Rama is known as the maryada purushottama or an ideal person. He followed the dharma in all the roles he played, as a son, a king, as the husband of Sita and as the leader. As a son, it was his duty to see that the promise that his father King Dasaratha had made to Queen Kakeyi are fulfilled. He gave up his rightful claim on the kingdom and willingly left for the forest despite his father’s pleas not to go. He again maintained his dharma when brother Bharata came to the forest and begged him to return to Ayodhya. Rama was very touched by Bharat’s gestures but his dharma did not permit him to go without completing the fourteen years in the forest. As the husband he felt it his dharma to protect his wife Sita against all evils and dangers and was reluctant to take him to forest with him but her duty towards her husband forced Rama to give in. Even in the forest he looked after her very well and was grieved when Ravana adducted Sita. Rama felt he had failed in his duties as husband to protect her. After fourteen years of exile, when they returned to Ayodhya and words reached his years that subjects were discussing that Sita was unchaste due to her long captivity in Ravana’s city, his dharma once again forced him to banish her from the kingdom. His duty as a leader, as a king came first. The kingdom is superior to an individual and his dharma at that moment was in the interest of the kingdom.
In both the Iliad and the Bhagavad Gita, the heroes, Achilles and Arjuna confront moral conflicts. They amply demonstrate that reasoning cannot promote moral development. Both these heroes were carried away by emotions and impulse. Arjuna felt he was the doer and would be killing his kith and kin, despite assurances from Lord Krishna that he was not killing any human beings; he was only killing the vices and negativities. These appeared to be mere sermons to Arjuna till the end of Bhagavad Gita, when realization dawned on Arjuna. Achilles too withdrew into tent refusing to fight like Arjuna. Achilles was struggling between his own choices – social obligation towards his comrades and his sense of personal integrity. Each of them was initially carried away by emotions but when duty towards the society and mankind, stirred their consciousness, they retuned to the Warfield after resolving their inner conflicts and in a more enlightened state. Both portray that moral conflicts can be resolved when people work with detachment or non-attachment. Besides, one must be able to integrate with his own environment. These suggest to us today that emotions and impulse have no role where morality is concerned. Rationality is the proper vehicle for controlling impulse. Rationality is to work in harmony against diverse desires. Internal harmony stems from social accord and individual morality. Fear and anger give rise to delusions. These eventually become obstacle to moral virtues and moral behavior.
Wikipedia (n.d.), Rama, 16 Dec 2006
Zigler, R. L. (1994), Reason and Emotion revisited: Achilles, Arjuna and Moral Conduct, < http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-5446.1994.00063.x> 16 Dec 2006
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