Ananda Ramayanam for Eternal Happiness!

Valliyoor Satya
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Ravana was so worried about his future that once he approached Lord Brahma, the creator of the Universe. Lord Brahma told him that Ravana’s death would be caused by the son born to King Dasharatha and Queen Kausalya. On hearing this Ravana, the demon king of Srilanka was incensed. The demon king abducted Kaushalya before she could marry Dasharatha and placed her in a box on a deserted island in the middle of the ocean.
Even as Dasharatha was frantically looking for his bride, Sage Narada came to his rescue. On hearing about her whereabouts, Dasharatha brought his army to the shores of the ocean to rescue her. But when Ravana came to know about this, he instructed his army to wreak havoc on Dasharatha’s soldiers. A fierce battle ensued. Dasharatha’s army was defeated. Dasharatha managed to escape on a wooden plank that floated on the ocean for many days. Eventually, the plank came close to the island where Kaushalya was held captive.

Sage Narada arrived with other sages and quickly performed the wedding of Kaushalya and Dasharath and then both of them were ensconced in the box. The egoistic and hot-headed Ravana went to Brahma and told him that the latter’s predictions had been rendered  untrue. The wise Brahma brought the box in front of Ravana. Humiliated at his defeat and for making a false claim, Ravana decided to kill both Dasharatha and Kausalya then and there.

Ravana’s wife Mandodari was a spiritual woman. She pleaded with him to let go of the couple and surprisingly, Ravana who loved his wife as dearly had no other option but to oblige. Dasharatha and Kaushalya went to Ayodhya and started living happily where their sons were born. Dasharatha was later married to Kaikeyi and Sumitra.

This is one part of the story of Ramayana that is only found in the Ananda Ramayana. Why is this called as Ananda Ramayana? When any reader reads the Ananda Ramayana, he experiences a feeling of bliss. In the 50’s and 60’s, in Tamil Brahmin families, when the girl was married off, it was customary to give her a copy of the Ananda Ramayana shloka.

There is often a myth or a misconception that girl children who are named after Seeta face similar afflictions in life. Seeta has other names like Vaidehi, Mythili, Janakanandini, Janaki, Ramaa, Bhumija, Vanadevi, Mrinmayee, Mriganayanee and Visalakshi. This is only a blind superstition and has no relevance attached to it. How can girl children named after mother Seeta suffer when Lord Vishnu, the jagatrakshaka is there to protect them from harm? When we bestow ourselves on the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, what harm can come to us? Incidentally, Sri Mahalakshmi is comfortably ensconced in the chest of Bhagavan Maha Vishnu (due to which Lord Balaji is called as Sri-nivasa – the abode of Goddess Mahalakshmi.) Due to the manifestation of his consort all over him, Lord Vishnu’s feet become soft like a padmam (a lotus flower). So, when we bow down to touch Srinivasa’s feet, we are in effect also propitiating Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi.  

Ramayana is the story of Rama. Sage Narada who always chanted – “Narayana Narayana” brought about a tremendous transformation in a thug called Valmiki. When the latter did not know what to do, it was Sage Narada who advised him to write about the glory of Sri Rama.
When someone wants to do a good deed, he will automatically receive help from others, isn’t it? In a likewise manner, Lord Brahma blessed Sage Valmiki and told him, “ Oh, sage, whenever you are stuck in between writing the story, your intuition would guide you to write the Ramayana”.

Some scholars point out that Ramayana is not just the story of Lord Sri Rama. It also dovetails the journey of Sri Rama, the benign protector who takes all his devotees into his fold. Lord Rama is often known for – santham (calmness) and sadveekam (maturity). This is the reason he did not flinch before moving to the forest. So much was his devotion to his mother Kaikeyi that he thought his mother had some good intentions in sending him to the forest.

