Reading the Ramayana takes you on a magical journey through your own deepest self. Through the timeless wisdom of this ancient story you will recognize your own wisdom. That has certainly been my experience each time I have read the Ramayana, and I have studied nearly one dozen versions of this tale over the past fifteen years. The Ramayana originated in India, but it has spread throughout South East Asia, and around the world. More than three hundred versions have been recorded, and millions of people deeply love this story.
I also deeply love this sacred story, and, at times I have struggled with the Divine Avatar Rama’s actions. In many of the versions, in certain scenes he performs controversial actions such as killing and hunting, even though the highest Vedic principle is Ahimsa, which means non-harming. So, at a painful moment in my spiritual journey, I felt like I had to choose between my highest ideal of non-violence and my Hindu Yogic Path. They suddenly did not seem compatible. At that black-and-white juncture, I dove deeply into many questions and into some profound soul-searching, and from that query arose a bright, full-colored, new possibility: Instead of throwing out the Ramayana and all of my other yogic spiritual practices, I could write my own version of the Ramayana, and elevate all of Rama’s actions to be in alignment with the highest Vedic principle of Ahimsa (non-harming).
In his rendition of the Ramayana (1957), Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (Indian politician and close associate of Mahatma Gandhi-ji) writes, “Let those who find faults in Raama see faults, and if these critics faultlessly pursue dharma and avoid in their own lives the flaws they discover in Raama, the bhaktas of Sri Raama will indeed welcome it with joy. If they exhibit the virtues of Raama and add to these more virtues and greater flawlessness, who can complain?”
Yes, that is exactly what I have done! As StarFire Teja, I see killing humans and demons as a flaw, and I do not kill humans nor demons in my own life. I also see hunting animals and eating their meat as flaws, and I do not hunt animals nor do I eat any animal products in my own life. In The Tejaswini Ramayana, I exhibit the virtues of Rama and add to them the virtues of the highest Vedic Ahimsa: elevating others instead of killing them, and eating plant-based foods instead of hunting animals. Thus Rama has greater flawlessness in The Tejaswini Ramayana…. Chakravarti Rajagopalachari would be proud.
And, when you are reading this book, you will enjoy a magical journey through your deepest self, recognizing your own emotions as expressed through the Divine Super Heroes. As you journey with Rama and Sita, their experience will give you hope for the human condition. I pray that my contribution to the ancient tradition of Ramayana will elevate you and many other beings!