Rama Navami celebrates the birth of Rama. It falls on the ninth day of the shukla paksha, or bright phase of the moon, in the lunar month of Chaitra (April-May)—which is April 12th in 2011.
Rama is one of the ten avatars (incarnations) of Supreme Lord Vishnu (God) — and along with Lord Krishna, one of the two most revered Divine beings in Hindu and yogic culture.
Rama Navami is a major festival for Vaishnavites, (devotees of Vishnu), and is celebrated more predominantly in Northern India. Tens of thousands flock to sacred places associated with Rama, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram.
Traditionally, devotees would fast for nine days leading up to Rama Navami, meditating on the selfless virtues of Rama and seeking their own perfection as human beings. Events presenting discourses and stories on the Ramayana by a pundits are also staged during this nine-day period; grand processions are organized, as are many Indian classical music programmes.
The Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama, who lived in Treta Yuga, about 7,000 years ago. The Ramayana is one of the two “Great Indian Epics” (along with Mahabharata) — a truly captivating and inspiring portrayal of the age-old battle between good and evil.
Rama was the son of King Dasaratha and Kausalya. The time came when Dasaratha decided to install Rama as his heir-apparent. On the eve of his coronation, however, Kaikeyi, the favourite wife of Dasaratha, asked him to fulfil the two boons he had granted her earlier. First, she demanded the banishment of Rama for fourteen years into the jungle, and second, she asked that her own son Bharata be made King. The dutiful son Rama immediately prepared to go into exile accompanied by his beautiful young wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana
When Sita is kidnapped by the powerful demon Ravana, the tale unfolds as Rama’s epic search and rescue of his beloved wife.
Although it is Lord Shiva who is primarily associated with yoga, the example of Lord Rama should not be ignored. He is regarded as the supreme embodiment of Dharma, or right action—the highest ideal of yoga.
The Ramayana is a fascinating epic and among the most spiritual inspirational stories that all yoga enthusiasts should make part of their library of yogic experience.
“The Ramayana is also an allegory for the principles of yogic living. Lord Rama was the supreme Yogi: firmly wedded to Dharma, or Righteous Living; an upholder of Satya, or Truth at all costs. A supreme ascetic, or Tapasin, he was firmly in control of his senses. His one-pointed mind manifested itself in his ‘Skill in action’ as a warrior, a king, a husband, a son, a friend and a companion.
Lord Rama is the role model for all Yogic qualities. The RAMAYANA is a ‘practical yoga manual’ showing mankind how to live a spiritual life. Proper attitudes to take towards all the challenges of worldly life are elaborated in detail in the work.”
~ Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani, Acharya-Ananda Ashram