There is a time to laugh and a time to weep. There is a time to smile and a time to be serious. Things have to be done at the proper time and place, then only will they be appreciated. At other times they will be misunderstood and will create a lot of trouble. This happened even to mighty Lakshmana, who was the greatest devotee brother of Lord Sri Ram.
At the behest of his father, Sri Ram had to renounce the kingdom and go to the forests for fourteen years. His beloved wife Sita and loving brother Lakshmana followed him, as they could not bear to be away from him. "Sri Ram Jayam" was Lakshmana's aim and motto in life.
In the forests Lakshmana took upon himself to serve his brother and his sister-inlaw as the lid does an eye. During daytime he gathered fruit and-roots for their food, provided water for their bath, etc. During the sights he sat outside their Pamasala with his bow and arrows to protect them from demons and cruel animals that might be prowling about. Thus he was doing duty all the twenty-four hours and never had even a wink of sleep. "Sri Ram Jayam."
Goddess Sleep did not like this. She had everyone under her power, and as soon as she approached anyone he obediently went to sleep. When she stayed away without approaching, they felt very miserable and begged her hard to be kind and come to them. There was Lakshmana never taking a nap nor even needing it. She somehow or other wanted to bring him under her sway. So, one day, she came to him with all her winning ways and tried to tempt him to take a nap. No, Lakshmana was firm and adamant. He said, 'Thank you. Goddess, for your compassion. I am in Deeksha now for fourteen years to serve my brother without relaxing. Until this period is over and we are all happily back in Ayodhya I won't even take a wink." "Sri Ram Jayam".
Hearing this firm decision the Goddess had to admit her defeat and retreat. While leaving she, however laid a condition. "Very well. For those fourteen years I will stay away from you. But once you reach Ayodhya you must allow me to have my way. I will choose my own time to visit you and you shouldn't resist me then." Lakshmana solemnly agreed, little thinking of the consequences.
The fourteen years passed away. Several things happened to them in this period. Sita was kidnapped by the ten-headed demon Ravana and imprisoned in his garden in Lanka, where she remained weeping her heart out for Ram. Sri Ram crossed over the ocean with the help of his loyal army of monkeys and rescued her after vanquishing the demon Ravana. Then they all sat on the "aerial-chariot" of Ravana, called Pushpaka, and flew swiftly to Ayodhya, where Bharata, the younger brother of Ram, was ruling the country on Ram's behalf.
Bharata rejoiced. His three mothers rejoiced. And all the citizens rejoiced at their
return. There were great victory-celebrations throughout the country for a number of days, and the Kula'Guru Vasishtha fixed up an auspicious day for Ram's coronation. Elaborate arrangements were made. Invitations were sent all over the world. Kings, nobles, rich people, all came in great pomp and splendour, and the city buzzed with festivals and celebrations. At last the great day approached. "Sri Ram Jayam."
At the appointed time all gathered in their respective seats in the spacious hall where the coronation was to take place. Shanais were sweetly singing. Brahmins were chanting sacred Mantras. Elderly ladies were singing auspicious songs. Young girls were offering flowers to the guests. Sri Ram and Sita were anointed as King and Queen, and the Guru Vasishtha put the sacred Tilak on their foreheads, while the elders showered auspicious "rice" over them.
Lakshmana was sitting in his seat, happy and joyous, for he had eagerly waited for years to see the coronation of his beloved brother. "Sri Ram Jayam” Suddenly his eyes drooped down heavily and a yawn came which he could not resist. .. and there was a low whisper in his ears, "Ah, Lakshmana, I kept my promise for fourteen years and never approached you. Now you keep your promise and succumb to me." It was the sweet voice of the Goddess of sleep, and Lakshmana remembered the terms of their agreement fourteen years ago. So the Goddess, now of all times, came to claim her due. Lakshmana could not but laugh at her eagerness. And the laugh came from within him gurgling, in peals and thunders, and in roars and floods. He could not stop himself and he went on laughing and roaring uncontrollably.
