On His way back after killing Ravana, Agatsya Muni and other rishis were praising Lord Ramacandra for His greatness. At that time Lord Ramacandra told them that “even though Ravana was a rakshasa, he was the grandson of Brahma and the son of a great Brahman Visrava. I must atone for the sin of killing Ravana.” There was no need for the Lord to perform such atonement. But it was His noble, humble nature.
The sages told Lord Ramacandra that Ravana was a great devotee of Siva, who gave him great benediction. So You should perform pooja to Lord Siva. You should get a Siva lingam from Kailash and worship that Siva linga. So Lord Ramacandra told Hanuman to get a Siva linga from Kailash. Hanuman went to Kailash and began to perform tapasya. But it was getting late and the auspicious time for the pooja was passing. So Sita devi with her own hands, made a Siva linga out of sand. Lord Ramacandra performed pooja to the Siva linga made by Sita devi. At that time Hanuman returned with the Siva linga but he felt very sad that he could not serve Lord Ramacandra Lord Ramacandra then told Hanuman that he could remove this Siva linga made by Sita devi and place the Siva linga that he has brought from Kailash. Hanuman tried to remove the Siva linga but he was unsuccessful. He wrapped his tail around the Siva linga and jumped but Siva linga didn’t move. Hanuman lifted mountains but he could not move a Siva linga. Hanuman was humbled and he understood that all the strength of the devotees is coming from Srimati Sita devi.
Then Lord Ramacandra told Hanuman that you install your Siva linga next to Sita devi’s and I command all My devotees that they should first worship the Siva linga brought by you and then they should worship the Siva linga made by Sita devi.
Then Lord Siva and Parvati appeared and proclaimed that anyone who bathes in Dhanushkoti and then worships me here, I will liberate them. Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 12 chapter 13 verse 16 describes “vaisnavam yatha sambhuh” Lord Siva is the greatest Vaishnava. When Lord Ramacandra worshipped Siva that was an expression of His love towards His devotees. Similarly Lord Sri Krishna worshipped Sudama vipra and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu danced before the deity of Lord Siva.
Lord explains, mad-bhakta-pujabhyadhika, that worship of My devotee is better than worshipping Me directly. Lord Ramacandra taught us by His own example that how even He is eager to be the servant of the servant of the servant of His devotees.
After the war of Lanka was over and Ravana was dead, Lord Ramacandra asked Hanuman to get Sita. After 10 months of intense separation from her beloved, she was seeing Rama. She was very elated and she drank the beauty of Sri Rama through her lotus like eyes. Tears of ecstasy filled her eyes and her heart was overflowing with happiness.
Relationship between the Lord and His devotees are of two types: Vipralamba and Sambhoga. Vipralamba is state of separation between the Lord and His devotees and Sambhoga is the state of union. Vipralamba causes one’s love for the Lord to find shelter deeper in the innermost recesses of our heart and Sambhoga causes that joy to come out. The experience of the intensity of meeting is so much enhanced after separation.
Actually there can be no separation from the Lord for anyone. Lord Sri Krishna explains in Bhagavad-Gita chapter 18 verse 61,
isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese ’rjuna tisthati
bhramayan sarva-bhutani yantrarudhani mayaya
The Lord is situated as Paramatma, the supersoul in the heart of every living being. The Upanishads explain that the soul and the Supersoul are like two birds sitting on the same tree. One of the birds is busy trying to enjoy the fruits of the tree and the other bird is simply observing his activities. However sinful and wretched we may become, Lord never rejects us. Even if a living entity is cast into the body of an insect, reptile or a tree, still the Lord lovingly accompanies us. But due to our own conditionings of becoming infatuated, obsessed and attached to external ego and superficial mental and physical pleasures, we have lost the ability to connect with that person who is closest to us always.
Lord comes to this world again and again to remind us that He is with us always. He speaks scriptures that give us the eternal standards of Sanatana dharma. The Lord gave this knowledge to Brahma even before the creation took place. And through him the Lord taught all of us the purpose of creation and how to live in this creation. The Lord reveals through the hearts of His devotes the direction and the inspiration by which we can be reconnected with Him.
