Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 05 Oct 2018


Spiritual Significance of the Ramayanam

Shri P. V. N. M. Sharma asked Shri Swami to explain the significance of the Ramayanam in the spiritual knowledge. Given below is the reply of Shri Swami.

Three Levels of Souls

The Ramayanam provides guidance in worldly life (pravrutti) and it internally shows the path of spiritual life (nivrutti) also because the name of Rama is recognized as the path of total salvation (Taraka Mantra). There are three levels of souls. These levels are linked with the qualities of the souls and not with the form of the physical body. These three levels are:

  1. Dushpravrutti: It is the level of total injustice and is found in animals.
  2. Pravrutti: It is the level of total justice and is found in human beings.
  3. Nivrutti: It is the level beyond justice and injustice. It is full divine love and is found in divine personalities, called as God-Men.

Hanuman and Nandi are animals, Garuḍa and Hamsa (the divine Swan of Lord Brahma) are birds and Adishesha is a serpent. But all of them belong to the divine level. On the other hand, Duryodhana was in a human body, but he was in the first level of animals, called as dushpravrutti.

This is a very important concept because every human being thinks that he or she has already attained the human level looking at his or her own human body. People feel that now they only need to attain the next higher level called as nivrutti. This is a fundamental mistake. Almost every human being is in the level of animals. Yet they all think that they are already in the human level and that they are meant to put all their efforts to attain the third ultimate divine level of nivrutti. The human being thinks that he is not in the lowest level of animals, but that he is in the second higher level of human beings already. He feels that that the level is related to the form of the body, which is false. This is because the actions of the human being are not full of justice but instead are full of injustice. Thus, almost every human being is only in the level of animals and not in the next higher human level. The reason is the absence of the quality of justice, which alone decides in which level a soul belongs.

Animals follow no justice in earning their food and in their sexual life. The basic expected nature of the human level is to have justice in earning (artha) and in sex (kaama) as per scholars (Apyarthakaamau tasyaastaam dharmaayaiva). In earning, you shall not hurt other living beings. The animal kills other weak animals for food. The present human being does a lot of corruption, causing suffering to others, even though he has sufficient food. Both animals and present human beings are involved in illegal sex. Hence, the present humanity is in the level of animals (dushpravrutti), thinking that it is in the human level (pravrutti) already. It is their misunderstanding that their level is linked with the form of their bodies. Scholars say that such a human being with the qualities of an animal is a two-legged animal (dvipaada pashuh).

Bhagavan Shri Satya Sai Baba tried His level-best to bring these so-called human beings from the level of animals to the second level of real human beings. He questioned “How can you think of the third divine level, when you have not even left your present animal-level and reached the second human level?” He interpreted the Ramaayanam according to the second pravrutti-level of leaving injustice and following justice. In fact, the main program of Rama was only to preach to human beings regarding the second human level. Rama is called as the Ideal Human Incarnation since He preached the ideals of human life through His own practical example as an ideal human being  (Aadarshamaanushaavataara).

In the pravrutti-level, legal family bonds are given importance compared to illegal family bonds. Giving importance to the legal bonds, surpassing illegal bonds is pravrutti. The disappearance of both legal and illegal bonds is nivrutti. Giving importance to illegal bonds is dushpravrutti. Rama proved Himself to be an ideal son, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal friend and so on, to establish an example of an ideal human being, which is the goal of pravrutti.

