Unity in the ‘Ram Naam’
   05-Nov-2019
From Kabir’s Nirguna Ram to Tulsi’s Saguna Isht and Ram Jaap in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, from Iqbal’s ‘Imam-e-Hind’ and ‘Charag-e-Hidayat’ to Gandhi’s ‘My Ram’, Sri Ram continues to be the connecting fabric of the Bharatiya civilisation! The construction of Sri Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will unite the Bharatvasis as a whole.
 
 
Construction of a grand temple at Ayodhya, considered the birthplace of Sri Ram, will eliminate a big reason for disagreements between Hindus and Muslims. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghachalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat has time and again reiterated this position. Emphasising that how the construction of Sri Ram Mandir will be an uniting factor, earlier this year, at the 3-days RSS Lecture series in the national caption, Dr Bhagwat remarked that, “The building of Ram mandir will end a major issue of friction between Hindus and Muslims. And if it is done amicably, it will automatically silence those who points finger at the Muslim community.”
 
Dr Bhagwat also remarked that, “Ram is Bhagwan (god) for many, but there are some who consider him as an icon of maryada (moral standard), for some he is imam-e-hind (spiritual leader). This is an issue of faith for all sections of society that where his birthplace is, there should be a temple.”
 
What is there in the persona and spirit of Sri Ram that he continues to unite the Indians across the board? What is the magic and miracle of ‘Ram Naam’ that it has been revered by Hindus and Muslims alike?
 
Etymology of ‘Ram Naam’
 
Ram is a Vedic Sanskrit word with two contextual meanings. In one context as found in Arthavaveda, states Monier Monier-Williams, it means "dark, dark-colored, and black" and is related to the term ratri which means night. In another context as found in other Vedic texts, the word means "pleasing, delightful, charming, beautiful, and lovely". The word is sometimes used as a suffix in different Indian languages and religions, such as Pali in Buddhist texts, where -Ram adds the sense of "pleasing to the mind, lovely" to the composite word.
 
Ram as a first name appears in the Vedic literature, associated with two patronymic names – Margaveya and Aupatasvini – representing different individuals. A third individual named Ram Jamadagnya is the purported author of hymn 10.110 of the Rigveda in the Hindu tradition. The word Ram appears in ancient literature in reverential terms for three individuals: Parashu-Ram, as the sixth avatar of Vishnu. He is linked to the Ram Jamadagnya of the Rigveda fame. Ram-chandra, as the seventh avatar of Vishnu and of the ancient Ramyana fame. Bala-Ram, also called Halayudha, as the elder brother of Krishna both of whom appear in the legends of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
 
The name Ram appears repeatedly in Hindu texts, for many different scholars and kings in mythical stories. The word also appears in ancient Upanishads and Aranyakas layer of Vedic literature, as well as music and other post-Vedic literature, but in qualifying context of something or someone who is "charming, beautiful, and lovely" or "darkness, night".
 
The Vishnu avatar named Ram is also known by other names. He is called Ramchandra (beautiful, lovely moon), or Dasarathi (son of Dasaratha), or Raghava (descendant of Raghu, solar dynasty in Hindu cosmology).
 
Additional names of Ram include Ramvijaya (Javanese), Phreah Ream (Khmer), Phra Ram (Lao and Thai), Megat Seri Ram (Malay), Raja Bantugan (Maranao), Ramudu (Telugu), Ramr (Tamil). In the Vishnu sahasranama, Ram is the 394th name of Vishnu. In some Advaita Vedanta inspired texts, Ram connotes the metaphysical concept of Supreme Brahman who is the eternally blissful spiritual Self (Atman, soul) in whom yogis delight non-dualistically.
 
The root of the word Ram is ram- which means "stop, stand still, rest, rejoice, be pleased".
 
Civilisational Unity & ‘Ram Naam’
 
The sacred simran/mantra name “Ram”, used by Namdev as a name for the Formless Supreme Lord of Love, appears often in the mystic verses of not only Namdev, but also Kabir, all throughout the Adi Granth, in the hymns of Ravidas, Dadu, and countless other Sants of India.
 
 
Over time, in different branches of the Sant tradition of India, various sacred mantra names or simran words are used. The name “Ram” was used by Guru Kabir and other classic or early Sants such as Namdev. “Satya-Ram” is the sacred name used by the followers of Sant Dadu Dayal of Rajasthan. Kabir says, To receive true life, devote yourself to Hari (God) .Narayana’s (God’s) name is a pillar; let your tongue say ‘Ram’.
 
