It was not at all given to Rama to proclaim Himself as Narayana. That was not the purpose of the Avatara at all. It was to defeat the purpose of Ravana who had a poor opinion of human beings. Being a demon, he thought that human beings and monkeys were only a morsel of food for him. On account of this, he deliberately omitted to include men and monkeys in the list of his possible future enemies, when he asked for boons from Brahma. "May I not have death from any one, Gods, Kinnaras, Kimpurushas, Daityas, Danavas, all superhuman beings"--was the boon he asked.
But he never said anything about monkeys and men. He thought: "They are only food for me, what need to fear them." Now, this neglect, this contemptuous attitude of Ravana towards aspects through which God could manifest Himself and does manifest Himself was the occasion for God Himself to teach humanity that He can work miracles even through the lowest of His manifestations. And the other side of the teaching of the Epic is that through humanity we reach Divinity.
Sometimes, we are told that the ten Avataras, incarnations of Vishnu beginning from the incarnation as Fish, the Matsya Avatara; the incarnation as Tortoise, the Kurma Avatara; the incarnation as Boar, the Varaha Avatara and so on, represent the process of the evolution of the human consciousness to the perfection of its Realisation. From this point of view of understanding of human nature and its evolution, the stage which was enacted by Rama, God in human form, was the penultimate step which Consciousness takes in its attempt at Self-realisation.
He showed what human perfection is and how it becomes a stepping-stone to divine perfection. This we can know only when we read the whole of the Ramayana from the beginning to the end, reading also between the lines. Most of us do not know what the whole Ramayana is. We know only some outline, that Rama was a son of Dasaratha, he learnt archery from Visvamitra, married Sita, who was stolen by Ravana and then he made friendship with Sugriva and Hanuman, crossed the ocean, went to Lanka and then killed Ravana.
This is all the Ramayana we know. Everyone knows only this much of it. But this is not the whole of Ramayana, whether it is the Ramayana of Tulasidas, Valmiki or anyone else. The real Ramayana is the spirit that is manifest in its words when you read the original of the masters. Whether it is Kamban's Ramayana or Tulasidas Ramayana or Valmiki Ramayana, ultimately it makes no difference, because it is said that all great men think alike. All these masters thought alike and they had a common purpose. One wrote in Tamil, another wrote in Hindi and the third wrote in Sanskrit, but the spirit expressed by these is similar and common, and it is directed to the same purpose of transforming human nature into divine perfection.
To be continued ...