The Ramayana shows us that happiness lies not in one’s material possessions, elaborated Ilampirai Manimaran, in a discourse. Rama happily gave up His kingdom as per His father’s wish. Tamil poet Kamban describes the prosperity of Dasaratha’s land, showing that it was a fertile, rich country which Rama gave up. Kamban wrote that cows in Dasaratha’s kingdom yielded milk in abundance. The milk they produced flowed into ponds, turning the waters into white. Swans swam in the ponds, feeding their little ones the milk. Lotuses in the ponds served as cradles for baby swans! When a breeze blew gently, the flowers swayed, and this movement was like the rocking of a cradle! Such was the richness of Dasaratha’s kingdom. Even birds and their babies never suffered from a lack of anything. And yet, when Rama was asked to go to the forest, He left such a prosperous land willingly and unquestioningly.

Kamban describes an incident to show Rama’s happiness even in the forest. Rama and Sita were walking on the banks of the river Godavari, with Lakshmana walking behind them. Rama, noticing a swan, wanted to tell Sita that Her walk was more beautiful than the swan’s strut, but how could He say it with Lakshmana right behind them? In the same way, Sita saw an elephant and wanted to tell Rama that the elephant’s gait was no match for His majestic gait, but She felt shy to say so in the presence of Lakshmana. But Rama looked meaningfully at the swan and then at Sita and smiled. She, likewise, looked at the elephant and then at Rama and smiled. And each understood what the other was trying to convey. Thus even little things can give us joy. Happiness lies in the mind, not in external circumstances.

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