In the first level of animals, the worldly bonds are strong and this leads to injustice. Due to the lack of intelligence, animals do not know the significance of the destruction of worldly bonds in attaining the grace of God. Human beings have intelligence, but are still unable to completely destroy the worldly bonds. They are expected to at least attempt to weaken their worldly bonds so that they can at least leave injustice and follow justice. In this second human level, the soul is expected to not earn wealth or involve in sex in an illegal manner. In this level, one can earn legally and enjoy legal sex. In this second level, worldly bonds are not destroyed, but are weakened. When the worldly bonds are weakened, it is called as success in pravrutti. When the bonds are naturally destroyed due to the strong bond with God, it is called as nivrutti. For both weakening the worldly bonds (pravrutti) and destroying worldly bonds (nivrutti), a bond with God is essential. When the bond with God has partial strength, the worldly bond is weakened. When the bond with God has full strength, the worldly bond is destroyed. Hence, for success in both pravrutti and nivrutti, forming a bond with God is the starting point. With this starting point, you can travel in a train straight to nivrutti. In fact, you will cross the intermediate station called pravrutti even if you sleep in the train! Alternatively, you can travel up to intermediate station (pravrutti) and then catch another train going up to nivrutti. In any case, the train is only the bond with God. The strength of the bond with God decides whether the train is a slow passenger train or a fast express train. In any case, your initial effort must be to get onto the train, which is developing a bond with God.

When the soul enters the third divine nivrutti level, both justice and injustice disappear; one can only find the love with God and nothing else. In this level, since justice also disappears along with injustice, all the worldly bonds are destroyed. Hence, in this ultimate divine level, searching for justice is meaningless (Sarvadharmaan…—Gita). The Incarnation of God called as Krishna is related to this ultimate divine level. In this case, one only finds the love of the Gopikaas for Lord Krishna, which is beyond both pravrutti or justice and dushpravrutti or injustice. Therefore, Krishna is called as a Liilaamaanushaavataara  or ‘the Human Incarnation of God that fully reveals the stage of God’. Nivrutti means the destruction of all worldly bonds due to the formation of the strongest bond with God. The Gopikaas were the devotees, who had reached this third divine level. After leaving the Gopikaas, Krishna too behaved just like Rama since such devotees, who had already reached the third divine level were absent elsewhere. All other people belonged only to the following categories: (i) people who were still in the first level (ii) devotees trying to reach second level (iii) devotees who had reached the second level (iv) devotees trying to reach the third level. On the other hand, Rama also acted like Krishna to test His few close devotees, who were in the third divine level. Just like the Bhāgavatam is famous for nivrutti, the Ramayanam is famous for pravrutti. But by going deep in the Ramayanam, we can also find nivrutti. Hence, the Ramayanam is called as the Veda, which contains both pravrutti and nivrutti (Vedah praachetasaat...).

The Fruits of Pravṛitti and Nivṛitti

The ultimate fruit granted by God for succeeding in pravrutti by leaving injustice and following justice, is that the soul reaches the third world called as heaven. The soul enjoys this world only for some time; it is temporary. Dharmaraja succeeded in pravrutti. But he could not leave justice and vote for God over justice. He did not tell a lie even though God Krishna forced him to tell that lie. When Krishna asked Bhima to tell the same lie, Bhima did not hesitate. He announced it boldly. Bhima was more spiritual. He had so much faith in Krishna that he voted for God even if it meant voting against justice. Hanuman, Bhima and Madhva are considered as divine spiritual personalities and hence, Bhima is greater than Dharamaraja.

The fruit of success in nivrutti is the attainment of the seventh world called as Brahmaloka, which is said to be the abode of God, since God exists there permanently in the form of Energetic Incarnations. Hanuman reached this Brahmaloka. The Gopikaas surpassed every devotee in nivrutti and were given the topmost special world called as Goloka. Without succeeding in pravrutti, a soul can never enter nivrutti just as without crossing the intermediate station, the final station cannot be reached.

If we take the case of Ravana, who is supposed to be a great devotee of Lord Shiva, we might think that he was very good in nivrutti, but he failed in pravrutti. However, it is a mistake to say that Ravana is very good in nivrutti because Ravana had never actually entered nivrutti. He worshipped God Shiva only for attaining powers from Him. His devotion was not without aspiration for any fruit in return. He was in fact the worst soul, who even aspired for the divine mother Pārvatī, from God Shiva! Hence, he had not crossed pravrutti to reach nivrutti. Thinking that he was in the level of nivrutti is simply not true!

