Lord Sri Ramacandra is the seventh avatara of the Dasavatara. Among the twenty-five lila-avataras, Lord Ramacandra is the twentieth avatara. This has been mentioned in the description of Matsya-avatara. The second purusha-avatara, Sri Garbhodakasayi Vishnu, in the form of Pradyumna, is the original source of Matsya, Kurma, Rama, Nrisimha and other lila-avataras. Srila Rupa Gosvami, in his book Laghu-bhagavatamrita, defines Lord Ramacandra as the paravastha (perfect) form.
nrisimha-rama-krishneshu sad-gunyam paripuritam
paravasthas tu te tasya dipad utpanna-dipa-vat
“Lords Nrisimha, Ramacandra and Krishna possess sixty transcendental opulences in full. When lighting many lamps from one original lamp, all the lamps possess the same nature and similarly, although Rama and Nrisimha are expansions of svayam bhagavan sri krishna, all three of them possess sixty qualities in full.”
In the pastimes of Lord Ramacandra, the dignity of moral codes is established. Therefore, Sri Ramacandra is known as Maryada Purushottama (the best form of the Supreme Lord in following codes of morality). Sri Rama’s pastimes exhibit all rasas up to vatsalya rasa (parental affection). However, due to moral codes having the highest priority in these pastimes, the mood of parental affection has a restricted nature. Maharaja Dasaratha established these codes, so he was unable to prevent Sri Ramacandra from going to the forest. To exemplify these codes, Sri Ramacandra accepted exile in the forest to uphold a promise that his father had made. Dasaratha Maharaja passed away because he was unable to bear the grief of separation from his son, Ramacandra. Sri Ramacandra vowed to accept only one wife-‘eka patni vrata dhara’. Therefore, no one else can worship Him as a husband. Kanta-rasa (conjugal mood) is not exhibited in these pastimes. When the sages of Dandakaranya desired to have Sri Ramacandra as their husband, He told them to achieve conjugal bliss by paying allegiance to the gopis in His pastimes as Krishna. Sri Krishna is Svayam Bhagavan, the Prime Supreme Personality of Godhead, whereas Rama, Nrisimha and others are His partial manifestations (amsa) or the parts of the partial manifestations (kala).
ramadi-murtishu kala-niyamena tishthan
nanavataram akarod bhuvaneshu kintu
krishnah svayam samabhavat paramah puman yo
govindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
“I worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda (Krishna) who manifested Himself in different forms such as Rama and others as His partial manifestations or parts of his partial manifestations.”
ete camsa-kalah pumsah
krishnas tu bhagavan svayam
mridayanti yuge yuge
“Previously in every epoch, whatever avataras are narrated as partial manifestations or parts of partial manifestations, appeared to protect the world from the oppression of demons. But Sri Krishna-Vrajendranandana, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is Original Bhagavan (Prime Purusha) and is even prior to Adi-Purusha-Avatara Mahavishnu.”
In Sri Vishnu-dharmottara, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna are mentioned as being avataras of Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha respectively. In Padma Purana, Sri Ramacandra is identified as Narayana, Sri Lakshmana as Sesha, Sri Bharata as Lord Narayana’s disc (cakra), and Sri Satrughna as His conchshell (sankha).
nihkshatriyam akrita gam ca trih-sapta-kritvo
so ’bdhim babandha dasa-vaktram ahan sa-lankam
sita -patir jayati loka-mala-ghna-kirtih
“In the form of Bhargava (Parasurama), the fiery destroyer of the Haihaya dynasty rid the earth of the kshatriya class twenty-one times. That same Lord appeared in the form of Rama (the husband of Sita) who is renowned as the purifier of the world and rescuer of the people of the world. He built a bridge across the ocean and destroyed the ten-headed Ravana along with his kingdom of Lanka.”
One can see the significant influence of the holy character of Lord Ramacandra’s pastimes in the life of the Hindu society of India. In the original Valmiki Ramayana, it is written as follows:
The sage Valmiki appeared as the tenth son in the lineage of Praceta Rishi. One day, while living with his disciple Bharadvaja Muni, he went to bathe by the bank of the River Tamasa, which was near the Ganga (Ganges). At that place, upon witnessing the killing of a male kraunca (curlew) bird by a vyadha (a killer of birds), and the grief of the female kraunca, the sage became sad of heart and spoke the following poetic verse to the vyadha:
ma nishada pratistham tvam agamah sasvatih samah
yat kraunca mithunat ekam avadhih kama mohitam
(Valmiki Ramayana, Bala-Kanda 2.15)
“O vyadha, you will never be able to achieve success and stability throughout your life since you have killed one of a pair of kraunca birds while it was totally absorbed in lustful affairs.”
Thereafter, the great sage bathed in that holy place and returned to his asrama. Being stricken with grief, he was still thinking about the verse he had just uttered after spontaneously composing it. Just then, the four-headed Lord Brahma himself appeared before him and spoke the following words to console the perturbed Valmiki: “O great sage, it was I who caused you to compose such a verse. Fret no longer over this matter. Instead, you should describe the holy transcendental biography of Sri Ramacandra, which was spoken by Devarishi Narada.” Valmiki composed the Ramayana only because of this order of Brahma.
In a Bengali encyclopaedia, a particular incident has been described as traditional hearsay. The story in brief is as follows: He was born from a valmika (ant-hill), so his name became Valmiki. When Lord Sri Ramacandra visited Valmiki’s asrama near Citrakuta, Valmiki glorified the name of Rama and His birth pastimes before the Lord.
