For Sri Rama-navami, we shall read from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto Two, Chapter Seven: “Scheduled Incarnations.”
asmat-prasada-sumukhah kalaya kalesa
iksvaku-vamsa avatirya guror nidese
tisthan vanam sa-dayitanuja avivesa
yasmin virudhya dasa-kandhara artim arcchat
Due to His causeless mercy upon all living entities within the universe, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His plenary extensions, appeared in the family of Maharaja Iksvaku as the Lord of His internal potency, Sita. Under the order of His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, He entered the forest and lived there for considerable years with His wife and younger brother. Ravana, who was very materially powerful, with ten heads on his shoulders, committed a great offense against Him and was thus ultimately vanquished.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Lord Rama is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His brothers, namely Bharata, Laksmana, and Satrughna, are His plenary expansions. All four brothers are visnu-tattva and were never ordinary human beings. There are many unscrupulous and ignorant commentators on Ramayana who present the younger brothers of Lord Ramacandra as ordinary living entities. But here in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the most authentic scripture on the science of Godhead, it is clearly stated that His brothers were His plenary expansions. Originally Lord Ramacandra is the incarnation of Vasudeva, Laksmana is the incarnation of Sankarsana, Bharata is the incarnation of Pradyumna, and Satrughna is the incarnation of Aniruddha, expansions of the Personality of Godhead. Laksmiji Sita is the internal potency of the Lord and is neither an ordinary woman nor the external potency incarnation of Durga. Durga is the external potency of the Lord, and she is associated with Lord Siva.
As stated in the Bhagavad-gita (4.7), the Lord appears when there are discrepancies in the discharge of factual religion. Lord Ramacandra also appeared under the same circumstances, accompanied by His brothers, who are expansions of the Lord’s internal potency, and by Laksmiji Sitadevi.
Lord Ramacandra was ordered by His father, Maharaja Dasaratha, to leave home for the forest under awkward circumstances, and the Lord, as the ideal son of is father, carried out the order, even on the occasion of His being declared the king of Ayodhya. One of His younger brothers, Laksmanaji, desired to go with Him, and so also His eternal wife, Sitaji, desired to go with Him. The Lord agreed to both of them, and all together they entered the Dandakaranya Forest, to live there for fourteen years. During their stay in the forest, there was some quarrel between Ramacandra and Ravana, and the latter kidnapped the Lord’s wife, Sita. The quarrel ended in the vanquishing of the greatly powerful Ravana, along with all his kingdom and family.
Sita is Laksmiji, or the goddess of fortune, but she is never to be enjoyed by any living being. She is meant for being worshiped by the living being along with her husband, Sri Ramacandra. A materialistic man like Ravana does not understand this great truth, but on the contrary he wants to snatch Sitadevi from the custody of Rama and thus incurs great miseries. The materialists, who are after opulence and material prosperity, may take lessons from the Ramayana that the policy of exploiting the nature of the Lord without acknowledging the supremacy of the Supreme Lord is the policy of Ravana. Ravana was very advanced materially, so much so that he turned his kingdom, Lanka, into pure gold, or full material wealth. But because he did not recognize the supremacy of Lord Ramacandra and defied Him by stealing His wife, Sita, Ravana was killed, and all his opulence and power were destroyed.
Lord Ramacandra is a full incarnation with six opulences in full, and He is therefore mentioned in this verse as kalesah, or master of all opulence.
COMMENT by Giriraj Swami
Srimad-Bhagavatam is the supreme scripture, or book of knowledge, in the science of God. It explains the Absolute Truth in detail. The Vedanta-sutra says, janmady asya yatah, that the Absolute Truth is that from which everything emanates, and Srimad-Bhagavatam begins with the same words—janmady asya yatah—and proceeds to explain that the Absolute Truth is a person, the Supreme Person, Krishna. Krishna expands Himself into various plenary portions and portions of plenary portions, and the Bhagavatam, after listing so many incarnations of Godhead, says, krsnas tu bhagavan svayam, that all of the abovementioned incarnations are either plenary portions or portions of the plenary portions of the Lord but that Lord Krishna is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead.
So, Lord Rama is an expansion of Krishna. There are so many expansions of Krishna mentioned in Srimad-Bhagavatam, but Rama is an expansion of Vasudeva, who is an expansion of Krishna. Laksmana is an expansion of Balarama, who is the first expansion of Krishna. Bharata and Satrughna are also direct expansions in the category of visnu-tattva. They are all God but manifest in different forms. Sri Brahma-samhita gives the example that from one candle you can light a second, from the second you can light a third, from the third you can light a fourth, and so on. All the flames are the same fire, and all have the same strength, but still, there is one original candle, and that is Krishna. Still, Rama, Laksmana, Bharata, and Satrughna are all God. They are all the same as Krishna, but they descend into the world for different pastimes. The verse says, avatirya. Avatara means “one who descends.” They descend from the spiritual world into the material world out of mercy—prasada—for the conditioned souls, to deliver the conditioned souls from the quagmire of material existence.
All of us here, from Lord Brahma to the insignificant ant, have somehow or other fallen into the material world and thus are forced to suffer. We are being attacked at every moment by some sort of misery, big or small, gross or subtle. Certain major sufferings, major miseries, afflict all of us, and they are mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita: janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi—birth, death, old age, and disease. None of us wants these miseries, but they are forced upon us. Once we come into the material world and accept a material body, we are forced to suffer repeated birth, disease, old age, and death—and rebirth.
The purpose of human life, as explained in the Vedic literature, is to become free from this repetition of birth and death. And the way to become free is to become God conscious, Krishna conscious. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says, yam yam vapi smaran bhavam, that in whatever state one leaves one’s physical body, one attains the same state in the next life.
yam yam vapi smaran bhavam
tyajaty ante kalevaram
tam tam evaiti kaunteya
“Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits his body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail.” (Gita 8.6) The Bhagavad-gita further states that if one thinks of Krishna at the time of death one will go to Krishna, back home, back to Godhead.
anta-kale ca mam eva
smaran muktva kalevaram
yah prayati sa mad-bhavam
yati nasty atra samsayah
“And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.” (Gita 8.5)
The Lord descends into the material world to show us who He is. Everyone speculates about God. They know that God is the oldest, so sometimes they imagine that God must be an old man with a beard and gray hair. They know that God is the ruler of the universe, so they imagine that He must sit on a throne. Therefore God Himself descends into the material world to show us who He is, and He does so in His original form as Krishna as well as in the form of Lord Ramachandra, who has the same, full potency as Krishna. Thus Ramachandra is described here as kalesa; He is full in all opulence. The Lord displays His pastimes to attract the fallen, conditioned souls to Him to engage in His service. The pastimes of Krishna and those of Rama are very attractive.
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