Rama: The Outsider
As per Hindu calendar this year 10th of April is the day of Rama Navami which is basically the birthday of Lord Rama. Lord Rama is one of the major deities in Hinduism. He is considered as the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu.
This is a day of festival in Indian culture, which is celebrated all over the country with a pride and honour. In several regions people perform the stage play describing entire life of lord Rama known as Ramleela.
Lord Rama was the elder most son of King of Ayodhya dashratha. Along with Rama he had three more sons, Lakshman, Bharat and shatrugan from three wives. Rama was the son from elder most wife Koshalya. Rama got married to the princess of kingdom of Videha, Sita.
The story of Ramleela is quite interesting and also full with lessons for life. And full with personification of the devotion in different relationships, the devotion of married couple for each other, the devotion of a brother, the devotion of a devotee for his Lord. With the end of Ravana the king of Lanka, it teaches that ego could not stand in front of love; it must get dissolve or end.
Somebody asked the question to Osho, How is it that Valmiki wrote the life of Rama even before he happened?
Osho says “it is possible, it is quite possible to write the life story of Rama, because he is a man of principles, ideals. There is a joke hidden in this anecdote of Valmiki writing the Ramayana long before Rama’s existence. It means that Rama is a kind of man whose life story can be foretold. He is like a character in a drama: what he will do and what he will not do can be foreseen. Rama is an idealist, he lives according to some set rules and regulations of life, so in a way his life is pre-planned and pre-determined. It is not that Valmiki had really written his biography before he happened; it is a very profound and subtle joke which this country alone is capable of making with respect to her great men. And it is so subtle that it is difficult to get it. It says that Rama’s life is so limited and confined, so confined to set ideas and ideals, so sequential that the poet Valmiki could have easily written his story, the Ramayana, even before Rama was born It is like a drama or a movie which is enacted in strict adherence to a written script.”
Says Lao Tzu: “They live throughout their lives as if they were guests.”
Saints never acknowledge this world as their own. They are never at home in it. Throughout their lives they remain an outsider, a visitor. Colin Wilson has written a wonderful book called THE OUTSIDER. He took great pains in this book to show that all the people who have mattered in this world, be it Socrates or Buddha or Lao Tzu, were all outsiders.
They lived in the world like a guest would stay in the house of people he did not know. This feeling of being a guest remained with them, for the feeling of the unknown never left them.
It is an interesting fact that the less we know of ourselves, the more we feel we know others. When we begin to get familiar with our own self, we stop knowing others. Look at it in this way. One who says, “I know so many people” is invariably a person who does not know himself. He who has known himself knows at once that he knows nobody. Such a man lives, throughout life, like a stranger, a guest. Lao Tzu says, “Their life is a profound performance. They are but guests in this world, so their conduct is only play-acting, not real.” Let us try to understand this by an example.
After twelve long years, Buddha returned home. His brother. Ananda, had taken a promise from him that he would always be where Buddha was. Buddha had given the promise. At the border of his father’s kingdom, people were gathered to welcome him. Only Yashodhara, his wife, was not in the crowd. Buddha said to Ananda. “See, Ananda, Yashodhara did not come.” Ananda was worried: after attaining Buddhahood, Buddha was still concerned about his wife! It had been twelve years since he attained supreme knowledge, and yet his wife remained in his thoughts! He held his patience, and decided to question Buddha at the right moment. Buddha reached the palace. No sign of Yoshodhara. He went inside. There was still no sign of her. Buddha then said to Ananda, “I have promised to keep you with me wherever I go. I do not wish to break my pledge, but I have to make a request today. I left Yashodhara and ran away, for there was no other way. If after this long period of separation, I go to meet her with a crowd around me, she will be displeased. Let me give her a chance to work out the anger that she has harboured all these long years. Please, allow me to be with her alone.”
Ananda was terrified by his request. Where was the need now for Buddha to meet his wife alone? But Buddha was right. His meeting with Yashodhara in private was fruitful. Yashodhara vented all her anger on him. She accused him of having deserted her, of not having so much as told her before he left. Buddha stood calm and serene and listened to her patiently. When her anger was spent, she broke into tears; and in the flow of those tears, she released the pain and suffering she had undergone. Then the tears stopped. She looked up at the serene face. “You came alone to see me,” she said, “and that has changed me completely. Had you come with the crowd, I would have known that there was no place for me in your heart.”