Although Valmiki was born in the house of a brahmana, he acquired an abominable violent nature due to the association of a vyadha. He fathered many children from the womb of a sudra (low class) woman. He practiced robbery as a means of maintaining them. One day when he attacked some sages, they asked him to give up the practice of robbery. They said that he would have to suffer the consequences of whatever sins he was committing by robbing people. Upon returning home and asking his father, mother, wife and other family members, he found out that they would not share the fruits of his sins. He then asked the sages for a remedy. The sages first advised him to chant the name of Rama. However, upon not being able to utter the name of Rama from his mouth, he was instructed to chant Mara (death) instead. Following their instructions, he chanted ‘Mara-Mara’ for thousands of yugas (eons). By chanting ‘Mara-Mara’ (the reversal of ‘Rama-Rama’), the name of Rama was eventually pronounced from his mouth, and he achieved perfection in chanting the name of Lord Rama. Because he was sitting in one place while chanting for such a long time, his body had become the home of valmikas (ants or termites). Therefore, people gave him the name Valmiki.
In the Bengali Ramayana written by Sri Krittivas Ojha (Upadhyaya), some differences from the above description can be seen. Sri Cyavana Muni was Valmiki’s father. In his youth, Valmiki’s name was Ratnakara and he maintained his family by robbing. One day he attacked Brahma and Narada who then asked Ratnakara who he thought would share in his sins. Ratnakara then returned home and asked his parents and wife if they would share the repercussions of his sinful activities. After asking everyone, he came to know that no one would share his sins. He became repentant and when he inquired as to a remedy for these sins, Brahma advised him to chant the name of Rama. Due to excessive sins, his mouth was unable to pronounce the word ‘Rama’. Acting on Brahma’s instructions, he chanted the reversed name of ‘Mara-Mara’. By chanting ‘Mara-Mara’, he was eventually able to chant the holy name, ‘Rama’. Due to performing austerities for a long time, his body became covered with the homes of valmikas, which was then cleansed with rain by Indra. As the valmikas had covered him, his name became Valmiki. He wrote the Ramayana on the instruction of Narada. The Ramayana is famous as the original epic of India. During the time of the Ramayana, Sanskrit was prevalent as the spoken language in Aryan society. The word ‘arya’ (honorable, spiritually cultured) has been used quite often in the Ramayana. Special respect for the Ramayana has been observed in places as far away as Javadvipa (Java, Indonesia). Although a large book, the Ramayana of Javadvipa has no section divisions, but does have chapter divisions. The Valmiki Ramayana is of three kinds: Udicca, Dakshinatya and Gaudiya. The ‘Udicca’ indicates the northwestern Ramayana and the Dakshinatya indicates the southern Ramayana. There is no significant difference between the text and subject of the Udicca and Dakshinatya Ramayanas. However, differences can be seen in the Gaudiya Ramayana. There are twenty-eight commentaries on the Ramayana. The Ramayana has been written in all the languages of India. Among the Ramayanas written in Indian languages, the Tamil Ramayana of Kambala composed in the 9th century of the Christian era, the Bengali Ramayana of Krittivas composed in the 15th century and the Hindi Ramayana of Tulasidasa composed in the 17th century are the most famous. In the western countries, the Ramayana was apparently first translated into the Italian language.
The Valmiki Ramayana has been written in seven kandas (sections), namely: Adi-kanda, Ayodhya-kanda, Aranya-kanda, Kishkindha-kanda, Sundara-kanda, Lanka-kanda and Uttara-kanda. The Ramayana is a voluminous scripture.
From the description of Ramacandra’s lineage in the 9th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is understood that Ramacandra appears in the Solar Dynasty (surya-vamsa). Ikshvaku, the son of Vaivasvata Manu, is the origin of the Solar Dynasty and his descendents proceed in the following order: Mandhata from Ikshvaku, Trisanku’s son Hariscandra, Hariscandra’s son Rohita and after that Maharaja Sagara, Asamanjasa, Ansuman, Dilipa and Bhagiratha. In his lineage came Asmaka, King Balika and other kings. When Parasurama was killing the kshatriyas, King Balika was saved from His wrath due to being surrounded by women. Hence, one of his names became ‘Narikavaca’ (shielded by women). Being the mula (root) of the kshatriya lineage, he became famous by the name of Mulaka. In the lineage of Balika, the great emperor, King Khatvanga, took birth. From Khatvanga, Dirghabahu, Raghu, Prithu Srava, Aja and finally Aja’s son, Maharaja Dasaratha, was born.
khatvangad dirghabahus ca
raghus tasmat prithu-sravah
ajas tato maha-rajas
tasmad dasaratho ‘bhavat
Due to the prayers of the demigods, the Supreme Lord, Sri Hari, agreed to become the son of King Dasaratha along with His expansions as Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna. According to the description of Valmiki Ramayana, Dasaratha, acting upon the advice of Sumantra, arranged for a Putreshti-yajna to be conducted by the powerful sage Rishyasringa to obtain a son. Subsequently, he begot the Supreme Lord and His expansions as his sons in the previously mentioned four forms. His principal queen, Kausalya, became pregnant after eating caru, an oblation of rice, milk and sugar boiled together, which remained after the yajna. At the auspicious time of Punarvasu-nakshatra in the fourth Zodiacal sign of Cancer, in the month of Caitra on the ninth day of the waxing moon, Lord Sri Ramacandra appeared. Bharata appeared from the womb of Kaikeyi during the Pushya-nakshatra-Mina-lagna and Lakshmana and Satrughna appeared from the womb of Sumitra during the Aslesha-nakshatra-Karkata-lagna.