The hymn of Ananda Ramayanam begins with a shloka propitiating Lord Hanuman, then Lord Venkateswaraperumal and finally there are 6 parts. In some references, especially the ones from the North, there are 9 kands in the Ananda Ramayanam. But the Tamil hymn that I had (which I received rather serendipitously when I relocated lock, stock and barrel to Bangalore, a few years ago) has 6 kands or kandam (as we call in Tamil). These are:

  1. Balakandam
  2. Ayodhyakandam
  3. Aranyakandam
  4. Kishkindhakandam
  5. Sundarakandam
  6. Yuddhakandam
Now I am not a Tamil scholar but only a great lover of my mother tongue. Pardon me for saying this, but no language is as beautiful as the Tamil language. We, tamilians, must be proud of our rich cultural heritage. Today learning one’s mother tongue is considered so down market and the Tamil television channels have done their part in exacerbating matters. We have people masquerading as television anchors who can’t differentiate between vazhaipazham and valapalam and often I find that “ikkana” is missing in the words. Thaippasam is more apt than thai-pasam. I have always maintained that those who love their mother will love their mother tongue and I steadfastly adhere to this principle. Thiruvalluvar and U.Va. Swaminathan were great Tamil scholars who would cringe on seeing the blatant murder of such a beautiful language today.

Balakandam – refers to the childhood part of Lord Ram until his marriage to Janakanandini. Ayodhyakandam is about Rama’s life in ayodhya. Aranya, I know, is a forest. Kishkindha is where Sugreeva and Vali lived. Sundarakandam refers to the tryst between Lord Hanuman and Seeta in Asoka vanam. Yuddhakandam as we all know refers to the fierce battle that ensued between Lord Ram and Ravan.

About Ramayana

Ramayana is one epic that has been written in several languages in India. Ramayana has been written in Urdu as well as Nepalese. The Japanese have produced a film on Ramayana.
Ananda Ramayana is credited to Sage Valmiki but it has not received much attention from scholars. Chanting of the Ananda Ramayana shloka is pure bliss as every hymn ends with a Rama Rama. This epic is often considered as background reference for the Valmiki Ramayana.
There are as many as 300 versions of the Ramayana and the epic has spread to many Asian countries like Burma, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philipines and China.

It is Ananda Ramayanam that includes Ravana’s abduction of Seeta and Rama’s worshipping of Lord Shiva by installing a linga at Rameswaram. We all know that Lord Rama prayed to the Sun God via the hymn – Aditya Hridayam. This gave Ram and Lakshman the boundless positive energy and mental tenacity to fight the evil demon king Ravana. Legend has it that chanting the Aditya Hridayam cures problems of defective eye-sight (Lord Surya is effulgent and full of positive energy and light, isn’t it?) and decimates your enemies if you chant it regularly.

Om Namaha Suryaya Shantaya
Sarva roga nivarine
Ayur arogyam aishwaryam dehi deha jagatpate

When I say enemies, do not jump the gun please! Fear, ego, anxiety, pessimism, anger, lust, avarice – are these not mankind’s enemies?

Why did Sri Rama pray to Lord Shiva for victory? Ravana was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Sri Rama knew that unless he had Shiva by his side, conquering the demon king was out of question.

Unconfirmed sources state that Lord Valmiki was not satisfied with his first draft and decided to narrate some more instances from Ramayan. Thus was born the Ananda Ramayanam – something that gives you lasting joy.

A foreign scholar has mentioned :

As long as mountain ranges stand
And rivers flow upon the Earth
So long will this Ramayana
Survive upon the lips of men                     

When a man has some great issue at stake that will either mend or mar his life, reading or hearing of the Sundarakanda brings about a positive transformation. Even thinking about Sundarakanda will bring Lord Hanuman to your home to rescue you.

What are the other legends about  Ananda Ramayanam? 