The Three Vedantic Philosophies in the Ramayanam

You can find the monism (Advaita) of Shankara in Rama, the inseparable dualism (Vishishtaadvaita) of Raamanuja in Lakshmana and perfect dualism (Dvaita) of Madhva in Hanuman.


Rama is the Human Incarnation of God with whom the first Energetic Incarnation (Datta or Eshvara or Narayana) had merged totally. The First Energetic Incarnation already contains the unimaginable God merged in Him. The meaning of Rama is that God, who not only entertains Himself (Ramate iti) but also gives entertainment to others (Ramayati paran iti). The Veda uses this word to indicate the original unimaginable God (Ekaaki na ramate). This indicates that the unimaginable God exists in Rama. The unimaginable God entered the human body of Rama through the Energetic Incarnation (Datta or Narayana), when Datta entered Rama’s human body. Rama’s turning of a stone in to a female sage called as Ahalya, is an unimaginable event or a miracle. It indicates the presence of the unimaginable God in Rama. There is no difference between Rama and the unimaginable God or Datta. This clearly establishes the concept of monism between God and the human being, in a Human Incarnation.


Lakshmana was the incarnation of Adishesha and Ramanuja was also an incarnation of Adishesha. The word Shesha means a ‘part’ of some ‘whole’. Ramanuja proposed the Sheshaa-Sheshi (part-whole) relationship between God Rama and Lakshmana. Even when Rama went to the forest, Lakshmana accompanied Him like a limb of His body. The inseparable dualism perfectly exists in Rama and Lakshmana, which is the theory of Rāmānuja.


Hanuman is the incarnation of god Vaayu (Wind-God). Madhva also declared Himself to be the incarnation of god Vaayu. In His philosophy, there are three sons of god Vaayu, who are Hanuman, Bhima and Madhva. Hanuman acted as the servant of God Rama. Rama is the Master and Hanuman is His servant. This Master-servant relationship stands for perfect dualism. Madhva treated God as the Master who is to be served (Sevya) and treated the soul as the servant (sevaka). Hanuman is always represented as the ideal goal in the path of Madhva. In this way, you can find the three philosophies of the three divine preachers in the Rāmāyaṇa.

Severe Testing of Hanuman and Lakshmana

Both Hanuman and Lakshmana were severely tested by God Rama. During the years of forest-exile (expulsion to forest), Rama would be enjoying with Sita in the hut whereas Lakshmana would be constantly going around the hut at night like a watchman without sleep. Lakshmana was also a young man like Rama and was also married like Rama. Rama was watching the mind of Lakshmana to test if Lakshmana had any negative feelings about his situation. But Lakshmana never had even a trace of any negative feelings! He never thought why he should be a watchman while Rama is enjoying with His wife in the hut. He never regretted that he left his wife back home in Ayodhya city, just to be a watchman in the forest! This test of Lakshmana continued for about fourteen years!

When Sita scolded Lakshmana in the forest that Lakshmana had followed Rama into the forest, since he had an evil eye on Sita, Lakshmana did not report it to Rama at anytime. Of course, from the words of Sita, we should learn that nobody should aspire for the power of God. Sita, the wife of God Rama, represents the power of God. Ravana aspired for the power of God and it led to his destruction. But the omniscient Rama punished Sita for her unjust and harsh words. He too spoke similar words to her after the war and later also left her in the forest based on the same type of allegation.

Towards the end of the Ramayanam, when Rama gave a death sentence to Lakshmana, Lakshmana simply followed it by entering into the Sarayu river. Lakshmana excelled all in this aspect. On the other hand, Bharata had also tried to commit suicide but it was not on the order of Rama. He had put pressure on Rama and compelled Him to return to Ayodhya from the forest-exile (expulsion to forest), in the stipulated time of fourteen years. While searching for Sita, Hanuman had also tried to commit suicide upon not being able to find Sita. But He soon realized His mistake that if He were to end his life, His service to Rama would be disturbed. Sita also committed suicide in the end, but it was against the wish of Rama. Daśaratha also died in his love for Rama. But if he kept Rama in the highest place, he should have controlled his wife Kaikeyi, from being unfair to Rama.