Buddha still stood quiet and serene. Yashodhara fell at his feet. All complaints had vanished; all pain had fled. She asked his forgiveness. Buddha said to her, “There was only one desire in me: that you accept what I have brought along with me.” This was all play-acting on the part of Buddha, but it brought about the initiation of his wife. She became a bhikshuni. After seven years, she went into deep meditation. Then one day she told him: “A fine act you put up that day! My joy knew no bounds when I heard that you had inquired after me when you entered the kingdom. The long suffering of loneliness left me that very moment. Then how happy I was when you left Ananda outside and came along to see me! All my complaints, all my anger towards you, melted away. But now I know it was just an act you put up and it was this that brought about the change in me.”
Says Lao Tzu: “Such people can never become an intrinsic part of this world, but they always act as if they were.”
Such people establish no relationships, but always pretend to deep relationships. This acting on their part is very serious and impressive. If it were not so, it could not last. This is an inner characteristic of a Saint that being all outsider, he lives as if he is very much within life. He lives like a guest, enacting a profound role in life. He is no longer the doer. Now, whatever is, is outside of him. He is only enacting the role of Rama in the RAMA LEELA. He is not the real Rama.
If we investigate onto the life of the authentic Rama, we shall be surprised to know that even he was a mere actor in the whole saga of the RAMAYANA. This is his greatness!
It is because of this that he could leave Sita in the jungle, on the basis of the words of an ignorant washerman, this same Sita whom he had wagered his life to find. And it is because of this that he could hand over to another the kingdom he won with such great difficulties — just like that! If all this was real to Rama, he would have found it difficult — nay impossible, to act in this manner. But this was all part of a big play.
Rama is absolutely serious. There was no need for him to discard Sita on the mere words of a dhobi! But he is serious, in his act; he enacts his role seriously. When Sita is lost, he cries for her; he is beside himself with grief. He asks the trees and the insects whether they have seen his Sita!
Also, he runs after a golden deer! Even we know there are no golden deer; Rama must also be knowing. Yet he runs after a golden deer. And later? he calls out to Lakshman for help!
Sita also played her part well. Lakshman refuses to leave Sita and go to Rama’s aid, because Rama had ordered him not to leave her when he was gone. But Rama’s cry for help goads her to say hard words to Lakshman, to whom Rama’s word was law. She says “I know you wish your brother to die so that you can have me!” These are words that Sita could only have spoken if she was enacting the role of Sita; otherwise they have no meaning.
Poor Lakshman is caught between the two. He is filled with anger! In refusing to go, he was obeying Rama’s orders, yet here was Sita accusing him of ulterior motives! In his terrible anger, he forgot Rama, he forgot Sita. His ego was hurt; he was filled with rage. He left Sita and went away. This was a part of a very great act. Such harsh words from such a one as Sita seem most unbecoming but only to those who have not understood the whole arrangement of this play and who have taken it to be an authentic happening. They will find her words hard and cruel, such as they sounded to Lakshman for whom this was not acting. To him, everything was real.
In the whole saga of the Ramayana, we have acknowledged Rama to be the main character and have called it the RAMA LEELA. There is a reason to this. In the whole epic, Bharata, his brother, has played an equally important part. For that matter even Ravana could have been considered the main character, for there would have been no RAMA LEELA without him. And Sita, of course, was the centre of the whole drama; all events are woven round her. But Rama has been considered the hero of the Ramayana for the simple reason that he was only person who knew this all to be nothing more than a drama, a mere play.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Way of Tao, Volume 2
Chapter title: The signs of a saint: he is alert and irresolute, egoless and playful
17 April 1972 pm in Immortal Study Circle
Osho has spoken on ‘Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Mahavira, Shiva, Rama, Kabir, Lao Tzu, Bodhidharma, Patanjali and many other enlightened Saints’ in many of His discourses. More on them can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- Tao: The Three Treasures
- Zarathustra: The Laughing Prophet
- The Mustard Seed: My Most Loved Gospel on Jesus
- The Path of Love
- Bodhidharma: The Greatest Zen Master
- When the Shoe Fits
- Hyakujo: The Everest of Zen, with Basho’s Haikus
- Krishna: The Man and His Philosophy
- The White Lotus
- Beyond Psychology
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1