(Sakhī /Gopī/Kāntā Bhāva towards him)
‘When the Supreme Vēdavēdya-Puruṣa himself appears as the son of Dasarath, Śrī Rāma, then all Veda-s appear through the mouth of Maharashi Vālmīki as Rāmāyaṇa’ (— Agastya Samhita, Lav-Kusha-krut-Mangalacharan of Valmiki Ramayana).
In Skanda-Purana, Lord Shiva tells Pārvati “the Rik-s (hymns) of Veda-s transformed into composition of Maharshi Valmiki.” Maharshi Vālmīki got everything about Sita Rama, whether revealed or unreavealed, in his Yogic-Samādhi-Avasthā (रहस्यम् च प्रकाशम् च यद् वृत्तम् - VR 1.2.33; ततः पश्यति धर्मात्मा तत् सर्वम् योगमास्थितः - VR 1.3.6), and then he composed the first and foremost epic poem, Rāmāyaṇa in 24,000 verses encoded on 24 syllables of Gayatri mantra, to reveal about the secret Purusha of Vedas and to expound the deep imports of Vedas ! The Karma-Kanda portion of Vedas is explained (determined) through Smṛti-s, and the Brahman (Purusha, Bhagavan) of Vedas is explained and determined through the Itihāsa (Rāmāyaṇa* and Mahabharata). So, Śrī Rāma must be understood as the Puruṣa of all Veda-s as explained in the Itihāsa with ultimate authority (Rāmāyaṇa).
Scriptures say ‘Rama’ naam is the seed of all Veda-s. However, the name ‘Rāma’ itself comes only few times in Vedas, (why?).
Reason is Bhagavan Śrī Rāma loves more what is secret, rather what is obvious.
parōkṣapriyā iva hi dēvāḥ pratyakṣadviṣaḥ ॥
(Aitareya Upanishad -1.3.14, Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 4.2.2)
Meaning: "Bhagavan (Śrī Rāma) loves what is secret, and dislikes what is obvious. (He likes when his devotees explain him, when his devotees do his Vyākhyā.)"
Rigveda 1.164.146 says “ekam sat vipra bahudha Vadanti — Existence (Śrī Rāma) is One, Vedic-Seers call it (him) by different Names such as Indra, Visnu etc”. In Vedas, the name ‘Indra’ comes more times than any other name for Bhagavan, so modern-academicians say Indra was the highest god during Vedic-Yuga, but during Pauranik-age (when Purana-s became popular) he is reduced to mere the king of demi-gods in heaven, however this is not the right understanding in context of Vedas. By the words Indra, Vishnu, etc in Vedas, He is Śrī Rāma who is Vāchya (spoken and explained) qualitatively. The name ‘Vishnu’ in Vedas means the all pervading supreme god, the complete divinity (Rama). The name ‘Indra’ in Vedas is ‘Param-Aishvarya-Vāchaka’, ‘Param-Virya-vāchaka’, ‘the king of all devas and divam’, therefore Śrī Rāma alone is spoken by the name Indra in Vedas in primary sense, the name ‘Indra’ comes for the king of the supreme abode (divam), Bhagavan Śrī Rāma. One of the great scholars of Veda and Vyakarana, Nilkantha-Suri has explained it in his Mantra-Ramayana which is the collections of Rig-Vedic hymns, which indicates the eternal-seed of Śrī Rāma’s story (Rāmāyaṇa) is Rig-Veda itself (just like there are stories of Urvashi-Pururava, and Yam-Yami).
Let’s see How Bhagavan Śrī Rāma is spoken by the name ‘Indra’ in Vedas:
1) In Ramayana, Śrī Rāma is the consort of Bhagavati Sītā.
In ṛgvēda and atharva-veda, The Supreme Personality Śrī Rāma renowned as Indra in Vedas accepts Bhagavati Sītā as his consort:
इन्द्रः सीतां नि गृह्णातु तां पूषानु यच्छतु ।
सा नः पयस्वती दुहामुत्तरामुत्तरां समाम् ॥
Indraḥ Sītāṃ ni gṛhṇātu tāṃ pūṣānu yacchatu ।
sā naḥ payasvatī duhāmuttarāmuttarāṃ samām ॥
श्रीराम (श्रुतियोंमें इन्द्र का मुख्य अर्थ परमैश्वर्यशाली परमेश्वर श्रीराम ही है) सीताको ग्रहण करें और राजा जनक उन्हें श्रीरामको प्रदान करें। वह पयस्वती सीता, आनेवाले वर्षोंमें, हमें धन-धान्य प्रदान करती रहें।
“May Śrī Rāma (who is renowned as Indra in all Vedas) accept Sita, May king Janaka offer (his daughter) Sita (as bounty of valor) to Shri Rama. That Sita, the bestower of nectarine-bliss, may bestow all her blessings, and prosperity to us in all the coming Years.”
Same hymn has come in Atharva-veda with a little difference:
इन्द्रः सीतां निगृह्णातु तां पूषाभिरक्षतु।
सा नः पयस्वती दुहामुत्तरामुत्तरां समाम्॥
indraḥ sītāṃ nigṛhṇātu tāṃ pūṣābhirakṣatu।
sā naḥ payasvatī duhāmuttarāmuttarāṃ samām॥
As the consort of Sita can be no other Bhagavad-swarupa of Hari, except Shri Rama, therefore the name 'Indra' in primary sense refers to Sri Rama alone in Vedas.
Again, Śrī Rāma eliminates the Maya-Mriga (demon Maarich disguised as Golden-deer) in Valmiki Ramayana, It is also mentioned in Rig Veda 1.80.7
इन्द्र तुभ्यमिदद्रिवोऽनुत्तं वज्रिन्वीर्यम्।
यद्ध त्यं मायिनं मृगं तमु त्वं माययावधीरर्चन्ननु स्वराज्यम्॥
indra tubhyamidadrivō'nuttaṃ vajrinvīryam ।
yaddha tyaṃ māyinaṃ mṛgaṃ tamu tvaṃ māyayāvadhīrarcannanu svarājyam ॥
“Oh' Śrī Rāma renowned as Indra in Vedas, You eliminated the Maya-Mriga (māyinaṃ mṛgaṃ - Maaricha disguised as the golden deer). All praises to Your Imperial sway, O' Śrī Rāma !”
