Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who are you calling a monkey?

I'd like to recommend to you "Ramayana: Divine Loophole," which is a beautiful retelling of an Indian poem that is 2500 years old.  In it, we learn about the battles between the ten-headed demon Ravana (whose name means, "the one who makes the universe scream") and Rama, who is a human incarnation of the god Vishnu.

Before he was a demon, Ravana was a scholar who meditated for 10,000 years.  All that staring at his navel made him a bit batty, and when he achieved his goal from the meditation, he went on a rampage; disrupting cosmic order.  

It had been ordained that he couldn't be killed by god or demon, so he wreaked havoc with impunity.  The gods perceived they were in a mess and appealed to Vishnu, the god of justice for help.

Vishnu thought about the predicament, and came to the conclusion that although the demon could not be destroyed by god or demon, he could be destroyed by an animal or a human, and so allowed himself to be born in human form.  

Vishnu was born as Rama, a prince in a prosperous kingdom.  He and his brother, Lakshman, became best friends and compatriots in numerous adventures.  They were intensely devoted to each other.

Eventually, the time came to destroy Ravana.  Rama and his brother befriended everyone they could to participate in the coming battle.

Rama quickly became friends with the king of the monkeys who, as it turns out, also happened to be a god who had forgotten his powers.

The king of the monkeys soon became Rama's right-hand man in the battle against the ten-headed demon.

The demon, Ravana, was a deadly foe.  He could see in any direction and just by himself was more than a match for the armies.  

On the battlefield, Ravana sought Rama's brother and pierced him with a poison arrow.  Rama was so upset by the impending loss of his brother that he all but gave up the fight.  It looked like Ravana would rule the universe.

However, the monkey king realized that if he could find the right herbs, he could save the brother's life and Rama could return to the fight.  He flew to a mountain and searched for the right herbs, but was surprised to see thousands of plants that he didn't recognize.

He had to get the right herb to Rama - but which one?  There was only time for one trip.

In response to this dilemma, the monkey king  picked up the whole mountain and brought it back to Rama and his brother, thereby saving the life of the person most dear to Rama and allowing him to continue on and win.

I love this story.  It is a story of devotion and demonstrates that no individual - even a reincarnated god - survives alone.

I'm fortunate to work with several people who, like the monkey king in the story, would move mountains to achieve our goals.  You know who you are.

The images in this blog were taken from "Ramayana: Divine Loophole" by Sanjay Patel.  It has become one of Allie's favorite picture books - and I have read it a number of times.  Highly recommended.

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