In the last couple of episodes we discussed in detail, the two major forms of “Bhakthi” (Devotion) that are stressed upon in the Valmiki Ramayana. The first form of “Bhakthi” is being a blind follower of Bhagawan and being totally engrossed into the service (Seva) to the Lord and this is called “Seshathvam”. The second form of Bhakthi is being a follower of Bhagawan, but according to His wish and will. This is called “Paarathanthriyam”. We also saw in due course of the discussion that Lakshmana was an epitome and an embodiment of “Seshathvam” and Bharata was an epitome and an embodiment of “Paaarathanthriyam”. In today’s episode we would be witnessing two important aspects – Firstly we shall discuss the significance of Shathrughna’s birth, and subsequently discuss which form of Bhakthi is better than the other.
So far, we’ve spoken about the purposes of birth of three out of the four brothers – Rama, Lakshmana and Bharata. Now when we talk about the purpose of birth for Shathrughna, it would be interesting that Shathrughna also stood as an epitome of both “Seshathvam” and “Paarathanthriyam”, but not towards Bhagawan. It was towards the “Bhaagawatha” (Devotee of the Lord) – Here in this context, Bharata. Hence we can see here that whatever forms of Bhakthi Lakshmana and Bharata exhibited towards Bhagawan, Shathrughna exhibited the same towards Bharatha – The Bhaagawatha. Thus Shathrugna stands for “Bhaagawatha Seshathvam” and “Bhaagawatha Paarathanthriyam”.
Now we have three forms of Bhakthi in our minds – “Bhagwad Seshathvam”, “Bhagawad Paarathanthriyam”, “Bhaagawadha Seshathvam/Paarathanthriyam”. Which one of the three is the best? Which one of these three is the best one for us to follow? We had already started this discussion a little bit in the last episode – Bharata was in a state of Bhakthi wherein he was ready to do whatever Bhagawan (Lord Rama) wanted him to do! He was prepared to stay away from Rama for fourteen years and was also prepared to be the caretaker of the kingdom till Rama came back to Ayodhya, whereas, Lakshmana was not ready to go to this extent. Lakshmana was steadfast in following Rama to the forest, although Rama tried to stop him from coming along. Hence we can see here that Lakshamana’s primary aim was to exhibit Bhakthi according to his own wish, whereas Bharata’s primary aim was to exhibit Bhakthi according to Bhagawan’s wish. Thus we can infer from the above explanation that, Bharata was one step higher than Lakshmana in terms of devotion! Of course, Lakshmana was deeply involved in the seva to the Lord every minute. I do not deny that fact! However, when it comes to the comparison between the different forms of Bhakthi, it is always said that “Paarathanthriyam” is always one step higher than “Seshathvam”. In other words, “Paarathanthriyam” is a more refined form of Bhakthi as compared to “Seshathvam”.
Now coming to the third form – “Bhaagawatha Seshathvam/Paarathanthriyam”, I’ve already discussed during one of the previous episodes that Bhagawan has a special liking for people who are the devotees of His ardent devotee (Bhaagawatha Bhakthas). If the reader can recollect, I also mentioned one important point during the “Naming Ceremony” – What is the significance of the name “Shathrughna”? He was the only person who defeated the “Shathru” (Enemy) of “Rama-Bhakthi” and stood as an epitome to protect “Bharatha-Bhakthi”. From the above two explanations, it might be inferred that the third form of Bhakthi – “Bhaagwatha Seshathvam/Paarathanthriyam” is the highest form of Bhakthi amongst the three! This is why we say that Lakshmana is one step higher than Rama himself. Bharata is one step higher than Lakshmana and Shathrughna is at the highest order, as compared to the rest of the three brothers! Also, this is one reason why, in most of the “Vaishnava” Literature, we would find the mention of Shathrughna and Bharata as “Shathrughna Aalwaan” and “Bharatha Aalwaan” respectively (The term “Aalwaan” is a kind of respect, just like a “Dr.” for a Medical practitioner in the modern day), whereas we wouldn’t be able to come across this usage as “Lakshmana Aalwaan”. It is because, when compared with “Seshathvam”, “Paarathanthriyam” is a higher order of Bhakthi and hence, “Bharatha – Aalwaan”. Since, “Bhaagawatha Seshathvam/Paarathanthriyam” is of an even higher order, we mention “Shathrughna – Aalwaan”.
Thus, we have now seen the separate purposes of birth of all the four brothers and also the three main forms of Bhakthi. Now it’s time to move on with the story. What happened next? What are the series of events that unfolded after this point? Let’s wait till the next episode to find out!