The Concept of Tapas in Valmiki Ramayana

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Introduction

Just as the fragrance from a tree laden with flowers is wafted across a distance, the fragrance of a good life comes to us crossing the barriers of time. Such was the life of the Retired Honourable V.S. Srinivasa Sastri. We have met to pay homage to his memory by bringing our minds to dwell upon some aspects of the Ramayana which was so dear to him and which offered to him and which offered to him the greatest consolation in his last days. He delivered thirty discourses on the Ramayana under the auspices of the Sanskrit Academy in the Sanskrit College campus in the year 1944. At the conclusion of the lectures, Sri. P.S. Sivaswami Iyer who presided said that by delivering these lectures on the national epic of India, Sri Sastri had added one more to the manifold and valuable services rendered by him to country. His services to the cause of education and politics is well known. He pursued the middle path in his approach to life’s problems and was kind of bridge between the extremists and the conservatives, between dogmatism and nationalism. Starting as a teacher, he rose to command the respect of the leaders of the world. His English was faultless and mellifluous and won the admiration of Englishmen. The beauty of his style can be enjoyed in every page of his lectures on the Ramayana which has gone through four editions, and I presume, is awaiting the fifth.

In His introductory talk on the Ramayana, he observes:

The fundamental postulate is that an epic is a great work of art which is intended expressly for the edification of man. If God took the shape amongst us as one of us, He did so for the purpose of giving us instruction how to live, how to prepare for our parts in life, how to go through it.

Sri Rama was an embodiment of the great virtues of human character. Hear him speak, see him do things, have anything to do with him, come under his influence, you cannot escape the touch of divinity. That is why the study of his life is more profitable to us from the point of view of the soul than the study of the lives of other heroes.

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