Ahalya was freed of the curse of becoming a stone, by dint of her encounter with Sri Ramacandra. The great sage Gautama was the husband of Ahalya. Devaraja Indra deceived Ahalya by assuming the form of Gautama and corrupting her chastity. Displeased with this, Gautama cursed Ahalya and Indra. Turned to stone by the curse of Gautama, Ahalya remained without food for many years, surviving only on air. Ahalya was finally freed from this curse by the touch of the lotus feet of Sri Ramacandra, and was then reunited with her husband, Gautama.
In the pastimes of Sri Ramacandra, the following of ethical codes is of primary importance. His pastimes strongly evoke the sentiment of compassion. By the mercy of Sri Ramacandra, we can be saved from immorality and adharma (unrighteousness). The Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself, prayed to Ramacandra in the following way to teach us: ‘rama raghava rama raghava rama raghava raksha mam’ (‘raksha mam’-rescue me). From the pastimes of Ramacandra, we learn about the necessity of accepting and serving a spiritual master, devotion to one’s parents and the duties of a brother and a wife. Supreme Lord Sri Ramacandra has exhibited the pastime of abandoning the opulence of royal life, which is very difficult to give up, and of abandoning a perfect wife for keeping dharma and ethics intact. He accepted all kinds of suffering, accepted exile in the forest and went without food and sleep. He walked with His soft lotus feet on the forest paths, which were full of thorns. Out of love for His devotees, the Lord bestowed His mercy on the candala, Guhaka. As the protector of one who surrenders to Him, the Lord awarded shelter to Vibhishana . Sri Rama’s pastimes demonstrate how a henpecked person becomes miserable, and how those who consider someone merely dressed as a sadhu (lacking genuine qualification) to be a real sadhu, become cheated and end up miserable. By annihilating demons such as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, He destroys the living being’s inner demoniac tendencies. To instruct His subjects and for their pleasure, He underwent suffering by asking for Sita’s trial by fire and Her banishment to the forest. Austerities are prohibited for those with evil motives, who are in the mode of dark ignorance, because those austerities only create havoc in the world. To teach this, He killed the sudra Sambuka while the latter was engaged in performing austerities. He taught all these lessons by setting the example Himself.
In the 9th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sukadeva Gosvami covers the main topics by describing the transcendental pastimes of Supreme Lord Sri Ramacandra in brief. These topics are described in Srimad-Bhagavatam as follows:
The pastimes of Lord Sri Ramacandra are wonderful, like those of a playful baby elephant. At Sita’s svayamvara (the assembly where Mother Sita was to choose Her husband), in the midst of all the heroes, He playfully lifted the immensly heavy bow of Lord Siva (Hara-dhanu), which was brought in by three hundred men. He then bent and strung it and broke it in everyone’s presence. After breaking the Hara-dhanu at the svayamvara, the Lord gained King Janaka’s daughter Sita who had not been born from the womb, and who was equally as endowed as the Lord with transcendental qualities of form, beauty, age, behaviour, and nature just like Lakshmi. While returning, He crushed the pride of Parasurama who had rid the earth of kshatriyas twenty-one times.
As described in the Ramayana, at the time of Rama’s marriage to Sita in Mithila, King Dasaratha came with his other sons, ministers and sages. There, Lakshmana married Urmila, the daughter of Sisadhvaja Janaka-the King of Mithila, and Bharata and Satrughna married the two daughters of Kusadhvaja-Mandavi and Srutakirti. To reveal the condition of persons who are attached to women, Lord Sri Ramacandra, in order to fulfil the desire of His wife, ran after a golden deer. This deer was in fact Marica who had assumed this form according to the instructions of Ravana. Taking advantage of the golden opportunity of Sri Ramacandra’s absence, Ravana kidnapped Sita. To exhibit the sorrowful condition of a person who is attached to women, Sri Ramacandra wandered in the forest in a pitiable state with His brother Lakshmana, displaying distress due to separation from His beloved.
In this context, as written in the Caitanya-caritamrita of Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the example of a devotee of Rama in South India is to be considered. How was it that Ravana who was overcast with gloom and arrogance, could kidnap Sitadevi, the absolute counterpart transcendental spiritual energy of the absolute transcendental Supreme Lord Sri Ramacandra? Upon seeing this description in the Ramayana, a brahmana devotee of Rama became filled with grief and gave up eating. Sriman Mahaprabhu put this question to him: “Considering that the ignorant Ravana had not even seen the absolute transcendental spiritual entity, Sitadevi, how could he have kidnapped Her? Explaining, Sriman Mahaprabhu said that Ravana had only kidnapped the Maya-Sita or illusory material form of Sita, and that the real Sita had disappeared. The story of the kidnapping of Maya-Sita is described in the Kurma Purana of Vedavyasa Muni.
In the pastimes of Rama, a wonderful quality can be seen in the character of Bharata. When obstructed in the service of the Supreme Lord Sri Ramacandra, He even rejected His own mother.
gurur na sa syat sva-jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta-mrityum
“He who cannot rescue a conditioned soul from the worldly bondage of proximate death by advising the path of devotion to God, is not entitled to be accepted as a real guru, real kinsman, real father (such a man should not endeavour to beget a child), real mother (such a woman should not endeavour to conceive), real demigod (such a demigod should not be eligible for worship) or a real husband (such a man should not marry).”