So, These Vedic hymns gives irrefutable evidences that Śrī Rāma who is the king of all the worlds (राजा सर्वस्य लोकस्य रामः - Valmiki Ramayana) is renowned as Indra in Vedas. Shri Rama's imperial sway over all, all incarnations originates from him, and everyone got something from him, as he is the abode of all virtues and qualities.
Śrī Rāma manifesting many Rupa-s in his pastimes:
In beginning, Śrī Rāma didn’t enjoy alone, so He became the husband (Śrī Rāma) and wife (Sita) to sport blissfully read here . Not only he, but his name ‘राम' also transforms itself into the name ‘सीता’ and vice versa (such specialty is not seen in any other bhagavannama).
In Madhurya-Pastimes, Many Sakhi-s / gopi-s (the meaning of Gopi is the sakhi who drinks supreme nectarine bliss from their all senses) emerge from Sita Ji as her bodily manifestations in divine-sports with Śrī Rāma, similarly Śrī Rāma becomes as many as the bodily manifestations of Sita Ji. In Hanumat Samhita and many Ramayana-s, Sita Ji manifests herself into 18108 gopis, and Śrī Rāma also manifests that many Rama-Rupas to sport and dance with them. In Valmiki Rāmayana, when the fierce-demonic-army of Ravana attacked monkeys, then all frightened monkeys surrendered to Śrī Rāma, and then Śrī Rāma shown such war which was never shown before, that time each of the millions of fierce-demons found themselves in war with Rāma individually as if there are millions of Śrī Rāma-s in war to fight every demon individually.
This is also there in Rig-Veda:
रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय ।
इन्द्रो मायाभिः पुरुरूप ईयते युक्ता ह्यस्य हरयः शता दशेति ॥
(ऋग्वेद ६.४७.१८, बृहदारण्यकोपनिषत् २.५.१९)
rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpō babhūva tadasya rūpaṃ praticakṣaṇāya ।
indrō māyābhiḥ pururūpa īyatē yuktā hyasya harayaḥ śatā daśēti ॥
(ṛgvēda 6.47.18, bṛhadāraṇyakōpaniṣat 2.5.19)
“Śrī Rāma (who is renowned as Indra in Vedas) became so many Rāma-s (rūpaṃ rūpaṃ pratirūpō babhūva) as many demons were there in war, such beautiful appearance of Śrī Rāma into many Rama-Rupas is cynosure for eyes. Through his Sankalpa, Śrī Rāma manifests himself into many Purusha-forms (all incarnations are different manifestations of Shri Rama alone), and he took the many names and forms of (हरयः many monkeys) entire world through his own (Yog-)Maya.”
Ādi-Puruṣa Śrī Rāma and Sakhi / Kānta-Bhāva towards him
Shri Rama[-chandra] is the one and only one incomparable husband of all the Jivas (who all are his chit-shakti) —
स रा॒यस्खामुप॑ सृजा गृणा॒नः पु॑रुश्चं॒द्रस्य॒ त्वमिं॑द्र॒ वस्वः॑ ।
पति॑र्बभू॒थास॑मो॒ जना॑ना॒मेको॒ विश्व॑स्य॒ भुव॑नस्य॒ राजा॑ ॥
saḥ rāyaḥ khām upa sṛja gṛṇānaḥ puru-candrasya tvam indra vasvaḥ ǀ
patiḥ babhūtha asamaḥ janānām ekaḥ viśvasya bhuvanasya rājā ǁ
(Rig Ved 6.36.4)
Word by word Meaning —
saḥ (he); Indra (Shri Rama, the supremely glorious Lord); tvam (You); gṛṇānaḥ (praised by us); puru-candrasya (the resplendent Lord Shri Ramchandra who has beautiful full moon like countenance pleasing to all); vasvah (riches); rāyaḥ (heavenly excellent riches, heavenly prosperity); khām (like canal, spring); upa sṛja (create, flow). tvam (You); janānām (of all Jivas); asamaḥ (unique unparalleled incomparable); ekaḥ (one); patiḥ (pati, husband); babhūtha (became, are). tvam (You) [are]; viśvasya (of the world); bhuvanasya (of bhuvana); rājā (sovereign king).
“Oh Shri Rama (Param Aishvaryavan Bhagavan, renowned as Indra in the Vedas) ! Being praised by us, as the Ramachandra (the Rama having full moon like countenance) who is pleasing to all the worlds, let flow the spring of the excellent and brightly-shining heavenly riches or heavenly happiness. You (tvam) are the one and only one incomparable husband (pati) of all the Jivas, having no equal [one unique unparalleled incomparable husband for all Jivas] , and the sovereign king of all the worlds.”
This is evidence from the most ancient eternal Rig veda that all Jivas are stris (female in nature, the chit-shakti) of Bhagavan, and Bhagavan Shri Rama is their one and the only one incomparable husband.
There are many evidences from Ramayana to Bhagavatam that Śrī Rāma is the Adi-Purusha (SB 5.19.3, Primeval Purusha), and the supreme Lord (the king) of the cosmos (राजा सर्वस्य लोकस्य रामः). All other names Vishnu, Indra, etc in vedas primarily explain him, that uttamshloka Śrī Rāma, the two armed Para-Brahman, the Lord of Para-vyoma - the supreme abode - renowned as Ayodhya in Vedas. Whoever comes to know his divine spiritual abode Ayodhya which is full of nectar, s/he becomes immortal and gets supreme nectar in spiritual abode. All Vaikuntha-s emerge from a part of the glory of divine-Ayodhya ji permeated with supreme nectar, as its expansions. Similarly,Śrī Rāma naam is the supreme illuminator of all other Bhagavad-nāmas.
