Lord Rama leads a meaningful life of uprightness no matter where He dwells and this is the cause of inner contentment and helps to cultivate detachment to worldly objects. The ideal extolled in all spiritual teaching is to attain equanimity at all times and Rama’s life exemplifies this truth, pointed out Sri B. Sundarkumar in a lecture.

Forest life is a sure source of joy and peace to Rama, though it does not have the royal comforts of Ayodhya. Life in Chitrakuta is “most enjoyable.” Rama spends His time in the company of great sages and this experience with realised souls is a balm to those caught in the cycle of samsara.

Association with the pious brings about a sense of contentment in contrast to the restlessness of life that desires material comforts. The ability to view worldly objects with a sense of detachment comes when the focus is on the permanent rather than the fleeting. This leads to an experience of happiness, which is totally unrelated to all sense experiences.

Rama reaches Panchavati on the banks of the Godavari, a place of breathtaking scenic beauty. He chooses a quiet spot and asks Lakshmana to build a small shelter. The dexterous Lakshmana turns out a simple yet comely hermitage.

Rama is overwhelmed with emotion at this point and is at a loss to express His gratitude. He admits that no reward would be adequate for the unique nature of Lakshmana’s selfless service. Rama embraces Lakshmana and states that He sees His father still living in him. What better eulogy to Lakshmana than to be equated to Dasaratha and hailed as a father who anticipates and fulfils a son’s wishes unfailingly? For Rama, stay in Panchavati provides “a joy that is indescribable.”

The truth

It takes much discrimination to learn the truth that wealth or prosperity, or for that matter power or beauty cannot be the cause of happiness to the human mind that has a natural aspiration for these attainments. The ephemeral nature of the enjoyment of worldly objects does not curb this overpowering desire that blinds one to its harmful effects. The mind is a powerful force motivating one’s thought, word and deed.

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