The Supreme Lord creates all living beings but is satisfied only after creating man. Man has the ability to discriminate between good and bad, eternal and non-eternal, and can worship the Supreme Lord. Human birth is not meant only for eating, sleeping, defending and mating like the beasts, birds, aquatics and other animals. Still, we generally find that most people have little or no inclination to worship God. Evidently, we cannot have quality and quantity at the same time. If we wish to increase quantity, we must sacrifice quality and vice-versa.
After killing Ravana and upon finishing the period of His forest exile, Sri Ramacandra returned to Ayodhya on the pushpaka (flower) airplane with Sitadevi, Hanuman, Sugriva and Lakshmana. The citizens, Brahma and the other demigods, were in a state of jubilation. However, Sri Ramacandra lamented upon hearing that His brother Bharata was eating barley cooked in the urine of a cow, was covering his body with the bark of trees, was wearing matted locks of hair and lying down on kusa grass. When Sri Ramacandra returned to Ayodhya, Bharata took Lord Ramacandra’s wooden shoes upon his head and came out of Nandigrama accompanied by ministers, priests and citizens singing and playing music. He fell at the lotus feet of Sri Ramacandra with his eyes full of tears of love. Bharata exhibited such wonderful character! It is difficult for modern men to even contemplate such an ideal. In the present day situation, the administrative class will not hesitate to perform any heinous work to protect their position. Where there is great attachment to position, there cannot be good administration. We can learn from the ideal examples of character of Sri Ramacandra and Bharata, what the proper character for administrators should be.
Upon seeing their beloved King Sri Ramacandra after a long period of separation, His subjects showered Him with flower garlands and danced in great ecstasy. At that time, Bharata carried Ramacandra’s wooden shoes, Sugriva and Vibhishana carried a camara (a fly-whisk) and an excellent fan, Hanuman carried a white umbrella, Satrughna carried a bow and quiver, Sitadevi carried a water-pot filled with water from holy places, Angada carried a sword and Jambavan carried a golden amulet.
While wandering in Ayodhya in disguise, Sri Ramacandra heard one of His subjects casting aspersions upon the character of Sitadevi. Upon hearing this, the Lord banished Sitadevi even though She was pregnant. What a wonderful ideal and spirit of sacrifice this was to teach His subjects!
iti lokad bahu-mukhad
patya bhitena sa tyakta
“Men with a poor fund of knowledge and heinous character speak nonsensically. fearing such rascals, Lord Ramacandra abandoned his pregnant wife, Sitadevi. thus, after being banished by Rama, Sitadevi went to Valmiki Muni’s asrama.”
Sri Ramacandra even abandoned His brother Lakshmana who was dearer to Him than His own life, in order to maintain the codes of dharma. The gist of this incident is as follows:
Once, Lord Brahma sent Kala, in the form of Tapas, as a messenger to Sri Ramacandra. Before conveying Brahma’s message, the messenger placed the condition before Sri Ramacandra that he would tell Him the message if Sri Rama promised him that no one would be able to hear his words. If anyone heard or saw their secret conversation, he would be fit to be killed by Sri Rama. Sri Ramacandra accepted this condition. However, while the secret conversation between the messenger and Sri Ramacandra was taking place, Durvasa Rishi came to see Sri Ramacandra. Lakshmana, who was appointed as the gatekeeper during this secret conversation, became afraid upon seeing the angry form of Durvasa Rishi and went to Sri Ramacandra to ask His permission to allow him inside. To keep His promise, on the instructions of Vasishtha, Sri Ramacandra banished His brother Lakshmana who was dearer to Him than His own life.
Lakshmana’s demonstration that the elder brother is as respectable as the father, his abandonment of all material comforts for the service of his object of worship, Sri Ramacandra, and his service to Him for fourteen years while being in the forest with Him, are all ideal examples. Lakshmana had not been ordered to go to the forest in exile, yet he went after his elder brother to serve Him. Lakshmana, with his transcendental powers and the help of Vibhishana, was able to obstruct the Nikumbhila-yajna of Ravana’s son, Meghanada who had conquered Indra. Lakshmana then killed Meghnada. Indrajit (Meghnada) obtained the boon that only one who is able to remain without food for fourteen years and who also has full control over the senses, would be able to kill him. Lakshmana did not take food while living in the forest for fourteen years, and performed the pastime of conquering all his senses. While remaining all the time with Sri Ramacandra and Sitadevi and serving Them, He never saw beyond the lotus feet of Sitadevi.
Even Sri Rama’s internal potency, Sitadevi, although instructed repeatedly by Sri Ramacandra not to go with Him to the forest (as this punishment was meant for Him and not for Her or anyone else), left behind all comforts for the service of Her husband. By this action, She defined the duty of a chaste wife and exhibited the ideal of following the husband. Supreme Lord Sri Ramacandra was completely fascinated by the pure love of Sitadevi, which surpassed all His expectations, but in order to teach the dharma of a king who is engaged in the welfare of the citizens, and although giving pain to Himself, He asked for the ordeal by fire (Agni-pariksha) and declared the injunction of banishment of Sitadevi who is non-different from His own self. Once, arrangements were being made for an Asvamedha-yajna under the priesthood of Vasishtha and other sages. The wife of the person to perform the Asvamedha yajna has to be initiated in the yajna before the husband. Because of this rule, it was proposed that Sri Ramacandra get married again, but Sri Ramacandra rejected the proposal and arranged to have a golden Deity of Sita instead. He was given yajna initiation, along with the golden Deity of Sita as His wife. What can be a better example of Sitadevi’s most excellent chastity and love than this? Yet, to remove the doubts of the citizens, in the Naimisha area on the banks of the Gomati, He invited sages, all the kings, and even Sugriva along with the Vanaras (monkeys) and Vibhishana along with the Rakshasas (a type of demon). Maharishi Valmiki was also present in the sacrificial arena with Lava and Kusa. Upon hearing the Ramayana from Lava and Kusa, which had been composed by Valmiki, Sri Ramacandra understood that they were His sons.
