Ramayana - Yoga Vashishtha and Ahalya Udhdhar
Though Ramayana does not include this part, Yoga-Vashishtha is very important in Shri Ram’s spiritual enlightenment. Shri Ram goes for pilgrimage and gets sahaj vairagya after seeing the apparent reality of the world. This worries his father, King Dasaratha. Sage Vasistha consoles the king by telling him that Ram's vairagya is a sign that he is now ready for spiritual enlightenment. He says that Ram has begun understanding profound spiritual truths, which is the cause of his confusion and he just needs clear guidance. The sage begins the discussion with Ram which is called “Yoga-Vashishtha”. Ram talks about impermanence of all things and shows his disinterest in any Karma. He argues that nothing is permanent and no Karma gives permanent joy. Then why should we do Karma? Guru Vashishtha narrates him various stories and teaches him about science of Karma and more. Yoga Vasistha is considered amongst the most important scripture of the Vedantic philosophy.
Sage Vishwamitra comes to Ayodhya to get the help of Ram for the protection of yagna from demons. King Dasarath reluctantly agrees for that. When Ram is going somewhere, Lakshman can’t stay behind. They have never parted with each-other and he also goes with Ram. The motive behind Vishwamitra’s plan to take Ram was two fold. First, he wanted Ram to come out of Ayodhya and meet common men in their journey. Till now Ram had studied at Guru-ashram and then stayed at Ayodhya’s palace. People really didn’t know him well yet. By going to their place, people got to see virtues and noble character of Ram. Ram was going to be Yuvraj of Ayodhya. He must have jan-mat (people’s consent) for it. This was the first motive.
Second motive was much more important. He knew that there will be “Sita-Swayamvar” at Mithila. Knowing Sita’s virtue and character, he knew that Ram is the only fitting groom for her. So he took Ram with him for this grand purpose. Protecting Yagna was not at all difficult for a Sage like Vishwamitra. If he wanted, he could have done it by himself.
After Ram-Lakshman killed all the demons and successfully protected the Yagna, they got the news about Sita-Swayamvar. Vishwamitra tells Ram that there is a very age old holy Shiv Dhanush at Mithila. They should go there to have darshan of that. They will also take part in Sita-Swayamvara. During the journey, they found Gautam Ashram which was completely deserted. Vishwamitra tells them about story of Gautam muni and Ahalya. As the story says, Indra disguised as Gautam and did adultery with her. Gautam cursed both Indra and Ahalya. Some reference says he cursed her to do Tapas to remove materialistic desires. Some says she was made into a stone. Vishwamitra tells this story and told them that she is waiting for someone. When Ram asked waiting for whose coming? Vishwamitra replied: "One who can uplift the fallen. All know how to judge, blame and punish someone but the redeemer of sin who raises the fallen is rare indeed. Touch of such a great soul's feet redeem all sins". Then Ram touched the stone with his feet and Ahalya got freed.
One may think that Ahalya did not know that it was not Gautam and she should not be blamed for that. However, Gautam muni understood it. Why he cursed Ahalya was because they were living an austere life there. Getting materialistic desires is considered as a setback in their spiritual sadhana. He asked Ahalya to do austere penance in rectitude so that she can come out of her desires. The symbolic meaning of this tale is quite deep.
Indra having adultery with her should not be taken in literal sense. Indra represents our five Indriya and Mind. Here adultery means mind and Indriya took control of Ahalya. When instead of your consciousness your mind runs you, materialistic desires can haunt you anytime. Once our spiritual power becomes weak, any novice sadhak feels the attraction of materialistic pleasures to be greater that spiritual joy. Sadhak gets carried away with it and it requires more sadhana to come back to same stage. Thus, Gautma muni advised her to do more sadhana and went for hermitage.
The symbolic story that she became a stone says that she took all the Indriyas inside her such that she became as inert as a stone. A materialistic mind always reacts. A stable mind watches. A Sthit-pragya Sadhak has all its Indriyas in control of oneself. One can then see how mind plays all the tricks in making you believe all that it wants. Ahalya was doing this sadhana for quite a long time. When Ram comes to meet her, she met them and realized that her penance is completed. She might have had some satsang with Vishwamitra and Ram-Lakshman. Ram was embodiment of love and wisdom. By the touch of him, Ahalya realized that she has become pure now. She then left to meet Gautam Muni.
Ram-Lakshman started for Mithilapuri along with Vishwamitra. Their fame had already reached there. People of Mithila were eager to see the princes who conquered demons and transformed Ahalya from a stone to a woman.
Jay Shri Ram !
P.S: Watch episode 5 online.
P.S: Watch episode 5 online.