As explained above, Śrī Rāma is renowned as Indra in Veda-s, who manifests his many Ram-Rupa-s (in his Aishwarya-leela or Madhruya-leela both) and form him alone, all other Bhagavad-Swarupas emerge. In rig-Veda, there is reference of Apālā who worships Bhagavan Shri Rama (Indra) in her Kānta-Bhāva towards him. Therefore, Kānta-Bhāva towards Bhagavan Śrī Rāma is a Shuddh-Vaidic-Principle in Veda.
Śrī Rāma of Valmiki Ramayana is the original two-armed Purushottama, the source of all Bhagavad-Swarupa-s, whatever best is present in others is all simultaneously present in Śrī Rāma, Therefore, there is no limitation in his divine-leelas which are spread across ग्रन्थकोटिभिः (millions of scriptures read here), none is sung so much as like Śrī Rāma. His dev-leela happens on the spiritual-divine-plabe, which is beyond the rules and norms of humanly-plane suggested by Vedas and other scriptures, Yet on the human-plane Śrī Rāma exhibits for the world what is the best and supreme dharma as said by Śrī Krishna in Gita 3.23.
As like Śrī Rāma is Ādi-Puruṣa and the eternal source of all-Bhagavad-swarupas, similarly Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is Ādi-Kāvya and the eternal-seed (काव्यं बीजं सनातनम् - Brihad-dharma-Purana) of many Ramayana-s, and all scriptures composed by Vyasa - Mahābhārata and Purāṇa-s, etc. Bhagavati Saraswati asked Ved-vyasa to study Kāvyaṃ bījaṃ sanātanam Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa in order to compose Mahābhārata and all Purāṇa-s. Therefore, Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa has very deep imports and layers of in depth meanings which are subsistence and fountain of all Vaidika-principles carried by later scriptures. Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is the first divine love story, and Shringaar-oriented-scripture.
रसैः शृंगार करुण हास्य रौद्र भयानकैः ।
विरादिभी रसैर् युक्तम् काव्यम् एतत् अगायताम् ॥
[वाल्मीकि रामायण १.४.९]
rasaiḥ śṛṃgāra karuṇa hāsya raudra bhayānakaiḥ ।
virādibhī rasair yuktam kāvyam ētat agāyatām ॥
[vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 1.4.9]
“Aesthetics like Śṛṃgāra (romance), pathos, comic, fury, fright, valour etc., embodying the Ramayana is sung by Kusha, Lava.”
The first Rasa counted here is Shringara, which is called guhyatam (most secret). And, unless Ved-Vyasa elaborated it, he felt utter restlessness.
In Rasopasana, Shringara-Rasa is called Pradhaan-Rasa, and devotees are called Rasikā.
रमन्ते रसिका यस्मिन् दिव्यानेकगुणाश्रये ।
स्वयं यद्रमते तेषु रामस्तेन प्रयुज्यते ॥
“Rasikā devotees (रसिका) delight (रमन्ते) in Śrī Rāma (राम), the one and only abode of innumerable divine virtues, and Śrī Rāma also delights in those devotees. That is why He is known as Rāma”.
Śrī Rāma is summum-bonum of Shringaar-Rasa, and that’s why he is known as “Rāma” who delights all, and who takes delight in his devotees. Maharshi Vālmīki declares many times in Ramayana : “रामो रमयताम् श्रेष्ठः rāmō ramayatām śrēṣṭhaḥ — Shri Rama is the foremost among all those who delight others.” The name “Rama” alone denotes “Rasarājtava”.
As like ocean is full of water, honey is full of sweetness, similarly Rama is full of Rasa (रस) and Rasa only. Bhagavan Shri Shri SitaRama are Rasa-swarupa (रसो वै सः Rasa - Rama + Sita). Śrī Rāma is Rasarāj. Ayodhya is Mukti-Kshetra as well as Bhukti-Kshetra, all other sacred regions Vrindavana, Mathura, Dvarika etc are its amsha. In Ashoka-Vanam (the divine forest of Shri Rama mentioned in Valmiki Ramayana), divya dampati Shri Shri SitaRama does nitya-Rāsa. A devotee should surrender to a Rasikā-guru, take mantra of Śrī Rāma, Yugal-Mantra, and Mantra of a Sakhi, as through the grace of a Sakhi alone one can enter in Raas. One should first meditate upon Śrī Rāma, and then gather Sakhi-s in the divine forest on the bank of Sarayu, arrange everything and create the environment for Raas there and if allowed enter into it or see it with Bhaav-deha of a Sakhi. I shall write in a great detail about Rasopasana in my upcoming book.
Though Śrī Rāma being omniscient and the most superior, Yet He loves the love and therefore through his various pastimes, he infuses Priti (love) among devotees. Śrī Rāma can’t live even for a moment without Sita, and similarly Sita can’t live even for a moment without Śrī Rāma. When they seem separate on humanly plane, they become one and then originally the bluish sapphire boy Śrī Rāma acquires the green-lustre outwardly (mix of the bluish splendor of sapphire boy Rama + the golden splendor of golden lily Sita), and thus He still sports with her and Sakhis (just like even after Sitā-Tyāg, Sita was present in Palace, however not seen by others except Rama and Sakhi-s, this is the reason in Bhagavatam even after Sita-Tyag, Shuka-goswami says Shri Rama is sporting with Sita in palace.).
There are two groups of Param-bhakts who serve Priya-Priyatam, all of them are in ek-rasa, param-madhurya-rasa - (a) one group of male-forms and (b) other group of female-damsels. The female-forms are Pradhaan (prime) form because they always serve Priya-Priyatam in the inner core and participate in intimate pastimes of Bhagavan. In fact, some females assume male-forms to serve Priya-Priyatam in external works e.g. Charusheela-Sakhi takes the form of Hanumān Ji to serve Priya-Priyatam in external leela, she becomes messenger of Sita and Rama, She can become even bumble-bee to exchange the message, and She makes the reunion of Sita and Rama possible again. She is so dear to Sita Ji that She made her prime Sakhi among all Sakhi-s. Other male forms who are not originally females, they are in the mood of Sakhya (friend) and dasya (selfless-servant) bhava etc, they play or serve Rama vividly in divine forests on the bank of Sarayu in Nitya-leela.
