You can learn what exactly Dharma is from the Ramayana. Rama is the very embodiment of Dharma; every word and every deed is resonant with its message. Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, who followed His footsteps throughout his earthly career, is the symbol of the Mind; walking on the footprints of Dharma, it never lost its way; it triumphed in the lap of victory. The Ramayana is a text-book for Dharma to be lived out in every home, by the father, the mother, the son, the brother, and the members of a joint family – both men and women.
“Stone as God, not God as Stone”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 10, May 12, 1970, Bombay
Just as our own shadow will always accompany us and will not separate from us, so also Maya will always accompany God and will not separate from Him. There is a very good illustration of this fact in the Ramayana. At the time Rama, accompanied by Lakshmana and Sita, was moving in the forest, because the forest was a thick one and there were no wide roads and they could only follow a narrow path; the way they were walking was such that Rama was going in front, behind Him was Sita, and Lakshmana came behind Sita. In this way, all the three, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana were moving forward along a narrow path.
In order to be able to recognise and understand this situation, you hold up your three fingers. The first finger represents Rama, God, or Paramatma. The second finger immediately behind represents Sita or Maya. The last finger in this row of three represents Lakshmana or the Jiva. Paramatma, Maya, and Jiva, these three are going along in a narrow path in the wild forest of life. After a little while, Lakshmana, whom we have symbolised as Jiva, has got the desire and the ambition to have a look at God or Paramatma.
What is it that he has to do in order to fulfil his desire? There are only two ways of looking at Rama or getting His Darshan. One is for Sita, who is in between, to move away a little and let Lakshmana have the Darshan of Rama. Alternatively, if Sita insists on staying where she is, Lakshmana has to move aside a little. To get Sita to move away, he may have to push her out from the place where she is standing, but then he will be offending Rama. So what Lakshmana did was to pray to Sita in all humility and ask her to give him a chance of having Darshan of Rama. Sita, in all her graciousness and in all her kindness, said, “Yes, certainly you can have the Darshan of Rama,” and just stepped out a little.
So if you get angry with Maya, and if you want to use force and your own strength on Maya and push her out of her place and then have the Darshan of the Lord, you will not succeed. Maya then will become angry and will play tricks with you. Not only that, God will not allow such a thing to be done. The only way, therefore, to fulfil your ambition is to recognise that Maya is the inseparable shadow of God Himself and pray in all humility and ask for an opportunity by which Maya will stand aside.
“Kama and Krodha”, Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, Brindavan
He felt that the plighted word was worth the sacrifice of even life. He suffered, with perfect equanimity, grievous hardships, in order to preserve the plighted word of His father. His sincere persistence in carrying out the promise made by His father is an inspiration and an example to every son of man.
Consider the difference between Dasharatha, the father, and Rama, the son. They are as different as earth and sky! To please his wife, to make her happy and contented, the father was prepared to bear the utmost agony. Finally, he even sent his dear son as an exile to the jungle! The son sent His wife into the jungle, as an exile, in order to respect the opinion of a commoner in His empire! Think of the different ways in which the two carried out their duties to the people, over whom they ruled. Dasharatha was overwhelmed by the illusion that he was the physical body. Rama was moved by the realisation that He was the Atma.
“Rama Avatara”, Bhagavatha Vahini
The word Rama itself indicates Anandam. Rama is Anandaswarupa. In every being, He is the Ananda in the innermost core, the Atma Rama. Rama for you should mean the path He trod, the ideal He held aloft, the ordinance He laid down. The path, the ideal and the ordinance are eternal, timeless. Follow the path, stick to the ideal, and obey the ordinance – that is the true celebration. Then alone does your life become fruitful.
Rama strove to uphold Satya as the main plank of Dharma. Whatever the trial, however hard the travail, He did not give up Truth. Satyam is Dharmam. Dharmam is Satyam – the two are irrevocably intertwined. “Satyam Vada, Dharmam Chara”, say the Upanishads. Rama will be remembered so long as mountains raise their heads and the oceans exist, because of this strict adherence to Satyam and Dharmam.
“The Immortal Guide to Immortality”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 05, April 10, 1965, Venkatagiri
The Rama Principle is a mystery. There is nothing that cannot be accomplished in this world with faith in the Rama-Tatwa (Rama Principle). It is a mighty force. That is the reason why the Rama Principle has survived in the hearts of Bharatiyas even after thousands of years. Despite the efforts of foreign conquerors, this faith in the Rama Principle has remained firm. It remains as fresh as ever. It is infinitely mysterious. It is present in everyone. It survives as the imperishable nectar though the form went out millennia ago. We should not go by name and form alone. The Rama Principle has infinite potency. Its true form is beyond description. The Rama Principle continues to illumine and inspire the hearts of men. When students grasp this truth, they will understand what is meant by Manavatvam (humanness).
“Infinite Potency of the Rama Principle”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 29, May 20, 1996, Brindavan
To experience joy and sorrow alike is the secret of Samadhi. Rama has been able to demonstrate this Samadhi quality, i.e. one who is not elated by joy and one who is not downcast or depressed by sorrow, however enormous it may be. Not only Rama, but all Avatars have demonstrated this state of Samadhi. Rama, who got ready for the coronation ceremony at 7 o’clock, at the same time and in the same stride, took the decision and left for the forest. He was not elated at the prospect of becoming the future king and He did not get depressed or frustrated when He was asked to go to the forest.
“Dwaita, Adwaita, and Visishtadwaita”,
Summer Showers in Brindavan 1972, Brindavan
Develop faith in the ideals of Rama. What you must aspire after is a life governed by ideals. Everyone must aim at becoming an ideal person. Ideals, not ostentation, should be the watchword. The Rama Era will come into existence from the moment we give up ostentation, develop faith in the Self, and lead a Godly life. Then everyone will be a lover of Rama. Rama does not mean the son of Dasharatha. The Atma is Rama and hence Rama is referred to as Atma-Rama.
“Ideals of the Rama Avatar”, Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 24,
March 24, 1991, Prasanthi Nilayam