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Relationships in Puranic Age
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Relationship in Puranic AgeWhile we live in a changing world, it is necessary for us to multiply our relationship based on love and oneness. From the beginning our souls have tended to travel together in groups, and the very act of traveling together for such long periods creates forces of attraction that help to maintain and build on these group relationships. Nearly all souls on the planet today were together in past ages of human history. As a result, the relationships among the peoples of the world today are a reflection of their past activities with each other. The effects of such past relationships are reflected in the circumstances that now surround our present relationships. These basic ideas of past relationships and their present influences are not only true in case of individual relationships but also of group relationships.

In order to know the evolution of relationships since puranic age, what a better way than highlighting the mythological epics like the `Ramayana` since this historic poem is considered as a guide on human relationships. It contains the teachings of ancient Hindu sages and presents them through allegory in narrative and the interspersion of the philosophical and the devotional. The present scenario of relationships shows that `Ramayana` influenced relationships. The characters of Ram, Sita, Lakshman, Bharat, Hanuman and Ravan are all fundamental to the cultural consciousness of India.

The Ramayana is a guidebook on the ideal relations between parents and children, between husband and wife, between brothers, between the ruler and the people, between the master and the servants and many other human relationships. One of the most important literary works on ancient India, the Ramayana has had a profound impact on culture and relationships in India. Ram was considered a person who was powerful, virtuous in his conduct and was eager to safeguard the interests of all.

Ram was a great humanitarian and one can witness that the `Ramayana` is an epic which one can call it a basis of love and brotherly relationship. But apart from these relationships, the Ramayana also observes the idea of Dharma, which made an individual realize his duties towards the society as a humanitarian and his responsibilities towards his occupation, family, friends and more over his family.

The Ramayana is not just a story of virtues and deeds performed by Rama but it is also a book of love, love among between family. Among the four brothers there was boundless love and regard for each other. Rama was outstanding among the four brothers for his beauty, courage, intelligence, and righteousness. There are a series of episodes in the Ramayana to show how deep was the love between the four brothers and how devoted were the younger brothers to Rama. Such fraternal love is an example to the world for all time.

When Ram received the stunning news of his reversal of fortune with extraordinary equanimity he genuinely felt nothing at such an arduous predicament and he set out uncomplainingly for the forest. Even Ram`s newly wedded Sita asked for his permission to be accompanied to the forest. Rama also thought that for the newly wedded queen it would not be proper to leave the comforts of the palace and seek difficult life of the forest. At last when every effort of persuasion failed, Rama conceded to the request of Sita, his wife, to accompany him. And then came the extreme sacrifice of a younger brother for elder brother. All eyes were wet with tears of distress and grief, except those of Kaikeyi and Manthara. The love between the brothers and supreme sacrifice of dutiful Sita made every heart heavy with tons of grief and pathos.

Bharat, who had been away from the capital during these events, returned to find his brother banished and his father dead from grief. He rejected his mother`s scheme and set out to persuade Rama to return and rule. Rama however, refused to violate his father`s command and Bharat returns to Ayodhya, governing on behalf of his elder brother Ram till Ram returned from the exile.

RamayanaNext day the trio Rama, Laxmana, and Sita gave up the royal silk and the valuables and put on simple clothes fit for the forest life: robes of sanyasis and every heart in Ayodhya was filled with despair and remorse. Every eye was wet with the tears of separation and sorrow.

Even during his exile, Ram continued his task of helping to rehabilitate those whom the society considered too uncouth to communicate with. Ram`s association with Shabri helped establish her as a sagely woman of great wisdom. He also ate with Shabri, the aboriginal. He even had social relationships with the tribal people living in the deepest, darkest jungles of India, where during those times no one would even sit and eat with such people.

Ram had helped rehabilitate Ahilya. Rama felt the injustice of the sentenced passed by society on an innocent woman and she was woman who had no way to redress the system that had wronged her so badly. However here, Ram was the only person someone who was at the pinnacle of the system to stand up for her. He came to stand beside the woman no one wanted to know. Once he stood by her, everyone was bound to re-examine themselves. Thus, he set an example of replacing coldness by behaving compassionately and kindly to his subjects. This was the first lesson of the Dharma Shastra.