It is a devotional state in which a Jiva is in love with Bhagavan, in the role of his either Sakhi (girl-friend, Gopi) or lover or wife. Rāsa is the dance of Bhagavan with his own feminine aspect Sita and her innumerable bodily-manifestations (Pratibimb-s or Pratirup-s) Sakhi-s or Gopi-s. One important thing should be kept in mind there is no worldly-Kāma, there is pure love only. On spiritual plain, there can’t be Kāma, Kāma is experienced by senses, senses have their limitations, but love pervades the soul as the bliss. Pure love has the fragrance of making the beloved happy, and becoming happy by seeing the happiness on the face of beloved, and there is no other desire except the happiness of Priya-Priyatam.
When Rama desired to sport lovingly he divided himself into two-equal halves husband (Rama -male ) and wife (Sita - female). The bodies of Bhagavan Shri Rama and Sita, both are Chinmaya (Shuddha-Satvamaya), and Sakhi-s/Gopi-s are Kaya-Vyuhas of Sita Ji. In dhāma, innumerable Sakhi-s emerge from the Yugal-Brahm, by their grace alone one gets Priti-Rupa Bhakti and rights in upāsana of Rasarāj-Nitya-Kishore Shri Rāma.
So, He is Bhagavan or Sita Ji who takes so many forms to amuse Himself. He plays with them as if playing with his own images (reme rameśo vraja-sundarībhir yathārbhakaḥ sva-pratibimba-vibhramaḥ SB 10.33.16). So, many forms exist because he wishes to play.
त्वं स्त्री पुमानसि त्वं कुमार उत वा कुमारी ।
त्वं जीर्णो दण्डेन वञ्चसि त्वं जातो भवसि विश्वतोमुखः ॥
(Svetasvatara Upnishad - 4/3)
“O’ Bhagavān, Thou art woman, Thou art man; Thou art Youth and maiden (Sakhi-s/gopis) too. Thou as an old man totterest along on a staff; it is Thou alone who, when born, assumest diverse forms.”
Categories of Nayika-s
There are three main categories of Nayika-s (Sakhi-s / Gopi-s):
(a) Tatsukhi (Samartha) — “तत्सुखे सुखित्वम् प्रेमलक्षणम्” - the highest form of Prema (loving-mellow) is seen in Tatsukhi Sakhi-s. Their Bhava (sentiment) is ‘Tatsukhe Sukhitvam — In Your Happiness (bliss) only, my beloved, there is my happiness (bliss)”. There is utmost expression of love and satisfaction in this Bhava alone, and they also derive the highest form of bliss of divine rati from their tadatmya with Sita Ji in whom full-development of Tatsukha-Rati (Samarthā-Rati) is seen in Sāket. The Sakhi-s who are surrendered to Sita Ji in Tatsukhi-bhava feel same Rati, same Rasa, same enjoyment, same emotions, same feelings as experienced by Sita Ji with Śrī Rāma. Sometimes bliss overflows and they start dancing in madness as seen in uttar-Kanda of Valmiki Ramayana. This is the Bhava of Shringaropasaka-Ramavat-Vaishnavas.
Here Tadatmya (spiritual oneness) with Sita Ji means Sakhi-s get “bhoga-mAtra-sAmyam - Brahm Sutra” (comparable equality of Sakhi-s with Sita Ji in Ananda (bliss), not more), that’s why they are Sakhi (at almost equal pedestal in bhoga / Ananda), all Sakhi-s are surrendered to their Sarveshwari Sita and other main-Sakhis, while Sita is the most dear to Shri Rama, She is Sarveshwari of all Sakhi-s.
Culmination of Supreme love is there in Sita ji who scarifies all her comforts for Rama, she can’t bear her life in separation of her beloved prince even for a moment as if fish pulled out of water, She weeps and makes earth wet from her warm-tears, she faints in Viyoga of Shri Rama, such is her love. She is completely love-blinded in love of her consort.
(b) Chit-Sukhi (Samanjasya) — They have desire of the mutual pleasure of Śrī Rāma and their own-selves.
(c) Swa-Sukhi (Sadharani) — Their desire for own pleasure is most dominating.
Śrī Rāma is manujākrutim hari, he has nara-devatvam (humanly as well divine aspect, nara-devatvam āpannaḥ - SB 1.3.22), not only devtvam, this is the most beautiful Rasa in Śrī Rāmāvatār, because as only as a human he is most near to us, he can reciprocate in the best manner in love, Lord doesn’t weep, cry and show full-emotions of love for his beloved ones in any other avatara. Śrī Rāma cries and weeps for his beloved ones, as like a human he is not able to sleep in Viyoga (separation) of Sita, he wakes up in night and cry oh Sita! Oh Sita! Tears flow from his eyes (obviously not just for anybody, but for them who are at the highest pedestal of devotion). He cries for Lakshmana Ji, and Jatayu Ji. So, here love and humanly-emotions manifests to its full glory in Śrī Rāma-avatār. Who else would befriend and embrace most lowly ones like Guha, and give his constant touch to monkeys and bears bereft of all manners? If he would be only dev, he can’t exhibit the real-love and emotions in leela, he can’t shed tears for his beloved ones. He is two-armed like humans, and two-armed form of Hari is the most superior.
Though, Śrī Rāma is the original source of everyone in his Aishwarya, his imperial-sway rules over all, in his leela he shown it by expropriating the Vaishnavi-tejam - the essential nature of Vishnu - from Parashu-Rama and thus Parashurama was made bereft of Vishnu-amsham. Yet, over his Aishwaryam, his Madhurya (sweetness) is more charming and delights all, that’s why He is called Rama, the ocean of Rasa and Rasa alone.
So during Śrī Rāma-avatar, Prabhu does नर-लीला (humanly-leela, perceived by all in worldly realm) as well as देव-लीला deva-leela (divine-leela, the divine-realm, perceived and participated by accomplished souls) both. Whatever Lord shown in worldly realm as his nara-leela should be emulated, while his dev-leela should be relished only as it is beyond the question of human-propriety.