The testing of Hanuman is even more severe. Hanuman did not marry at all! He was a celibate (real bachelor dedicated to God). Yet God Rama ordered Him to search for Sita, the wife of Rama! Let us assume that Hanuman was serving Rama for the welfare of the society by freeing society from the injustice of Ravana. It was expected that Rama would kill the wicked Ravana, who had stolen Sita. If we had been in the place of Hanuman, we would have got a powerful heart attack, when Rama told Ravana on the first day of the war that if Ravana returned Sita, Rama would withdraw from the war and go back to Ayodhya city. That would leave the world in the sinful clutches of Ravana. This declaration of Rama meant that Rama was so selfish that He would go back with His own wife and not bother even if Ravana were to seduce others’ wives in the future! Hanuman could have left the service of Rama after this declaration. But He gave the topmost importance to Rama alone; not to social service. Mere social service, which may give temporary heaven, is useless without devotion to God.

Sugriiva forgot the help done by Rama and immersed himself in pleasures. This shows that we often forget God after getting help from Him. Vaali had done a lot of injustice by forcing his brother Sugriiva’s wife to become his wife even though his brother was alive. Previously, when Sugriiva had returned to the kingdom after the battle with a demon, he had thought that his brother Vaali had died. So, Taara, the wife of Vaali, became the wife of Sugriiva without any force. This was because, in the monkey-clan (tribe) of Sugriiva and Vaali, there was a custom of the wife of a dead brother becoming the wife of his living brother (devara nyaaya). When Vaali returned alive and saw that Sugriiva had occupied his throne and taken his wife, he exiled (expelled) Sugriiva and forced himself on the wife of Sugriiva. Vaali had a divine boon that half of his opponent’s strength would come to him in battle. Due to this boon, he became very proud and committed several sins. Rama shot him dead by hiding Himself behind a tree. This means that the omniscient God will certainly find a way to punish a person who becomes proud of his achievements and commits sins, no matter how smart the person may think he or she is. Even if his achievement is the result of a divine boon, he cannot escape punishment. Hence, pride of any achievement is forbidden.

Rama ate the fruits tasted by Shabari, who was a woman of a backward caste. He granted her salvation, which was not even granted to learned sages. This shows that God has no consideration for caste, gender or even traditions. He only sees the real practical devotion, which is the sacrifice of the fruit of one’s work. Shabari offered wild fruits to Lord Rama, which were the result of her hard efforts in searching and collecting the sweetest fruits from the forest. In granting her liberation, Rama only considered this practical devotion, which was the sacrifice of the fruit of her hard work. Rama performed a miracle of turning a stone into a lady. But He did it secretly in the forest in the presence of only sage Vishvaamitra and Lakshmana, since miracles are not for public exposure. Even though sages praised Him as God, He denied it by saying that He was just a normal human being (Aatmaanam maanusham manye). This shows that the human being-component of the Human Incarnation must always remain in his limits. Of course, Krishna declared Himself to be God before Arjuna since the context of the program in that time demanded it. But He made that declaration only before Arjuna and never again in His life. Here also, it was God who spoke through the throat of the son of Vasudeva (the human medium of Krishna). Hence, the Gita is called as Bhagavad Gita, which means it is the song sung by God. It is not called Krishna Gita, which would mean it is the song sung by Krishna. In fact, when Arjuna asked Krishna to repeat the Gita once more, Krishna told him that in the war, it was God alone who told the Gita through Him. However, when compelled by Arjuna, He retold the Gita. This latter Gita (Uttara Gita) did not become famous at all. What all was practised by Rama was told in the Gita by Krishna. Rama spoke the rules of pravrutti through His practice. A deeper study of His practice, reveals the concepts of nivrutti also. Hence, scholars say that the name of Rama is for salvation or nivrutti.