Diwali is a time when we tell our children stories about the legends of the Ramayana and how the festival came into being. Read on to know what our children can learn from these legends of lore.
By Ashwin Lobo
Diwali marks the return of the victorious Lord Rama to his home town Ayodhya after he defeated the demon king Ravana and rescued his beloved wife Sita. From the valour of Lord Rama to the loyalty of Sita, children across the world listen to these tales on the edge of their seats, with goosebumps on their skin. And while these stories of epic are no doubt fascinating, they also offer deeper life lessons.
By looking at how these mythical characters acted, especially in times of trouble, our children can learn how to act in difficult situations. They can absorb these teachings and mould their character in a similar fashion.
Following are five mythological legends your child can learn from:
In Ramayana, King Dasharatha sent his eldest son and crown prince, Lord Rama to exile to honour the promise he gave to his wife Kaikeyi. Being the eldest son, Lord Rama was due to succeed his father as king. However, Kaikeyi wanted her son Bharath to be the next king of Ayodhya and she knew attain this, she had to get rid of Lord Rama. As King Dasharatha had promised his wife Kaikeyi two boons, she requested him to exile Rama for 14 years and crown Bharath as king. King Dashratha knew he had to make good on his promise even though it broke his heart to send his beloved son away. Being the devoted son, Lord Rama listened to his father and respected his wishes. He did not even bear a grudge against his stepmother Kaikeyi.
Being the grandson of Lord Brahma and the younger brother of Kubera, Ravana came from an august lineage. He was also a renowned scholar. He ten heads signify his knowledge of the six shastras and the four vedas. If this wasn’t enough, Lord Ravana also performed an intense penance to Lord Shiva. After many years of this, Lord Shiva was pleased with him and offered him a boon. Lord Ravana asked for supremacy over gods, wild animals, rakshasas and other spirits. However, in his arrogance, he did not ask for protection from mortal men. Eventually, this is how he met his end.
After Sita married Lord Rama, like any young princess she expected to live a life of comfort in the palace. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. Lord Rama was exiled from the kingdom for 14 long years. Sita was under no compulsion to go along with her husband since it was only Lord Rama who was exiled. Nevertheless, she decided to leave the comfort of the palace and accompany her husband on his journey into the forest.
Lord Hanuman exemplifies the quality of loyalty throughout the Ramayana. The main reason he meets Lord Rama initially is to help his dear friend Sugriva. With Lord Rama’s assistance, he helps Sugriva retrieve his kingdom from Vali. Meanwhile, he becomes deeply devoted to Lord Rama. When Lord Rama tasks him with visiting Sita in the Ashok Vatika, he does so readily and at huge risk to his life. When called upon to retrieve the sanjivini herb for the injured Lakshmana, Hanuman returns carrying an entire mountain.
While Kaikeyi was devising her plan to expel Lord Rama from the kingdom, Bharath was away at his maternal uncle’s house. Upon his return he found that he was crowned king, his stepbrother brother, Lord Rama, was gone and his grief-stricken father was dead. Bharath was in a state of shock. After cremating his father, Bharat rushed to the Chitrakoot forest where Lord Rama was staying, fell at his feet and begged him to return to the kingdom. But Lord Rama declined, saying he had to fulfil the wishes of his later father. He asked Bharath to return to the kingdom and rule it but Bharath had no wish to do so. He knew the kingdom belonged to Lord Rama. So, he asked Lord Rama to give him his sandals and he placed them on the royal throne in Lord Rama’s honour until he returned from his exile.
The characters in the Ramayana may have been about gods and legends, but they were also people who faced challenges and dealt with problems just like us. Sometimes they made the right decision and sometimes they faltered. But there are lessons to be learnt from all these stories. Each time you tell your child the story about one of these legends, ask him what he learned from it. This will help him not only take interest in our culture and traditions but also respect them.
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