No need to say that the laughter was heard by all. Lakshmana was dear to all and everybody knew the devotion with which he served Ram in the forests. This was an occasion to smile and rejoice and, of course, Lakshmana was the first person having the right to enjoy. But an uproarious laughter? What was it for? It was not a mere joyous laughter but a mocking, cajoling one. Whom was Lakshmana mocking? What for?
There was a great hush in the assembly, and there was uneasiness in the air.
Sri Ram heard the laughter. He thought, "Sita was in Ravan's garden for one year.
Shamelessly I brought her back and made her the queen because of my lust. Lakshmana is mocking at my infatuation." He felt injured and hurt.
Sita heard the laughter. She thought, "I was imprisoned by Ravana for one year and so have become fallen. Yet because of my love of power, shamelessly I sat on the throne along with Ram as the queen. Surely, Lakshmana laughs at me for my foolish ambition." She felt ashamed and hurt.
Kaikeyi heard the laughter. She thought, "Fourteen years ago I myself sent out Ram to the forests, and now here I am, enjoying his installation as King. Lakshmana must be thinking that I am putting on an act and is mocking at me." She covered her eyes and shed bitter tears.
The most revered Kula-Guru Vasishtha heard the laughter and thought, "I fixed up an auspicious day for Ram's coronation as Crown Prince fourteen years ago, after consulting the auspicious stars, but the function never took place at all. Now again I have shamelessly fixed up another auspicious day for his installation. Lakshmana must be laughing at me for this sign of foolish old age." He felt hurt and humiliated.
The citizens heard the laughter. They thought, "When Ram was banished to the forests, none of us shared his difficulties and sorrows. Today we have come here to rejoice when he is in affluence. Certainly Lakshmana is mocking us for our selfish nature." They all felt ashamed of themselves and hurt.
The silence grew oppressive and unbearable while everybody sat with downcast eyes. Sri Ram looked at every one and could understand what was passing through each one's mind. He grew extremely angry with Lakshmana for throwing a damp cloth into the bright festival. He stood up from the throne and drew his sword, loudly demanding, "What do you mean, Lakshmana, by your mocking laughter? Whom are you mocking and for what?"
Poor Lakshmana, the cause of all this havoc, never knew what his innocent laughter did. He was still marvelling at the mischievous ways of Goddess Sleep and laughing off, and did not notice the silence around. With Ram's thundering voice he awoke with a start from his reverie and observed the uneasiness around for the first time.
Shrewd as he was, he could at once understand the feeling around and what caused them. He stood up, at once penitent and sorrowful, and folding his palms with great humility, said "Excuse me, my brother, for my inopportune laughter. It has nothing to do with the function. It was my sole ambition to see this day when you will be crowned as the King. "Sri Ram Jayam." Will I be laughing at anybody on this most joyous occasion?" Then he proceeded to relate how the Goddess Sleep kept her promise to stay away from him for fourteen years when they were in the forests, and how she suddenly visited him now when he felt relaxed for the first time. Concluding his narration he again begged pardon for causing pain to all by his unwitting action. "Sri
When the story was heard all felt relieved and they blamed themselves for ever having misunderstood a noble person like Lakshmana. Sri Ram came down from his throne and embracing Lakshmana warmly praised, "O, Lakshamana, it was because of your sleepless vigilance that I successfully overcame all obstacles and happily returned to Ayodhya. It was foolish of me to have ever misunderstood you. Please forgive me." The cheerfulness was again restored and the festivals went on as merrily as ever. "Sri Ram Jayam."
Moral Of The Tale:
We are ever conscious of our weaknesses, and we feel constantly guilty of our moral compromises. There was none in the hall who did not give a meaning to Lakshmana's laughter. The laughter held a mirror out on the minds of all and each one saw in that innocent laughter his own ugliness. Even Sri Ramachandraji and the most revered Kula Gum Vasishtali None of us thus see the world as it is: we see a world, as interpreted by our own Vasanas and thoughts. To see the world as it is, is to look at the world without Vasanas, when we see but Brahman, the Infinite Perfection. This is Sri Ram Jayam.