Ramayan is ram=atman (soul) + ayan =progress (journey) = Journey of the Soul
There are several characters in this mythology and they symbolize, as under:
Ram symbolizing Atma Shakti/ The Power of Soul; Bharat symbolizing Deh Shakti / The Power of Body; Lakshman symbolizing Manah Shakti / The Power of Will, Shatrughna symbolizing Karma Shakti / The Power of Action; Dashrath=10 Indriyas (Dash = Ten; Rath = Chariot…Mind is like a chariot with ten horses, which are our external & internal senses…eyes, nose, ears, tongue, skin, hands, legs, genitals, etc…i.e. 5 karmendriyas and 5 gyanendriyas,
Kaushalya=Satva Guna, Kaikeyi=Tamo Guna, Sumitra=Rajo Guna.
It is simple to understand that, Dashrath (the indriyas) under influence of Kaikeyi (tamo guna) disregards its duty towards Ram (the atma/soul) in order to offer undue favour towards Bharat (the body)…something that we all are doing ‘all the time.’
Poor Lord Rama has been sent in exile along with his wife Sita (who is the Kundalini Shakti)
Also, he faces his worst plight when Sita Mata is abducted by Ravana (the ego). The Ego (Ravana) is supported by various warriors who are extremely powerful. One among them is Ravana’s son…Megh-nad (literally means, The Sound of Clouds). It’s not difficult to understand that our ever agitating Mind is clouded with the commotion of “Thoughts”…which never ever allows us to seek rest into the deeper solitude of our Inner Self. Megh-nad (The Sound of Clouds/Thoughts) who is the son of Ravana (the Ego) is too powerful to overcome.
But no one has ever been able to stop the Power of the Soul (Ram). Ram seeks help from Lakshman (Laksh means Goal; Man means Mind…Focused or Concentrated Mind)
& Hanuman (who is son of the wind god). It’s through the Wind that Life Force (Pran Shakti) flows within us. The whole Monkey Army is nothing but, forces of the Life Force transmitting Air (Pran Vayu). Thus, with the help from Hanuman (Pran Shakti) and Lakshman (Concentrated Mind), Ram (Atma) defeats Ravan (Ego) in order to come in union with Sita (Kundalini Shakti).
What a beautiful story! Isn’t Ramayana after all, “Journey of the Soul”?
Now for the other side. Ravan = The Upright “I” (Ego), Vibhishan= The Humble “I” (Surrender). Who is Kumbhakarna? Let us understand. Kumbhakarna sleeps for 6 months and is awake for 6 months. 50% ignorant + 50% wise. It is the “I” of a commoner, like you and me. Wise enough to advise Ravana to withdraw from fighting with Lord Rama, yet ignorant enough to join the fight, lacking Vibhishan’s wisdom of Surrendering at Lord’s feet ‘at any cost’.
Here are three new characters: Manthara = Vices. Manthara accompanies Kaikeyi (Tamo Guna) from her paternal home, i.e., both have same origin. Gunas (Symbolized by 3 Ranis of King Dasharath) are always malleable by nature. Kaikeyi (Tamo Guna) while in the company of Manthara (Vices) acts differently, however, when Manthara (Vices) has been driven out by Shatrughna, she repents for her past actions.
Sugriva = Su means Good + Griva means Throat = A Throat that is energized/cleansed thru Yoga/Pranayam. Needless to say, Sugriva being the King of Vanaras supplies Hanuman (Pran) as well as the whole Vanar Sena (Pran Vayu) to assist Ram (The Atma) in his endeavors to free Sita (The Kundalini Shakti) from Ravan (The Ego). A sincere practitioner of Pranayam and Meditation can experience and comprehend this phenomenon in a relatively short span of time.
Shurpanakha, well, this is getting funnier. We all know that the very seed of the Ram & Ravan feud started with the incident of Shurpanakha’s nose getting slain by Lakshman. It is the very beginning of the tale that finally makes Ramayana – The Story. Esoterically, it refers to the ‘time’ when first of the endeavors of a this wandering soul to reach back to its kingdom starts – The Neophyte.
In Ramayana also, 13 years of exile had passed. Just after a year Rama will be throned back to his kingdom. So, the Ego (Ravana) has to play its final game in an attempt to not let it happen. Thus, the first move is taken by Ego’s Sister – Shurpanakha. Shall we explore the meaning? Shurpa-Nakha means Big/Large-Nails. And what do we do with our nails? No marks for guessing that, we scratch of course.
The moment this neophyte Sadhak sits for “Meditation” or “Jap Mala” and tries to Concentrate his/her Mind (An Ekagrachitta/Concentrated/Focussed Mind is Laksh-Man). There comes the marriage proposal from Shurpanakha. One feels scratchy and itchy here and there. So next time we feel scratchy while Meditating or Japa, lets not take the Surpanakha (Nails) to get married to Lakshman. Control…Observe…Get Over…lets slay her nose and drive her out!
The festival of Dussehra will be celebrated on Oct 17
Dr Robert Svoboda
(Based on views of Aghori Vimalanand)