Lord Sri Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-Gita, bhaktya tv ananyaya sakya aham evam-vidho ‘rjuna, “My dear Arjuna, only by undivided devotional service can I be understood as I am, standing before you, and can thus be seen directly.” It is not by our intelligence, our knowledge, our tapasya, our managerial skills, our physical strength, our wealth, there is no material method by which we could see God. It is possible only when the Lord by His infinite grace reveals Himself to us. Bhagavad-Gita chapter 4 verse 11 states:
ye yatha mam prapadyante tams tathaiva bhajamy aham
mama vartmanuvartante manusyah partha sarvasah
The Lord reveals Himself according to our surrender, according to how we take shelter. Bhakti is that science by which we take shelter and as long as there is false ego, we cannot really take shelter. It is superficial.
daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te
(Bhagavad-Gita chapter 7 verse 14) When we realize that without the help of the Lord there is no hope, then we can take shelter of the Lord and then the Lord reveals Himself when we approach Him with love.
Sita is the hiadini shakti, the pleasure potency of the Lord. She is the source of all love. Rama or Krishna or Narayana is the shaktiman, the Supreme object of everyone’s love. And His eternal consort is the Supreme abode of love, the supreme whole of all love. The jiva is Krishna’s infinitesimal part and parcel and our love for the Lord is also part and parcel of the love of Sita, Radha or Laxmi. The greatest mystery of all the shastra is how the Supreme Lord becomes subordinate to the love of His devotees. Sridama defeats Krishna. Krishna’s expansion – Maha Vishnu creates the entire cosmic manifestation by exhaling and annihilates by inhaling. How could a little cowherd boy defeat Krishna. Krishna takes greater pleasure by being defeated by the love of His devotee. Krishna who is feared by the fear personified is in fear of Yashoda mayi who was a simple gopi. This is the power of Bhakti.
So the supreme reservoir of bhakti, Sita devi, after ten months of separation is standing before Sri Rama. It is like seeing the sun after long period of darkness. But the Lord’s expressions were very grave. He practically ignored her. Lord told her, “Since you have stayed for 10 months in the house of another man, I cannot accept you. You can go wherever you like. I have performed my dharma for the sake of the demigods.” Upon hearing these words she fell to the ground crying and weeping. Everyone present was crying, except Rama. The peak of her joy crashed down into the lowest depth of sorrow and pain. She was devastated. She looked at Laxmana and told him to start fire. Laxmana looked at Rama as if asking, “Why are You doing this?” But Sri Rama simply nodded His head, and that nod meant, “Yes Laxmana, start the fire.”
With trembling hands Laxmana collected the wood and started fire. Sita very gently circumambulated Rama and then she circumambulated fire and spoke, “If even for a moment, my mind is not in faithful and chaste remembrance of Lord Rama, then this fire burns me.” After offering her obeisances to Rama, she entered into fire. The flames were so huge that no one could see anything. Everyone began to cry, even Lord Rama broke down and began to cry.
Suddenly Agni, the presiding deity of fire, appeared with Sita in his arms. She was dressed with beautiful clothes, garlanded with a mala of fresh celestial flowers. Agnideva testified that there was not a single moment when she was not having the thought of Your pure loving devotional service. Upon hearing this Ram was thrilled. He smiled and welcomed Sita back home by His loving embrace. Then Rama explained to her that He never had any doubts upon her chastity and purity. But being the king He had to set a proper example and also He wanted to glorify Sita for her purity and chastity.
Returning to Ayodhya At that time Lord Siva appeared and proclaimed that the 14 years of Rama’s exile is finished, and now He can return to Ayodhya where everyone is waiting for Him. Then Lord Siva pointed into the sky where Maharaja Dasratha was riding on a celestial airplane. Maharaja Dasratha came down from his chariot, embraced Lord Sri Ramacandra and sat beside Him. Dasratha Maharaja said, “Living in Indra’s abode is a good, but it cannot compare to this moment of being reunited with You my son. The ultimate happiness of my life will be when You return to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom.” He then embraced Laxmana, showered his love on Sita and returned to his abode.
Sri Rama looked at Vibhisana and asked him how to return to Ayodhya. Vibhisana said, “Pushpak, the celestial chariot, which was originally with Kuvera but was stolen by Ravana, is now Yours.” At that time Pushpak descended and Lord Rama along with Sita and Laxmana ascended. Sugriva asked if they could also accompany the Lord and witness His coronation. Lord Rama agreed and all the monkey soldiers boarded the Pushpak. Lord then asked Vibhisana to also come along. As they were flying in Pushpak, Lord showed various places to Sita, where They had performed pastimes. As the plane was flying over Kishkindha, Lord asked all the monkeys to get their families also.
Before the Lord boarded the Pushpak, many demigods came to offer blessings to the Lord. Lord Rama asked Indra to revive all the monkey soldiers who had been wounded or died in the war. Indra poured celestial water on the monkeys and they all got revived with healthy bodies. He then asked Vibhisana to give abundant wealth to each of the monkey who had risked their lives for His sake.
