Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022
×
Outlook.com
×

'Ram Nam Bhaj Ban': Reflections Of A Ramnami

Testimonies on Ram: Who Is Ram? Whose Ram?

'Ram Nam Bhaj Ban': Reflections Of A Ramnami

As part of its latest cover on 'The Many Ramayanas', Outlook asked people across India who Ram is and what the Ramayana means to them. What we found is a rich oeuvre of testimonies, histories, emotions and identities.

Octogenarian Saitbai from the Ramnami sect
Octogenarian Saitbai from the Ramnami sect Outlook Photos/Suresh K Pandey

I was four-year-old, when I first got tattooed with the name of lord Ram. Ram entered my life, even before I was born. My father was a Ramnami. All my five brothers also got Ram tattooed on their body. During my childhood, I would wake up early, to find my father reciting Ram Nam. I would sit beside him and listen to him intently. He would tell me the glory in the name Ram. 

Little me, would also sit in Mandli, a group of Ramnami Singing Ram Bhajan (devotional songs on Ram), and repeat verses of Ramcharitmanas, with devotion. I memorised Ram Bhajans, and would dance while singing them. I would also listen to stories about Ram. Ram Naam is beautiful. It is without any shape, without any colour – it is formless. If you recite it, it takes you into the world of devotion. You would no longer care about what is happening around you. You would forget every tribulation, and sadness in this world. 

I was married as a child. I don’t remember the exact age. Luckily, my husband, my mother-in-law, and father-in-law, everyone was Ramnami. They also engraved the name of Ram. So, they never resisted my idea that I want to engrave lord Ram on my entire body. I was 35 back then. I engraved my entire body with the name Ram, along with my husband. I shaved my head, started wearing white sari, and from there on I am living like a monk.

I tried convincing my kids to follow the same path. They did not follow. Though my son and daughter-in-law had Ram tattooed on their body, they are not regular worshipers the way I am.

(Octogenarian Saitbai Mahilangi is from the village Salonikala, in Sarangarh, Chhattisgarh. She belongs to the Ramnami sect, a community that fought caste oppression by tattooing the name of Ram on their bodies and imbibing his spirit in their lives. Views expressed are personal)

(As part of its latest cover on the many Ramayanas, Outlook asked people across India who Ram is and what the Ramayana means to them. What we found is a rich oeuvre of testimonies, histories, emotions and identities. Read all the Ramayana stories here).

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement