What is maryada? Maryada is a Sanskrit word that means the limit or boundary of something. In the Ramayana, Lord Ram is known as maryada purushottam, the supreme person who follows the limits of dharma, or righteousness. But what kind of limits did he follow, and why did he come to teach us about them?

Maryada as the Limit of the Universe

One way to understand maryada is to think of the universe as a bounded entity. The universe is limited by space and time, which are the dimensions that define its existence. Nothing can exist beyond space and time, or outside the boundaries of the universe.

Maryada as the Limit of Service

Another way to understand maryada is to think of the service that one can offer to God. Lord Ram did not come to teach us morality, or the rules of right and wrong, because morality can be learned from anyone. There are many saints and sages who can teach us morality. Lord Ram came to teach us devotion, or the love and surrender that one can have for God. He came to teach us the limits of service, or what one can do and what one cannot do, according to one’s position and relationship with God. For example, Sita can do things that Hanuman cannot do, and vice versa, because they have different roles and relationships with Lord Ram.

Maryada as the Limit of Love

The ultimate meaning of maryada is the limit of love, or the extent to which one can love God. The name Rama has many meanings, but one of them is the one who gives bliss to his devotees. He is the source of infinite bliss, and he likes to share it with everyone. He says to all the living entities, even if you can take a fraction of my infinite bliss, you will be drowning in bliss. But to receive that bliss, we have to become qualified. That is the process of bhakti, or devotional service.

ramante yogino ’nante

satyānande cid-ātmani

iti rāma-padenāsau

paraṁbrahm ābhidhīyate Ref CC ML 9.29

According to Agni Purana, ra means fire and sun god and ma means happiness. Rama means one who burns all the sins of his devotees by his expertness and ma means bliss. After burning all the sins, he gives bliss to his devotees.


Maryada is not just a moral code, but a limit or boundary that defines the universe, the service and the love that one can offer to God. Lord Ram, as maryada purushottam, exemplifies the highest standard of devotion, righteousness and compassion. By following his example, we can also attain the supreme bliss that he bestows upon his devotees.

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