Ananda Ramyana says that Sita was actually Vedavalli who was born to King Padmaksha. When Ravana attempted to abduct her, a furious Vedavalli who was in fire at that time resolved that she would wreak revenge on the evil king. Ravana’s spouse , the devout Mandodari dissuaded him from killing the child. The child was taken to the land of Janaka and buried in a box until Janaka who yearned for a child got hold of the box and raised her as Seeta. This is why Seeta is often called as Bhooma Devi’s daughter. 

To elaborate this…

Vedavati was  replaced by Padma, the daughter of King Padmaksha. Tired of her various suitors wanting to abduct her, she sits in penance surrounded by fire. While she is thus engaged, Ravana sees her and tries to molest her. Incensed, she burns herself and in her place, there appear five diamonds. Ravana takes them to Lanka in a casket and when his wife Mandodari opens it, she is surprised to find a girl in their place.

Mandodari, who is a virtuous woman of merit, immediately gets to know that she is the embodiment of Ravana's death. Wanting to stall his death, she curses the baby that it will not live unless in the house of an emperor who has his senses under his control and lives like a hermit though he has untold riches under his command, thinking that such a man cannot exist in the world. She then orders her servants to dispose the casket with the baby. However, the servants find themselves unable to let go of the casket and travel aimlessly until they reach the kingdom of Mithila where they bury the casket and leave. As it happens, Janaka the king of Mithila satisfies all the qualities listed by Mandodari.

Valmiki's original Ramayana starts with Dasaratha ruling Ayodhya as a  great king and desiring to do asvamedha yaga with his wives (Balakandam 5-8 sargas).
Ananda Ramayanam goes many years prior to that and starts with Dasaratha and Kausalya's marriage. Most of the events in Ananda Ramayan end on a happy note, hence the name!
In Valmiki’s Ramayan, Kaikeyi helps Dasharatha in the battlefield and pleased with her presence of mind, the King of Ayodhya gives her two boons. Ananda Ramayanam gives a different story.
During the Deva-asura fight, the stick or support that holds the wheel to the chariot, breaks in Dasaratha's chariot and the chariot is about to collapse.  Kaikeyi places her left hand in the place of the wheel-holder, in order to help her husband proceed without interruption.  Finally, Dasaratha is victorious and being pleased with Kaikeyi's help, grants her two boons.
Connected to this story is the following anecdote about Kaikeyi: Once, Kaikeyi, when she is very young, makes a paste out of coal and applies it on the face of a sage, for fun.  He curses her saying "later in life, you will be put to shame - no one would like to see your face even".  Kaikeyi gets scared and brings a stick to him, so he can punish her.  The pleased sage grants a boon - " your left hand will be as strong as iron and will never fail in any instance".  This is the reason Kaikeyi was able to place her left hand in the place of the wheel-holder and save Dasharatha.
The mind needs to be controlled and won over so that the transcendence of all the negative attributes can occur. Once that is possible, then and then only is one able to be free from ego. Our devotion to the Almighty and powerful shlokas and hymns helps us in controlling the ego, the mind, and whatever negative attributes come through the subtle body’s purification process. Once complete purification happens, the ego and all the negative attributes are removed.
Knowledge can destroy the ignorance and the darkness of the mind. It is through the contemplation of these mantras, these verses, that you can reach  Lord Mahavishnu / Lord Srirama at his source. The more you contemplate and concentrate on Srirama, the more you reach closer to the essence of the Lord.
Sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niramayah
Sarve bhadrani pashyantu
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Ma kascid dukhabhag bhavet
Om shantih shantih shantih
Shri Ramachandra bhagavan ki jai!
Sadaguru Deva ki jai!

May everyone everywhere be happy.
Let each and every be filled with love, peace, and joy.
May all miseries be destroyed,
And may each and every soul thirst to reach God.
Om Peace. Peace. Peace.
Let me wind up this note on Ananda Ramayana with :
Srirama Jayarama Sita manoharar rama Karunya Jayasheela kaushalyarama
Hare ram Hare ram, ram ram hare, hare Krishna, hare Krishna Krishna hare hare

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