The sacred simran/mantra name “Ram”, used by Namdev as a name for the Formless Supreme Lord of Love, appears often in the mystic verses of not only Namdev, but also Kabir, all throughout the Adi Granth, in the hymns of Ravidas, Dadu, and countless other Sants of India.
 
It is the power of love (prem) and devotion (bhakti) that brings the wandering mind to focus (pratyahara) and holds one’s attention at the Third Eye center during meditation (dharana during Surat Shabd Yoga). One is permeated by love repeating God’s name or names, beholding the Light within, and during bhajan (listening to the inner Sound), also considered an act of worship in traditional Sant Mat mysticism.
 
Tulsidas was the most important poet of the Rama Bhakti school. The wave of the Bhakti movement spear-headed in the North by Ramananda may have influenced Tulsidas. But to Ramananda it was irrelevant whether the devotee was a Nirguna or Saguna Bhakta so long as he followed Ramananda’s preaching and had religious fervour. His disciples were free to interpret Rama in any manner they liked so long as they felt drawn towards Him as an object of worship and devotion.
 
Among the different Bhakti schools, the most prominent were the Nirguna and Saguna. Nirguna School believed in formless God, whereas those belonging to Saguna worshipped a personal God with a form. Kabir who founded the Nirguna School of Bhakti conceived Rama as a formless God whereas Tulsidas and his followers worshipped Rama as Saguna God taking into account His divine qualities and achievements.
 
However, what is intriguing is the fact that both Saguna and Nirguna school have association with ‘Ram Naam’, and therefore, Sri Ram has acted as the perennial force of civilisational unity since the advent of the civilisation.
 
The greatest modern Urdu poet and scholar Allama Iqbal called Sri Ram 'Imam-e-Hind'. He wrote, 'Ahl-e-nazar samajhte hai usko Imam-e-Hind.' Here the word “Ahl-e-Nazar” points to his personal view about Ram being considered Imam-e-Hind. Imam-e-Hind means religious head of India. If he did not think he was a religious head of India, he would not have used the word “Ahl-e-Nazar” (people with knowledge and insight) and instead he would have used the word “Ahl-e-Watan (countrymen suggesting Hindus) or Ahl-e-Hanud. So Ahl-e-Nazar is indicative of Iqbal’s own idea or view about Ram.
 
Iqbal in the second couplet said, "Aijaz Us Charag-E-Hidayat Ka Hai Yahi." n the second couplet Iqbal calls Sri Ram ‘Charag-e-Hidayat’ meaning “divine guiding light”. It subtly may mean a prophet or a spiritual figure. During the partition years, there was another Sufi called Abdur Rashid Huma who also believed that Sri Ram belonged to the genealogy of Hadhrat Sheth a.s., son of Adam.
 
Sri Ram and Modernity
 
Mahatma Gandhi, someone who possibly synthesised tradition and modernity in the Indian context, was an ardent devotee of Sri Ram. He died with ‘Ram Naam’ on his lips. On Ramayana, and the worship of his Aaradhya, Gandhi wrote, “But the potent fact is there, and as I write these lines, my memory revives the scenes of my childhood, when I used daily to visit the Ramji Mandir adjacent to my ancestral home. My Ram then resided there. He saved me from many fears and sins. It was no superstition for me. The custodian of the idol may have been a bad man. I know nothing against him. Misdeeds might have gone on in the temple. Again I know nothing of them. Therefore, they would not affect me. What was and is true of me is true of millions of Hindus.” (H, 18-3-1933, p 6)
 
He further continued elsewhere, “Ramanama cannot perform the miracle of restoring to you a lost limb. But it can perform the still greater miracle of helping you to enjoy an ineffable peace in spite of the loss while you live and rob death of its sting and the grave its victory at the journey's end. Since death must come soon or late to everyone, why should one worry over the time.”
 
(H, 7-4-1946, p 69)
 
This perennial journey of unification, celebrating diversity, and assimiliation around the name of Sri Ram has been one of the greatest uniting factors in the Indian civilisation.
 
Dharma of Shri Ram 
 
The views of Sri Ram combine "reason with emotions" to create a "thinking hearts" approach. Second, he emphasises through what he says and what he does a union of "self-consciousness and action" to create an "ethics of character". Third, Rama's life combines the ethics with the aesthetics of living. The story of Rama and people in his life raises questions such as "is it appropriate to use evil to respond to evil?", and then provides a spectrum of views within the framework of Indian beliefs such as on karma and dharma.
 
— Roderick Hindery, Comparative Ethics in Hindu and Buddhist Traditions