Acting on the order of Valmiki Muni, Sri Ramacandra sent messengers to invite Sitadevi to prove Her chastity before everyone at the sacrificial arena. Sitadevi saw that even after She had been tested two times, everyone’s doubt had not been removed. Therefore, She came with the determination that this time She would enter into Rasatala (the lowest of the seven underworlds). So, addressing the earth-goddess, She said, “O Devi, if I do not think of anyone other than Raghava in My mind then divide into two parts and give Me shelter. If this is true, I worship Rama with all My senses and do not know anyone other than Rama. O Devi, divide into two parts and let Me enter.”
Everyone was astonished to see a miraculous divine throne come up from the middle of the earth, and as Sitadevi sat on it, it entered into Rasatala. Upon Sitadevi’s entering into Rasatala, everyone glorified Her with loud applause. Sri Ramacandra, taking support of the yajna-danda, lowered His face, and cried for a long time in the grief of separation fom Sita.
In the Ramayana, Hanuman’s dedication to his object of worship is displayed to the utmost, and his devoutness has an ideal place among the servants of Rama. For the nourishment of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s pastimes, Hanuman appeared as Murari Gupta. Sriman Mahaprabhu taught the glories and importance of dedication to one’s object of worship, through Murari Gupta. Sriman Mahaprabhu explained to Murari Gupta that worship of Sri Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja, is best. Upon hearing this subject from Mahaprabhu, Murari Gupta promised Him that from now on he would worship Sri Krishna, but even after giving his word to Mahaprabhu he was not able to keep his promise to the very end. Murari Gupta then fell at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu and spoke the following words while crying:
raghunathera paya muni veciyachon matha
kadhite na pari matha, mane pai vyatha
sri-raghunatha-carana chadana na yaya
tava ajna-bhanga haya, ki karon upaya
tate more ei kripa kara, dayamaya
tomara age mrityu ha-uka, yauka samsaya
(Caitanya-Caritamrita, Madhya 15.149 -151)
“I have sold my head unto the lotus feet of Raghunatha. I cannot withdraw my head, for that would give me too much pain. It is not possible for me to give up the service of Raghunatha’s lotus feet. at the same time, if I do not do so I shall break your order. what can I do? You are all-merciful, so kindly grant me the mercy that I may die before you so that all my doubts will be finished.”
While assuring Murari Gupta, Mahaprabhu praised him, saying:
ei-mata tomara nishtha janibara tare
tomare agraha ami kailun bare bare
sakshat hanuman tumi sri-rama-kinkara
tumi kene chadibe tanra carana-kamala
(Caitanya-Caritamrita, Madhya 15.155 -156)
“Just to test your firm faith in your Lord, I requested you again and again to change your worship from Lord Ramacandra to Lord Krishna. Indeed, you are the incarnation of Hanuman. Consequently you are an eternal servant of Lord Ramacandra. Why should you give up the worship of Lord Ramacandra and his lotus feet?”
The Supreme Lord, Sri Ramacandra, glorifying His servant Hanuman, spoke to Maharishi Agastya as follows: “The strengths of Vali and Ravana, although being incomparable, were not equal to that of Hanuman’s. Hanuman is filled with chivalry, valor, patience, intelligence, scriptural knowledge and all other desirable qualities. Hanuman alone accomplished the crossing of the ocean between southern India and Lanka, the bringing of the message of Sita, the killing of the demons, the subsequent burning of Lanka and so on. We do not hear such deeds even of Yama, Indra, Kuvera and others. It is only by the strength of Hanumanji that I achieved victory over Lanka, rescued Sita and saw Lakshmana come back to life after being hit by an irresistibly powerful javelin.”
The question may be raised that if Hanuman was so powerful, then why did he not kill Vali during Vali’s fight with Sugriva? In reply to this, Agastya Muni narrates the story of Hanuman’s curse:
Hanuman was fathered by Vayu (the wind-god) and took birth from the womb of Anjana. After the birth of Hanuman, Anjana went to the forest to pick some fruits due to distress from hunger. Upon seeing the red sun looking like a Java Flower (Hibiscus), Hanuman mistook it for a fruit and jumped up to eat it. To protect his son from the sun’s heat, the cool wind (Vayu) began to blow. Knowing that the approaching child Hanuman would perform a great deed in the future, the sun did not burn him. That day, Rahu  (the truncated demon) went to devour the sun but upon seeing Rahu, Hanuman went to eat him also. Being afraid, Rahu ran to Indra and told him that when he went to devour the sun, another Rahu had attacked him. Indra, while following on his elephant Airavata, assured Rahu and sent him ahead as they approached the sun. Hanuman again saw the returning Rahu as a fruit. Seeing Hanuman coming to catch him, Rahu cried out loudly. Mistaking Airavata for a big fruit, Hanuman went to catch him also. Seeing no other way to stop him, Indra attacked Hanuman with his vajra (thunderbolt) weapon. Hanuman’s left hanu (jaw) was broken and he fell down on a mountain. Upon seeing the unfortunate condition of his baby son, Vayu entered into a cave with him. At the disappearance of air (Vayu), all the living beings stopped breathing and evacuating, and dried up like wood. The demigods and demons approached Brahma to save their lives. Brahma saw the golden-complexioned child in the lap of Vayu and touched him with compassion and affection. When Hanuman regained his life, Vayu (air) started flowing again with satisfaction. Brahma told the demigods that this child would someday perform some great work, so they should bless him. Then Indra blessed the child with the following words: “Hanuman will never be killed even if hit by the vajra weapon. His jaw was broken by the vajra, therefore his name will be Hanuman.” Surya (the sun) gave a one-hundredth part of his splendor to Hanuman and also gave him the benediction that he would be a great speaker, very learned in the scriptures. Varuna, Yama, Kuvera and others also gave benedictions to Hanuman. Brahma assured Vayu by saying that Hanuman would bestow fearlessness to friends, fear to enemies, would be undefeatable, would be able to travel with unparalleled speed and would perform great deeds.