Śrī Rāma’s leelā ≡ Śrī Rāma’s Nara-leelā + Śrī Rāma’s deva-leelā
≡ Śrī Rāma’s Mādhurya-leelā + Śrī Rāma’s Mādhurya leelā mixed with divine Aishwarya + Śrī Rāma’s Aishwarya leelā
Mādhurya (Sweetness of Lord) is more predominant when Prabhu loves to enjoy his humanly-aspect rather is Aishwarya (supreme nature) so that he could be more near and similar to his devotees.
In Valmiki Ramayana, the story of Śrī Rāma starts from the time when he is around 13 years old. Valmiki intentionally skipped initial 12 years of leela of Bhagavan Śrī Rāma in greater good of society, which is predominantly his dev-leela, unrestrained display of his complete divinity. (Just like Ved-Vyasa skipped childhood pastimes of Śrī Krishna in Mahabharata, yet His initial 12 years Mādhurya pastimes in Vrindavan is disclosed in Bhagavatam only. ) Similarly, childhood-leela of Śrī Rāma is revealed in many Ramayana-s, He does many divine-pastimes in the villages of many divine forests on the bank of river Sarayu. Before his marriage, he did many divine-pastimes, He did many Rāsa dance with many Gop-kanya-s (gopi-s), deva-kanyas, Gandharva-Kanya-s etc on the bank of river Sarayu. He was the one who did Rāsa-dance first time in Vrindāvan on bank of River Yamuna, this was the reason when BrahmA appears in Yuddha-Kanda before him after the elimination of Ravana, He eulogized Śrī Rāma as the one who is worshiped by Gopika-s in Vrindavan in Adhyatm-Ramayana.
Śrī Rāma married to Sita Ji at the age of 13. However, in his Vihaar-leela (e.g. Jala-krida, Vana-Vihar, Rasa-dance etc), there are many Param-Vilakshana-damsels who belong to Shri Rama , many live in the villages on the bank of river Sarayu, and many are also present in Palace, these all Parama-Striyah are Sakhi-s of Sita Ji.
Sakhi-s in Valmiki Ramayana
हृष्टाः खलु भविष्यन्ति रामस्य परमाः स्त्रियः।
अप्रहृष्टा भविष्यन्ति स्नुषास्ते भरतक्षये ॥
[वाल्मीकि रामायण 2.8.12]
hṛṣṭāḥ khalu bhaviṣyanti rāmasya paramāḥ striyaḥ।
aprahṛṣṭā bhaviṣyanti snuṣāstē bharatakṣayē ॥
[vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 2.8.12]
"If Rama is coronated next day, then women (Sakhi-s / wives) of Rama will be much delighted. And Your daughters-in-law will be unhappy because of Bharata's lower position."
Here, Manthara warns Kaikeyi about Immediate Effect that if Rama is coronated next day, then women (Sakhi-s / wives) of Rama will be very happy.
Here is the reference of many women belonging to Shri Rama in Valmiki Ramayana.
There must be some mystery behind this verse. Therefore, To understand this verse, People need to see what Valmiki tells about these “paramāḥ striyaḥ” (many Param-vilakshana-ladies) and also consider leela-s in other Ramayana-s which elaborate Śrī Rāma’s pastimes.
The sweetest Lord, Śrī Rāma is always दृढ-व्रतम् (situated) in vows like one-wife (avowed to one wife, Sita Ji who is dearer to him more than his own life), one word (always truthful, what he said is said!), one arrow, etc in his nara-leela (humanly-leela), he set the example of the most idealistic upright behavior and conduct, he is most pure and flawless, He didn’t accept any other lady after Sita Ji as his dharma-patni while doing many Yajnas, so He has only one dharma-Patni i.e. Sita Ji as He married to her through Vaivahika-Samskara (Paani-grahan-samskara) in Valmiki Ramayana, being accepted through full-Vedic-rites Sita alone can participate with Śrī Rāma in all religious-duties such as Yajna-s and other Kartavya-Karmas. Sita alone is most dear to him more than his own life. Sita herself confirms ‘To Rama, in the matter of affection, neither his mother nor his father nor any body else is equal to or more than her’ (VR 5.36.30). The sweetest lord is so chaste that he would not see any other lady except his wife Sita Ji even in his dreams, one and only Sita alone is agreeable to him in the worldly realm of Nara-leela.
So, What is the mystery behind such references in Valmiki Ramayana?
All these are the play of prakat (revealed to general people) and aprakat (secret, revealed to selected ones) leelas of Bhagavan Śrī Rāma. To understand this, one needs to consider Śrī Rāma’s original nature of being the ocean of Rasa and Rasa alone, and his Nara-devatvam (nara-devatvam āpannaḥ - SB 1.3.22) during Śrī Rāma-avtara. In his Nara-leela (humanly-leela), Śrī Rāma exhibits the leela of ideal-man avowed and strictly adhered to his ardhangini Sita alone, while in his dev-leela during Ramavatar which are revealed to whom he wishes, he does leela unrestricted with worldly norms for the bliss of his devotees. And this is the reason, Śrī Rāma is truly Purna-Purushottama, who maintains Virodhi Rasas Maryada and Madhurya both simultaneously for the bliss of his devotees, and therefore Shri Rama is abode of Akhil-Viruddh-Dharmashraya. All mutually contradictory Dharma can be completely reconciled in Bhagavan Shri Rama, these mutually contradictory dharmas are not some deficiency, but only adorns his leelas, therefore he is hailed as the complete purushottam, the original personality of godhead.
रामाभिरामी तिलक-टीका - Tilaka-Tika (Tilaka-commentator) on Valmiki Ramayana says “परमाः स्त्रियः इति बहुवचनेन सीतासख्यः इत्यर्थः — paramāḥ striyaḥ iti bahuvacanēna sītāsakhyaḥ ityarthaḥ — from many excellent / extra-ordinary ladies of Rama, the many Sakhi-s (girl-friends) of Sita Ji are referred, this is the meaning.”
