How did Lord Rama die?

How did Lord Rama die?

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  • It’s not the Valmiki Ramayana, but the Padma Purana which sheds light on the way Rama’s life ended. After returning to Ayodhya, albeit alone, having lost Sita in the forest, Shri Rama rules for several years, besides grooming his sons to take over important roles in the kingdom

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  • Once a wise sage came to visit King Rama and sought his private audience to convey something of crucial, but personal nature.
  • As Rama is known to do, he humbly sits down to hear what the sage has to say.
  • The old sage was none other than Kala Deva, or Time, and he was there to remind Sri Rama that his “time” on earth was over, and he should plan to return to his original abode, Vaikunta.

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  • As per the sage’s advice, Rama also directs brother Lakshmana to guard the door of the room, saying that if anyone were to arrive during the confidential conversation, he should not be allowed to enter.

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  • Even as this conversation is going on, another sage, Durvasa Maharishi – known for his hot temper – appears outside the room and demands an immediate audience with Shri Rama.

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  • Lakshmana tries to explain the situation to Durvasa Maharishi, but he displays his proverbial temper and threatens to curse Lakshmana if he is not allowed inside. Lakshmana is flummoxed. Disobey his brother or suffer a curse?

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  • Somehow, Lakshmana realises that this situation was the hint to him to take a final way out. Indeed, he steps into the Sarayu river and takes the form of Ananta Sesha, the many-headed serpent.

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  • Rama, meanwhile, is already preparing to conclude the Rama avatar of Maha Vishnu. Learning of Lakshmana’s story, he too walks down to Sarayu river, accompanied by (invisible) devas, since he is the personification of Maha Vishnu. Thus, ends Rama Avtar.
  • Soon, Maha Vishnu appeared at the very same spot, in his original form, to bless the people gathered there. Rama had become Vishnu and Lakshmana had become Adisesha, the many hooded serpent.

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  • While this is believed to be quite like it happened, a school of thought believes otherwise. It quotes the Puranas to say that Lord Vishnu, as the Sustainer of the Universe, cannot end his own existence; only Shiva, as the Destroyer of the Universe, can do it.

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  • This may be a logical fallout when one considers what happened in the case of Vishnu’s earlier avatars. For example, in the Kalika Purana, Vishnu’s Varaha avatar – after fulfilling his duties – was seen as causing suffering because of his extended attachment to family ties. In that event, instead of Varaha himself ending his life, the Devas approach Kailash to seek Lord Shiva’s help.
  • Shiva, in turn, assumes the form of the Sharabhavatar – a chimeric bird-animal – who fights Lord Varaha, thereby releasing the Vishnu avatar…In similar fashion, Sharabheshwara kills Narasimha avatar (left photo) and the Kurma Samhara Murti avatar destroys Kurma avatar.

The Significance of the Event:

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  • Why Lord Rama became the first avatar to voluntarily give up his existence is peobably because as a human – an ideal human at that (Purushottama), he has to set an example of a righteous life. A violent death at the hands of a mystical animal would hardly do that, so entering a river was the best way to go.

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