Becoming powerful by all these blessings, Hanuman began to create mischief in the asramas of sages due to his childish playfulness. In order to control him, the sages cursed him that he would not be aware of his own power for a long time. He would come to know of his power only if someone told him about it. Thereafter, Hanuman became quiet and wandered peacefully. Hanumanji’s influence is seen strongly in northern and western India. In these regions, almost all the followers of sanatana-dharma install and worship the Deity of Hanuman. They especially recite the glories of Hanuman from the Ramayana of Tulasidasa.
In the 11th Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, the description of the avatara for Kali-yuga has been disclosed in the context of yuga-avataras. In that description, Vedavyasa Muni has sung the glories of Kali-yuga’s avatari, Sriman Mahaprabhuji, in two verses. Both of these verses can also be understood in relation to Sri Ramacandra:
dhyeyam sada paribhava-ghnam abhishta-doham
tirthaspadam siva-virinci-nutam saranyam
bhrityarti-ham pranata-pala bhavabdhi-potam
vande maha-purusha te caranaravindam
“O Mahapurusha, protector of all who offer respects unto You, you are always meditated upon, You are the destroyer of the embarrassing conditions of material life, the provider of all that is desirable and the abode of all holy places. You are worshipped by Lord Siva and Lord Virinci (Brahma), You are the shelter, the remover of Your servants’ distress and the deliverer from the ocean of material existence. I offer my obeisances unto Your lotus feet.”
dharmishtha arya-vacasa yad agad aranyam
maya-mrigam dayitayepsitam anvadhavad
vande maha-purusha te caranaravindam
“O Mahapurusha, the best of all those who are followers of dharma, You gave up Lakshmi and the opulence of royal life, which are desired even by the demigods. You went to the forest to honor the word of the arya and ran after the illusory deer to fulfil the desire of Your beloved. I offer my obeisances unto Your lotus feet.”
vitarasi dikshu rane dik-pati-kamaniyam
kesava dhrita-rama-sarira jaya jagadisa hare
(Sri Jayadeva’s Dasavatara-stotra 7th Verse)
“O Kesava! In the form of Rama You cut off the ten heads of Ravana and made delightful gifts of them to the lords of the ten directions. O Lord of the universe! All glories unto You, manifested in the form of Rama!”
For those who are unaquainted with the stories of Ramayana, the following are brief summaries of the seven kandas:
Narada describes the pastimes of Lord Rama; Valmiki composes the Ramayana; Lava and Kusa sing the Ramayana; Dasaratha’s bringing of Rishyasringa; Lord Narayana accepts the son-hood of Dasaratha; the birth of Vali, Sugriva, Hanuman and other Vanaras (monkeys); the birth of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Satrughna; Sage Visvamitra arrives in Ayodhya to take Rama and Lakshmana to slay the Rakshasas (demons); Dasaratha refuses to let Rama and Lakshmana go with Visvamitra at first but later agrees; the narration of the births of Tadaka and Marica; the slaying of Tadaka by Rama; a description of the lineage of Kusa; Visvamitra’s narration of the origin of Ganga; King Sagara gets sixty-thousand sons; Sagara’s dynasty is destroyed by the curse of Kapila Muni ; Bhagiratha gets a boon from Brahma; Ganga goes to Patala (the netherworld); deliverance of the sons of Sagara; Indra cuts to pieces a foetus in the womb of Diti; a description of the curse of Ahalya and Indra; the redemption of Ahalya from her curse; Rama and Lakshmana travel to the sacrificial arena of King Janaka; Visvamitra arrives at the asrama of Vasishtha; Visvamitra steals the Sabala cow; Visvamitra is defeated doing battle with Vasishtha; Visvamitra performs austerities and attains the status of a brahmana; King Janaka obtains the Hara-dhanu (bow of Lord Siva); Ramacandra breaks the Hara-dhanu and accepts Sita as His wife; the marriage of Ramacandra and others; Parasurama’s pride is destroyed; Dasaratha arrives in Ayodhya with his daughters-in-law; Bharata journeys to his maternal home.
Dasaratha decides to install Sri Ramacandra as the crown prince; Vasishtha visits Rama and Dasaratha; the discussion between Kaikeyi and Manthara; Kaikeyi requests the boon of the exile of Rama and the boon of the appointment of Bharata as crown prince; Dasaratha laments; Rama decides to go to the forest to honour His father’s promise; Sita and Lakshmana depart for the forest with Rama; Rama, Lakshmana and Sita accept garments made of tree-bark; the further lamentation of Dasaratha; Rama meets Guhaka, the king of the Nishadas (low-caste hunters); Guhaka’s unprecedented devotion for Rama; Rama goes to Citrakuta and to Valmiki; Dasaratha laments again upon hearing the message of Rama from Sumantra; the lamentation of Kausalya; Dasaratha narrates the description of the killing of Rishi Kumara; the death of Dasaratha; a messenger is sent to bring Bharata; Bharata laments upon hearing about the death of his father; Bharata refuses to accept the kingdom; Bharata arrives at Citrakuta with his army; Sri Ramacandra laments on hearing of the death of His father; Jabali gives instructions on dharma to Rama; Bharata returns with Rama’s wooden shoes, hands over the kindom to his guru and departs for Nandigrama; the story of Rama and Kulapati in Citrakuta; the asrama of Atri Muni.