Ram went further and made crucial alliance of friendship between himself and the Vanar prince Sugriv. It was a friendship, a relationship between a prince and a prince! This is the special relationship between Ram`s progress through the Southern lands and friendships he fostered between different communities he found there. He made the vanars, his blood brothers and brought them into the main stream of the society.

Ram helped another lady regain her social standing - Tara - queen of Kishkindha during the rule of Vali and Sugriv. She had a son - Angad - during her time with Vali and Ram promised to make sure he would not suffer politically or socially in the new era. Ram made sure Angad was made the crown prince and Tara restored to the position of queen and future queen mother. The laws and rules of the Vanar community were respected - Tara`s forced change of marital partner was the way tribal communities ruled and some still do. Ram, by supporting Angad, introduced progressive elements in to the society and encouraged ideas of compassion. Ram showed that Tara had no choice in her situation and the society should treat her with compassion and understanding.

After the defeat of Ravan, the mortal enemy of Ram, Mandodari, his supreme queen, came out to grieve over her unfaithful husband. He called her a Sati, and honoured her as a paragon of the virtue of patience. He gave her the honours due to the widow of the fallen hero. As an idealistic young man, he fought for Ahilya, Shabri and even Tara. He could challenge the social norms and moralities with the zeal of a rebellious youth, believing that he can do anything he puts his mind to. Thus, Ram as a humanitarian stood by all of these women and he also supported them and helped them being rehabilitated into the society.

Ram showed compassion to the dying eagle Jatayu, which had fought with Ravan when he was carrying Sita away to Lanka and Rama gave refuge to Vibhishan, even against the fears expressed by Lakshman. These are examples of Ram`s supreme benevolence and magnanimity towards anyone that revered him or sought his protection.

Though people began worshipping Ram and Sita as Gods, The basic male-female relationship was the basis of this epic. Ramayana displays the romantic and undying love of Ram and Sita. Their relationship is filled with divine love, faith and total commitment. Sita is considered as the epitome of womanly purity and virtue. She followed her husband into exile and there gets abducted by Ravan. Ram and Sita were made for each other; after all they were the incarnation of Vishnu and Laxmi. Ram and Sita fell in love at first sight. Though it was common and accepted for kings to have many wives Ram had informed Sita that he would eschew polygamy.

The romance of Ram and Sita is the main love story of the Ramayana. They seemingly have the long-lasting relationship that many of us long to find. Their purity and fidelity makes them worthy of worship by Hindus today. Sita was very devoted to Rama. Sita was pious, obedient, intelligent and a simple lady is the perfect embodiment of purity in thoughts, words, and deeds. Other than Ram she could not and did not even think of other male. This faithfulness towards one man - husband - is a very special virtue of Indian Womanhood, and Sita is the true representative of this. It was not easy for a woman as delicate as she was to stay in the Dandak Forest. Though she was nervous about what lied ahead, she bravely followed her husband, trusting in his strength and wisdom.

After Ravan`s defeat Ram refused to accept Sita stating that she had spent months in the custody of Ravan who lusted after her so she must have succumbed to his advances. Sita immediately entered a burning pyre but the Gods brought her out unscathed. Ram accepted her after her purity was established. Later during their rule in Ayodhya, a washer man turned his wife away stating that he is no Ram who will accept his woman even after she has spent time in another man`s house. When Ram heard of this he exiled Sita and they live estranged till Sita returned to the Earth.

These events had a specific purpose. Ram knew that in the ages to come there would be a loss of moral values and kings would be tempted to abuse their power. He wanted to create a benchmark for the conduct of kings. The subjects were paramount according to him even in a non-democratic set up. The royalty must not only lead a perfect life but be seen to lead a perfect life. Hence, though he did not doubt Sita`s purity, he had her undertake a trial by fire so that one and all would be satisfied. Similarly, he felt that every whim of his subjects needed to be addressed. That is the reason he banished his wife. These were extreme and grossly exaggerated reactions but Ram`s aim was to establish that king-subject relations take priority over husband-wife relations. In secret Sita was a willing accomplice and in public Ram`s sorrow was as great as Sita`s.

Thus, all the above instances surely prove that Ram was a staunch follower of the Dharma Shastra; all bound by the duty as first a humanitarian, then a husband and a king!

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