Radhanath Swami on Dassera

Vijaya dashami

Today being Vijaya Dashmi or Dashera is a very special meditation as well as celebration. The great sages have established these festivals according to historical pastimes of the Lord and his devotees. Vijaya Dashmi is historical and symbolic simultaneously. Historically, it is actually on this day that the Supreme Personality of Godhead who had descended as the son of Dashrath and Kaushalya in Ayodhya, Sri Ramchandra, fulfilled a very essential purpose of his incarnation. He liberated the world and the universe from the dreadful cruelty of Ravana.

“Today represents good over evil, godliness over godlessness, morality over immorality, love over hate and envy. Today represents Bhakti, devotion, taking shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as the only force that could conquer all the obstacles on the path of Krishna consciousness. Dashra is the day that we celebrate victory: victory of defeating Maya and all of her powers with the mercy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Today is the day of hope. Today is the day to build faith. Today is the day of taking serious vow, to take whole hearted shelter of the only shelter in all of creation, the Supreme Lord who has so mercifully appeared in this age of Kali in his holy names. Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare.” – Radhanath Swami

Radhanath Swami narrates the victory of Ram over Ravana

Ravana ordered, “Bring my chariot. Today I will enter into the battlefield.”

It was the first time he entered the battle. When he attacked, he was mad; he had all of his weapons, all of his astras. Thousands and thousands and thousands of the soldiers of the monkey army attacked him, and he was just like time personified, devastating everything in sight. Ultimately, Laxman stood before Ravana. Ravana threw a javelin and Laxman destroyed it. Then Ravana took the most powerful of all of his javelins. It soared through the air. This javelin had benedictions that it must defeat whomever it is aimed towards. It pierced the chest of Laxman who fell to the ground unconscious. When Ram saw this, he ran to the sight of this great, great tragedy and he saw his brother. There was a heart beat, but no other symptoms of consciousness. His heart was broken. He got up. He was standing on the ground. He was angry. He took His arrows and just tortured Ravana. His arrows were piercing Ravana everywhere. Ravana couldn’t tolerate the pain and he retreated from the battlefield.

Meanwhile, Ram put all of his energy in trying to nurse Laxman. He didn’t know how. Although he is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he was appearing, out of his lila, like a human being… not as a human being, but certain qualities to attract the love of his devotees. Jambavan saw Laxman’s condition and said, “There is still a very faint beat in his heart. He can be saved. There is a herb at the Mahodaya Mountain in the Himalayas. Hanuman could get that herb.” Ramchandra dispatched Hanuman immediately. “Bring the herb.” In one jump Hanuman went from Sri Lanka, the battlefield, all the way to the Himalayas, and there was the Mahodaya Mountain. He couldn’t find the herb, but that was not going to distract Hanumanji. He lifted the entire mountain, holding it in one hand, and with one jump returned to Sri Lanka. The monkey doctor Sushena went to collect the herb. As soon as Laxman smelled it, he was brought back to consciousness.

Ravana came out from the city again, fully rejuvenated, determined and ready for battle. At that time the charioteer of Indra, Mathali, appeared with Indra’s own personal golden chariot, and said, “My lord has sent this chariot as a service for you to fight against Ravana.” Fully equipped with all weapons, it was a very great fight. There was as much fight with words as there was with weapons, which is the way Kshatriyas classically fight. Ram, with very sharp arrows wanted to finish Ravana off. He cut off all his arms, but immediately twenty arms grew right back. He cut off all ten heads, but immediately all the ten heads grew back.

“Ravana represents lust, he is lust personified, kama. The demons of lust, anger, pride, greed, anger and illusion, these demons have made their kingdoms in our mind and in our senses. They have conquered us. And they are powerful, more powerful than any human, more powerful than our mind and senses can withstand. Only the Supreme Personality of Godhead can conquer over these demons. The Lord has appeared in his holy names. It is our shelter; it is our protection from all danger.

So yes; it is like that. You fight against these monstrous qualities of lust in our heart, anger, greed, pride; even if we defeat it, we find them again. Prabhupada said, ‘Its ugly head appears.’ Just when we think we are advanced, just when we think we have become transcendental, just when we think we have become pure devotees, ugly Ravana like head of lust appears. Very difficult.” – Radhanath Swami.

Ram was cutting head after head after head after head. Vibhisana explained to Ram, “There is nectar that is stored. By a boon Ravana has received, nectar is in his heart. As long as that is there, nothing could defeat him. The only way is you must pierce his heart.” And that is a fact. The gyana yogis, ashtanga yogis, they are trying to somehow or other conquer these enemies of lust, anger, pride, greed, anger and illusion. We see the greatest of yogis Vishwamitra Muni. He did tapasyas that are beyond anybody’s comprehension or abilities. But even after thousands of years of his tapsaya, the ugly head of lust again appeared, and he fell down. It is only through Bhakti… when Vishwamitra Muni took shelter of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, only then he was able to conquer the enemies within.