Sri Ramacandra enters the Dandaka forest; the slaying of the Rakshasa, Viradha; Sutikshna Muni narrates the story of Ilvalvatapi to Rama and chants the glories of Agastya Muni; Sri Rama’s introduction to Jatayu; Rama resides in the forest of Pancavati; Lakshmana cuts off the nose of Surpanakha; the killing of the fourteen thousand Rakshasas sent by Khara; the slaying of the three Rakshasas Dushana, Trisira and Khara; Ravana becomes angry upon hearing about the deaths of Khara and Dushana, Ravana goes to the asrama of Marica and plots to kidnap Sita; Ravana decides to kidnap Sita on Surpanakha’s advice, even after restraint from Marica; Marica assumes the form of a golden deer and departs for the Dandaka forest; Rama leaves to kill Marica in the form of a deer; Lakshmana goes after Rama upon being rebuked rudely by Sita; Ravana abducts Sita; the fight between Jatayu and Ravana; Sita drops jewelry from Ravana’s chariot; Ravana leaves Sita in the Asoka grove and goes to his inner palace; Rama laments on the disappearance of Sita; the hearing of the story of Sita from the dying Jatayu; the performance of the funeral ceremony of Jatayu; Rama and Lakshmana cut off the arms of Kabandha; Rama and Lakshmana go to Pampa-sarovara and meet Sabari; the discussion with Lakshmana about going to Rishyamuka mountain.
Hanuman in the dress of a mendicant meets with Rama; Hanuman seats Rama and Lakshmana on his back and takes Them to Sugriva; Sugriva vows to rescue Sita and Rama vows to kill Vali; Rama pierces the seven Tala (palmyra) trees; Sugriva is defeated in his first fight with Vali; the second time, Vali falls down after being pierced by the arrow of Rama; Vali hands Angada over to Sugriva and leaves his body; Tara laments; Sugriva’s coronation and Rama’s lament due to separation from Sita; Sugriva worries upon seeing Lakshmana’s fury; messengers are sent in all directions to search for Sita; Rama gives His ring to Hanuman as an emblem; the Vanaras return without discovering the whereabouts of Sita; influenced by the mystic power of Maya Danava, Hanuman and other Vanaras enter a cave and meet with a tapasvini (female ascetic); Hanuman and others are delivered from the cave; Angada and others decide to fast unto death upon not obtaining any information about Sita; Sampati informs them about Sita; the Vanaras depart for the seashore; the show of power of the Vanaras; Jambuvana (the very powerful king of bears) narrates the birth pastimes of Hanuman; Hanuman increases his size.
Hanuman leaps from the top of Mahendra Mountain; the killing of Simhika; Hanuman’s fight with Lankini who had assumed the form of a Rakshasi; Hanuman enters the inner palace of Ravana, and searches for Sita in the Asoka grove; Hanuman grieves upon seeing the miserable condition of Sita; a description of the birth of the Rakshasi Trijata; Hanuman’s meeting with Sita; Hanuman destroys the pleasure grove; Hanuman’s intense fight with the Rakshasas; Hanuman kills Jambumali, Virupaksha, Akshaya Kumara and other principal Rakshasas; Indrajit captures Hanuman and brings him to the court of King Ravana; Ravana orders Hanuman to be put to death; Vibhishana gives his advice to Ravana; Ravana orders the burning of Hanuman’s tail; the burning of Lanka by Hanuman; Hanuman’s second meeting with Sita; Hanuman returns to Mahendra Mountain; the Vanaras destroy Madhuvana in a mood of joy after hearing the news of Sita; Hanuman gives Sita’s emblem to Ramacandra.
Ramacandra weeps upon hearing of the lamentations of Sita from Hanuman; Rama instructs Sugriva to build a bridge; Vibhishana tries to give good advice to Ravana; Ravana speaks proud words; Vibhishana leaves Ravana and goes to Rama; Ravana sends his spy Suka to the camp of the Vanara army; Rama constructs a bridge; Suka is freed and goes to the court of Ravana; Ravana again sends a spy, Cara; Sita laments upon being shown the illusory head of Rama by Ravana; talks between Sita and Sarama; Malyavan (a Rakshasa) gives good advice to Ravana; Ramacandra views Lanka from Subela Mountain; Rama surrounds Lanka with His army; the battle begins; Rama and Lakshmana are bound by Indrajit; the Vanara soldiers become depressed; Ramacandra laments upon seeing the sad plight of Lakshmana; Rama and Lakshmana are freed from the naga-pasa (snake noose) of Indrajit; Ravana enters the battle after Dhumraksha, Vajradamshtra, Akampana and Prahasta perish; Kumbhakarna’s sleep is interrupted after Ravana’s defeat; Kumbhakarna chastises Ravana; Kumbhakarna enters the battle; Sugriva cuts off Kumbhakarna’s nose as he is entering into Lanka with him; Kumbhakarna again sets off for battle; Rama kills Kumbhakarna; the killing of Narantaka, Devantaka, Mahodara, Trisira and other giant Rakshasas; Indrajit enters the battle and wins; Hanuman brings the mountain of herbs; the Vanaras burn Lanka; the killing of Nikumbha, Makaraksha and other Rakshasas; Indrajit kills the illusory Sita; Indrajit enters Lankapuri for the Nikumbhila yajna; Rama laments upon hearing of the death of Sita from Hanuman; Lakshmana kills Indrajit; Ravana laments; Ravana hits Lakshmana with an irresistibly powerful javelin; Hanuman brings Gandhamadana Mountain; the treatment of Lakshmana; the intense battle between Rama and Ravana; Rama kills Ravana with the brahmastra weapon; the lamentation of Mandodari; the coronation of Vibhishana; Sita hears the message of victory from Hanuman; Sita’s ordeal by fire; Sri Ramacandra accepts Sitadevi; Ramacandra’s conversation with Dasaratha who is brought back by Mahadeva; the Vanara army is revived by the nectar of immortality from Devaraja Indra; Ramacandra leaves for Ayodhya on the pushpaka airplane; the reunion with Bharadvaja, Guhaka and others.
