In the Va:lmi:ki Ra:ma:yana, Sri: Ra:ma is very particular about the words that are said to him. It be Guha or Bharatha or Sugri:va or Vibhi:shana, each would be taught a lesson- in a direct or indirect us to be a better human.

Sri: Ra:ma, Si:ta and Lakshmana left for exile. Sumanthra escorted them. They reached Srungibe:rapuram. Guha, the king of Nisha:das, a close friend of Sri: Ra:ma, welcomed them. Expressing affection, Guha said “Consider this city of Srungibe:rapuram to be same as Ayo:dhya. Command me regarding what needs to be done. Every arrangement shall be made.”


Ra:ma embraced Guha in great joy. After enquiring the well-being of Guha, Sri: Ra:ma said, “O king of Nisha:das ! We are honoured as you came by foot to meet us. We are pleased by your affection. Your arrangements are extensive. However, I cannot accept them as I am bound by ascetic vows. I live in the forest and eat fruits and roots only. You said that you have made arrangements for the horses. These horses are very dear to king Dasarattha. I will feel honoured if the horses are well-fed.”

Guha’s heart was simple and affectionate. Yet Sri: Ra:ma did not partake anything that he brought. Why was Sri: Ra:ma so hard-hearted? This question haunts the reader.

We realise that Sri: Ra:ma is very particular about the words used. Guha, in his innocence, out of affectionate courtesy, said “Consider this city to be same as Ayo:dhya.” Now, Sri: Ra:ma took the line and concluded that even as he should not reside at Ayo:dhya, he cannot live at Srungibe:rapuram too!

Since the city is same as Ayo:dhya, King Dasarattha’s horses can be fed !! How particular is Sri: Ra:ma about the words uttered !

If we observe, Sri: Ra:ma did not go to forest because he agreed with the logic behind his father’s command! Instead, he came to exile to honour his father’s word!! After coming to forest, Sri: Ra:ma opened up his heart as well as his voice.

Sri: Ra:ma bid farewell to Sumanthra. With the help of Guha, they crossed the river and entered the forest. For the first time after leaving Ayodhya, Sri: Ra:ma had some privacy with Lakshmana and Si:tha. The doors of Sri: Ra:ma’s heart opened. Said he, “Lakshmana ! King Dasarattha must have slept by now, tired by his suffering. Kaike:yi must be rejoicing at the fulfilment of her ambitions. With her words, she might even be torturing the king further. Without my presence, he is helpless now. Dominated by his passion for Kaike:yi, the king has become a mere pawn. Observing King’s fallen state of mind and the entire episode, it appears that ‘passion’(ka:ma) is predominant over righteousness (dharma) and
material riches ( arttha).”

Again he said, “Lakshmana! However deluded a man might become due to attraction towards his wife, which father would exile a grownup son like me? Bharatha would rule the kingdom like a lord. King Dasarattha has aged. I am in forest. Now, Bharatha has full freedom. If a king gives importance to ‘ka:ma’ by neglecting ‘dharma’ and ‘ka:ma’, he will come to distress even like King Dasarattha !

Inordinately proud of her success, Kaike:yi might be persecuting our mothers- Kausalya and Sumithra. I do not like it if Queen Sumithra suffers because of her affinity towards me. You return to Ayo:dhya tomorrow morning. I will proceed with Si:ta further into the forest. You return and take care of our mothers. Kaike:yi is mean minded. She may resort to any kind of foul play. My mother is unfortunate. Even when alive, I am not there for her!

If I get enraged and decide to use my weapons, I can subdue not only Ayo:dhya but also the whole world. However, I am bound to Dharma and am concerned about the prospects of the other world. Hence I am not crowning myself.”

These were the words that Sri: Ra:ma said to Lakshmana at the very first opportunity of privacy. These were not the only words. He wailed piteously till his face became wet with tears. When Sri: Ra:ma ceased lamenting, he looked like a fire whose flames have subsided. He looked like a mighty ocean without any movement. Lakshmana began consoling such Ra:ma.

Lakshmana said, “Dear brother! Without you, Ayo:dhya has lost all its splendourlike a night without moon. It is not proper
that you should lament thus. Your distress will hurt Si:ta and me. Without you, neither Si:ta nor I will survive even for a moment. Without you, we will be like fish thrown out of water. Sri: Ra:ma ! I do not desire to see father or mother. Without you, even heaven holds no charm for me.” Consoling his brother in this brief manner, Lakshmana made arrangements for taking rest during the night.

When Sri: Ra:ma left Ayo:dhya, his face was serene. There was no trace of any kind of sorrow. At that point of time, it was required that he must be like that. Solemnity was the need of the hour. This was Sri: Ra:ma’s propriety.

Even after reaching the forest, he controlled himself till they got privacy. He kept suppressed all his sorrow. Once in privacy, in the presence of his dearest people, he burst into piteous wail. He lightened his heart. This behaviour is appropriate here. Never again did he lament about his exile. Never again did he allow anybody else to criticise his exile.

Sri: Ra:ma had all the necessary qualifications to be a king. He was exiled due to a conspiracy. However great a person might be, he will have sorrow when such events come to pass. It is only natural that such sorrow is to be shared with dearest people. Again, this is Sri: Ra:ma’s propriety. This is also the human side of Sri: Ra:ma.

Sri:Ra:ma:yana gives us insights into human behaviour. It reveals us what is propriety, what is indecorum. Having emotions is being human. Knowing how to express them, when to express them needs a conscious education! We see Sri: Ra:ma managing his emotions even under severe stress. We also see Lakshmana playing the role of an elder when Sri: Ra:ma goes through a low. Lakshmana soothes his brother in a few words- direct, affectionate and beneficial. Studying Ra:mayana, under the guidance of teacher, will make us noble human beings.

Regarding the above episode, the commentators of Sri: Ra:mayana are of the view that Sri: Ra:ma expressed all these emotions so as to know Lakshmana’s mind. When Sri: Ra:ma decided to go to forest, it might have been that Lakshmana followed him in a haste. Now it is few days into the exile. Sri: Ra:ma wanted to see if Lakshmana would waver. Sri: Ra:ma reminded him of their dear father, of his mother, of his duty, of the probable predicaments at home. Sri: Ra:ma provided an opportunity for Lakshmana if he would like to go back home. It is quite possible that Sri: Ra:ma tried to probe his brother’s mind. Lakshmana declares “I will not go back to Ayo:dhya”. Thus did Sri: Ra:ma’s subtle test come to an end.

– Tanslated by Ramakrishna Tupurani from
Telugu BN