In my opinion, the name “Rama” is a symbol of standard ethics and principles. When Lord Rama ruled the earth. His life was an excellent example of human behavior toward parents, family, public, friends, and subjects. He revealed the best possible integration of human virtues. His universal affection, prideless sacrifice, and matchless humane nature attracted millions of people to preserve their faith in humanity. Respectfulness toward those of pious intellect was another outstanding quality of His life.
To follow goodness it is not essential to be great, but to remain human is the best qualification. Saint Mohandas Gandhi is the foremost exponent of the holy name of Rama in the modern era. I believe that the second part of the maha-mantra (Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare) should promote humanism and secularism.
Shashi O. Bhatnagar
Dear Mr. Bhatnagar,
The name Rama is not a symbol of ethics and principles; rather, it is a transcendental name of God. To try to justify one’s own philosophical views by speculative interpretation of the name Rama is an offense to the name itself, as mentioned in the Padma Purana (tathartha-vadah).
Lord Rama’s life was not at all an example of human behavior, excellent or otherwise. Rather, it was an example of the behavior of the Supreme Lord Himself. By His mere desire, Lord Ramacandra floated huge boulders in the Indian Ocean to form a bridge to Sri Lanka. Is this an example of human behavior? Even by the best possible integration of human virtues, it is not possible to match the transcendental prowess of the Supreme Lord. Those who try to bring the Supreme Lord down to the level of a mere virtuous human are not very much appreciated in Bhagavad-gita (9.11), which distinctly tells us that such mental speculators are unaware of the transcendental supremacy of the Lord.
The word secularism means “indifference to or exclusion of religion,” and humanism refers to a system of thought that asserts the paramount importance of man and generally minimizes the idea of a transcendental Absolute Truth. Both these ideas are utterly antithetical to the Vedic teachings. Lord Ramacandra taught the world by playing the role of an ideal king completely obedient to religious principles. So He could never approve of such useless doctrines as secularism and humanism. Lord Ramacandra appeared in this world to reestablish religious principles (dharma-samsthapanarthaya}, and the kingdom He guided was one of unalloyed devotion to the Supreme Lord. What does this have to do with secularism and humanism? Those who are genuinely attracted to Lord Ramacandra with true understanding place their faith in Him, the Lord, the Personality of Godhead—not in humanity, as you have wrongly suggested.
The ideals of humanism and secularism were better represented by Ravana, who sought to promote his own human interests and those of his human followers in a secular state that ignored the superhuman power of the Godhead. Lord Ramacandra killed Ravana and lived the life of an ideal religious king to teach the world that pious intellect, ethical behavior, and all the best human qualities culminate in unalloyed devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Without such devotion, these pious qualities have no substantial value. One should therefore chant Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare to develop and promote this unalloyed devotion, and nothing else.