Recently, we had the Sri Rama Navami festival at our local temple. This is a special day for Hindus, as it is the birthday of Sri Rama. It is an important day, festivities cut across the length and breadth of India.
Rama was a very late child of Dasaratha, who had 3 wives. None of them bore him a child. After seeking several remedies, they came upon a procedure that he shared with his two favorite wives Kausalya (who gave birth to Rama) and Kaikeyi (Bharata). Why he didn’t share it with Sumitra is besides the point. Maybe he didn’t know how to divide by 3, who knows.
Polygamy was accepted in those days, and consorts had a good relationship amongst themselves. Bearing a child was (still is) deemed a very rewarding and fulfilling experience for a woman. To that effect, the two wives shared the procedure with Sumitra, the third wife, who ends up bearing twin boys Lakshmana and Shatrughna because of that.
It is worthy to note that almost 10,000 years ago (Rama was supposed to have been born circa 7300 BCE), someone knew of a procedure by which childless parents could bear children, AND, they could choose the gender; male in this case as Dasaratha needed a crown prince.
Coming back to Rama, why do we celebrate his life? This man, on the face of it, was the picture boy for hardships. From the time Vishwamitra asks Dasaratha to have his first born accompany him on a deadly quest, until his own estranged sons frustrate his forces in a battle, his life was filled with hardships and sadness. Yet, that is precisely what makes him God.
When he was barely 16, an unknown sage waltzes in, asks his dad to send Rama on a quest that could easily have killed him. Yet, he obliges, as much for paternal reverence as it was for the explorer and warrior in him. He uses all his skill and power to defeat the demons and learn archery and war strategy from Vishwamitra. He is unfazed by the challenges thrust upon him and makes the best of the situation. That’s leadership.
When he was around 24 years old, he sees a beautiful maiden and does what most men do, fall hopelessly in love at first sight. He then proceeds to use his skill and willpower to win her (and her father) over, by accepting, and then defeating the challenge her father puts forth. That’s determination.
Hours before coronation, he is told that he has to 1) abandon the throne and 2) go away for 14 years. Doesn’t put up a fight. Doesn’t complain. Does as he’s told. It takes a lot of courage to dramatically alter the course of one’s life. This man backed his ability, and decided to go into the woods by himself. And then he learns his wife and brother will accompany him, which now makes him responsible for them. He doesn’t flinch, and sets out to fulfill his father’s promise. That’s composure.