consummative and intensely practical to all, at all times, in all circumstances. In it there is no scope for anything that is exceptional. It means indecision, a lacuna and the ideal suffers defection thereby. When we read the epic, we commonly read how it reads, very few of us read what it reads. It requires one's due deliberation and fine perception and we find that drift is different from what it appears apparently at first sight. There is one peculiarity of Indian thought, Indian manners, Indian customs, Indian philosophy, Indian literature. They are repulsive and repugnant at the first sight. They seem to be inharmonious and incongruous to the common minds, but , you stay and persevere, read them and become familiar with the great principles underlying these ideas, and charm will come over to you and fascination will be the result. It is silent mesmerism of Indian thought like the gentle dew that falls in the morning, unseen and unheard. Slow and silent, steady and firm has been the work of the calm, peaceful, patient, all-suffering, spiritual race upon the world of thought. As is marked by other non-spiritual races not one Indian idea has ever been advanced in the world with blast of war trumpets and with the march of embattled cohorts. This is the one character of all-merciful, all- tolerance of Indian race. This is the cause that death even has not vindicated this spiritual race. It existed in the infinite past, exists in the present with all glory of the past and would exist in future to give the survival value to the rest of the 'world what is due on this spiritual race. Before I dwell upon the real spirit and substance of the Ramayana and take you to the ethereal vibration into peace, progress and harmony, beyond the earth, beyond the heaven, beyond time, beyond space, beyond causation, you require some preliminary, a little receptivity from a common sense view.
I see a tree. In place of tree, it may be man, animal, sea, mountain, earth, sky or the universe taken as one whole. At the outset we see that in that sentence are involved two things-trees and I, object and subject respectively. These are two propositions, two theories, two idealisations about which that man is projecting his knowledge through various view-points. Behind man's expressions of these two there seems to be one aim and it is to know the realities and some sweet and harmonious relation of the one with the other. Each expression contains a good deal of truth and a good deal of what is not truth. Taking the help of ordinary observation it seems to be rational that what is far from, even by a hair is objective, and what is most near you is subjective. What is grosser in view is objective and what is finer in the same view is subjective. Grosser is the effect of finer being the cause. We reason a thing either from effect to cause of from cause to effect. There is no .third course of reasoning. There is one fact to learn and it is this: that in either one of the two ways it must reach a point where-from it cannot go further and it is one's ideal point, a unit ideal state. That something, what is common to both throughout from the beginning of cause to the end of effect, must be the ideal state. That ideal state cannot be other than existence which cannot be negated or brought to zero at any point in the course of reasoning. That existence is one. That one is the Unit Principle. If you are conscious of your own existence, you cannot say that you are not conscious of that principle. You may be forgetting and it is all that you can say only.
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