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Author Topic: Why Rama?  (Read 423 times)

Hariti

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Why Rama?
« on: September 21, 2020, 03:26:38 pm »
So. The title of the post is a tiny bit of a misnomer—I fully understand the historical and cultural context for Rama being one of the most important and prominent avatars of Vishnu within Vaishnavism, and thus by extension within Krishnaism.

HOWEVER. The reason I made this post is because from a theological perspective, Rama is honestly one of the more outlying and unusual avatars of Vishnu, and furthermore he is a very different avatar from Krishna. Indeed, a lot of Rama's deeds and teachings are incompatible with those of Krishna.

Which makes it quite odd that Krishnaism, specifically, has not only retained the general Vaishnava love of Rama, but has arguably come to treat Rama is being of second only to Krishna in terms of theological importance within it's teachings. One need only look at the Mahamantra to see how Rama is often closely associated with Krishna in Krishnaism. Even the stalwartly monotheistic Hare Krishna's spend almost as much time discussing and praising Rama and Krisha.

Textually, it doesn't make much sense because Krishna rarely invokes or discusses Rama. In both the Mahabharata and Bhagavata Puraṇa, the two main texts of Krishnaism, Rama is only briefly discussed. None of Krishna's main lessons to Arjuna in the Gita (an important chapter of the Mahabarata), from which most Krishnaist teachings are derived, point toward Rama as a rolemodel. For all intents and purposes, the close association between Krishna and Rama is textually nonexistent. Certainly, it is only natural to associate Krishna with other avatars of Vishnu, but to go any further and specifically associate him with Rama more than with any other prior avatar is not supported by any major Vaishnava text.

So then—if not textual, perhaps the reason is something else? Are Rama and Krishna particularly similar? Well... no. As I said before much of what Rama does and says is incompatible with Krishna, and vice-versa.

Krishna was a philosopher-king, who spent a large chunk of time teaching yoga to his friend and disciple, Arjuna. Though he was a fierce warrior, he only faught a few times during the Mahabarata, most notably during the Gita, and he taught nonviolence as a general rule, except in self-defense. He is generally understood to have advocated for vegetarianism, and he undeniably advocated for nonviolence toward animals. As a king, he was a fair and wise ruler who helped his realm prosper.

Rama, by contrast, was a outdoorsman, a warrior, and a hunter. He ventured out into the world to seek glory and battle, he actively hunted animals for sport (and possibly for food, thought he 'was Rama vegetarian' debate is a contentious matter among Vaishnavas), and spent very little time on yoga or teaching. Though he was royalty, his time as a ruler is not the focus of his mythos.

Overall, they are two very different deities, who lived very different lives, and whose myths tell very different stories with very different messages. Thus I cannot help but wonder why Rama continues to hold such preeminence within Krishnaism. Honestly, if Krishnaites were looking for an avatar who they could associate with Krishna, then from a theological perspective Buddha (who is generally regarded by Krishanists as the 9th avatar of Vishnu) would work better, due to similar teachings—or possibly even Narasimha, given that Krishna actively channeled his power during his lifetime.

Rama is, in my opinion, one of the least suitable avatars to venerate alongside Krishna.

Dunno what the point of this post was other than to muse, and point out something I find very odd within Hinduism. Maybe it will spark discussion?
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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