Both Yogananada ji & Sri Yukteswar Giri ji spoke much about Krishna, but little about Lord Rama. Perhaps Lord Rama is more widely worshipped in India than Krishna. So I wanted to know their views on Lord Rama. When did the Ramayana happen? Is Lord Rama mythical or real? Valmiki’s Ramayana mentions that Lord Rama ruled the earth for 11000 years, how could this be possible? It is said that Lord Hanuman is one of the eight chiranjeevis & is still alive in this yuga, is this true? Are Rama and Krishna the same?
—Rounak Agrawal, India
Lord Rama is absolutely real according to Yogananda. He was an avatar, a divine incarnation, as Yogananda writes in his Autobiography of a Yogi: “Krishna, Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali were among the ancient Indian avatars.”
Krishna, the scriptures state, died at the end of the last Dwapara Yuga, which means, according to Sri Yukteswar, around 700 BC.
Lord Rama lived in Treta Yuga. According to Sri Yukteswar, the time period lasted from 6700 BC – 3100 BC.
Yes, in the Ramayana it is written that Lord Rama ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya for 11,000 years. This, in Sri Yukteswar’s calculations, can’t be accurate. Maybe it was a symbolic number. Or the explanation is that the Ramayana was first written down, it is estimated, around 700 BC. Before that it was orally transmitted, for thousands of years. Inevitably during such a vast span of time numerical mistakes enter into the story.
The Ramayana and the Mahabharata were both actual historical events, but at the same time they are spiritual allegories: symbols for our own inner battle, and our final victory, meaning enlightenment. This is what our teachings say.
Historically speaking: Yogananda told Swami Kriyananda (see The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita) that Lahiri Mahasaya was Raja Janaka, who is a main character in the Ramayana: he was the father of Sita. So, reasoning within the framework of this spiritual path, very probably Babaji, Sri Yukteswar, and Yogananda were all present in the time of the Ramayana, as these holy avatars usually come down to Earth together.
In this case, maybe Mahavatar Babaji was not only Krishna (which Yogananda affirmed, therefore we pray to “Babaji-Krishna”), but also Rama. Yes, I believe, but am not certain, that Rama and Krishna are the same soul.
Who was Hanuman? He is, as you say, said to be a chiranjeevi, meaning an immortal being, still living now. In our Kriya Yoga philosophy, this would mean a master who has achieved full Self-realization, or God-realization. You too are immortal, truly speaking, you only need to shift your consciousness and identification from the body to the soul. So yes, Hanuman still lives, and eternally lives. But does he live here on our Earth, as an avatar? I don’t know. It could be. But in truth it doesn’t matter where his body lives, on this planet or not, because Hanuman is alive, and his consciousness and power are right here, right with you.
By the way, Swami Kriyananda must have felt a strong resonance with Lord Rama, as he ended his autobiography The New Path with a poem dedicated to Rama’s home. You may enjoy it:
June in Ayodhya
Listen! Fair June is humming in the air,
And Ram’s Ayodhya sings of lasting peace.
The growing grass nods heavy to the wind,
Patient till cutting time. The hay is stored;
The fields spring up with adolescent plants,
Laughing flowers, berries, and graceful corn.
In the orchards, every hand is quickly busy
To catch the ripest fruits before they fall.
The sound of honest labor crowds the noon.
Men’s hearts are strong with that perfected strength
That smiles at fences, lays aside old hates,
Nurtures true love, and finds such earnest pleasure
In seeking truth that every private mind
Seems drawn to virtue, like a public saint.
The women’s words are soft with kindliness;
The children answer with humility;
Even the men are like so many fawns,
Modest and still, sweet with complete respect.
June in Ayodhya is so roused with joy
The earth can scarcely keep its boundaries,
Swelling with energy and waking strength
Till not a mountain, not a valley sleeps,
Straining to burst, and flood the world with laughter.
Such harmony flows everywhere when men,
With grateful hearts, offer their works to God.
Then brotherhood needs no enforcing laws,
No parliaments, no treaties sealed in fear:
True peace is theirs to whom the Lord is near.
God bless you, Jayadev