[Excerpted from the audio-book— Ram’s Dharma: Leadership Secrets of the Ultimate Warrior~Sage~Prince— published by Vedic Audio Knowledge (VAK). VAK created by author, an independent scholar has made a tradition of preserving the essential oral tradition of the Vedic literature with dramatic productions in English. ]
Now begins the inquiry into Dharma. This one line, expressive of much of the potency within all Vedic knowledge, is an apt beginning in our exploration of the epic Ramayana. The Ramayana can be seen as one grand heroic quest into all the power and subtlety of Dharma. Dharma means more than just duty, as it is often understood in the West. At its most comprehensive level, Dharma is the inexorable movement of evolution in the universe. All activity in the universe is orderly because of that inexorable flow of Dharma.
Alignment of Our Dharma With the Big Picture
To the degree that we align our own nature with this grand vision of Dharma, the more we align ourselves with the natural flow of all that was meant to be. This seems to be the true quest—to move our own consciousness, our own deepening awareness–to become more and more in-tune with Dharma at every step of our evolution. There is not one “be-all, end-all” state that captures this, because Dharma, as structured in consciousness, is a sequential process of unfolding deeper and deeper levels of order or Dharma in the fabric of our own awareness.
Hierarchies of Dharma
Dharma is structured in layers, or in hierarchies, which reveal more and more comprehensive levels of intelligence in nature. On one level, we could experience our personal career Dharma–expressive of the work we do to earn a living. At a deeper level, we can own our soul level Dharma–expressive of our own fundamental nature and the development of higher states of consciousness. On a more expanded level, there can be a Dharma of a country or civilization, which may express the unique design or “chosen-ness” for a group of people to serve and enrich the world in a particular way. The Dharma of a star is to spread life-giving light into the world, while the Dharma of the universe may reach to the fields of unfathomable infinity.
Evolution of Dharma
Every level of life has a Dharma that is woven together with all the other streams to create a majestic tapestry reflecting the never-ending flow of life from lesser states to more and more fullness of life and evolution. From this perspective, all of our growth can be seen as an opportunity to continually deepen our understanding of our own Dharma and how it fits into the larger Dharma of the world. As we grow and evolve, we find that those values that seemed so significant when we were younger fall away and new doorways open to greater and greater levels of service, authenticity and an expanding sphere of influence to enrich the world.
Ram’s Dharma and the Ramayana
Now this is where the power of Ram and the Ramayana enter the picture. Ram is an embodiment of the total potential of Dharma. All different levels and streams of Dharma seem to converge into his comprehensive personality. This power is first expressed on the human level, the level of heroic action. Like all the great heroic figures that have preceded us, we gain so much from following in his epic footsteps. Ram’s heroic quests become our own; and his journey—imbued with near-impossible challenges as well as great victories and blessed boons–become the cherished guideposts in the journey of our own lives.
But this outer value of Ram is only a projection and expression of the deeper, absolute level of life, from which the full potential of being fully-human emerges—a divine being in human form. Ram is an extraordinary personage in that he is both an ideal man and an avatar. Human and divine. The juxtaposition of these two values stretches our comprehension to span its gulf.
Why is Ram So Special?
In the pantheon of all great epic heroes, Ram seems to hold a special status. On a human level, his entire life and story are based upon explicitly discriminating and integrating finer and finer levels of Dharma. Our behavior can be refined at each step of this journey by integrating these deeper values into our lives. But the deepest level of Dharma reveals Ram’s full potential as an embodiment of the Absolute level of life–Ram Brahm Paramarath Rupa.
The great modern-day Vedic sage Maharishi Mahesh Yogi explains this mahavakya by describing Ram as the embodiment of Brahman, the supreme Totality of life. This Totality is not just outside of us as some ruling power, but inside us as well. In this view, Ram represents the essential nature of ourselves and the whole creation, governing and sustaining it from the transcendental level. Maharishi clarifies: “Ram is the embodiment of pure spirituality, of pure being–totality in its absolute unity. All activity in the universe is orderly because of that eternal law of life, the administration of Ram, which establishes and maintains harmony in all relationships; which harmonizes everything with every other thing in the universe.”
This quote underscores why experiencing the Ramayana yields such profound results. If Ram embodies all the diverse relationships in the universe, then the study of his story is essentially the study of our Self and our evolving relationship with creation—the full potential of Dharma. In this view, the impulses of the Ramayana are the structures of our own consciousness, our own Self, and challenge us to grow towards our own divine status as humans.
This vision may sound quite cosmic, but we must remember that this divine story unfolds on a completely human level, as Ram was born a mortal man–the son of the illustrious King Dasharata in Ayodhya. The story begins as the wise sage Valmiki pondered the question he had often reflected upon: “Is there a perfect man among us?”.
We now begin our journey following the footsteps of Ram—along with Sita and all the characters of the Ramayana–on an epic quest to discover Ram’s Dharma on all its levels. Our ultimate goal: to emerge with a profound ownership of that full potential of Dharma that animates the entire universe.
Audio Sample Link: http://www.ramayanaudio.com/otherproducts.html#ramsd
–Michael Sternfeld, MA, is an independent scholar and a producer/director, USA