Bhadrachalam: Once king Vikramaditya asked which is the best sloka from Ramayana and offered 1000 gold coins as reward to the person who comes up with correct answer. Vararuchi was a great Sanskrit scholar in the court of Vikramaditya. He consulted many a scholar but could not arrive at a conclusion. One day he was sleeping under a tree on which two pishas (spirits) settled down for a discussion among themselves. Since Vararuchi knew their language he was able to follow their conversation.
The first spirit asked the second, ”Where have you been?” “There was a birth of a baby in a pariah’s –a person below the four castes- house,” the second spirit replied. “What child?” asked the first. “A female one. I also read the fate of the child written on its head,” replied the second spirit. “Whom will she marry?,” the first spirit enquired. The second spirit replied, ”The one below the tree who does not know Mamvidhi will marry her.”
Vararuchi was shocked on hearing the conversation. But he was happy he got the answer to the king’s question. He happily went to the court and recited the sloka from Ayodhyakanda 40th sarga. “Ramama Dasaratham Viddim, viddhi janaka atmajam; Ayodhyam atavim viddhi gatchatatch yadha sukham.”
One sloka, three meanings
The sloka has three meanings. “Treat Rama to be Dasaratha and look upon Sita and the daughter of Janaka as myself, consider forest as Ayodhya and depart happily, my son,” says mother to Lakshmana. The second meaning is, know Rama is one of the ten avatars of Vishnu. Know Sita as Lakshmi Devi (mam) and know forest as Ayodhya (unconquerable vaikuntha) and depart happily. The third meaning says, consider Dasaratha as dead and consider me as departed to my maternal home (as a widow), forget Ayodhya and depart happily.
The king was impressed and rewarded Vararuchi who asked the king to get the child born in pariah’s house killed saying that it may bring harm to the kingdom. But as fate would have it, Vararuchi will be forced to marry that girl thinking that she is a Brahmin (contributed by M.H. Gopalakrishna, 15 November 2010). They have thirteen children.
Though there is ambiguity regarding whether Rama was a human being or god, Rama himself in Ramayana made it amply clear that he is no Narayana but only a human being.
Rama is no Narayana
Those who engineered the change in gotra and pravara of Sri Rama and Sita of Bhadrachalam must have thought Rama and Vishnu are one and the same. It is not. They are different. Rama himself says that he is a human being. In Valmiki Ramayana, at one place, Rama observes, “Atmanam manusham manye, Ramam Dasradhtmajam,” which means “I consider myself as Rama, a human being, and the son of Dasratha.” It is essential to keep Sri Rama’s observation of himself and keep the pravava and gotra unchanged. The deviation was wrong.
Rama insisted that he was a man, the son of another man, with absolutely nothing special about him. And he prayed to gods much inferior to him, for attaining something, which he himself could have achieved effortlessly.
Man or God?
Writer Sadagopan Iyengar says in an article titled ‘Man or God,’ published on 10 May 2006, Rama consciously wanted to remain a human being in spite of what Narada and Valmiki discussed at the beginning of Ramayana or what Brahma and other deities said at the time of Sita entering fire to prove her chastity. After Janaki entered the fire, all the exalted deities, including Brahma, Rudra, Indra et al, assembled at the site to request Rama to accept the unblemished Sita. On that occasion the devatas sing praise of Rama extolling him as the super power, the ultimate. But Rama remains unmoved. Sri Rama stands on the ground his palms folded in supplication and tells the celestials that he considers himself to be a mere man, the son of Dasaratha.
When Rama himself wanted to be known as a human being why should somebody try to say that he is Srimannarayana, the Vishnu. Sri Rama at Bhadradri, at least, has been considered maryada purushothama. Whoever deviated in pranava and gotra of Sri Rama and Sita at Bhadrachalam did a wrong thing. It is time they corrected their mistake.