The Lord on every level felt indebted to His devotees. What is really beautiful in this story is not the jewels or gold that gave them happiness, it was the Lord’s love being expressed through them that made them happy. The Lord is bhavagrahi janardana, He does not accept the things, He accepts the mood in which they is offered. When one is doing puja to the archa murti, Krishna does not need your little lamp of light, it is not as if He cannot see without it. There are Kamdhenu cows who can give unlimited amounts of milk and ghee. Lord says that He is the light of the sun. So He doesn’t need our things but because the Lord has instructed and when we offer with love Lord accepts our offerings.
As Lord told, Vibhisana gave them abundant wealth, for what they have done for Him. It’s not the healthy bodies or wealth made them happy but everything they were given melted their hearts because it was the Lord’s way of expressing His infinite love and gratitude towards them. So this is reciprocation. It is the intent that gives pleasure to the Lord when we offer anything. When a devotee is in the sunshine, there is a little pleasure thinking how nice the sun is here to keep me warm and give me light. But how much more happiness when we feel that it is the Lord’s love, Lord’s compassion that I am getting through this sunlight. Whatever health I have that is Lord’s love and grace towards me. When we recognize the Lord’s love, we feel that love in every situation and in everything. That is a transcendental state of consciousness, when we recognize the mercy of God’s love manifesting through so many mediums.
Lord stopped at Prayaga to receive the blessings of Bharadwaja Muni. He was a great rishi staying on the bank of the confluence of three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Lord along with Sita and Laxmana offered obesiances. Bharadwaja muni told Lord Rama, “My disciples are regularly going to Ayodhya and getting reports for me. They are all waiting for You. Bharat is still living in Nandigram. Please do not delay; by tomorrow morning please be there at Ayodhya.” Vibhisana had arranged for Rama’s ceremonial bath with celestial waters and royal clothes. But Lord Rama rejected it all and told that unless Bharat puts on the robes of a prince I’ll also not accept it. This was the love of the Lord for His loving devotees.
Sri Rama told Hanuman to go ahead and tell Bharat about His arrival the next morning. Lord told Hanuman to carefully study Bharat’s response, “If you sense in him even the slightest attachment that he may have in ruling the kingdom then I will make sure he remains the emperor and I will be there to serve him.”
Hanuman first went to Guha and told him to come to Ayodhya to attend Rama’s coronation. Then he arrived at Nandigram and he saw that Bharat was having matted hairs, he was wearing a black deerskin and since he had been practically fasting for last 14 years, he was emaciated. He looked very sorrowful drowning in the ocean of sorrow in separation from his brother.
Hanuman approached him and told him that Lord Rama is arriving the next morning. When Bharat heard this he swooned and fainted in ecstasy. Hanuman saw in Bharat that there was not even a trace of anything but loving service to Sri Rama. Bharat instructed his brother Shatrughna to make elaborate arrangements in Ayodhya for welcoming Lord Rama. The citizens ran to Nandigram to welcome the Lord. Everyone was very eagerly waiting and finally they saw the Pushpak in the sky. Upon seeing the Lord of their hearts, all the citizens very loudly cried out “Jai Sita Rama”.
Upon getting down from the Pushpak, Lord embraced Bharat. They could not give up each other’s embrace. Satrughna was embracing with Laxmana in such a way that all the citizens were overcome with emotion and shouted the holy names – “Jai Sita Rama”.
Lord Rama then saw His mother standing in a corner. He approached her and clasped her feet. Kaushalya picked her up and embraced Him. Maharaja Janaka, who was called by Bharat, lovingly looked upon Sita who endured so much trouble. This supreme reunion very much symbolizes the reconnection of the soul with God in the spiritual world. That type of union is waiting for each and every one of us. When in the mood of Bharat we take shelter, when in the mood of Vibhisana and Hanuman, who have taught us the standard of loving service that is the very key to the doors of Vaikuntha. Under the supervision of Vashishtha Lord Rama’s coronation was performed. Bharat brought the sandals, and he told Sri Rama, “Your sandals are here. These sandals have ruled over the kingdom for the last 14 years. I have been just a trustee and servant. Since You have gone the power and wealth of Ayodhya have increased 10 times. This is the power of Your grace that has manifested though Your sandals. Now the kingdom is Yours.”
Beautiful chariots brought Sri Rama and Sita back into the town of Ayodhya. The celebration went on for one month. Nobody could leave. First he sent back all the kings to their kingdoms and gave them gifts for their faithfulness and kindness. Then the Lord encouraged Sugriva, Hanuman and other vanaras to return to Kishkindha.