Q&A with Divyanshu

Why Did Shri Ram, the Supreme God, Refrain from Destroying the World? A Scholarly Perspective

Vibrant mystical nature landscape with Sri Ram.

Shri Ram, a highly revered deity in Hinduism, is often considered by many devotees as the supreme god. In this blog post, we will explore the possible reasons behind Shri Ram’s decision not to destroy the world, despite having the power to do so, from a scholarly perspective, relying on evidence from Hindu scriptures and academic sources.

The Cyclical Nature of Time in Hinduism

According to various Hindu scriptures, such as the Bhagavata Purana (Canto 12, Chapter 4) and the Vishnu Purana (Book 1, Chapter 3), the universe undergoes cycles of creation and destruction, known as the “Day of Brahma” and the “Night of Brahma” (Dimmitt & van Buitenen, 2012, p. 35; Wilson, 1840, p. 39). The duration of these cycles varies among different scriptures, with some suggesting a cycle lasting 4.32 billion years (Kloetzli & Hiltebeitel, 2004, p. 568). Shri Ram’s decision not to destroy the world may have been influenced by the understanding that the world was already destined to be destroyed at the end of its cycle, as mentioned in these scriptures.

The Concept of Dharma

The concept of dharma, which refers to the natural order of the universe and the moral principles governing an individual’s actions, is central to Hindu philosophy (Flood, 1996, p. 52). The Valmiki Ramayana, one of the earliest and most influential versions of the Ramayana epic, portrays Shri Ram as an embodiment of dharma (Goldman, 1984, p. 4). As a revered deity and an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Shri Ram may have felt a responsibility to uphold the principles of dharma, ensuring that the natural order of the universe remains intact (Brockington, 1998, p. 15). Destroying the world would have disrupted this order and gone against the principles of dharma.

The Significance of Human Life

In Hinduism, human life is considered a rare and precious opportunity for spiritual growth and liberation (moksha) (Klostermaier, 2007, p. 287). The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture, emphasizes the importance of human life in the pursuit of self-realization and divine love (Rosen, 2006, p. 3). By choosing not to destroy the world, Shri Ram allowed humanity to continue its journey towards spiritual evolution and self-realization, which is a fundamental goal in Hindu philosophy.

Insights from the Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita offers valuable insights into the nature of the divine and the role of compassion. In Chapter 10, Verse 33, Lord Krishna says, “Of all creations, I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences, I am the spiritual science of the Self, and among logicians, I am the conclusive truth” (Prabhupada, 2010, p. 515). This verse highlights the divine’s role in the creation, maintenance, and destruction of the universe, suggesting that the decision to preserve or destroy the world ultimately rests with the divine (Theodor, 2010, p. 177).

Furthermore, in Chapter 12, Verses 13-14, Lord Krishna emphasizes the importance of compassion: “One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self-controlled, and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on Me – such a devotee of Mine is very dear to Me” (Prabhupada, 2010, p. 621). These verses underscore the significance of compassion and non-violence, which are essential qualities of a true devotee (Rosen, 2007, p. 147). As an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Shri Ram embodies these qualities, and his decision to spare the world can be seen as an act of compassion and love for all living beings.

The Role of Avatars in Hindu Theology

In Hindu theology, avatars are divine incarnations who descend to Earth to restore dharma and protect the righteous (Bassuk, 1987, p. 2). Shri Ram, as an avatar of Lord Vishnu, is believed to have incarnated to defeat the demon king Ravana and establish a reign of righteousness (Lutgendorf, 2007, p. 1). The Bhagavata Purana (Canto 9, Chapter 10) describes Shri Ram’s mission as one of protecting the world and its inhabitants from evil forces (Gupta & Valpey, 2013, p. 93). In this context, Shri Ram’s decision not to destroy the world can be seen as a fulfillment of his divine purpose and a demonstration of his commitment to preserving dharma.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Shri Ram’s decision not to destroy the world, despite having the power to do so, can be attributed to various factors, including the cyclical nature of time in Hinduism, the principles of dharma, the significance of human life, the importance of compassion and non-violence, and his role as an avatar of Lord Vishnu. These interpretations are based on a close examination of Hindu scriptures, such as the Bhagavata Purana, the Vishnu Purana, the Valmiki Ramayana, and the Bhagavad Gita, as well as scholarly sources from the fields of Hindu studies and theology. While there may be diverse opinions within Hinduism regarding Shri Ram’s status and actions, the evidence presented in this blog post supports a coherent and well-reasoned explanation for his decision to preserve the world. As with any theological or philosophical inquiry, it is essential to approach the topic with an open and respectful mindset, acknowledging the complexity and richness of Hindu thought.

References:

  • Bassuk, D. E. (1987). Incarnation in Hinduism and Christianity: The myth of the god-man. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Brockington, J. L. (1998). The Sanskrit epics. Brill.
  • Dimmitt, C., & van Buitenen, J. A. B. (2012). Classical Hindu mythology: A reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press.
  • Flood, G. D. (1996). An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press.
  • Goldman, R. P. (1984). The Ramayana of Valmiki: An epic of ancient India. Princeton University Press.
  • Gupta, R., & Valpey, K. R. (Eds.). (2013). The Bhagavata Purana: Sacred text and living tradition. Columbia University Press.
  • Kloetzli, R., & Hiltebeitel, A. (2004). Kāla. In S. Mittal & G. Thursby (Eds.), The Hindu world (pp. 553-586). Routledge.
  • Klostermaier, K. K. (2007). A survey of Hinduism (3rd ed.). State University of New York Press.
  • Lutgendorf, P. (2007). Hanuman’s tale: The messages of a divine monkey. Oxford University Press.
  • Michaels, A. (2004). Hinduism: Past and present. Princeton University Press.
  • Prabhupada, A. C. B. S. (2010). Bhagavad-gita as it is (2nd ed.). The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.
  • Rosen, S. (2006). Essential Hinduism. Praeger Publishers.
  • Rosen, S. (2007). Krishna’s song: A new look at the Bhagavad Gita. Praeger Publishers.
  • Theodor, I. (2010). Exploring the Bhagavad Gītā: Philosophy, structure, and meaning. Ashgate Publishing.
  • Wilson, H. H. (1840). The Vishnu Purana: A system of Hindu mythology and tradition. John Murray.

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