Faith

Rama the Kshatriya

Rama upholds a king’s Kshatriya dharma even during the period of exile in the Dandakaranya forest. The very term Kshatriya means one who is fearless and protects those who trust him. This is explained to Sita when she gently points out that the duty of protection which the bow and arrow symbolise does not match with the ascetic life they have taken up for 14 years, pointed out Sri C. L. Ramakrishnan in a discourse.

Rama promises the sages that He will protect them from the rakshasas who molest them. The demons feast on human flesh and derive joy from destroying the sacrifices of the sages. The sages seek Rama’s help in this matter as they do not want to lose their power of penance by cursing the rakshasas.

Sita feels uneasy about this promise and tells Rama that the duty of protection belongs to the rulers. Is it not the rule that an ascetic should not kill anyone except in self-defence? Sita fears the repercussions of this rash promise of Rama. She adds that generally people succumb to three kinds of sin: falsehood, lust and violence. Since Rama is committed to truth and dharma the first sin is unthinkable in His case. Has He not renounced the kingdom and is in the forest for the sake of truth? Sita is also aware of Rama’s chastity and how there is no chance of the thought of another woman entering His mind. But she is afraid of the third kind of sin. Should Rama kill one who has not attacked Him? To destroy the wicked is the duty of a Kshatriya; but is it still incumbent on Rama who has given up the privileges that go with kingship and has chosen to lead the life of an ascetic?

Rama replies thus: ‘A Kshatriya’s weapons are for protecting others especially the helpless people. I have given my word to protect the sages and cannot go back. It is a pledge that cannot be withdrawn.’

He then tells Sita that both of them together must tread the path of dharma to which they are committed.

The Supreme Being incarnate lives up to the epithet ‘Suvrata’ — one who upholds a good ‘Vrata’ or yagna at all costs, taking up total responsibility to protect those who seek His help.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 2:23:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/rama-the-kshatriya/article5940711.ece

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