Today is Deepavali - the most popular festival in the Indian calendar

While many legends are associated with the festival (Narakasura, Bali, Lakshmi, Kali), the most common narrative atleast in North India is that it marks the return of Lord Rama after his great Lankan victory
So it is worth our while to revisit Valmiki Ramayana and understand how Rama reacted to his homecoming.

Was he stoic? Was he indifferent? Was he excited?
One of the things that strikes us as we flip through the great itihAsa is that Rama, though divine, exhibits the passions and emotions that we all share

He is not jaded by his own perfection. Far from it.

He in fact embraces his own humanity
This is most evident towards the end of the epic when both Rama and Seetha board the aerial vehicle - Pushpaka Vimanam to get back to Ayodhya from Lanka

We might think that Rama, being divine, would sit serenely without betraying emotion. But that's hardly the case
He is very very excited, and is extremely keen to share with Seetha his experiences, which she has not been privy to due to her captivity
Once they board the Vimanam, Rama engages with Seetha in a most selfless way -

कैलासशिखराकारे त्रिकूटशिखरे स्थिताम् |
लङ्कामीक्षस्व वैदेहि निर्मितान् विश्वकर्मणा ||
""O Seetha! Look at the City of Lanka, resting firmly on the mount of Trikuta, looking like a peak of Mount Kailasa and built by Viswarakarma, the universal architect.""
एतदायोधनं पश्य मान्सशोणितकर्दमम् |
हरीणान् राक्षसानान् च सीते विशसनं महत् ||

Translation -

"O Seetha! Look at this great battle-field, covered with a mud of flesh and blood as also a cause for the death of monkeys and demons."
अत्र दत्तवरः शेते प्रमाथी राक्षसेश्वरः |
तव हेतोर्विशालाक्षि रावणो निहतो मया ||

"O the large-eyed Seetha! Here lies Ravana, the king of demons, the tormentator of people, on whom boons were conferred by Brahma and who was killed by me for your sake."
कुम्भकर्णोअत्र निहतः प्रहस्तश्च निशाचरः |
धूम्राक्षश्चात्र निहतो वानरेण हनूमता ||

"Here, Kumbhakarna and Prahasta the demon were killed. Here, Dhumraksha was killed by Hanuma, the monkey."
विद्युन्माली हतश्चात्र सुषेणेन महात्मना |
लक्ष्मणेनेन्द्रजिच्चात्र रावणिर्निहतो रणे ||

"Here was Vidyunmali killed by the great-souled Sushena and here was Indrajit, the son of Ravana, killed by Lakshmana in a combat."
युद्धोन्मत्तश्च मत्तश्च राक्षसप्रवरावुभौ |
निकुम्भश्चैव कुम्भश्च कुम्भकर्णात्मजौ बली || ६-१२३-१०
वज्रदंष्ट्रश्च दंष्ट्रश्च बहवो राक्षसा हताः |
मकराक्ष्च दुर्धर्षो मया युधि निपातितः ||
"Both Yuddonmatta and Matta, the foremost of demons, as also Nikumbha and Kumbha the sons of Kumbhakarna, as also the strong Vajradamshtra, Damshtra and many demons were killed. Makaraksha, the most difficult demon to be attacked, was struck down by me in this battle-field."
And having shown all the places of battle, Rama now delights in sharing with her his great experiences in this remarkable adventure.

एतत्तु दृश्यते तीर्थन् समुद्रस्य वरानने || ६-१२३-१५
यत्र सागरमुत्तीर्य तान् रात्रिमुषिता वयम् |
Translation -

"O Seetha, the lovely-faced one! Here is seen a water-descent of the ocean on the sea-shore, where having crossed the ocean, we spent that night."
एष सेतुर्मया बद्धः सागरे सलिलार्णवे ||
तवहेतोर्विशालाक्षि नलसेतुः सुदुष्करः |

"O the large-eyed Seetha! Here is the bridge called Nala Setu, which was so difficult to execute for others, got built by me over the salt-sea for your sake."
Then the aerial car halts for a while in Kishkinda (presumably in the Deccan).

Rama is still very keen to share! He doesn't slouch in a corner and rest.