“Krishna consciousness is not simply to fight against the symptoms of the disease – we must do that simultaneously – but we must cure the cause of the disease. We must go to the heart of the problem. The heart of the problem is we want to be the enjoyer. We must clean our heart, and how do we clean our heart? The Lord has told, “The only way that is practical in this age of Kali, cheto darpana marajanam.” We can clean our heart by letting Krishna into our heart. Krishna is all pure. Therefore the greatest weapon in all of the creation is God’s holy name, because the Lord is not different from his name. When he enters our hearts, when he purifies our hearts, then all the other problems of lust, anger, envy, greed, pride and illusion are vanquished. This is the unlimited glory of the prime benediction for all humanity, the congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare.” – Radhanath Swami.

In this great battle, Ram remembered the words of Agastya Muni. He took out that arrow, the arrow that Agastya Muni had bestowed upon him, the most powerful arrow in all of creation. The arrow itself, just seeing it reaped fear in the heart of his enemies and joy in the heart of his devotees. It was shining like the sun. Its feathers were presided over by Vayu, its tip was presided over by Surya and Yamaraj, its weight was presided over by Mountain Sumeru. He took that arrow, pulled it back and then he recited the mantra named Aditya Haridaya which was given to him by Agastya Muni, and which had the infallible power to conquer the enemy. Chanting Aditya Hridaya Mantra, he released the arrow of Brahma. As it swirled through the air, it illuminated with a blinding light all directions. Ravana saw it coming, and was utterly helpless before its power. It penetrated through his heart and mountain like chest, went right into the core of his heart, dried up the nectar, and pierced up his heart. Ravana reeled in pain. All his ten mouths vomited blood. He trembled, he fell to the ground like a massive mountain or like one in a higher planet who has been exhausted of all of his pious activities. He fell dead. The light of his body entered into Ram.

When the Rakshashas saw Ravana laying there in a violent death, they were horrified. He was their hero, he was their strength, and he was their everything. They were so fearful, so confused; they just started screaming and crying and running away in all directions. And when Ravana lay there in a bloody pool in that battlefield, the monkey soldiers, they were very happy. They were jumping and leaping and screaming in joy, embracing each other. Some of them, they wanted to do some extra service. So some of them went behind rakshasas, chasing them, just doing whatever they do to rakshashas. The battle is won.

Mandodari the principal wife of Ravana came out weeping and crying. Embracing the dead body of her husband, she started preaching to his spirit soul. She said, “Ravana! I warned you. I warned you time and time again. You have been killed by the curse of a chaste woman.” Mandodari explained to the spirit of Ravana, “Although you are the king of the rakshashas and you have the boons of Brahma, your power cannot be compared to the power of a chaste woman. You have defied her. Ramchandra is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Why couldn’t you be content with what you had? Why have you done this? Your brother Vibhisana, your wife, your well-wishers, we warned you. Why? Now we are widows. All your brother’s wives, the entire rakshasha dynasty with soldiers and their wives are now widows. We have lost everything because of your desire to enjoy.” She cried and wept.

What was really astonishing is… you know who was really weeping? Vibhisana, he was beside himself in grief. He had nothing in common with Ravana. Vibhisana was a pure devotee from birth. And Ravana was a hateful demon. But still they were brothers. Vibhisana due to his compassion – Vibhisana loved Ravana – disagreed with him, always spoke the truth on his face. Ravana wanted to kill him. He was ready to kill Vibhisana! It was his other ministers who told him not to, otherwise he would have killed him. Ultimately he insulted him, he banished him. But still, Vibhisana loved him. He was crying and Ram saw this. And Ramchandra wanted to pacify the heart of his devotee. He told him, “I have given your brother liberation.” And then Ramchandra showed a very special unique integrity. He requested Vibhisana, “You should perform the last rites for Ravana, so that he may have a respectful funeral service.” That was Ram’s order.

“Ram had no malice towards Ravana. In Bhagavad Gita, the Supreme Personality of Godhead declares, ‘I am equal to everyone. I envy no one.’ Aham bija pradapita. He is the father of all living beings. He has no enemies. Ye yatha mam…but as you approach him, he will reciprocate accordingly. If you want to be his enemy, then he will conquer you. If you want to be his devotee, he will embrace you, like he did for hanuman, like he did for Jatayu. He embraced Jatayu at the time of his death. He lovingly wept tears on the body of Hanuman. And to Ravana, who he also loved, he pierced his heart with the hardest, most formidable arrow, because that’s how Ravana approached him. That is the greatness of God. Who else is such a loving father?” – Radhanath Swami

“He is a son of Vishrava, who is a respectable brahmana. Give him the dignity, the integrity of a proper last rite.” And Vibhisana, personally with his heart and soul, performed the last rites for Ravana. Sita was returned to Ram for the sake of the world. Her chastity was tested and she revealed to all, for all times, the absolute purity of her devotion to Sri Ramchandra. They returned to Ayodhya, where Sri Ramchandra was coroneted as the king.

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