28.9.6 : ADITYA-HRIDAYAM (FROM VALMIKI RAMAYANA) - 1
(Throughout this chapter, V.R. stands for Valmiki Ramayana)
Aaditya-hRRidaya stotra is a 31-shloka piece from the V.R. It constitutes the 107th Sarga of Yuddhakanda – according to the Southern Rescension.. It is the only poem of praise in the whole of the 24000-shloka content of V.R. . It is one of the most popular stotras and as such is recited with great devotion certainly by all devout Hindus, but even by the ordinary layman-Hindu who may not care much for the devotional side of the Hindu religion. But it is not a poem of divine praise in the ordinary sense. It has profound Vedantic content which is not so well-known. Let us first see the Vedantic undercurrent of the entire Ramayana and also how it leads to this unique stotra which has got mantra power in its simple Sanskrit. Of course the context is well-known; every one of Ravana’s key figures are gone and we come to the last stage of the battle between Rama & Ravana. It is at that time Agastya, the Rishi of Puranic yore, comes and prescribes the Aaditya-hRRidaya stotra for Rama.
VedaH pRAcedasAdAsIt sAkshAt rAmAyaNAtmanA, i.e.,it was the Veda itself that manifested in the form of Ramayana by Valmiki. Vedaishca sarvairahameva vedyaH, says Krishna in the Gita, i.e., I am the One to be known from all the Vedas. These two authentic quotes are enough to establish that the core principle in the Ramayana is nothing but the Absolute Itself. The word ‘Ramayana’ means it is the means to reach that Absolute Light that is Rama. To have an insight into that all pervading effervescence that is Rama is what is meant by Rama-darshanam and this is the essence of Ramayana. The Gita also emphasizes this in the shloka ‘yo mAm pashyati sarvatra …’ The Blissful Form that is the Lord is certainly known by various forms and names, but the Reality is One only. Valmiki himself underscores this when he writes in the Ayodhya kAnDa(7 - 14). Whoever does not see Rama and whomsoever it is who is not seen by Rama, such a person is at the low end of the populace. In fact at the end of the epic Valmiki declares that every one in Ramarajya attained this spiritual peak of seeing Rama as omnipresent. He waxes eloquent; says that the entire world became full of Rama (Rama-mayaM). Clearly this universal perception of the Absolute is the goal of the entire epic. In every one of our lives our own spiritual goal should be to discard everything that is sense-perceptible and become one with that Absolute The very Avatar of Rama is to propagate this Dharma path by His actions and behaviour and to establish the path of Wisdom by His name. dharma-mArgaM caritreNa jnAna mArgam ca nAmataH
The very key mantra-shloka of Ramayana
‘dharmAtmA satyasandhashca rAmo dAsharathir yadi ….
incorporates this truth of Ramayana by the word ‘dharmAtmA’. This Blissful Absolute is what is explained in the Adityahridaya-stotra. Its purpose is to propagate this for the welfare of the world; not that it was not known to Rama. What it explains is the multiplicity of manifestation of Absolute Reality. Rama Himself is the Absolute Reality.
So there is no point in explaining Rama-svarupa to Rama Himself. But Rama had to play the role of a human being till the destruction of Ravana. So to respect and be true to that subtlety, Agastya used the artifice of the Sun-God to explain the various attributes of the attributed Absolute. (saguNa-brahman). Agastya had several important roles in the Ramayana.Vanquishing of Ravana had to happen by two major instruments of destruction. Both of them were given by Agastya to Rama. Ravana had been given enormous powers by Lord BrahmA Himself in recognition of his intense tapas. So to vanquish Ravana the astra consecrated by Brahma’s name had to be used. This was given by Agastya to Rama. And the other was of course this Adityahridaya-stotra which has, as its content, the glories of Brahman, the Absolute.
Quickly let us recapitulate the context. Kumbhakarna is gone and Ravana’s son Indrajit also gone. The most trusted army called the core brigade of Ravana has also been vanquished . And now Ravana loses his patience and comes himself to the warfield along with Mahodara, Virupaksha and Mahaparshva, great Rakshasa warriors in Ravana’s army. I will avenge the death of all my relatives this single day says Ravana; Only then I will retrire from the warfield says he most fiercely. The war takes a veryy fierce stage. We shall not dwell on the details now. Sugriva overcomes Virupaksha and Mahodara and kills them. Angada puts an end to Mahaparshva. The direct fight between Rama and Ravana starts now. In between Lakshmana also accosts Ravana and he receives on his chest the Shakti weapon aimed by Ravana on Vibhishana. Lakshmana falls down losing consciousness
Rama weeps and in the process some very famous words come out of him
deshe deshe kalatrAni deshe deshe ca bAndhavAH .
taM to deshaM na pashyAmi yatra bhrAtA sahodaraH ..
Hanuman flies to the Himalayas and brings back the necessary herbs in the form of the oshadi mountain and this makes Lakshmana regain consciousness.
From the next day, continuously for 9 days, Rama and Ravana fight each other directly:
Rama-ravanayor yuddham rama-ravanayoriva, says Valmiki
The celestial king Indra sends his chariot and charioteer mAtali to Rama
Ravana aims his shUla weapon on Rama and the latter’s Shakti weapon nullifies it. And Rama showers rain of his arrows on Ravana and the latter falls in his own chariot losing consciousness. Ravana’s charioteer takes him away from the battlefield. Even after Ravana regains consciousness, the fight did not continue. Rama says to Ravana: Go and take rest, come tomorrow, we shall fight then. It was the next morning, before the war starts again, that Agastya comes and gives the Adityahridaya upadesha to Rama.