28.9.7 : ADITYAHRIDAYA-STOTRAM -2 - FROM VALMIKI RAMAYANA
The great Bhagavadgita , one of the three ultimate authorities for all Vedanta, also arose in this fashion in the midst of a warring environment . It seems to be a Hindu scriptural tradition that Quite unexpectedly from the flow of the main story, Puranas have the habit of bringing in a great piece of substantial Vedanta content Maybe they want to tell us that even in the very midst of our being immersed in perceptible worldly affairs (dRRishya-prapancha) we should never lose sight of the unseen Absolute Reality. In fact even in such a circumstance one has to be a sthitaprajna – that is the teaching of the Gita. Such a person may be one in a million, but that is the ideal. Teaching Arjuna the Gita was just a semblance; the real reason being the message to posterity on the philosophy of the Upanishads. In the same way, here in the Ramayana, Agastya uses the artifice of the Sun-God And teaches the AdityaHridaya to Rama Himself, exploiting the divine circumstance that Rama had to play the role of a human being until the demise of Ravana The Divines were watching the spectacle of the fight between Rama & Ravana The nine-day war seemed to have tired Rama (yuddha-parishrAntaM says Valmiki - that is how the Adityahridaya chapter begins in the V.R.) How to kill this Ravana who appears to be invincible, must have been the question in Rama’s mind.
And it was at that time Agastya appears on the scene, and says:- I shall tell you an ancient secret (guhyam - secret, sanAtanam - ancient) prayer by which you can vanquish your enemies, It is called Adityahridaya It will give success in this world and infinite bliss in the other world It is more auspicious than everything that is auspicious It can eradicate all sins, as well as all worries and miseries. It can increase one’s length of life. Propitiate – ‘pUjayasva’ , says Agastya. For us,ordinary people, he is asking us to propitiate the sun vivasvantam bhaskaraM’. But to Rama, whom he is addressing, it means: Atmatvena jAnIhi’ . Agastya is reminding Rama His own Infiniteness. So pUjayasva , for him it means, ‘Understand , Recall, remember your Self’. So we shall look at the meanings not in their ordinary meanings , but in the vedantic meaning, which, certainly would have been understood by Rama.
‘bhAskaraM’ : jnAna-jneya-bhAsaH karoti iti :
One who makes the knowing and the knowledge shine forth
vivasvantaM : By his rise he activates every activity.
Svodayena sakala-vyavahAra pravartakatvAt
Also He is the base or support for every transaction: sakalavyavahAra adhishhTAna
With all these preliminaries Agastya begins the stotra
sarvadevAtmako hyeshhah .. thus begins the stotra. This is shloka no.7 of Adityahridayam. From here to shloka no.24 there are 18 shlokas.
These 18 shlokas constitute the stotra enunciated by Agastya. This should not be mistaken as an ordinary piece of divine praise. Recall the essence of Ramayana is the expatiation of that Blissful Ultimate Reality. We must try to understand this stotra from that viewpoint.What was the purpose of the Avatara of Rama? To vanquish Ravana. And who is Ravana? He is none but the ahamkAra (=Ego) in us which has taken root in us over several lives. By the attachment we have so many and varied things we have developed the possessive instinct in everything that is associated with our body, mind and intellect. Recall from theGita (Ch.16: shlokas 12, 13, 14, 15)
AshApAsha shatair baddhAH …
Idamadya mayA labhdhaM …
Asau mayA hataH shatruH …
Only by vanquishing this ahaMkAra can we realise the AtmA within us.
To destroy this ahaMkAra so that the Self shines by its own glory
This is the intent of the story of Ramayana
The Supreme Self is Rama. First He kills all the undesirable vAsanAs inherent in us; this is the destruction of TATakA the demoness. Once the bad vAsanAs are destroyed, mind has to be strung into a strict discipline. This is indicated by the breaking of Siva’s bow by Rama. From then on one has to get involved in the affairs of this material world. Without the association of prakRti one’s life-journey itself is an impossibility. So Rama gets into wedlock with Sita, incarnation of mAyA-shakti (PrakRti) of Goddess Lakshmi. Even though this means involvement in every action of the material world, one has to be doing it without attachment – i.o.w. there is a renunciation involved in this involvement without attachment. Rama exemplifies this renunciation by his marathon act of renouncing the very crown that was offered to him the previous day. This is the grand renunciation (mahA-tyAga) that is the key-point in the whole story. And thereon one gets into the forest of DanDaka – Dandaka forest is nothing but the samsara that we have to cross. The king of this forest of samsara is the ten-headed Ravana – (i.e. ahaMkAra) ten heads indicate the ten senses by which we get involved in samsAra. But we are not able to encounter this ahaMkAra head-on;
because his gang is far and wide. So we have to meet him slowly vanquishing his subordinates one by one.
First the destruction of kAma, krodha lobha (khara, dUshhaNa, trishiras) - the three Rakshasas with whom Rama fights in the Dandaka forest. Then comes moha (delusion) in the form of Maricha.
Then one has to destroy the non-discrimination (aviveka) in the form of VAli and make a lasting friendship with viveka (Sugriva) that is Discrimination. And now we get the most trusted lieutenant, bhakti, in the form of Hanuman. He is the One who helps us to find our enemy and his headquarters. Once we resort to bhakti Lanka that is our physical body, should now be burnt,even when alive, we should have nothing to do with this body or its goings-on. This is the lankA-dahanam of Ramayana. Then we can take the support of utsAha (Vibhishana), i.e. perseverance and zeal. We are about to cross the Ocean of Ignorance;before that we crown the zeal which is ours now.
And we are ready to destroy the several associates of ahaMkAra –
mada (arrogance) in the form of kumbhakarna; jealousy (mAtsarya) in the form of Indrajit – and that takes us to face the root-enemy, ahaMkAra right face to face.
It is no easy task, to destroy this ahaMkAra. Our own real nature is jnAna. The body is inert. So any aggressive attitude towards the body mind intellect is not called for. That strategy itself itself will quell the fierceness of the Ego. It is to propitiate this jnAna nature of ours which is nothing but brahman itself, that originates the Aditya-hRRidaya stotra. We shall now take the 18 shlokas from shloka no.7