Thursday, January 18, 2018
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Vijay Dashmi has arrived , once again, amidst all its glory this year. Centuries ago, it was on this day that Lord Rama emerged victorious after crushing the Demon King Ravana and thus registering one of the biggest victories of truth over falsehood, good over evil and virtue over vice. Times have changed. But the massive adulation for the Epic King remains undiminished.

We have to be on the streets to see the tremendous enthusiasm still witnessed among the cheering crowds when those beautifully decorated Ramdal chowkies are taken out, each highlighting some inspiring episode from the Ramayan. In spite of the emergence of Television, the crowds witnessed at the Ram Lilas seem to increase every year. Why? The TV may be presenting something highly exciting. But that does not have any impact on the massive response that the Ramdal chowkies or the Durga Puja Pandals continue to get. We see more Ram Lilas being staged today than some 50 years ago. During the entire Navratra period one witnesses joy all around. Rising prices have not diminished the passion for the celebrations. Dussehra and Durga Puja, both the festivals, coming hand in hand, are occasions of permanent joy.
This is the age of electronic miracles. One can meet the family’s near and dear ones settled far, far away in distant cities, different countries through the video-telephonic miracle. Even so the age old tradition of children coming home to be with their parents during these celebrations continues. That is why one finds trains running packed and air-flights booked in advance. These festivals have not yet lost their magnetic pull to draw us back to the places of our birth or where we spent our childhood, boyhood. The reunion of families thus forms an integral part of the festivities.
But let us probe deep into the significance of the occasion. Dussehra symbolizes the triumph of good over bad. We have to look within ourselves to see whether we are trying to imbibe the intrinsic values enshrined in those symbolic signals. We might not be fighting a physical war. But we are continuously at war with so many problems, so many issues that are haunting us, sometimes pinching our conscience as well. But we are unable to wage a war against those evils. It may be our ego that stands in the way. It could be the greed within us that could be acting as a stumbling block to live up to the ideals that were dear to Lord Ram whom we all adore and worship?
If we take a look at the story of Ram we find that he laid greatest stress on performing one’s duty. And the earliest example of this he set before us when he left his coronation to fulfill his father’s promise made to his step mother—to grant her two boons whenever she asked for them. One was that Ram should be sent into exile and the other that her own son be crowned the King of Ayodhya. Ram instantly obeyed his father and departed for the jungles where he stayed for 14 years and where he had to fight the epic war with Ravan. We are referring to the high regard that Ram showed for his father by obeying him. We, the worshippers of Ram, who can shed human blood in his name, should ask ourselves: Have we given all the protection to our aged parents? Haven’t so many of us shunted them to old-age homes or even thrown them out of the house, in some cases after grabbing their property? On the one hand we worship Ram who left the kingdom, left his home, wealth , treasures to fulfill the wishes of his parents and on the other hand we simply defy Ram by doing the reverse when we throw out our aged parents and put them into Old People’s homes!
Ram firmly believed in the concept of duty. Do we emulate Him in this respect? Ram was quoted as saying in a mythological movie, ‘Kartavya bina jeevan vyartha’—life is useless if one does not adhere to the concept of duty. We must ask ourselves. Are we doing that ? Are we filing our income-tax returns regularly and honestly? Are we selling edible goods without adulteration? Are we reaching our offices on time? Are the doctors among us performing their duty or running away from their posts to indulge in private practice during duty hours or operate patients in nursing homes and earn fabulous fee? Are we as teachers honestly taking our classes punctually and regularly after fully preparing the lectures that are to be delivered to the class? Are mothers performing their duty, taking care of their children instead of handing them for care to the ayas and themselves running away to grab limelight at kitty parties? Are we as traders not indulging in hoarding and black-marketing and allowing people to starve during droughts and floods? We all worship Ram. We are prepared to lay down our lives for Him, but have we cared to follow his ideals, his values?
The Ravana on the roadside will go up in flames today. But it is the Ravan within us which has to be annihilated. That Ravana has overpowered many of us with the demons of greed for pelf and power and lust for amassing hordes and hordes of unaccounted for wealth. This black money, these bricks of gold which we have hoarded are no different from the ‘Sone ki Lanka’ which Ram destroyed. We have to destroy that demon of lust which is goading us to adopt corrupt means to rise higher on the strength of material gain, forgetting that the more we chase materialism the more we head towards poverty , so far as the goal of spiritualism is concerned.
Interestingly enough, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that this year’s Vijaya Dashami is “very special” for the country. He was apparently making a reference to the Army’s surgical strikes on terror launch pads across LOC, even as he stressed that a “very capable” armed force is a must for a strong nation. It was but natural for Modi to speak those stirring words- because Dussehra celebrations, the accompanying Ram Lilas and other rituals do point towards the eternal fight that we have been waging through centuries against the forces of evil no matter what their form might be. From the army we must learn a lesson. It is because of their strict discipline --adherence to duty and the readiness of the soldiers to march at short notice into any fiery operation that they might be called upon to join-- that they have been able to protect our frontiers. We must adopt the army’s spirit of discipline and dedication. The nation is fighting war, not necessarily on our borders but on several fronts simultaneously. We must emulate the soldier fighting on the warfront Don’t clamour for what the country can do for you. But look within and ask yourself—What you can do for the country. This is what President Kennedy told his fellow-Americans. But that message applies to one and all. If like true soldiers, who helped Ram to crush the demon King Ravan, we also wage a war on the problems facing us on poverty front, on health front, on law and order front and so on, there is no reason why we should not in due course claim that we have scored a victory much bigger than any win against a cricket rival on the field or against an enemy country on the battlefield. Let our inner, spiritual strength assert to score a triumph over external temptations that often lead us astray.

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