Therefore "रामस्य परमाः स्त्रियः - these "Paramāḥ Striyaḥ" (ladies with extra-ordinary / divine auspicious qualities) are the Sakhi-s of Sita Ji, and many Kāya-Vyuha (bodily manifestations) of Sita Ji, many are in Sakhi-Bhava, many of them are also in Kānta-bhāva towards Śrī Rāma. They have Purest Prema (love) to see the happiness on the face of divine-couple, and taking happiness in the happiness of beloved Priya-Priyatam.
Some Other Vaishnava-commentator of Ramayana said "रामस्य परमाः स्त्रियः - rāmasya paramāḥ striyaḥ - these "Paramāḥ Striyaḥ" are Prakrut-Vilakshana (extra-ordinary / excellent / divine) women (damsels).
Prakrut-Vilakshana (paramāḥ) means they are accomplished souls appeared in the world during Ramavatara as Sakhi-s (and Gopi-s) of Priya-Priyatam. These excellent-damsels (Paramāḥ Striyaḥ) derive bliss from the Madhurya-pastimes from the union of Shri Shri Sita-Rama during various Vihara-leelas and Rāsa-dance etc.
Some Vaishnava-commentator said here “रामस्य परमाः स्त्रियः - Rāmasya Paramāh Striyah” includes also Bhagavati Shri (Lakshmi)- Bhu -neela and other innumerable divinities and many other Nayikas who are in Kānta-Bhava / Sakhi-Bhava towards Śrī Rāma. Maharshi Valmiki also said in Uttar-kanda that Bhagavati Shri, Bhu, Neela etc follow Shri Rama while He was leaving the earth from the eyes of mortals, and was going to his spiritual abode.
Thus, the word “परमाः - Paramah” is succinct with deep imports in a single word, it has also come for that category of damsels who are amsha-bhuta (Kaya-Vyuha / innumerable bodily manifestations) of Sita Ji, they sport with innumerable rupa-manifestations of Shri Rama as his Sakhi-s.
Here the word 'रामस्य' (belonging to Shri Rama) is very important because when Valmiki refers to the wives of Dasharath he says "दशरथस्य स्त्रियः - dashrathasya striyah", therefore the word 'रामस्य' (belonging to Shri Rama) indicates Madhurya-relation of Sakhi-s (girl-friends) of Sita Ji with Shri Rama, they are girl-friends of divine-couple, this Madhurya relation became more evidence when they are compared with Snusha (the daughters-in-law) of Kaikeyi. Their existence is not mere for selfless-service of Shri Rama and Sita, although they do selfless-service of Sita and Rama, still there is a Madhurya relation between Shri Rama and those ladies by virtue of belonging to Shri Rama. Sometimes for their bliss, in his dev-leela Shri Rama manifests his innumerable forms. However, they all derive the highest form of bliss (Rati) from their tadatmya (spiritual oneness / bhoga-mAtra-sAmyam) with Sita Ji, whatever Sita Ji feels the bliss and loving-mellow from Bhagavan Shri Rama, they also feel the same. A jiva in liberation attains six-fold oneness with Sita Ji.
What is the work of Sakhi-s?
Sakhi-s take pleasure in arranging everything perfectly for the perfect union of Priya-Priytam Bhagavan Shri Shri SitaRama, and see it to the culmination, seeing the happiness on the face of Priya-Priyatam Shri Shri SitaRama and taking happiness in the happiness of divine couple, and this is the highest bliss and the supreme satisfaction ! This alone is the true prema, of feeling the happiness in the happiness of Priya-Priyatam. Sakhi-s adorn Rama and Sita vividly, they arrange Rāsa, and other Vihāra-leelas. So, they who wish to enter in Lord’s Madhurya-leela, they should worship Priya-Priyatam through Bhava-deha of a Sakhi surrendered to another Sakhi such as Charusheela or Chandrakala, etc. They should take Shri Rama-Mantra, Yugal-Mantra, and Mantra of Charusheela-Sakhi or any other main Sakhi.
Those “paramāḥ striyaḥ (women) of Rama” are again referred by Valmiki in Yuddha-Kanda while doing praise of his arms, which shows their Mādhurya with Shri Rama:
भुजैः परमनारीणां अभिमृष्टं अनेकधा ॥ [वाल्मीकि रामायण ६-२१-३]
bhujaiḥ paramanārīṇāṃ abhimṛṣṭaṃ anēkadhā ॥ [vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 6-21-3]
“Shri Rama's arm has been touched innumerable times by the Param-Naaris (excellent damsels)”
There is reference of 8 main Sakhi-s on Shri Rama side. They pray day and night for Śrī Rāma’s coronation. They pray always for the happiness of Priya-Priyatam.
Śrī Rāma-Rāsa-Prakaran in Ashoka-Vana
Before proceeding to read this, one should keep this in mind that Rāma means the one who delights all, Rama means bliss, his body and his essential nature is chinmaya and Rasamaya (full of rasa and rasa alone). There is no worldly-Kama in Rasa-dance, it is the dance in ecstasy of soul and super soul. Again, In the name ‘Rama’, ‘Ra’ denotes ‘Rama’, ‘a’ denotes ‘Sita’, and ‘Ma’ denotes Jiva, therefore all Jiva-s originally belong to Rāma annd Sita Ji alone. All Jiva-s derive bliss and Rasa from Śrī Rāma.
In Uttar-Kanda of Valmiki-Ramayana, there is the description of Śrī Rāma sporting with Sita Ji for many thousand years in his Kanan (forest) named Ashoka-Vana (अशोक-वनिकां तदा - aśōka-vanikāṃ VR 7.42.1). Ashoka-Vana literally means where the forest where there is no Shoka, but bliss only. This same Vana manifests itself as Vrindavana on the bank of river Yamuna when Rama did Rasa on the bank of Yamuna.