दृश्यतेअसौ महान्सीते सविद्युदिव तोयदः || ६-१२३-३८
ऋश्यमूको गिरिश्रेष्ठः काञ्चनैर्धातुभिर्वृतः |
Translation -

"O Seetha! Here is seen Rishyamuka, the excellent mountain, endowed with layers of gold and looking like a cloud with lightning."
एषा सा दृश्यते पम्पा नलिनी चित्रकानना || ६-१२३-४०
त्वया विहीनो यत्राहन् विललाप सुदुःखितः |

"Here is seen Pampa-river, abounding in lotuses and edged with colourful groves, where I lamented with great pain, having been separated from you."
अस्यास्तीरे मया दृष्टा शबरी धर्मचारिणी || ६-१२३-४१
अत्र योजनबाहुश्च कबन्धो निहतो मया |

"The virtuous Shabari was seen by me at the bank of this river. Here was killed, Kabandha, having arms, a Yojana (eight miles) long."
दृश्यतेअसौ जनस्थाने सीते श्रीमान्वनस्पतिः ||
यत्र युद्धं महद्वृत्तन् तवहेतोर्विलासिनि |
रावणेन हतो यत्र पक्षिणां प्रवरो बली ||
Translation -

""And over there is seen in the forest of Janasthana, O Seetha, that illustrious tree under which the highly brilliant and mighty Jatayu, the foremost among the birds, was killed by Ravana, for your sake, O sporting lady!."
And finally they near Ayodhya -

"एषा सा दृश्यतेअयोध्या राजधानी पितुर्मम ||
अयोध्यान् कुरु वैदेहि प्रणामं पुनरागता |

"O Seetha! Here is seen that Capital City of my father. O the princess of Videha territory! Having duly returned, offer your salutation to Ayodhya."
Now why is all this worth narrating ?

We tend to become jaded as we go through life. We rely a great deal on our powers of "Reason". And in the process, we tend feel ashamed about revealing our softer side.

We end up taking less and less interest in the little things in life
These wonderful verses from Ramayana, as Rama heads to Ayodhya, reveal that even the great Maryada Purushottama, notwithstanding his divinity, embraced his all too human feelings
He was no snob

Here was a man, who knew the pangs of separation, and of lost love

There is much we can learn from his humanity.
The party in due course lands in their destination. It is an occasion to meet and gree near and dear ones after 14 years.

Here again it is worthwhile noting the exchange between Rama's great brother Bharata and Rama when they meet.
आरोपितो विमानं तद्भरतः सत्यविक्रमः ||
राममासाद्य मुदितः पुनरेवाभ्यवादयत् |

Feeling glad, when lifted on that aerial car and approaching Rama, Bharata of true valour, greeted him yet again
तं समुत्थाप्य काकुत्स्थश्चिरस्याक्षिपथं गतम् || ६-१२७-३९
अङ्के भरतमारोप्य मुदितः परिषष्वजे

Fully rising from his seat and placing that Bharata, who was seen after a long time, on his lap, Rama delightfully embraced him
Then Bharata addresses Rama with some remarkable words spread over a few verses -

"अब्रवीच्च तदा रामं भरतः स कृताञ्जलिः || ६-१२७-५३
एतत्ते रक्षितं राजन्राज्यं निर्यातितं मया |
"Having offered his salutation with joined palms, Bharata spoke to Rama as follows: "This entire sovereignty of yours, kept with me as a deposit, is being returned to you, by me."
अद्य जन्म कृतार्थं मे संवृत्तश्च मनोरथः ||
यस्त्वां पश्यामि राजानमयोध्यां पुनरागतम्

"My life has accomplished its purpose today and my wish too stands fulfilled, in that I see you, its king, come back to Ayodhya."
अवेक्षतां भवान्कोशं कोष्ठागारं पुरं बलम् || ६-१२७-५५
भवतस्तेजसा सर्वं कृतं दशगुणं मया |

"You review your treasury, granary, palace of your spirit, everything has been enhanced tenfold by me."
That last shloka is remarkable.

Notice the eagerness to show Rama the outcomes of his personal diligence and austerity over the past 14 years.

The eagerness of a trustee.
This is again very human.

These are great individuals who reveal their humanity, and are not ashamed of it.

They are not "smartass" people trying to look "cool".

They are one of us.
As we celebrate Rama's return to Ayodhya today, it is worth our while to reflect on these great verses -

Verses that tell us even the greatest among us share much that is in common with much of humanity
It is a day to celebrate passion, drive, eagerness, love, pride, solicitude - all those extremely human traits that we tend to often feel ashamed of in these mechanistic times we live in.
Postscript: The verses as well as translations are sourced from the fine Ramayana resource -
Postscript 2 : There was a similar thread on Vijayadashami thread that examined the reactions of Rama and Seeta soon after the great victory over Ravana

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