A great king of the Ikshavaku dynasty, Rama is the most popular and revered incarnation of Maha Vishnu in our Hindu scriptures. According to Vedas, Ravana had successfully sought a boon from Shiva; that he will not be destroyed by any god, in any form, at any time of the day or night, anywhere in the three lokas – making him the most notorious rakshasha ( meaning: devil) during his times. In order to combat Ravana and to finish him completely; Vishnu took form of a human and that incarnation was Rama.
Rama nama contains the power of all mantras. Just uttering the syllable ‘Ra’ can purge us of all sins; the following syllable ‘Ma’ ensures that the expunged sins do not return to plague us. The name stands for Supreme Reality and chanting Rama’s name soothes and relaxes one’s mind; thereby, bringing peace, healthy physical and mental states. There are printed books available in the shops where the devoted can write Rama nama several times a day. The devoted writer, normally takes a vow to write Rama nama ‘specified’ number of times. Rama nama liberates one from Ego and desires – the two main trouble makers. Such a seeker is well controlled ( like Rama is) and rests on non-duality state, in seemless integration with the God.
Rama was equally subject to destiny like all humans are; he had to spend 14 years of wilderness in the forests, in order to obey his father. Though it was imposed on him by his step mother Kaikeyi, he did not hold any grudge against her. Forgiveness, humility, self confidence, sacrifice and service are some of the well known traits of Lord Rama.
Lord Shiva initiated his beloved Parvati to chant Rama nama by telling her: ‘Sree Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorama Tat Thulyam Rama Nama Varanane’…. meaning it is only Rama nama which is equal to thousand names of Vishnu. While someone dies, Rama nama is chanted to seek peace for the soul of the dead, by his pall bearers, who are generally related to the dead, saying ‘Ram Naam satya hai’….. Rama nama can be chanted anywhere, anytime…Rama means absolute truth! Tulsidas, Ramdas, Kabir and Mahatma Gandhi – all of them who lived on this earth – enjoyed chanting Rama nama.
Tyagaraja has immortalised Rama nama in his beautiful compositions; the saint-poet is said to have otained darshan of Lord Rama with Sita, Lakshman and hanuman, after chanting Rama nama 950 million times in 38 years on the advice of his guru. Valmiki, who was a bandit ‘Ratnakara’ earlier, got liberated of all his past sins, by chanting Rama nama and wrote the great epic ‘Ramayana’ in gratitude to Lord Rama. Valmiki, through Ramayana, illustrated how Rama was an ideal example – of being a good son and brother, of being a good king with high moral standards. He says, Rama and Sita were in deep love with each other during their exile. But, strangely, he does not say Rama is a good trusting husband in the epic – Rama failed to be one, doubting his purity personified wife Sita, eventually losing her to mother Earth.
Rama is the seventh incarnation of God Vishnu. He lived alone after his return from exile, during his later years; after Sita was banished to the forests by him. I know, his children Luv and Kush lived with their mother Sita; but, they visited Rama in his court, to declare their pedigree (lineage) to him as well as to ‘sing’ praises on their ‘single’ parent/ mother. I do not know whether Rama ever lived with his children or not; but, he suffered having taken human form. God is perfect; to err is human.