Description of Ashok-Vana
The heavenly forest of Shri Rama, Ashok-Vana in Ayodhya
|It goes like this in Valmiki Ramayana “Śrī Rāma entered in Ashoka-Vana along with Sita Ji, the beauty of Ashoka-Vana can be compared with heavenly forests only such as Nandan-vana of Indra and Chaitrarath-vana created by BrahmA Ji (नन्दनं हि यथेन्द्रस्य ब्राह्मं चैत्ररथं यथा - VR 7.42.15). That Ashoka-forest had many lata-kunjas, and was full of divine Paarijaat-trees, Kadamba-trees, Chandan-trees, Devdaru-trees, Champa-trees, Aam, Agar, Priygangu, Jamun, and other beautiful trees with many colors, Ashoka Vana was full with trees of many colors such as white-trees, red-trees and bluish trees. There were many colorful birds as well cuckoos on those trees. That heavenly-forest Ashok-vana of Shri Rama was full with greenery and many kinds shrubs and creepers (lata). There were such trees which were full of fragrance. There were many varieties of fragrant and beautiful flowers. Those trees and plants were ever-green with full of flowers and fruits in all-seasons. There were many ponds with fresh and pure water, those ponds had stairs made of beautiful gem-stones in the divine Ashoka-forest, ponds were full of lotus-flowers and water-birds such as swans and cranes etc. Even green-grasses there were looking divine. Trees were so fruit-laden as if they are competing with each other. When breezes used to flow, flowers used to fall on the ground, beautifying it like stars beautify the sky. ”||
bed in ashok vanam of ayodhya.
When Śrī Rāma used to sport-lovingly with Sita Ji in that divine Ashoka-Vana, then many celestial-ladies as well as many Rupvati-Striyan (very beautiful-ladies) of this world used to come near Shri Shri SitaRama, and start dancing and singing encircling them in love. These ladies were very much proficient in singing and dancing.
“Śrī Rāma used to enter in that Ashoka-Vana to sport lovingly with Sita. Śrī Rāma used to feed lovingly delicious items to Sita Ji from his own hands. Once He entered in Ashoka-Vana and sat along with Sita Ji on a mat made of Kusha-grass on the bed of flowers spread on the ground. Then, he made her drink the spiritual-liquor made of honey and sweets from his own hands.”
अप्सरोरगसङ्घाश्च किंनरीपरिवारिताः ।
दक्षिणा रूपवत्यश्च स्त्रियः पानवशं गताः ॥ २१ ॥
उपनृत्यन्त काकुत्स्थं नृत्यगीतविशारदाः ।
मनोभिरामा रामास्ता रामो रमयतां वरः ॥ २२ ॥
रमयामास धर्मात्मा नित्यं परमभूषिताः ।
स तया सीतया सार्धं आसीनो विरराज ह ॥ २३ ॥
अरुन्धत्या सहासीनो वसिष्ठ इव तेजसा ।
(Valmiki Ramayana 7.42.21-24)
“Celestial-damsels, and damsels belonging to different families like Naga-s, Gandharvi-s and Humans who were used to come there in Ashoka-Vanam, seen this (Rama sporting lovingly with Sita Ji) they surrounded and started dancing madly (in ecstasy of love, as if they also came under the same effect of spiritual-liquor drank by Sita Ji) and singing near them to please the divine couple. They were proficient in dancing and singing. Then, dharmatma Śrī Rāma, the one who is manōbhirāmā (supremely pleasing to all hearts) and the foremost among those who delight others (rāmō ramayatāṃ varaḥ), was always used to ramayāmāsa (dance with / sport with) Sita and those all-pious (dharmatma) - elegantly adorned (paramabhūṣitāḥ)-beautiful ladies (to delight and satisfy them and take delight in them). And after sporting (with all), Śrī Rāma used to sit along with Sita ji, and shine as if Vashishtha being seated along with Arundhati.”
Here, Valmiki said two important things (a) “rāmō ramayatāṃ varaḥ - Śrī Rāma is the foremost among all those who delight others” and then (b)“Rāma ramayāmāsa” - Śrī Rāma danced with /sported with those all damsels and Sita Ji (to delight and satisfy them).
Here, Rasika-Acharyas have explained the meaning of “ramayāmāsa” in following ways :
(1) ‘ramayāmāsa’ means Śrī Rāma manifested many Rama-Rupas, and sported with Sita and each one of those beautiful damsels in Ashoka-Vana (and this is also in accordance of many other Ramayana-s read here and Samhita-s, and ramayāmāsa literally means Rama sported with them and delighted them, again here there is only Prema, no Kāma at all, dance of Supreme with Jiva is for delighting them.).
(2) ‘ramayāmāsa’ is explained as: “when Shri Rama sports lovingly with Sita Ji, then by grace of Priya-Priyatam Shri Shri SitaRama, sakhi-s (gopi-s) present in their intimate loving-pastimes to please them and arrange everything perfectly for their perfect union, they all achieve great tadatmya (spiritual oneness) with Sita Ji, and then they start feeling same sensations, same love, same loving-mellow, sama-rasa, same rati as experienced by Sita Ji, as if Rama doing raman with (sporting with) each and every individual Sakhi. In this way, Rama delights everyone with Supreme Rati, and still he remains Nirlepa-alipt-nirvikara unblemished Purushottama.
And this is Śrī Rāma’s dev-leela which is confirmed from the next verse 7.42.25.
रमयामास वैदेहीं अहन्यहनि देववत् ।
तथा तयोर्विहरतोः सीताराघवयोश्चिरम् ॥
(Valmiki Ramayan 7.42.25)
“This way, Śrī Rāma ramayāmāsa (sported with) Sita and satisfied and delighted her everyday (ahani-ahani) as like god (dēva-vat). And thus sporting like this, Sita and Rama spent a long time (many years) in their Vihaara leela.”
