Exploration of Consciousness: Contemplating Rama and Hanuman
by Achintyachintaka on 09 Apr 2018 25 Comments

Rama the observing ego, or Atman, is given his name to signify his enjoyment in getting to experience the world through the body he resides in. The Sanskrit root “rama” means to play and enjoy. This is the divine component in each individual and He also is simultaneously the Paramatman, the Universal Consciousness. The very fact that he is all “human” is because during his human role Rama has amnesia of his true divine nature. This is like all humans.


This sets the unique stage of Ramayana to make it a human drama with a plot to weave a story of a King called Dasharatha, symbolically driven by ten chariots. The symbolism of ten chariots is the human being driven by five senses and five action drives. The same ten becoming aberrant and wild, greedy for power, wealth, invincibility, etc. are depicted in the symbolism of ten heads or mouths (Dashamukha) in the image of Ravana.


After many years of longing for a son to continue the dynasty of Raghuvansha, Dasharatha’s wives bear Rama and his brothers with divine intervention. Here again there is a suggestion that though a human being with all human attributes, this all-pervading Rama, the divine in all human beings, remains innocent and oblivious of his true identity as nothing but the Universal Consciousness, the Paramatman. Hence, though showing the ideal image of a mature human being, human Rama has the same suffering as the other human beings around him with the sway of all emotions common to mankind.


The following equation is the beginning:

Rama (the divine Self) + Sita (the elements of the Earth) = Basic infrastructure for all living beings.


The divine Self is inert and dispassionate in the original form (Nirguna Brahman) and acquires the qualities or Gunas becoming Saguna Brahman, creating another essential entity for life to exist. Living beings are not a cocktail and cannot be created with a recipe of different chemical molecules including DNA in any special proportions. Saguna Brahman has to create a primordial life giving force in the form of Prana. If Prana or Rama are taken away from the living being, the living being is deemed deceased.


Rama + Sita + Prana = Living being

This is the holy trinity of Ramayana, with the addition of Lakshman we see the Ram Parivar. This imagery is very sacred to all Hindus.


This third essential divinity is Hanuman, Pavanasuta or Son of Prana. Prana is traditionally compared to Vayu which is loosely translated as air or wind. Thus Hanuman is capable of bringing life to a person on the verge of losing his life (Prana). Hanuman brings Lakshman back to life when on his death bed, by bringing the life sustaining Sanjivani to revive him.


Rama needs to unite inseparably with Sita, the daughter of the earth, and suffer the pangs of separation from her also. He is totally left to be in the darkness of the Unconscious in close association with the primitive instincts and impulses represented by vaanaras as well as many evil forces. He has to overcome Ravana, the ten-headed one, representing the caricature of unrestrained five senses and five karmendriyas (drives) gone wild, before he can reunite with Sita in a harmonious manner.


In this journey, he discovers many themes in the Unconscious like fratricide, (story of Vali), primitive punishment fantasies for expressions of female sexuality with disfigurement (Shoorpanakha), delayed expressions of infanticidal impulses in his stepmother (Kaikeyi), etc. This journey and experiencing these themes dispassionately and accepting these as ubiquitous or universal in human psyche makes him set an example for all humans as to how humans can expect to encounter these in their unconscious and cope with them.


The genius of the poet Valmiki and later Tulsidas, is to make Rama the ideal human who can be resilient. Their creativity is in desensitizing the readers to the affects connected with these horrible themes by projecting them on to “others” while life takes unexpected turns with fate and good fortune, both in Rama’s and Sita’s lives.


Banishment and abandonment are painful but are accepted as if they are not uncommon plights. Not all human weaknesses are spared in the character of Rama as he indeed is all human. There is a constant effort to overcome the conflicts, instincts, and drives in the Unconscious with equanimity, to emerge victorious.


Reading Ramayana and emotionally resonating with it provides a profound psychotherapeutic treatment to the human mind, unwittingly subjecting it to a form of psychoanalysis at an unconscious level for those who read Ramayana during the season around Rama-navami. This touch and go method is far more effective for the comfort of the human mind rather than the clinical psychoanalysis that squarely and sometimes painfully uncovers everything in the individual Unconscious.


Psychoanalysis tries to make all the repressed traumatic memories, conflicts, and fantasies conscious by lifting the repression. It goes without saying psychoanalysis was not the goal of the poets and neither is it available to larger masses even in modern times. This en passant interpretation of Ramayana is intended to bring to light yet another added value of the Ramayana for devotees or other readers.


Ramayana is a science of Adhyatma (Adhi+Atma) or science of what is beyond the visible or perceivable Atma in the narrow sense of “Me”. Adhyatma Shastra or the science of the domain of Adhyatma is made digestibly easy through the poetic talents of Valmiki and Tulsidas. We are all wrapped up in “Me” for most of our life and are lost in the darkness of unresolved conflicts, “dandakaranya”, like Rama was for fourteen years. To emerge victorious like Rama in the psychological and Adhyatmic struggle, we have to successfully negotiate through the Unconscious of Dandakaranya of our own, each one facing his/her own challenges while maturing.


The ideal of Hanuman, who stays close to Rama, Prana devoted to Rama that offers the strength and courage to every human being on his/her path on his/her journey through the Unconscious to reach the goal of ultimately experiencing the true nature of Paramatman to transcend the “Me.”  A form of psychological growth to maturity from the toddler years of Rama and accepting the reality that the earthly elements have to return to the earth (Sita has to be engulfed into the lap of Mother Earth) that makes the end of Rama more comprehensible. He is then ready to merge into Paramatman with ease. It is all about accepting life and death with exemplary grace. So Rama attains the status of Purushottam or the ideal (Adarsh) “man,” that was an ordinary and simultaneously an extraordinary human being traveling gracefully from the Unconscious to the Supraconscious. Understood in this light, Ramayana is a delightful exploration of Consciousness. 

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