The coronation of Sri Rama; the birth of Kuvera and his taking up residence in Lanka; a description of the birth of the Rakshasas by Agastya Muni; the demigods go to Mahadeva; following the order of Mahadeva, the demigods go to Vishnu; the Rakshasas journey to Suraloka for battle; Malya Vanara flees to Patala after being defeated by Sumali; Sumali’s daughter goes to Visvasrava and Ravana and others take birth from her womb; Ravana and others perform austerities; Ravana conquers Lanka and becomes king; the birth of Indrajit; Ravana goes to fight with Kuvera; Kuvera’s defeat; Vedavati curses Ravana; Ravana fights with Yama on the advice of Narada; Ravana goes to Vali; Ravana conquers the planet of the sun-god; friendship with Mandhata; Ravana sees Kapila in Patala; Ravana enters Lanka and orders Surpanakha, who was burning from the fire of the grief of separation from her husband, to go to the Dandaka forest; friendship with the Madhu demon; Indrajit enters Lanka taking Indra with him; Indra gets free and the story of Ahilya; a description of the fight between Karttaviryarjuna and Ravana; the friendship of Ravana with Vali; a description of Hanuman’s birth; a description of the births of Vali and Sugriva; Ravana goes to Svetadvipa; the Vanaras and Rakshasas return to their respective places; a description of the wanderings of Sita and Rama in the Asoka forest; upon hearing rumors about Sita, Rama orders Lakshmana to banish Sita; Lakshmana leaves Sita in the area of Valmiki’s asrama; Lakshmana returns to Rama; Rama tells Lakshmana about Nimi and Vasishtha; the episode of Yayati; Sri Ramacandra orders Satrughna to kill Lavana; the birth of Lava and Kusa in the asrama of Valmiki; the episode of Mandhata; Satrughna kills Lavana and establishes the capital of Mathura; Rama cuts off the head of the sudra, Sambuka, because he is performing austerities; a description of the killing of Vritra and the Asvamedha-yajna of Indra; Rama goes to Naimisharanya; Valmiki comes to the yajna of Rama with his disciples and Lava and Kusa sing the Ramayana; Sita comes to the court of Rama and enters into Patala; Kausalya and others leave their bodies; the coronation of Angada and Candraketu; Kala comes to Rama in the form of Tapas; Durvasa arrives; Rama banishes Lakshmana; the coronation of Lava and Kusa; Sri Ramacandra enters into the Sarayu with the Vanaras, Rakshasas and other citizens; the glories of the singing of Ramayana.
FOOTNOTES: When Vibhishana approached Sri Ramacandra, the Lord said:
sakad eva prapanno yas tavasmiti ca yacate
abhayam sarvada tasmai dadamy etad vratam mama
(Ramayana, Yuddha-kanda 18.33)
“This is My vow: if anyone seriously surrenders to Me and even once says, ‘I am Yours,’ and asks for my protection, I always give him protection.” Hatari sugatidayakah — one who is killed by the Supreme Lord who is all-good, will certainly attain eternal peace.  Bali Maharaja gave up the order of his guru Sukracarya; Vibhishana gave up his brother Ravana; Prahlada gave up his father Hiranyakashipu; Bharata gave up his mother Kaikeyi; King Khatvanga gave up the demigods, and the wives of the yajnik brahmanas gave up their husbands upon seeing their aversion to the Supreme Lord.  Hanuman’s assertion:
shri nathe janaki nathe abhede paramatmani
tathapi mama sarvasvam ramah kamala-locana
“Although ontologically the master of Lakshmi, the master of Radhika and the master of Sita are identical, lotus-eyed Rama is my only object of worship.” Rahu is a truncated demon whose head was separated from his body by the wheel weapon of Lord Vishnu. According to the Vedic teachings, nothing can be sustained without being seated and controlled by consciousness. For example: the sun by the sun-god or the wind by the wind-god.  According to Srimad-Bhagavatam (9.8.12):
na sadhu-vado muni-kopa-bharjita
napendra-putra iti sattva-dhamani
katham tamo roshamayam vibhavyate
jagat-pavitratmani khe rajo bhuvah
“It is not true that sixty thousand sons of Sagar were destroyed by the curse of Kapila Muni. Rather, they wrongly blamed Kapila Muni for concealing the horse and were therefore destroyed by the weight of their own offence committed against him.”
— From “Dasavatara – The Ten Manifestations of God” by Swami B.B. Tirtha.