Lord Rama was born on the ninth day of the month of Chitra, hence we celebrate his birthday as a 'Navami'. Indian mathematicians and philosophers see nine as a magical number. Planets in our solar system are also nine, as are the main forms of goddess Durga and the ways of Bhakti - devotion. Let us consider why we celebrate Rama-Navami, by considering nine of Lord Rama's great characteristics / virtues. " Actions speak louder than Words " was Rama's chief motto. He embodied all the virtues by practicing what he preached. More than his divine powers, his glorious heritage or his incredible prowess was his unblemished, untarnished, irreproachable character. His popularity, bravery, courage in face of all adversities, kindness, sense of justice, obedience, intelligence, limitless patience, boundless compassion and steadfast following of duty / "dharma" have endeared him to countless generations of Hindus and non-Hindus alike.
To lay claim to the title of " Idol / Hero ", one should be popular with the people. Kings and politicians soon loose their popular appeal with loss of power. Popular idol/ hero rules in the hearts and minds of the ordinary people. Rama achieved this by his innate characteristics of charm, kindness, openness, generosity and a real willingness to listen to other's problem. Everyone in Ayodhya felt they could approach Rama with their problems. Rama was known to find swift, realistic and just answers for every one. His aura, charm and charisma made every one relax and feel happy in his presence.
It is essential for a " Idol / Hero " to be brave. It is not enough to be popular if you can not achieve anything concrete. Rama fought for his people in the battle field as well as the Royal Court of Ayodhya. He stood his ground in all adversities and fought for the cause of righteousness. Being adventurous, Rama took his exile as a great challenge to explore new frontiers. Even in the jungles He fought for the rights of the oppressed. To be brave means to face danger with open eyes. Knowing his enemies strong points as well as the weaknesses, Rama sought to rid the society of those who threatened to undermine it.
This is one of Rama's major attribute. He taught mankind how to be kind as well as brave. Ravan was brave but had a cruel heart. This eventually corrupted him and made him a villain. Bravery should be tempered by a kind and gentle heart, so that the God given powers of strength are not misused. Power, success, wealth and popularity can easily go to one's head and soon corrupt the good intentions one begins with. Rama never let this happen as his prowess was always tempered by a kind and gentle soul.
Kindness and generosity of heart should not border on to being gullible. Rama's kindness was tempered by his love for justice. He was always just and fair. Seeing where kindness or punishment is due, Rama delivered it accordingly. In his kingdom, every one had the constitutional right to approach the King with their grievance. Always in keeping with the spirit of justice, Rama installed Vali's son on the throne of Kishkindh and Ravan's brother on the throne of Lanka. He never coveted anything that belonged to others and inspired love for justice in his people with his own actions.
Most famous attribute of Rama was his obedience and loyalty to his parents, guru and the subjects. Rama sought to keep his father's promise and willingly accepted fourteen years of exile. If Rama himself disregarded his King and father's wish, what sort of example would that set for the future generations? To teach obedience, one should practice obedience.
Obedience should always be tempered by intellect. Obedience should not be slavish. Dasharath ordered Rama to take the kingdom by force, imprison him and if necessary call on the army to support him. But Rama refused such suggestions. To break an oath / promise is a sin but to suggest covert ways of escaping the oath would be a greater sin. He always obeyed by considering what would be right, proper and good for his people. Rama asked his father, " If a drunk parent or guru should order the child or disciple to cremate them, should such an order be carried out? Of course not. Orders given by a clouded mind can not and should not be obeyed. Sometimes it is far better to obey the spirit of the order than the order it self. "
Intelligent people should be patient in order to earn people's love. Often the intellectuals become impatient with the dull witted. Rama had a great virtue of being gentle and understanding even with the uneducated jungle dwellers. Often the intelligent become angry with people who can't see as far ahead as they can. Rama endured his exile with legendary patience. When he came to the Southern tip of India, He was patient with the Ocean. Rama knew that a single arrow from his bow could achieve his purpose, but He decided to show respect for the Heavenly Gods and waited for their answer. Though capable of building a bridge of arrows, He let the monkeys build a bridge so they too could be satisfied with their war efforts.
8. Universal Love
Rama's love for all creatures great and small helped him win over the hearts of rich and poor, strong and weak, scholars and villagers alike. Rama's love was universal and boundless. Even Ravan, his mortal enemy, received Rama's grace. Vali was also convinced of Rama's love and was liberated from the eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Rama's gentleness was legendary and so even the uncivilized jungle dwellers came to him with out any apprehensions. Rama's love and compassion make him an ideal for all time.
9. Being Dutiful
Rama was forever aware of his duty - " Dharma ", and followed it unnervingly. All his above characteristics were tempered by desire to follow that which is right. Rama was never blind in his love. Considering duty to be above all else, even life, Rama followed dharma - duty, to the very last. Though he had boundless loved for his wife, He abandoned her for the common moral good of his subjects. Rama followed his duty as a son, brother, husband, prince, king, friend, and father at all times. Regardless of personal cost / grief, Rama sacrificed everything in the pursuit of Dharma, duty.
It is these qualities which have endeared Him to world's multitudes rather than his good looks or great wealth. Physical beauty wanes with time, money is soon spent, fame is soon forgotten but generous deeds, great character and boundless compassion endure for all time. His wish to do good for the people, even at personal suffering endeared him to the people more than elaborate speeches or ceremonies. His personal conduct spoke louder than mere words of philosophy. Such is the glory of his memory that even now people invoke " Rama Rajya " as the ideal, utopian system. It gave a democratic monarchy to the people. A system in which even the most humble may voice their opinion and be noticed. In Rama Rajya there were no criminals or oppressors and no one was ever oppressed. Every one had equal rights, justice was available to all. Taxes were not excessive and every one had work to occupy them. Rama had assured his people peace and plenty because as a King he served his people rather than be served by them. Where a ruler has all of the above characteristics, people can still enjoy Rama Rajya.
It is the ideal of self-less service which has made Rama one of the greatest idol / hero of all time. On Rama-Navami we fast till noon in anticipation of Rama's birth and not as a penance. After his birth at mid-day, people celebrate by dancing and singing auspicious songs. Let us celebrate Rama-Navami by following His ideal standards. By following these in his life, Rama has shown that it is possible to aspire for greatness and " ideal life ".