Sri Rama Navami: Conducting Yourself Gracefully
Sadhguru: A very large part of the Indian population worships Rama, but if you look at the situations in his life, and the way life happened to him, it seems like a continuous series of disasters. He loses the kingdom that is rightfully his and ends up in the forest. Then his wife gets kidnapped and he has to fight a brutal war even though he does not want to. Then when he brings his wife back, he has to suffer very uncharitable comments about her from everybody around. So he takes his wife, who was very dear to him and is pregnant with two children, and leaves her in the forest. Then he unknowingly ends up in a battle against his own children and then finally loses his wife. His life was a continuous disaster. With all that, why do so many people worship Rama?
The significance of Rama
The significance of Rama is not in the situations he faced in his life. The significance is with how much gracefulness he conducted himself through this series of disasters that occurred to him.
People seeking liberation and a graceful life sought Rama because they understood and had the wisdom to see that even with lots of management, external situations can go wrong at any moment. You may have everything organized, but if a cyclone hits you, it can take away everything. These things are happening around us right now. They may not be happening to us, but they are happening to thousands of people around us. “Oh it will not happen to me,” is a foolish way to live. “Even if it happens, I will go through it gracefully,” is a wise way to live. People sought Rama because they saw this phenomenal wisdom. Though life became a continuous series of disasters, never once did he waver from his truthfulness, from the fundamentals of life that he set up for himself. He just hung on to what he had to do, and conducted his life with utmost balance.
A tradition of seeking disasters!
In fact, for people on the spiritual path, there is a tradition of seeking disasters. Many spiritual seekers go about asking for something to go wrong with their life because they want themselves to be fully tested before death approaches. They want to be “quality checked.” No matter what happens, they will go through it gracefully, because when the moment of shedding the body comes, that is the time you will lose your balance. Everything is fine, but the moment when everything that you know as reality is going to slip off from your hands, that is the time when you lose your control a bit. So people sought disasters.
For example, Akka Mahadevi, who was married to a king, but who right from her childhood had completely given herself to Shiva, goes about saying, “Oh Shiva, make me hungry but make sure that I do not get any food. And in case I get it, before I put it in my mouth, make sure it falls off my hands. Before I pick it up from the ground, make sure a hungry dog eats it. Make me go through everything, so that I will learn to conduct myself gracefully irrespective of what the outside situation is.” It is an extreme form of devotion. You want to be ready; when the moment of leaving comes, you do not want to falter even a bit because that is the moment you need to handle gracefully. It takes some practice. If it suddenly happens one day, you will not be able to handle it. So they are consciously seeking trials and tribulations in their life.
It has been the tradition everywhere in the world that if one takes the spiritual path, the first thing is to consciously seek poverty. To conduct yourself gracefully through poverty is not an easy thing – it will test you in every way. When you are hungry, all sense of being human is lost and you become like an animal. To conduct yourself gracefully when you are hungry is not an easy thing. If you see yogis in India, they never ask for anything, they just keep going. You can see they are hungry, they have not eaten for days sometimes, but they will conduct themselves so gracefully. If you just offer one meal, they will take it, but if you offer money for one more meal they will not take it because they want that challenge to be there in their life all the time. Because if you take money for two meals today, tomorrow you will logically convince yourself to take money for ten meals. Once you add one, one more becomes logically acceptable. Then slowly you will organize your whole life and it will grow endlessly. Just see to what extent we have taken our survival process. We have raised our survival process to the sky and still it is not enough. So if you give one meal, these yogis will receive it but if you give money for one more meal, he will say no, because he wants that trial in his life continuously.
Rama – Embodiment of Grace
So people worship Rama not because of the success in his life, but for the gracefulness with which he conducted the most difficult moments. That is what is valued; that is the highest value in one’s life. It is not the question of how much you have, what you did, what happened or what did not happen. Whatever happened, how did you conduct yourself? That is what determines the quality of who you are. You may make a billion dollars because the market is doing well. That does not mean anything. It is a social situation. In your society you may be a millionaire. In another society you may look like a failure. It does not mean anything. It is all right to enjoy the comforts that come with it, but the important thing about the making of the human being is, whatever the situation, how gracefully can you handle it? You will see this happening to lots of people: they look perfectly fine till one big challenge comes in their life. Then you will see who they are. When something does not go the way they think it should go, they spill themselves all over the place.
People are always giving thanks for the things that they get. Things that you get will not add to your life. You can see this if you come to India. There will be a huge house right next to a shanty. But the person living in the little hut is as proud as you are; and that is nice, that a human being carries himself well, not with just pride but with gracefulness, irrespective of how somebody else is. Even if you have to go to the gallows you still walk gracefully. This is the quality of the human being. The rest is only the quality of the situation.
Does this mean to say we should not manage our life properly? No, we manage what is around us well because it is good for everybody. If the situation is well-managed it need not necessarily make me feel wonderful. I will feel wonderful only when I can conduct myself gracefully through every situation. But you manage the situation because you are concerned about everybody’s wellbeing.
Rama tried to manage the situations in his life, but he could not always do that. He lived in difficult times and things went out of control, but the important thing is that he always conducted himself gracefully. This is the fundamental essence of becoming spiritual. If you want the right kind of ambience for your being to flower into a beautiful fragrant flower, you must constantly create an atmosphere of grace.