Episode 43 – Two main forms of “Bhakthi” as described in Valmiki Ramayana – The form of “Seshathvam”


In the previous episode we witnessed that Lord Rama along with his three brothers took birth at Ayodhya as the sons of King Dasharata. In that course we discussed a very important significance of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Rama. Also, towards the end of the last episode we witnessed quickly that these four children spent their next twelve years in the “Gurukula” (The ancient concept of a school) under the able mentorship of Sage Vashishtaachaarya.

As the four children started growing up, their bonding with each other increased manifold and were extremely unique compared to other students in the ashram of Sage Vashishtaachaarya. In what way were these brothers unique? The answer is very simple – It is the “Bhakthi” (Devotion) that set these four brothers apart! You might all ask me, how can “Bhakthi” set them apart? Whom they were all devoted to? In what way they were devoted? To answer all these coherent questions, at this point, I remember two important philosophical ideas pertaining to different forms of Bhakthi. Let’s discuss one of them in today’s episode and the next one tomorrow.

Let’s now get back to the Valmiki Ramayana text. In this context, once the four children were born Valmiki Maharishi explains the purpose behind the birth of each of the four children – Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shathrugna. Valmiki Maharishi says the following:

“Raamasya lokha raamasya praahurjeshtasya nithyashaha!

Sarvappriyakarastasya raamasyaapi shareerathaha!!”

As we all know, Rama was the “Jeshta-Braatha” (Meaning, the eldest of all). The main purpose of Rama’s incarnation is to re-establish in this world, the “Dharma” that the youngsters should pay heed and obey the words of their elders. For instance, a son should obey the words of his father, a student should obey the words of his teacher, a younger brother should obey the words of his elder brother and in this way, the words of an elderly person should be obeyed by the people who are younger. In order to establish and re-establish this “Dharma”, Lord Rama incarnated in this world.

The next was Lakshmana – What is the main purpose behind Lakshmana’s incarnation? The answer to this question is that, Lakshmana was born in this world to be an epitome of an important idea of “Bhakthi” called “Seshathvam”. What is this “Seshathvam”? It simply means being a “Sevaka” to Bhagawan. In other words it means that, being of service to the Lord is the only purpose of this human life.

To describe this idea further, let me start this way: For instance, if someone asks us who is the “Aatman” (Inner soul)? I had spoken about this in previous episodes; however, let’s remind ourselves with this important concept. If someone points to a table and asks us what is this? We would immediately reply that it is a table! If someone points to an apple and asks us what is this? We would again immediately reply that it is a fruit by name “apple”. However, if someone asks a question, “What is ‘Aatman’? What will our answer be? The answer should be, the “Aatman” (inner soul) is “Nyaathruthvam” – means, the “Aathman” is an embodiment of the supreme knowledge of the Divine. It doesn’t stop here. Secondly, the “Aathman” is “Aanandamayathvam” – Means, the “Aatman” is an embodiment of unending divine happiness and bliss. There is also a third important explanation here – The “Aatman” is nothing but the one that is bounded to Bhagawan completely. If there is one way to generalize all the “Aatmans” in this world, we can say that all of them are Bhagawan’s “Sesha-Bhoothaas” (Soldiers of Bhagawan, waiting to obey his commands).

Thus, we can infer the meaning of the term “Seshathvam” from the above explanation. What is “Seshathvam”? It is nothing but the “Aatman” being in complete service (Seva) to the Lord. This is why we see that, Lakshmana was with Lord Rama every minute and especially during the fourteen years of exile in the forest, he obeyed each and every word of Lord Rama and offered his selfless service day and night! Thus we can see here that Lakshmana was an epitome of the idea that the purpose of birth of a “Jeevaathma” was to be of service to the “Paramaathma” (Bhagawan). This is called “Seshathvam”.

For today, let’s limit our understanding to this point. Do we really follow this concept of “Seshathvam” today in our daily lives? How can we incorporate this form of Bhakthi into our everyday routine? Let us wait to find out the answers for these important questions in the next episode!


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