I have touched here those references from Valmiki Ramayana, for which Valmiki’s Rāma has been criticized in history by the scholars and followers of other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism, although those religions also accepted and made Śrī Rāma their ideal-hero in their religious-texts due to Śrī Rāma’s popularity, and his being the ocean of innumerable virtues and qualities. However, they failed to understand that apart from being the noblest hero with flawless conduct and character on humanly-plane, he has a divine aspect too, Prince charming Śrī Rāma of Valmiki is also the abode of all-enticing-beauty, charm, and elegance, He infuses love in all-beings including plants, trees, casual animals and even men towards him just by his natural beauty (such कामवर्धनः he is), mere his glance was more than enough to entice all-beings, not only Kamini-s (Youthful ladies), but even Young girls, and old-women used to pray for him to all gods at dawn and dusk everyday ! Even brahm-realised sages couldn’t control their crave and prayed to Lord to allow them to hold him in mood of conjugal love. That Prince was so charming that everyone treated him as their own soul moving outside ! Has ever happened such personality who walked on the earth except Śrī Rāma treated by one and all-beings as their own soul moving outside? what an ocean of beauty and charm he was !
His beautiful eyebrows, his red and broad eyes, his full-moon like countenance, his all-enticing-beauty-elegance-&-charm, his broad-chest, his lion-shoulders, his mighty arms, his tenderness and softness of being high born ..oh! oh!! oh!!! everything of Prince-charming is so unique !
Śrī Rāma is the culmination of all (सौन्दर्य) beauty, (माधुर्य) sweetness, (सौरस्य ) enticing-rasa, (सौगन्ध्य) fragrance, (सौकुमार्य) young-tenderness, ( सौशील्य) accessibility to all even lowly ones, (आभा) aura and appearance, (प्रभा) splendor, (शोभा) elegance, (कान्ति) lustre and radiance, (शान्ति) peacefulness, and all virtues etc. He is the ocean of all sweetness and all virtues and qualities. Therefore, in the eyes of Rishis-and-Munis ‘none other than Rama could be worthy of all eulogies-praises-poems and fame’.
आदिकाव्यमिदं राम त्वयि सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम्।
नह्यन्योऽर्हति कव्यानां यशोभाग् राघवादृते॥
[vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 7.98.18]
Lord BrahmA prayed to Shri Ram: “Oh, Raghava! You are the one who is glorified everywhere in the first and foremost among poems, Ramayana! And none other than You can be worthy of all the fame, eulogies, praises and poems!”
'Blessed Sight of such supremely sweet Lord' or 'his sweet gaze', if not achieved, then nothing is achieved truly in the words of Vālmīki : —
यश्च रामं न पश्येत्तु यं च रामो न पश्यति।
निन्दितः सर्वलोकेषु स्वात्माप्येनं विगर्हते॥
(वाल्मीकि रामायण २.१७.१४ )
yaśca rāmaṃ na paśyēttu yaṃ ca rāmō na paśyati ।
ninditaḥ sarvalōkēṣu svātmāpyēnaṃ vigarhatē ॥
(vālmīki rāmāyaṇa 2.17.14 )
“The one who does not see Śrī Rāma or whom Śrī Rāma does not see, that unfortunate one is blamed and ridiculed in all the worlds by one and all (to such extent) that Person's own self blames him for this (what such an unfortunate soul).”
Therefore, one should take Rāsa-Prakaran of Bhagavan Śrī Rāma sporting with and delighting Sita ji and many damsels as his divya-Madhurya leela (deva-leela of divine realm) during Śrī Rāmāvatār, and his deva-leela is beyond the cognizance of worldly realm and the question of human-propriety, beyond the question of Vidhi and Nishedha. Śrī Rāma’s Nara-leela as the Purushottama (the best among all men) is for teaching all the worlds, which purifies the contamination of all the worlds, and his Madhurya-leela is for showering love and delighting all devotees and his taking delight in his devotees, and when Madhurya-leela is mixed with his deva-leela, there is unrestrained reign of love alone. Moreover, Sakhi-s (gopi-s) are not some ordinary women-folks, they are accomplished souls born as Sakhi-s or Gopi-s, they have almost complete tadatmya with Sita Ji, so they can experience the same rati as experienced by her in Madhurya-leela.
Though Śrī Rāma did this leela with Sita Ji and innumerable Sakhi-s for 10,000 years in Bhauma-Ayodhya, it is Nitya (eternal) - always going on in Bhauma-Ayodhya as well as Para-Vyoma divina-Ayodhya.
Thus, As like Śrī Rāma is Ādi-Puruṣa and the eternal source of all-Bhagavad-swarupas, similarly Ādi-Kāvya Śrī Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa is the eternal-seed (काव्यं बीजं सनातनम् - Brihad-dharma-Purana) of innumerable Ramayana-s, and all scriptures composed by Vyasa - Mahābhārata and Purāṇa-s including Purana-Shiromani-Bhagavatam. Everyone has got something from सर्वेश्वर-सर्वकलानाथ-निखिलपति-अयोध्यानाथ-जलदश्याम-रमणललाम-सीतापति-श्रीराम Sarvēśvara-sarvakalānātha-nikhilapati-ayōdhyānātha-jaladaśyāma-ramaṇalalāma-sītāpati-ŚrīRāma, and among all incarnations, Bhagavan Śrī Krishna is the most proximate to him, he got Shringar-Rupa of Bhagavān ŚrīRāma in Vrindavana or one should understand, He is ŚrīRāma who is Vāchya by name “Krishna” in Vrindavana.
Śrī Rāma is the original Personality of Godhead. His deva-leela is beyond the question of Vidhi and Nishedha, his Nara-leela as the Purushottama (the best among all men) purifies the contamination of all the worlds, and his Madhurya-leela is for delighting all and his taking delight in devotees, otherwise how would Lord of entire cosmos surrender to Sugriva accepting him as his Lord? Śrī Rāma is the fire of fire, the sun of sun, the Prabhu of Prabhu (even Vishnu), the god of all gods, the soul of souls, and thus the original illuminator of all (VR - 2.44.15-16). Entire cosmos (including animate and inanimate creation) is his body (VR 6.117.26), and He can annihilate all the worlds including everything and create them over again and again exactly in the same way as like before (VR 5.51.39). Śrī Rāma is the Manujākritim (two-armed) Parambrahm, He alone is Narayana, Vishnu, Krishna and all other incarnations (VR 6.117).
* Vachan-Vibhushankar Sri-vaishnavāchārya Swāmi Pillai-lokācharya said ‘Rāmāyaṇa is higher authority than Mahābhārata and Puranas’.