The utsav of Rama Navmi is celebrated with a special fervour in Pushtimarg. Tilak, panchamrat, badhais of ‘Shri Raghunath palne jhoole…’ (Shri Rama is resting in the cradle…) are sung sanmukh of Shri Thakurji.
Let us understand why the utsav of Maryada Purushottam Shri Rama is so eagerly celebrated by vraj-bhakta vaishnavs for whom centre of all attraction is Nandanandan Shri Krishna.
Shri Harirai Mahaprabhu has gracefully revealed the bhav of the gopis in celebrating the utsav. He states,
As a manifestation of Purna Purushottam Shri Krishna, it was Shri Rama who granted the boon of madhurya bhav to the rishis in Dandak-aranya (Dandak forest). So He has the status of Guru for the gopis. So they celebrate it with an enthusiasm equivalent to Janmashatami
To understand this revelation of Shri Hariraiji we must first be acquainted with what He has referred to by the mention of the boon of Dandak-aranya.
The Garga Samhita (Gaulok Khand, Adhyaya 4) cites Shri Krishna mentioning the reasons as to why various bhaktas were granted their wish to be reborn as Gopis in Vraj to serve and love Him.
Let us discuss one of them here.
Shri Krishna explains that in the Treta Yug during the Rama-avatar, Bhagwan Shri Rama was passing through Dandak-aranya. He entered the ashram of rishis who were eternally meditating on the swarup of Gopal and were awaiting their acceptance in His Rasa Leela. The meditation of all the rishis was broken as they immediately sensed the Supreme presence. They knew that their prayers were about to be answered. On beholding the swarup of the divine with a bow in His hand, they thought that though our Gopal has finally come today, for some reason He has exchanged his flute for the bow!
Shri Rama was very pleased with their unwavering devotion and commanded them to ask for a boon. The rishis asked for what they had been eternally meditating for, “Hay Nath! Please grant us a relation with you.” Shri Rama said, “I am so pleased with you that even if you ask me to accept you as brothers, I will gladly grant you the same position as Lakshman.” The rishis requested, “That would not be what we have prayed for. That would be something that you can grant everybody. The relation that we ask is the one that is unique, the one that you have with Shri Sita!”
The ever benevolent Shri Rama then asked them to wait until the end of Dwapar Yuga to have their wish fulfilled. In the avatar form He was ‘Maryada Purushottam’ – bound by the rules that He had created; so was restricted in His acceptance. But when He would appear in the house of Shri Yashodaji, not as an avatar, but Purna Purushottam Prabhu himself – at that time, unbounded by doctrine, His power of acceptance would be infinite. All the rishis would then be reborn as Gopis and their desire of Seva would be granted.
On the other hand, even though being Maryada Purushottam, there are several instances where Shri Rama showered Grace according to the principles of Pushti (Kripa) and thus broke the maryada:
- He accepted fruit that had first been tested by Shabri, because it was her devotion that made her separate the sweet from the sour ones by tasting them.
- He placed his feet on Ahalya, a woman and wife of Rishi Gautam, to free her from the curse due to which she had turned to stone.
- He allowed writing his name ‘Rama’ on the stones that then floated without drowning to form the Rama Setu (bridge) to Lanka.
- He had to endure so many years in the harsh forest due to the vow taken by his father Dashratha. Also on His return He had to separate from Shri Sita because of some people of Ayodhya. But due to Kripa, removing the dosha of their actions, He didn’t deny them a place in the heavens and everybody including Dashratha attained moksha.
Even in the 84-252 vaishnav vartas one can find mention of very interesting events related to Shri Rama. Shri Nanddas was the brother of the famous Rama-Bhakta Shri Tulsidas. When Tulsidas came to know that his brother had become a sevak of Shri Gusainji and now composed kirtans in the praise of Shri Krishna, he went to him to attempt bringing him back to his fold. But Nanddas was clearly past the point of no return. His eyes and words were now only for the Lord of Gokul. So accepting the fact, Tulsidas went for the darshan of Shrinathji. There he wouldn’t prostrate before Shriji. Nanddas noticed this and requesting Shriji to have Tulsidas comprehend His swarup, he sang…
तुलसी मस्तक तब नमे, धनुष बान लेहु हाथ
Tulsidas will only bow when you will grasp the bow and arrows in your hands
Acceding to the request of His sevak, Shriji did so and immediately Tulsidas fell to His feet. Tulsidas then accompanied Nanddas for the darshan of Shri Gusainji. The omniscient Shri Gusainji asked his fifth son, Shri Raghunathji whom He called Ramchandraji to give darshan to Tulsidas. On experiencing this and prostrating before them, Tulsidas composed a pad…
बरनौ अवध श्रीगोकुल गाम, उत बिराजत जानकी-वर, इतही श्यामा-श्याम
For I sing the glories of Ayodhya and Gokul, there resides the Lord of Sita, here Krishna and Radha…
Ram Navmi is one of the four jayanti vrats included by Shri Mahaprabhuji in the seva pranalika of Pushtimarg. In addition to Ekadashi – Agyaras, fasting (upvas) on these four jayantis is to be observed by all vaishnavs
Badhai for the Utsav!
I offer dhanyavads to Goswami Shri Manmathraiji for sending in the picture of Shri Vallabh sitting with Shri Rama and Shri Sita. Shri Lakshman as Shesh Roop is offering them shadow in the company of Shri Hanuman. This is the prasang of Chitrakut Baithakji (Baithak Charitra 24).